Archives

10 Things I Hate About Camping

Followers of Midwestern Plants are probably scratching their beans wondering why I would write a post like this… Well, there is a dark side to camping and I need to share my experience so YOU won’t be duped.

During my childhood, ‘camping’ to my family, was staying at a Super 8 😉 I started my camping adventures tent camping at 18. Finally, after many years of sleeping on the ground, my husband and I bought a travel trailer (TT). The ‘normal’ progression of a tenter is usually to buy a pop-up. We thought pop-ups were just as annoying as tents. They take as long to set-up and pack-up as a tent, along with the fact you still don’t have your own bathroom.

Our first TT was 27′ long and was perfect for our family of two. We now have a 37′ Toy Hauler (it has a garage for our motorcycle). We love this new trailer. It has everything we need and more.

Without further adieu, here is my list of things I hate about camping, in no particular order:

#10 – Weather

Bad weather camping is pretty bad in a tent, however it’s not so bad in a TT. At least we have DVD’s, books and other things to keep us occupied. Sadly, it still means no campfires, kayaking or dog walks. Bad weather is also inherently attracted to trailer homes. We’ve rode out a few bad tornado warnings, knowing we could hit the well built shit houses. We don’t go there early, as they usually don’t want dogs in there and I’m not leaving my dogs in an unsafe location.

I can’t wait until we can control the weather and only have it rain on weekdays 😉 I was hesitant to toss this one in as no one has control over it… yet.

#9 – Campground Reviews

I wish folks could put aside their feeling when writing reviews and just stick to the facts. Many times I can read past what folks whine about and glean the pertinent information that works for me, for example:

“The kids were bored as there were no activities…” = Super, no screaming children!

“The site was very uneven…” = You don’t know how to level your trailer.

“The campers next to us were loud…” – If they weren’t permanent, who cares, we won’t see them.

When reviewing a campground or anything else for that matter, state the facts only please.

#8 – Unleashed Dogs

I can’t begin to tell you how many times we encounter unleashed dogs of all sizes. After Breck was attacked in our own yard, we are quick to take notice of any situation that might harm our boys. Dog’s are funny when one is on-leash and the other isn’t. Unless your dog is 100% trained to stay at your side, leash them!!

#7 – Loosing Your Site to a Seasonal

If you’ve booked at a private campground, most likely you’ve seen the verbiage ‘you will be moved if a seasonal wants your site.’ Sadly, this has happened us a few times. Although we tell the campground the size of our TT, they inevitably move us to a site too small for us…. and it’s the last site available. There’s no real protection from this happening, unless you book at a state campground, which only allow a maximum stay of 2 weeks.

#6 – Full Hook-Up is Not Really Full Hook-Up

Full Hook-Up means: there is electricity, water and sewer AT THE SITE. Welp. Some campgrounds will tell you they are full hook-up, but what they really mean is that there is electricity and water AT THE SITE and they have a dump station or pumping services for sewer service. Clearly, it’s very inconvenient to pack-up and bring your camper to the dump in the middle of our stay, thus you then must pay for your tanks to be pumped.

 

#5 – Meeting Scary People

For the most part, campers are good folk. I’ll actually say there are 100% good folk, as the one scary person we came across in the campground was not really a camper. All I’m saying is to be aware, especially if you’re remote camping.

There was a trail that went through the county campground we were staying at. A man walked by with a beer, telling us our dogs were cute and if he could say hello to them.  Hmm, it was daylight, other campers around, so no alarms went off. We started chatting about border collies and camping… Husband offered him another beer and a chair as the sun went down. When the topic of his site and type of trailer came up, he then informed us he was just ‘passing through’ the area on foot. OK, I’ve met many homeless folks that were really nice. However, all of a sudden, things got weird. He started discussing female genitalia and things he liked about it. I gave my hubby the ‘I’m-uncomfortable-look’ and excused myself, saying I needed the loo. Hubby gave me our code word for get the protection at the ready, our loaded 45. When my husband knew I was safely inside and packing heat, I listened out the window to my husband tell this man that his topics were not welcome and he had better take his leave. He left without incident, thank goodness.

#4 – Campground Up Charges

Owning a campground isn’t exactly a get rich lifestyle. Many times camp owners are left to deal with rotten situations their guests put them in. Whether it be acts of bad driving (running over signs, pipes or trees), flushing large, unknown items down the toilet or even just littering, camp owners get creative about adding on fees to your daily, rental fee. Here are just a few we’ve seen:

$10 fee per dog – The campground felt the need to charge this to cover the doo-doo removal service.

