Yesterday marked my first 2019 local adventure! I’d seen this salvage place few years ago on my way home from Cashiers, NC heading toward Highlands, NC hidden down in a niche in a valley on the right side just before the hospital. You won’t see it driving North from Highlands, NC until you’ve passed it. If you miss it, it’s okay because there’s a neat little turn around space just passed it. It’ll be worth the adventure! It’s called  RECLAMATIONS (99 Cherrywood Rd., Highlands, NC 28741, Tel. 828-787-2299).

A pleasant young man greeted me as I pulled in the driveway and assisted me in my adventure. As I walked around the huge lot, I was drawn like a moth to the flame toward   all the wonderful salvaged items from cars, Airstreams, trailers, doors, windows, fire pits and oh so much more! As a picture is worth a thousand words, here are thousands of words describing their outdoor facilities.

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A mighty plethora of treasures of all kinds await your exploration!

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Don’t rush through this! You’ll be sorry you did! Stroll, ponder and imagine the possibilities!

I meandered toward every nook and cranny of the outside portion of this wonderland of salvaged treasures. It was as I was exploring the outdoor covered space that I froze in total amazement at the sight of the word “AVA” (my daughter’s name) being spelled out in a rusted metal 18″ square vintage stencil! So embrace the DIG!

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Half of Outdoor covered section

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Other half!

The inside is even more exciting and fabulous and, even though some of their items are priced beyond my budget, don’t hesitate to make a reasonable offer. I did and was happy with both my purchases of the “AVA” stencil and an old oak desk which will work well for an outside workbench!

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If you’re in this area, don’t go past it!

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

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The book, from a Friend, has been in the making for about 25 years when it was first predicted to me that I would write a book with my two children to tell the world a truth and that there would be no shame in telling that truth. It was confirmed to me several more times over the years which inspired me to write on it again and again. After finding of my son’s murder after his fifteen year absence, and the later suicide of my daughter, I wondered how this would ever happen.

It was on my first 2017 adventure West when my paternal grandmother “rode” with me through deserts to get to my favorite place, Glacier, when she “told” me it was time to go to the desert to write the book. I knew then she was right about what I needed to do but it was her thing, not mine, to write in the desert! I was going to write where I wanted to write! Hmmph!

As I drove back from that 15,000 mile junket, I conjured up the next steps. Travel trailer, pack, visit family and find the right RV park. In my head, it sounded pretty simple. It was until I learned just how many Snow Birds from ALL US northern states & Canada flee to the desert…any desert…for their winter retreat or permanent residence! They book a year in advance which meant I had slim pickings! Hurricane, Utah was wonderful in November and I got quite a bit done, but finding an equally beautiful and weather friendly place was going to challenge me, landing me to be in the middle of what I later deemed to be the ugliest part of the Mojave Desert with only one spot left where I wanted to be…close to the Office.

I planned to stay there through February but the constant high winds and ugly surroundings and isolation took its tole on me. By the end of December, I’d written 8-10 hours most every day for months in an alien environment and was ready for green, rain and comforts of home. The proof in the pudding was the day I actually got “car sick” from the constant 60-mile an hour winds while sitting at the table writing on the book! That was it! I planned my exit for the end of January. I counted down the hours until I could head home! Driven like the mad woman I was, I made it in two and a half days dragging that 4000 pounds behind me.

I slept in front of my woodturning stove through all of last February and March only waking at first appearance of sun on April 1st!

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My brain is always writing. When I “woke’ up on April 1st, I realized my brain had stopped writing. And, at first, I wasn’t concerned as I understood that my brain needed a break. My concern reared its ugly head when a couple more months passed it was still silent.  I kept waiting. But, in the meantime…this happened while I was making other plans!

After returning from my trip to Florida May/June, the summer proved to be one challenge after another which included three river floods, a burst outside water pipe, snakes around my house looking for dryer digs, in-house ant invasions for same reason, illness, anxiety, horrid combo of heat/humidity, a meltdown on my daughter’s birthday, all to be topped off with being bedridden about a month with sciatic nerve back pain.

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Water Pipe repair

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Flooding river

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SNAKES!

