I know I awoke with a smile on my lips. New York City and Cam; a perfect combination. After breakfast, we walked to the subway station just a few blocks from his apartment. My heart did jolt a bit when after getting down to the subway, he said, “We’ll have to run!” Let me tell you, my pace is nowhere close to his and when I stepped into it, I was puffing.
I’m a people watcher and I observed as we stood, moving in rhythm with each other as the car rocked on the tracks. It is interesting because as intimately close as sardines squished in a can, there is still an isolation from each other. No one makes eye contact. It’s like being in an elevator. Each person knows the connection is not permanent. This morning, someone got on and say ‘good morning,’ but no one responded. Some people read books or their phone, others close their eyes, or listen to music. On the second subway. I sat as a lady stood in front of me and I avoided looking at the section of her body facing me.
I parted from Cam in Midtown Manhattan, and I strolled by the Rockefeller Center taking in the Christmas tree. It seems much smaller than on television compared to the buildings around it. I watched skaters and snapped pictures.
In just a bit, Cam called to say he was running an errand, I crossed the street, finding a large bag of Hershey Kisses on the ground. I’m sure they fell off of a stroller or out of a bag. I picked them up and sat on a bench waiting for Cam to join me. As I sat there, a young man passed and then turned around and came back. “Can I ask you a question? I’m writing a book about advice from strangers.” He asked me what advice I’d give a young person? Just coming off the top of my head, I said, “Be a friend.” We talked briefly and he gave me his card incase I’d like a copy of his book someday. It was a sweet start of my day; Christmas, chocolate and conversation.
Cam joined me and we headed off toward Park Avenue. Stopping at Starbucks for a Peppermint Mocha, we walked along sharing our brief morning events. If you could picture me, I’d have a huge smile on my face.
As Cam went back to work, I walked along Park Avenue window shopping and occasionally going into stores. I smiled at ladies pushing strollers and passed men in suits. If I found a church or building open, I went in to explore.
I’ve found when traveling by myself, a smile and a few questions are a perfect start to learn new things. Christ Church United Method Church is lovely and I hope to attend Christmas Eve service there. Just a bit further, I found a building with large columns and I entered. Inside, organ pipes lined the front and a huge chandelier hung from the ceiling.
Coming across the room, I met James. Built in 1923, it had the original organ, chandelier, and wall sconces. Now used as an event center, he shared his pride of working there and poured me water that he filtered himself. He introduced me to Dora, from Dallas, and two energetic dogs. On Christmas Eve, there will be music and singing there. Maybe, we’ll drop back by and hear that organ.
Walking along, brown garland and wreaths caught my attention. They were on the Park Avenue Armory. I had no idea what it was, but when I entered there was a box office and several people standing in the hall waiting to work. I asked if I could look around and even though it wasn’t opening time, they let me walk the halls and look in some of the rooms. It was gorgeous. Now it’s used for performing arts. It was impressive.
Decorated for Christmas
Next, I walked to Central Park and walked along the park along 5th Avenue. The pigeons outside of the Plaza hotel were entertaining. There’s always so many people there milling around.
My next stop was taking in some Christmas windows. I stopped at Bergdorf Goodman. Wow! What a store! Inside the designer names jumped off the walls. Some I knew, others, I didn’t. I started on the seventh floor, which is housewares and Christmas. Passing the delicious smells wafting from the restaurant, I found the Christmas decorations. A white Polar bear stood catching my attention, but what really startled me was running into a familiar face that I’ve only seen in the movies.
There standing in the Christmas section was the “inconceivable” guy from The Princess Bride. I know I stared. He looked at me briefly and said, ‘hello’ and in a few long seconds, he walked away. I felt like giggling! I immediately texted Cam to share my news.
I had so much fun going through all those floors. I had a smile a mile wide as I explored. One sales lady asked if I’d like to smell perfume. The card on it said, “perfume is an art.” I thanked her and she asked if I’d like to buy one or two. As if! I almost giggled again.
On the floor with furs, I talked to a sales clerk and asked him if he got used to working in such an atmosphere. He said his first two months were mouth dropping, but now he was used to it and the famous people that sometimes came in. I told him I’d seen the “inconceivable” guy. He had no idea who I was talking about, but hey, he was young!
Hunger called and I had a spinach calzone for a late lunch, while I let my phone recharge and then I was back off to see Saks Fifth Avenue windows. I wasn’t far from Cam’s workplace, so we arranged to meet when he got off.
I didn’t get to see the windows up close because the front of the building comes alive with lights as dusk falls and the crowds are overwhelming. Saks is across from Rockefeller Center. As the light show began, a man from Maryland and I ooed and awed togehter the first time it came on.
