July 12, 2017 –Non-sailing Adventures Away from the Marina
It was always understood that our grand adventure would include time to explore the places we visited, absorbing the culture and seeing the sights. Our prolonged stay in the Savannah area has provided ample time to do just that.
Savannah is 10 miles upriver from the Atlantic Ocean; has huge areas of salt marshes where the tides rise and fall 8-10 feet twice a day; the trees are indeed covered with Spanish moss and its reputation for being very hot and steamy in the summer is well-earned. It has a huge shipping port and very large cargo ships are seen navigating the river. It has a long rich history, predating the Revolutionary War.
Some highlights of our time in Savannah:
- Bonaventure Cemetery – we rode our bikes to the cemetery that was made famous in the bestselling book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. It is not a neatly groomed cemetery and it has some grave markers that are close to 300 years old. It also has LOTS of mosquitos – our visit was cut short to minimize our blood loss.
- Horse-drawn carriage ride through downtown – this adventure was enhanced half way thru the circuit with a huge downpour of rain; nevertheless, a good overview of the key sights;
- 1st African Baptist Church – the first black Baptist congregation in North America was first organized in 1773. The church was built by slaves and was part of the Underground Railroad during the Civil War. It still has a very active congregation.
- The Owens–Thomas House tour – this house was constructed in 1816 and was a prominent house in its day;
- Ships of the Sea Maritime Museum –the phrase ‘beautiful models of old sailing ships’ was all that Doug had to hear to make a beeline to the museum.
- Wet Willies Daiquiri Bar – ‘peach daiquiri’ was all Deb had to hear to make a beeline to this location where I was reminded that it literally hurts the brain when a person slurps their cold daiquiri too fast.
- Tybee Island – a truly unique area of Savannah. Tybee has an area of 3.2 sq. miles and is one of the barrier islands that help protect Savannah from hurricanes. Its atmosphere reminds me of Key West – easy going; funky; anything goes… very laid back. Our first visit was on July 4th and the island was packed. We enjoyed a daiquiri from the Tybee location of Wee Willies (disappointingly, NOT peach) and a couple slices of pizza while we sat on the beach and watched the fireworks. Our second visit to the island landed us at Huc-a-Poos bar and joint. For those of you familiar with Tom’s Burned Down bar, on Madeline Island in Lake Superior, you would feel right at home at Huc-a-Poos. For those of you not familiar with Tom’s Burned Down – the name says it all. Come to think of it, so does Huc-a-Poos.
July 1-3 – Asheville, North Carolina
Escape from the heat– head north 2 ½ hours to Asheville, NC and the Blue Ridge Mountains. What a lovely area. For 2 of our 3 nights we stayed in a charming, 1 room cabin located in the woods, 8 miles outside of Asheville. Our last night was spent in a cabin just outside Asheville that was described as ‘beautifully aged’ – or more accurately, a cabin built in the 1930’s that had not been updated since then. The warning that we received, when we checked in, regarding the stink bug infestation tells the story.
On the opposite side of the spectrum from the ‘beautifully aged’ cabin was the Biltmore, house which was completed in 1895 and is still owned by the Vanderbilt family. For those of you that have not visited the Biltmore, it is a ‘must add’ to your ‘bucket list’. In my humble opinion, it is truly an American treasure and must be seen to be believed. It was a treat for us to get to see a mother bear with 5 (yes, FIVE) cubs right beside the edge of the road as we drove through the property.
The Blue Ridge mountains are beautiful and we were excited to get out and do some hiking. One of our hikes took us to Douglas Falls where Doug was appropriately baptized by his namesake. Simon and Garfunkel was a perfect soundtrack for our drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway bracketed by the song Peaches, by the group Presidents of the USA, in honor of our time in Georgia and my love of peaches. (Any guesses what my favorite fruit is??)
July 8-10 – Charleston, South Carolina
Originally, we had planned to make Charleston a stop as we sailed north along the East Coast. Then we looked at a map and realized Charleston was a mere 2 hour drive from Savannah and was a perfect get away from the marina so this past weekend we headed to Charleston… and we loved it. The old city has so much charm with its beautifully preserved homes (many from the early 1700’s), its many cobblestone streets, the Battery and waterfront parks.
Our itinerary for the weekend included:
- A tour of Fort Sumter which you may recall was where the first shots were fired to start the Civil War. We were in the first tour group of the day and I was a participant in the ceremony to raise the flag which was quite moving.
- A horse carriage tour – without the rain of the Savannah tour.
- A visit to The Unitarian Church cemetery in search of the unmarked grave of Annabelle Lee- the lost love of Edgar Allan Poe. The gravesite remains a mystery to us but the cemetery was very interesting and, in the Unitarian tradition, is quite overgrown.
- A stop at the City Market (where, at one time, slaves were bought and sold). City Market is now a market of goods, not people, and we purchased a Sweet Grass basket. West African Gullah slaves brought the craft of making baskets, from sweetgrass, to this area. It is a tradition that has been passed down from mother to daughter (and occasionally son) for generations. Descendants continue to make these baskets to sell.
- Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is about 10 miles outside of Charleston. After 300 years, it is still owned by descendants of the original owner, Thomas Drayton, and is open for tour. The current house is the third house on the site and was built to replace the second house that was burned by Union troops at the end of the Civil War. One interesting note, for anyone who has read Sue Monk’s book The Invention of Wings, the two sisters, who are the main characters in the book, were aunts of the man who built the current house, Rev. John Grimke- Drayton.