Tybee Island and Savannah

Beginning out third week of travel this morning with the first hint of some weather coming at us. Mo slept well in spite of her injuries but is still feeling somewhat uncomfortable when she has to move around too much. Seems as though she bruised or cracked her left back rib area and it’s pretty sore. As awful as it was, I am just really grateful it wasn’t any worse and she is healing up ok.

This morning we woke in the dark, and made coffee to take on the sunrise beach walk. The beach was quiet and lovely, and the sunrise was not spectacular, but still nice to be on the beach at that time of morning. Walking barefoot in the water in December isn’t bad either.

Skipping breakfast this morning we decided to go to Tybee Island and spend the night tonight. There were some interesting people at the campground, a strange old man with a strong SC drawl and a big floppy hat who rode around in his golf cart and talked to everyone, another younger man who just seemed way too interested in talking to a couple of old ladies about sharks and alligators and kayaking. We met a lovely couple who had retired from the Air Force and returned to her homeland here in South Carolina. She was truly lovely with a beautiful accent and wishing us safe travels. She has a great Standard Poodle who was only 8 months old and looked as though he was 3 feet at the shoulder!

There were also a lot of cats in the park running wild, feral cats that would cruise around the campsites looking for goodies. Jeremy really loved watching one pretty little girl particularly. We put the cat cage out on the table and Jeremy really loved being outside and watching everything.

It’s cloudy and a bit windy now as we drive south along HWY 17 on the way to Savannah and Tybee Island. Predictions are for a big rain storm tonight which is badly needed in the south, but I would like to be safely set up before it starts I think. Planning lunch at the famous Tybee Island Crab Shack this afternoon and then checking out River Street in old town Savannah.

Later
We found the River’s End RV park on Tybee Island, the only rv park within driving distance of savannah and settled in for the evening. It wasn’t cheap at 35 bucks for a night, and the sites were along a residential street. Wasn’t too bad though, since the place wasn’t very full and we had no neighbors, and we had full cable tv, fast wireless internet, and laundry facilities. A buck seventy five each to wash and to dry is a bit steep however. But after a week and a lot of wet towels and dampness, we were really glad to get things washed.

Heading back to the Lazaretta bridge to the famous Crab Shack was a real treat. I read about this place on tybee many years ago when reading about the low country of Georgia and South Carolina in Southern Living Magazine, and have always wanted to go there. It didn’t disappoint me, with big wooden tables with garbage cans in the middle under open holes where you throw your crab and shrimp shells. I had the “low country boil” a mess of food that I have read about that I think Bubba Shrimp Company only tries to copy. It consists of shrimp,, some kind of sweet sausage, corn on the cob and potatoes all boiled up together with some special crab shack seasoning and the whole thing was just scrumptious. Of course, the Key Lime Marguerita and the Key Lime Pie for dessert made it fun as well. Then we went over to the Crab Shack gift house called the cat house because cats have free reign of the place and bought our tee shirts. I figured the Tybee Island Crab Shack tee shirt could be my shirt purchase for this winter’s trip since it represents the farthest distance from home that we will be this year.

Later after that great early supper we drove into Savannah to check out River Street, the place that Peg said shouldn’t be missed while visiting Savannah. The streets were made of old stones that were used as ballast in the ships and then made into streets, the buildings were the originals built in the 1700’s, old warehouses used for cotton and slaves. Many flags have flown over Savannah, including the Jolly Roger and the pirate history here is thick. The other thing Savannah seems to be really famous for is it’s hauntings, called the most haunted city in America. I can certainly see why with all the political and cultural ills that have befallen the city over the last 200 years.

The man named Oglethorp who designed the city built it in the mid 1700’s and laid it out with wide avenues and many public squares in a regular pattern. He build the city and selected the inhabitants who were people who had a vested interest in finding a new life in a new world, but who also had good skills. He thought that Savannah had the climate to provide silkworms for silk and grapes for wine so that England wouldn’t have to buy these things from foreign countries.

The city has a great feel to it, southern and cosmopolitan without being too big and overdone. It was a great evening walking along the Savannah River enjoying River Street.

Home to our cable tv fairly late in time to hear the sirens come on the channel warning of tornados in a wide swath from Florida up through the Georgia and South Carolina coast, but the night left us intact with just wind and rain and by morning all was clear and the temperatures went from warm and humid to brisk, dry, and windy.

