I had never visited Savannah, GA. Helen (adorable wife) on the other hand, had been there a few times while on gal-pal trips to nearby Hilton Head Island and was eager to return. Therefore, when we planned our Bertha and the Beach road trip, we made certain that Savannah would be one of the stops. We were not overjoyed about leaving Parris Island and Beaufort, SC because we had a great experience while there, but it was time to hitch up Bertha and move on.
We made a reservation at River’s End Campground in Tybee Island, GA, an hour and a half drive from Parris Island and about 15 miles east of downtown Savannah. We arrived in mid-afternoon and were met by the campground staff and escorted to our campsite. The check-in process was very efficient and we set up quickly. It was a very humid afternoon. The temptation to sit inside Bertha with the air conditioning running was strong, but Helen was in a rush to see the ocean so, to the ocean we went.
Tybee Island beach is wide and very pretty. There were not many people out, but it was late afternoon and most beachcombers had departed for the day. I was able to take a few pictures of the Tybee Island Lighthouse, a historic landmark that was originally constructed in 1773.
We had made reservations for three nights at the campground and had planned to spend the second day of our visit on the beach and exploring Tybee. However, as we got into the news on our first evening, there were some projections that Hurricane Irma, now looming in the Atlantic, had Savannah in its path. We changed our plans and decided that we would explore Savannah instead. That was the right call; it was sprinkling rain when we got up the next morning.
The town of Savannah, GA is charming, beautiful, and, as Georgia’s oldest city, is steeped in history. Wanting to see it all, we booked a trolley tour sponsored by the Visitor’s Bureau that allowed us to get on and off at various stops along the way. The trolley was full when we left and our energetic young tour guide was as entertaining as he was knowledgeable.
We passed through the historic district at our guide pointed out some of the notable landmarks such as Forsythe Park, the home of Girls Scout founder Juliet Gordon Low, and The First African Baptist Church. When we arrived at the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, Helen and I got off the trolley to go inside. The cathedral is stunning. The sanctuary is pictured here.
Soon, it was time for lunch and as we browsed through a gift shop we asked a manager where he liked to go for a good noon meal. Without hesitating, his answer was Paula Deen’s restaurant, The Lady & Sons. “It’s real food and lots of it!” was his reasoning as he pointed us in the right direction. We found it easily and were sent to the elevator for our seats on the third floor. This place was buzzing with activity. We were seated and chose the buffet primarily for the fried chicken and baked pork chips as well as the selection of green vegetables. Everything was well prepared and delicious and the dessert selection equally good. We could have taken a nap right there, but wanted to finish the tour. Back to the trolley stop, we went.
The tour guide and trolley driver for the afternoon was a Mr. Hayes who had a sign on the back of his seat that declared him the “Conductor of the Year” for 2003. He conducted the tour with well-rehearsed bits of information, punctuated with an abundance of one-liners that made for good entertainment. We passed the Owens-Thomas House, built in 1819 and considered to be one of the finest examples of English Regency Architecture in America.
We also drove by the Pirate’s House where it is said that blood-thirsty pirates from the Seven Seas had gathered there since 1753 to drink their grog and share their exotic adventures while sailing from far off places like Bombay and Singapore. It is now operating as a restaurant. We enjoyed the entire day tremendously, but it was time to go home and check on Bertha.
At the campground, there were many campers beginning to pack up and leave the area. It seemed that Irma had chosen Savannah for a direct hit and campers were telling us that gas was getting scarce and the routes out of low-country Georgia were filling with Floridians. We checked with the campground staff and were told that evacuation was recommended, but not yet mandatory. Helen and I decided that since we would eventually be driving over the always congested North Carolina mountains to get home, that we would leave for Charleston in the morning and then on toward Knoxville early the day after. The winds were picking up.
That evening we made one last trip to the beach and watched while surfers took advantage of the heavy surf to catch waves. They were very good, and the lovely beach made us want to stay even more, but common sense prevailed and we vowed to stick to the plan.
For dinner, we went to the highly recommended Crab Shack and it was awesome. The Crab Shack is basically an outdoor restaurant much like a covered porch. The evening was hot and sticky, but every few minutes a fine mist was discharged from overhead piping and cooled the guests. It was delightful. Also, we enjoyed watching the many feral cats that hung around looking for a shrimp that might be tossed in their direction.
We chose Captain Crab’s Sampler platters of crabs, shrimp, crawfish, corn, potatoes, and sausage. The food was served quickly and served hot. It was perfect for our last evening at the beach. Outside the Crab Shack was a holding tank with live alligators. A few can be seen in the picture below…just look for the eerie eyes in the photo.
The next morning we were up and on the road early. It was hard to leave a day early, but we knew it was better to be safe. At the first service station, we topped off our gas tank but had to wait through a crowd of thirsty cars to do so. Almost every car had Florida license tags.
Ultimately we made it home although by that time Irma had shifted to the western coast of Florida and was more of a heavy rain event when it hit Savannah. Nevertheless, we still believed that with the information we were given, leaving early was the prudent thing to do.
Amid all of the history lessons we received in Savannah, the lesson we received most loudly was that Savannah and Tybee Island are beautiful places to visit. A great beach and wonderful food are the things we thrive on and we eagerly look forward to a return trip in the future.
We had a wonderful time on our Bertha and the Beach trip. Thanks for coming along with us. We hope to see you again soon as we go Easin’ Along the retired road.