Tuesday, March 29, 2011

East Coast Bound--Day 27

Our car is still in the body shop. We stopped by there yesterday and they had gotten in the last of the parts they needed to complete it. Once all the parts are in place they can move it to the paint shop and then put it all back together. We were hoping that would happen today but apparently it did not. Hopefully that will happen tomorrow. We figure whatever day it is completed we can head out the next day. So, our return home, which is at least three days away, will be determined on when we can leave here. We have really been enjoying our visit to Savannah, although what was to be a four day visit is not in its third week. Also, the great weather we had for the first two weeks is now gone and it is cool and rainy. This weather is supposed to last through Thursday and then clear up. One of the things we have been interested in is the Cockspur Island Lighthouse. It is on an island in the Savannah River and can only be reached by boat. When the tide is out the base of it is exposed along with the island. When the tide comes back in the island is covered along with the bottom of the lighthouse base. We'd love to go explore this lighthouse since it is open but we are not planning to try to swim to it. This is a close as I could get and still had to use the maximum zoom on my camera to get these pictures.

We are still doing some sightseeing while we are here. Today we went to discover another old military fort. There are two historic forts here in Savannah, Fort Puluski and Fort Jackson, that we explored when we were here in 2007. This one, Fort McAllister, is in the next county south of us. This was very different than any of the historic forts we have seen before. Most are built of wood or brick/stone. This fort is an earthen fort. It was manned by the Confederate Army during the War of Northern Aggression (1861-1864). This fort is on the Ogeechee River and was the first defense of Savannah from ships that were part of the naval blockade by the Union forces. Although it was attacked many times by naval ships from the North they never succeeded in getting through. The fort actually fell when General Sherman attacked from the land during his "march to the sea" as his forces burned a sixty mile wide swath from Atlanta to Savannah. The attack did delay Sherman's forces long enough for the 10,000 Confederate troops stationed in Savannah to withdraw. This actually saved Savannah and, therefore, Sherman did not destroy the city like they did Atlanta and everything else in their path since there was no resistance when they arrived in the city. Most of the fort is underground with tunnels connecting the gun emplacements and the magazines. The center section of the fort is called "the bombproof" and is where the men lived. The shelling from the Union ships in the river did no damage to the fort with the shells bouncing off the earthen walls.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

East Coast Bound--Day 25

Yesterday was a day to relax and do not much of anything. Spent some time in the RV park with the dogs, doing a little reading and playing games on the computers. Everyone needs a "down" day every so often. We did drive into Savannah to go to a roadside fresh produce market but did not find anything that we felt we needed. Was hoping to find some locally grown items but it was mostly stuff that had been brought in from other parts of the country. (Georgia is famous for their peanuts but this place was selling peanuts from Virginia.)

Today we went back over to the beach area for lunch and to stroll around there for awhile. Had a great seafood lunch at Fannie's on the Beach. From there we took a long walk out on the Tybee Island Pier to watch some of the fisherman. The beaches were fairly full of sunbathers and swimmers since the weather was beautiful again today. After walking around the area we returned to the RV park not long before the weather changed. A front moved in from the west and by mid afternoon we had rain. It turned out to be a pretty good thunderstorm that appears to about have played out for our area now. It was actually good to get rain since it has been very dry around here with several outbreaks of wildfires over the last week or so.

Friday, March 25, 2011

East Coast Bound--Day 23

Good news, a little bad news and a trip back to historic Savannah.

Talked to the folks at the auto body shop this morning. They were hoping to have our car completed by today but that did not happen. They had all the parts in but had not gotten it to the paint shop. Looks like that will not happen until Monday. So we are still "stranded" here on this beautiful island for a few more days. The good news was that the City of Tybee is picking up the cost of the RV Park, which would have been $45.00 per day for weekdays and $55.00 for weekend days. I had been discussing this with the folks from the cities insurance company but was glad to see the city was just going to take care of that themselves. We also were told we can remain on our site for as long as needed so that means we won't have to unhook and move the coach. It is unfortunate that all this happened but we have to admit that everyone has been just great and have done everything they can to accommodate us. I've told several people that if you have to be stranded somewhere Savannah is one of the better places to be stranded.

