Saturday, March 31, 2012

Savannah oh lala!

Wow Savannah and surrounding area has been beautiful!  It has incredible plants ranging from pines, to palms and azaleas, rhododendrons, magnolias, plus more that I did not recognize.  It is so luscious!  It does of course also have plenty of mosquitoes, sand gnats and even fire ants(they are not too much of a problem right now at least).  We are pretty bit up by the mosquitoes who smelled new blood.  I found it interesting that the visitor center brochure we got for Savannah talks about leaving off the cologne and using the mosquito spray.  No matter, this is a BEAUTIFUL area and well worth a visit!
The city of Savannah has plenty of tree lined squares, 22 of them I think I read, to walk around in and enjoy the sites.  It is a walking town which is easy to do since it is flat, only incline is the one up from the river.
Savannah is the home of the Girls Scouts.  We did go by the mother ship, founders home, but it was full of Girl Scouts, so we will need to do that visit another time.

Skidaway Island State Park, our campsite

looking from the other direction at our camp site,_Georgia

Food here has been great. This is a food town, with lots of options on where to eat.  Plenty of seafood options to choose from.  One night I had a shrimp carbonara that was delightful!  Another night I had a shrimp and grits dinner, which is a local favorite.  I was a bit hesitant about choosing this one since I really have no grits experience, but decided to eat like a local.  It was yummy!  Think of a creamy polenta and you get the idea of the grits.

Today we decided we would try Paula Deen's restaurant since this is her home town, "Lady and Sons".  You need to make a reservation by stopping by and talking to the hostess who is positioned outside.  The earlier in the day you get there to make the reservation, the better your chances of getting in that day.  No phone reservations.  We actually went for an early dinner 4:45, which meant that we had no trouble getting a table.  The restaurant is three floors and each has its own buffet section or you can order off the menu.  Even if you are not really a Paula Deen fan, it is worth going for some incredible food.  Fred went in as a sceptic and came out a fan.  He keeps saying it was the best meal he has had in the states.  It was fabulous and the service was incredible.  Our waiter shook hands at the end and thanked us for coming in.  We were never rushed during our meal and could linger as long as we wanted.  What a wonderful concept for an American restaurant.
So what did we eat you ask....Fred had the signature crab cakes, black beans and rice and I had one  of today's specials, pork tenderloin with an apple chutney, roasted potatoes and succatash with bacon bits.  Paula recipes.  She can cook!  We will go back to have a meal here when we return to Savannah.  Ya'all stop in if you're in town!

Near our campground is Wormsloe State historic site.  Property owned by Noble Jones, one of the original English settlers who came to settle here in 1733.  The plantation is still owned and lived in by the eighth generation descendants, so you don't get to visit that home.  You do get to see the original tabby house remains that had been built on the land.  A tabby house is built with shells, lime and sand.  There was a plentiful supply of all and was much better a enduring in the climate here.  Quite an interesting site to visit, with an entrance of a mile long drive with over 350 live oaks lining the both sides. Beautiful! Indigo and rice were grown here.
The first video is just a small road / street,  in town on the way to see this place, it is not at Wormsloe.  There were many such streets in and around Savannah.

This second video is the driveway entrance to Wormsloe

view of the drive into Wormsloe

shells visible in tabby wall construction

view of first Noble Jones house built in 1737

Another spot to visit when in the area is Tybee Island, which is one of the handful of small islands that are just outside of Savannah, leading to the Atlantic.  Nice little maritime museum to visit and you can climb the lighthouse, all 177 steps up.  Great view from up top. The lighthouse is still a functioning lighthouse and the grounds are now owned by the Tybee Island Historical Society. The lighthouse keeper house has been restored, so you can go in and get an idea of the living quarters which were quite nice.  It was interesting to see the traveling library that was available for the lighthouse keeper.  Each box contained 50 books, nonfiction and fiction.  There was a great demand for these traveling libraries.

car wash on way to Tybee Island

Fred made it to the Atlantic...his first view

lighthouse and keepers house; small house on right is kitchen and behind it is  lighthouse keeper assistant house,_Georgia

Right next to Tybee is Cockspur Island and Fort Pulaski.  This fort was built to protect Savannah and the entrance to the Savannah River.  It was named for Count Casimir Pulaski, a revolutionary hero who lost his life in the unsuccesful seige of Savannah in 1779.  It was considered unbreachable, however, new armament enabled Union bombardement to breech the walls on one side, quite to the surprise of the defenders.  Quite an interesting tale.

entrance to Fort Pulaski

walking across field with ranger

tabby works here also; white is bits of sea shells

this is bigger view of wall that you see in previous picture

So, that was our time in Savannah, 3 nights and 2 days, way too short.  We will come back and spend more time here.  To me this seems like the east coast version of San Diego, which I also love.

Tomorrow we move on to Jacksonville Florida.  We will spend a week there and try to do some exploring of the area to get an idea of northern Florida.

Stay tuned,
Michelle and Fred
Traveling (and eating) the country so you don't have to!

Sunday, March 25, 2012

a week of watching river traffic

This past week has been a time to recharge our batteries.  We have spent most of our time in camp, watching the tugs move barges of all sizes up and down the river.  The activity is fun and exciting to watch.  We have seen a barge blow up its engines and then sort of float to a spot that got it out of the way of others.  We see the Coast Guard flying up and down the river, with machine guns positioned at the front bow.  We have even seen them doing some activity with a barge, not sure what was happening.  It really is a very different world than we have really seen before and is quite entertaining.

Not much in the way of travel during this week.  We did go to the Shiloh battlefield, which is about 80 miles east of Memphis.  We were a few weeks short of the 150th anniversary of one of the bloodiest battles of the Civil War.  A self guided driving tour takes you all around the battlefield.  There are markers indicating which area the Confederate troops were located and which the Union troops.  One of the first field hospitals was established here, which did contribute to saving many lives.  It was a beautiful, sunny warm day as we did the tour.  Serene.  Hard to imagine what this might have been like during the battle.

Took a drive over to Jackson Tennessee to see the Casey Jones house and museum.  I never thought that Casey Jones was a real person, thought it was just a legend/ folklore, but guess what, he was.  He did manage to save the train, with no one killed other than himself.  His wife and the guy who rode with him ( he was made to jump by Casey before the crash) kept the story alive for as long as they lived, which is why we still know this today.

Also went to check out the Carl Perkins museum in town there, but it was closed.  Very limited hours.  Looking in the window we could see that there really wasn't much to it, so we really did not miss anything.  Some of you will remember Carl Perkins for " Blue Suede Shoes", "Matchbox" and "Honey Don't", which were done later by the Beatles. We did check out the cemetery where he and his wife are entombed.

We decided that one evening we would go back to Beale Street for dinner.  Had a great meal and live entertainment in the BBKing Blues Club.  After dinner, spent a bit of time walking up and down the 2 blocks that is Beale Street and checking out various tourist shops.  Doing this also includes hearing lots of different music coming from the other restaurants along this street.  This 2 blocks is closed off to traffic, so is totally pedestrian, with police highly visible all along.  The city is very careful about making sure that nothing happens to the tourists who stroll along here.

We hit the road again on Tuesday.  Continuing our original march to the sea...will stop in Birmingham for a night, then a night south of Atlanta and by eve of day three we will be in Savannah Georgia.  Fred will finally get to see the Atlantic Ocean. Whewhew!

Stay tuned,
Michelle and Fred
Traveling the country so you don't have to!