Charging $10 per day, per camper for campground amenities and not allowing an opt out.

We have WIFI! (for $2 a day… and its only available near the office… with 2G download speeds…)

$5 a day charge for air conditioners.

 

#3 – Site Trespassing

It’s rare that we find a campground that has large sites. However, the larger the site, the more likely you’ll have folks walk right through the middle of it. We put our boys on 20′ feet leads when we’re at our site. Of course, we size them shorter if our site is smaller. One long weekend of camping had us on a site what was about 40′ feet by 40′ feet. That is huuuuge compared to most campgrounds, we were able to add on to the boys leashes to give them 30′ to play. One day, while we sat near our campfire, a family of 6 rode their bikes right into our campsite and was freaked out when our boys ran after them! The one kid was so terrified he dropped his bike and ran. We asked his parents why they thought it was OK to trespass right through our site. They played the ‘no speaka da English’ game. I then translated my distaste for their actions in an international language way…. We didn’t see them the rest of the trip.

#2 – Not Using Fog Lights at Night

One of my husband’s biggest pet-peeves is drivers in campgrounds using their headlights at night. At best, the speed limit in a campground is 5 mph. At these speeds, the chances of having an accident are slim. Since many campers don’t have their own toilets, driving to the loo becomes an hourly occurrence, especially when there is liquor involved. Camping is about reconnecting with nature, and seeing stars is a part of it. Constantly being flashed in the eyes with headlights is no fun.

#1 No Outside Firewood

As an arborist, I understand the dangers of transporting firewood. All kinds of pest issues are caused by folks moving around contaminated wood. By law, you cannot move firewood outside of 50 miles or over state lines. If you’re within those parameters, no problem. Clearly, campgrounds again, in the never ending search to make money, try to have you buy a 4 piece bundle of wood for $10.  We buy one bundle from the campground and then find someone selling it nearby for 1/64 of the price.

Yes, I have also watched folks drive to a campsite where someone had just left to see if they left any firewood behind.

 

 

 

 

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Happy Trails

Last time camping under the old, oak tree… I wish you the best, my friend.

I was thinking that my last post, the one that has been static on my site was a scary selfie of me in a welding helmet… That just can’t continue for any longer! 😉 This post will serve as a better landing spot for my blog and describe its status.

We recently went to our favorite campground, Hickory Hollow in Utica, Illinois. It is right near the Starved Rock area. Every September, you can count on us to be attending the wine festival! This year’s fest was a bit less chaotic, as last year’s fest was a madhouse. Because of this and the ticket prices doubling, we were able to get around much easier this year.

We were very melancholy, as the sand mine (just past the berm behind the camper) has bought the campground to destroy it for the sand it stands on. How sad is that?!? I can’t describe the pain I feel for my favorite burr oak tree (next to camper). It’s like knowing a friend with a deadly disease… knowing that in a short time, their life will end sooner than it should. I need a subject change… my blubbering is upsetting my dogs.

Updates….

I have been researching my future ventures en mass! I have a plan for my future schooling in Horticulture Therapy, which starts this January, finishing in the Fall of 2018. Not too long! I have also decided to try to open my own business revolving around Nature Therapy. This will include Forest Bathing (shinrin-yoku (森林浴) in Japanese), and other programs for nursing homes. I’ll try focusing in those arenas first, and see if I need to branch out or not. I will post updates…

Hubby is doing super at quitting smoking! It’s been 4 months now!

For our Annual Christmas Camping Vacation….. GALVESTON, TEXAS is the winning location for 2017!!! We’re already booked and have started researching things to see and do. If you have any insider info, please pass it on 🙂 We will also be needing a Texas themed audio book for the 18 hour ride down there. Last year we listened to, “Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil” for our ride to Savannah.

Here’s a funny coincidence, well, maybe not so funny… We decided on Galveston one week before Hurricane Harvey hit them. Last year, we decided to go to Savanna, Georgia one week before Hurricane Matthew hit them. Hmmm, are we dooming the cities we choose to visit to hurricanes? Maybe next year, we shouldn’t pick a coastal city 😉

I hope everyone in my blog-o-spere is doing well. I’ve visited the WP Reader a few times. It’s really hard to be in there too long. I could have an hour blow by in what feels like a second. I love reading everyone’s posts, however I MUST STUDY!!! When my life has settled down, I will return to the reader and posting myself. Until then, I hope the best for all of you! I do miss our fun in the comment’s section!