This afternoon we headed back down to the historic section of downtown Savannah. All the flowers are in bloom here and the city is beautiful. Parking downtown, like about any large city, is a real problem. After circling several blocks looking for a place to park we wound up in an underground parking garage. Actually, we wound up four levels below ground, under some of the historic buildings, before we found a space. First stop was the City Market area for lunch at the Cafe at City Market, where we had eaten last week. This is a great place to eat, out on their patio. Afterwards we just wondered around the downtown area looking through the many shops there for the tourist trade. We worked our way north to River Street, which is a couple of levels below the main part of town. One of the shops was a candy store/factory. We were fascinated in watching a machine that made salt water taffy. It was a tiring afternoon but with nice weather we had a good time in old Savannah.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

East Coast Bound--Day 22

A walk on the beach and a great dinner.

Today was a relaxing day of not doing much. Checked out a couple of the surf shops here on Tybee Island and then came back to the coach to vegetate. Later in the afternoon we walked down to the beach and strolled up and down there for awhile. The City of tybee has an ordinance against dogs on the beach so the "kids" had to stay behind in the coach. Joanne took off her shoes and tested the surf as it rolled ashore. We are told the water temperature in this part of the Atlantic is around 58 degrees. While we were out there the tide started to come in and the waves picked up a bit. I still have not figured out the tide tables here. You would think an old sailor would know something about these things but that was not my responsibility. I left navigation and ship handling to the Quartermasters and Boatswain Mates. I always thought the tide went out and came in once per day. I'm told that here the tide goes out and then returns every six hours.

Later in the evening we drove over to Diane and Russ' house for a home cooked dinner. We took the pups with us so they could play with Diane's dogs. In addition to her usual six dogs she still has the little Poodle she started fostering when we were here last November. Also, she has two very small puppies, that are only a couple weeks old, that had been thrown into a dumpster in a sack. Diane has a big heart when it comes to animals and is always taking them in and finding homes for them. Our little Bridgit Jeane had a big time with the dogs she had spent several weeks with before we were able to get here last November to pick her up. On the other hand, Buddy Joe was a bit overwhelmed again with all the commotion. Dinner was great, as it usually is at their house, and we had a good visit. Here is Diane with her two Miniature Schnauzers and the little Poodle.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

East Coast Bound--Day 21

Rubbing elbows with the wealthy.

We decided today that we should go across the bay and explore Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. Can't say we were all that impressed. It is very crowded with way too much traffic. It also is a playground for folks with a bunch of money. One of their landmarks is a lighthouse, that was actually built in modern times and never used as a true lighthouse. The lighthouse was built strictly as a draw for boaters and tourist. In the area where the light mechanism would be was a gift shop. It is located on the south end of the island in a very restricted residential area. It cost $5.00 just to drive through the gate in this area and then we were given very strict rules about not getting off the main road and into the private home streets or we would be fined. Once after we got to the lighthouse I felt obligated to climb the 114 steps to the top. (Although Joanne loves lighthouses she has decided climbing them is no longer something she can do.) It cost another $3.50 to climb up to their gift shop. There were some good views of their marina and of one of the fairways of the Harbour Town Golf Links where the Heritage Golf Tournament is held each year.

After the lighthouse we spent some time looking at some of the shops located there and then had a late lunch at the Harbourside Burgers & Brews. This was an outdoor cafe with several tables with umbrellas. Due to the wind the waiter was going around putting the umbrellas down just after we got seated. Anyway, we did have some very good hamburgers for our effort. All in all it was a good afternoon but Hilton Head Island is probably not a place we'd return to and we definitely would not spend the kind of money it would take to stay anywhere over there.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

East Coast Bound--Day 20

A return to the scene of the crime.

