Sunday, November 1, 2015

Beaufort SC, Savannah GA, St Agustine and Destin FL

Sunday we moved to Beaufort (pronounced "bew fot" with beau as in beautiful). Several friends suggested we would find it beautiful indeed. One reason for the beauty is that Beaufort was occupied by the "Federals" (aka The North) during the war and was thus preserved from destruction.  

We arrived in time to have lunch at Paninis..where we enjoyed our rustic, oval shaped pizzas. While in Beaufort, we toured the areas first by car, then by foot and finally by horse & carriage.  
Lovely swings face the Beaufort waterfront
Viewed from our Beaufort walking tour

Dinner was at Saltus where we enjoyed a Wedge Salad and Caramelized Sea Scallops accompanied by a nice Pinot Grigio. This was followed by apple pie in a small crock and an interesting conversation with the couple next to us. They are from the area and had dated briefly in their early teens. And now, with grown families and being widowed in their 80's, they decided to get together again.

Apple Pie at Saltus
Monday we moved on to Savannah. We had an interesting encounter along the way, a Bald Eagle took flight from the side of the road as we approached. A unique and special experience.

Lunch at The Ordinary Pub consisted of Corned Cobb Salad (Blackened chicken, romaine lettuce, cobbed corn, onions, tomatoes, cilantro, and corn tortilla strips) and a Pub Mac 'N' Cheese with applewood smoked bacon, sun-dried tomatoes. Next we toured the Davenport House. Built in the 1820's by Isaiah Davenport who moved to Savannah in 1807, it is one of Savannah’s best examples of Federalist architecture. It was saved from destruction in 1955 by the Historic Savannah Foundation. A couple items caught our eye...see following two photos.
It may look like a doll but it is a dress sample. Local ladies ordered
their clothes from Europe based on models like these.
A fly catcher. A sweet liquid in the base attracts flies through the hole in the bottom.
The flies try to escape by flying upwards but they cannot get out.
And in the garden we saw a cotton plant...the foliage and
bloom were both firsts for us!
“Dinner” was charcuterie and wine at In Vino Vertitas, a neighborhood wine bar near our hotel.

Next day we toured two more historic buildings. First was the Massie Heritage Center, formerly the Massie Common School House). Exhibits include an extensive collection of model ships, ann excellent exhibits on "Classic Architecture" (Styles used in Savannah) and Native American Culture. Upstairs is the Heritage Classroom complete with desks, teaching aids (arithmetic and alphabet) and a school bell. 

The Native American exhibit included a chart showing current theories of how the Americas became populated starting with a wave of migration along AtlanticCoast (24,000-18,000 years ago), a second wave along the Pacific Coast(20,000-15,000 years ago) and the Pacific Land Bridge (14,000 years ago). Recent theories reflect the discoveries of civilizations that predate the Pacific Land Bridge.

The other was the (Richardson) Owens Thomas House was completed in 1819. Lost by Richardson to a bank three years later.  It was purchased and operated as an elegant lodge, famous because Lafayette slept here in 1825. In 1830 it was purchased by the Owens family. The last member of the family bequeathed it to Savannah’s art museum, the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences, in 1951.

Lunch was at Vic’s on the River. We began with Fried Green Tomatoes followed by Wild Georgia Shrimp & Smoked Cheddar Stone Ground Grits for Pat and Pan Seared North Carolina Rainbow Trout for Bill with a bottle of Pinot Grigio.

In the evening we walked through several of the 24 parks (22 remain today). Each park is the center of one of Savannah’s squares which were designed with a combination of homes and public buildings around them, giving all pleasant green spaces.

A downspout....reminiscent of those in San Miguel
On our last day in Savannah we went to a fort, a beach, gun emplacements, and a cemetery. First: Fort Pulaski, named for the Polish commander of the first US Cavalry. The fort played a major role in the use of forts of this style. Robert E Lee as a young architect helped design this fort. When later consulted he confirmed that cannons from embankments on nearby Tybee Island could not penetrate it's walls. But he underestimated the power and accuracy of recently developed rifled cannons. After a couple days the North penetrated the walls and came close to hitting the arsenal of gun powder (if successful, the fort would have been devastated.). The south surrendered the fort. Henceforth new forts designs evolved.
Fort Pulaski has a moat that is typically filled with water!
Gun Powder Storage. This is what the North planned to hit.
Tybee Island Beach is also know as "Savannah's Beach".  The beach is quite extensive and the sand is powdery fine. Not a place to be during a hurricane, see photo below.