Edisto Beach State Park SC

http://picasaweb.google.com/kyotesue/Dec14EdistoBeachStateParkAndTheACERiverBasin#

This day was planned to be a short one driving to Edisto Island, another part of the Low Country and not far from Charleston. Took our time packing up and wandering down the back roads to our new digs at the Beach State Park. This place turned out to be our most favorite of the trip, at least thus far. The campground is right on the beach, with our campsite just over the dunes and within ear shot of the waves.

Stopped at the grocery store to get groceries for a spaghetti and salad dinner and decided to eat the salad for lunch and the spaghetti for dinner later. Perfect plan and easy to manage in our small kitchen space. The temperatures were still warm and balmy so we set up the chairs and table outside and relaxed a bit to the sounds of the sea. Perfect. After some relaxing time we took off walking the beach hunting for shells and letting Abby swim. I even relaxed enough to read my book and enjoy a quiet supper and a little local tv.
Friday December 14
This morning I got up early enough to watch the sunrise over the beach and see the flocks of pelicans and pods of dolphins swimming south along the shore as if they were going to town to work. We skipped breakfast and went to town to talk to the local kayak shop about local kayaking areas. I can’t believe that I never thought about the tide part of estuary kayaking, but I am sure glad that someone mentioned it. We found out the tides were just right for what we wanted to do if we left quickly, so we headed for the Live Oak dock on Big Oak Creek and turned uptide towards the refuge areas. At first the ride seemed a bit boring, without much variety in the views, but as we continued, things started to become more interesting. It’s as though it takes a bit of time to settle into a new area, and feel what it has to offer. There were a lot of birds, egrets, herons of several kinds, terns, and others that I didn’t recognize. Along the waterways are big southern low country houses with boathouses as big as cabins and big sailboats moored. I bought a waterways map so had a bit of an idea of which way to go and found a place called “the Neck” which turned out to be a very exclusive neighborhood off huge homes along the waterfront. It was fun wandering around in there for a time before the tide turned and it was time to head back down. For once, the kayaking was downhill both ways instead of the usual uphill hill where we are either fighting current or wind. This time there was a bit of wind, but the tide was stronger and the paddling was fast and smooth. Both of us were getting a bit tired, though, and ready to be home when suddenly a dolphin surfaced in front of me. Talk about highlight, kayaking with dolphins is really something. They are so graceful and beautiful and very fast. Of course, there’s a bit of apprehension that accompanies the excitement because who knows if they will bump your boat or something!! One particular dolphin stayed with us a long way, surfacing and diving sometimes within 20 feet of us, but most of the time he was a few hundred feet on the right.

It was the final delight in a lovely day that was marred a few moments later by a nasty fall as Mo tried to get out of her kayak at the landing and slipped and fell on the cemented oyster shells along the rocks. She was cut in several places and bruised or broke a rib, blood falling everywhere into the water and that sick sick feeling when you don’t know how bad it is and if you need a doctor or not. We had laundry in the car so tore up a towel for bandages and managed to stop the bleeding but it was scary for a time thinking she might need some stitches. I did the classic thing that my daughters will remember clearly. Someone gets injured I get sick, really sick, to the point of throwing up. Now that’s really helpful! We managed to get to the park headquarters only to find out that the nearest emergency care was 50 miles away in Charleston. Maybe there was a doctor on the island, but who knows if we could have found her if necessary. After lots of soaking in salt water and a drive back to the campground, we found the first aid kit, cleaned it all up, and decided that butterfly bandages for the cut would be all the doctor would do anyway, and a broken rib is one of those things that you just deal with as well, so we nixed the need for a doctor.

Mo is so incredibly stoic in these kinds of situations, and just plodded along dealing with it. After I got over being sick, I did ok as well, and all turned out ok in the end, except Mo is pretty sore from the fall and banged up a bit here and there. Her finger seems to be closing up just fine, however, and I’m grateful for that.

Ended another day with a long walk on the beach after eggs and potatoes for an early supper. All in all, a good day, in spite of the moment of scariness. It did make me think of how scary it can be to deal with that kind of thing sometimes, especially if it’s really bad. I’m so glad it wasn’t.

Charleston SC

I was really glad that we decided to take it easy and camp two nights at the county park on Saint James Island because it gave us time to relax and enjoy ourselves some more without having to move. Finally got a chance to have the awning up and park long enough to put up the party lights I bought for the MoHo with the tricolored chili pepper lights as well. Very festive, but not nearly as festive as some of the big motorhomes in the park were. It was fun, and I finally got my cute lights, although I did refrain from buying flamingo lights.

