Natural Forces

Trip Start Mar 01, 2005
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Georgia
Tuesday, March 15, 2005

The drive from Charleston to Savannah on Sunday, March 6, was relatively short - it took us a little over two hours to get there. I pulled us out of Charleston and got us into Savannah with no major problems. The bridge into Savannah is very much like the new, not yet open bridge in Charleston. It is wide and sturdy. Funny how important bridge structure has become to us. When your truck is pulling a 6000+ pound travel trailer how you drive changes.

We drove through downtown Savannah to get to our campground on Tybee Island. From the first glimpse of Savannah, both Ed and I were impressed. But we had to wait until later to explore. The drive from Savannah to Tybee Island by way of I - 80 was only about 15 minutes and was very pleasant. The houses that lined the road and the marshes on the way to the island were beautiful - very new construction and very clean. Then the land on each side of the road opened up and all the eye could see on either side was marsh and palm trees. Oddly, we crossed the Wilmington River to get to Tybee Island. Once on the island, we, of course, missed the turn into River's End RV Resort, but got turned around quickly and back on course. The roads in the campground were white rock and the sites were closer together than what we were familiar with to this point. Luckily, since we are small, we got an end site, so we only had neighbors on one side. We set up quickly, took Bandit for a walk, and then proceeded to look at the twelve or so visitor pamphlets that I picked up in the campground office. Since we were hungry, one of the main things I looked for was food in close proximity to our camp.

The Tybee Island Lighthouse was only a few blocks walk away and a little restaurant called the North Beach Grill was right across the street from it. We decided to walk up there for an early supper. It was still quite chilly outside, so I grabbed my gloves and hat, Ed got his hat, and we headed down to the lighthouse.

The Lighthouse itself is not the original structure; the first lighthouse went up in 1736, but was damaged by storms and even an earthquake in the 1800s. These natural forces caused a string of lighthouses to be built in the same place until the current one, which is painted black with a wide band of white in the middle. The lantern in the light is now electric, but is still lit every night.

After checking out the lighthouse, Ed and I walked across the street to the North Beach Grill, a great little beach restaurant. Several tables were set up outside on the wooden deck, but it was too cold for me (thin-blooded thing I am) to sit outside. So inside we went. In the summer, the restaurant must be only screen-enclosed, but now, in March the windows were covered and several large, propane deck heaters were scattered among the tables. Of course, Ed and I sat very near one so I could stay warm. Our waitress was a bit harried, but finally made it over to us. Ed got fish tacos (great salsa) and I got crawfish (battered and fried). First time I ever ate crawfish and, I must say, I like them well enough to eat them again.

After eating, we walked back to the campground to decide the activities for the next day.

Our first stop of the morning on March 7 was Wormsloe Historic Site, but after a twenty-five minute drive, we arrived to find the gates closed. Apparently, Monday is their day off, so we turned toward downtown Savannah instead. We had a harder time finding parking in Savannah than in Charleston. There were plenty of metered spaces and parking decks about, just no open spaces. We finally found a spot in a pay lot near the courthouse off Montgomery Street, but we faced quite a hike downtown. Fortunately, the walk downtown was made easier by the wonderful squares. The city is laid out in a grid pattern, but in the middle of each neighborhood is a wooded square with shaded benches and sometimes a fountain or historical monument. It was the intent of the city's designers that each of these squares (more than twenty in all) serve as the social center of each neighborhood, thus promoting a more community feel. I think it's one of the smartest city layouts that I've ever seen. It brings a little bit of nature into the city more all over rather than one big area just plopped down in the middle of a concrete jungle. Much more refreshing.

It was one of these squares, Chippewa Square, in which Forrest Gump sat to tell his story. Of course we had to walk through the square and check that out. We also went by Monterey Square, where the Mercer House is located. This house was where the murder in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil - or "The Book" as it is referred to locally - took place.