The good news is that all I needed was a reminder from Ava’s oldest and dearest friends who texted me during her own health battle, “I wonder what it is the Lord is wanting me to learn from this.” Her reminder triggered the question about all the summer/fall battles I’d had. God immediately answered with my own Donna’ism: “FEAR is a four letter word that starts with F that we do to ourselves!” I also received the word “Faith.” I started praying for release of the pain and, literally, felt the muscles in both my neck/shoulders and lower back unwind like a released tightly wound rubber band. The pain was totally, instantaneously and miraculously GONE! And, it was and still is! Call it what you will but I’m telling it true!

It was then that I started embracing the Holidays with a rejuvenated spirit not present for a decade! I planned a Thanksgiving meal for one with joy where in days of old it was for no less than twenty! On Thanksgiving Day, I celebrated my passed parents and children with our decades old traditions of black/white Christmas movies, decorating the tree and decking the halls! I was joyful! What a blessing! The extra blessing was that it continued all through the rest of the year and now, for the first time in a year, my brain is writing again! My only challenge is to get to the computer fast enough to remember what I wrote in my head!

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from days of old Christmas Fire

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and Christmas Morn celebrations

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to my $5.00, 18″ Wonder Woman Christmas Tree decoration celebration

2018 was quite an adventure with many hidden blessings. I’m still processing it all, but in the meantime, I’m happy to announce that “it” is coming back to me and I’ve started on the Prologue!

Happy New Year! And, Happy Trails…until we meet again!

First Merry Christmas in a Decade. I’m overdue for sure but I’ve also gone through the test of many fires and now that I’m on this side, I’m happily reflecting on those days of old when the magic was still there in the joy of the Reason for the Season, family and friends. So, in honor of that, I submit this rhyme.

Twas the night before Christmas and all kept quiet, except the activity upstairs out of our sight.

There were sounds of machine clanking and bustling around, with the promise of surprises on the morrow which did abound.

We really weren’t sure of what it was all about, but we knew it’d be exciting and kicked off with a shout!

Once the porridge was consumed and the dishes done, we’d scamper ever so quickly hoping the festivities hadn’t yet begun.

We ran outside to get to the living room upstairs, knowing Dad had a roaring fire welcoming us with closely placed chairs.

The tree was all glowing and bright, and underneath, full of presents to our hearts delight.

For my brothers, train billowing smoke, a caboose and track, a Teddy Bear for me, doll for sister…oh, how it takes me back.

The smell of the cedar Christmas tree cut from our field, with an abundance of food and cheer this day would yield.

Later on, my kids and I would create our own stories to tell, in that same room with the freshly cut tree with wood fires to smell.

Now that Mom, Dad, Carl and Ava are all gone, it’s finally nice to recall those times of merriment and song. 

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1951 Christmas Train

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1949 Christmas Fire

A very dear friend of my daughter’s, Beauregard, sent me a PM on FB about this event and encouraged me to come have some fun. I’d met the owners of Hatch Camp & Art Farm a couple of years ago when they hosted other musical events where Beau (of Beauregard & The Downright) was performing when Mama & Daddy Hatch were awaiting their blessed event. The timing was perfect as I’d been on the computer in my office for days doing research and working way too hard for a retired woman. So, armed with water, camera and excitement, I jumped in my truck and headed  East toward what promised to be a fun day at Hatch Camp & Art Farm!

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Yes, I cheated. I took a screen shot of their FB page to post what they are doing, who was there and was quite surprised at many things. Firstly, they plan to have one of these monthly! Secondly, they have spaces for booths available for people to share their art! Thirdly, they have a lovely place for exploring on a good sized stream, which I hear is good for fly fishing, where people can camp for the weekend and do the kumbaya thang all weekend long if they want or just hit and run like I did.

As an aside, Mama Hatch was busy with orchestrating the whole event while looking after Baby Hatch who was exploring everything! Turns out that Daddy Hatch is a master fly fisherman who loves creating flies so much so that he explores his creek regularly to see what larvae are in the water so he can mimic just the right fly de jour! He has turned his garage into a shop and fun place for you fly-fisher-persons to explore!

