October 20, 2011

2011 GA trip day 10 - 9/25/2011

Our alarm was set for 6:30, and we were on the road by 7:45. Not bad, considering we had to do a final run-through of the full packing experience. We wanted to get the hell out of Cordele so we headed north hoping to find a Shoney’s, but ended up settling for a Waffle House in Byron, so we could drive by the other warehouse where I used to work.

We made it to Atlanta and had an interesting time trying to find a gas station before returning the rental car... then had to give up the Mustang, which resulted in SAD FACE. We took the shuttle to the terminal and were at least 3 hours early to the airport, but it was nice to be able to chill and not worry when there were small holdups at each step of getting to the gate, including Becky having to go through the special scanner and get patted down, despite having completely empty pockets and no metal anywhere. And our checked bags were 49 and 46 pounds (limit is 50). Sweet! We were worried that between the things we bought and the wet towels we had to pack that we'd be over and have to redistribute at the check in counter, but no worries.

The flight was full, but ok. There was some choppiness and we were in a middle and window seat, but it wasn't too bad. Sha picked us up at the airport and we went to dinner at Davanni's before coming home to much love from Big Kitty.

Another great trip!

2011 GA trip day 9 - 9/24/2011

Saturday morning we got up early (even Renee! Holy crap!) and headed downstairs for breakfast at the hotel. Easily the best hotel breakfast we’ve ever had, and it was free. It was no continental… waffles, French toast, pancakes, scrambled eggs, muffins, potato pancakes, lots of toppings for everything… just about anything you’d want for breakfast. Hotel breakfasts are kind of spotty for me because I can’t eat just carbs but this one was awesome.

Since our plan was to head to the beach and then eventually head up towards Atlanta, we checked with the front desk and were able to add a half a day to our stay. That way we’d be able to go back and shower and pack things up before heading out.

We loaded up in Renee’s truck and made our way to Jacksonville Beach, which had free parking, unlike Tybee. And a beautiful beach! Becky and I went to change in to our suits while Renee and Wes grabbed us some shade near the pier.

Jacksonville

The sand was soft and white, and there was a big surfing competition going on. I wasn’t sure of the etiquette of swimming near the surfers but the area wasn’t blocked off, and there were two sets of waves so we just swam in the inner waves and they were surfing further out. Wes and Trev went a little further out and had a close call with a surfer a couple of times, but it was all good. Before we headed back in Trev got cold, and Becky nicely gave him her rash guard shirt (which is also sun protection). We rested for a while with some snacks, then went back out for round two, where unfortunately Becky forgot her swim shirt and ended up super burned on her back and shoulders. She made it through a whole week at the beach with no burns until the last damn day.

Trev building a sand something

A storm rolled in and we got out of the water just in time, and went back to the hotel to shower and get ready for a late lunch. We weren’t planning on a late lunch, but Renee is such a girl and it took her forever to get ready. We’d been telling Renee about the queso verde potato nachos thing at Buffalo's, so we went there again. We shared the queso verde nachos with everyone and we devoured it. Becky had fajitas (just ok) and I had the cheesesteak again, but this time in wrap form which was even better. Everyone loved their food, but Trev had to send his steak back, though, because he ordered it rare and it came medium well at BEST, possibly even well.

Renee taught me how to drive, but I don’t remember her being insane or having so much road rage. Trev and Wes slept through it while Becky and I were holding hands in the back, and not just cause we kinda like each other. Hee! But we made it back after an impromptu stop at Good Will, where Renee got a few outfits for her new job.

Eventually she found what she needed and we went back to hotel again to chill and pack. Becky very sweetly offered to pack while Trev and I took a cruise in the Mustang and he was pretty impressed. He kept saying, “Is there ANYTHING this car can’t do?”

Goodbye is never easy but we seem to almost see Trev more now that he lives 1500 miles away than we did when he lived half an hour away. We had our normal teary-but-short see-ya-laters and headed out in the Mustang, while Renee drove her truck alone and Trev rode behind Wes on the Harley.

We were hoping to get as close to Atlanta as possible, before stopping for the night and were once again on the look-out for a Zaxby’s, but couldn’t find one. We also just weren't hungry after lunch, but finally forced ourselves to stop and eat around 8:30 so I could take my shot. We settled on a Waffle House. Becky had a cheese steak sandwich and loved it; I had breakfast including a waffle which we shared. I am nearly incapable of going to a Waffle House and not getting a Waffle.