Take care!!! Ilex

Kayaking Door County, Wisconsin

Last 4th of July, we went camping in Door County, Wisconsin for the second time. I can’t explain the magnetic pull this area has on me, just like Jens Jensen. I totally get why he chose to be here. It’s very strange, as I can’t see myself as a full-time resident here. Winters can keep you pretty isolated, along with down-right frigid temperatures… Not my idea of fun.

Although Wisconsin has a lower housing market than my Chicago suburbs area, Door County has it’s “Cape Cod of the Midwest” reputation and adds a higher percentage to that market percentage. Add on waterfront to the description and tack on 100% to the price.

I’m not in the high enough tax-bracket to achieve a two property household, so I’ll just dare to dream for now…

This post got lost in the drafts folder, as I was looking to add some video from my sport camera… Trying to load it onto YouTube as I write… Got that spinning wheel of death right now. My upload speed is probably at -2% right now. .. I’ll keep you hanging right now as to if this succeeds or not, by posting it at the end… If I can 😉

There are a total of three locations we kayaked in this post.

FIRST: Kangaroo Lake

It is a 1,156 acres (467.8166 hectares) lake that’s only 12 feet (3.7M) in the deep end. Kangaroo Lake received its name from its shape which resembles a Kangaroo with its head (North end), pouch or hands (mid-east side), and feet (south end). The best part about the lake is the fact it is shallow and big boats can’t be on it. The Lake Association has banned them to preserve the easily disturbed, silt bottom. This makes for a kayaker / canoers dream paddle location.

My hubby used to come here and fish when he was a wee lad. You can catch Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Smallmouth Bass, Northern Pike and Walleye. The water is very clear and it’s pretty easy to see the fish below. It ain’t so easy to catch one, though. 😉

There is even a small island in the center that I’m pretty sure is privately owned. There is a beautiful house with wonderful landscaping with boat houses, et all. We did see a young gentleman arrive at the dock from the mainland and waved to him. He tipped his hat back. Clearly, there is activity happening here, I just didn’t put a lot of time researching it. Anyone know???

Mama duck escorted her kiddos across the lake. I hope boaters pay attention to wildlife =-)

Early in the morning, the water is pretty calm.

Next we visited Mud Lake:

While driving around the area, we saw a pull-off area and felt the need to investigate. Turns out there was a launch into Reinboldt Creek, which takes you to Mud Lake. This is from the DNR website:

Mud Lake Wildlife Area is a 2,290-acre property located in northeastern Door County near Moonlight Bay. The property consists of a 155-acre shallow (maximum depth 5 feet) drainage lake surrounded by an extensive shrub and timber swamp. Immediately surrounding the open water is a narrow zone of shrubby northern sedge meadow dominated by sedges, willows, dogwoods and sweet gale. The wetlands and lake provide habitat for the federally-endangered Hine’s emerald dragonfly (Somatochlora hineana) among many other wildlife and plant species. The open zone grades into second-growth wet-mesic forest of white cedar, white spruce, balsam fir and black ash. This is an example of boreal forest habitat which a rare community type to be found in Wisconsin. As a result records of boreal forest species such as Common Goldeneye have been documented to nest on the property which is rare in Wisconsin.

I wish I could tell you that the two below videos were from my sports camera. Nope. Still working out the kinks. The hard part is that the screen will ‘time-out’ and there’s no light or anything that lets you know it’s recording. I think ti’s not recording, hit the button again and then turn it off. Gaaaa! I’m getting better and I do have some longer ones that I’ve uploaded to YouTube. I’ll connect to those when I’ve edited out all the swear words 😉

I wonder why the rocks are so red. Very cool, tho!!

Now we’re at Gills Rock.

This boat launch had plenty of parking and an easy in/out for small boats. There’s a Fleetwing shipwreck to go check out. The water is clear enough to see the cargo, 25 feet below.

The area was originally full of alder (Alnus), willow (Salix) and cedar (Juniperus) which has given way to forests dominated by spruce (Picea) and, then later, pine (Pinus). Mixed forests of eastern hemlock (Tsuga) and hardwoods such as beech (Fagus) and elm (Ulmus) became standard by about 7,500 years ago and have persisted. I saw many birch (Betula) and Eastern red cedar (Juniperus), like the ones in this photo.

