Monday, May 28, 2012

The Charm of Charleston

Charleston South Carolina may not be as big and as bold as Savannah, but that's a good thing. It's more independently manageable. This city Jack and I could do on our own...well, with a little help from our friend, the AAA Guide Book! With that in hand, we walked the city, well a lot of the city anyway.

Charleston has charm. The homes here are filled with flower boxes and wrought ironwork that New Orleans would envy! The people here are soooo friendly and sweet. Everywhere we walked, when someone would see me looking in the guide book, they would stop and ask if they could help us find some place. I was offered more help in one day here, than in a year elsewhere! Charlestonians are proud too. We met an artist, W Hampton Brand, who paints on slate and painstakingly researches the subjects to make sure he has the accurate information and detail. He gave us detailed information regarding the very popular Rainbow Row, a well painted and photographed cluster of colorful stucco Georgian houses. It seems that two of the houses are not really authentic, that when they were being renovated, those two were completely rebuilt, without any parts from the original remaining intact - therefor, shouldn't be a part of the cluster! He only paints the "correct" cluster. We bought one of his paintings (of a wrought iron gate tho, not the houses). He was quite a character and a great detailed artist.

It also has some of the most beautiful and unusual churches I've ever seen. Two were the most interesting, the Huguenot Church built in in 1845. It had the most beautiful ceilings, pure art form. The other, was the Romanesque Circular Congregational Church first built in 1681 (had to be rebuilt after a fire). It's graveyard is said to be the oldest in the city; headstones date from 1690. They were a joy to photograph. A funny bit of history on one of the churches, the St Michael's Episcopal. It seems that one of the church's most notable feature, the 186-foot tall steeple, was painted black during the American Revolution in an attempt to mask it from British ship gunners; instead, it became an easier target!

A full day of walking exhausted us and stirred up an appetite, so we were more than happy to be treated to a home cooked meal by our friend Harold. A great way to end the day...with friendship, food and wine!

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

...kicking back in South Carolina, Marie

Sunday, May 27, 2012

The Bonaventure...

No trip to Savannah would be complete without a stop at the Bonaventure Cemetery. Like everywhere else in Savannah, the Bonaventure is a place of beauty. This former plantation dates back to the mid 1800's and encompasses 100 acres. It overlooks the Wilmington River and has an abundance of Live Oak trees, some of which are 250 years old. Many of the graves incorporate beautiful statues and ornate carvings. Among the famous people buried here are author Conrad Aiken and composer Johnny Mercer.

It was so peaceful and serene walking along the pathways here. The Spanish moss dripping from the Live Oak trees, the birds singing, shadows dancing along the gravestones. The history they tell, small snippets of their lives...a beloved wife & mother, a brave soldier, a child taken to early, all loved and cherished. One of the things I have noticed here in the South, is that cemeteries are abundant. Attached to churches, on hillsides and in open fields. Almost all without walls, and again, almost all with flowers. Albeit silk or plastic, but flowers at each grave site nonetheless. People here respect and honor the dead. They don't forget their history. Something I ponder...

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

...kicking back in Georgia, Marie

A quick trip to Tybee!

Tybee Island is a small cute island at the mouth of the Savannah River, "just over the bridge" from downtown Savannah. One of the reasons I wanted to visit it was that it played an important part in one of the books I had read awhile back and I couldn't wait to see some of the places that was in the story...that, and it has a lighthouse! ;-) Two, if you count Cockspur. Cockspur Island is really just a spit of sand out in the water that is only reachable by boat. It withstood the battle at Ft. Pulaski. During the long-range bombardment more than 5000 shells passed over the light. The Cockspur Light survived the battle and remains today as one of only five lighthouses in Georgia.

Tybee Lighthouse was built in 1887 and is thought to be the tallest and oldest lighthouse in Georgia. It, and all the support buildings on the 5-acre site remain intact and open to the public.

Putting all the history of the lighthouses aside, Tybee Island was a hoot to visit! The day we were there it was beginning to rain, but that didn't seem to dampen the festivities of the folks there to enjoy "Beach Bum Weekend"! We weren't sure what all that was to entail, but a parade that included squirting water was evident! We skirted around that one, and just tootled around the island a little to enjoy their eclectic living style. Fun.

