Swamps dominate this region of the South.
Once the ride was over, we did a little shopping in the marketplace, then returned to the car to drive on; this time we went via Route 17 over the massive cable bridge over the river to enter South Carolina; This is a cultural corridor, with all the signs of local culture; the first thing you see is a gentlemen’s club with live entertainment. Shortly after that is a billboard advertising a fully automatic shooting range. Then the cap it all off, there is a billboard advertising hospital services for those who did not fare well at the first two cultural establishments.
Driving on to Charleston seemed to take longer, but we made it just before sunset, so we could see the bridge to Mt. Pleasant.
One of SCAD’s many buildings.
In many ways, it is a scaled up version of Portsmouth New Hampshire, preserved in part due to benign neglect, but rescued by concerned citizens who saved, restored and resold the historic homes and buildings.
The city’s soul is tied to the Savannah College of Art & Designs – SCAD – which had made its mission to buy old buildings and renovate them to college buildings, rather than build new. As a result, the city’s heritage is safe; we saw an old Howard Johnson’s, an old Jewish Synagogue, a train depot, a department store, and other buildings converted for their use. The “SCAD” Logo is everywhere it seems, as if it is a giant corporation rather than a school.
Savannah is a southern city of course, with the guide – an African-American – proudly pointing out places where Civil War generals from both the North and the South slept in Savannah – not to mention a cemetery where Union troops camped, and had fun defacing graves, so some people were born after they died, or they were renamed in embarrassing ways.
Then there’s the literary side; Forrest Gump was filmed here in part; and other stories originate from this place.
The Cotton Exchange, one of three places in the world where cotton prices were set prior to the Civil War.
Savannah was the first settlement in Georgia, which was the last of the original thirteen colonies. It is laid out on a grid iron plan which is remarkably well preserved – of the original 24 public squares on the original city plan, 22 have survived. The living oaks, draped with Spanish Moss and the early flowers give the city a distinctly antebellum feel to it. It is also a varied city in terms of architecture, as there is a fine example of virtually every type of building style present to admire.
Churches dot the city – and it was the site of the oldest Jewish synagogue in the nation. And the Girl Scouts were founded here as well. Not to mention the notable restaurants, bakeries and so forth that were pointed out along the drive as if it was product placement – which it probably was.
One of the many shady venues in Savannah
By the time we reached Georgia, the skies were clearing, and by Savannah, there was plenty of blue. But no facilities. We pulled off the highway expecting a gas station or restaurant, but there was nothing on the darned parkway until we popped up in the heart of old Savannah.
We finally parked in a city parking garage, found the tiniest, weirdest McDonalds with only two unisex bathrooms to use, had an ice cream, and went into the city market.
The goal was to take a carriage ride; with Trixie in her cart, we opted for the Trolley ride, and got an excellent tour of the city seeing most of the squares, churches and antebellum housing close up. Given the close proximities, Pops had to use the iPhone to take photos along the ride.
Tribe thought she could drive in the rain – she has a license after all…
We departed Lake City in the midst of a horrific rainstorm, which slowed our progress; a couple of lightening strikes came way too close for comfort!
Florida’s vexing roads continued to plague us as well, as we threaded our way to the highway to Jacksonville, where we headed north onto I-95. Of course there were slowdowns, due to the deluge of rain, and an accident where someone had so totaled his semi truck cab (no trailer thank goodness) that only the frame with the wheels could be seen on a flatbed, and they were digging the upper bits of the cab out with a backhoe in the wet swampy land. Serves them right for not having the highways not nearly wide enough to accommodate the traffic. Most have a wide median strip – overgrown half the time – and narrow pull off strips that dive down into the ever present swamps.
Trixie watches the GPS in the car, wondering when we would reach our destination.
We didn’t leave until well after 3; and Gainsville was three hours on – so no other stops for us.
Driving hard north, going on to Lake City, Florida, through downpours that almost blotted out the road, but in the black of the night we made it to the Holiday Inn – even though we went off the first exit rather than the second, because the only stop we made after being misdirected by the GPS as we wandered around on the GPS map was at a seedy gas station that was just waiting to have its first murder of the day.
All I had programmed in at that point was Lake City; I had initially put in Lakeland to avoid returning to the mess and off-course route of Tampa. And at least until the downpour, the road was all right.