part of this trip to Florida, the four of us decided that we all
wanted to take a few days and head to a place none of us had ever
been -- Savannah, Georgia.
on Monday morning, we got up, finished off a couple of errands,
and hit the road.
of the location, I’ve kept this separate from the 2012 Florida
entries, which you can begin by looking here for “Days
One, Two and Three”… or… head over to the
section of the site. You can also check out my Savannah overview
Tale of Two City” -- as a way of preparing
for this journey.
us… it’s time to get out of bed and start the day…
one – Monday, October 1, 2012
only been awake and moving for a few minutes, but Terry is already
smiling and happy.
just gotten off the phone… she called that Monday-Friday Southwest
customer service number… and things went wonderfully.
heard most of the conversation (at least from our end), and it
sounded very friendly and smooth. When her call was answered,
Terry politely asked if she was speaking to someone that could
help her as she only wanted to cover all the details one time.
She followed that up by quickly outlining the flight number, what
happened, and the story of the wet luggage upon arrival. And,
she finished it by saying exactly what she was looking for in
was off the phone in less than two minutes, with an approval for
what she wanted. (And… full credit and applause to Southwest…
I even had an e-mail confirmation of everything before we got
out the door this morning. Great effort on their part.
Thank you Southwest.)
will be staying in the kennel with his vet, and we are dropping
him off as we leave Ocala. So the bags are packed and loaded in
the car… Sam is getting a final walk… and everyone is ready to
wait… Ellen wants to get gas for the car.
way is the gas station Richard?”
“The one you normally go to is past the highway, so it’s a bit
out of the way.”
know. I want the other one.”
Richard can respond, Ellen quickly slides the car over two lanes
and then turns left while saying “it’s right there.”
silence as she pulls up to the pump. She turns to look at Richard.
“Almost missed it. Where were you on that one?”
wisely and showing tremendous experience… smiles, nods, and
silently gets out to pump the gas.
of the great restaurant finds when we were in south Florida back
in 2009 was J.
Alexander’s. We’ve got the address of a location
in Jacksonville, and have decided that since it doesn’t seem out
of the way we’re going to target it for lunch.
find the restaurant and are immediately hit with a problem. No
calamari. It was highly recommended to us back in 2009… and after
we had it, we agreed it was tremendous. Not on today’s menu though.
digs in for his classic, reliable anywhere order… a burger. Ellen
goes for the white bean soup and a Caesar’s salad. Terry and I
order to split -- onion rings, not your ordinary mac n cheese,
and a barbecue bacon chicken sandwich. We all enjoy our meals,
settle back in the car, and prepare for the remainder of the drive
don’t want this to sound bad… but there isn’t much of a way to
cushion this. I’ve driven roads all around this country. And there
is something about almost every one of them. Character would be
one good term for it. A regional flair might work as a concept…
though that can often be an idea quite tied in to the season of
your visit as well. The point is… even the most desolate and barren
of highways generally have some unique features that can elevate
them above boring. (Note I said boring… elevating them above tedious
is something completely different.) Now… that established… the
stretch of interstate 95 between Jacksonville and Savannah might
just be the most boring stretch of highway I have ever driven.
talking roughly 135-140 miles of three lanes north, and three
lanes south, and steady trees off to the side, and nothing else.
I mean seriously… the three lanes even make it so it’s really
difficult to get stuck behind someone, which means during routine
traffic you can’t even waste time complaining about the way the
guy in front of you is driving.
guess what I found? It’s the Florida Highway Landscape
Guide. Really! I don’t know if it’s active policy. (And
the link is no longer active.) I couldn’t read the whole thing…
and it was submitted in April of 1995. But it is dedicated to
the idea that: “The Sunshine State’s strong tourist-based economy
is dependent upon a well-maintained and aesthetically pleasing
highway system.” Isn’t that a great concept? Well… of course it
is. Unfortunately, we’re crossing over to Georgia. And we… are…
suggest we try the license plate game... rattling off the different
states we can find on the cars and trucks driving along with us.
Ellen grabs a pad of paper and we get started.
go great with the game. And… for the most part… they continue
to go great all the way until we are approaching the hotel. But
two things need to be mentioned.
started talking about The Lady and Sons restaurant and our
plans. Since we aren’t sure which days we are going to do
what, I’m wondering if this is something we all want to do.
(It is.) We mentioned possibly seeking it out today, and if
so I point out that maybe it should be something we check
on now for tonight’s dinner in case you need reservations.
Terry calls to make sure they’re open, and we all agree on
heading there for dinner tonight.
fun as the game is, Ellen is getting tired of writing down
the states. So, Terry takes the pad from her. Within five
minutes, she’s tearing out the sheet and re-writing it. Ellen
had started keeping the names as we rattled them off, but
quickly realized how hard double-checking them was going to
become when not in alphabetical order. She had stayed on the
same page, but since she knew what she had done when she restarted,
she wasn’t having any problems with the scratch outs and scribbles.
