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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.