Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Daytona Beach FL to Savannah GA

Daytona Beach
 The word 'Daytona' conjures up visions of hot rods on the beach and babes in bikinis. The babes are still there but the hot rods are gone, relocated to the Speedway several miles inland. You can still pay a small fee to drive down one small stretch of endless sand, but the exhilaration has fizzled out.
....and Then

  St. Augustine
     The morning dawned and we were off to a more enchanting port of call, St. Augustine, Florida. First settled by Spain in 1565, it has the distinction of being the oldest permanent European settlement in America. A majestic fort, Fort Castillo de San Marcos, guards the city. You can almost feel the conquistadors strolling the battlements. This is a walking city, with narrow winding lanes and cafes spewing music and entertainment galore. From the harbour we savoured the view of the Spanish Renaissance architecture, including the grand Flagler Hotel, built by railway baron Henry Flagler. We new we were nearing the heart of the old south when we spied the dashing Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara peering out from a local pub. Rhett's smirk seemed to say…. "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn!"

Flagler Mansion

Miss Scarlett
 Our time here passed quickly, but we reluctantly passed on to Georgia and the Old South. Our journey took us through Fernandina, Jekyl Island and St.Simons Island.  Jekyl Island and St. Simons proved to be very interesting stops. Both were former plantations owned by French and British Entrepreneurs fleeing war in Europe. We learned of the sad story of The Wanderer, the last slave ship to arrive in America in the mid 1800's, years after slavery had supposedly been abolished. 480 souls left Africa but only 403 survived the horrid conditions crossing the Atlantic to arrive at Jekyl Island 42 days later. The ancestors of these immigrants populate the island to this day, thankfully, under much happier circumstances.
Savannah, Georgia 
After going aground in the ever-shifting shallows on route to Fernandina, we decided to leave the I.C.W. (Intra-Coastal Waterway), and go through the St. Simon cut out to sea on an overnighter to Savannah. A kindly fellow in a small power boat offered to pull us off the sand to our great relief. It took a few attempts but eventually we pulled free and waited several hours for the tide to rise before pushing onward. It was a rough ride outside with winds on the nose and choppy seas. We arrived at last in the Savannah River and tied up with the vista of old town Savannah before our eyes! The history here in the Deep South is astounding, and sometimes bleak. From privateers to slave traders, Civil War heroes to freedom fighters, they have all made their mark here at one time or another. The city parks are lined with statues and monuments commemorating many of the people who shaped this diverse country. Strolling through the cobblestone streets and gazing up at the brownstone and red brick buildings on the strand, time seems to stand still.
Today, the old riverboat paddle steamers unload their cargo of tourists with cameras  and brochures in hand, and the shops bustle with the sale of t-shirts and gelatos. Everyone appears content to let the ghosts of the past rest in peace. As Forest Gump would say,( part of  the movie was set in Savannah)……."Life is like a box of chocolates,
you never know what you're gonna get".

Civil War Memorial

The Stars and Bars

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