Wednesday morning we left around 9 so we wouldn’t get caught in too much traffic going into Charleston. It’s actually not that big a city, with maybe 80,000 population in the city itself with some communities around on the other islands that run in the 30’s. There are lots of bridges and water and Charleston was every big as magical as I thought it would be. We went first to the Visitor Center where they even had garage parking especially for RV’s, which worked out great since the boats were too high to fit under the poles in the regular garage parking. The visitor center was another digital wonder of the state of South Carolina and helped us a lot in understanding what to see and do on foot in Charleston.

Spent half the day walking the city following a city walking map with the history and story of many of the homes and buildings. The port of Charleston was the only place that wasn’t blockaded completely during the Civil War where the southerners were able to bring in supplies. Fort Sumter is a tiny island out in the harbor, and the history of the Civil War is a big part of Charleston. What I didn’t realize, however, is that Charleston history goes back to pre-revolutionary days and that many of the homes and buildings were from the early 1700’s long before the Revolutionary War. Of course, SC was one of the original 13 states and it shows in the city of Charleston. We saw several homes of signers of the Declaration of Independence,

Thanks to a SC magazine we got at on of the centers, we knew about Justine’s Kitchen, so when we passed it on our walk we recognized the name.

Justine was the daughter of a slave who worked for a woman in Charleston and took care of her children. Justine lived to be 112 years old and her cooking was legendary. One of the daughters opened the restaurant and it has been written up in Southern Living, the New York Times, Conde Nast, and many other publications as one of the best southern restaurants that exist.

Lunch at Justine’s was a highlight. Actually sitting next to us was a reporter from some food show on Sirius radio who was recording his gastronomic experience and talking to the owner while we ate. The best part is that it was so comfortable, homey, and warm. I had an awful time choosing from a menu of southern wonders, and finally settled on a pork chop, baked macaroni and cheese, and fried okra, with pecan pie for desert, and of course a big glass of sweet tea. It was a meal made in heaven for my inner southern soul and the addition of some kind of sweetened vinegar fresh cucumbers and the hush puppies we had given to us on the street made it all the more magical.

After exploring as much as our feet would allow, we went back to our park to give Abby time to swim in the great dog park and play with all the other dogs. She is finally beginning to understand that she is a dog but still isn’t quite into all the friendly puppy play and keeps looking back at her mom for approval. But she does love to swim and loves to play ball. Lots of other dogs there playing ball and swimming, and even a dog washing area as you leave the park to get all the sand and mud off the doggie paws.

After our little respite, we drove back into Charleston to explore the Pleasure Island part of town east of the river and to drive over the Ravenel Bridge, the longest span in this part of the world, white, dramatic, and gorgeous. Checked out the beaches at Mt Pleasant, then found our way back home through the light show to settle in for the evening and rest our weary feet.

St James Island SC

After our lovely stay in Asheville we got up this morning and headed south on I-26 into South Carolina. The trip was uneventful, except for the drop in elevation from the North Carolina landscape into the low flat world of South Carolina. One really nice thing about SC are the Visitor Centers. The first one we encountered as we entered the state had impressive digital displays and really kind helpful people who made phone calls to be sure that our RV park had a place for us and gave us a ton of free maps and information.

Through the midsection of the state, I was unimpressed, except for the warm temperatures, things seemed fairly boring. There was a lot of pollution around Columbia, but we still enjoyed stopping for lunch at a rest area and eating outside in the warm sunshine.

We had a free camping night given to us by Mo’s family friend, Millie, so drove into Savannah looking for the Saint James Island County Park. After some circling around the bridges and rivers we finally found it. It was currently hosting one of the major attractions in the area, the Holiday Christmas Show. It was early enough in the afternoon that after we set up we drove down to Folly Beach and walked the Atlantic Ocean for the first time on the trip. There were a lot of vacation rentals on Folly beach, but we found a place to park with a parking meter for a buck and took the dog out to the water.

http://www.charlestoninsidersguide.com/festival-lights.php

When we drove back home, the Holiday Light Festival had begun so we got in free because we were camped there and drove slowly through the display with all the other locals. It was “magical” as Mo kept saying, lots of creativity and color and animation. The only bad part was the number of people driving diesel pickups very very slowly. Yuk, what a nasty smell.

The dog park was already closed because of the show so we planned that one for the next day. Dinner was something simple at home that I don’t remember now, as we usually eat cheese and crackers or something like that if we have a good lunch.