Friday, June 12, 2015

An unexpected getaway

   Life presented an impromptu opportunity for us last week.  We were offered the chance to have two days off in a row!  IN A ROW!  That is a rare luxury in the horse business.  There is no such thing as TGIF when you work with horses, no weekends "off", more often it's no days off for weeks at a time. It was a special offer, one not to waste.  Jonathan suggested that we go to Savannah, do a little city time, then some beach time.  I weighed the options of staying home vs. going away.  I don't make split second decisions very well. I'm getting better with age, maybe by the time I'm 80 I can add spontaneous to my character traits, but not quite yet.  I pictured us staying home with me feeling guilty for not vacuuming, or writing, or paying bills and that did it.

"Yes! Let's go to Savannah!"

  Sunday morning we took to the road on a drive that drove us through the Savannah River Project, the super secret, supposedly defunct, hinky feeling nuclear facility that is buried deep in the SC wilderness.  It was a very pleasant meandering road, with little to see except for woods and open fields.  There were occasional residences and series of abandoned, dilapidated shacks and mobile homes, which is sadly common in SC.  Poverty and abundance are separated by very little in the south.  I always feel a little sad when we pass houses that are falling in, with masses of foliage growing all over the front yards, rusted cars and other detritus getting overtaken by vines with each passing day.  Who lived there? And why did they just leave it all?

But that's not what this blog is about, so back to the trip.

   Soon we were in sight of a giant, arching bridge that spanned the Savannah river itself.  The bridge is something to see, with it's mid section peaking sky high to allow for very large boats to pass under it.  Our GPS very nicely got us into town and since it was too early to check into our hotel we decided to hit the first stop on our tour,  Bonaventure Cemetery.   I realize a cemetery might not be an ideal place to visit while on vacation, but this cemetery is like no other I've ever been in.  The grave sites are decorated with all manner of ornate sculptured marble, crosses, huge angels, obelisks, large tombs, cherubs, all are beautiful.  Designed more like a park, people are encouraged to walk through the various sections, with certain grave sites being highlighted for various important historical figures.  There are gigantic live oaks everywhere, with copious amounts of lacy Spanish moss draping from their limbs adding to an air of solemn mystery.  A storm front crept in while we were there giving the atmosphere an ominous tone under a deep purple sky.  As the first rain drops fell, we took our cue and headed out.

   We located our hotel, the B Historic Hotel on the edge of downtown Savannah, and we were pleasantly surprised with it.  A wicked deal on Hotwire had landed us a room for almost half price which made us raise our eyebrows a little, but this was an authentic, clean, well appointed hotel. Big score for Hotwire!   When you visit Savannah the first thing you need to do is make sure that you're wearing comfortable shoes. It truly is a walking city and well worth the effort we made to walk the entire city.  There are squares every third block, or so, set up like mini parks, with tall shady trees, benches and well tended gardens.  We made sure to stop, sit and inhale the vibe more than once.  The residential sections of Savannah are just stunning.  The architecture is so beautiful, with stately Greek revival home fronts, hidden back gardens and secret alley ways.  Passing a bed and breakfast that was up for sale had us dreaming of running a B & B for all of ten minutes, until I looked up the price and at $1 million bucks that'd be a lot of waffles to make before we saw any return.  Maybe it's because we were away from real life for the first time in a long time, but Savannah seemed to be wooing us as a couple.  It's urbane enough, without the actual grit of a bigger city, while maintaining a quaint, historical aspect that is reminiscent of the small New England towns we grew up in.  Jonathan has always said how much he loves this city, and now I can say the same.  A lazy early evening walk on the busy Savannah river showed us the tourist and local color.  Another chance to have a seat and soak it in.  A delicious dinner at a tapas based restaurant and a last stroll in dusky light ended our day.

   After a restful night, we awoke the next morning and promptly headed off to Tybee Island, approximately 25 minutes from our hotel.  Once we were in the car I began to whine about getting coffee,  but Jonathan adopted a "Dad" approach and told me I'd just have to wait till we got there.  I'm not one who does well in the morning without my first cup of dark brown brew, so my mood was less than cheery for the entire drive.  A stop at a seedy diner buoyed my spirits with a styrofoam cup to go, and in no time we were parked at the beach.  A breeze off of the ocean seasoned the air and kept us cool under the bright June sun.  The beach was expansive, but not overly populated. Still we got in some excellent people watching, particularly from a rather squat woman in her mid 30's I'd guess, who stood talking non stop to an older woman seated beneath a vibrant blue umbrella. Her topics were wide and varied, from recipes, to Boy Scout trips, to various past vacations, which included restaurants and menus and who had ordered what.  Her attention to detail was riveting and Jonathan and I kept bursting into giggles at the absurdity of it all.  For me half of the fun of the beach is observing our fellow beachcombers.  The various body styles and bathing suits, from the magnificent to the cringe worthy all mingle together in one unabashed group just there to have a good time and enjoy the experience. I absolutely love it.

   After about two hours of enjoying the surf and sand, we decided it was time to head back to Aiken. I looked wistfully over my shoulder for a last glance at the ocean as I exited the boardwalk.  It might've been one of the shortest vacations we've ever taken, but it certainly was one of the very best.

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