I once told someone that Thanksgiving was my favorite family holiday. I still have fond memories of past Thanksgivings at my grandparent’s home in Flint and playing with my cousins. Now our parents have passed on and our children are scattered across the country. Still Thanksgiving is for families and we had a family (somewhat reduced) Thanksgiving in Savannah, GA.
We camped at the Biltmore RV Park in Savannah and it is a delightful, little park. We were placed in what I thought was the best spot in the park. We were in a back corner, well away from the busy road, with plenty of open area to each side. Our daughter, Elisabeth, drove down from Raleigh to join us, so we DID have a family Thanksgiving. It was a lot of fun, we baked the turkey and fixed all of the trimmings. Pat did most of the cooking and I enjoyed watching the mother and daughter bonding. It was a wonderful dinner and made for some great memories.
Friday, we blew off Black Friday shopping and toured Historic Savannah on Old Town Trolley Tours. They provide a terrific jump on, jump off tour experience, and even provided a free shuttle right from the RV park. Pat and I had toured Savannah a few years ago, but we enjoyed it just as much this second time around. Savannah was Georgia’s first city. I continue to be impressed with Savannah’s preservation of historic buildings. It all began with a group of seven ladies who didn’t want to see a historic building get torn down to make room for a parking structure. It goes to show a few determined people can make a difference. This preservation work has continued and makes Savannah a unique city to tour. We stopped for lunch in a cafe in the City Market and enjoyed a nice meal while listening to a small band that serenaded the crowd. After lunch we walked along the waterfront before heading back to pick up the shuttle to the RV park.
Saturday we drove to Hutchison Island to watch the annual Boat Parade of Lights, sponsored by the Savannah Harbor Foundation. We watched it from the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort. Inside the Westin were Gingerbread houses made by local youth. We were all impressed by the imagination used by these kids in creating these edible models.
Highland pipes and drums entertained the crowd until “General James Oglethorpe,” founder of Savannah and the Colony of Georgia, read a proclamation calling for the Boat Parade and the lighting of the Christmas Tree. While these events were going on we watched many of the boats prepare for the parade. Some of the boats just hung lights wherever it was convenient, others had invested a substantial effort into making something unique and representative of the Christmas holidays. About 7:00 they assembled in the Savannah River and were led up and downstream by paddle-wheel tour boats.
We weren’t able to tour the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist on Friday because of Mass, so we went back on Monday morning. This is the only church in Savannah that allows tourists to go inside and what a sight it was! Originally established by French and Haitian immigrants in the late 1700s, the cornerstone for the current church was laid in 1873. In 1898 much of the church was destroyed in a fire. The rebuilding began immediately and the first mass was held in the rebuilt cathedral on December 24, 1899. The last major renovation was completed in 2000. While the cathedral is fascinating, what impressed me most were the statues on the north and south walls. Each scene depicts Christ’s journey from his indictment by Pontius Pilate to his crucifixion and, internment in the tomb.
The last place we visited was the Colonial Park Cemetery. After General Sherman captured Savannah, troops were encamped in the cemetery and entertained themselves by changing the engraved dates on some of the tombstones so they showed that people died before they were born. Many of the tombstones were moved and after the war the city tried to put them back, but many were unclaimed and are mounted on the back wall of the cemetery.
With a long drive ahead of us, we got an early start on Tuesday, November 29th. Next stop – Raccoon Creek RV Park at MacDill Air Force Base near Tampa, FL.