There are many animals that rely on the cliffs for shelter and food. The gulls in the photos below soared just above the water looking for fish.

We are starting to get a bit more elaborate with our rock stacks. We’ve been adding levers to the mix. Clearly, mine is the one with the flowers 😉

A recent rock slide.

It couldn’t have been a more beautiful day.

The seagulls were swooping up to see if we were offering treats.

Hieroglyphs of people canoeing.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Illinois State Beach Park ~ What a View!!

Last weekend we went to Adeline Jay Geo-Karis Illinois State Beach Park to camp. We got right in since many folks weren’t thinking about swimming in May… at least not here. Lake Michigan doesn’t get warm enough for swimming until early July. We did walk by the beach and I could walk with my toes in the water, for a short time. No more of me was going in! Brrr.

This is a IDNR (Illinois Deptment of Natural Resources) park, one of the most protected areas in Illinois. I love coming here, as there is such a diversity of plants, animals, birds and insects. We also had a great view of the dormant Zion nuclear plant. Awesome…?

General Information and History

This area is 4,160 acres and has a recorded 650 plus different plant species. Long recognized for its unique geological features, native flora and unmatched beauty, the Lake Michigan dunes area originally was, in the 1700s, part of the “Three Fires” of the Algonquin Nation: the Potawatomi, Chippewa and Ottawa.

This area was slated to be a preserve as early as 1888, when Robert Douglas, a Waukegan nurseryman, and Jens Jensen, a famous landscape architect (If you live/visit Chicago, you’ve seen a lot of his work), worked together to make the area a regional park. With the threat of industry progressing from the south and sand mining ravaging nearby dunes, legislative efforts to save the area finally began in the 1920s.

In 1948, the state obtained the first parcels of what is now known as Illinois Beach State Park. The Illinois Dunes Preservation Society was established in 1950 to protect the area. Through its efforts and the determinations of the Department of Conservation, in 1964 the area south of Beach Road was dedicated as the first Illinois Nature Preserve.

This area is unique, as it is a sand dune area and the rest of Illinois is nothing like it. I was on the hunt for Opuntia – Prickly pear & Juniperus horizontalis – Trailing juniper, both of these are native to this area. In 1804, explorers Lewis and Clark noted that trailing juniper “would make a handsome edging to the borders of a garden”.

Our bedroom is in the back of the camper and furnished with a large window to gaze out of. You can barely see it to the right of the photo, however there is a small window right where my head is. I can’t tell you how nice it is to have a window less than 3″ inches from your face. The fresh, night air is wonderful to sleep by.

The real view, not through the window. Lake Michigan.

     

We were back to balancing rocks. Here’s a simple one that took a bit of patience.  ||  I don’t think anyone was home.

This is the coolest thing. It’s an ice fishing house, that’s also a travel trailer! It’s on hydraulics and lowers to the ground / ice for fishing. So neat.

As far back as 1982, the federal government began collecting a nuclear-waste fee, paid by electricity users through fees tacked on to their bills and earmarked to pay for disposal of the radioactive spent fuel rods. Starting in 1998, the U.S. Department of Energy was supposed to start picking up spent fuel rods and taking them for storage, according to Everett Redmond, senior director of fuel cycle and technology policy for the Nuclear Energy Institute, a power industry trade group. But there was no ready storage option to hold them. So power companies were forced to store more and more of them at their own facilities and eventually successfully sued to recover costs for this storage.  Chicago Sun-Times 2017

Someone likes to dig.

     

We keep trying to outdo each other on the rock stacking. Well played husband, well played.

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

Toy Hauler Mailbox: When Good Things Come From Bad

We live in a somewhat rural area, where there are no sidewalks and our mailboxes are at the street. It’s the first time I’ve ever lived with this situation. In the past, I had a walking mailperson, who dropped mail in my house-attached box.

In the past few years, I’ve become an Amazon.com addict, along with many other online stores and the amount of package deliveries have spiked to epic levels. I do have a wooden bench near my door that is under an eave for those large boxes, however some of the smaller ones still got jammed into the small mailbox, ultimately bending or breaking something. Frowny face to the mail carrier!! No Duncan Doughnut’s gift card for you!!

