Matzoh Balls With Gravy; It's Passover Y'All!

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Skidaway Island State Park, Georgia

Flag of United States  , Georgia
Friday, April 15, 2011

         We're moving fast, we have now settled in at Skidaway Island State Park in Savannah, Georgia for a week's stay before moving on to Charleston.   We'd like to attend Passover services tonight but it's a bit too pricey for us.  We heard that here in the South they serve Matzoh Balls with gravy, ha ha!  Hate to miss that.   Louisiana was great.  We went to the once a week Zydeco breakfast Saturday morning at the Cafe Des Amis in the adorable little nearby town of Breaux Bridge.  The place was packed and rockin'  and the small dance floor was crammed with  people moving to the lively beat.  Zydeco is different from Cajun music in that it is a faster, livelier beat that you can really swing to. 
     We also visited the McIlhenny Tabasco factory on Avery Island and the wonderful 250 acre Jungle Gardens and  Bird City created there by the son of the factory owner long ago.  He planted flowers and trees from all over the world, hundreds of different types of Camillas and azaleas.  He almost single handedly saved the Great White Egrets from extinction by creating a rookery on a small lake, which now is home to 20,000 birds who come back each year to nest and raise their young.
     We visited New Orleans and caught the tail end of a weekend music festival featuring over 100 bands playing all around the French Quarter for free.  There was a crush of humanity there and we weren't allowed into the bandstand areas with Chance but did enjoy some great street artists.  We saw a lot of the hurricane Katrina destruction in the town, including some totally ruined areas, and in the better areas lots of boarded up, paper wrapped renovations going on to what looked like bombed out buildings.  The streets were all torn up, block after block, with the laying of new pipe.  But even with all the population lost, people are still there, making a comeback, and the town seems lively, not deserted.
     From New Orleans we landed in Fort Pickens Natl. Park, on the Gulf below Pensacola, Florida, the site of a Civil War era brick fort built near the end of a miles-long narrow sand-spit to protect the Bay of Pensacola from attack.  It is now a protected nature preserve with part of it open to camping.  Within walking distance from the campground we saw ospreys and great blue herons flying overhead or feeding their young from atop huge funnel shaped stick-nests they had constructed in the tops of dead salt pines.  There was an armadillo grubbing in the grass when we arrived at our campsite.  Ilana approached cautiously and, pointing at the cute little fellow said, “okay, you have to go now, we paid for this site.”  Of course he wasn't listening, which I often get accused of, and didn’t scoot until I got a little too close with the camera.
     Endless miles of white sand beaches and turquoise water stretch East and West from the Gulf.  We drove the Gulf coast route from Pensacola to Destin, noted for having some of the best and whitest beaches, and stopped on the way in a quiet little town called "Ocean Springs," for coffee and a treat.  The South is not big on coffee or bakeries, and I guess that makes sense considering the heat and humidity, which is wilting most of the year.  We saw a line of customers outside of a small donut shop that advertised their famous, fresh brewed coffee.  Not world famous mind you, but locally famous we considered a real find.  The donuts were devilishly good and we started with three and ended up with four.  The coffee was, well, on a scale of 1 to 10, maybe a 4.  Nothing to write home about, and yet look, I have.  And so the fame continues to spread, deserved or not.   In Panama City,  we stopped to soak our tired feet in the Gulf before heading North a ways to park the ark for the night.  From there we headed up through Tallahassee to Thomasville, Georgia, where we stayed just outside of town at a so-called golf and fishing resort with about 12 RV sites, a nine hole golf course and a small fishing pond.  It was secluded, green and beautiful and in the morning I fired up one of the complimentary golf carts and headed off, with Chance next to me on the seat, across the golf course to the fishing pond.  Chance loved the ride over in the open cart, sat up with his ears flapping and a big smile on his face.  I would have let him swim but we were still in gator and water moccasin country and so I thought better of it.  With my fly rod I threw wooly-buggers into the dark, mossy-green water, hoping to catch anything that would jump on em.  Maybe a sunfish, or a crappie, or one of those big southern bass that the owner said grow as long as your leg, "from here to there," he showed me, starting above the knee. 
     It was a another full day of driving to get to Savannah, beautiful but very tiring.  We passed through gorgeous farm country with tidy cut grass lawns, trim pastures and verdant farm land everywhere.  And every mile, it seemed, we passed a Baptist Church.  Where the people are poor, the church is what holds the communities together and gives them hope.  There were "Jesus Saves" signs in every town.  "Think God," one of the signs read as we passed a church, with  another church just down the street, and another at the far edge of town.  And where there were no towns but just mile after endless mile of green crop land with occasional poor or modest homes set here and there, there were still the small, white Baptist churches every few miles with their tall, pointy steeples.   I think there are more Baptist Churches in Georgia than there are McDonald's in Southern California.  "Not that there's anything wrong with that......." as Jerry Sienfield would say.
     There were also lots of signs for boiled peanuts, for as everyone already knows, we are in the peanut capitol of the world, (insert Jimmy Carter smile here, the ultimate peanut success story).  In the small town of Claxton, not far from the coast, we found something else that Georgia is famous for.......fruitcake.  The Claxton Fruit Cake Factory is world famous, so their labels say, and Ilana, who loves fruitcake, heard about the factory and shop from a cafe owner up the road and had to stop there, no if's-and-or-buts.  It was, by the way, outrageously good, almost beyond fruitcake comprehension, a nirvana of candied fruits and nuts, so moist it melted in your mouth, and none of those hard, awful little green bits I've always equated fruit cake with.
     So here we are now, about to visit the historic town of Savannah.  Even Southern towns with nothing to see bill themselves as "historic," and take pride in whatever historic buildings are still standing.  But Savannah, we are told, has much that is worthwhile to see and we are looking forward to it with great anticipation.
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frank ciccarelli on

I think Savannah is gonna blow your socks off ...

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