Yesterday was a travel day. We made an uneventful trip back down the coast to Savannah and out to Tybee Island to the RV Park. Unfortunately the folks over at City Hall had not communicated with the RV Park and the staff on duty was not aware of our return. (The folks working in the office when we left were off duty yesterday.) The park is almost full and they have reservations for the few empty spots that are here. They did find us a good spot and we should be able to stay here through the end of the week. If the car is not complete by Friday, so we can head out, we may have to move to another space within the park. Hopefully that won't happen because this is a great spot. Have communicated with the insurance company and everything seems to be going good. The car repair has been approved and it is being worked on. The insurance company has rented us a car to drive while we are here. (We were lucky enough to get a HHR so we are familiar with it.) The only thing still to work out is getting them to pay for the RV park while we are here and the rental car cost for the one we rented last weekend in Myrtle Beach.

Today was a lazy day of relaxing around the coach, after picking up the rental car. We did meet up this evening to have dinner with Diane and Russ Abolt. They suggested meeting at Johnny Harris Restaurant, the oldest restaurant in Savannah, being in business since 1924. It was formally a dance hall in it's heyday. The food was good and the company was even better.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

East Coast Bound--Day 18

A Sunday drive to see a big ship.

We got up and out a little earlier than normal this morning. Destination: Wilmington, North Carolina, to tour the USS North Carolina. This is a World War II battleship that is now a museum ship. The keep was laid down for her in 1937 and she was commissioned in April 1941. She served throughout the Pacific during the war spending a large portion of her time helping to protect the Navy's aircraft carriers. During the war she earned 15 battle stars. She was decommissioned in June 1947 and was assigned to the mothball fleet in New Jersey. In 1960 the Navy announced their intentions to sell the ship for salvage. That is when the people of North Carolina moved to action to save their namesake ship. The ship opened for tours in 1961. She has been completely restored to her World War II configuration and nearly all spaces are open to the public. We did the entire tour, from the engine rooms all the way up to the bridge. (Here I am sitting in the Captain's Chair on the bridge.) The only disappointment was the Chief's Mess was not on the tour. The group that operates the ship now uses that space for their offices and storage. That is a shame because the Chief's Mess is normally the nucleus of any Navy ship.

Before we boarded the ship we drove into Wilmington for lunch. Had a good lunch at a little restaurant right on the waterfront with a good view of the ship across the harbor. We wound up spending most of the afternoon on the ship before we headed the back the 70 or so miles to Myrtle Beach. After dinner in the coach we took the dogs for a walk on the beach since they had been cooped up inside all day. The weather was a little cooler today than what we've had since arriving and we had more wind, coming from the north today. This should blow out of here tonight and warm back up tomorrow as we make our trek back down to Savannah.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

East Coast Bound--Day 17

Another beautiful day at the beach and a visit with kinfolk.

The weather turned out great again today. Plenty of sunshine with temps in the 80's. Can't ask for a better time to be at the beach. Started off with a visit from my cousin Deborah Smith and her friends. She brought her boyfriend, Sam, and a co-worker, Kristi. They are all originally from California but have been in Columbia, South Carolina, for a couple of years. Being Californians at heart they really wanted to see the ocean/beach so the first thing we did was take a walk on the beach. Afterwards we headed to North Myrtle Beach where the concentration of tourist hotels and restaurants are located. We went to the Second Avenue Pier, since that is the first place we found a parking place. They have a good restaurant there so that is where we wound up eating. Here are Deborah and Sam at lunch.

After lunch Kristi treated us to a stroll on the pier. They charge $1.00 per person to walk out on the pier. There was a display for the fishermen with a fake shark for pictures. There were several people fishing from the pier. One young man had caught a small sand shark and was letting anyone who wanted to hold it before he put it back in the ocean. Sam was the only one who was willing to step up and hold the shark. We really enjoyed seeing Deborah again and visiting with her friends but they had a three hour drive back to Columbia so it was not too long before they had to leave. Joanne and I drove on down the Strand a ways and then made a couple of stops at a local outlet mall. (Funny how we always seem to wind up at one of these outlets.) After returning to the coach to see to the dogs we went down the street aways to a local Bar-B-Que place for dinner. In all it was a really good day.

Friday, March 18, 2011

East Coast Bound--Day 16

A beautiful day and a great lunch.