Along with USPS (United States Post Office), I also get deliveries from UPS, Fed Ex, DHL, and other carriers. Only the USPS can deliver items INSIDE my mailbox, the rest get placed on my bench. Here’s a tid-bit for you; Did you know it is a federal offense to steal mail (anything delivered by USPS, in or out of mailbox), however only a misdemeanor to steal packages delivered by carriers other than USPS? This is why smart-ass thieves tend to steal packages off stoops over cracking into mailboxes. Either way, I’d hope the Karma train takes care of these thieves!

We’ve been talking about making our mailbox into a travel trailer for years. However, the timing was never good to start the project, along with the fact we still had a working mailbox… Until a week ago.

My neighbor is slowly dying. I can’t recall the disease that is killing him, however it’s a reaction from a drug he took years ago. He is unable to eat because of reoccurring sores in his mouth and in a lot of pain from a previous neck injury. He’s on liquid morphine and has hospice folks coming by often. One day last week, he got into a large argument with his wife, and amazingly was able to get out of the house and behind the wheel of his truck. I was actually writing on my laptop, overlooking my yard and mailbox when it happened. BLAM! Mailbox up! Mailbox down! Neighbor back-up and off mailbox, neighbor drive forward and continue down the street.

I ran out there immediately and called his wife, as I knew he shouldn’t be driving. She told me the police were already in route, so there was not much else for me to do, but to pick up the many pieces of my mailbox. Not more than 10 minutes later, I watched the mailperson drive by, looking at the mailbox-less post, and continued on. Um, you could have knocked on my door and delivered my mail! But no. The mail carrier just carried on.

I was able to Jerry-rig a close replica of my mailbox with what was left of the box, some bungee cords and duct tape. It doesn’t really close, however it would work for the interim.https://youtu.be/sZnhtojtUYc

Meanwhile, we decided it was time to make out new mailbox, technically a ‘toy-hauler’, and impress our neighborhood with our skills ;^D

  • First, we started by ordering a LARGE (24″ long x 12″ wide x 15″ tall), gray mailbox from Amazon.com. In the future, we hope this allows for less squished packages.
  • Hubby painted on the windows, doors and details.
  • He then made the gas tanks out of PVC.
  • The bumper and hitch are made from copper and painted black.
  • The wheels came from a toy truck and painted silver instead of the yellow rims it came with.
  • The spare tire (also made from PVC) and the faux awning were then attached.
  • We found little reflectors online to create the taillights and side lighting.
  • Finally, we found a place that made little license plates for our address number. Yes, it’s a bit out of proportion, but we wanted it to be seen from a distance.

In the end, I’m really impressed at the turn-out of this project! I think it’s so cute!! If I recall correctly, without time and labor, material cost us about $85.00.

Ironically, my hubby sent a pix of this to his boss, who then posted it on his FB page, bragging about what a creative employee he has. Many of his friends responded back positively and even asked if his employee could make other mailboxes like fire engines and race cars! How cool is that?! Hubby has already been trying to figure out how to make mini hoses and Mars lights….

    

*PS – No one besides my mailbox was harmed by my neighbor. The sheriff found him parked on the side of the road, around the corner. Whew!

© Ilex ~ Midwestern Plant Girl

A great visit to Oatland Island Wildlife Center of Savannah

A few weeks before our trip to Savannah, Georgia, I was looking through the things to do and came across the Oatland Island Wildlife Center. Sadly, when I went to their website, I learned that hurricane Mathew had been very mean to them. Many habitats were damaged. Thankfully, these were the animals day areas, and their nighttime digs were safe, as were all the animals.

Lucky for us, they opened the day after Christmas, with only the wolf exhibit being off limits. So, off we went!

image      image

Many of these animals cannot be returned to the wild, for one reason or another.

Many of the birds cannot fly. On the cages, they have signs that inform you that birds that cannot fly like the security of the small space.

image

image

It was almost low tide here, the water was slowly getting lower, exposing the oysters.

image

image

Hey look! It’s BOB!

image

Bob-Cat!

image

Hello, hello, hello. Is there anybody in there? Just nod if you can hear me. Is there any one at home?

