Sunday, March 13, 2016

Savannah, Georgia

Destination: Savannah, Georgia
Skipper's log: Day 138 and the cabin fever has set in. While Captain J is out adventuring I'm trapped on the ship swabbing the deck....  
Ok, sea voyager analogies aside, the cabin fever kinda HAS set in but mainly due to where we stayed this week, Hardeeville RV Park (1 star rating from us). Last month we were spoiled by the miles of walkable roads and the two dog parks in Leesburg. Our park just outside of Savannah was sort of a parking lot in the woods with asphalt gravel and too many RVs too close together. There were a lot of young people in this park, but not many people were friendly here. That usually seems to be the case whenever the crowd is a little younger. It turns out they're mostly full-timers who are little too busy working to wave or stop and say hello. 

Aside from going to Savannah a few times, it was pretty boring in the area just outside the city. We attempted to go to the Savannah Wildlife Refuge, but they don't allow dogs ANYWHERE in the entire park!! Oh, but they do allow you to buy a permit to shoot just about any animal in the 'refuge', including squirrel, deer, water fowl, hogs, etc..  I mean, who walks without a dog anyway, really? I don't get it!  We were completely unable to find any dog-friendly walking trails during the week. Zero. Out in nature. Cross this place off our list of livable areas..
Savannah Wildlife Refuge (on fire)
That said, we did really enjoy the city itself. It was walkable, easy parking, people were friendly, beautiful architecture, tons of parks. They even have city ambassadors that walk around answering questions and handing out maps. Cool! The city was very dog friendly as well. Tons of restaurants offered dog water dishes, and we were able to eat lunch on a patio with them while listening to some live music. We stopped at an ice-cream shop called Leopold's with a line down the block. We figured there must be a reason for the line, so we decided to wait. It was worth the wait, plus they brought out free little ice-cream cones for the dogs! The people waiting in line loved it and my heart melted a little. That's how you do Customer Service! And it obviously pays off seeing as how they were crazy insane busy.

Complementary doggie ice-cream cones at Leopold's

"The Watcher". Historic cemetery in the heart of the city.
Enjoying some southern/Mexican 'fusion' at Blowing Smoke Cantina; Yum!
  Our week in South Carolina was not as magical. Our campground was one of those boring places with nowhere to walk around. We did take a walk in the swampy woods behind the park, but after encountering a pack of wild hogs we took off and didn't go back. There was a pond in the back with fish, but the owner did not want anyone fishing in it. The dog park was full of those pickery balls that fall from trees, and our dogs were unable to move in it without hurting their paws. I brought it to the owners attention but nothing was done. There wasn't a single bathroom or shower. I would have to say it was our least favorite place. 

In the Savanah Wildlife Refuge I had observed alligators as big as 8 feet long. I had walked past a large, black snake that was hiding in the trail, and almost stepped on what appeared to be a golfball sized spider that was either holding a claw, or had one. I could not tell.

 I did find a large shallow pond in the refuge to fish in that seemed promising. Since it was full of weeds and lily pads I decided to give my rubber frog a try. I ended up catching three black bass in an hour. Exited about my catch I expected to get more, but  the fish didn't seem to want the frog as bad at the other creatures in the pond. I had a large bullfrog attack my rubber kermit with a vengeance, and when I pulled my bait in the bullfrog sat still and stared at me for minutes after until I went to another part of the pond. I had also noticed three other reptiles sitting frozen with their heads slightly poking out of the water while I threw kermit in the water and slowly bounced him on the lily pads. The next day I had a large snake go after my frog, and fortunately he let go before I reeled him in. Later that day I hooked a frog in the tongue. If I was hungry enough I could have easily had frog legs for dinner. While the bass just would not bite, I did have a couple of small alligators that I almost hooked with my rubber frog. I brought Hana out to the pond our last day, and within a few casts a baby alligator popped out and started to move quickly at my
frog as I yanked it in as fast as I could.

   Nonetheless, Hana did not have to drag me kicking and screaming out of South Carolina this week. 


Cabin Fever Blues

Stay tuned next week for all the details about our harrowing highway breakdown and detour!

James' Florida Follow-up

One thing I have always known about writing is that you write best about a subject or time that has had impact afterwards, and not during the event. Looking back at the five weeks in Leesburg, Fl I feel like I did not accurately depict the experience that I had, and I am not sure that I will be able to do that for a while. I would like to touch on a few details though.

  When one would take a first glance at the Holiday Travel Resort, immediately they might feel like they stepped into the movie Cocoon. If you look back at that movie it was humorous, heartwarming, and has a magical feel about it. A lot of you may wonder what Hana and I might see in living around a bunch of old people as opposed to living in a busy area with the young hipster crowd. We both found we actually liked it better. We were already sick of the hipsters in Ann Arbor that acted like they were putting on a lifestyle/ fashion show. It was a relief to be in an area that nobody was trying to impress everyone. Everyone that passed by waved and said hello. You could sit in a hot tub and have a great conversation with someone decades older than you. Most of all despite age and levels of income people just all seemed to be on the same level. Our neighbors that were from Canada were offering help in the first hour of us being there. When they saw we didn't have a mat in front of our door they let us borrow theirs. Our lock was broken on the door for the first few days we were there, but we never once worried about breaking in. In fact, we found that most people didn't even lock their doors.

  I also have to make a note that once I stepped in the bathroom and heard an old guy singing Somewhere Over the Rainbow as if he were singing it in front of an audience that he wanted to make cry. It is these small moments of sincerity that you have to look at with nothing but respect. It brought great joy to my heart to hear that old man sing a song like that. 

  As for my friend Ronnie, I don't think I gave him enough justice in a few lines, and don't think I could even in a few chapters. He is the type of character a writer wishes they could think of, but yet the type of character that should be respected and appreciated in the moment. The morning we were leaving he was at our door in his golf cart offering help to pack us up to ease any tension that could happen between a couple on the day they leave a place. He said his former wife would always be mad when they were leaving and would pick a fight over anything. I have to be truthful in saying that travel days can sometimes have a few bumps in the road between us. I cannot rightfully depict his southern drawl, nor half the phrases he would say that would be humorous and simple, but at the same time more profound than something you would hear a professor say to an overcrowded room to a bunch of kids that are only half interested in what he has to say. Ronnie was a sincere guy with a big heart who is doing the best he can to get through this life. I was always at ease talking with him, and sincerely regretted that I didn't spend more time with him. I planned on it, but the time went by so fast and it was over. Nonetheless, I have been keeping in contact with Ronnie by phone, and he drops in on my dad in the park often now. I knew Ronnie had been in a motorcycle accident twenty something years ago and lost his leg, but one detail my dad learned about him was that after he had a blood transfusion he was able to pick up a guitar and play it when he was unable to even strum a chord before. 

  Since most of you know what dog lovers we are I do have to say that I was also able to form a bond with Gabby, my dad's thirteen year old Scnauzer. She would always bark when I would come to the door. By the last week she wouldn't bark at all. As Gabby is a part of the family, I find myself missing her too.

  And again I have to touch on the fact that it was hard to leave my father. I have woken up the past few mornings heartbroken when I realized I couldn't just walk over and sit with my dad in the shade in the afternoon, or that he wouldn't be dropping by on his golf cart with his dog Gabby to take Frankie and I for a ride. My message to all of you is to appreciate the small moments in life, because oftentimes you will find later that they were a lot bigger than you thought. My other message would be is you just don't know who people really are, or what message they could have for you. As I said, I cannot at this time accurately describe the magic I felt the past five weeks, but if I could share with you a fraction of the light that warmed my heart then I did a lot.