After dinner we kept driving and made it to Cordele, GA which is a cute little town with a crappy Comfort Inn which is right next to a loud train track. We weren’t worried about the train because we sleep with white noise every night anyway. Unfortunately, the hotel itself was not so comfortable. It was kind of trashy and smelly, but the room was clean….ish. No, it wasn’t, Becky found someone else’s hair on the side of the shower the next morning. Becky was in so much pain from the sunburn that I was afraid she wouldn’t be able to sleep at all, but she got some rest. I had a fretful night of sleep, because I woke up in the middle of the night and remembered that I’d forgotten to check for bed bugs. I was also worrying about Becky and I just never really got back to sleep. Fortunately there were no bugs!

2011 GA trip day 8 - 9/23/2011

Friday morning was our last in Tybee, so we took a walk on the beach and looked for shells for a little while then headed to the Breakfast Club. It was fairly slow so we grabbed a couple of stools at the counter again and enjoyed the show. After breakfast we headed back to finish packing, rest up a bit and hit the road with the top down. That lasted about 5 minutes before we stopped to put it up because it was too hot out!

Becky had been craving Zaxby’s wings, so we looked for one for lunch but never came across it. We decided Steak ‘n Shake would be a suitable substitute but it really wasn’t awesome, which was sad. Of course, once we got back on the road we saw a Zaxby’s about 10 miles ahead. Figures!

As we headed in to Jacksonville on I95 we saw an amazing storm out towards the ocean. Then we came upon the Dames Point Bridge in Jacksonville, which was so high my ears popped as we drove across it.

Dames Point Bridge in Jacksonville

We quickly found the hotel and checked in, and they gave us a goody bag with a few small candy bars and a bottle of water. When we booked the hotel and it said it was two queens and a sofa bed we figured it’d be like a normal hotel room with a separate bedroom. When we walked in, we saw a room the size of a normal hotel room which had a full kitchen with a dining room table for four, a sofa bed, fireplace, and huge TV. Then there were two full bedrooms each with their own bathrooms and huge TVs. Perfect! Trev got the whole living room area to himself and he enjoyed it. The hotel also had amazing customer service. About 15 minutes after we got in the room the phone rang, and it was the front desk just wanting to make sure we made it to the room ok and see if we needed anything. I mentioned that we had another person joining us but that he wouldn’t be there until late, and asked if he’d be able to get in to the building our room was in. She asked for his name and left a key at the front desk for him.

Renee and Trevor made it to town in record time, and we headed to dinner at Whiskey River (http://thewhiskyriver.com/jacksonville/), a BBQ joint where the servers’ uniforms made the Hooters servers look Amish. Trev enjoyed the scenery, and the food was all awesome. Renee, Becky and I all ordered BBQ platters (the brisket was amazing) and Trevor went for some super-hot wings. The server warned him that they are REALLY hot, and he went for it (with Renee agreeing he could probably handle it). He made it through maybe two wings before moving on to Renee’s leftovers, but he tried.

When we got back to the hotel we headed down to the pool, which felt almost tropical to me and Becky got in right away, so I KNOW it wasn’t cold. But Renee wouldn’t touch it and Trevor turned blue, so we hit the hot tub instead. We stayed there until a creepy dude came in and kept butting in to our conversation. Trev wanted to go shoot some hoops, so we went to watch him and the dude was sad and apologized for running us out. Being Minnesotan, we assured him it wasn’t him.

2011 GA trip day 7 - 9/22/2011

Thursday we intended to hit the Breakfast Club again, but there was another line so we went to Sunrise instead. There wasn’t a buffet, but the food was all very good. We decided to drive back in to Savannah with the top down and go take a horse-drawn carriage ride. Our carriage was pulled by Rowdy, who has been working with their company for so long he gets his break during the hot summer months and he’d just come back in to service. It was a 50-minute tour with Jenny, who was very punny and found herself very amusing. We did, too, for the most part, but there were some groans from a few particularly bad puns. Good tour.

Savannah

At one point we came around a corner towards one of Savannah’s many square parks, and Jenny got super excited and said, “Y’ALL, look! Resurrection ferns!” She told us about how these plants lay dormant on the tree branches until there is enough rain to bring them back to life, and on a hot day like this was, they’d probably be shriveled up by dark. They can stay dormant for up to 100 years and if they get enough water they’ll come back.

Resurrection ferns in Savannah

During the tour we saw a pub called Molly MacPherson's (http://www.macphersonspub.com) so we headed there for lunch. It was an adorable Scottish place and Becky ordered the Molly's Favorite sandwich, which was turkey with thin apple slices, cheddar, and maple butter. I had the Sheppard's pie and was only able to eat about half of it. It was all very good and the server was awesome, telling us about other things to do in Savannah.

