The trip to Savannah and some interesting (to me) sights of Georgia. This trip starts with forts, has forts in the middle, and then some strange places toward the end. In between, lots of good, two-laned roads and some four-laned highways.
Saturday, April 18th - We travelled north to Kingsland Ga., with eleven others in tow. We departed the usual leaving point just after 7:30, stopped at the Shamrock in Floral City for breakfast, then continued on around Ocala, skillfully avoided the speed traps on US 301, and cruised into Kingsland with no problems, other than a sleepy J9. We had time for naps, TV or whatever, got the chocolate chippers at 5:30 and dinner a block away at 6:00. It was a local eatery with good fish and good service. I heard no complaints. After dinner, we sat in the lobby, watched the start of the NASCAR race, kept all the other visitors out, then crashed early. A good day on the road.
Sunday, April 19th - North on US 17 to St Simon's Island and Fort Frederica. Glad I didn't have to live there 250 years ago before a/c and Raid. The houses were about the size of a tool shed. Not much remains, but what does, is impressive. Back on the road after 2 hours and on to Fort King George. The website was correct - they open at 2:00 on Sunday, we're not waiting 2 hours to see the ruins, so we saw what we could see from the gate, then back on the road. A little bit later, I recognized the intersection where we found a local restaurant that had a buffet. I remembered that, on a previous trip through these parts, we got all the tables before the locals came in, and we did it again. About $11 with a drink - good deal! A couple locals on a Sportster told us to watch the next couple towns - which we did. Saw nothing of concern, however. We arrived at the Hampton a bit before 3:00, got parked in the basement (where they park the valet parkers) instead of across the street at the public garage. Gotta tip the guy who arranged that. Dinner was just two blocks up Bay street at Churchill's. We got the little room just inside the door, full window view of the wierd people walking by. Kinda pubish, but not limited to pub food. Afterward, we went down to River street, walked a few blocks of shops and river scenery. Got a good shot of sunset and the bridge over the river. BTW, remember to ask someone that was behind me about the two deer on St Simon's - I missed it all. The weather today was made for motorcycles - a bit brisk in the morning (especially in the long shady runs), in the 70s in the afternoon. Too bad you missed it.
Monday, April 20th - Today was the 'Foody Tour'. Our tour guide, Ron, is a local who knew and kissed every woman he passed in town. He brought us to nine places, from shrimp and grits, cookies, BBQ, chocolate, 'frozen' hot chocolate, honey, and comfort food to a wine tasting. We were promised 2.5 - 3 hours and 6 stops - we got 3.5 hours and 9 stops. It was well worth the time. Dinner was nearby - one of the top ten places in Savannah - Isaac's - where the place is haunted by a guy who was hung close to our table and buried below the building. With the twelve of us, the place had 13 diners. After dinner, the rain passed and we were off to the buggy ride / ghost tour. Our driver was a 17 year old local (9th generation one side, 3rd the other) who tolerated our group quite well. About 3/4 of the way into the ride, the rain began, ever so lightly. It eventually got to not so light. Most of the bunch had some kind of jacket, but the legs were not so lucky. We got a bit wet. The rain really came down after we got back to the hotel. Timing is everything!
Tuesday, April 21st - We headed into the sun this morning - to Fort Screvin. Unfortunately, Fort Screvin is closed on Tuesday. All that's there is the lighthouse museum, and across the street is the Tybee Island light - also closed on Tuesday. So, we wandered along the beach for a while, then headed west to Fort Pulaski. This place is incredible. It was severely damaged during the war of northern aggression. Much of the damage is still evident today. The big gaping hole in the SE corner was repaired over 100 years ago, but the walls are still peppered with cannon ball damage. A sign says over 5000 shots were fired during the siege. We were lead about by a volunteer tour guide who was well trained on the fort's history. After Fort Pulaski, we were on to Uncle Bubba's for lunch. The place was kinda quiet, so were were in quickly, got good service and better food. After lunch, I followed the signs instead of the Zumo, so we missed Fort Jackson. We went back to the hotel instead. Various activities were pursued by the group. WHN, Carolyn and I hit the harley shop on River Street for T-shirts, then caught the trolley for a tour that took a bit over an hour. I think we saw every square in Savannah. At six, we gathered at the Boar's Head for dinner, which also got good reviews, followed by a walk to Leopold's for ice cream. Look up their history when you get a minute. A scenic walk back to the hotel topped the night.
Wednesday, April 22th - It was time to head west - all the way to Cordele, with the mandatory stop at the Savannah Harley-Davidson dealership and then in Claxton to stop and shop at the fruitcake factory. I wondered where all those Michigan drivers came from. They have a factory here just to produce bad drivers - I mean fruit cakes. There was no baking today - this time of the year it happens about once avery three weeks. After August, all the seasonal help comes in and they work a full production schedule to meet the demand. The dealership stop was necessary because I had a burned out headlight - both high and low beams. The bulb was black and had a big blister in the glass. Put in a new bulb and was good to go. Lots of other souvenirs and a pair of boots also made it into the chase car. This was strictly a travel day - just the fruitcake stop to break the monotony (other than the usual food and comfort breaks). We were warned that there wouldn't be much after Vidalia, so we stopped there for lunch at Dad's Diner. Lots of hand made burgers were consumed, along with some sweet tater fries, O-rings and coke products. Our route was US 280 almost the entire way once we left the greater Savannah area - a good two and four laned, well paved road through small Georgia towns. We spent a lot of time downshifting to satisfy those 45 and 35 signs in the small burgs. Arrival here was right at 3:00, with a trip to the laundry for some, restaurant searching for me, and rest for the others. Dinner selected tonight is an italian place just two blocks away. I found the Tractor Supply store, too. Never been in one, so I had to go in today. What a place! If you need it, they have it. After dinner, we gathered around the pool until the bugs chased us indoors.