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

...kicking back in Georgia, Marie

The end of an era...Fort Pulaski

The quick fall of Fort Pulaski in 1862 surprised and shocked the world. When the Civil War began, Pulaski ranked as one of the "most spectacular harbor defense structures" in the United States. Many considered the fort's 7 1/2 ft solid brick walls backed with massive masonry piers unbreachable, including the US Chief of Engineers Joseph G Totten. "You might as well bombard the Rocky Mountains", was how he summed it up. It took them 18 years and 25 million bricks to build it. The battle fought April 10-11, 1862, marked a turning point in military history and included the first significant use of rifled cannons. Union forces on Tybee Island bombarded the fort for 30 hours, eventually forcing the surrender of the Confederate garrison. Upon the bombardment's conclusion, the fort's southeast angle lay in ruins. The battle clearly demonstrated the improved power, range and accuracy of rifled cannons and also signaled the end of masonry fortifications.

The fort is wonderfully preserved and open to the public. As we arrived, a guided tour by one of the park rangers was just getting started, so Jack eagerly joined in. I tagged along to listen a bit and take pictures. As Civil War "stuff" goes, it was pretty interesting, especially when you think about how many years it took to build, and how many hours it took to destroy and how all that changed "war fighting strategies". Jack had a wonderful time exploring every inch of the place. I, on the other hand, looked for interesting angles to shoot, and to see if I could capture a shot of the nearby Cockspur Island Lighthouse! We both had a good time!

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

...kicking back in Georgia, Marie

Savannah - a true Southern Belle...

Everything I had ever read, or heard about Savannah was true. Her Southern beauty and charm is like no other. Streets lined with huge Live Oak trees dripping with Spanish moss, one Square after another (22 of them!), all with fountains and/or statues and big, beautiful homes covered in ivy. The history of this place shouts at you from every direction, it's almost overwhelming. I couldn't wait to spend time getting to know this Southern Belle.

Reading up on Savannah, I quickly realized it was going to be to big for Jack and I to try and tackle on our own, so I signed us up for a two-day hop-on-hop-off trolley tour. We did the 90 minute tour of the city first, to get the lay of the land, all the while, snapping away on my camera. Every block, every house, every building had a story! The Old Savannah Tour Company added "characters" to several stops to compliment their tour. "Forest Gump" came aboard once looking for Lt Dan (that movie was filmed in Savannah), as well as a "Southern Lady" sharing what it was like to live in the 1800's. Of course the house where the book and film of the Midnight In The Garden Of Good & Evil was pointed out and referenced to whenever possible, as well. Poets, writers, and even the development of the Girl Scouts, all came out of Savannah.

Savannah, and those of us who cherish the history and beauty of the old homes and buildings that the wealthy built in the 1800's, was very fortunate that a group of women organized one of the country's first and most successful urban restoration programs. They called themselves the Historic Savannah Foundation, and they bought up hundreds of properties and sold them to private parties along with a covenant to restore and repair them. Because of them, 22 of Oglethorpe's original 24 squares survive. This sparked the cleanup of the river and the restoration of the warehouses and cotton brokerage offices along the city's historic riverfront. Instead of commerce associated with cotton trade buying and selling, these renovated 19th century buildings now house specialty shops, restaurants and nightspots.

Two days was not nearly enough to really soak in her grandeur, but there was so many other places to visit and take in, we had to limit our time, this time, as I'm sure we will come and visit her again...

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

...kicking back in Georgia, Marie

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Southern Hospitality

There really isn't anything like good ole Southern hospitality! It's even better when you know the Southerners! Both Jack and I have friends that have migrated to the south. Drew and Natalie to Statesboro Georgia and Harold to Charleston South Carolina. It was wonderful to have the opportunity to meet up with them, get hugs and visit their "new homes" with an "insider guide".

The small town of Statesboro is lovely and filled with community spirit. It's home to the Georgia Southern University which encompass a large portion of the population. Drew is a student at the college and gave us a personal tour. He is an artist, and was also having a showing while we were there, so we were treated to a special viewing! Yea!

