Monday, May 6, 2019

Submerged in Savannah

Submerged in Savannah - 2019

On April 21 we pulled in the slides on the motorhome and began our trek to Savannah for the "Submerged in Savannah" RiVoli Rally. We heard about the rally from Jennifer, who lives a few sites away from us at RiverBend. Although we lived in Bluffton, SC, a mere 20 miles from Savannah, and we shopped and at times worked in Savannah, we had never participated in many of the tourist attractions. So... why not?! 

Tucker and Gypsy fighting over the "front" seat!
As we neared our destination our trip up to Savannah concluded with a "bang!". A truck ahead of us hit an orange barrel. We watched helplessly as it rolled one way, then another, and turned to come back into our lane just in front of us. The barrel left some orange and white plastic on our bumper, but did no other damage. However,  to extract the barrel Scott had to bring out the saws-all. Shortly we were on our way to Skidaway Island State Park.

Pulled over on I-95 to cut out the barrel that was wedged under our bumper.

We registered for the rally and thus began 14 days of amazing food, fun and friendship! 

On one of our first days we toured the Georgia State Railroad Museum. We saw some of the huge tools that were used to maintain the trains back in the era of steam. We had an opportunity to operate the hand car.

Jim and Scott powering the hand car with two other RiVoli rallies
The tour included an open-air train ride on the turntable and back to one of the workshops. 

My watercolor sketch of the round house and turntable.
On our return while gazing out the train window I noticed a woman and man waiting for the next ride who looked just like Donna and Carlos, friends from San Antonio. They looked like them for good reason! What are the odds of our being at that place, at that time, coming from two different regions of the country?! Because we were both on tours we had only a few minutes for hugs and how-do-you-do's before we had to go on.

Carlos, Donna, Dreaming and her Mr.
 The RiVoli team promised an all-inclusive first class experience and they delivered. We had many docent-led tours, trolley tours, guided experiences, boat rides and 41 top notch meals, either catered or at fine restaurants in and around Savannah. I wrote the following poem and presented it on the last night fo the rally:

For two weeks in Savannah we have been submerged.
We’ve seen lots of things and on fine food we have splurged.
I have to say that this RiVoli Rally has been quite the trip,
As they say in the south, it’s all that and a bag of chips!
Kay fulfilled her promise that this would be ridiculously fun,
Also that the trip would include spirits, smiles and sun.
On Monday we didn’t know each other, by Tuesday we were friends,
We told jokes, listened to stories, and shared thoughts ’til the end.

We learned about the Mighty Eighth that fought overseas.
It was founded in Savannah but fought the Axis countries.
We met Betty, who enlisted and worked to break codes.
I hope I have that much energy when I’m 94 years old!

Yes, those are live bees crawling around inches from my fingers.

We know about bees and honey and tasted some mead,
I bought a bottle and probably more honey than I need.

We learned of the Siege of Savannah and marched behind a drum
Regiment flags and banners were carried into battle by some.

Pencil sketch of our docent in period clothing
Barri drove our bus from here to there, and back and forth,
While Ron told us jokes, some brought groans, others mirth. 
We took trolleys whose drivers managed to talk and drive,
Dodging tourists, swinging around squares, and we all stayed alive.
One trolley told us everything about Paula Deen;
Another gave us insights about ghosts to be seen.

Hanging with Paul Dean at Creekside Restaurant
Sketch of the Mercer-Williams House
A third showed us places from John Berendt’s book,
And even took us to Bonaventure so we could have a look
At gravestones and crypts, some for those long dead.
The whirlwind of activity just boggled my head!

Bird Girl, now standing at the Telfair Museum. She gained notoriety after being on the cover of  John Berendt's book,  Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
This is one of the famous headstones at Bonaventure. This is Gracie Watson who died when she was only six. Many stories abound about her spirit in the cemetery.
We toured a few historic houses and the ruins at Wormsloe,
And drove around squares Oglethorpe designed years ago.
The famous "Gingerbread" house - while not on our tour, this beautiful home is sought after for events.
Of slavery, and architecture, and history we learned a bit
Of the impact of prohibition and how yellow fever took a hit.
At Fort Jackson we learned some more about the wars,
Our guide was enthusiastic, but became a bit of a bore. 
Then on to the Savannah Scottish games where it was hot,
But Ron, in his kilt (no disrespect intended) perhaps was not. 

From one boat we saw dolphins and viewed the sun going down; 

Tybee Light House at sunset
Cockspur Lighthouse taken while on a sunset Dolphin tour

View after climbing 158 steps up to the top of the Tybee Lighthouse.
On another we enjoyed dinner and an awesome view of town.

Hutchinson Island and Talmadge Bridge
Oh, did I mention food? We had so much to eat,
Every meal was taken care of, oh what a treat!
It was wonderful to be a tourist and not have to cook,
We ate so many things we could write our own A to Z book!
A is for apple fritters, while B is for baked beans,
C is for chicken, do you see what I mean?

Ron, Jennifer, Rick and Linda... ready to serve yet another fabulous meal
One night we had pork chops so big they fell off of the plate,
Amazing oysters, tender filets, and grits we all ate.

And shrimp, and muffins, and southern pecan pie,
And ice cream, and biscuits, and meatloaf three inches high,
And pizza, and salmon, and a sandwich or two,
Clam linguine, She-Crab soup and pulled pork barbecue.

Cracking open Bluffton oysters at the campground. Mary (2nd from right) was the last person at the table!
From L to R: Scott, Pete, Karen, Rick, Guy, Jennifer. On other side of table: Ron, Kay, Virginia, Pat, Mary and Mo.
If I wrote about it all you’d be here all night, 
Suffice it to say, we ate a lot, and saw lots of sights. 

I want to thank the Rivoli team for all that you do.
Thank you Linda and Ted, and Jennifer too,
And Dottie and Rick, and Ron and Kay,
You all worked hard each and every day
In an effort to anticipate and take care of our needs.
It’s through your hard work that this trip truly exceeds
Our expectations for what a rally should be,
You thought of everything, including soft TP!

Our time at this rally has come to an end. 
We came as strangers and leave as friends.
Tomorrow we will all leave this Skidaway park
From whence we’ve ventured forth, from morning to dark. 
I won’t say good-bye, for I know this to be true,

Somewhere… sometime… I’ll bump into you!

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