When our oldest grandsons were nearly 4

we took them on a mystery trip.

“You are going someplace special, but we can’t tell you where,” we said.

They were completely befuddled.

Cartoon bubbles above their heads might have read,

“What’s a mystery trip? Is it safe to go with Nana and Grandpa? Will we make it back alive?”

They laughed recently when I showed them this photo, now ten years later.

They are both fourteen, feeling their oats. They asked to explore Cumberland Island by themselves. It’s super long and wild – we said “No!”

* * *

A Brief History of Mystery

I told the story of Patrick and Curtis, when I first started blogging. Follow this link to read about the mystery trip experiment.

Grand-daughter Jenna and grandson Ian got in on the action when we took them to the A-Mazing Corn Maze two years ago. Once we took the Beaman boys to Ripley’s Believe It or Not in St. Augustine.

None of the children fear mystery anymore and jumped at the chance to explore Cumberland island, our known destination.


The Mystery of Cumberland Island

Cumberland Island is an 18-mile long barrier island off the southern coast of Georgia, reachable only by a ferryboat from St. Marys, GA. Still in its pristine condition, a canopy of trees and palmetto bushes shelter the island, which features hiking trails, feral horses and sandy seashores.


The Explorers: Grandchildren Patrick, Curtis, Jenna, Ian, son Joel and Grandparents Cliff and Marian


Attractions: 45-minute ferry ride, hiking, visiting the ice museum, Dungeness Mansion ruins, watching wild horses



Ebb and Flow of Energy

Starting off, three generations felt energized. But half-way through the kiddos needed a rest.

Then they caught their second wind  . . .

At the final tally, the old folks hiked 4 ½ miles, the younger generation over 6 miles, taking another jaunt with our son Joel along the sandy shoreline of the Atlantic.

Of course, they came back ravenous and parched, guzzling juice and gobbling down subs and snacks.


Cameras, Cellphones, and Binoculars, Oh My!

Three of the four brought cellphones. Even now they recognize that photos are a way to freeze a moment in time, store a memory.



Mishaps and Missing Items

One brother pushed the other into the water. The four returned without Grandpa and Nana’s binoculars. We are still looking for a cellphone charger, gone missing from one of the vehicles. So it goes!


A Takeaway: Separation Anxiety

In the next year or so, the two oldest will be eying learners’ permits and soon, driving cars. Eeeek!

It is obvious to us that Patrick and Curtis are beginning to break away from our tight-knit cluster of family. They announce their wish for independence visually as they stand apart from the family unit. I don’t believe they are aware of their stance. But this breaking away is normal, as it should be. Likely future mystery trips may take a different form, maybe with fewer people.

Certainly, we will suffer separation anxiety, not the grandkids as they bound full force into the future.

Carpe diem, parents & grandparents!


I will pour my Spirit on your offspring, and my blessing on your descendants.      ~ Isaiah 44:3 NIV


Have you ever visited an island?
What mishaps on trips can you report?
Ever travel with children, grandchildren, nieces or nephews?