Friday, September 7, 2012

Greetings from Savannah

Making our best attempt at turning our Labor Day weekend into four days, we left Thursday evening for a trip to Savannah.  We drove part way and found a quiet place to stop for the night.  Savannah is about six hours from home.

Leaving home on Thursday evening put us in Savannah just in time for breakfast on Friday, the only time of day when there seems to be trailer parking available in the riverfront area.

Clearly, we don't have the details worked out for "park someplace quiet for the night to break up the long travel day." I still sleep better at a campground. In fact, I sleep so much better at a campground that I spent a good deal of the day on Friday catching up on the sleep I didn't get on Thursday night.  Hmmm.... 

By Friday evening I had recovered from my Thursday night and we slipped back to the riverfront area for some excellent people watching.  I really appreciated how unpretentious Savannah is on a Friday night.  (Especially after having visited  Kansas City's Country Club Plaza on a Saturday night which was decidedly fussy.) I think it helps that sensible shoes aren't optional on Savannah's cobblestone streets.   We strolled around the riverfront then wandered to many of the little squares (see: Oglethorpe Plan) before heading back toward our trailer at Skidaway Island State Park.  On the way back I begged Brian to stop at the beach  "on the way" (not really on the way) since we were so close.

We loved getting our toes in the sand even if it was dark,
Saturday we spent the morning exploring Skidaway Island State Park

there's a kid in that tree
 We hiked through trails with spanish moss, live oaks, palmettos, palm trees, egrets, fiddler crabs, and all things coastal.  

Look!  It's our vintage kin, Avion!  Where's the Airstream loop?

After our hike we headed to Wormsloe State Historic Site, home to the oldest standing structure in Savannah.  I use the term "standing structure" very loosely.  There's not much left and they are indeed ruins.  Visiting this site has certainly made us more interested in Georgia's early roots.

For us, the true the highlights of Wormsloe are the entrance and the magnificent live oak driveway leading to the ruins. 

Wymberley Jones De Renne planted over 400 oaks sometime in the early 1890s to celebrate his son's birth.  Now that's a birthday present!

We find that there is always something to be learned from living history demonstrations.  At Wormsloe, we got to see pewter spoon making which we'd never seen before.  We also listened to he garden guy for quite some time.

After Wormsloe, we got back in the car without any real intentions about where to go next.  We saw a sign for "Old Fort Jackson" and went to investigate.  Thinking we wouldn't have time to tour a whole fort in just the hour we had before closing, we almost left.  The gift shop guy assured us that our tickets would be good for three days.  In that case, we decided to see as much as we could in the hour before closing.

Old Fort Jackson is a fort with many names.  It has been called: 
Fort James Jackson, 
Fort Jackson, 
Old Fort Jackson,
Fort Oglethorpe

 Having been to Forts Sumter and Macon, the scale of Old Fort Jackson was shocking.
Sabrina in an archway.
It is tiny. I could walk under the archways without ducking but Brian had to duck.  An hour was plenty of time to tour the whole fort.  Why is it so small we wondered?  Well, it is older than any of the other forts we have visited.  Fort Jackson was built between 1808 and 1812 making it a "second system" fort. 

Samuel thought there was plenty of work to be done at Old Fort Jackson.

From the fort's upper deck there is an an incredible view of the Savannah river.  Such a treat to watch this ship pass, its three man crew waving back at the five of us on top of the fort. 

Having worked up quite an appetite, we looked for an early dinner and scored an outside table at the french Cafe 37

Cafe 37 was a delicious treat!

Sunday we made good on our promise to take the kids back to Tybee beach, grabbed seafood at a place keen on atmosphere and mediocre on food, then found another fort to tour.

(briefly, a little fort history)
Fort Pulaski is on Cockspur Island, just across the bridge from Tybee.  Fort Pulaski has an important civil war history.  Confederate soldiers/some guys from Savannah occupied Fort Pulaski even before Georgia seceeded from the Union.  (These guys heard about the Union occupation of Fort Sumter and didn't want the same thing to happen in their backyard, at Fort Pulaski.)  Soon, Union forces came to nearby Tybee and positioned cannons in the direction of Pulaski over cover of night and heavy shore vegetation.  Confederate soldiers were aware of nighttime activity on Tybee but really weren't too concerned.  At the time Pulaski was built (between 1829 and 1847) cannons had a range of 1/2 mile with not-so-great accuracy.  Confederates knew that cannon ranges had increased to a mile but were still feeling pretty invincible with Tybee being 2 miles away.    They were mistaken.  In April of 1862 Union soldiers used new rifled cannons which were both accurate and had a much longer 4-5 mile range.

Checking out the damage and looking for alligators in the mote.  We didn't see any, darn.  I did hear someone in the visitors center say he saw one though.
The fort was no match for the new rifled cannons; they shot dangerously close to Pulaski's magazine rooms.  Thirty hours after the Union assault on Fort Pulaski the Confederate Colonel Olmstead surrendered, saving the fort and its occupants. 

Notice the darker red brick at the corner. This is part of the repair work done by Union soldiers after the Confederate surrender.   It took them six weeks to make repairs to the worst sections of the fort.  The battle at Fort Pulaski made it clear that brick forts were no longer useful against modern weaponry.
 This place couldn't be any more like a castle! 

Complete with moat and draw bridge

A view from the castle, I mean fort

Sabrina in an archway at Fort Pulaski.
 Notice how much higher the arches are than at Old Fort Jackson.  Fort Pulaski is a "third system" fort which basically means it's newer, bigger, and badder than the older forts.

More living history, a cannon demonstration.  
Thank-you, Colonel Olmstead, for saving Fort Pulaski. 
We so enjoyed visiting it.

Also part of the national park on Cockspur Island is a lighthouse.  The Cockspur lighthouse isn't visable from the fort but you can get near it via a short hike.  (A short hike requiring a very good bug spray unless you intended to give blood to the mosquito population!  Oops.)

 The tiny lighthouse is only accessible by boat.   I think this picture is a little deceptive. It looks like a larger lighthouse in the distance. To get a better perspective about the scale note the size of the door compared to the rest of the lighthouse.  

The Cockspur Island lighthouse is famous for its waving girl, Florence Martus
When the lighthouse was operational, a small girl lived with the light-keeper on an an isolated island near the lighthouse.  She waved at the passing ships with a handkerchief by day and a lantern by night.  The story says that she didn't miss a ship for 44 years. 

 Savannah, you are lovely.  Thank you for your hospitality, Darling.


  1. Another excellent write-up and photos. I've only been to Savannah once, but would love to see it again.

  2. What a great trip! You found so much more Artillery than we did!! We enjoyed the trolley tour for an overview of the squares downtown and then walked our legs off re-tracing our way to the ones we liked. Didn't try to take the trailer into town. WOW,first Starbucks drive-thru and now Savannah Downtown. We are most impressed with your fearless navigating.