The red fox was supposed to be in here. Maybe in the little house.

image

WHO!

image      image

image

Thee were two bald eagles in here. There was a long tree trunk that went from the ground to this high roost.

image

Bison bison.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Kayaking Savannah

We really wanted to get out and kayak while we were down in Savannah. The weather wasn’t so bad (for a Midwesterner), however the day we picked turned out to be very foggy. We were a bit uneducated dealing with tide information. Of course we knew what it was, just to what degree did the water change. Considering some of the piers we saw were 100’s of feet long, we figured we wanted to go during high tide, and ride low tide back out for less paddling.
We chose to launch from the Rodney J Hall Boat Ramp, as it was nearby, kayak friendly and free.

image

MINE! MINE! MINE! Fish heads for the gulls. Ass fisherperson could have thrown them off the ramp, tho.

image

Note the water is high on the poles. There’s a bird perched on every pole!

image      image

I love how birds sit on the poles.

image

This guy had a kayak that he peddled instead of paddled! Very cool!!

image

Not sure what type of birds these are.

image      image

The pelicans followed this guy like begging dogs! Too cute.

image

I think these are oysters on the shores.

image

image

The tide had gone out about 5 feet by the time we came back to the boat ramp.

image

The water had gone down so much, we couldn’t get near the poles the birds were on at the beginning of the post.

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Savannah Blooming Flowers 1-1-2017

Happy JANUARY blooming flowers!! 😉 I know, that you know, that I know nothing blooms in Illinois, in January… Well, maybe an occasional Lenten rose… Or a houseplant… However, I was in Savannah, Georgia recently and all of these colorful blooms were here to meet me! Of course, I took photos of everything that had any color in the landscape, so there are some berries and seeds also.

A technique I use to identify things is knowing when something is in bloom. Folks will ask, “What’s the beautiful, blue flower I see blooming now (say May).” I know that the  pulmonaria family blooms then, show them a photo and they gasp, “YES!” Here in Savannah, it’s 3 zones different that me (me = 5 – here = 7/8), things aren’t blooming at the same time they bloom up North. I had to go on my botany skills… that flowers have families and knowing their ‘shapes’, I could get close on identifying them. I’m not going to go crazy trying to identify them, but if you know one I don’t, give a shout out in the comments.

image      image

I’m going to start off strong with one I should be able to ID in any situation! Ilex verticillata ~ Winterberry  || I’m not sure of this one, but it has a salvia type flower and was a bush.

image      image

Camellia japonica ~ So beautiful!!   ||  Strawberries anyone?

image      image

Tradescantia ohiensis ~ Spiderwort    ||   A Rudbeckia ~ Black Eyed Susan

image      image

Pentas lanceolata ~ We use these in our flower displays (as an annual), not sure if it actually grows here, or is used as an annual also.   || Woohoo! Azaleas! There were some blooming, but not all. I hear coming here in March is the best time for blooms.

image       image
More Azalea    ||   I know this in the oenothera family, because the 5 star stigma is a trait of that family.

image

Beautiful moss

image

An avens, perhaps?

image

Liverleaf Hepatica ~ Hepatica americana

image      image

I’m not sure at all about this first one   ||   This one is in the aster family

image

Lantana camara ~ Invasive here.

image      image

Agave bracteosa ~ Variegated Agave   ||  A Honeysuckle

image

I had to look this up, as I did have a Sago palm (cycas revoluta) at my house in Florida. Mine must have never bloomed before. This one is a female and that center is called megasporophylls. In typical male fashion, he blooms with a large spike.

image       image

Looks like an annual?    ||   Another beautiful Camellia

image       image

Variegated ginger    ||    More Camellias!!

image       image

A ligularia of some sort, very cool   ||  More azaleas

image

Nice to have spice right outside the door!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl

Savannah Proper (Georgia)

image

savannah

We spent about two days in ‘downtown’ Savannah. It is a small town, however my idea of small may be skewed, as I’m from Chicago. We walked most of it in those two days also. There are lots of overpriced shops, slushy bars, awesome restaurants and tourist traps to see. Mingled among those places are some true, local places. We had a lot of fun finding the REAL places of Savannah!

The architecture is beautiful here as the Yankees didn’t burn it down during the Civil War, like so many other Southern towns. The mayor at the time just said, “We give up, don’t trash the town!” General Sherman actually liked the town so much, he agreed and then gave it to President Lincoln as a Christmas present.

There are something like 34 ‘squares’ (little parks) within the city. They all have their own theme and are decorated differently. When they were first built, the homes surrounding them were responsible for the upkeep. They are all very beautiful, have nice places to sit and all have a different history about them. Often, there are sculptures and fountains within them. I highly recommend a walk through as many as you can.