Once she passed it to Terry… well… do you know how many states
begin with the letter M? Here’s a hint… it’s more than you
would think. And Ellen didn’t give much of a gap between Louisiana
and Nebraska. So once Maine begins messing with her, Terry
decides to begin the listing again. (The answer is eight states…
Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota Mississippi,
Missouri and Montana. And in Ellen’s defense, keeping the
listing is not an easy job.)
few things from the license plate game.
why are so many of the license plates on trucks from Maine?
Tennessee too. Is it something in the registration process?
check both plates on a truck. A semi will regularly have different
plates on the tractor than what is on the trailer. Depends
on the rules you set up in your game, but nabbing two states
with one unit is pretty sweet.
I don’t know why, but Wisconsin seems to be the forgotten
state. And by that, I mean the one where it comes up frequently
enough, but no one seems to remember you already have it --
“Oh look… Wisconsin. Do we have Wisconsin?” And then the same
comments would repeat every ten to fifteen minutes as if it
had never been mentioned.
ended up collecting forty states. In our experience that seems
to be really good. The first ten are a breeze, and usually
getting to twenty is simple enough. As you close in on twenty-five
though, it starts to become frustrating. You tire of seeing
Maine and Tennessee on virtually all of the trucks, and know
every option and variation available on plates from the state
you’re in and the three or four adjacent to it. Clear thirty
and, well – you begin chanting a list of the states you haven’t
seen… if you were crossing Arizona, you might begin to wonder
what you need to do to find any New England states… you consider
whether or not North and South Dakota really are harder to
find than Rhode Island… you think about what types of attractions
could be close that might entice a tourists from Hawaii or
Alaska to be there with their cars… and so on.
closing in on the hotel… the Residence Inn Midtown on White Bluff
Road. As we’ll discover, the location isn’t bad, though it is
definitely not in the center of everything.
had never been promised it was in the center of everything. We
were led to believe we could get to most anything in 10-15 minutes
of driving, and that was definitely true enough.)
are no ends to the funny items you keep encountering when trying
to plan a visit to Savannah. While we were doing our research,
we kept stumbling across comments that had us thinking about issues
we normally place on the backburner. For example… parking.
mention this because when doing your research online, you need
to be able to consider the sources of comments and reviews, and
filter the information. There are plenty of fake and misleading
reviews out there. Sorry to say it… it’s true. And for this trip,
quite often, off to the side or in the review sections for a hotel,
restaurant or attraction, there it was -- something indicating
that parking was limited. The thing is… even with our “skeptical
of critiques and reviews” approach… the idea of keeping an open
mind meant when it kept coming up it was there often enough that
had us seeking it out as a potential concern. We never did have
any real problems with parking during our visit, and yet I can
recall searching a few times for places in a lot or for an open
meter on the road. I could definitely see where parking could
be an issue.
we selected the Midtown location of the Residence Inn because
we wanted a suite-type of arrangement, and felt good about the
price and amenities we were seeing. And overall… really good choice.
offered a breakfast that was fantastic and varied enough that
each morning was a treat, plus afternoon snacks and wine that
were really good. Hey… low cost hotel option and a quick meal
or snack… if you were expecting bacon-wrapped scallops and a $500
bottle to be opened, that’s your fault. What the Residence Inn
provided was solidly in the good category, and we’ll get to more
of this as our stay develops.
now… we’re at the front desk, speaking with Patricia, and she
is fantastic. Bubbly, friendly and helpful, she runs through all
of the details we need to get started. Only…
in keeping with the experiences we’ve had with everyone so far…
Patricia doesn’t really tell us anything specific to do. (I’ll
come back to what she does recommend in a second.) But one thing
she does provide us with is a compass… a guiding star… a building
is an amazingly easy place to drive when you understand some of
the basics about its design. There are curveballs… a tangled web
of one-way streets… the famous squares… increasing and decreasing
road widths complicated by parking patterns and straight-only
versus turn-only lanes… and other peculiarities that I suppose
would seem quaint and obvious and hardly bothersome once you got
used to them. For the most part though, the roads are true and
straight. And once you are handed a piece of information like
Abercorn Street… a lot comes together in front of you.
Street is one of the main roads to use in accessing Savannah.
