On the Road With Doris & Ez

We're going on a road trip!!!! Could be three weeks could be three years, we'll see. Read below to see where we are now.....

Friday, July 13, 2007

The Georgia/South Carolina Coast - June, July 2007

We’ve spent the last couple of weeks exploring the small communities along the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina. This is pretty country – miles of dense, green forests and acres of coastal marshes laced with waterways large and small. St. Marys, Georgia was typical of many of the small towns we’ve seen – a charming downtown with some historic buildings (like this one), a cemetery dating back to the 18th century, and a few quaint tourist-oriented businesses. This is where we spent a few hours on the 4th of July, joining the locals for a typical small town celebration. We missed the parade, but we saw part of the nail-driving contest, checked out all of the homemade crafts for sale, and listened to a perky 10-year-old sing a medley of patriotic songs. My only regret: I didn’t buy Ez the tee shirt that said “If you mess with me, you mess with whole trailer park.” Oh well, maybe we’ll run across it again!

We quickly figured out that we’re not the first folks to be drawn to this section of the coast – the old robber barons have been carving out exclusive hideaways on the coastal islands for well over 100 years. The Carnegies owned Cumberland Island near St. Mary’s and built several huge homes there. Our first visit was to Jekyll Island near Brunswick, Georgia. Wealthy families like the Rockefellers and the Fords got together to buy this island and then built a group of “cottages” (like this one) around a “clubhouse” that’s now an elegant three-story Victorian hotel. We had fun exploring the millionaires’ neighborhood and then driving around the island to see the homes of the “common” people that have been built since. Next door to Jekyll Island is St. Simons Island where lots of today’s millionaires have built some lovely homes - another place where it’s cheaper to drive around and look than actually live.

Our next stop was just outside of Savannah, Georgia – a city that could end up being one of our “top five fave” of this trip. Savannah was founded all the way back in 1733 and the historic area is designed around a grid system. The best part – there are small squares located every few blocks. These “pocket parks” are filled with trees and flowers (and the occasional historic monument). We spent a Sunday afternoon touring a few of the many historic homes in the area. My favorite, the Owens-Thomas House at the left, was host to General Lafayette back in the early 1800’s who delivered a couple of speeches from the upper balcony. The house had some really interesting design elements, but I enjoyed hearing about the slave quarters in the basement and the lives of the slaves who lived there. The best job in the house was family cook because of the occasional opportunity to sample some of the finer things enjoyed by the owners. This house had a water catchment system on the roof and a huge cistern in the basement which provided one of the first indoor plumbing systems in the country – decades before the White House!

Our last stop in South Carolina was in the town of Florence which offers few places of interest to the traveler. We drove to nearby Sumter to see the Swan Lake and Iris Gardens, one of America’s “best freebies” according to Better Homes and Gardens and home to all eight known species of swan! Of course, there are also hundreds of Canada geese in residence, so you have to be careful where you walk.
The most exciting part of the trip was the violent thunderstorm that struck as we started the drive home. We pulled off into a parking lot and sat amazed as the rain came down in sheets, wind gusts shook the truck and thunder rattled the windows. We drove around a downed tree in the road as we left town. We’d seen some stormy weather in the last few weeks (like this photo taken in downtown Savannah) but this was probably the most severe. The weather has been very hot and muggy, so we’ll be heading north in search of relief. We’ll let you know if it works!