The cool weather from yesterday went away and we had beautiful weather today with temps in the 80's. We decided to go look over the area and see what there was to do here besides the beach. After a stop at the local Chamber of Commerce office we headed to a place called The Broadway at the Beach. (Not sure why they gave it this name since it is about two miles inland from the beach.) This is a large shopping and entertainment area that has been built around a man made lake. We had decided to have lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe that is at one end of The Broadway. After a good lunch we walked all the way around, checking out the different places. At the opposite end was a Jimmy Buffet's Margaritaville. At another place they had a tower on each side of the lake and, for a fee, people could hang from a "zip line" and slide from one side of the lake to the other and then move to another line and slide back. The lake itself has been heavily stocked with fish, with many catfish in the mix. They have vending machines set up around the railings so people can buy fish food to feed them. At each of these locations the fish are thick on top of the water begging for food. I've never seen anything quite like this before.

After spending most of the afternoon at The Broadway we returned to the coach to relax and then decided to take a walk on the beach. There is something about the ocean that is very calming to a person. Maybe that is one of the reasons I enjoyed being in the Navy all those years. The beach has a large amount of sea shells that have washed up. Unfortunately, most are fairly broken up due to the surf that comes in with the tide changes. (In the winter of 2007 we walked the beach in Northern Florida and picked up a large amount of shells to take back home to the grand daughters. We found many that had not been broken. Did not have that kind of luck here.) Anyway, we did have a nice evening walk down the beach.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

East Coast Bound--Day 15

Off we go to Myrtle Beach.

We left Savannah around 9:00 this morning for our trek north. Not wanting to get involved with the traffic and crowds in the downtown area we skirted to the south of that area and made our way out to Interstate 95. From there it was just a couple hundred miles north to our destination. It is apparently the off season here in Myrtle Beach. This park is huge but almost empty. Additionally, we passed a large number of RV storage facilities and they are all full. The car in the picture to the left is the rental car we needed while we are here this weekend. We are parked about 100 feet from the beach and the Atlantic Ocean. It was a bit on the cool side today but the forecast for the weekend is for the 70's.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

East Coast Bound--Day 14

The trip from hell continues!

Today started off to be another beautiful day, until we decided to get in the car and go down to the beach here on Tybee Island. Not very far from the RV park, on one of the town's side roads we came upon a group of city employees doing some landscaping work. Another of their employees drove by them then decided he needed to stop to see them. He stopped in the middle of the road then proceeded to put his truck in reverse and back up. Unfortunately we were directly behind him. I laid down on my horn and tried to get the car in reverse to back up also but it was too late. He backed directly into the front of our car. Fortunately there were plenty of witnesses so he could not claim we rear ended him. The Tybee police came out and took their report and cited the truck driver (City Employee). Also the guys supervisors soon showed up on the scene. Due to the radiator being damaged we had to have the car towed to a repair/body shop. The City stepped up and had the tow company bill them direct. Big problem is were are scheduled to leave Savannah tomorrow morning to head for Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Although the tow base plate on the car is undamaged we are reluctant to leave town with the car and then have to deal with the City's insurance carrier via long distance. Current plan is to go on to Myrtle Beach tomorrow since the RV park is already paid for and it is non-refundable. At that point instead for venturing further north next Monday, as originally planned, we've cancelled that part of the trip and will return to Savannah to wait for the car to be repaired and then head back to Oklahoma. One thing is for sure, regardless of all the trials and tribulations we've had on this trip our little ones pretty take it all in stride. Maybe they have the right idea, to just take things as they come.

We had planned to meet our friends, Diane and Russ Abolt, and Diane's parents for dinner tonight. As it turned out Diane had to come out to the RV park to pick me up and take me over to the body shop to get some stuff out of the car and unlock and remove the tow base plate to the repair guys can get to the damaged front end. Afterwards we came back to pick up Joanne and then met up with the others at The Crab Shack, a local seafood place back in the woods on one of the canals. We ordered a large seafood platter that was shown to feed four people. There was plenty of food for the six of us with a bunch left over. The Crab Shack had their parade float ready for tomorrow's St. Patrick's Day Parade and their crew/band was on site tonight to play for the diners. Here is Russ enjoying the music. The Crab Shack is always a fun place to dine but with the float crew/band here it was even more fun. (The place has a bunch of neat displays including live alligators out front.) St. Patrick's Day is the major holiday of the year in Savannah. The city is flooded with people and just about all business' will be closed tomorrow, including all government operations. The old historic district, where we've been exploring this week, and the river area will be so crowded with people that we are kind of glad we won't be here to see it all. Local authorities are estimating there will be about 500,000 people in the downtown area for the parade and celebration.