Only when you drive in, you learn about it as route 204 and not
by the name Abercorn. It leads from the “midtown” areas directly
into the “historic” districts. The street address for The Cathedral
of Saint John the Baptist is on East Harris -- in reality you
drive around Lafayette Square and walk into the church off of
get back to Patricia…
gives us information about the hotel and answers some questions
about general things. The one specific thing she does recommend
is a trolley tour. Now… we didn’t heed her advice on that. But,
we did see that trolley, and its stops, all over the place. I’m
not saying to use it -- we drove and did fine with navigating
around and finding parking -- but the trolley she pointed out
to us seemed to have stops at all the major locations. I’m not
even going to name it, since there are multiple tours around and
we didn’t ride any of them. Plus I can’t say anything good or
bad about it. We decided against it because we didn’t like the
hours it was running and preferred to have the freedom to move
around at our own pace to any of the attractions we were so inclined
to seek out. In summary… it wasn’t a bad recommendation.
settle in to the room, organize our moving-around materials (such
as… oh, I don’t know… my backpack), and get ready to head out.
We’ve decided to look toward the City Market area, which will
put us near The Lady and Sons. (How do we get there? Left on Abercorn,
drive straight into Historic Savannah, turn left and drive until
we see a parking lot next to the City Market area. Yeah… basically
if you eliminate getting out of the parking lot at the hotel,
it was two turns. And as noted a moment ago, the drive took us
through a couple of squares and past St. John’s.)
is during this run that we begin to see the moss in the trees.
And… I can tell you… it is an amazing sight. At night it creates
an almost haunting atmosphere in the light from the moon or streetlamps.
(Actually… not almost. It does create a haunting atmosphere.)
During the day it adds a fullness to the trees in a way no other
place I’ve been can claim. And to say there is a lot of moss doesn’t
even really capture the reality.
cross the street and hit Savannah’s Candy Kitchen. (They have
two locations… one here in City Market, and another we will later
find on River Street. Pralines were very good… and very sweet.)
Terry and Ellen meander into a shop they found interesting called
Twinkle. (Some cute stuff… the girls were very entertained.) And
then we all decided to try the wine tasting at a shop for Meinhardt
of all… they have some lovely boxers in their family. Gorgeous
up… the wines… they were good. I think we each tasted about five,
and I believe we all enjoyed everything we tried. A bit different…
but not necessarily better than anything we’ve had in other places.
head out of the market area and on to West Congress Street. We’re
just a few blocks from The Lady and Sons, and as we walk we point
out a few shops we are thinking about checking out later.
up though, we turn into the Paula Deen Store. It’s nice… but the
best part of it for Terry was the old magazine issues that they
are offering for, as I recall, one dollar per issue. Now we like
Paula, and have enjoyed making (and eating) several of her dishes.
However, there wasn’t much in the store tugging at our wallets.
the corner we head into The
Lady and Sons. And… well…
on the menu is $22 or more. Ok… I get it… price probably shouldn’t
be the thing, and that’s not really a truly fair place to start.
Plus, if you look over the dinner menu, everything isn’t $22 or
more… just seven out of the eight entrees with prices listed.
I’m just saying that it’s a bit shocking to walk into Paula’s
place -- where you might be expecting comfort and an easy-going
feeling -- and see chicken pot pie for $18.99. And that’s the
lowest-priced entrée at an establishment featuring plenty
of tourists and a very casual atmosphere.
let’s not talk price. What we need to consider is Ellen and Richard.
has fallen in love with the idea of a crab stuffed shrimp, wrapped
in bacon, served with a lemon basil cream sauce, jasmine rice,
and asparagus. I’m looking over things and, honestly nothing is
really jumping out and grabbing my attention. And with so much
based on seafood (six of the entrees) it seems like The Lady’s
Southern Buffet is getting my vote.
and Richard are not fans of buffets. From what I’ve gathered,
it is in part because of the all-you-can-eat concept. And you
have to stretch that out to what it means for preparation and
service… not necessarily as a statement on the quality of the
food being offered. They’d simply prefer to not feel stuffed to
the gills by too much food, and also prefer an individually prepared
dish instead of a mass produced and on a steam table item. I understand
both order the buffet.
what? Ellen and Richard both ordered the buffet? Yup. Three buffets.
One crab stuffed shrimp. And truth be told, we probably should
have gone with the chicken pot pie.)
best part of the meal? Easy… dessert. The buffet comes with a
choice of three items… so we get servings of the chocolate gooey
cake, banana puddin’, and peach cobbler. Those were all fantastic.
ask out waiter for some thoughts on the best places to settle
in for the evening… a run of shops to check out… maybe a bar or
place to get a drink or hear some music… any options for the night.
He gives us a history of the cobblestones on River Street. (I
mentioned it in “A
Tale of Two City”…)
years ago… not decades ago… quite literally centuries ago, the
ships sailing from Europe into Savannah would come across the
ocean and up the Savannah River loaded with ballast stones for
stability. They would pick up cargo and leave the ballast stones
behind. These stones were in turn used in the construction of
buildings… stairs… and, for this waiter’s story most specifically,
for the actual street of River Street.
