Category Archives: On the Road Again
We had never been to Savannah. And since we were driving from Texas to some of the Civil War battlefields around Washington, it seemed a good idea to stop there for a few days. We stayed at the Gastonian, billed as a ‘romantic get-away’ and it was, though our room was in a room apparently used once for a storage shed. The definition of romantic seems to vary. We enjoyed walking around the old city squares, admiring the lush gardens of bright flowers, istening to the eccentrics the town is know for talking to themselves. There was enough quaint to choke a horse.
‘There’s a beach nearby,’ Ginny said one morning over coffee. I may have mentioned once before that Ginny loves the water much like some people love the mountains, or puppies or breathing. It recharges her batteries to smell the ocean, feel the warmth of a beach under her feet. So, we got directions, packed snacks and headed off toward Tybee island about 20 miles away on the Atlantic Coast.
We walked along the tide line, watched the sea birds zip along the water’s edge, squawking with quarrelsome impatience at we intruders. There was something more substantial, more comforting, on the island than Savannah’s Gothic charms. It was a good day and we carried it with us the next day as we drove out of Savannah and headed into the Carolinas, on to DC.
We had planned a different evening entertainment. Perhaps a stroll around the plaza at sundown, followed by dinner. The storm came up quickly, dark clouds rolled in and the wind howled in from the Sangre de Cristos range to the north, dropping the temperature like a fall from a high window. It rained, great wet drops, which turned to hail. Flatlanders like Ginny & I aren’t used to icy winds and hail in June. But there it was. Hours later, the wind died down and the clouds began to roll away. The full moon emerged, a reminder that we control nothing. But we can enjoy the beauty.
We were on our 2011 Southern Tour, following old roads from Texas up through the Old South and into Washington, D.C. Partly a long-held desire to see Civil War battlefields, but mainly just to take a long drive. We arrived in Savannah, a place we’d never visited and thought, ‘Let’s stay a few days.’
It’s a lovely city, old and proud of its eccentricities. It is also a city squares – park-like grids laid out more-or-less geometrically like refuges from the suffocating summer heat. We looked at houses that pre-dated the American Revolution, shopped in tourist shops and walked. On one such day, we noticed that the magnolias were magnificent. We have magnolias in South Texas, certainly, but with scant annual rainfall and summers that last into the winter, they rarely grow with such abandon and luxury as they do in Savannah.
This, then, became an icon for Savannah for me – opulent, aromatic to the extreme and lovely in its excesses. After a few more days, we drove on up into Virginia, heading for D.C.
I get bored when on long drives. And I used to go on a lot of long drives while reporting on Texas. As the song says, There are miles and miles of Texas. I used to play with the radio or pretend I was a fighter jet rocketing 18-wheelers off the road. But not that many years ago, you’d quickly run out of radio stations to scan through during the six or seven hour drive to the Big Bend region. After you sipped through Del RIo on US 90 West, you ran out of semis to kill. So…I started taking photos. Point-and-shoots worked best, and later the cameras in smart phones. Point toward the scenery through the windshield or a side window and click.
This is a view on the highway somewhere near Alpine sometime in 2004. It’s not art, it’s not even a great photo but it gives you an idea of the stark beauty of the region and the loneliness of the drive. Click. For a moment, it’s just you, the car and the view. I liked long drives to the Big Bend. It was never boring.