December 31, 2011

Ringing In a New Year

As the year 2011 draws to a close, it is time to reflect on all that has happened to us in the last twelve months.  It has been the most amazing year.  Tim and I have been so fortunate in being able to embark on a trip like this one, and I often have to pinch myself to believe that this trip is really happening.

Early in the year we started serious preparations for this trip.  For me, the planning aspect of a trip is almost as much fun as the trip itself, and this was no exception.  But nothing could prepare me for how wonderful the actual trip would be – not past road trips, not research and not our shakedown trips.  

Seeing all of the incredible sights we’ve visited has just been amazing, but for me the best part of the trip has been spending day in and day out with Tim.  Some people wonder how you can spend twenty-four hours a day with the same person, but I never thought that would be an issue for us.  These past few months have allowed us to know each other on an even deeper level than before and to rely on one another almost exclusively.  I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.

It’s also been a joy to travel with Kitty.  When we set off on this adventure, we had no idea how she would react.  We couldn’t have asked for a better travel companion.  Kitty has adapted to everything we’ve thrown at her and seems happy just to spend her days with us.  She entertains us and continues to draw fans wherever we go.

Touring Is Tiring
It has also been great to be able to visit family and friends along the way, some of whom we hadn’t seen in many years.  Spending time with these wonderful people has been a special part of this trip.  We’ve also met some incredible people along the way and have shared stories with many of them.

Tim and I cannot believe that the trip is already one-third of the way over.  We just won’t think of it that way.  Instead, we will look forward to almost six more months on the road.  There is so much more to see and experience.

Since neither Tim nor I are into New Year’s Eve festivities, we did not look for a party-type of place to ring in the New Year.  We ended up in St. Augustine Beach, just across the bay from America’s oldest city.  A new year in an old city.  That somehow seems fitting.

A Visit to the Beach Before Leaving Jekyll Island
On the way south today, we did make a detour to Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, one of the oldest and best preserved freshwater systems in America.  Native Americans called it Okefenoka, meaning “Land of the Trembling Earth.”  Although our time was limited, we were able to take the Swamp Island Drive.  It wasn’t at all what I had expected.  The bald cypress swamp that I thought I would see is only one of the habitats here and is found more on the western side of the refuge.  The upland pine forest, which we saw, is more typical of this portion of the eastern side.  Saw palmettos line the forest floor.

Upland Pine Forest with Saw Palmettos

Did I See an Alligator in That Pond?
We also visited a “swamper” homestead and saw how families survived in such a harsh environment.  The Chesser Island Homestead was built in 1927.  The Chessers, like most swampers, were largely self-sufficient and raised, caught or hunted most of the food they ate. They were a rugged family and raised sugar cane as a cash crop.  It was not an easy life.

 A "Swamper" Homestead

Chesser Island Homestead

December 30, 2011

From England to Spain to Fort Frederica

Tim and I had planned to leave Jekyll Island today, but the campground where we thought we might go was full, so we decided to just stay put.  Jekyll Island Campground is a very pretty park with enormous live oak trees, but the park is almost full and therefore a bit crowded for us.  On the other hand, our neighbors are nice and Kitty likes it here, so why not stay?

We did leave the island today, and after tending to a few errands we made our way to St. Simons Island, another barrier island just north of Jekyll.  St. Simons is a beautiful resort destination and is known for its beaches and golf courses.  We drove around the island a bit and then visited Fort Frederica National Monument.  I was completely unfamiliar with Fort Frederica before this trip, but it is a very cool place to visit.

All that is left of Frederica today is a few ruins, but Frederica was a thriving military town in the mid-eighteenth century.  Frederica was a planned town, like Savannah, and both were founded by James Edward Oglethorpe.  The fort that was established here was the hub of British military operations on Georgia’s frontier.  In 1742, troops from Fort Frederica defeated Spanish forces on St. Simons Island, thereby ensuring that Georgia would remain in British hands. 

Broad Street at Fort Frederica
Fort Frederica today is an archeological site, and the ruins of the king’s magazine and the barracks have been preserved and stabilized.  Much of the town itself has been excavated, and the foundations of quite a few houses have been located.  Many of the houses, as well as the fort were constructed of tabby, a concrete made of sand, lime and oyster shells.  It is interesting that the areas inside the foundation footprints have been filled with oyster shells.