We loved the open drinking policy here. I think it helps merchants sell more stuff to ‘loosened-up’ tourists! Ha!! We had a few good laughs at a bar down by the river, that touted it was a ‘Green Bay Packers’ bar. Perfect! That means I’ll get a side car of beer with my Bloody Mary! Nope. I then asked the bartender if they played dice here. In Wisconsin, it is a common practice to play a dice game called ‘Ship, Captain, Crew’, where you play dice for your drinks. I think he knew where we were going with this or maybe it was our Midwestern accents, however he owned up to not really being from Wisconsin. He was from Denver, and had just bought the bar the previous week. They did have one really awesome thing going for them, they had dill pickle shots! Vodka, pickle juice and a secret ingredient…. OMG, were those good. -+–*

Driving was a bit frustrating. Many streets had large medians and actually had a stop between directions. The tree lined streets are gorgeous, however all the Spanish moss hanging from the trees prevented you from seeing the traffic signal until the last moment. Toss in drunk pedestrians and it’s a party!!  Extreme care is needed when driving here.

image     image

The tree lined streets are to die for! Love this entrance.

image

We did go to the beach, or Tybee Island. I did put the toes in for posterity, but that’s all that was going in! Brrrrr!

image

Tybee Island Lighthouse

image

Half Police car, half Taxi!

image

We don’t like the mainstream bars or the ‘flavored slushy’ bars. Here we found places to go that normally would scare tourists away. When I asked this tattooed and pierced bartender for a Mimosa (Orange juice and champagne) and Yes, I clearly did not think before ordering it at a bar like this, it’s just that it was before noon, and I wanted to have my OJ….  😉 He told me he was out of champagne, however, he could make me a Mimosa lite. “What’s that?”, I asked. He said, “Bud Light’. Ha! Fine. Kamikaze Shot it is!

image

We could not believe how dog friendly they are here also. There were dogs everywhere, in stores, cafes, art galleries, parks… There were dog water bowls and poop bag stations at every square. many places offered treats when you came in. Way to win over the doggy parents!

image

We don’t like big, crowded tours. We did enjoy a private horse tour of the area with Jenna (human tour guide) and Fabio (Horse cutie)

image      image

I can’t remember the significance of the first house, however the orange one here is The Mercer House.

The Mercer House was designed by a New York architect John S. Norris for General Hugh W. Mercer, the great grandfather of Johnny Mercer (singer). Construction of the house began in 1860, was interrupted by the Civil War and was later completed, circa 1868, by the new owner, John Wilder. In 1969, Jim Williams, one of Savannah’s earliest and most dedicated private restorationists, bought the then vacant house and began a two-year restoration. This house is one of the more than 50 houses Mr. Williams saved during his thirty-year career in historic restoration in Savannah and the Lowcountry.

Since we had a load of driving to do, we decided to listen to an audio book: Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil by John Berendt. The book takes place in Savannah and I’m pretty sure its required reading if you are to live here. Ha! They call it “THE BOOK” down here. All the events are true in the book, however they are a tad bit mixed-up, chronologically. Small spoiler… there is a murder in the middle of the book. The lower room on the left is the room it happened in. After having listened to the book, it was very cool to see the actual houses in relation to one another.

We actually just watched the movie and feel it kinda sucked. Maybe if we hadn’t read the book, it would have been better.

image

Here’s a weird story; It was about 9 PM, well past dark, and we were walking back to our truck. After cutting through a cemetery, we emerged about 2 blocks from the truck. A black gentleman on a bike said hello, we reciprocated. He then stopped, motioned across the street and asked us if we knew the cemetery originally went another 10 feet over? We stopped and said no, that it was interesting there is now a road over it. He told us he was born here and then continued to tell us about how they moved bodies and why one of the headstones is oddly on part of the sidewalk. We thought it was fascinating and continued to listen. I’m not sure what went wrong, however after about 7-8 minutes of talking with him, he blurted, “Well, I can tell when someone from Chicago doesn’t want to be talking to a black man like me” (We never mentioned where we were from). He then told us to have a good evening and rode off. What the heck just happened? We looked at each other with our mouths open. Did he just call us racists??

image     image

Johnson Square

image

I think this is where Oglethorpe was originally buried. It is right in the middle of a right-of-way.

image

image      image

Oglethorpe Square   ||   The signs read: Historical steps, use at own risk. They were all different sizes of steps, you had to look down. We saw a lot of folks that should have walked down to the ramp. Public drinking is somewhat entertaining for the sober folks also!!

© Ilex – Midwestern Plant Girl