While David took care of the things he does... I sat at the shore of Lake Blackshear watching turtles. I was watching for a gator (my new obsession) but instead I saw turtles. Several of them. At one point there were 10 turtle sunning on that log.
This picture shows 7 and I saw 3 more in the water making their way towards the log and then suddenly something much larger slithered up and over the log. This caused the turtles to leap .. yes leap... back into the water and totally freaked me out. That is until I realized it was an otter!
I fumbled around trying to get my camera going to get a picture because he was swimming around with his head out of the water right in front of me. Unfortunately, muscle memory of the old fashioned cameras had me trying to find the button and putting the damn camera up to my eye and then not be able to see anything. Then when I finally remembered to look at the nice convenient digital screen he had gone under again.
It ends up this was the only picture of the otter I was able to get.
While we were there I told David I don’t know HOW anyone in the South (before swimming pools) EVER learned how to swim. There is no way in hell you would get me into any body of water unless I could see all the way from one end to the other. I am pretty sure that there are no backsies with gators.
Either they are in the water, or they are not... and if they are in the water they eat you tearing off limbs by going into a death roll or dragging you to the bottom of the water to drown and they will eat you later. Or maybe not.
So... you tell me. How brave are ya?
You going to be the first in the water to test if there is a gator there?
(tee hee I just love it! The wild beasts)
Then after a couple days, on December 23rd, we packed up and headed south again...
passing cotton fields...
and pecan orchards as far as the eye could see.
We were leaving Georgia and heading towards Florida into the panhandle.
We landed at Grayton Beach State Park. Again another very nice park and I do recommend it but I have to tell you... I would not want to be here during spring/summer. If you come, come off season during the winter time and just be prepared for some rain and chillier days. During the “on” season this place would be a zoo.
The “towns” which are an easy bike path ride away are not really towns but beach communities along Santa Rosa Beach. Well, if you look a little deeper they are not really even individual communities. They are secretly housing developments that are pretending to be towns and while VERY nice and planned out and organized... they are rather sterilized step-ford wife-ish. Disneyland like. We have not seen so many BMWs, Land Rovers, Mercedes-Benz, Jaguars in one place in a long time.
Those of us familiar with the Mendocino Coast have plenty of opinions about the Coastal Commission... and I still STRONGLY believe they ere too far in the other direction. But when you see a place like this. You understand reluctantly why there is a need for a type of a coastal commission. Without one you can’t see the beach through the trendy, matchy, stylish, well planned condo - house things.
Anyway we wandered around on a stormy day in town... here I am playing with the sea nymphs...
and here is David playing with the sea...
And after we were done and a bit chilly we went on back home and set up camp.
David even put up the Christmas lights for me,
and I got out a couple of decorations that I had brought along for the trip. It was one very festive trailer!
On Christmas day we talked to the families back home... I talked to Amber like 3-4 times! And via the internet I immediately saw pictures of everyone and after the get together both Beth and Brooke posted pictures into their Picasa on-line albums and I was able to see all the photos of the day without having to download individual pictures. Technology is pretty spiffy!
I have had a couple folks ask me if we exchange gifts. Officially we don’t. But come on... I wake up every day on this adventure after sleeping a warm and safe night. We have all the comforts of home... literally... and I am on a trip I never imagined going on. In fact, in the past 5 or 6 years I have gone places and enjoyed experiences that I could not have imagined. No gift exchange? Yeah right. I get a gift every day... and while I try to express my gratefulness, there are simply not enough words. I appreciate it all more than I can ever say.
So... we had a great Christmas, and are looking forward to the New Year. Stay tuned as we are changing up a couple of stops on the itinerary but... get this...
we have not yet planned the route back! Isn’t that great!?
And look at this....
Donovan's First Christmas... and the festive reindeer outfit!
to see if there are any treasures lying there waiting for us.
I am sorry to say we are becoming aggressive about it.
When we first arrived, we wandered slowly and happily. We were easy to please with the odd piece of shell, or a complete cockle now and then. We chuckled at the ‘old people’ who walked up and down the beach at all hours carrying bags or baskets FULL of shells. Weren’t they just so silly?
In the morning fog, these slow moving silhouettes out on the beach looked like the zombies in the old creature feature movies. They plodded along, dragging their feet, slowly scanning their surroundings until they suddenly bend over groaning to pick up the odd shell now and then. “Look!” we giggle and joked to each other... “the zombies are out!”
Zombies notwithstanding, there was one couple that had everyone beat. They also were making the beachcombers angry. This couple drove up and down the beach with their matching visors in their golf cart all day long.
(This is not them. We were too busy shaking our fists
and muttering curses to get a picture of them but you get the idea)
Anyway, they snag all the good treasures before anyone had the chance to even see them. What made matters even worse was their snarling little well dressed chihuahuas that rode in the back of the cart yapping at everyone they passed.
Just imagine, you wake up early to walk the beach and search through a freshly laid path of shells left specially for you by Poseidon and his sea nypmhs.