We made it to Bull Street, which cuts the city into East and West, and headed downtown, but had to pull out our maps, thus firmly establishing our status as tourists. While we were making sure we were on track, a gentleman with a United Way pin came up to us and asked if we needed help. After a brief chat with him reestablishing our direction, we continued on our way downtown. We walked along Factor's Walk and down to River Street, which was cobblestone with old trolley tracks set to the side of the middle of the road. After strolling to the west end of River Street, we turned around to check out menus posted outside the restaurants and cafés. We finally settled on an open air restaurant (notice a theme?) called Huey's. Ed had meatloaf (of course) and I had catfish (another great surprise). I also had a cocktail and Ed had a beer; we each still had some left at the end of the meal, and our waiter asked if we wanted to get to go cups. Ed and I looked at him astonished. Apparently, in Savannah there is no law against drinks in a plastic cup. So off we went to finish our drinks.

Down the road a bit, we stopped at Savannah Candy Kitchen and I got chocolate to feed my sweet tooth (I come by it honestly). We walked a bit further down and found a little store selling sunglasses. Ed and I both got a pair and walked on until we reached the Waving Girl, a memorial statue of Florence Martus who greeted ships in the Savannah Harbor for almost five decades. Very near the Waving Girl stood the fire ring from the 1996 Olympics; it was lit from the original torch brought from Greece to commemorate the Olympic rowing competition that took place in Savannah. While we were on the waterfront, a cargo ship came down the river stacked high with containers. We watched it slide by, struck by the enormity of the ship and its grace and speed in the water.

By this time, both Ed and I were fatigued and tired of walking, but still faced a hike back to the parking lot. Thanks to the squares, however, the walk wasn't as bad as it could have been. On the way, we walked through Wright Square which is the resting place for Tomochichi, the American Indian who helped James Oglethorpe found the Georgia colony. How fantastic it is that in this Southern city where so much Revolutionary and Civil War history is found the founders took the time and space to recognize one of the original Americans.

Finally, back at the truck, we loaded up and headed home. Back at the camper, Ed and I faced the decision of whether or not to stay one more night. Struck by our usual indecision, we left it up to the fates and tossed a quarter - heads we stayed, best two out of three, - and came up with two heads. One more day it was, which was really ok with us because at this point, we had decided that we love Savannah.

The next morning, we piddled around for a little while, then headed out to Wormsloe Historic Site. At the entrance and ticket office, we spoke briefly to the greeter after purchasing our tickets. She was kept company by a small female Shih Tzu named Lulu. Cutie pie. And so well behaved. Shih Tzus really are the greatest little dogs. After getting our tickets, we got back into the truck for the mile and half drive through the Avenue of Oaks. At one point during the drive, we glimpsed the house in which the ninth generation of the Jones family (begun by Noble Jones who emigrated from England) still lives. Guess that's where "Keeping up with the Jones" comes from. At the end of the avenue, we hooked a right into the parking lot in front of the Wormsloe Museum. We went into the museum (entered through the gift shop) and were immediately asked if we wanted to watch the upcoming Wormsloe Historical Film. Initially, we declined, but an older female tour guide said, "I'm a grandmother. See the film." So we laughed and followed her tour group into the small theater.

The film provided good background regarding how Wormsloe Plantation came to be during the original founding of Georgia and Savannah. Ed and I both found the film to be educational, but it didn't include any of the history of Wormsloe following the Civil War. More recent historical information would have been a nice addition. One of the things we did learn was that Noble Jones, the man who established Wormsloe in the 1700s, built a fort at a strategic point in the marsh called Jones Narrows. The fort was manned by 18 or so soldiers to protect the fort from the attacking Spanish and Indians. The walls of the fort were constructed of tabby, a mix of sand, lime, oyster shells, and water

After the film, we headed down the hiking trail toward the tabby fort remains. All that's left really is a low wall that runs in a square; however, seeing the tabby construction was really neat. We continued on past the ruins to a view of the marsh where I used a large fallen but still living cypress tree as a catwalk to a spot to take a picture. On we continued to the family gravesite (the familial remains have since been moved to a proper graveyard). We hooked back around to the museum and the head of a second trail. Down this trail, we found a wonderful little bridge that opened onto a clearing where a typical 1700s house had been constructed. Apparently, this site is used to demonstrate to visitors such techniques as splitting firewood, retrieving water from a well, and working metal. Since it was close to closing time, Ed and I hiked back to the truck and headed out.

Since we planned to drive to Pensacola, Florida, the next day, our night was spent reorganizing our clutter and resting. The next morning we packed up, hooked up, and headed out.
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