Savannah & Tybee

Savannah, Georgia – August, 2015  We have made brief visits to the Savannah area several times during the last 10 years. This visit was also too short but we expect to become regular guests in this amazing area in the following years.

Jim’s daughter recently moved to Atlanta so this was a convenient place to meet her and her boyfriend for a weekend. We wanted a campground convenient to their accommodations so we chose Red Gate Farms. It was a beautiful, roomy campground on a farm with horses, goats, and chickens but little more than 5 miles to historic Savannah. It has a lovely pool which we didn’t have time to use and the price was steep for us at $45 per night but a good value for the area.

Our first order of business was getting our toes in some sand and surf. We met the kids (we consider 30 year olds kids) and made the short drive to Tybee Island. This is one of our favorite beach towns. We walked the beach, had a great meal at Spanky’s, then visited the pier and walked the beach some more. If you have not visited Tybee you should put it on your must do list. It has a great campground called Rivers End that is a short walk to the beach.  We stayed there during our last visit and enjoyed it immensely.

That evening we met them downtown for dinner. Jim and I headed there an hour early because we didn’t know how hard it would be to find a parking place for our big truck. That was a good decision because we drove around 30 minutes before finally parking three quarters of a mile from the riverfront at the civic center. The walk to the restaurant through downtown was a joy though and we arrived exactly on time. The kids in their sleek little black car were able to park in the riverfront parking almost in front of the restaurant.

We had eaten at the south side location of Fiddlers Crab House several years before and I requested a repeat visit but to their riverfront location. They have amazing food and this location overlooking the Savannah River can’t be beat. We arrived just as a storm was blowing in and at 6 pm were seated right away in front of a window overlooking the river. Dinner entertainment was watching the fierce storm. By the time we finished our meal it had died down to a drizzle and we stepped out of the restaurant to the sight of a beautiful double rainbow.

After dinner the four of us walked around the historic district. What a crazy, wonderful place. There were already plenty of revelers out at 7 pm. We saw dozens of people dressed in grass skirts, coconut bras, and the like. I assume there was an event somewhere with this theme and not just the way locals like to dress on Saturday night. They have a bar that looks like a trolley car but is pedaled by its customers which cruises the streets. I had heard of such a contraption but this is the first time I had seen it.

We enjoyed walking through the dozens of little parks throughout the area filled with trees draped in moss. The historic buildings are extraordinary. I could walk these streets for hours, probably days, and not get tired of all the beautiful architecture. We got to the Colonial Park Cemetery just 15 minutes before they closed. So we enjoyed a quick visit. This is the oldest cemetery in the city and was used from 1750 to 1853. There is a brick wall along the back where they have installed the many headstones that have been separated from their intended occupant.

But that wasn’t enough dead people for us so the next morning we all went to the Bonaventure Cemetery. At almost 160 acres this place is huge and it has tons of delightful statuary.

And of course it has the requisite moss covered trees that make these graveyards especially beautiful and a bit more sad and spooky.

We enjoyed our visit to the Savannah area even more than our previous stays and are looking forward to going again and again.

Knoxville

Knoxville, Tennessee – August 2015 Knoxville was another town we had simply passed through several times. We were very intrigued by our brief visit here and plan to stop regularly when we are in the area or possibly spend a week here someday.

Our first stop in downtown Knoxville was the Old Gray Cemetery. We enjoy visiting cemeteries for their history and beauty. This one was full of both, and quite possibly our favorite. It was founded in 1850 and was well planned. It is full of wonderful stonework. Like these beauties:

And this little lady watching over the grave of an 18 year old girl:

Across the street from the cemetery was this absolutely gorgeous church:

We stayed less than an hour because the bugs were eating poor Jim alive. No see ums, tiny mosquitos… I’m not sure what was lurking out there but Jim was spending more time swatting and itching than enjoying so it was time to go. We’ll visit again with some bug spray in our arsenal.

Our next destination was Market Square. The reviews I read were somewhat lukewarm about this area so I was pleasantly surprised by what we found. The square and the surrounding streets had block after block of beautiful old buildings.

And one very cool sculpture called Rowing Man.

We visited on a Saturday so there was a very nice farmers’ market to boot. I was impressed by the variety of vegetables. These farmers didn’t just have tomatoes, but many varieties of tomatoes large and small. Other vegetables were equally well represented. We found a variety of corn on the cob that we often can’t locate.

We were thinking about grabbing a light lunch at one of the many food trucks when it started raining. We reconsidered and instead started looking for a restaurant. Our first few choices had long, wet lines so we chose to visit the first restaurant that wasn’t too busy. Based on its lack of clientele we didn’t have very high expectations for Soccer Taco, a Mexican sports bar. Were we wrong! We were very impressed with the food and the service. The prices were very reasonable, $20 for two meals and an amazing appetizer.

The rain turned to a light drizzle so we continued to explore. As luck would have it we had arrived on the day of the East Tennessee Historical Society History Fair. This included so many events that we didn’t even realize how much we had missed until we got home and read the brochure. We did see some great musicians on the square courtesy of the event.

We took advantage of a free bus tour of historical homes. We hopped on a bus downtown and they dropped us off at several locations. Another bus would come along and pick us up every 20 minutes. We visited the Blount Mansion (I think they used the term mansion rather loosely here) and James White’s Fort, the founder of Knoxville.

Each were open free of charge when they are generally about $7.50. In each case I felt like we got our money’s worth but in all fairness I believe they usually include a guided tour in their price. We skipped the Mabry-Hazen home and Bethel Cemetery because our energy was flagging and it was still drizzling. I definitely want to see them on another visit.

Our final bus stop was at the Emporium Center, the home of the Arts and Culture Alliance. This stop promised us a glimpse into the Knoxville underground. We ended up enjoying this stop the most but not because the underground was particularly exciting. They had a great 15 minute presentation of how the underground came to be and the history of Gay Street. What was most intriguing was that the revitalism of the area has apparently occurred very recently and that so many downtown properties were all but abandoned just 10 years ago.

After a long and entertaining day we were happy to return to our camp just 13 miles north of Knoxville at Escapees Raccoon Valley RV Park just off Interstate 75 North. It was a pleasant little park with reasonable rates, less than $20 for full hookups after tax.