Street is a cobblestone road of sorts -- formed from the very
history… the very ballast stones… of the city’s early days.
It is quite impressive and stunning when you are standing on
River Street and are aware of this.
other than pointing us in the direction of River Street… I know
you’ll be stunned… we don’t get many specific recommendations
turn onto Whitaker Street and begin the walk toward the water.
After heading down a flight of stairs, we hit River Street at
an amazing sight… Cracked Earth – A World Apart. It’s
a striking sculpture… a monument to World War II.
in the distance is the Talmadge Memorial Bridge, and we spend
a few minutes alternating between looking at A World Apart
and watching the boats on the Savannah River.
group isn’t talking much. It was actually something I noticed
right around the time we ordered three buffets. I’m not sure how
to interpret it… it’s almost like everyone is trying to figure
out Savannah, as if it isn’t connecting with us in a way we expected.
looking through a few stores, including a very nice Christmas
shop, we decide to head back to the car and get in some cards
before bed. We stop for a bit of candy and then we’re off to the
and Bob took the game of Hand and Foot.
two – Tuesday, October 2, 2012
suite consists of two bedrooms. Each has its own bath.
night, when we went to bed and closed the door, Terry and I found
a large gap between the two doors that led to our room. All four
of us commented about the noise overnight, most of which seemed
to be created by what sounded exactly like a helicopter flying
trying to research the noise I found many comments about a military
base nearby. Zero clue if this means anything as to what we heard…
but sure enough, Hunter Army Airfield is right there. I don’t
know if this is true or not, but evidently, this air base specializes
in helicopter pilot training.)
end result is that as we are in the process of getting ready,
there are a few overlapping conversations taking place. Most of
it involves yesterday. Some of it involves the construction and
location of our hotel. It seems as though all of us are a bit
underwhelmed right now by Savannah.
wrong. Nothing’s bad -- at least not in a wet suitcase kind of
way, or to the level of a real issue.
hard to put a true description on it. But if I was forced to try,
I’d simply say that if you asked us at any point between the moment
we decided to visit Savannah all the way until we made the left
turn onto Abercorn the night before, we NEVER
would have guessed that three of the four of us would order a
buffet for any of our Savannah meals. (And yet, there it was it,
part of the first meal of the trip and, of all places, at The
Lady and Sons.)
is out of tune right now… out of focus… something is distorted.
And none of us can really explain what it is. After being told
over and over again that Savannah can be described by just one
word -- awesome -- it is obvious that we aren’t certain where
to head to find that awesome Savannah.
how things can change though… because we’re minutes away from
one of those small moments in life that you cherish (and a rain
storm away from a major breakthrough).
Savannah Midtown Residence Inn by Marriott serves a complimentary
breakfast. It features a waffle station, breads and muffins and
pastries, fruit, cereals, and so on. The only way to describe
it -- and please understand, I’ve had complimentary breakfasts
in many places, some of them very well run and good -- is that
at this place it’s extraordinary.
four of us have a really diverse set of tastes… some of us look
for fruits, some must have coffee, and others aren’t drawn to
either of those as initial morning thoughts… and yet somehow this
small hotel is going beyond satisfying for all of us. (While offering
suites, I believe they fall between 60 and 70 total rooms, which
is one of the smallest I have ever seen that offered a decent
breakfast option.) I don’t want to go crazy here -- it’s a free,
hotel-based, serve-yourself breakfast folks -- and yet it was
perfect for us, the morning staff was incredibly friendly, and
honestly… we all left the lobby area with smiles and a completely
fresh outlook on the day.
the room we finalize some thoughts that we were kicking around
while we ate. We are going to start the day out at the railroad
museum, and then head in to see the St. John Cathedral. (I hope
you can forgive me for taking the “Cathedral of Saint John the
Baptist” and abbreviating it here and there.)
you read the
diary from the first days of this trip, you
might recall that back in Ocala we had been looking around at
some options for Savannah and what attractions to seek out. And
I mentioned that our results were, to say the least, pretty vanilla.
We were finding out about the squares… heard about City Market…
and, the reason for this aside, we saw two railroad museums listed.
The thing is… the Georgia State Railroad Museum and the Roundhouse
Railroad Museum had different entries, but seemed to have the
exact same street address.
Luv U is working fine, but the streets are giving us some troubles.
The Roundhouse Railroad Museum is located at an address of 601
West Harris Street. It is just one museum, and while the primary
name is the Roundhouse, it is also known as the Georgia State
Railroad Museum. The main way to get in is off of Martin Luther
King, Jr. Boulevard. The trouble we find is, the museum really
isn’t on West Harris at all. We parked in the street… at a corner
near the end of West Harris and just outside the semi-circular
wall of the museum’s main building… but had to walk along paths,
around fences, and use the edge of the building to lead us to
the gift shop and ticket counter.
girls are in a silly mood. Richard loves trains… so he’s happy.
