Sunday, November 4, 2018

Historical, Cultural and Natural Beauty - and New Friends!

October 22-28, 2018
Savannah, Georgia - St Augustine, Florida

We continue two hours south on Monday. Hwy 17 takes us to state number 40 - Georgia! With our sped-up travel time we'll only see Savannah this time, but it's a state I definitely want to see more of.

The Biltmore RV Park is small and old, and our satellite-access site is right on the highway, so it's also very noisy. 

At the recommendation of the park staff we head to Tybee Island for late lunch. AJ's Dockside is a cute little spot with mediocre food and yummy watermelon margaritas. With a break in the humidity we're happy to spend time outside.

We've had mostly good experience with trolley tours so we try another one to see historic Savannah. This time we're in an open-sided trolley, but unfortunately our visibility is more limited. Still, we see a very old and beautiful city, and learn lots of wonderful history. 

The famous Savannah Squares are much smaller than I expected from what I've seen and read. Still, they are all lovely and unique. Several have statues or other monuments, others are just quiet parks with benches to enjoy the beautiful trees.

Throughout the day we see dozens of buildings, parking lots, exhibits, museums, theaters, vehicles and more with the SCAD logo. Turns out the Savannah College of Art and Design has a huge presence here with over 14,000 students from all 50 states and 10 countries. 

Taking what we learn from the tour, we return on our own to some of the places we like the most.

The story is that she waved at every passing ship for years, expecting her love to return home to her.

This cobblestone road is where the ribbon ceremony was held for the 1996 Olympic rowing event. They must have dressed it up more!

Honoring Haitians who fought in the Revolutionary War.

The Candler Oak - older than our country.

Over 200 years old - hard to imagine all the changes he's seen.

Cathedral of St John the Baptist
Another city of stunning architecture, I love seeing all the variety and creativity used in both residential and commercial structures.

We're enjoying our city visits, but we're also ready for some time back in nature. On Wednesday Bill finds the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge (which is actually not even in Georgia - it's on the north side of the river in South Carolina). We laugh when the first building we see is a SCAD facility! The six mile loop takes us through trees, marsh and river where we see wonderful birds - and alligators!! 

A whole different world.

Great Blue Heron


These giant water lillies wave at us in the breeze.

Seeing an alligator in the wild is very exciting!

He seems as curious about us as we are about him.

More "moss" than tree.

From a distance, I think this is a toad.....
Ewwwe! Back in the Jeep!

Another alligator. They never blink!


At the end of the loop we find our last alligator of the day. What fun to see these amazing animals.
After the refuge I want to visit a plantation. Bill finds one nearby and we head that way.

At the address for the plantation we find this has taken its place. So depressing!!
Many people ask which is better - Charleston or Savannah? The RV park and tour were both better in Charleston, but the cities themselves are both beautiful and I don't favor one over the other.

Thursday we're on the road again. The humidity is back as well. We keep thinking we'll get out of it either by calendar or map, but it seems to keep finding us :-(

We make it to the third historic city of the southeast's trifecta - St Augustine is the oldest continuous settlement in the country. While beautiful in many areas, it is a disappointment after the other two. 

St John's RV Park is the most reasonable option with a Passport America rate ($35) when you can't get into the state park, and is fine for our few nights here. We have a level road base parking spot surrounded by well maintained grass and tall trees. 50 amp FHUs with satellite access and fair WiFi. 

Do you have friends on Facebook who you're not sure how or when they became friends? And no other friends in common? I have one, and really like Chris. We have important things in common, like being Steelers fans and loving animals, and I enjoy her posts. Fortunately she's been following our route and reaches out when we're in Savannah. Will we be near Jacksonville and do we want to get together? Yes and yes!! She warns of the Gator/Bulldog game at the Jaguars' NFL stadium we plan to visit on Saturday, so we change our Jacksonville plans to Friday.

Used for other sporting events, there is very little Jaguars' branding at their stadium.

A first for us, the pro shop is only open on game days so I don't get my pin. I do find this one Jaguar along the back fence. Reminds me of the Thundercats my boys watched on Saturday morning cartoons!

Looking very Florida.

I almost missed the statue - he's very cool!
Chris and husband Vern meet us at one of their fav spots in Jacksonville Beach - Safe Harbor Seafood Restaurant. We determine that we became FB friends from an RV forum. They have long considered becoming fulltimers, and we enjoy sharing our love of the lifestyle with them. The food is yummy too. It's a wonderful visit, we're both so glad they made it happen, and we already look forward to seeing them again (hopefully on the road!).

Great peeps!!
Saturday it's time to get back on a trolley to see St Augustine. Amazingly it's chilly outside! Most of the day I'm wishing I had my sweatshirt - it's fantastic.

This trolley is different, with three cars attached, open on both sides, very narrow and hard seats. Think Disneyland parking lot shuttle. There are dozens of them throughout the city, taking up more than half of the small streets. The guide does a nice job of pointing out the interesting sights that are surrounded by tourist shops and bars. 