Thursday, April 23rd - Today was a trip to Providence Canyon State Park - a tribute to poor farming practices. We had a slight detour - one of the roads I selected in MapSource was the reddest clay you can imagine, so I rerouted us on paved roads because that red would NOT match my blue and silver motorcycle at all! The canyon was created by erosion over 180 some years due to the land management techniques common in the 19th century. A few took the hike down to the river, the rest of us stayed at the top and swatted bugs and took pictures. It's quite a site - red at the top, mostly white below that, some yellows below that. From the Canyon, we went to the Jimmy Carter boyhood farm. We thought he was from poverty, but the family farm was 360 acres, three bedroom house with both formal and informal dining rooms, some out buildings, two wells and a store. A hired hand was responsible for managing the farm and its equipment and animals. Jimmy's father must have spent his time managing the stores. The place was acquired by the park service from the family that bought it from the Carters in 1994, IIRC. They bought 17 acres; the family kept the other 343 acres, still own that. Lunch at Mom's Kitchen followed in Plains, as did a walk through the shops across the highway - mostly peanut and Carter merchandise, plus antiques. After Plains, we headed to Americus for a look at the Windsor hotel for those that had never seen the place. It was once an elegant hotel, built in 1892. I think the sagging started in 1893, but it's still quite a place. From Americus, it was back on US 280 to our hotel in Cordele. Tonight's dinner will be Los Compadres, just a block farther away than the italian place we tried last night. Once again w gathered around the pool until the bugs won the battle.
Friday, April 24th - Today was the trip to Andersonville and Andersonville Village, with a side trip to Pasaquan. Andersonville is quite a place. Imagine what those POWs went through there at the hands of fellow Americans. The museum is also a monument to all POWs, so there are exhibits from Korea, WWII, Viet Nam and WWI. The prison camp is pretty much gone, just a few rebuilt structures to give you an idea of what was there. We went to the cemetery, too, but were unable to find the Ohio soldier named Hendsinger on a gravestone even with directions. From the National monument, we went across the highway to the town of Anderconville. They have a pioneer village behind the antique shops, but there wasn't any activity in the village. We wandered through some shops and had lunch at Patsy's diner. I think we doubled the lunch crowd. Once again we had some good food at reasonable (or lower) prices. After shopping, we headed for Pasaquan. It wasn't open today, but we did have a good view from the roadside through the chain link fence bacause it's well below the highway, grade-wise. Several cars drove in while we were observing, but it was either a private group tour or the organization that is working to restore / maintain the place. If you're not familiar with Pasaquan, home of St. EOM, look it up - Pasaquan and Eddie Owen Martin - in GOOGLE and see what a strange dude he must have been. After Pasaquan, it was through the forests and small towns, again avoiding dirt or clay roads selected by my pal, ZUMO. We were back in Cordele about 4:30 after one GHP license checkpoint and one farm implement that did 25 mph in a 55 zone (we followed for 6 miles or thereabouts). Now I'm off to look for a dinner restaurant. And now I'm back. The pickins are slim at this exit when you want to walk from the Hampton Inn rather than drive. So, tonight's choice was the Cracker Barrel. The usual known comodity, no surprises tonight except for the lack of diners - we walked in and got seated right away, got our food really quickly. When we got back to the hotel, there were still cookies. It's nice not having a bus load of seniors at your hotel like we did in Savannah.
Saturday, April 25th - Today was a short trip, mile-wise, but it still took all day. We headed out at 9:00 from the Cordele Hampton, then went almost due south through Sylvester and Moiultrie and skirted west of Thomasville to the Pebble Hill Plantation. We were surprised to spend about two hours touring the house and support buildings. This was a shooting plantation and the decor of some rooms really bore that out. The place has a fortune in antique guns on display. The family money came from Standard Oil investments.We didn't get back to town for lunch until after 2:00. We discovered the roads in downtown were closed for the rose festival and a big car show. We finally found a place for lunch, then walked through the car show as they were passing out trophies. The crowd dispersed quickly once the trophies were given, so we didn't get to look at all the cars up close. We cut out the old oak tree and the Lapham house because of the time and closed roads. We arrived at the Thomasville Hampton about 4:00 and I went in search of dinner. It had to happen - I found a chinese buffet. It's about the only thing not fast food or chain within walking distance of our hotel. Cookies are served in the lobby at 6:00, so dinner will be after that.
Sunday, April 26th - Homebound. We departed the Hampton at 8:00, got some gas and headed east to Quitman, then south to Madison, Fl. The roads were absolutely perfect for a Sunday ride - good surfaces, no traffic, few black eagles and just a few speed zones. A few turns and we were at Old Town and US 19. From there, we went to Crystal River and lunch at Cracker's. A bit more south to the toll road and home. I was home at 3:01, as planned. Another good trip with no weather problems, no breakdowns, no lost reservations, no bad restaurants. I wonder what next year's theme will be.