The bright blue sky with nary a cloud in sight. The blue of the water rising to meet it. There’s a steady breeze and it’s that rare moment where the temperature is actually pleasant — not too hot (clearly, this is not a day in July or August, it’s early May, but I digress).

These are the days in the Golden Isles … it’s almost too good. It’s a weak and tired cliché, but it truly does take your breath away.

I had one of these moments recently, walking along the shores of Jekyll Island. I was reminded of one of my favorite Bob Dylan tunes — “Tangled Up in Blue.” It seemed appropriate. I felt enveloped in sea and sky — their “blueness.” Tangled up in the beauty of it all — the nature, the history, the charm of this gorgeous piece of earth we call home.

Of course, over my (approximately) 15 years as an official Golden Islander, I have developed a deep affection for the stories that have flowed from these waters and this sky. Exploring this has become a passion — and career — for me. Not only the stories that are well-known to locals and tourists — but the stories that require a little bit of digging to find. So for this issue, that’s what we did. We explored the coast to find new tales to tell. Writer Debra Pamplin connected with White Oak Conservation in Yulee to take a peek at their majestic new residents — retired circus elephants. We probed local aviation history with Tyler Bagwell, who shares the fascinatingly tragic story of Paul Redfern (namesake of Redfern Village) and his ill-fated flight to South America in the 1920s. Writer Larry Hobbs takes to the sea in search for the perfect fishin’ hole. But we didn’t just go coast on the sea, we went under it — Little Mermaid style. We interviewed wave photographer Jay Bellflower, who captures the Isles in a way unlike any other.

Finally, we wrap this issue with a deep dive into the history of one of our most beloved neighbors — Sapelo Island. I sat down with my good friend and fellow newspaper veteran Buddy Sullivan to talk about his exquisite book, Sapelo: People and Place on a Georgia Sea Island, which he created with photographer Ben Galland and the University of Georgia Press.

This magazine would not have been possible without any of them. But I would be completely remiss if I didn’t give a direct shout-out to the two fellas who made our stunning cover happen — photographer Parker Alexander, owner of Empire Sky Co. He has done so much amazing work for us … the man’s got an incredible gift, and we are grateful for it. And, last but certainly not least, our amazing cover, er, model? Fisherman? Dude? I’m not quite sure how to phrase it — but Mr. Michael Gowen, you cut a fine silhouette and I’m sure you cast that net A LOT that day. Thank you both so much.

And thank YOU, readers. This is why all of the aforementioned things happened: so you will find something pretty, interesting, and meaningful when you pick it up. We do it for you. We truly do.

Take care and don’t forget to get “tangled” —