When life gives you lemons, go ride Lemonade!

Coastal Georgia & Charleston, SC

We packed up and left the campground in St. Augustine in a light rain that soon turned into a torrential downpour!  We were soaked in seconds.  The temperature was about 75 F and we had decided to not wear our raingear, but that was not really a mistake.  When it is that warm and with a humidity around 90% raingear quickly becomes a sauna getting you as wet as if you hadn't worn it.  Within a half hour we had ridden out the backside of the line of storms into intermittent sunshine.

Our first stop is at the Georgia State Park "Stephen Foster" deep in the Okefenokee swamp.  By early afternoon when we got there we were mostly dry.  We set up camp and took a hike on the boardwalk trail through the swamp.  In 2007 (while we were in Europe) there were two huge fires, one by a tree on a power line, the other lightning) that burned most of the park.  The end of this trail is in a burned section.  They had had a drought that had dried the swamp and peat so badly that when the next line of thunderstorms came through it started fires.  Now the water level is back to normal but during the fire some peat beds burned 4-5 feet deep.  A very hard fire to put out.

The next day we rode around to the north side by the town of Waycross and stayed in another state park on the edge of the wetlands.  A major reason for stopping here is so that I can visit the Southern Forest Museum.  As a retired Washington State Forester I am interested in what the practices are  in other regions of the country.  In the south the major tree is a pine that is used in making pulp for paper.  It is cut into 7 foot lengths and loaded crosswise onto trucks to haul it to the mill.  This hollow log (a hardwood not pine) was cut and loaded before someone saw the dog inside.  He is mummified but before dying he had chased something 20 feet up the inside of this tree and then had gotten stuck.  We don't have that problem in the Northwest forests.





This is another problem we don't have!  Alligators!

I found the museum very interesting and we spend several hours wandering around inside and out.





We spent the afternoon at "Obadiah's Okefenok", a collection of building from an early settler that have been preserved as a private museum.  The fire got part of their boardwalk but not the old wooden buildings of Obadiah's home, barn and out buildings.

The following day we rode less than an hour and arrived at Brunswick, GA.  This is where Kathy spent most of her high school years.  This town has a real personality conflict.  It is a pulp mill, blue collar town with three very Ritzy resort islands next door.  Jekyll Island is gated but for a $6 "parking fee" you can enter and see how the other half plays.  St. Simon is open and not quite as expensive but Sea Island is gated and you must be a resident or guest to get on it.  That did it for us.  But the nicest thing about our stay there was the Golden Isles Campground.  Is a nice family run campground that has a seafood buffet on Fridays in it's restaurant.  It is cheap compared to in town restaurants and was packed with locals.  They had put tables up all the way through the lobby and into the gift shop.  The parking lot was filled with vehicles parked by locals who had come to enjoy it.  And it was VERY GOOD!.  The owners are very motorcycle friendly; they have a motorcycle dealership in town.

From Brunswick it was a short hop to Savannah.  Again a state park and we are set up early.  So we go into town and wander around.  A high priority with Kathy is to have dinner at "the lady and sons", Paula Dean's restaurant.  We had the buffet and it was OK.  But we have eaten as well, with lots more choices, and for less money at "Golden Corral".  Although the Golden Corral doesn't have cloth napkins and doily placemats!











The next day we walked the waterfront along River Street looking at souvenirs and having a beer.  Then on the way back to camp we saw this spherical storage tank with a map of earth painted on it.  I don't know anything else about it but it was fun to look at for a guy who likes travel and maps.








The following morning was a trip to Ft. Jackson, a fairly complete Civil War fort downstream of the city.  It was built to protect Savannah from attack.  Today it only has one soldier; not much defense!









We also went to the railroad museum.  A large museum with a working steam engine and turntable.  Lots of good exhibits.

And even little boys got to blow the whistle!








Lastly we visited the ruins of Wormsloe the plantation ruins of one of the founding fathers of Savannah.  The most interesting part was the entry road.  Over a mile of Spanish Moss covered oak tunnel.


The ruins weren't much more than some waist high stub walls of the concrete/shell mix known as tabby.  But this sign on the railing was cute.







It got its message across clearly.  Our guide was dressed in period costume and demonstrated musket fire.


After a very rainy night we left for Charleston, SC with a stop at Hilton Head for lunch.  On the west coast we have heard of this place as a fancy place to live and play.  It reminded me of the islands near Brunswick except the six lanes of traffic were much worse.  We ate and left.  There is only one highway in and out.  One advantage of this detour is that we stayed away from the freeway on secondary roads and came across what claims to be the smallest church in America.



It holds 12 members and a priest (it is Catholic).  One thing we have noticed is the high (compared to home) number of churches.  There are three or four times as many churches per mile in the south than in the west.  And most of them are names that we have never heard.  This is definitely the "Bible Belt".







After our arrival at the state park and setting up we headed downtown to the historical district.  In the heart of it is the Charleston City Market.  It is four blocks long, 50 feet wide and lined on each side with artisan and souvenir stands.  So we started by walking each of the four block-long buildings and looking at the goodies.  One specialty of the area is grass and palm baskets.  They are beautiful and mostly well done.  But paying $300-500 for a basket that will only hold a dozen rolls on the dinner table is beyond our budget.




Charleston harbor has Fort Sumpter at its mouth.  This is where the opening shots of the Civil War were fired by recently seceded South Carolina upon the Union occupied fort.  It had just been completed and was only partially armed and manned.  It didn't last long.

The visit is by tour boat and takes nearly three hours for one hour in the fort.  






You get a nice harbor cruise out of it too with a look at the fancy 1800's waterfront homes of which this is one.  The porch is down the side to take advantage of the breeze off the water running lengthwise down it.

The city has many narrow but pretty streets.












On our last day we went to the Old Slave Mart.  This is the actual building in which slaves from Africa and US born were sold.  The rear building where they were penned and fattened up after a dangerous ocean crossing has been torn down and made into a parking lot.  It has a nice museum inside with lots of pictures and stories but is not a replica of the sales room.  It is a well presented story of a horrible chapter in American history.

Our last event is a Pub Tour.  A guided tour of some local pubs and a discussion of the significance of the historical buildings housing them.  Dane was our guide and because we were the only people who had signed up for this Monday afternoon tour we had many good discussions on several subjects.  Dane did a very good job and knew the buildings and local beers.  As a beer lover and homebrewer I had a very good time.

We are now headed to Augusta, GA.  I have a cousin who lives there and we will visit for a few days, do some maintenance and see some local sights.



Many of you motorcycle riding readers are probably getting bored with all the sights I've been writing about and not much of our riding.  There is a reason for that, the riding has been mostly boring!  We have been under 200 feet in elevation since we left San Antonio, TX two months and 4,000 miles ago!  That means the roads are straight and flat.  Well, that dearth of riding commentary is coming to an end.  On the way to Augusta the roads are still fairly straight but we topped 450 feet and found vertical changes exceeding 100 feet.  Augusta is on the fall line, a geographical line that is the edge of a prehistoric sea.  Below it is the flat lowlands and swamps of the coastal areas.  Above it is the hilly and even mountainous areas.  At Augusta the fall is only 53 feet in 6 miles but that created rapids that made river travel difficult beyond it and a manmade canal created a hydro power source for mills in the mid-1800's.  This enabled the area build factories to create cloth from their cotton without sending the bales of cotton north for them to do it.  Today the canal still provides power and you can tour it by canal boat from the tourist center in one of the old factories.

Next we head inland to the hills!