Friday, 19 December 2014

Montreal to Savannah

It began to get colder the longer we stayed in Montreal. Each day we constantly monitored the temperature in the trailer. As it got colder, we turned on the electric heaters or the furnace and the hot water to keep the inside temperature and water hoses a few degrees above freezing.

One evening, John was driving to pick up dinner, and 2 kids decided he shouldn’t be changing lanes and rear-ended him. As traffic was barely moving, there was only a large dent in the curb-side back bumper. However, it necessitated calls to insurance, to the parents of the driver and to find a garage on the approved list. It turned out that there were no garages on the West Island, he had to go to the east side of the city. So we drove a Dodge Dart for a few days! There wasn’t as much room to cart things to the bazaar, but on the plus side, it was easier for John’s Mum to get in and out of the car! As if this wasn’t enough, it got very cold [-11C/21F] and snowed for a couple of days.
Our rental and cold Run Around Sue
Poor Run-Around-Sue was very cold. Luckily it began to warm to above freezing as we were leaving.

I had forgotten how much the Christmas Bazaar entailed, from sorting and organizing the things to be sold at the Gift Table, to pricing each item, and then almost two days of setup.
Starting to unpack
One side is ready...
Then of course comes the fun of the Bazaar itself!

It was a great couple of days- busy, but very rewarding and successful. Cindy and Vera had been very busy buying and gathering gifts since last January! Our Christmas Gifts’ Booth took up the centre of the Church Hall. We had displayed everything and, when the end came at 3pm on Saturday, our tables were quite empty!

Once it was over, and we had an early Christmas dinner on Sunday, we tidied up the trailer, got it travel-ready once again, and headed on our journey. We decided to travel to Gananoque to stay at the Thousand Islands Casino overnight, and head across the border in the early morning. The trip was uneventful except for some very strong wind and one torrential downpour just by Morrisburg. It was a warm and sunny day,
Thousands of geese flying south

The Promise of a memorable new journey
but darkness had fallen by the time we got to the Casino.

The next morning we headed south. After a quick border crossing
Into the US
US St Lawrence River
we headed into the US along I-81. After a cloudy start the sun came out, temperatures rose to 10C, and we travelled down smooth New York roads
and into Pennsylvania.  
The Pennsylvania Welcome Centre- a beautiful day...
We decided to go as far as The Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs in Wilkes-Barre just south of Scranton.
Doesn't this promise sunshine tomorrow? -'...Red at night, sailors delight"
We went into the casino and John had a great pizza at Wolfegang Puck’s in the small Food Court area. I had beer battered fish and chips, but wouldn’t recommend it- very small portion and soggy batter. There are some classy stores and interesting restaurants and bars around the central area of slots and gaming tables.

We woke up, ready to travel but found big white snowflakes tumbling from the sky. The radio forecast was not good- a storm was headed up the east coast with I-81 as its western boundary!  The forecast was for 8 to 10 inches of snow. We went into the Casino to use the wi-fi and see what the weather was like to the south. Traffic cams indicated snow all the way south into Virginia.
We were not travelling in this! 8" by the next morning!
So we decided to hunker down and stay at this beautiful Casino for another night. Lunch was excellent “Route 66” hamburgers at Rockets. Having checked email and sending texts and emails to friends so they could have a good laugh at our expense, we headed back to check the trailer. Poor Run-Around-Sue was all by herself in parking lot, covered in snow. Periodically, John started the truck to charge up the battery while we ran the furnace to warm up the inside to 14C. Unfortunately, the solar panel doesn’t work in the snow, so battery power became a concern! We went back inside for Happy Hour at Rustic Kitchen. Happy Hour meant half-price wine and appetisers at $4.95. Jeremy, our friendly bartender made excellent recommendations. The food, -satay, hot crab and shrimp dip, dinner-plate size pizza and stomboli -, was superb, a definite repeat when we come back.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         
There was light snow when we woke, but the forecast was good, so after breakfast at Johnny Rockets, we packed up and headed out. Our battery power is at 52%, but this will charge as we drive, especially if the sun comes out. Our concern is now also for the propane, as we have emptied one tank already. We decided that our Christmas present to each other will be a generator. Roads were wet, but clear.  It really looked pretty, but had cost us a day in the cold!
Only a little snow by Mile 90
Snow petered out by the time we were in in southern Pennsylvania and through Maryland and West Virginia. However, there was snow once again, in the fields and towns in northern Virginia. 
Snow again, but the promise of another sunny day...
We drove as far as Shenandoah Valley Campground at exit 269 on I-81.
Shenandoah Campground- not too many campers, just a couple of hunters
It was dark, but we were directed into a pull-through, hooked up and had electric heat as well as propane. After a delicious dinner of Costco’s pre-cooked pot roast and gravy, we caught up on the internet.