These treasures are your reward for rising to greet the sun and sea so early instead of laying in bed all morning. You are walking along enjoying the sunrise and the sparkle of the water on this new selection of shells... then all of a sudden a golf cart zips past you. Little beastly faux-dogs barking and snapping at you as they pass. Then just a short distance away, right along your very path, you see the cart stop and someone jumps out and grabs whatever treasure was laying in wait in front of you. You are just sure it was some of Lafitte’s missing treasures, or spanish gold coins, or an ancient french bottle of wine or something.
But there is no one to complain to... you see the ancient, tried, and true rule applies here...
We didn’t understand any of this at first. But then... enough time on the beach has passed, and we felt the sting of sand in our eyes one too many times as we were passed by the golf cart people. We finally got the bug.
We started getting up earlier, we started going up to the beach more frequently. Any time on the beach included shell searching. We were getting more selective about the shells we are keeping, even tossing aside some that would have dazzled our eyes if this was our first shell hunt.
Then, we heard that a couple of storms were coming in and so we plotted and planned to be the first on the shore the morning after the storm. That morning we were out of the trailer before 6 am. We had Delta with us and started towards the beach path...
But what the hell?!
There was a new couple at the park and they were already headed up the path ahead of us wheeling an empty shell basket the size of a lobster cage behind them! They were after our treasures! David turned to me and whispered, “hurry we have to get in front of them!” I followed quickly but then...
this couple made a huge mistake.
They hesitated at the end of the path trying to decide
which direction to start their shell hunt.
Along with 'Finders Keepers'... another truism here is 'he who hesitates is lost'. David and Delta quickly passed them on the left and went down the beach in one direction and I decided to split the troops for maximum coverage. While they were blinking back their surprise watching David and Delta heading north leaving them behind, I flanked them on the opposite side and and headed south!
We had them beat! No matter which way they turned one of us was going to be in front of them gathering up all the gold ingots, ancient bottles, and colorful conch shells before they had the chance!
And now... to calm things down a bit. Here are some obligatory pictures of the sunrise on the South Carolina shore... I have to tell you as someone being very used to sunsets this kinda messes up your sense of direction a bit at first.
When I think of beach... I think west. This is kind of a nice change up.
And I must apologize... pictures never quite capture the moment but here they are:
Sunrise looking back towards camp:
Hmm.... maybe it's time to put some back.
We don't even have shells in our house for decoration other than a
couple abalone shells in the garden and a couple of tiny ones on my dresser.
What a city! This is one we would like to visit again for sure. As we have taken to keeping an eye on the weather, we knew it was going to absolutely pour buckets of rain at the campsite so even though we are 2 hours from Savannah we figured it would be a good day to go instead of being locked in the trailer all day.
Turns out it absolutely poured buckets of rain in Savannah too.
Oh well! We still had a great time!
Savannah was drawn out in 1733 by a couple of British dudes (Ogelthorpe and Bull). It was a fabulous city plan.
The (old) city eventually was made up of 24 squares (21 still exist and they are rebuilding the "lost" 3).
These squares have a center "park" that is surrounded on the east and west sides by public trust buildings and then that was surrounded by residences (called tythes). Each of the squares has a different name and is dedicated to someone/some cause and has benches, fountains, statues, etc.
One of the first squares we came to had a statue with a hexagonal base on it describing the reason for the statue.
This first statue honored a regiment of soldiers of African descent who fought to help capture Savannah back from the British during the Revolutionary war. These solders were from Haiti and among soldiers actually from many other countries came to assist the "rebel" American's in their fight for liberty. Hmmm. Had never heard that before. Seems we miss a lot in public school history classes.
Anyway, each of the center parks of the squares are very pretty.
It makes for a beautiful, walkable, drivable, enjoyable historic part of the city. The shops, boutiques, restaurants, everywhere and the old houses are wonderful. What was literally a damper on the whole situation for us was the rain.
The rain was running down the old gutter system in this building so fast it was shooting out upward into the sky like a sprinkler!
Check out the downspouts!
While we braved it with a huge golf umbrella we did stick closer to the retail places as opposed to tour houses etc. So if we come back, the plan will be to bring our bikes on a sunny day and ride around and enjoy the architecture, tours, and museums.
I did get to say hello to Santa!
We wandered past Paula Deen's The Lady and Sons restaurant (we had already eaten) and I ducked into their store real quickly. That was kind of fun.
We floated down to the waterfront, along the cobblestones, to the waterfront where we saw the waving girl.
The waving girl... Florence Martus (1868 - 1943)... was the lighthouse keeper's sister and she took to waving to all incoming and out going ships. In the day with a hanky/scarf and then in the night with a lantern. She began waving in 1887 and stopped waving in 1931. She waved for forty years. Some folks tried to embellish the story by saying she wanted to be the first to greet a husband or a lost love. That was not the case though apparently. I guess the fact is she was just lonely, and was constantly seen with her collie companion... and probably frankly was a tad bit... umm... ecentric. Many years after she died the city still loved the legend so much they had a statue made of her and her collie which stands out on the waterfront greeting all the ships once again.
Our last stop of the day was the one and only Scottish pub where I got a lesson in Single Malt Scotch by David and a kilt-wearing, single malt scotch expert bartender.
Heh... nah just kidding. He was wearing a kilt... but he did not have the broadsword handy only a bottle of 16 year old Bruichladdich.