Sunday, August 15, 2021

Tybee Island Adventure, Day 3

[Composed 8/1/2021]

Today we explored two amazing sites in the Tybee Island area. We started with Fort Pulaski National Monument. Fort Pulaski is what I imagine / hope-for when you mention the word fort: moat, drawbridge, massive stone walls and plenty of nooks and crannies to explore. Fort Pulaski has all of this, and then some.

By the time we got to the fort the weather was hot, with a feels like approaching 100°F. In this context, I forgive Shira for finding a nice tree to hang out under and wait while we explored the fort. A few of the kids ended up hanging out with her and they apparently played a rousing game of charades.

Meanwhile, C, J and I earnestly explored the fort. As I hoped, we weren't disappointed. On the main level we were able to explore various side-rooms, and from the top of the ramparts we were granted amazing views. While exploring, C raised a few good questions: where did the soldiers go the bathroom and where were the prisoners held? We got the answer to our second question when we descended down a funky spiral staircase and made our way along the back of the fort to a barred off section. In these bare and cramped conditions, it was here that POWs were held.

As to the second question, it took us asking a ranger before had our answer. She explained that ultimately, everything ended up in the moat. Yuck.

While exploring additional side rooms J pointed me towards one of the most powerful exhibits we'd see all day. It was titled 'Words Have Power' and talked about how the language we use can have an impact on our understanding of history. Here's an excerpt from the exhibit:

Though they may be simple and small, words have power. Close your eyes and consider the following word groupings.
Master vs. Enslaver
Ran away vs. Self-emancipated
Plantation vs. Forced labor camp
Runaway vs. Freedom seeker
Slave vs. Enslaved
What do you see? What do you feel? Open your eyes and think about the words we use daily without thought. Words have power, but how are we using that power? Through your words are you helping reinforce people's humanity or simply the conditions forced upon them?

How incredibly eye opening. Good find J!

Walking the fort's seamingly impenetrable walls, you can appreciate why Colonel Olmstead, the commanding officer of the fort, liked his chances against a Union attack. However, after 30 hours of bombardment Olmstead knew that he was out of options and surrendered. The defeat was caused in large part by the use of rifled guns, a new and easy to dismiss technology that traditionalists would have ignored. Instead this turned out to be an innovation that would make massive forts like Pulaski obsolete.

After Fort Pulaski and lunch we made our way to the Tybee Island Lighthouse. The lighthouse incorporates a foundation that was built in 1773. That makes it Georgia's oldest and tallest lighthouse and I'm proud to say we made it to the top. While the views were amazing, you can see from the pictures of me below that my fear of heights was starting to creep up on me. I've backed up as far as I can from the railing and I'm willing myself to be absorbed by the bricks.

After climbing the lighthouse we explored the grounds. The highlight of which was finding that one of the buildings had been converted to a small theater that showed an informational film on the lighthouse. Sitting in a dark, air conditioned room, with 5 children content to watch a screen, I have to say that I felt a special bit of peace.

After the lighthouse we made our way to an ice cream shop where we all enjoyed a treat to help cool us down. From there, we made our way back home to cool off, clean up and watch some of the Olympics.

For dinner we made an an obscenely large amount of food (a dozen burgers and 8 hot dogs) and watched as nearly all of it got snarfed up by the children. They may be pre-teens, but they're definitely eating at a teenage level.

Tomorrow we're back on the water, starting with a Stand Up Paddle Board experience. Beach time, here we come!

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