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Another interesting aspect of venturing out in this area is that you never know who you will run into! I saw one of the waiters who always took care of Mom and I when we went for our traditional Sunday Brunch at the Lake Rabun Hotel! But this time, Tolvin Stiles wasn’t waiting on tables, he was sitting at one making the most delicious copper wire jewelry!

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Tolvin’s works of art!

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Tolvin creating new ones!

I meandered around the pathways and byways of this lovely retreat meeting a variety of local artists along the way whilst musicians played folk music. It reminded me of the many times my daughter, Ava of avascorner.org, and I went to events similar to this. Those, however, were much larger. I like the more intimate variety where you actually have a chance to connect with people instead of getting lost in the crowd. This was lovely and I will go back again!

Now, for what I really came for. I could hear Beau getting ready on stage. It was time for me to have some Beauregard! Not only do I love seeing him but also having the chance to  listen to one of my favorite singer, songwriter, musicians who really puts his heart and soul into his music like few do these days of cheating with canned music, tricks and screaming. Bearegard & The Downright are Down Right! Personally, I love his most personal touch to all his ukulele songs. Something very beautiful in his soul is revealed each time he plays it. Don’t get me wrong, when you hear his band, you will be moved…but to the dance floor! I’ve been known to dance the night away the first time I went to see them play a few years back. If he is in your neighborhood, go see him! Follow him on FB! It’s a funky Jamaican Mountain Country City boy sound unique just to Beauregard!

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As he makes his living doing what he loves, he always has hats and albums for sale a his events!

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Beauregard singing solo and so good!

If you are up this way for their next event, maybe I’ll see you there! Y’all come on up, ya’ hear!

HAPPY TRAILS…until we meet again!

I do love Atlanta because of its Southernness and history; my history there; varied trees,  plants and flowers; backroads; special places to visit; and Ava memories. I had a blast giving one of Ava’s dearest friends and mentor Phase 1 of Donna’s Atlanta Driving/Some-Walking Tour.

As always, I start in my home area of Sandy Springs which is in Northwest Atlanta which used to be a sleepy little area of farms (including ours) and quiet country living. Now, it’s all that and more. It’s THE place to live! Do those rich people know that a tenement farmer raised pigs on that property and that’s probably why their grass is so green? Or that the multi-million dollar house sits in our cow pasture of yesteryear? It’s definitely hard to recognize and my brain gets all tangled up in reality and my memories of horseback riding over to the Chattahoochee River and riding the old timber roads or milking the cow or playing in the creeks or happily padding along barefooted chasing after someone or something. Awww. The Good Ole Days!

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Me “driving” our tractor I called “The Green Dragon!” Looks like I got stuck!

Anyway, here’s some of which I included in the Phase 1 Driving/SomeWalking Tour for Ava’s friend and one of my Chirrens yesterday. Yeehaw!

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Swan House is in an area we call Buckhead because it was there was a General Store at its old crossroads with a Deer Buck Head over the door. The Swan House is a part of the Atlanta History Center. One Ticket at the History Center gives you access to Center’s fabulous Exhibits, the Swan House, and, in October, to the relocated Cyclorama which used to be at the Atlanta Zoo!

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Fox Theater’s outstanding acoustics have been recognized all over the world!

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When we used to go to the movies here, each side of this area was where the latest, finest lady’s fashions were exhibited. It was saved from demolition in 1976 by locals. YAY!

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I’ve been wondering where they moved the famous CocaCola sign to and there it was in all its glory right over the building at Five Points in the heart of Downtown Atlanta on top of the old Wormser Hats Building!

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Brand new Mercedes-Benz Atlanta Stadium! Quite impressive!

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On to my favorite restaurant – No Mas – in the Castleberry Arts district across the street from the old GE Supply Building where I used to work a hundred years ago!

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Whoever created this place, needs a gold star for doing it right! Plus, the food is amazing!

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Got a hankering for outdoor seating?

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So many interesting things going on inside with the old and new structure being married with Mexican artifacts and art!

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Ohm yeah! I want one of these for my front porch!

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Before you leave, go into their Artisans Market store just to the left of the restaurant patio for more stimulation of the purchasable kind! LOVE this place!

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Our State Capital Building is crowned with none other than Gold from our very own Dahlonega! I remember when they brought the gold to the Capital in wagon trails from there to refurbish it.

