I have to admit, even after all the storms I muddled through during my weeks in Florida, I felt a bit melancholy about leaving when I crossed the border into Georgia. Despite the nearly constant rain I found some very precious time with several friends while there, and I also enjoyed some unique experiences… kayak time in cold springs, bays, lakes and rivers along the way. Scuba diving for the first time in several years (a stranger amongst 20 others.) Relatively close encounters with alligators. Fishing from a boat in salt water, while enjoying manatee, dolphin, and an amazing variety of birds (not to mention catching several fish.)
With all of these delightful memories tumbling around in my mind I crossed the border into Georgia and rolled a short distance up the highway to St. Mary’s. I had intended to get up the next morning and hop on the ferry to Cumberland Island (known for it’s history and wild horses!) for a morning hike before moving on up the highway to Savannah. I was disappointed to find the ferry schedule was more limited than I’d been told when I’d inquired, with only one return late in the day putting me back in St. Mary’s too late for the drive to Savannah (especially with the stops I wanted to make along the way.) In addition, there’s no way I’d leave the dogs in the RV all day without AC, which would mean paying for another day in the campground. So… change of plans. It happens. And it makes RV travel far less stressful if you can roll with the punches. (Pun intended)
Knowing I’d be returning this direction later this year took the sting out of my disappointment. (I REALLY wanted to see and photograph those wild horses!!) Cumberland Island will definitely be on my route when I return. As will the delightful campground I found in St. Mary’s. Big Wheel RV Park was spacious and peaceful, with lots of trees and singing birds, and run by a very sweet and down-to-earth couple. I was given permission to wash the Pelican pooh (mentioned in my last post) off my RV immediately upon my arrival. That in itself is highly unusual. “No washing of RVs” is normally high on the list of rules in most parks, just below “dogs mush be on leash.”
I was in the process of scrubbing the pooh when a gal from my neighboring motorhome walked over with a big smile on her face and hand extended. “I was just looking at your website!” was how the conversation started. (I had “JourneyInFocus.com” stenciled on the top of my windshield months ago, and it has brought numerous viewers to my site, not to mention a few friends into my life.) Enter Suzanne and John, who went from traveling full time on the water, to traveling full time on the land. I was invited for coffee in their RV the following morning before they were to depart, only to find out that we were heading for the same campground in Savannah! I hunkered down to work for awhile as they rolled out ahead of me… promising to scope out a good camp spot near them at Skidaway Island State Park.
After a few hours of work I headed down the highway with a few sights in mind on the way to Savannah. First stop was Fort Frederica on Saint Simons Island.
On the way to Fort Frederica I noticed the beautiful Christ Episcopal Church, which was founded in 1808. Clearly worth a closer look! Episcopal Church
Further up the highway (just off I95 on Hwy 17) I found what is claimed by locals to be the smallest church in America. Could be. I don’t know, but I discovered a TINY bit (another pun intended) of history about the place. It was built with limited funds by local grocer Agnes Harper. Skeptics said she could not build a church that would do justice to God, but she built in anyway, saying that it was the thought that mattered, not the scope. This tiny little 10×15 foot house of worship was completed in 1949. Agnes wrote the deed in the name of Jesus Christ and she invited everyone, including her critics, to worship there.
After a long day of working and driving and touring we arrived at Skidaway Island State Park, found a spacious place to “dock” near Suzanne and John, and hunkered down for the night. The following morning I took the dogs for a good long hike in the park before setting out for a nearby waterway with my kayak.
I set out to kayak along the Moon River Inlet. My first encounter was yet another Brown Pelican. Clearly I haven’t grown tired of them yet, even after the bombardiers of Flagler Beach took aim on my RV. I’m amazed by the grace of such big, clumsy looking birds.
I knew there was a chance of spotting Dolphin out here, but I wasn’t expecting to see them so quickly. Actually, they spotted me, and came up from behind. I would not have even known they were there but for the sound of them spouting air. I cruised with these two for more than an hour. With camera in hand I was hoping for something a bit more dramatic… dancing and vocalizing like Flipper maybe… but they just glided along side by side, over and under the surface of the water. Now and again there was a disruption in their rhythm, and I imagined they were dining amongst a school of fish below.
The following morning I checked out the Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah. This is one of the most beautiful and tranquil cemeteries I’ve ever seen. Not the best lighting for photography for the most part, but I did find a few scenes worth shooting. Keep in mind that I turned my camera on the well lit scenes as opposed to the most monumental gravestones.
From there I had to take advantage of the break in the weather. With my kayak already strapped to the top of my car I headed out to Tybee Island.
In the little alleyway where you can launch your kayaks for free (and pay to park your car) I met some young folks who were doing the same. One of the young men helped me haul my kayak from my parked car to the water and we all ended up paddling near each other for a bit.
And I was treated to three more Dolphin while out there.
While on the water yet another storm started kicking up, making this one of my more strenuous forays in the kayak. I was not only paddling against current and tide, but now some seriously heavy wind as well. For the second day in a row I barely got my kayak strapped to the top of my car before the sky opened up with the torrential rains. And what do you do on Tybee when it rains??? Well, I don’t know about everyone else but I treated myself to a cold beer and some delicious crab legs at The Crab Shack. Seriously yummy!
The following day I drove through Savannah in the rain. I brought my daughter, Elissa, here a few years ago during her Christmas break and we saw many of the sites then, so it didn’t break my heart to get short changed on good weather for strolling about the town. During one little pocket of sunshine I walked along the waterfront with memories of doing the same with Elissa, ducking into many of the same shops, and buying some peanuts for her from our favorite. On the way back to the campground I made a side trip to the Wormsloe Historic Site but opted not to pay the fee to drive in since it was nearly closing time.
Did I mention it rains a lot in the south? All the fun and adventure posted above was sought out during the few pockets of sunshine the weather gods saw fit to allow me. The rest of my time was spent working in my RV or hiking with the dogs in the rain (sans the camera). I did spend one evening with Suzanne and John, dining and watching the Survivor Finale in their comfy motorhome. (I’ve yet to hook my tv’s up to cable or satellite! The larger of the two, as a matter of fact, is where I strategically place all my sticky notes! )
From Savannah I headed to Atlanta for some much anticipated time with two of my dearest friends, Eddie Tapp and Judy Host. These two travel almost constantly so the time with them was precious indeed. While there I took advantage of the down time (we ALL had work to do) and solid internet connection to work on my online Art Gallery. This project has been a HUGE labor of love and it is nowhere near finished. I ditched my long standing website awhile back to recreate a site where I could showcase not only my portraits, but also my ongoing projects and my art, AND make my images available for purchase. This request has come from MANY over the months, and I knew there was no way I could handle the orders alone from the road. With this site the orders are shipped directly from the lab I have worked with for more than 15 years. Please check it out at www.franreisner.com You’ll find the “Art Gallery” under the “Image Galleries” button on the left. It’s nowhere near complete, but there’s plenty to enjoy. Check back from time to time. It’s a work in progress!
From Georgia I had only days to make my way to the Kansas City airport, where Elissa would join me for some time on my journey. But THAT’S for the next chapter!