We finally hit the last stop before the finish line, Savannah Georgia. We stay 3 nights to give ourselves 2 full days, but without any plans. We have lots to do when we arrive in our temporary RV park/home in Hastings Florida, and this is a chance to rest up, have some fun, enjoy the local hospitality and food, and get another 20,000 steps on our exercise program. We were greeted by a cool-looking suspension bridge over the Savannah River that suddenly rose up out of the Low Country as we traveled south.
As we get deeper into the south, we have noticed a couple of standout things. First, there are churches literally everywhere. And signs telling you where churches are, as if you didn’t notice. We like to dig into the history of places, especially if it relates to early pioneers or the Civil War. Although it was primarily about slavery, religion played very heavily into the fabric of that era. Many churches (or more appropriately congregations) played key roles in aiding freemen (those who had gained their freedom by working off their debt to the people who brought them here) or escaped slaves to find shelter and safety. And that brings us to the other thing that stands out. Or more correctly, doesn’t stand out, it is conspicuous by its absence: The homeless.
Where are they? Where are the blue tarps, and the camp tents and shopping carts full of stuff and the piles of trash? For sure there is the odd person sleeping on a bench, or wandering around in a daze, but these are few and far between, nothing like we had seen in Seattle, Spokane, or Denver. Out of curiosity we have been taking a straw poll of folks we happen across, usually waiters or RV camp service staff, and they look at us funny when we ask, “Where are your homeless?” We had breakfast at a fabulous restaurant in Savannah called Two Cracked Eggs, a decidedly Christian establishment, and the answer given to us there came from a discussion on the local radio station that was playing. It seems like the local churches manage what small homelessness problem might exist. And that they are the primary reason why the problem, which has existed for decades, hasn’t become larger or unmanageable. Without any government intervention, the local congregations typically handle the housing, feeding, support services, and “kickstart” to get folks that have fallen out of a home (for any reason, but usually drugs) back on their feet and back into the community. It’s amazing but makes sense. The locals are the ones who best understand their local issues that drive homelessness and have the highest incentive to fixing it. So, apparently, it gets fixed on a regular, ongoing basis. Without a lot of taxes or apparently a lot of money at all. A lesson is there to be learned America.
In other news, it’s June in Savannah, and we were besieged by waves of bachelorettes in groups, many with matching or coordinating clothing, roaming the streets of Savannah in various states of party or inebriation. BRIDE sashes were on display and merriment was the word of the day. Savannah must be a huge destination for weddings, indeed there have been 2 at our campground (a barn wedding destination) in 2 days. And I imagine the pent-up demand from 2 years of delays due to Covid have probably packed the calendar this year. The Party Bus businesses in town are really banking it.
There was also a raucous protest parade in the downtown shopping district, with about 3 dozen marchers with signs and American flags, matching slogan t-shirts, and loud bullhorns chanting “USA, USA” and “Shame on You, Shame on You” in alternating cadence. They were protesting about fatherless homes, and specifically addressing deadbeat dads. I didn’t see them exactly protesting AT any deadbeat dads, but I liked the sentiment. Perhaps another lesson for America is available here.
We also met Charlie the Shrimp King. Or rather, he met us. Charlie has a shrimping boat on Tybee Island just east of Savannah and sells his catch out of the back of his pickup truck. Our RV campground here, which is really a 200-acre farm with several businesses on it, is one of his favorite sales territories. He’s a “praise the lord” kind of guy. He sells big fat jumbo prawns that were wild caught. We bought a couple of pounds and made a very nice dinner out of half of them. The other half is in the freezer awaiting their future fate.
We also ran smack dab into the middle of the Savannah Farmer’s Market, which takes over about half of Forsyth Park. Savannah’s downtown has so many greenspace parks that you can see at least 2 other ones from each of them. We walked about 4 miles Saturday morning and walked through at least 10 of them if you count the few we walked through twice. And we didn’t walk through them all. I felt bad for the half dozen stands selling local coffee because it was already in the high 80’s and quite humid by 10AM. We also saw several examples of Civil War statuary. Apparently they don’t tear down their history around here.
In other Breaking News: Georgia must hold the record for Amber Alerts. Since we arrived Friday night, there have been at least 6 by Saturday afternoon, and there were 3 more Sunday morning. We had the 10th one coming home from the beach at Tybee Island on Sunday afternoon. A few were repeats, but I don’t think I’ve had a total of 10 Amber Alerts in my life, much less 10 in 2 days.
There don’t appear to be a lot of Jews in Savannah. There are, like other southern towns and cities, churches on every corner, and sometimes in the middle of the block. But in Savannah, only one synagogue, Mickve Israel. While it isn’t unusual to have a temple in a town, it is very unusual that it would rival any of the churches in stature. The Jews, however, played a very instrumental role in the development and survival of early Savannah. Shortly after its founding, the local Catholics found themselves struggling to survive the rigors of growing a new city amid the humid climate and the hostile natives. Medical issues abounded and would have done in the early population were it not for the small cadre of Jews, all doctors, that came to their rescue. For this mitzvah, they were granted significant rights of township and license, and the Jewish population descended from this act of humanity thrives to this day in an obvious harmony with all the other history of this place. America, are you listening yet?
Did I mention that it was nearly 90 degrees at 10AM? When my internal thermometer starts to read a little high, I like to turn to ice cream as my preferred cooler. We found a small shop, Locally Made, that had not only very good ice cream, but the coolest counter I’ve seen yet.
For having no plans, we managed to make Saturday a very busy day. So, on Sunday, we rested. At the beach. Tybee North Beach on Tybee Island just east of Savannah. It was warmer on Sunday than Saturday, but the beach is right on the Atlantic, and the breezes that blew were cooling and comfortable.
We wound up our beach relaxation with a crab boil lunch at the Crab Shack, an area favorite that is extremely casual (I didn’t even change out of swimsuit or tank top) and has great food. We got a platter of goodies, and ate the whole thing: corn, potatoes, sausage, crawdads, snow crab, shrimp and mussels. They even have a gator pond so you can see what your backyard might potentially look like if you are moving to Florida.
On our last day as Pre-Floridians, we are excited to get to our new home and get started on getting settled. There is a lot to do, and we already have 2 trips away planned, so stay tuned! We break ground pretty soon!
Tippy is feeling a bit more full-blown-hippie, like me after my 5 weeks without a haircut or shaving.