The first thing we learn is that Ponce de Leon was first mate on Christopher Columbus' second voyage to the New World. We didn't remember that from history class! The second thing we learn is that Henry Flagler is much more important in St Augustine history than Ponce de Leon.

Several narrow streets were designed with two story buildings on either side to increase air flow from the water to the city center for natural air conditioning during the sweltering summers.
Originally the Flagler Hotel, Flagler College is the beautiful highlight of city central.

The details are beautiful.

Henry Flagler made a significant impact on the shaping of St Augustine.

Ponce de Leon Hall

The home of Cora Tyson who hosted Dr Martin Luther King, Jr several times during the height of the civil rights movement. She is 94 years old. She still lives here.

I love pink houses, and this one is a beauty.

On National Geographic's list of Most Beautiful Streets in America - Magnolia Avenue is lined with old growth oaks.
Also on Magnolia Avenue is this wall of shells. Built as additional defense of the city, the shells contained bacteria on their sharp edges. Those attempting to climb the wall were cut and infected - many became too sick to fight again - many died. I'll never look at shells the same!

Castillo de San Marcos is the oldest masonry fort in the continental United States, on the shore of St Augustine. With palm log fortifications, deep moats and coaquina construction, there are many interesting stories about this site. 
Our plan was to stay on the trolley for the full tour then return to see some of the sites in more detail. By the time we return to our parking spot we reconsider and call it a day. Maybe it's because we  haven't had much time in between the tours, maybe it's the hard seats, maybe the touristy feel of the city, but we've seen enough for this visit.

Back in California, Grandson #3 Mason, is amping up the cute in keeping with his brother and cousin!

2 months old
We could turn west from here, but have a very important stop to make in Melbourne Beach. Sunday we catch up with a couple of our favorite people.


  1. Taking the trolley tour is the way to get a good overview for these historic cities. We rode our bikes around Savannah to revisit places from the tour. It was nice to have more time at certain stops. Savannah was my favorite city. It just seemed smaller and more quaint. Mason is a real cutie:)

    1. It is definitely a wonderful little city - those squares make it very special

  2. Very cool that you met up with Chris and Vern. I've thoroughly enjoyed your tours of these historic cities!

    1. One of those great meet ups that are unexpected and great fun! Glad you're coming along :-)

  3. Thanks for all the details of what we missed in Savannah. The Visitor Center offered overnight parking ($12) and WiFi. Rather than to trolley tour we picked up the tour map and walked. A bit of walking for sure but such a beautiful city, with so many elegant squares. Having read 'Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil' we had to see the Bonaventure Cemetery. It was indeed worth the stop.
    Thanks again for taking the time to create another excellent post!

    1. Thanks for coming along again Jeff! I think Savannah is probably the best of the three for walking - those squares make such nice natural stops.

  4. I'm so glad you enjoyed Savannah and Charleston! We're excited about returning next spring. And we absolutely need to go to the Savannah Wildlife Refuge. We'll pass on the "plantation" though. Sad. :-(
    We do love St. Augustine, but that's probably because I like Spanish architecture so much, and it was so much fun to bike across the bridge into the city. How did I miss Magnolia Avenue?? So fun to see three of my favorite southern towns through your eyes.
    Mason looks like he knows how to enjoy life!! What a great smile. :-)

    1. The uniqueness of these historic cities was a real treat to us west-coaters!

  5. Taking a trolley tour is a good way to gain information about the cities. The tour guides can point out facts that the history books don't tell us about. The craftsmanship of the buildings is intricate. Reminds me of the row houses in San Francisco. LOL at the pink house. We had one in Citrus Heights that was VERY bright pink/fushia. It was on a main street with a pink/fushia wall around the front of the house. I think they got a lot of complaints because now they've painted the wall a neutral color but the house is still the same color. Mason is a cutie too but I think your first grand-daughter will surely be spoiled!

    1. Pink is one of those hues that I think is better in small doses - but I do love it! We're thinking we might get a grand daughter some day, but we're so okay with more grand sons :-)))

  6. As you know I’m not much of an alcohol fan other than Baileys BUT watermelon Margaritas I could definitely be interested in. Savanah is a lovely city with wonderful architecture. I agree that the trolley method of getting a handle on the town for future exploration. Sorry your seats weren’t so hot. Hope those aren’t confederate statues in dispute like everywhere else it seems. Poor Chandle Oak with a parking lot over many of its roots. Are they crazy? That will shorten the life of the tree I’m pretty sure. Did you see the Juliet Gordon Low house? Or perhaps you were not a Girl Scout?? LOVE those NWRs. Great pictures – terrific close ups and noticing the small things. Love those gators. Don’t you wish you could kayak with them and us? Boy you have been busy with stadiums, new friends and we just missed you in St. Augustine. Favorite pic for today has to be Mason. What a smile!

    1. We saw several Gordon Low places - she's a very big part of the city's history. We didn't have scouts out in the middle of the desert :-) Yes, I'd love to kayak with the gators - some day! Glad you're getting back to Florida. Hope the weather cooperates.

  7. Glad you saw the Waving Girl statue. I love the story about her. Looking forward to your next post to see who it was you saw in Melbourne Beach! 😉