And while all of us enjoy history, I tend to really get a bit
absorbed by places like this. The girls are trying to figure out
how to ditch the two of us for the rest of the morning.
exaggerate… but not by much.)
of the first exhibits is a show… a video… in an old boxcar. All
four of us sit down and begin watching. After about five minutes,
Ellen and Terry get up and take off.
I said they were in a silly mood? Well, they find a passenger
car with a sleeper section and decide they’re going to scare us.
They hide and begin to wait.
“Where the hell are those two?” continue to wait…
“Did they go by us?” continue to wait…
about twenty or thirty minutes they give up. They climb back into
the center of the car and start looking out windows. After not
seeing us wandering around the main display area, eventually they
backtrack and -- they’re reaction was close to rolling eyes and
“oh hell no” -- they find us sitting in exactly the same places
we were when they left, still watching the show.
we actually sat down after it began, and it cycled around and
started again. And there were parts we missed. The two of us had
been listening and laughing and pointing and really having just
a great time learning some very surprising facts.
girls though… not only was their perfect scare-the-boys plan thwarted
(actually, it was pretty much thwarted after they almost gave
another couple at least one heart attack), but they now knew we
were settling in and planning to look at virtually everything
(with three or four more buildings to go). To say the morning
was headed in a direction they hadn’t planned would be an understatement.
kidding aside, The Roundhouse Railroad Museum is pretty cool and
interesting. I won’t lie to you and try to say it will keep everyone’s
attention from the moment you buy the tickets until you are leaving
hours later with a stuffed bag from the gift shop. (Because it
won’t.) And yet all of us kept stumbling on items throughout the
property… including the “ghost staircase” and looking up a 120-plus-foot
smokestack… that were something we had never seen before, really
neat, or just captured our imagination.
our visit begins to wind down and we walked around some of the
last areas to see, we talk about where we might head next and
how lunch might eventually be accomplished, and I make a suggestion
that everyone seems thrilled by… a picnic.
idea is to head over toward Lafayette Square and the Cathedral
of Saint John the Baptist so we can see both of those. And, after
that, Forsyth Park is nearby. So… visit the cathedral and go inside,
check out a square a bit more closely than we had driving around
last night, and then get a to-go lunch to enjoy in the park.
we leave though… a conversation takes place in the gift shop.
I’m about to learn more about the Bird Girl.
than seventy years ago, Sylvia Shaw Judson created a sculpture
called Bird Girl. It depicts a young girl holding bowls in slightly
outstretched arms. Four statues were created from the original
mold. One of these was bought by a family in Savannah, Georgia,
and placed in family’s area of a local cemetery.
twenty years ago, John Berendt released his celebrated book, Midnight
in the Garden of Good and Evil. Jack Leigh was hired as a
photographer, and assigned the task of capturing an image to use
on the cover of the book. Leigh, a Savannah native, ended up in
the Bonaventure Cemetery, where he took the simply brilliant image
of the Bird Girl statue. Many people have attributed a portion
of the book’s success to the stunning picture.
a result of the immense popularity of Savannah, Midnight in
the Garden of Good and Evil, and the Bird Girl, the statue
was moved from the Bonaventure Cemetery. And what I learned in
the gift shop was that the Bird Girl is on a long-term loan to
Museums, and is on display in Savannah at
the Telfair Museum of Art.
get back to the car and drive for only a few minutes before we
arrive near the corner of Abercorn and East Liberty… where we
park and get ready to head over to the Cathedral of Saint John
will tell you right now, the
Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist could
be the most amazing church I have ever set foot in. It is beautiful…
historic… and impressively maintained. Magnificent is a word used
on the cathedral’s web site, and magnificent it is.
let some of my pictures do most of the talking about this gorgeous
place… but honestly, they don’t do it justice. It is, easily,
a must for any visit to Savannah… especially a first visit.
inside, I debate purchasing an ornament of their Rose Window.
My father has one from our church at home, and I’m thinking it
will be a great gift for him.
leave the street and cross over to Lafayette Square.
said… here in this diary a bit, and more in “A Tale of Two City”…
that Savannah has been a mystery for me, and one that unfolds
over time and through experience. The concept of “squares” was
one such mystery.
I’m not saying a mystery from the concept of trying to grasp the
idea of them. When you learn about Savannah, you learn about how
the city was designed. When reading about the city, that includes
descriptions of the gorgeous settings created by moss-laden trees.