The King's Magazine and South Storehouse Foundations

The King's Magazine

Tabby Walls Are Made from Oyster Shells
Foundations of the Hawkins-Davison Houses

Many of the Houses Have Been Excavated

The Barracks Housed Most of the Soldiers
Although few physical structures remain, the site really does an amazing job of telling the story of Frederica.  You can see how well planned the town was, with its wide streets and large houses.  Its setting on the Frederica River is lovely, and I enjoyed simply gazing out over the marsh.  I may have known nothing about Frederica before today, but I’m so glad I came here to learn about it.

Clould Gather Above the Marsh on the Frederica River

Crossing the Sidney Lanier Bridge Over the Brunswick River

The Marsh Near Jekyll Island

Crossing the Bridge Back to Jekyll Island

December 29, 2011

Karen and Test

Tim and I became adoptive parents today. . .of two sea turtles.  After catching a free shuttle trolley to Jekyll Island’s historic district, we visited the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.  What a wonderful facility.  The center is Georgia’s first sea turtle rehabilitation, research and education facility and provides state-of-the-art emergency care to sick and injured sea turtles.

Turtle Stepping Stones
The exhibits are well done and informative, but my favorite part was actually watching the sea turtle patients being treated in the hospital.  We could also visit the sea turtle rehabilitation pavilion which contains tanks where turtles are recovering from their injuries.  

Treating a New Patient

The center has an adoption program, and two sea turtles that had been at the facility since last summer still had not been adopted.  Their stories were so sad, but their recovery was going so well that Tim and I decided to adopt both Karen and Test.  We’ll be able to follow their progress and hopefully see them released back into the wild.  We haven’t yet told Kitty that she now has a half sister and brother.


Jekyll Island is really a fascinating place.  It’s a beautiful barrier island off the coast of Georgia, with lovely beaches and an amazing historic district.  The Jekyll Island Club was established in 1886 as one of the most exclusive social clubs in the United States.  Members included the Astors, Vanderbilts, Pulitzers, Morgans and McCormicks, and these families built “cottages” to enjoy during the post-Christmas season.  Here, members could relax and enjoy the "country life" in their seaside resort.
Moss Cottage

Indian Mound Cottage

Sans Souci

Club Cottage
Although the houses are certainly grand, they are simple in comparison to the members’ houses in Newport.  The setting is as magnificent as the buildings, with massive live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss.  Many of the houses also have views of the Intracoastal Waterway. 

Most of the Cottages Are Located Along Riverview Drive
Stately Live Oak Tree

Jekyll Wharf
The state of Georgia purchased Jekyll Island from the club in 1947, and most of the houses have been preserved and are open to the public.  The club house now operates as a hotel.  It’s a lovely place to wander and soak up the atmosphere.

Jekyll Island Club Hotel
A Game of Croquet on the Lawn in Front of the Hotel

We Couldn't Leave Georgia Without Feasting on Peel 'n' Eat Shrimp at the Rah Bar

December 28, 2011

On the Road Again

After a delightful respite of almost two weeks between Charleston and Savannah, Tim and I are back on the road again.  Thank you, Herbert, for your wonderful hospitality.  Our visit with you was fabulous, and it was a perfect way to end the first three months of our trip.  But, Kitty was ready to go home again, so we are heading south.  Isn’t it interesting that Kitty really does consider the RV her home.  She will tolerate a visit to a friend’s house or to a hotel, but she seems more content in her Kat Karrier.

Before we left Savannah, we visited Fort Pulaski National Monument.  Fort Pulaski was built during the second quarter of the nineteenth century to guard the river approach to Savannah.  The fort was named for Count Casimir Pulaski, the Polish hero of the American Revolution who died during the siege of Savannah in 1779.  

Inside Fort Pulaski
Fort Pulaski is best known for its role in the Civil War, when the Union army successfully bombarded the fort, forcing Confederate forces to surrender after just thirty hours.  It had been thought that the fort’s solid brick walls backed by masonry piers were invincible and could withstand any assault.  However, new technology in the form of experimental, rifled cannons proved the fallacy of that judgment.  The new cannons succeeded in opening wide gaps in the walls of the fort.  No one ever built a brick fort after this battle.