Later we had lunch in a great restaurant that serves "family style", The Beaver House has been serving up good ole Southern food for many years. Bowls and platters filled to the brim just kept coming as long as we all kept eating! Fried chicken as good as my mom used to make, along with mashed potatoes and chicken gravy, enough to make you sigh with happiness.

We were invited to park at their friend's farm, and what a joy that was! To wake up each day and look out and see a huge Live Oak tree with a swing hanging in it in one direction, a lovely pond in another, or the old barn with a mule that had a great personality. Absolute beauty and pure Southern charm - the farm, the hostess and the visit...

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

...kicking back in Georgia, Marie

Saturday, May 19, 2012

History lessons, Southern style...

The drink that refreshes...No trip to Atlanta would be complete without a visit to the World of Coca Cola. What a treat, literally. The journey begins in the Coca Cola Loft, filled with Coke logos, framed posters and all manner of memorabilia before moving you into a theater for a cute film on "Happyfication". They don't talk so much about "how it's made", but more about "how it became so successful". Asa Candler didn't create the recipe for Coke (John Stith Pemberton did) instead, he was a genius at marketing it. His first goal was to get people to like it, so he offered "free samples". Once they knew the taste, he shifted his marketing to "status", you were "cool" if you drank Coke. Today, the emphasis is on "feelings", such as "the happiness drinking Coke brings". At the end of the (self-guided) tour, you go into the tasting room, where they have over 60 varieties of the beverages they offer throughout the world. I had to try them all, well, almost all, of course! After all that, I still came away liking Diet Coke the best and Jack still liking Pepsi. Just goes to show you that some people never change, no matter how much you advertise!

The rest of the day was spent exploring Stone Mountain. Before we came to Georgia, Jack and I had never heard of Stone Mountain. When we read that it was this granite dome that had the largest bas-relief in the world, and had the carving of three figures of Confederates: Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis, we knew we had to add it to our "must see list". We took the Summit Skyride, a Swiss cable car, up to the top of the mountain for a great up-close view of the carving, but also amazing views of the cities of Atlanta and Buckhead below. It was a beautiful day, so we could see for miles, and wow, Georgia has a lot of trees! Did you know that? Trees, as far as the eye could see!

Back on the ground, we roamed their Park, called Crossroads, which is a cluster of family oriented attractions and shops where crafters and artisans demonstrate their specialties. We enjoyed watching Sy Dowling giving a glass blowing demonstration. Later that night they put on a great laser show against the face of the mountain with music, fireworks and laser scenes of the Civil War & Old Glory. I have to say, it was well worth the visit, and a nice ending to a great day.

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

...kicking back in Georgia, Marie

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Goodbye Alabama, Hello Georgia!

Georgia On My Mind...

Our first stop, Atlanta Georgia. We chose to stay at the Stone Mountain Campground to be centrally located and we knew we wanted to visit this unique attraction anyway. The campground surprised me in that it was more like staying in a National Park with a beautiful lake and a site nestled among the trees, vs a "commercial" RV park. Nice.

We went into the city the first day and went to the oldest cemetery in Georgia, the Historic Oakland Cemetery. This Victorian cemetery not only has the famous author Margaret Mitchell of "Gone With The Wind fame and others, there were Georgia politicians - past and present, but most impressively, I believe, are the 6900 Confederate soldiers. They also have a Union soldier section and a slave and Jewish section (keeping with the true Southern style of "proper placement"). The grounds were beautiful, covered with old oak trees, along with just about every kind of flower & bush that grows here...all arranged with love.

Afterwards we wanted to check out downtown Atlanta as well as what they call Five Points and the Atlanta Underground districts. That didn't turn out to be such a great choice and it was actually a homeless person who "guided" us out of a "not so nice area" and told us to "be careful". We managed to stumble into a tourist information center where we were guided to the best Southern cooking in Atlanta, at Mary Mac's Tea Room. It was a great ending to the day and my first taste of Georgia peach cobbler! Um mm!

If you wish to view the rest of the photos from this trip, you can at my Flickr account at:

...kicking back in Georgia, Marie