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And, last but not least, Ava’s love – Little Five Points. She loved living here and felt safer here than anywhere. Junkman’s Daughter was her favorite place to shop; The Vortex was her favorite restaurant; and the Brew House was where she’d go for libations.

I modify each tour according to the wishes of my passenger, their age, the heat/humidity index and my energy. Most of this was a driving tour but we’ll hit the streets next time she’s in town and do it right! This was just the tip of the iceberg tour!

HAPPY TRAILS…until we meet again!

Mom’s favorite place for me to take her for any occasion was our very own Lake Rabun Hotel & Restaurant (www.lakerabunhotel.com)  but especially for Sunday Brunch! So, whenever a newbie comes to the my mountain home (Southern Comfort Cabin) to visit, I  take them for their great Sunday Brunch.

I’m  truly blessed to have many wonderful Chirrens and Grand Chirrens, especially after  my daughter, Ava, passed (avascorner.org). My Chirrens keep in touch with me and visit when possible from all over the country and beyond. I had two of my Chirrens meet for the first time! It’s been so exciting! They really are twins! Mirjana (from Canada) has been with me learning Southern beginning in Jacksonville, Jekyll Island, Savannah, my mountain cabin with Little Five Points being her last stop, of course. Stacey, who I adopted upon meeting fifteen years ago, came up to meet Mirjana (her “sister-by-another-mother”). We’ve easily recognized we’re all of the same Gypsy, Bellydancing Singing blood! How could we not be when Ava brought us all together?

As my Chirrens come up for a visit, the tradition has become for me to take them to Lake Rabun Hotel’s Sunday Brunch. Today was the day! Yum!

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Path entrance Lake Rabun Hotel

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Front View Lake Rabun Hotel

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Lake Rabun Porch Dining

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Lake Rabun Hotel Witham Room

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Local “farm to table” foods

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Always good eats!

For more information, please visit http://www.lakerabunhotel.com or email Josh Addis, their General Manager, at joshaddis@lakerabunhotel.com to make your reservations to stay in one of their newly renovated suites, have dinner or to have one of their signature drinks!

It’s all good and a fabulous way to spend your time up here in the Northeast Georgia Mountains…and make new friends!

HAPPY TRAILS…until we meet again!

 

Mountain Southern is so different from Savannah Southern in many ways! For starters, there are less gnats, mosquitos, heat, sand and humidity and abundant with rivers, creeks, waterfalls, mountains and cool breezes.

Taking Mirjana to the Southern Comfort Cabin was Phase Two in her learning Southern adventures. I learned two new words used by locals: “Ooshie” (means cold, “It’s ooshie.”) and “Backanow” (means back a while, “I did it backanow.”)

And as before, I’ll let the pictures do the talking!

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Tallulah Falls Overlook

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Tallulah Falls Close up!

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Treasures within the Tallulah Falls Overlook

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Last Rhododendron Bloom of the year! Glad I got to see at least this one!

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Crustacean of the Lobster family! Crawdad talk!

 

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Mountain roads!

 

HAPPY TRAILS…until we meet again!

Savannah, Georgia…deeply steeped in history beginning with its founding in 1733 and the women who were responsible for much of it remaining mostly intact…is a breathtakingly gorgeous city worthy of a much longer stay than Mirjana and I had. But, we gave it our all even to the very minute we left.

We finished our whirlwind tour with none other than the infamous Shannon Scott walking tour of the Bonaventure Cemetery mostly made famous by a book/movie a couple of decades back, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” We who have made that trek to Savannah for decades know, or thought we knew, a great deal about this Cemetery and it’s residents but Shannon Scott’s ability to entertainingly weave this base knowledge with his obvious hunger to find the secrets behind the curtains in his guided tour (www.shannonscott.com) is certainly a treat worth doing. In the two hour tour, Shannon not only gave his audience the insider view of how the Bonaventure Plantation became a cemetery but how Savannah lives changed by the persons who now reside within its hallowed grounds.

I wish I could have made notes during Shannon’s tour for this writing, but I was totally captured by his vibrant storytelling; of interjecting the secrets of its inhabitants; and how strangers’ lives were forever changed by these now gone but forever alive people in history. Shannon’s sixteen years of Bonaventure touring experience and love for its history and art is most evident and entertaining. Take the tour; absorb its ambiance and his knowledge as it’s so worth the investment.

