As we were mapping out where we wanted to go from Key West, and we talked about working our way up the east coast. Pat had wanted to see Savannah because it’s said to be such a beautiful city. Military RV parks are the most affordable places to stay, so we chose to stay at Hunter Army Airfield. The RV park at Hunter is small, with only 16 full hookup sites, with no other facilities in the park, such as bathroom, showers or laundry and we never saw anyone from the MWR staff in the park. The MWR office is several miles away but we didn’t find any of this to be a problem for the short time we were camped there. We thought this might be a relaxing stay, although we ended up being very busy.
Saturday was the first full day in the Savannah area and the forecast included wind and rain so we decided to check out the Eight Air Force Museum. The “Mighty Eighth” had been formed in Savannah before deploying to England in WW II and the museum gave you a real sense of what it was like for the aircrews that made the daylight bombing raids over the Third Reich.
Sunday, we attended church at the Wesley Monumental United Methodist Church. It was a very traditional service, but we were impressed by the number of children that came up for the children’s worship. I guess you don’t have to have a contemporary service to attract young families! After church we took the rest of the day to see the Historical District. We took a tour on the “Old Savannah Tours” trolley that allows you to get on and off as you wish. At some point in the city’s history it looked like many of the old homes would be torn down and the land used for parking lots and commercial structures. Eventually, between volunteer groups and the city, many of the old homes were protected and preserved. All old buildings have a historic designation with a plaque that tells you when it was built and the name of the original owner. Within the Historical District, new buildings have to follow the architectural pattern of the historical homes in the area. In one neighborhood we saw a home that was built in 1985 that looked just like the homes from the 1800’s.
When Colonial Governor James Oglethorpe laid out the plans for Savannah, he planned for public squares throughout the city. Bob thought this was an especially great idea. These squares give the city a unique personality. The commercial area along the river was originally used for the warehousing and shipping of cotton and had its own architectural uniqueness. Savannah has buildings used by cotton merchants, pirates, slave owners, and even the birthplace of the Girl Scouts. We had lunch at the Pirate’s House. Robert Louis Stevenson spent several days as a guest at the Pirate’s House and it was part of his inspiration for his book, Treasure Island. The Pirate’s House was the inn where Stevenson’s Captain Flint drank himself to death. There is so much history in Savannah dating back to the colonial days, it is almost overwhelming!
One of the interesting stories came from the cemetery. During the Civil War, Union soldiers camped in the cemetery and moved many of the headstones to make room for their tents. When they were bored they often changed the engraved dates on the headstones, so it appears that some people died before they were born! After the war the city tried to reposition the headstones, but were often unable to determine the proper location. They placed the headstones against a wall in the cemetery so the families could find them, and possibly reposition them properly.
Monday, we visited Fort Pulaski and Tybee Island. Fort Pulaski was designed by a team that included then Lieutenant Robert E. Lee prior to the Civil War and it was supposed to be impenetrable, but when the Union forces used new rifled cannon with exploding shells, the walls were quickly breached and the garrison surrendered. In contrast to downtown Charleston, Tybee Island is quite tourist-oriented. We kayaked to Little Tybee Island, an uninhabited island about a quarter of a mile off Tybee Island. We paddled up and down a few channels in the island, but had to make it a short trip due to the outgoing tide. Another site we visited was the Tybee Island Lighthouse, the tallest lighthouse in Georgia and the most complete historic lighthouse in the U.S. Between the lighthouse and the shoreline was a Coast Artillery Battery which has been converted to a museum, a Lion’s Club, and even a private residence.
Tuesday, we continued our tour of the Historical District and that night celebrated Bob’s birthday with dinner at Kevin Barry’s Irish Pub. The second floor is a tribute to the military and because Hunter Army Airfield is the home to the First Ranger Battalion, tributes to the Rangers and other Special Operations Forces dominate the space. Bob felt right at home!
Our next stop was Charleston, SC. Charleston started out as merely a convenient distance to travel with no specific plans. Of course, Bob thought we should visit Fort Sumter and the USS Yorktown. We stayed at the RV park at Charleston Air Force Base. They had only recently completed an expansion of the RV park and the sites were very nice. Our camp hosts also had a Cameo trailer which made for an immediate connection and tours of each others’ trailers.
On Thursday we took the ferry to Fort Sumter to visit the place where the Civil War began. It was a good example of the “best laid plans.” The fort was designed to protect Charleston Harbor and its strongest side faced the narrow channel leading into Charleston Harbor. However, the Confederate forces, under the command of General Beauregard opened fire from the James Island side, which was the weakest. The walls were soon reduced to rubble and the powder magazine surrounded by flames, forcing Captain Robert Anderson to surrender after only two days. Today the fort barely resembles its original appearance due to damage caused by the initial attack, the attack when Union forces tried to retake the fort later in the war, and new construction. After the Civil War, the walls were rebuilt to a third of their original height and for about 20 years the fort was not garrisoned, but operated as a light house station. During the Spanish-American War a Coast Artillery Battery was constructed that replaced half of the original parade field. It is still an impressive structure with an overwhelming historical significance. After our tour of Fort Sumter, we wandered around the downtown area and the City Market.
Friday, we visited Patriot’s Point to tour the USS Yorktown. The USS Yorktown (CV-10) was built to replace the original USS Yorktown (CV-5) which was sunk at the battle of Midway. The Yorktown served through WW II (11 battle stars), Vietnam (5 battle stars), it assisted in the recovery of the Apollo 8 space capsule and was decommissioned in 1970.
Saturday, we just hung out at the RV park. Bob washed the trailer and the truck, although we got some rain late in the afternoon (of course, it always rains after you wash your vehicle, right?). Sunday, we attended services at the base chapel and generally took it easy. Monday we were on our way to Myrtle Beach.
Myrtle Beach, is a great place to enjoy the sun and the beach, however, the weather turned chilly for most of our stay. Bob was scheduled to fly to Pittsburgh the day after we arrived but he was able to take some time to play in the surf our first afternoon.
Myrtle Beach was generally relax and enjoy yourself time, with no big sightseeing on the agenda. Bob was back on Thursday evening and our daughter, Elisabeth, drove down from Raleigh, NC on Friday to join us for the weekend. We had a special meal to celebrate her birthday on Friday and on Saturday did some shopping, sightseeing on the Boardwalk and out for dinner. Pat loves Ferris wheels and we all enjoyed riding in the SkyWheel, the tallest Ferris wheel in the Eastern United States at 200 feet tall with a million LED lights. It seemed like we could see forever from the top of it.
We had a most unusual experience in the campground. When the tide came in, it flooded the part of the park that bordered the beach and they would have to use a backhoe to drain it back into the ocean!
After a workout on the beach (there is nothing like going for a run along the Atlantic Ocean!), we packed up and we on our way to Raleigh, NC.