After lunch we decided to ditch the car and walk down to River Street, figuring we’d explore down there and take the free Dot (http://www.connectonthedot.com) transportation back later. As we got down there, a woman tossed us a couple of roses made from palm fronds.

Roses from palm fronds

There are three options for the Dot shuttles… they have a bus that goes around to a bunch of stops around Savannah, a street car that goes up and down the river area along six stops, and then a ferry that takes you to two stops on the Savannah side, and one stop across the river to Hutchinson Island. We never ended up taking the ferry but we’ll have to try that out next time.

We did some shopping in the shops on River Street and then hopped the street car to go down to where the Dolphin tour (http://reelemn.com/dolphinmagic/) started. There were the most annoying bugs flying everywhere… they appeared to fly in pairs and would have no problem dive-bombing our heads, especially Becky’s. They reminded us of box elder bugs in the way they fly. I asked the guy at the Dolphin tour stand what they were and he said they’re love bugs, and they fly butt-to-butt. I don’t really have anything else to say about them.

We waited a while and then boarded the boat to go look for dolphins. It turned out the guy who taught us about love bugs was the first mate, and he looked a lot like Wil Wheaton, and we’re pretty sure he was on cocaine because he was prone to sniffing incessantly and yelling WOOOO at odd times.

Dolphin tour

He showed us a prehistoric shark tooth that was found on an island where they dump the stuff they drag out of the river (the river has to be at least 46 feet deep for some of the larger ships to get through). They figure the shark was probably 50 feet long.

There was a sign up that said the first mate worked only for tips, so it’s possible he was just trying to get a better tip, but it sort of creeped us out. Still, he was mildly entertaining and had a lot of good information about the Savannah River and the area and, of course, the dolphins. The only problem was he’d point something out and then say he’d tell us about it later. We had been excited to go on the tour because it was supposed to go out to Tybee, and we knew that would take us past Fort Pulaski again and we looked forward to seeing it from the water, but he said the conditions in Tybee weren’t awesome for dolphin seeing so we were headed to South Carolina, instead, to Daufuskie Island.

Dolphin tour

One lady on the boat saw a dolphin just as we were leaving Savannah and everyone squealed and we kept going, but later the first mate said we should have stopped and watched that one because we found nothing at Daufuskie at all. I felt for the guy, probably thinking his tips were going to be non-existent, but it obviously wasn’t his fault. Fortunately for him, we did find one small dolphin on the way back to Savannah, and he was willing to play with us for a little while, which was fun.

Dolphin tour

After the dolphin boat we decided to go get the car so we waited for a DOT shuttle. We stopped at the information building next to the bus stop to go to the bathroom, but it was being cleaned and wouldn’t be available for 15-20 minutes. The shuttle was supposed to be by in about 10, so we waited. And waited, and waited. And it was very late! But we were afraid to go to the information building restroom, lest the shuttle show up and then we’d have to wait again, so we kept waiting. It finally showed up after about 40 minutes and we rode back to our car, and then set off looking for more bathrooms. We walked all around the City Market area but found no public bathrooms. Earlier we’d seen a public bathroom down on the end of River Street near the craft vendors so we parked near there (River Street parking is free after 5 p.m.) and headed over only to find that the bathrooms were closed now. We asked a couple of businesses and they not only had no public bathrooms, and didn’t know where any were, they acted like it was the first time anyone had ever asked for one! Where the hell do people pee in Savannah? We knew there was one in the information booth but it was blocks away and by that time, we both had to go way too bad to wait, so we went and sat at the bar at One Eyed Lizzy’s, ordered an artichoke and crab dip and some beverages, and used theirs. The crab dip was awesome… we’ll have to go back there next time. There are tables upstairs that are outside, each on a small balcony that you get to yourself and it overlooks the river walk.

Becky had wanted to stop in to the Savannah Candy Kitchen (http://www.savannahcandy.com/) near City Market, but we knew there was another one on River Street so we headed that way. We sampled some awesome pralines and bought a gift box that had pralines, turtles, and divinity in it to bring home and share with her family. Then we hobbled back to the car (granite cobblestones require concentration!) and headed back to the hotel to chill.