As pictures speak volumes, I’ll just tell of my adventure with photos.

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Bonaventure’s Custodial House at the entrance.

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Bonaventure gardens

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Elegant chiseled white marble art forms.

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Walz was the most famous of the artists who took wooden mallet & chisel in hand to create these standing beauties of art history.

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Different symbols on these iron slave grave markings indicated the person’s standing at the time of death…slave or freedman.

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Angels among us.

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Gracie is the story of a young girl who won the hearts of many just by being herself, playing daily in her parent’s hotel and surrounding area. Walz was new to Savannah and hoped to get his monument sculpting business started when a grieving father walked into his shop, handed him a picture of a young girl and turned and walked out without a word. The rest is history.

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Ode to Gracie. 

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Johnny Mercer was born a musical savant and into a wealthy, established Savannah family. His early talents were reflected in his ability to pick up and play any musical instrument. He wrote volumes of songs loved by all: “Moon River,” “One For My Baby.” “Blues In The Night,” and “Baby It’s Cold Outside.” It was in the Mercer House in Savannah where the story of murder and mayhem took place in the 1980’s touted story written in the 1997 book “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

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Italian artists and historic influences evident here!

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Flowing fabrics of marble reminded me of Michelangelo’s hand.

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All roads in Savannah eventually lead to the River! Nice ending!

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Wow! The ultimate in intricate, elaborate gateways.

Words of wisdom for your summer visit to Savannah’s Bonaventure tour are: dress code is cool & comfortable, bring water, tennis shoes over sandals because of sand and ants, hat for shade (or find shade) and listen to every word Shannon imparts. He definitely gives his all in this mystical, magical tour the likes of which I’ve rarely seen in a cemetery!

HAPPY TRAILS…until we meet again!

There’s so much to do and see in the Historic Districts of Savannah especially if you walk it all like we have done. Knowing parking can be challenging here, I told Ava’s friend/mentor, Mirjana, we weren’t cranking it again until we were leaving! She’s such a great sport and travel buddy that we both jumped in on our first day and walked the whole River District meandering in and out of all the wonderful shops.

As we spent yesterday getting caught up on our Savannah history and planning our walking tours with the best driver/docent ever (Hey, Rubin at TrolleyTours.com), we tackled our wildest walking tour dreams today! Although it was predicted to be 91 degrees, walking in the morning was quite pleasant. We headed off right away for a place a friend of hers recommended called The Collins Quarter for a highly recommended Lavender Mocha. I got mine served cold and hers hot.

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Just ordered our Lavender Mochas!

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Yum!

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Outside seating

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The Collins Quarter is a must!

On our list was walking the entire length of Bull Street to view all the beautiful parks which were craftily and cleverly created by Savannah’s founder, Oglethorpe in 1733 before he even left England! And so our adventure began! Enjoy!

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Statue of Savannah’s designer/founder, Oglethorpe.

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Many movies have been made here over the years and this restaurant was in one with Julia Roberts.

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Sorrel-Weed House known for its haunting experiences.

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Details of the Sorrel-Weed House.

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Cathedral of St. John the Baptist.

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Wonderfully inventive walls, wrought iron and private gardens are found only in walking tours.

Our day was topped off with lunch with a local artist friend of mine, John Mitchell, at Belford’s restaurant in Savannah’s exciting City Market! So many wonderful shops to visit! I visit with John every time I get back to Savannah as I admire him and his works so much that I own many. My collection is a range of his mid-1990 multimedia works consisting of ceramics, wood, collage and paintings. He’s now exploring more mixed three-dimensional art a few of which can be found in the A. T. Hun Gallery in the City Market. Support local artists!

But, back to the food at Belford’s!

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Inside Belford’s

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BEST Friend Green Tomatoes ever!

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Lunch special – Seafood Frittata. Yum!

I’ve not enjoyed Savannah this much not only because I have a kindred spirit enjoying it with me but I’m in a better place to embrace and absorb more of it. It’s been outstanding having Mirjana to explore its art, history and the wonderfulness of all the various heritages still present in this magical area they call Historic Districts of Savannah!