When reading about the city, that includes hearing about its many
squares. And… for me at least… when reading about the city, that
meant I was trying to unite the idea of squares with the concept
of a park.
in many ways… this works. And yet, then again, it doesn’t.
what does work?
more of roundabouts.
it’s driving around Savannah that the reality of the squares begins
to fall into place for me. It’s the one-way streets and traffic
patterns around them, and seeing them in person to get a grasp
of their size and location and the buildings nearby. That begins
to place it all into perspective.
look… the park theory isn’t far off. Almost every one of them
contains a dedication, or a memorial, and/or some historical significance.
And they are not roundabout in size… several are a minimum of
a city block and a few are larger.
once you experience the reality of this truly designed city in
person instead of in your head or from a map… well, you can adjust
and see a pattern of sorts. Not a perfect pattern… but a pattern.
There’s a flow to driving around, and the squares are a very real
part of that flow.
Square? It’s a beautiful place to see. There is a nice fountain
in the center of the square.
we head back to the car, we’ve decided to move over near Madison
Square. This is located along Bull Street. There is a Christmas
shop -- funny enough, called The Christmas Shop
-- that I want to stop and check out. And I figure between the
square and the shop, we’ll be arriving quite nicely up against
the time to head out and prepare for our picnic lunch.
The Christmas Shop, we are given some amazing advice. While making
a few small purchases, a terrific conversation begins. Turns out
that there is a connection back to Rhode Island for the staff,
and we’re having a great time. And it eventually turns to us going
for lunch... and I am about to ask the magic “if you were us,
where would you…” but I can’t even get to the question. I was
just going to ask where to get some sandwiches. But the person
we were speaking with heard us mention lunch was next and asked…
you going to Mrs. Wilkes’?”
out we’re a couple of blocks away from the best meal… well, not
just in Savannah, but possibly the best meal in the entire world.
(And that is not an exaggeration.)
Christmas Shop itself is a terrific representation of Savannah
at its best… unique items, decent pricing (there was easily enough
items of interest to appeal to any visitor, a few collectibles
were pricey), and a very friendly staff. I came back later in
the day, and the person we spoke with wasn’t there. Still got
far as Mrs. Wilkes’… our conversation turns to a few warnings.
Lines traditionally start no later than about an hour before the
11am opening. Usually earlier. And, if you aren’t in line by 10:30,
you’ll be lucky to be seated before noon. Also… by the way… Mrs.
Wilkes is open from 11am until 2pm.
let that set in.
now… I’ll repeat.
Wilkes’ Dining Room… a place that I am telling you right now,
ahead of the coverage of our visit, delivered one of the finest
experiences and some of the most delicious food I have eaten any
place in the world (in fact, some of the best food any of the
four of us have ever eaten)… is open Monday through Friday for
three hours each day.
do not accept reservations.
do not accept credit cards.
price for lunch is an insanely and ridiculously underpriced $18
skip over to Madison Square to take a few pictures, and then meet
everyone back at the car. The sky is threatening rain, so we decide
to take a chance. Hey… it’s Tuesday… roughly 12:30… let’s drive
by Mrs. Wilkes’.
we go to West Jones Street, and before even turning off of Whitaker
Street we see a line. We decide to continue along with the picnic
idea… risk the rain… and make a unanimous group decision to be
in line no later than 10am on Wednesday at 107 West Jones.
night before we had seen a place called Atlanta
Bread. It looked like a sandwich place in
the spirit of what we recognize at home as Panera… serving bread
along with an assortment of menu items. Terry had seen a place
Cupcakes while we were driving along Abercorn.
So the decision was made… sandwiches and a cupcake for our picnic.
won’t go out of my way to recommend Atlanta Bread or Gigi’s to
you. What I can say is that all of us were satisfied with our
selections and enjoyed the meal. The food was good… nothing too
memorable though (and I even have notes about what we tried).
I can tell you is that as we left The Christmas Shop, finished
scoping out The Wilkes House, and passed Forsyth Park, the sky
opened up. I mean… it opened up. Seriously… buckets of water cascading
we arrived at Atlanta Bread, it was still raining hard, and we
decided to move our picnic into the hotel suite. We were only
about a block away, and thought it would be more comfortable eating
and playing cards on a table while we waited out the storm.
move paid off. By the time we were unwrapping the cupcakes and
finishing our meal, the rain had stopped. Within ten more minutes,
the sun was out.
drove back to St. John’s so I could run in and purchase the Rose
Window ornament (Dad loved it), and then headed to Forsyth Park.
only about two blocks wide, so to try and even make the comparison
of Forsyth to New York’s Central Park isn’t really something I
can pull off if you want to debate me in depth. However… in general
terms, I like the comparison. Forsyth Park occupies about 30 acres
according to what I’ve been able to find, and has a very nice
fountain as one featured attraction. There are several walking
paths, plenty of open areas for play, and room for just sitting
around to observe the surroundings. The park is also used for
concerts and organized athletic activities.