Here are some pics from our dinner at The Crab Shack tonight.

On the left is Russ & Diane Abolt. Center is Diane's parents, Judy and Grady Burks, from Oklahoma City. The right is Joanne and I enjoying great company.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

East Coast Bound--Day 13

A great greasy burger and a fix to our slide problem.

Got around this morning and headed out. We pretty much walked ourselves out yesterday so today was just some discount shopping, lunch and then back to the coach. We had seen an Outlet Mall along Interstate 95 on our way into Savannah last Saturday. We drove back over there and, sure enough, they had both of our favorite outlet stores. Bonworth's for Joanne and Beall's for me. We both found something we liked. Afterward we jumped on the Interstate and went back down to downtown Savannah for lunch. Yesterday we noticed a Five Guys Burgers & Fries location down on the main drag through town. I watch the Food Channel show "Diner's, Drive-In's and Dive's" and they had an episode recently on one of these places. It was a pretty good greasy onion burger but I have to say I've had better.

After lunch we headed back out to Tybee Island and the coach. We relaxed this afternoon while waiting for the repair tech to come out and put the new motor in our large bedroom slide. As was mentioned back on Day 2, we have not had the use of one of the bedroom slides. Fortunately when the slide motor failed it was in the "in" position so we could still drive the coach. The smaller slide would go out but not the large one with the bed on it. We've been having to shinny around the end of the bed to get to the closet and other cabinets. The Techs at the rally last week determined that the motor was shot but they did not have a replacement on their parts truck. I had them order us one and ship it to our friends house here in Savannah. It was here when we got here last Saturday. This evening we had a local repair tech come out and install the motor. This required him to disassemble the box under the bed that protects the slide equipment. Here is the tech working away. Lightened my wallet a bit but at least we can get around in the bedroom now.

Monday, March 14, 2011

East Coast Bound--Day 12

A tour, lunch and then a stroll.

Today was a day of exploring the old historic area of downtown Savannah. We started off by taking a guided tour on one of the trolley companies working in town. This tour took about 90 minutes and wound through the narrow streets and around the historic neighborhood squares. Most of the buildings in this area are very old with some being built up to 400 years ago. Because of the historic values there are many restrictions on what can be done with/to them when they are being refurbished or restored. The wood structures must have wood siding and cannot have metal or vinyl siding put on them. Also, there are a limited number of colors they can be painted, all pastel colors. One of the houses in the historic district is what was termed a "kit house" from Sears, Roebuck & Company. (This is the yellow house in the picture to the right.) The house was delivered in pre-cut pieces and then assembled on the site. They did a good job of putting it together except they put all the window frames in upside down. This is a two family home and is currently for sale.

After the tour we went back to the area to backtrack on foot to get a better view at some of the places we had been. We started in the Market District where we picked up a few souvenirs and then had lunch at a neat cafe. From there we walked from the west end of the historic district to the east end and then down to the Savannah River. We then went back west on River Street before catching one of the trolleys back to where the car was parked. (By taking the tour we were given passes, good for all day, for their regular trolleys.) One of the buildings in this area is where Paula Deen has her restaurant, The Lady and Sons. It was a good thing we had not planned to have lunch there because by the time we worked our way back there, around 2:30, they were all booked up and not taking any new folks in. Also, every block or so was a separate neighborhood, each built around a park like square. The tour guide told us there are 22 of these squares left. Many of the squares have monuments or statues honoring different people who contributed to the history of Savannah. In one of area was a statue of Johnny Mercer, the music composer and band leader who was born here. (There is also a Johnny Mercer Boulevard on the east side of Savannah.)