Tomorrow, we’ll have the pleasure of meeting a local historian who will guide us through the Bonaventure Cemetery before we leave for the cabin! Can’t wait to hear all the history he’s going to share with us!

Happy Trials…til we meet again!

Awwww. It feels so good to be back in my home state and first love, Georgia. You know you’re back in the real South when a man waits for more than a few seconds to hold the door open for an approaching woman. So, when one of Ava’s best friends decided to come my way for a visit, my focus was to “learn” her some “Southern” was of major import, I determined there is no better place to start than Jekyll Island where the millionaires of yesteryear played (Rockefeller and Goodyear to name two), huge Live Oaks lined lazy pathways and roads and a quiet, white sand beach to explore.

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Millionaire Row…playground of Rockefellers and Goodyears of yesteryear.

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Awwww. The Live Oaks lining the streets. Never can get enough of this.

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As I had been trained by my father at an early age the language of birds, I heard a mother bird chirping loudly above where I was seated at one of her chicks. It was as if my dad was whispering to me that she was trying to teach her baby to fly. I looked up and that’s exactly what she was trying to do. My hands weren’t quick enough to catch the whole scenario but I remember it because it mimics what we all have to do with our own chicks…encourage them to fly. The interesting part was that each time the baby bird flew away…even if only inches…the mother bird called it back to here and did what appeared to be giving it a kiss. She was probably giving it an “atta girl” treat of some juicy bug but this continued until she chirped no more and the chick was not to be seen. It felt so good to experience not only the Jekyll Island of my childhood in this way but to have my father guide me through this incredible journey of letting go.

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Hidden white sand beaches next to marshlands.

 

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Pathways lined with Live Oaks. You don’t get better than this!

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Marshlands by the white sand beach!

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Then, it was time to get back on the road again headed for her next lesson in Southern. On the drive to Savannah, I explained to her that she must drop “g” from every word ending in “ing” and gave her some critical colloquialisms like “I’m fixin’ to,” “cattywampus,” “cattycornered,” and, of course, “buttah.”

The only place to learn my kinda Southern is in my all-time favorite area in Georgia – Savannah’s Historic District. If you stay in this area and park your car and not take it out until ready to go home, you won’t be disappointed. It’s so easy being here. Its friendly, customer oriented, down home “glad ta see ya'” kinda easy framed in a comfortable, slower paced, stimulation unique to it. Being a history buff, the only place to stay here is in the area claimed by King George II through Oglethorpe in 1733.

First on the must-dos is to visit the history center and then take a trolley tour of the Historic District. It’s the only way to steep yourself in the local color and atmosphere I so dearly love. Then walk along the Savannah River, which adds it’s own flavor to the the River Historic District of restaurants and shops which have been here for decades providing great places to explore and juicy stories of yesteryear complete with murder, ghosts, famous people and great food with lots of buttah,

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23 K Gold Dome Savannah Courthouse

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The Cotton Exchange for the World!

 

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Being a major port city means Savannah was also a major Railroad Hub for importing and exporting goods. After all, it was the heart of the Cotton Exchange for the World!

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Oglethorpe had drawn out his plans for the 24 sections of this city before he ever left England. Each section had a park in the center surrounded by a church, business, homes, etc. Some of these homes survived the numerous fires of the 1700’s…but some didn’t. As they were rebuilt, bricks and rock and other materials were used. And, the more iron work you had on your property, the wealthier you were purported to be.

 

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The Pirate House luncheon buffet is the BOMB! If you haven’t had REAL Mac N’ Cheese in decades, you have to come here! They got it, baby! Yeah! And Fried Chicken, Collards, Buttah Milk Biscuits…YUM! And, they have some intereesting history!

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Part of the house was built in 1734 and the restaurant was established in 1753! If they don’t know how to cook with buttah, nobody does!

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Walking back from our big lunch at the Pirate House along the Savannah River, we happened upon this huge cargo ship headed out to sea! So cool!

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River adventure is never complete without the help of a Tug Boat!

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Getting past the bridge looks tricky but they make it look easy!

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Tomorrow? Bonaventure Cemetary, Ghost stories, Riverboat Tour and more!

Happy Trails…until we meet again!