I crossed the street and waited for Cam next to St. Patricks Cathederal. That’s a beautiful church. Waiting there, I met Jerry who lived in Brooklyn, but was orginally from Italy. We talked about food, the cold weather, and grandbabies. He had three. One ten year old boy and a set of one year old, girl twins. He, also, was meeting someone, but they were going to a Broadway play. We chatted. He had lived in Brooklyn forty-three years. His Italian accent was still strong and it made listening to him interesting. His someone arrived before Cam did.
Before leaving that area, we squished our way along to take our picture with the tree. As we waited to get a spot, I told Cam that people had been so nice today and a lady overheard me and laughed. It was true. Everyone I came into contact with had been so pleasant.
Cam and I ended our evening out walking to Bryant Park where there’s a skating rink and shops set up as a market place. We watched a while and then decided to go to Chick-fil-a for dinner.
Along the way, we came across Lord and Taylor on 5th Ave. Their windows were animated with enchanted animals. So very cute. The Salvation Army bell ringer was entertaing as well. He was dancing and ringing his bell.
Finally Chick-fil-a sandwiches and fries, and then, home on the subway. The subway in the evening isn’t as distant as the morning rush, but people still tend to their phones. On one stop, we had another train stopped next to us. I was watching people and I made eye contact with a lady about my age. It was one of those times where communication happens without talking. We both smiled and then the subway pulled out. It’s funny how small things touch us.
Back at the apartment, I looked at my step count. 23,685…not bad for my first day of exploring. I wanted to get this written tonight, so that I didn’t forget the tiny details of my first day exploring Chirstmas in New York. It was incredibly good and the people really did make my day memorable.
What stood out the most on my trip to Maine? To be honest that’s a very hard question to answer. There were so many times I stopped along the way and simply stood in awe at the view before me.
One of my favorite days started on the second day I was staying at the Oakland House Cottages by the Sea. They had cabins spread out and an old family hotel, but I stayed in the Acorn hostel. I shared a kitchen, bathroom, and sitting room with several other people because there were six bedrooms in the two-story home.The mattress was pretty worn, but the price and the view more than made up for the uncomfortable bed.
It’s a beautiful place, a bit past its prime, but still charming. Sitting on the water between Penobscot Bay and Deer Isle, it has a lovely view and the flower gardens were spectacular!
English Flower Garden
I started the morning watching a three-masted schooner pass by on an early morning walk. That in itself thrilled me!
I headed out to Stonington to catch the mail boat to the Isle au Haut. In Stonington, I parked at a church and inquired in a nearby office how to find the mail boat. She hurried me along because it was 10:15 and it was scheduled for 10:30. Down the hill I flew, not wanting to miss the boat! (Insert giggle)!
I found the ferry, however, they were only running one boat and it wouldn’t go out until 2:30. I didn’t have a decent breakfast, so waiting wasn’t a problem. I thought I’d find food and preferably blueberry pie. I asked the ferry cashier about the town and she said, “We don’t have many shops.” She did point me in the direction of a cafe.
Stonington is on a hill. A person is either walking up hill from the pier or walking down hill to it. So off I started walking back up the hill and I had the most pleasant surprise.
One of the piers
Homes on the hill
Stonington is beautiful with the abundance of its colorful cottages and flowers. They had plenty of shops to see and prowl through. I guess the ferry cashier had lived there long enough to be immune to all the quaintness of her town. There were cafes, a coffee shop, bookstores, and a few stores selling souvenir, art, and boat items. No, none were large stores, but all were interesting.
After stopping at a ‘junk’ store where I purchased an old cream pitcher from England for a dollar and visited with a man who was untangling more rope than I’ve ever seen, I stopped at a cafe.
Untangling Lobster trap ropes
Being a table of one while everyone else is sitting with other people can make a person feel conspicuous and when traveling alone that is a drawback. If a counter is available, I usually always sit at the counter. However, this cafe didn’t have one, so I sat at a table in front of the window with a nice view of the street.
I can’t even describe how wonderful Maine blueberry pie is to you, but once I discovered it, I always had it first. I loved it warmed up with vanilla ice cream. This cafe had it sitting in the ‘pie box’ near the counter and I ordered it instead of an entrée. My phone battery was dying, so I plugged it in near a booth near me and chatted with the man I had to disturb to get it in the plug. I watched out the window, listened to the conversations around me, and smiled at the three woman at a table close by while I waited for my pie.
It wasn’t long before that scrumptious blueberry pie arrived. It brought some ‘oohs’ from the ladies and we started visiting across tables. Two of the three were teachers and the three were vacationing together and had ferried across from Swan Island to sight-see. One of them noticed a picture hanging on the wall next to me. She took a picture of me and it. We visited while eating, which made my ‘oneness’ so much nicer.