wrap up our visit to Forsyth and begin to kick around thoughts
of what to do next. I had been debating suggesting the lighthouse
on Tybee Island, and that gets some interest from the group. We
fire up Mi Luv U, plug in the lighthouse, and find out it will
take about thirty minutes to get there. Decision made.
drive out to the Tybee Island Museum and Light Station is, for
all intents and purposes, a drive along US-80. That’s misleading
though. And between the Savannah River and a wildlife refuge,
there is plenty of interesting scenery along the way.
arrive to find… well… it’s Tuesday. And I’m guessing just about
anyone in the Savannah area can tell you the Tybee Lighthouse
is closed on Tuesdays.
one is complaining though. Sure… would have been nice to do more
than get out of the car, walk around a bit, and take a couple
of pictures. Still… was a nice drive.
the way back in, we stop at a fruit stand. The idea is to get
some peaches… a treat for Mumbles Sabetta… and Terry also has
a chance to try boiled peanuts. (If you’re wondering… apparently
they weren’t horrible, but… yeah… Tiggers do not like boiled peanuts.)
head back in to River Street, with the design being to set ourselves
up on the opposite end from where we were and what we saw the
night before. And yet we find… it’s basically more of the same.
For instance, one store was the second outlet of Savannah’s Candy
Kitchen. And then there are a couple of places with “Savannah”
written across some of the same pieces we’ve seen labeled “Key
West” or “Fort Lauderdale” or wherever so many times before. Occasionally
we find a cute and distinct store with some interesting offerings.
I suppose… it is all very nice. It’s just not the amazing Savannah
we found earlier in the day… the Cathedral of Saint John the Baptist…
stores like The Christmas Shop… the promise of The Wilkes House…
Lafayette Square and Forsyth Park and the Tybee Lighthouse and
incredibly friendly people.
a total loss though.
head back from the stores along the cobblestone roadway. We get
in our car, and stop at the Statue of the Waving Girl. And while
I will not retell the story here… use your favorite search engine,
because the story behind this memorial is wonderful, and another
great moment from Savannah. The history is all around us… and
we’re finally beginning to get a feeling for it… if we could just
get past the garden of common and touristy.
been trying to figure out what to do about dinner. We’re not hungry…
but we could eat. And we’ve sort of decided that unless something
jumps out at us, we’re going to take it easy for the remainder
of the night. For no reason in particular, I don’t even know who
said it first, we all kind of remember at the same time that there
is a Bonefish Grill near our hotel.
sharing a few appetizers… we’re all good with the idea.
we get moving away from River Street, the skies open up again.
(We take that as a sign we made the right choice.)
don’t have many notes from the next hour-plus. We had a fantastic
time at Bonefish. We got there in time for Happy Hour, which included
some great specials for the day. The conversation is good… everyone
is happy with the food and beverages… and, ok, new paragraph…
grant you that mentioning this at a point where we have just finished
a meal in a chain restaurant is a bit funny. But it’s incredibly
noticeable… all four of us are obviously feeling significantly
better tonight about our trip. The cathedral was incredible… the
people continue to be some of the friendliest and most approachable
you could ever meet… the history of the surroundings was significantly
more evident… and even places like the railroad museum and lighthouse
were entertaining. We saw a lot of the area today, and had a really
good time doing it.
buffet selection and tourism haze of day one were caution flags,
which had us wondering what was going on. Today was a complete
stop in Kitchenware Outfitters… which has a place in the same
plaza as Bonefish. (And… amazingly enough… the grocery store we
used on day one and Atlanta Bread from our lunch.) Nice little
store. They were closing down for the day… they were only open
because of a cooking class taking place, and the owners talked
with us a bit while we looked around and picked up a few small
to the Residence Inn… where the wine and snack hour is going on.
We stop in the lobby to pick up a few cookies, a glass of wine
or two, and some other drinks, and then back to the room. Ellen
and Bob win Hand and Foot for the night.
as the day winds down and the four kids go off to sleep, visions
of Mrs. Wilkes’ dance in our heads.
three – Wednesday, October 3, 2012
here’s the plan… get to The Wilkes House before 10am.
that’s about it.
were told three things: (1) The Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room is fantastic.
(2) People line up for it. And, (3) it is only open three hours
yesterday, we saw one thing: (1) At 12:30pm there was still a
line at a restaurant that would be closing at 2pm.
that up, and we’re determined not to miss out. So we’ve decided
that with doors opening at 11am, we’re going to be in line no
later than 10am.
morning… we’re awake… so we wander down to the lobby and get a
pretty fantastic breakfast. We all changed things up… switching
around who got what, but still incorporating waffles, cereal,
yogurt and granola, and other nice offerings… and were laughing
as we went back to the room.
too early to depart for the day, the cards were dealt and after
two hands Terry and Richard had bolted out to a decisive, 3,000-point
arrive on West Jones Street just before 10am. Terry, Ellen and
Richard get out of the car and into the line while I park. About
three or four minutes later, when I join them, the clock still
hasn’t hit 10am… and the three of them tell me that from what
they’ve heard we may not make the cut for the first seating when
the doors open.
