On Tuesday (with some regrets) we moved on south from Charleston.
We were a little perplexed as to why some things were by the roadside..
We were, however, very pleased to find another beautiful KOA campground a few miles from Savannah. Once again we were placed right next to a lovely lake and this time were informed that there were alligators, but they were no problem because they were scared of humans so they stayed over on the other bank. Not only that, but they were removed once they reached four and a half feet long. I had happy thoughts of them being released to happy freedom in Florida, but no, they end up on the menu in local restaurants, where ‘gator tail is a delicacy. I looked very carefully several times, including with my telephoto lens and my binoculars and I could find no sign of any alligators at all, apart from a sizeable flock of ibis hanging around the place (they like to pick the parasites of the little scaly darlings). We spent most of two days sitting next to the lake, however, just watching the flocks of geese, swans and other water birds, a most entertaining pursuit. The swans and geese are regularly fed by the campsite, hence they are importuning devils and turn up expectantly every time you prepare some food.
these three yobbos actually hissed at Tim when he told them to shove off
but they got the message
(I was standing well back, in my usual wussy fashion, no sign of them trying to break your arm with a wing, though!)
The antics of the swans are particularly entertaining; there is one very macho alpha male (who I nick named Grant)(as in one of the Mitchell brother in East Enders) who spends all his time chasing off the rest of the swans from his end of the pond.
I watched him chase one pair with such vigour that he nearly managed to pull a tail feather out and when he looked meaningfully at the rest of the flock, they all turned around and headed back to the other end of the lake.
I took so many photos of the birdlife, that it took me ages to sort them all out.
The Thursday was wet nearly all day and then into the evening, so we decided that we would walk the mile to a local fish restaurant, rather than cook with water running down our necks. The road from the campsite to the restaurant is a typical USA type of highway, not set up for the safety of pedestrians at all. There was a strip down the side of the carriageway, but we decided to walk on the grass as much as possible. We found a pedestrian crossing at the major junction and the lights turned in our favour. The only problems were that they give you a very short time to get over four lanes and drivers are allowed to turn right on most reds if the coast is clear. This led to some guy beeping us with his horn, as if we had no right to be there. As we made it to Steamers, I heard Tim muttering ‘the food better be good to risk getting soaked and killed on the way here’. It was wonderful! Hurrah! The food was perfectly cooked right down to the steamed fresh vegetables and my tuna and scallops were delicious and delightfully light. Tim’s clam chowder was lovely, if a little thick
and his steak as good as any we’ve had in the States. We even managed to get back in one piece afterwards! The campsite had excellent facilities, including a very nice hall, with cooking facilities, somewhere to wash up and a lovely seating area where you can watch TV, which is what I ended up doing, a truly novel experience at the moment, although all I could find of any interest were reruns of Big Bang Theory. Oh well! No wonder we have met so many people over here who like the Community TV Channel (where they can actually access the BBC, sometimes).
On Friday we headed out to see what the countryside was like nearer the coast, seeing some amusing things on the way
We ended up popping in to Fort Pulaski, which was built after the 1812 war and then became important during the civil war. It was in pretty good condition, although you could see the scars of the Union attack.
The fort was meant to withstand being attacked for thirty days but had to surrender after only 30 hours of shelling, as the new-style rifled cannon made the attack much more deadly than the weaponry for which the fort was designed. The hole that the shelling produced was directly opposite the black powder magazine, so it made the defending commanders choice pretty simple….
The high spot of the visit was a demonstration of musket fire by a really interesting and well informed volunteer, who answered all our questions (extremely patiently, despite keeping him out in the bitterly cold wind) about being a soldier in that era. We were told they would be firing cannons the next day (Yeh!), so we decided to stay an extra day in the area.
When we returned to the campsite, I went over to ask a guy in a neighbouring RV why they had a Union Jack on the front of their car. It turned out that his wife, Pat, was born in the UK and he dragged her out to have a chat with a fellow Brit. She was born in the Leicester and she still had a bit of an accent, despite having lived in the States for many years, although you could hear her midland tones getting stronger as I chatted to her. She and Marvin were running a Winnebago get together and they were going to be cooking a ‘low country boil’, that evening, to which we were invited. I had seen the term on a menu and had been a bit intrigued as to what it was. Marv explained it to me later; you spice up boiling water, cook a very tasty local sausage in it for twenty minutes, add small yellow potatoes, cook for another twenty minutes, add corn on the cob and another twenty minutes later you add prawns and, as soon as they bob up, its ready. It was delicious!
They and their friends were most welcoming to us and another couple of people who actually were living on the campsite (the bloke was quite taken with Tim, called him the ‘dude’ and gave him a cowboy hat, not taking no for an answer) (this guy also seemed madly in love with the girl, but she was keeping him at arms length). It was great evening and we ended up sitting around the campfire with them quite late into the night. They ended up inviting us into Savannah for the Christmas parade the following evening.
On the Saturday, we headed out as early as we could to watch the cannon demonstration.
Although they only used half charges and no projectiles (the big cannon can fire up to four miles, so that wouldn’t go down too well with some of the neighbours) but is was really exciting. We were meant to put our fingers in our ears, but I just had to get a shot of the cannon firing.
The small one was loud enough to make me yelp, so I decided to be good when the big cannon was fired. Just as well; it was loud enough with our fingers in our ears and you could really feel the shock wave. I hate to think what it must have been like with a full charge, but it did give us a feeling for how a battlefield must have looked like. They let me have my photo taken with them
and I had a chat to the youngsters in the group, who were very proud to be Boy Scouts. One very sweetly told me that it was a Britain called Baden Powell who started the Scout movement. I didn’t have the heart to tell him how well most people in the UK know the story. Tim refused to join in so I snuck a picture while he was chatting to the guys (much to their amusement
That evening, Marv and Pat very kindly drove us into Savannah and we spent the next couple of hours soaking up the atmosphere and wandering around the streets with drinks, as the town, like Beale St in Memphis, have a rare open drink policy. Its a great place with a lovely buzzy atmosphere and hods going on.
The parade finally started and it was very cute, with lovely old cars, some decorated with fairy lights, and groups of dancers and the theatre group advertising ‘The Dancing Grinch that Stole Christmas’.
The whole thing ground to a halt and we waited and waited and waited. I was just going up to ask the policeman at the front what was going on, when I overheard him asking the chief soldier why were they waiting, who then said, ‘I thought you were stopping us’. Oops! Those poor kids in their skimpy costumes must have been freezing. We watched about half of the parade, but it was getting very chilly so we gave up (there were an AWFUL lot of cars). I never did get to see Santa Claus. We went for a meal in the local Crab Shack (all the waiters wore Tee-shirts asking ‘You got Crabs?’ with ‘I do!’ on the back).
The food was not bad, (apart from the worst ever clam chowder, possibly a major crime in the USA) but the service was pretty poor by American standards. The company more than made up for it, as we had a really fun time. Afterwards Marv and Pat insisted on taking us to their favourite local cocktail bar, the home of the famous chocolate martini (I tried it, yuck, strictly for chocoholics, although Tim thought they were pretty good).
The very best thing about our travels so far has got to be the people that you meet!