Currently the town is gearing up for their annual St. Patrick's Day celebration. This past Saturday the City of Tybee had their St. Pats parade. The main celebration will begin this Thursday, which is St. Patrick's Day. The tour guide said this is the biggest celebration in Savannah all year and the town will be flooded with people. Literally thousands of people will pour in to celebrate. Everything is being decorated in green, especially the green Porta-Potties that are popping up all over town. They have even put green coloring in the water in all the fountains in town. This fountain was in Reynolds Square in one of the neighborhoods. We will miss the big celebration since we are scheduled to leave out on Thursday morning.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

East Coast Bound--Day 11

A fall, an injury and another move.

We wrapped up the rally this past Friday night. The final days activities were sponsored, as in paid for, by Monaco RV, LLC, the company that now produces these Monaco brand coaches we all drive. As we have done the last couple of nights we again had dinner with our friends Jim & Peggy Girch and Lew & Dottie Anderson. (After the rally Jim & Peggy were heading north to Perry, Georgia, for the big Family Motor Coach Rally. They work the rallies as vendors so they will have a booth at the FMCA rally like they did here at the Monaco International Rally. Lew & Dottie were going over by Plains, Georgia, to work on a Habitat for Humanity house build.) The entertainment after dinner was to be Karaoke. Since that is not our cup of tea we decided to go on back to the coach. On the way out we used a side door that we had not been using. As we approched the street I lost my footing on the curb and fell. Wind up scrapping my knee and tearing the knee out of a good pair of blue jeans. Also jammed my right wrist. It does not appear that I broke anything but it is definitely sprained. I've kept it wrapped and taken a lot of Tylenol since the fall. It has been pretty much unusuable so I've been doing everything with my left hand. Makes it very hard to do the hooking up of the utilities for the coach and hooking up/unhooking the car for towing. Joanne has jumped in to help when I've had problems. (She also make a late night trip to Wal-Mart on Friday night to get the items we needed that were not in the first aid kit. When I fell I was directly behind a car that was backing out of a parking space. Joanee was able to get them to stop before they backed over me. It is wonderful to have a great wife.)

Saturday morning saw the rally attendees loading up and moving out. Many of the folks were going on to the FMCA rally in Perry so they were forming up into a caravan to travel up together. There were probably 50 to 60 coaches, all towing cars, that would be traveling up Interstate 75. The people not going to Perry were requested to either leave before 7:00am or wait until the caravan was gone. We were able to roll out of Moultrie around 9:00am and headed east, arriving in Savannah around 2:00pm. Not being able to use my right hand while driving was another experience. We are actually at the River's End RV Park in Tybee, Georgia, which is east of Savannah. It is on Tybee Island and we are just about a block from the Atlantic Ocean. As we were driving through Savannah our cell phone range and it was our friend Diane. They were waiting for us at the RV park. Her parents, who also live in Oklahoma City area, had arrived yesterday and the four of them had been out on Tybee Island for lunch and stopped by to see if we had made it in. (Diane was also excited to see our little Bridgit Jeane since she is the one who secured Bridgit for us.) After we got parked and set up we went over to Russ and Diane's for dinner and a chance to catch up. I've know Diane and her parents since grade school days. (Here is Diane with Grady and Judy with some of her dogs.)

Today, Sunday, we slept in and then got around to explore the island. Although we have been here before this is our first time to actually stay out on Tybee. As the historical marked indicates Tybee Island was named for the Indians who came from the inland to hunt this area. There also is the remains of a military battery that was a part of Fort Screven. These are adjacent to the Tybee Island Lighthouse. (We explored the lighthouse, including climbing to the top, when we were here in 2007 so we bypassed it today.) We did make our way down into the main historic business district of the City of Tybee. One of the places we enjoy for a meal is Fannie's on the Beach. In good weather they open their upper deck and it gives a beautiful view of the Atlantic. We had a good lunch and then wondered through several of the beachfront shops to pick up some souveniars and some things for the grandkids back home. Afterward we returned to the coach for a relaxing Sunday afternoon of lounging around. We'll be here in Savannah through this next Wednesday so we'll be doing more exploring as the days go on.