For our last dinner on Tybee we decided to go to the first place we went to last time… MacElwee's (http://macelweesontybee.com/). They were fairly busy and we only saw two servers, who explained that they were swamped and we were welcome to sit down but it would be 15-20 minutes before they could get to us. They were quite frantically trying to keep up with the few big parties, so we sat down and grabbed a couple of menus. While we were reading the menu we overheard one of the women (we think she may have been an owner or at least manager) tell someone the third server who was supposed to be there had been in a bad accident and wasn’t able to make it in. We figured it would be a while before we got our dinners, so we ordered a crab dip to start. It was tasty but there were too many peppers in it for my taste, and not nearly enough actual crab. Becky had ordered the scallops and I, of course, got more crab legs. They came fairly quickly and we weren’t even done with the dip yet. But then we decided to get dessert, too, because their special that night was fried strawberries and Becky was intrigued. I had the key lime pie and it was awesome. As it turns out, fried strawberries means they dip whole strawberries in doughnut batter and deep fry it, then roll it in cinnamon and sugar and serve with whipped cream. Both desserts totally made up for the crab dip and the long wait.

Fried strawberries

We went back to the hotel and started packing for the next day, just figuring out how best to pack to avoid having to bring everything up to the hotel in Jacksonville the next night.

2011 GA trip day 6 - 9/21/2011

Wednesday we had breakfast at the hotel again, and then headed in to Savannah for the day. We went for a trolley tour first, which was fun. Savannah is so old and there’s so much history, which we both enjoy a lot. The way the tour works is you go all the way around first, then you can take their shuttle to any of their stops and call them to be picked up when you want. We weren’t all that interested in walking around the historic sites though and we wanted to do a dolphin tour, so we headed back to the car. Unfortunately, we were a little too late for the dolphin tour so we decided to just grab lunch and head back to the island.

Our tour guide

For lunch Becky really wanted to try the Pirate’s House (http://www.thepirateshouse.com/). We’d heard about it before, but the tour went by and we found out it was an actual pirate hangout during the 1700s and within the restaurant is a house built in 1732, which is believed to be the oldest house in GA. The restaurant has something like 15 separate dining rooms and they all look different. There are stairs down to tunnels under Savannah, and lots of pirate memorabilia throughout. The food was ok. I had a cup of their She Crab soup (was good, but not as good as the Crab Shack) and the buffet, which included fried chicken, mashed potatoes, fried okra, collard greens, etc… typical southern fare. Becky had a crab melt sandwich, I think. After dinner we explored the rest of the restaurant and headed upstairs to the shop where Becky picked up a couple of t-shirts.

When we got back to the hotel we decided to go swimming again. I wore my crocs this time, figuring that they’ll still fill with sand but at least I’ll be able to get them back on faster each time I rinse them out. Bad move! The tide was going out, and the surf was filled with broken shells. So my shoes didn’t just fill with sand, they filled with shell shards. Plus the water dropped off several feet shortly after walking in, and I just flat out got freaked. I have only been in the ocean a few times, and I worried about being able to help Becky if something happened with her (she can swim, but doesn’t consider herself a strong swimmer at all). I sunk down into the shells with every wave, and when I tried to take a step, my shoes fell off. It was apparently quite comical for Becky watching me try to catch it… the shoe went back and forth away from and past me about five times before I caught it. If I took them off, the shells just hurt anyway. Becky bravely walked out further than I did, and got a face-full of sea water for her efforts. We left the water and just walked down the beach for a bit, instead. We saw a horseshoe crab (shell only, which we know thanks to the gentleman who saw fit to POKE IT WITH A STICK) and also a jellyfish which had very recently washed ashore. We know it was recent because it wasn't there when we walked by 15 minutes earlier and also because it still looked pretty wet. It was fascinating but I felt bad because it was moving slightly on the inside and I didn't know if it was living (suffering) or not.

Tybee

But then we looked up and saw dolphins swimming by! That was one of the reasons we went back to Tybee, we loved seeing them while we were swimming last time and they didn’t disappoint again this time.

For dinner, we decided to go back to the Crab Shack. So good. I got crab legs and forgot that I wanted more of their crab soup, but the crab legs were awesome. Becky got crab and shrimp. Something we didn’t notice the first time we at there is that they only music playing at the restaurant is Jimmy Buffet. It was funny, but I imagine it gets old for the people who work there. The cats we saw wandering around the store last time were wandering the outside dining area this time, and they love crab and shrimp. We made friends with one in particular who was very friendly. It was a beautiful night, so we drove around the island with the top down. We really, really enjoyed that car. We got a lot of comments from people on the car, too, which was fun.

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