The Demilune Is a Huge Triangular Piece of Land to Protect the Rear of the Fort

A Moat Surrounds the Fort

The Southwest Bastion

Fort Pulaski Is Characterized by its Brick Arches

Brick Walls Are 7-1/2 Feet Thick

Robert E. Lee's First Assignment After Graduation from West Point
Was to Build Fort Pulaski, Including its Series of Dikes to Drain the Marsh
We said a fond farewell to Savannah and made our way to Jekyll Island State Park.  Jekyll Island is a barrier island off the coast of Georgia near Brunswick.  It is one of the Sea Islands and one of the Golden Isles of Georgia and boasts a remarkable historic district from the Gilded Age.  We’ll explore Jekyll tomorrow.

Christmas Is Alive and Well at Jekyll Island

December 27, 2011


Tim and I have been pretending to be homebodies these last few days.  Thanks to our wonderful host Herbert, we have had a lovely apartment to enjoy during our visit to Savannah.  After taking some time to tour Savannah, and spending a wonderful Christmas Eve and Christmas Day with Herbert, Tim and I have been staying pretty close to our temporary home.

Tim has been fighting a cold and has relished the opportunity to hang around, watch TV and rest up.  I’ve been enjoying a little bit of down time as well.  Because I know Savannah, I feel no pressure to get out and see the town.  We have ventured out each day for good food and short walks, so we haven’t been complete hermits.  Herbert even treated us to a great home-cooked dinner last night.  Shrimp and pasta, yum!

Herbert has also put me to work.  My standard job when I visit Herbert is to organize his kitchen cabinets.  It seems that most of my visits coincide with a new residence on his part, and this visit is no exception.  In his haste to unpack, Herbert tends to put things away wherever he can find an empty spot.  Unfortunately, silver spoons have no right to be in a junk drawer, and sugar should never be placed under the kitchen sink.

I have to admit that one of my talents is space planning, and kitchen organization is my specialty.  So, I’ve been busy at work in Herbert’s kitchen, placing like with like, and storing little-used items in harder-to-reach shelves.  It’s not rocket science; it just takes a bit of thought.  I’m pleased with the results and have even given Herbert an empty shelf or two, but he may need a roadmap to locate everything.

December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

Tim, Kitty and I would like to wish all our family and friends a very Merry Christmas.  This trip is our Christmas gift to ourselves, and we couldn’t ask for a more wonderful present.  Thanks to all of you for your support in making this a reality for us.  We appreciate your following us on the blog and enjoy reading your comments.  It really does make our day.

We hope you have a wonderful day and will miss spending the holiday with you.  However, we are with you in spirit and will be thinking of you throughout the day.

I Want a New Hat Next Year

Not a Happy Santa

Like Me In My Bandana?  I Don't!

Will Santa Find Us?

December 24, 2011


Today is Christmas Eve, and tonight we will be celebrating a traditional Cuban Nochebuena at the home of friends of Herbert.  Then tomorrow, we will spend Christmas day with Herbert.

When Tim and I left on our trip, we had no idea where we would spend the holidays.  We would have been perfectly content to spend the holidays alone, but we’ve been fortunate to be able to spend both Thanksgiving and Christmas with friends.  How much nicer that has been for us.  We were able to visit with Tim’s friends from Utah on Thanksgiving, and now we are here with Herbert for Christmas.  It was just a fluke that Herbert was planning to be in Savannah for Christmas and that the timing of our travels happened to put us here right now.

We had the entire day to tour Savannah.  I’ve said before that Savannah is a walkable city, and we walked several miles today from Forsyth Park to the Savannah River and back.  It was a gorgeous day, sunny and just cool enough for a sweater.  It was such a relief to enjoy ourselves and look at wonderful buildings while everyone else was going crazy, finishing their last minute shopping.

Fountain in Forsyth Park

Sarah and Tim

Herbert at the Armstrong House

Mercer House

Herbert and Tim Admire a Few of Savannah's 18th Century Houses

Savannah Ironwork

Davenport House
Herbert is so knowledgeable about Savannah and enjoys telling his guests about the history and architecture of the city, as well as the insider stories.  I always learn something new.

We’ll be back here tomorrow to wish you a Merry Christmas.  Kitty has a special treat just for you.

Kitty's Favorite Gate