11am the line slowly begins moving forward, with groups being
taken in to fill tables… and by about 11:15 we’re being seated
at one of the last tables for the first service. It’s a family-style
setting, where we have been seated with three other groups at
a table and several plates of food are already in place. There
is no menu to select from… just the menu served completely at
every table for the day.
a listing of some of the food we were served…
that’s just a start. I’m not including red rice and okra and mashed
potatoes and cucumbers and cabbage and cream-style corn and baked
beans and stuffing and lima beans and… look, I’m getting hungry.
Corn bread and biscuits and sweet tea… oh my! (And oh my YES!)
figured out that once you counted dessert (which included banana
pudding and blueberry cobbler), well over 20 dishes had been served
to us. And everything was fantastic.
meat loaf was beyond description. It was so incredible we bought
cookbooks and made it again when we got back to Ellen and Richard’s.
(And then fought over those leftovers.)
meal costs $18 a person, and that’s just beyond a good deal. It’s
am not kidding you… between the fried chicken and meat loaf and
assorted other goodies, I honestly did eat several of the best
meals I have ever experienced in just this one sitting. There
is no fancy description needed, between the taste of the food,
the atmosphere, the value and the people, this was the greatest
restaurant I have ever been in, it’s not even a close competition,
and I seriously doubt that any other will ever eclipse it.
Wilkes’ Dining Room… BRILLIANT!
been kicking around visiting a house while in Savannah. There
are several historic places to consider, and thanks to Midnight
in the Garden of Good and Evil, we’d been looking at The
Mercer House as our likely destination. After lunch, it’s decided,
and we head back to Bull Street.
are no pictures allowed inside… something I understand, but that
always bothers me a bit about some places since I’d like to capture
a few moments. The tour covers the first floor and was a fun stop
for all of us. (If not The Mercer House… when you are in Savannah
I highly recommend finding at least one historic house to tour.)
there we drive back toward City Market. We stop in a pet store
and a gourmet shop on Barnard Street, and then encounter a real
treat when we wander into the Savannah Bee Company for a honey
tasting. (There were a few shops in this area… and other than
Savannah Bee, we liked them but none jump out to specifically
mention to you. However, this was a true collection of unique
treasures when it comes to retail options… different, not at all
touristy, and kind of fun. Plus… Goose Feathers is in the same
place (coming up tomorrow). This was what we were expecting to
see much more of from Savannah.)
that it’s over the Talmadge Bridge for some pictures and a bit
is the point where anyone reading this needs to consider Mrs.
Wilkes’ Dining Room before continuing on with our day. We couldn’t
stop eating while we were there. It was just so amazing… delicious…
plentiful… just wonderful.
as we crossed back over the bridge, we decided that we really
just wanted to kick back and play some cards for the evening.
None of us were hungry, but we figured we should probably think
about getting something while we were out rather than deciding
we needed something after getting back to the hotel. And so we
know. I get it. But again… AMAZING meal earlier in the day.)
in the room, Ellen and Bob mount a furious comeback, ending up
200-points shy of taking the game.
four – Thursday, October 4, 2012
day begins in a similar fashion to the other days on our visit
to Savannah… in the lobby of the Residence Inn, enjoying their
fabulous breakfast offerings.
decided to head back in to the City Market Area to check out a
place called Goose
Feathers, which for some reason we keep seeing
named all over the place but have never managed to stop inside.
check out… head to Goose Feathers… pick up a couple of items (which
were pretty good, and we would recommend Goose Feathers to you)…
and then hit the highway for our drive back to Ocala.
are continuing our license plate game, and end up adding Rhode
Island, Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire to leave
us short on Vermont for sweeping New England.
thinking about what to do for lunch on the road, we decide to
stop at a Sonic location.
home we play some more cards… Terry and Ellen winning the game
of Hand and Foot today… and then we watch Dark Shadows.
Savannah portion of the trip is over… and it was different and
fun. We found a couple of places we would recommend (and also
would compare favorably to any location in the world) -- specifically
the Cathedral of Saint John and Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room. And
yet, we never did see the Savannah we were expecting… the Savannah
everyone raves about.
~ ~ ~
wrap up this entry with a familiar note for those that have been
with us for the full 2012 Florida – Georgia travels so far… we’re
back in Florida and picking it up tomorrow with the “Days
Eight, Nine and Ten” travel journal.