Wednesday, June 4, 2014

St. Augustine / Savannah / Charleston / Atlanta

Saturday, May 17th, with Stacey and Stefanie onboard, we left Key West around 8 A.M. for the 450 mile drive up the Florida Turnpike and Interstate 95 to St. Augustine. Thankfully it was Saturday and the traffic was relatively light. We arrived around 3 P.M. to find our Jeep tow car had a dead battery. It’s always something! We called the Good Sam roadside service and the truck showed in about a half hour. Nice. The RV Park, Indian Forest Campground, was easy to find from the interstate. It had a southern rustic look about it. In was in among large moss adorned trees. Easy to relax there.

We were only going to spend overnight in St. Augustine so everyone was in the mood for some sightseeing in the oldest city in the U.S.A. We headed for the area around the waterfront which is connected to the center of the city. This city was discovered before Columbus arrived. Charming old buildings, shops, and restaurants made us want to stay longer but we were scheduled at a park in Savannah the next day.

One of Stacey’s restaurant contacts in Miami recommended we dine at “The Floridian” in old town Savannah. Nice and quaint setting in an old house. The indoors was packed so we ate in their setup in the backyard with about seven or eight other tables. A new look to old food and it was very fortifying. I think we were glad to be outdoors because the indoors seemed a couple degrees over comfortable. Probably because it was very crowded.

 Sunday, May 18th saw us on the move again for the 170 mile drive further up Interstate 95 to Savannah, Georgia. The Biltmore RV Park was easy to find and provided us with an adequate place to park the coach. The office at the park is run by Norma and Barbara, mother and daughter, and their park office is run out of a 1,000 square foot antique shop. The antique look you find in the south is miles from the contemporary look by most households in the west. I found it kind of appealing.

Stacey got in touch with her friend and Sushi Samba co-worker in Las Vegas, Jimmy Z. Jimmy was with his parents in a vacation condo 35 miles from us at Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. We drove over and had dinner with them that Sunday evening. Jimmy’s parents, Peter and Jenny, live in New Jersey and everyone put on quite a feast. It was fun seeing and being on the HarborTown Golf Links where Janet and I had been to a business meeting some twenty-two years prior. This area has grown up nicely.

Monday, May 19th saw us in downtown Savannah early to board the Old Town Trolley for an “on and off” tour of the city. This was an easy way to see all of downtown’s most popular buildings, parks, restaurants and waterfront while the driver explained the history of the area. We had lunch atThe Pirate House which is in a building dating back to 1754. Very unique and obviously a lot of history. A walk along the waterfront shops and restaurants enforced my belief that Savannah would be second on my list of places to visit behind San Francisco.

(F.Y.I. – Old Town Trolley was very impressive. Besides Savannah, they are also available in St. Augustine, Key West, San Diego, Boston, and Washington D.C. We should own a trolley company!)

Tuesday, May 20th saw us get an early morning start from Savannah on a 110 mile day trip to Charleston, South Carolina. Charleston is a beautiful city. We walked on the waterfront and settled for a leisurely outdoor patio lunch at Fleet Landing Restaurant. I was told that Charleston is the fifth busiest harbor in the U.S. It looked like it a couple miles up the waterfront. It was a beautiful sunny day and we enjoyed that lunch in the shade.

The waitress at lunch tipped us off to our next sightseeing adventure which was a 15 mile drive north of Charleston to Boone Hall Plantation & Gardens.

Boone Hall was established in 1681 by an English Major, John Boone. In 1743 his son, Captain Thomas Boone, planted the evenly spaced oak trees that provide today’s overhanging approach to the main house on the plantation. It took more than 200 years for these trees to meet overhead. This view is breathtaking and is a symbol of southern heritage today.

The ancestral history of the Boone family tree runs deep in the growth and establishment of the United States of American where Edward Rutledge, a descendent, was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. The labor on the plantation was used to make bricks that were used to build Fort Sumter in the Charleston Harbor, and that is where the opening shots of the Civil War were fired. This great history is just a little of what this family offered our nation.

Today’s mansion that exists at Boone Hall Plantation was built in 1936 by Canadian ambassador Thomas Stone. This plantation which was once 5,000 acres, today is 738 acres of working ranch and farm lands that have been producing for over three centuries. You get to see the whole plantation by taking the open-air coach tour.

I feel this was a major-major stop on our sightseeing since we started cruising in June of 2013. A visit to this historical past was a hair raising event for my life!

It was a long drive back to Savannah as we returned to our coach just after dark.

Wednesday, May 21st was “going home day” for Stacey and Stefanie. Emotions were high as we dropped them at the Savannah airport in the early afternoon. Janet and I were drained of the rush of the last eight days and we got a good night’s sleep to catch up.

We ended up staying in Savannah for another six days, until May 27th. Just lounging around, reading, working on the coach, and staying out of the rain which tends to follow us around everywhere. We did get out south of Savannah to Fort Pulaski for a view of this old fort that saw 30 hours of battle in the Civil War. Nice old national monument that is well kept for a presentation of our past, and worth the view.

Sunday, May 25th was an exciting day for watchers of the Indianapolis 500 mile motor    car race. I’ve looked forward to it and enjoyed it for many years. If you didn’t see it, this year’s race was unique from most races in that once the race started and the cars got spread out they got single file and went an average speed of around 222 miles per hour for the first 170 laps of the 200 lap race. The first “yellow flag condition” slowed them down shortly thereafter. The amazing and always exciting race was won for his first time by the experienced Floridian, Ryan Hunter-Ray - by a car length. Very exciting!


Today, as I write this blog, it is actually Tuesday, June 3rd. We came into the Atlanta area, and specifically the western suburb of Bremen, Georgia on Tuesday, May 27th to see my cousin, Laura, whom I hadn’t seen for almost 30 years. We had a great time reconnecting with her and her family we had never met. The years have certainly flown by to quick.

The trials of the recreational vehicle owner have come to the forefront in the last 48 hours as our trip from Bremen to Charlotte, North Carolina was quickly interrupted Sunday evening shortly after our departure from Bremen. This big ole coach started overheating as it had been doing a little since we left the Vegas area back in February, but, this time I couldn’t get it to stop. It was a Sunday evening and none of the repair places of note were available. We ended up picking a Cummins Engine outlet over near the Atlanta airport and spent the next eight hours coaxing the coach through the southwestern suburbs at two and three mile adventures until we reached Cummins near 3 A.M. On the brighter side, we were first in line when they opened at 7:30 A.M. The bad news came around noon when they determined we needed a new thermometer and cooling fan on the diesel engine. The good news is we have an extended warranty insurance policy to cover this mess. The bad news is the job will not be done until tomorrow, Wednesday, late. So we will probably spend a fourth night living on the Cummins property in our coach before leaving for the Knoxville, Tennessee area. Well, the good news is the big buggy probably will not have any kind of an overheating condition. Hopefully for some time!

             They do a nice big business here and Cummins, and we have continued to meet nice like-minded people that are in for repairs and staying on the lot. We are thinking we might start our own RV Club! Oh well, I’m overdoing it trying to keep a positive attitude.

Keep in touch and continue to follow our adventures. We are in the home stretch and just about in position to turn for a five month run back to the west.

We are having fun. No matter what!

Dave & Janet

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