The third part of the journey
Still snow in Virginia
took us to the I-77 and across to Statesville’s KOA. Roads were clear with snow on the fields, until mile 194, then suddenly green fields. The drive is beautiful in the valley between the Shenandoah Mountains and the Appalachians.
Shenandoah Valley
Statesville is a nice little campground, well run.

Then we headed right to Atlanta, Georgia
Georgia roads - no snow, leaves, and green
to our friends’ house,

just outside the city. We parked the RV in a neighbour’s driveway
Run Around Sue is happy again!
and caught up. They drove us around to see Atlanta and to go to Trader Joes.  Next day, we toured the Cyclorama,
Cyclorama-a great way to learn about the Battle of Atlanta
getting an overview of the Battle of Atlanta from May to July 1864. The Cyclorama was created by a group of German artists in Milwaukee in 1885 and early 1886. Confederate veterans and neighbours contributed memories and information to help with the thoroughness of the research.
After a quick lunch, we went to the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site. This includes places where Martin Luther King Jr. was born, lived worked, worshipped and is buried. We were unable to take a tour of his birth home, as it was full; however, we spent a lot of time at the Courage to Lead and the D.R.E.A.M. Gallery.
The story boards highlight his life and leadership during the civil rights movement. His life revolved around the Ebenezer Baptist Church,
The original Ebenezer Baptist Church
The new Ebenezer Baptist Church

Restored to the 60's, with his speeches and sermons playing all day
where his father and maternal grandfather preached. It has been restored to the 1960’s as it would have been when he preached there. Just behind the old church is the reflecting pool with his and his wife's headstone.

Another day, we went out to visit their houseboat, and took a tour of the lake
One of the many beautiful coves and beaches
He can sleep anywhere!
The Houseboats
on a pontoon boat. It is a beautiful, peaceful man-made lake with many bays and arms. There are many peaceful coves and beaches.

John and Mike went off and got the oil changed in the truck, did a Costco run and other man-things, while Wendi and I went shopping and did a Trader Joes run. I found C Charlies, a fabulous store for fun and interesting jewellery plus scarves, tops and purses. Then Talbots had a 1-day 50%-off sale....

Our last day, we drove through the elite residential areas of Atlanta, then drove to Stone Mountain Park. This is a huge park, including two 18-hole golf courses, a Conference Centre and Resort, a camping area around a lake, hiking trails and an amusement area. A huge granite outcrop (the largest in the world), almost completely barren, rises up near the middle,
Stone Mountain
accessible either by a mile hike up
The beginning of the hike
the ‘gentle slope’, or cable cars, up the steep slope. We took the cable car up, and wandered along the glacier-smooth rock. 

The climb up- it gets steeper

The city from the top of Stone Mountain
On the north steep slope is carved a relief as a memorial to the Confederacy, especially Robert E. Lee. It depicts three Southern heroes of the Civil War- Confederacy President Jefferson Davis, Generals Robert E. Lee and Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson.
There is even a train that runs around the foot of the rock. We drove through the covered bridge to the island
and took a walk around to the Carillion by the lake. Then we rode up in the cable car, and wandered on the rocky top. It is almost like the surface of the moon- barren, smooth and rocky except for a few stunted trees.

Unfortunately, it was time to leave Atlanta and move on to Savannah. We didn’t leave until almost 1 pm. The ride was longer than we thought, even though the roads were excellent. However, we were there by 7:30, and they closed at 8. We chose a site, and put the electric on, but didn’t unhitch.  We put the cable TV on, but it didn’t work, so next day we changed sites and unhitched.
Skidaway State Park
This is a beautiful city. It was set up in 1733 as a British colony to provide additional resources for England and to provide a military buffer zone between the Spanish in the south and the English Colony in S. Carolina. Oglethorpe’s Charter prohibited slavery, lawyers, Catholics and hard liquor. He designed the new town in a series of squares. Originally, there were 4 squares, but by 1851, it had grown to 24 squares. Each square was a ward, comprised of 8 smaller squares, 4 large tything blocks for residential purposes and 4 smaller trust blocks for civic and commercial structures. The centre of each is a square block park, with churches, commercial, government, restaurants and elite residences around it. During the Civil War, General Sherman, having burned and destroyed everything in his way on his march from Atlanta to the ocean, was impressed by the beauty of Savannah, so after capturing it in 1864, he presented it as a Christmas present to President Lincoln. Many of the old homes are still there, surrounding the parks, with churches
Trinity Methodist Church- oldest Methodist Church in Savannah
Cathedral of St. John the Baptist [Wikipedia]
and government buildings on the Trust lots. Some however, have been torn down and replaced by more modern structures.
Inside view of the Jepson Center for the Arts
A  modern Government building [called one of the "bathroom tile buildings" by the locals,
with the beautiful, old courthouse on the background - on the next square.
Windows on the side of the Courthouse [the front was covered by scaffolding]
In the 1950’s, the Historic Savannah Foundation, and in 1966, the Savannah Historic District was declared a National Historic Monument.

