On a beautiful day we left Jacksonville and headed just under 150 miles north to Savannah. We had an easy and uneventful trip, which is always a good thing.
We've spent a ton of time researching places to stay as we travel up the east coast and let me tell you, prices here are so much higher than in the west. BLM boondocking opportunities are not nearly as plentiful, particularly near the cities we want to visit. While we aren't at all adverse to staying at a Walmart, Cracker Barrel, Cabela's and the like, we mostly do that for just an overnight. Staying four or five days in a busy parking lot so we can take in the sights is not our idea of fun (and it is discouraged by the businesses as well.)
Elks Lodges, which have become our go-to when planning, are plentiful in the east. However, many do not have facilities for campers and of those that do, few have hookups, offering only a spot in their parking lot. Once out of Florida, there were few options other than high-priced campgrounds. Though we weren't exactly thrilled about urban boondocking, we figured at least there would be some measure of security at the lodge, so off we went to the Savannah Elks.
We arrived happy to find plenty of spots for big rigs behind the lodge (listed in the Elks guide as dry camping only) and were even happier to find two electrical outlets, one 50 amp and one 30 amp! The 50 amp was already taken by another rig, but we were fine with 30 amps! Thrilled, in fact. Not a half an hour later another big rig rolled in, it was another Travel Supreme! There was plenty of room for them, but alas, no power. We immediately bonded with the owners and we gave each other tours of our rigs. Theirs was a 2003 45' tag axle, super nice. I was kind of envious of all their space, but they loved Scoopy's coziness. I guess the grass is always greener, right?
We paid ($10/night) for four nights, but two days later our neighbor left and we snagged the 50 amp plug and re-upped to stay a total of six nights. We were 7.5 miles from historic downtown Savannah and there was plenty for us to do and see!
On day one we headed to town to go on a self-guided walking tour of the historic district. Wow, was this beautiful! Savannah is famous for its architecture and its green squares, each with its own history and usually honoring a founding father or military leader. There were churches and glorious southern mansions on each block surrounding the squares, many of which are now museums, art galleries, restaurants or quaint stores. We did the tour backwards and skipped the last two stops because we were starving, but we had no trouble getting in our steps. What we missed was Leopold's Ice Cream, though we happily found it a few days later and I found myself face-to-face with two gigantic scoops of Lemon Custard. Upon seeing the size of said two scoops, Steven pared his order down to one so he could help with mine. Waste not, want not!
Fun fact about the squares - during the filming of the opening scene of the film Forrest Gump, where Forrest is sitting on the bench by a bus stop, traffic had to be routed in the opposite direction around the square so that the bus door would be facing the bench. The local carriage horses originally hired to be in the film were not used to walking in the opposite direction so they insisted on going the wrong way. The production crew finally had to bring in some country horses unfamiliar with the ebb and flow of the city traffic to get the shot. We decided we need to watch the film again, it's been years!
We visited the beaches on Hilton Head Island and Tybee Island. Even though I spent many summers in my youth lazing on a beach, it's not really my thing. I much prefer the mountains to the beach, but still, there is no denying the beauty of the Atlantic coast. We've decided if we're going to be at the beach, we'd better get ourselves more prepared, so we got two beach towels. The jury is still out as to whether or not we need beach chairs and an umbrella.
Steven took a couple of solo trips to visit the Bonaventure (thanks to Jim Meacham for the recommendation) and Colonial Park cemeteries. He's got his photographer's hat on when he goes to those places, so it's best he go by himself. Plus, this is when I get my alone time. Usually I'll do laundry or clean, but without hook-ups I was left to just be lazy. How glorious!
On our last day in Savannah we headed back into town to take the trolley tour. We really enjoyed it even though it covered a good bit of what we had already seen during our walkabout. We both decided it was actually a great combo, the walking and trolley tours, but we disagreed on which order was best. I would have preferred the trolley tour first, then the walking tour, but Steven was the opposite. So I guess it really doesn't matter, both are very interesting!
In the afternoon of our last day, and on the advice of our friend Michael Viccari, we headed to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and took the four-mile drive which meanders along earthen dikes and through freshwater pools. There were a lot of environments in that seemingly short drive and we saw a ton of birds. But the real reason we came was to see the gators, and we were not disappointed! In all of our travels we have only seen one little guy in Louisiana (the one we got a selfie with...) and we wanted to see more. They were awesome!
Steven and I were both completely charmed by Savannah. The history, people, food, architecture, all of it - we just really enjoyed ourselves. We anticipated feeling the same about Charleston, our next stop, but we didn't.
We stayed in Charleston for four days and did next to nothing. We spent our first day downtown at the waterfront area and the market. And it was just kind of "meh". We met up with a high school friend of mine and his wife at the Hominy Grill, touted to be one of Charleston's finest. The company was fantastic, but the food was "meh". Meeting up with Dieter and Maggie was the highlight of our Charleston stay and other than a few grainy photos with them, neither one of us took any worthwhile photos of Charleston. Steven didn't even take his camera out. That ought to tell you something!
To be honest, though, we really didn't give Charleston a chance. We just can't be tourists all the time and, as many folks before us have said: this lifestyle is not a vacation. It's sometimes difficult to remember that because, when you arrive in an awesome city like Charleston, you want to take it all in but you just can't. Instead, we stayed inside our air conditioned home while Steven did our taxes and I caught up on blogging. And really, that was about it! The great thing about that is we can go back and it will be like new to us!
And there’s something to be said about the feeling of freedom once your taxes are filed, right? :)
NEXT UP: Morehead City, Beaufort and the Outer Banks!