We had lunch at Sting Ray’s Cafe where Pat had the fried Soft Shell Crabs (undoubtedly the last for this trip) and Bill had fried Grouper. Both excellent.

On our return to Savannah we stopped at the site of the gun emplacements that were used by the North to capture Fort Pulaski. The fort is barely visible today and there are no canons.
Fort Pulaski viewed from the area of the Gun emplacements on Tybee Island.
The Fort is only visible if you know to look for the large Pecan tree (at about 25% of the way in
from the left side). That is a Big Pecan tree and it is inside the fort.
Enroute back to Savannah, we stopped at the Bonaventure Cemetery to see why it has captured the imaginations of writers, photographers and filmmakers for more than 150 years. Hint: It is dripping Spanish moss and features gothic tombstones / statuary. It is most recently noted as the home of the "Bird Girl” statue featured on the cover of the book “Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil”. (Actually the statue had been moved to the Telfair Museum to protect it.)  The Cemetery is also home to Johnny Mercer, who wrote the lyrics to over 1000 songs including Moon River, Jingle Bells, Winter Wonderland, and  Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah. After a stop at the Visitor Center we wandered the grounds to get a feel for the place and to capture a few photos.

At Bonaventure Cemetery.
On the way to Winter Haven and Bill’s Mom’s house we stopped briefly in St Augustine.
First we visited the serene grounds of the Chapel of Nuestra Señora de La Leche y Buen Parto (Chapel of Our Lady of the Milk and Happy Delivery), the first Shrine to the Virgin Mary in the US. Nearby is the world’s tallest cross commemorating the first christian service in the Americas. 

Chapel of Nuestra Señora de La Leche y Buen Parto

We then wandered through the shops in the Old Town, stopped for an ice cream and visited the Fortress, Castillo de San Marcos. It is a masonry star-shaped fort constructed of coquina in the 1600’s. Coquina is a limestone like rock formed from ancient shells. Through the years the fort passed from the Spanish to the British, back to the Spanish and finally to the United States.

Castillo de San Marcos
Shrimp Boat viewed from the Castillo
Our stay in Winter Haven was extended due to computer repair issues.  Bill's computer needed to be returned to be fix a problem with the track pad. Then it had to be returned again because the local Apple Genius felt the screen needed work. Given the machine is soon to go off warranty, we decided it was best to get everything fully repaired.

We finally headed out to the Florida Panhandle, staying a couple nights in Destin. We had a lovely rental right on the water. But as soon as we got out of the car we both started coughing. Clearly some strange allergen was in the air. All was fine if we were inside in the AC or away from the shore.  Bill had read that there was a Red Tide issue in the area. Sure enough, that brings with it a virus that makes the water unsafe and causes throat irritation for a few people...and we are two of the lucky few. The good news, it did not impact the seafood restaurants and we had some excellent grouper, shrimp and Amber Jack (Amber Jack is a white flaky fish). 

The surf from our window
We also played a round of mini-golf, neither of us is talking about a great score.  Mind you some holes had 3 tiers with holes in the higher tier leading to the next lower tier. Even these were officially "par 3's"!
Bill playing 'The Mountain" course at "The Track"
Making the most of a dead tree at The Harborwalk
On our way to New Orleans, we stopped at the National Museum of Naval Aviation  in Pensacola FL. The museum has an extensive collection of aircraft from WWI and WWII and, if aircraft are a special interest, it is worth more than a day. 

One diorama depicted pilots at the front. And that is indeed a bottle of Veuve Cliqout...
Pilots tended to come from wealth and had their "needs"... 

Yep, that is Snoopy in his Sopwith Camel
Many lucky visitors get to see the Blue Angels practicing...but not us. Still a full scale display in the museum shows how amazingly close together they are while in flight. Pat was stunned.

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