November 25: Sometimes, you just gotta get away

It had been a long stretch. Work was busy and vacation time was tight. Some upcoming life changes showed over the horizon but not close enough. We had had it. We’ve got to get out of town and do something different.

Now that we’ve agreed on that, where do we go next? San Diego has been on the list for awhile but you’ve got to make reservations and flights are generally crowded and expensive this close to the holidays. Friends in Texas and along the east coast were due a visit and had been promised one for a while. How about Savannah? We liked it there and wanted to go back, its within driving distance and it should be warmer. Share Thanksgiving and the day after enjoying family and some of the rituals and then load up and leave town.

We pulled into Savannah on Saturday evening after an uneventful ride down I95 and made ourselves at home in the Hilton Garden Inn for several days. There was a wedding reception in the ground floor banquet room and the parking lot was crowded but that didn’t deter us.

Sunday dawned bright and clear. After breakfast at the local Atlanta Bread Co., we headed for Tybee Island. In our previous visit, we had briefly visited just the lighthouse area but wanted to see the rest of the island this time.

As we headed out the causeway towards Tybee, we noticed a sign to Ft. Pulaski Nattional Monument and decided to check it out. Someone’s senior card allowed us to enter at no additional charge.

After entering the gate, we drove across a bridge over the old South channel into Savannah and wound our way to the visitors center and the parking lot.

Like most of the forts from this era, the low walls surrounded a modified pentagon shape enclosure. Unlike the others we had seen, Ft. Pulaski was surrounded by a moat, complete with drawbridges. The Park Ranger giving our tour explained that the area outside the fort but within the moat (The Demilune) had never been part of the enclosed fort but had been used for kitchens and in later years for storage of ammunition.

The inner walls showed the standard archways leading to the various rooms of the fort. The picture below replicates a set of barriers put up to help protect the inner rooms from ordnance landing inside the fort walls. The angled wood helped to move the ordnance from the structure and storage areas as well as giving additional strength to the walls.

One area showed a partial excavation so you could see the brick structure supporting the wooden floors between the walls. In its life, the fort had been used to garrison troops for the Civil War as well.

DSCN7534This picture also shows the mortar used to fasten the bricks.

Tuck-pointing and repairing old mortar joints remains one of the team’s major focuses inside Fort Pulaski. In the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) repaired crumbling mortar joints inside the fort using the latest technology, Portland cement, without knowing its damaging effects. However, Portland cement does not allow lime mortar to absorb and release moisture. Thus, the lime mortar is reduced to powder. The weakening mortar leads to cracking and flaking of historic bricks which threatens the overall integrity of the fort.

With more than 25 million bricks, the challenge of preservation and restoration involves removing the Portland cement and replacing it with more traditional lime mortar and natural cements.

DSCN7524Adjacent to Ft. Pulaski is the lighthouse on Cockspur Island. Savannah history includes multiple references to the Waving Girl, who was known to all the sailors entering the Port of Savannah (but not for reasons that first come to mind of a girl and sailors!)

View from the wall

Old style drawbridge. The chain works for raising and lowering

View of Cockspur Island lighthouse from Old US 80 and the Lazaretto Creek Marina


After leaving Ft. Pulaski, we continued on to Tybee Island. As mentioned above, we had visited here before but stayed up in the vicinity of the lighthouse at the northern end. This time we headed to the extreme southern end of the island and parked the car to walk on the beach.

Manmade concrete jetty structure to protect the beach.

The beach here is very, very flat/gently sloping and has a low duneline as well. It would seem to the untrained mind (like mine) to be very vulnerable to wave action, particularly during storms. Along the beach in several places are jetties, a combination of the concrete structures seen above and huge rocks.

“Time to eat”. So we did!

Under the fishing pier

There is a concrete fishing pier and pavilion with vendors in the summer and its available for rent for special occasions. On this day it was pretty much deserted except for a few of us tourists.

We left via the boardwalk where there were condos/apartments and several businesses including a restaurant/pub with a a big sign saying “time to eat”. We ducked in for coffee and a snack (really good guacamole and empanadas) before making our way back to the car and the ride back to Savannah. They also provided paper-covered tables and crayons to ease the wait.

Sea-themed Christmas tree on the boardwalk

By the time we got back to Savannah, it was well on its way to being dark. We headed down towards River St. Parking can be a little tricky but we headed to the public garage under Ellis Square. When we had last visited Savannah, there was a huge (and not attractive) aboveground garage but it was being torn down to be replaced by this underground garage and a rebuilt Ellis Square at street level complete with fountain. There are a couple of daytime pictures in the next couple of postings.

Our dual mission for the evening included dinner and securing something to bring home for Ryan and for the neighbor who watches the house and mail for us. The latter would be solved by a trip to Savannah’s Candy Kitchen for pralines! (If you don’t know what a praline is, you have my sympathy…let’s just say they could be the reason why God made pecans…or maybe pecan pie was the reason.) At any rate, they are a sinful delight made primarily of sugar and pecans. These are some of the best commercially available ones I’ve had. You can order them online at Savannah Candy Company. Miss Edith’s were better to my way of thinking but she’s not around to make them anymore so these are a great substitute

Dinner was also a reprise location from a previous trip, the Riverhouse Restaurant. The plan was to save enough room for dessert but it didn’t work out that way. Their regular dinner menu is tempting and Betty ordered the Scallops Patricia but I was intrigued by the special salmon with an orange glaze. I just had to see how the orange went with the salmon. They were both delicious as were the pumpkin biscuits.  When the waitress returned to ask about dessert, there wasn’t enough room.

Sated, we made our way out to walk along the riverfront. There was a huge freighter going by but the lighting didn’t work out for pictures. The stop to try was enough time for the panhandler to corner us with his palmetto frond rose and his pitch for a donation. We finally gave in and then went on out way back to the car. I couldn’t find the ticket to pay (but didn manage to find one from our last trip). The attendant asked when we had come in and based our charge on that rather than the daily maximum which was appreciated.

We cruised back towards the HGI for the night. There was something going on in the banquet rooms but not as well-attended as the wedding reception from the night before.

Off to bed in preparation for tomorrow’s travels.