Saturday, October 20, 2012

Another Day in Savannah

By Claire

Travel has its stress factors and we've had a few.  Last week, driving to my mother's in North Carolina, we stopped to get gas and I saw a car wash at the station.  You have no idea how hard it is to find a car wash when you want one.  So, we filled up and Chuck waited and waited for the receipt that would have the secret code.  He finally gave up and walked over to the office to get it.  Unfortunately, this little step threw him out of his routine and he forgot to put on the gas cap and shut the little door.  We drove through the car wash with it open; we only discovered this when we came out and grabbed some rags to dry the car off.  He panicked, especially since it was a pressure wash and "touchless," something neither of us has ever experienced.  Instead of brushes rolling over the top and sides, it hits the car with high pressure water from all sides.

We sat in the car for a while trying to figure out what to do.  We called everyone we knew who might be able to tell us and then realized the place we were in was an auto inspection/gas station and maybe someone there would know.  The guy in charge said it was no big deal but to add some gas additive, even telling Chuck that we could find it cheaper somewhere else.  No one we called was sitting at their phone ready for our call, so we decided that we would go.  Talk about stress!  We were waiting every moment for something terrible to happen.  Then the calls came in from Tai, Jim and Bob.  All reassured us and agreed on the gas additive.  We did stop for some at another gas station, and it was a fraction of the cost at the other place, but the instructions said to put it into an empty tank.  So, the end of the story is, we added the stuff to a very low tank and we have had zero problems before or after the additive.  One other thing: our gas tank does not have the little spring-loaded door in the filler tube that keeps water and dirt out. 

The next big stresser has to do with our Election Ballots.  Long before we left for this trip, I contacted the County Clerk's Office where I spoke with a friend of Diane's about getting our ballots mailed to one of our hotels along the way.  It's complicated because we had to work out when they would be mailed and wanted to choose a place where we would be for more than one night.  I contacted the Hilton hotel here in Savannah to make sure this was something they could handle, then I emailed Susan at the County Clerk's Office with the information, attaching a document with our signatures.  Should have been easy, right?  I even called the hotel again to let them know they were coming.

Then I called them 4 days ago to ask about them. After identifying myself and asking if some mail had arrived for me, the woman I spoke with said, "Would they be absentee ballots?"  I was thrilled and waited while she put me on hold to go find them.  That's when it all went bad.  She was certain she had seen them a few days before but didn't know where they were now.  I'm certain she saw them too.  She recognized Chuck's last name and how else did she know what they were?  I had expected them to be sent in a large brown envelope without anything identifying what they were.  Oh, and she said she'd call me back when she found them.  Nope.  So, we arrived yesterday and they have been searching for them ever since.  We leave tomorrow and it's not looking very likely that they will magically turn up.  I'm pretty upset about this turn of events.  We are now trying to figure out where to have another set of ballots sent to us, IF that is even possible.  Time marches on and we need time for them to get to wherever we are and time to get them back to Davis before November 6.  More on this later.

Today we were feeling like we had seen enough of Savannah and wished we could just get on the road and head to the beach.  However, with the ballot issue and the fact that we have reservations here and at the next place, we are stuck.  So, we made the best of it and headed into town for a river cruise.  But first, I wanted to see the Juliette Gordon Low house.  She founded the Girl Scouts 100 years ago this year and the day is the same day as my birthday.  I always enjoyed sharing that day, especially when it meant having a special party at our Girl Scout meeting.

City Hall with gold dome

Our cruise was to begin at noon so we stopped for coffee.  Naturally, Chuck had to have the Turtle Latté--coffee with chocolate, vanilla and caramel. 

The weather continues to be perfect and we were able to relax and enjoy the day floating down the river with South Carolina on one side and Savannah on the other.  One thing we learned was that Savannah is almost directly south of Cleveland, and is the westernmost port on the eastern seaboard.  It is the 4th largest in the U.S., and is now the largest container port.  The captain pointed out one of the newer tugboats:  It had a 6,000 horsepower engine and cost $19 million--no more your 'Little Toot.'

Chuck:  I remember reading Shogun years ago and was surprised by the importance of pilots in navigating ships.  Well, this continues:  Pilots are required to guide ships up the Savannah to the port.  The bottom clearance is 50 feet, here; this is necessary because many ships require 40 feet and the tide differential here is typically 8 feet.

Boating is popular, here, but no one has yachts; instead they have 'big ole boats.'  

This tugboat is a free ferry across the Savannah River to the Savannah International Trade and Convention Center.

 View of Talmadge Bridge, very similar to the Arthur Ravenel, Jr., Bridge in Charleston

After our cruise, we went in search of frozen yogurts--and a cupcake for Chuck--then drove to Forsyth Park in search of the Fragrant Garden, created for the blind.  We lucked out and found a parking place and some really wonderful homes.  The park is fantastic, too, and today was just right for kicking back on the grass.

I love this porch.  There are two on the house, but there are so many trees around it's difficult to actually get good pictures.

 Forsyth Park

Fragrant Garden structure

Inside the Fragrant Garden

Fountain in the park at the amphitheatre

Chuck:  I thought I recalled from grade school History classes that convicts were the original settlers in Georgia, and I was surprised that no one had mentioned that--until today:  The captain mentioned that Oglethorpe sailed with colonists released from debtor's prison to make room for other prisoners.

There are signs all over town for SCAD.  Our guide explained that the Savannah College of Art & Design has been a leader in restoring and adaptively reusing many of Savannah's architectural treasures, and has earned recognition from the Historic Savannah Foundation and many others for this work.  Apparently, students are actively involved in the restorations and get academic credit for their work.  They have been successful fundraisers and finance some of their own preservation operations.

Claire:  Some good news--gas has been as low as $3.45!  Bad news:  There are lots of smokers in the South.

We decided on an early dinner since we had skipped lunch.  Sweet Spice, a Jamaican place, sounded really good and it turned out to be a perfect decision.  The minute we walked into this tiny little hole in the wall, I felt comfortable.  Deacon, the owner, welcomed us and helped with our choices; he even brought me a sample of the steamed vegetables when I asked about them.  We both ordered the Jerk Chicken and I added some plantains to go with my steamed vegetables. The food was spicy and delicious.

 Red Velvet cake for Chuck, $3.00

Lemon cake for Claire

 Deacon on the right with his crew.  What a happy group.

Life is not about avoiding the storms; it's about learning to dance in the rain. ~ Vivian Greene