After checking out the Visitors’ Center, our first walk was along the waterfront with its Factor’s Row, once cotton offices and warehouses, now a mix of retail stores, restaurants, offices and residential use. From the top road, they appear to be two to three stories high,
Rooftop view of downtown [Wikipedia]
but the backs go right down to the river road and are five to six story buildings.  The road in front, the roads curving down to the river, River Street and the retaining walls are all cobblestone, made from the ballast the sailing ships left in Savannah after taking on a load of cotton. We walked down steep steps and along the cobblestone roads of River Street, in and out of shops. Then we walked back along the waterfront boardwalk.
Looks like a load of cars are coming in- by tour boat
There were people lining up all along the road, in lawn chairs and on blankets. It was the evening of the Lighted Christmas Parade. By this time it was getting dark, so we decided to watch. Interesting… there was one high school marching band, several small groups representing the military, police, and emergency services, a variety of dance academies, and baton groups, a little league winning team, several local car clubs,
the Mint Julep Queens,
a Coca Cola Semi truck, a trolley and a variety of floats
including Santa in a wagon pulled by a white horse. All were covered in lights- some flashing, some flashy.

The next day we got a bit of a late start, then took the trolley ride to get ourselves oriented to the city. We had found a “Walking Tours Guidebook” at the Visitors’ Centre, so decided to take a walking tour
Johnson Square- the first square- 50ft marble monument, the grave of Nathanael Greene,
leader of American forces in the South during Revolutionary War
The City Hall, golden dome from a roof-top
and stop and read the historical plaques and take pictures of the homes
Davenport House Museum -Stairs reminiscent of New Orleans-
one side for men, one for women -
so the man could not see the woman's ankles
Row houses beside an elegant mansion
Sorrel-Weed House [1841], one of the finest examples of
Greek Revival-Regency architecture [Wikipedia]
One of the elegant houses
Another home by the same architect as the one above
One of the signs of wealth was the amount of iron works used on the outside of a home.
An unusual use of iron- at the end of each drain pipe

The more usual sign of wealth...

and squares.
Forsythe Fountain 1858, [seen through the Trolley's front window]
It is said to be the most photographed site, and reputed to have been ordered
from a catalogue
a Square
Oglethorpe Monument facing south to keep an eye on the Spanish in Florida
in Chippewa Square- named for the battle of Chippewa where Americans had a decisive
battle over the British in the War of 1812
Location Of Forrest Gump's [Tom Hanks] bench- where he told his life story
Sergeant Jasper Monument in Madison Square, honouring the Revolutionary hero
John Wesley Monument in Reynolds Square, honouring the founder of Methodism
We used our Trolley pass to hop on and off from area to area, and ended up at the Leopold’s Ice Cream Parlour.
A MUST stop in Savannah -  handmade too!
Savannah is also the home of Johnny Mercer, whose wrote many songs, the most famous of which is "Moon River". Each day when we drove into the city, we crossed Moon River.
Johnny Mercer in one of the squares which has been changed

"Moon River, wider than a mile, ....crossing you in style..."

Our last day, we decided to drive up to Hilton Head. We had heard so much about it. The homes are lovely. We drove in past Spanish Wells and Pau Hana, ate lunch at a little restaurant in Coligny Plaza on N. Forest Beach Rd, then decided to explore South Forest Beach Road,
Just as we entered the gated community on the South Beach Rd, we saw this...
South Beach, Harbour Town
Harbour Town keyhole-shaped harbour
Hilton Head's 18th hole from the Lighthouse
The Lighthouse
and Sea Pines Plantation. It was a beautiful drive, tree lined,

with beautiful homes. Harbour Town has a delightful little shopping plaza, with colourful rocking chairs clustered in several places facing the harbour. The lighthouse faces the 18th green of the Hilton Head PGA golf course. We drove back to Coligny, explored the plaza -which turned out to meander around a whole block, like a maze,
A delightful park in the middle

and Piggy Wiggly to shop in - "from Driving Miss Daisy"
then parked in the free beach parking lot, and walked along the beach just at sunset.
A beautiful end to a wonderful day!

Next day, pack up and move-out time. This time back to a favourite State Park, Crooked River in St. Mary’s.

1 comment:

  1. We loved your tour of Savannah. Hope to follow you South after the Holidays.
    Al and Pat