The three hours on Stonington passed quickly while I explored taking pictures of the cottages, boats, and people. I stopped for coffee and the lobster men coming in with their shorts on and rubber boots made me smile. I visited the quaint stores and made idle conversation with the workers. Overall, I loved that fishing village! It was exactly what I thought Maine towns would look and feel like. A wee bit touristy, but mostly it felt like it was a working town.
Closet under a house
Boots in the coffee shop
Behind a store
Roses and Cottage
I walked back to the ferry to buy my ticket about 2:00. when I arrived the cashier apologized to me because although she could get me on the 2:30 boat to Isle au Haut, she couldn’t get me back until the last boat departed from there because the in-between mail boat would be full from passengers from Duck Island.
I couldn’t help but smile. It was perfect! I wouldn’t be rushed to hurry and explore that island and I could take my time. She even gave me a discount for inconveniencing me. I bought my ticket and waited to board the boat.
There were lots of packages that were loaded first and then the people. I was at the end of the line, so the outside seats were full and the inside ones too. I found a place to stand beside the packages inside, near the windshield, across from the ‘captain’ and his deck-hand. It was perfect for asking questions about the island, lobstering, and simply listening to the banter.
After buying snacks, water, and a soda from the general store, I walked the road and then the path that led to the lighthouse on Isle au Haut which is called Robinson Point in Acadia National Park which is part of that island.
Walking the road to the Light House
Stepping out to the Light House
The lighthouse is automated and the lightkeeper’s home is now an Inn, but it’s one of the joys of the island to see. I literally drew in a breath as I walked through the trees and the view opened up.
After checking out what I could see of the lighthouse, I wandered to the chairs that set around the lawn and enjoyed the view.
Lightkeeper’s Cottage & lighthouse
I had a diet coke and a snack from the island store, and so I sat soaking up the beauty before me. The view was breathtaking! I sat, watching the waves and the light glinting off the water. Occasionally, I’d hear couples talking. Someone was sitting in a chair reading a book, facing the ocean. I thought how wonderful the weather was to experience it on this day, but I wondered what it was like when a storm blew in or winter covered the ground? I bet it was still breathtaking in different ways.
Time to head back
View of the lobster traps
Back toward the landing, an enterprising group of kids set up a table at the end of their driveway selling sea glass, shells, and homemade postcards. I bought a few for a dollar and a half. The small boy beamed when I picked out his painted postcard. I visited the church and smiled at the postoffice. The population of the island is less than a hundred people normally, so a tiny post office is all that’s needed.
Built in 1857 Union Congregational Church
boardwalk to the church
From the pulpit
Yes, it is a functional post office!
While walking, I visited with a lobster man setting up his new lobster traps and a park ranger about the large whale bone that was on the porch of the ranger station.
New lobster traps
One whale rib
Back on the boat, I visited with a park ranger and her dog coming off of her shift and a grad student who was creating a website about the various people who lived on the island. I learned that the island school goes from K-8 grade and after that the students get to pick which high school they want to attend on the mainland.
What an idyllic life it seemed as the conversation flowed between the people as we ferried back on that small boat.
On the recommendation of the ranger and the captain, I stopped to eat at a Mexican restaurant called El Frijoles near where I was staying. To be honest, the first time I passed it, I thought I’d made a mistake. I wasn’t expecting to see a restaurant in back of a home. I say the ‘first time’ because the traffic was so backed up, I had to turn around three times before I could find a place to park.
The restaurant was in a barn-like building behind a residential house. They had lights strung in trees and picnic tables were sitting around the yard, so people could eat outside. The building was full of people. There was also a screened porch area with tables. I arrived about an hour before closing time.
I made my way to the counter and placed my order for nachos with shredded chicken and then went outside and sat in a lawn chair waiting for my name to be called. I watched kids and parents playing badminton and kids swinging on a swing set. It had a park-like feel as people ate at picnic tables and kids played around the lawn.
As the traffic lightened, I made my way back inside and found a table near the door. I listened as the workers called orders and chatted with one another and the people eating. I was sitting alone when my name was called. He said, “Becky from Texas, who has all the time in the world.” That was funny because when he took my order and told me it might be awhile since they were packed, I had told him ‘No hurry, I’m on vacation from Texas and I have all the time in the world.’
I picked it up and smiled at him. Soon, I was joined by a man who asked me. “Where in Texas?” I usually replied, ‘East Texas’ since practically no one knows where Longview is, or I’d say ‘Two hours east of Dallas and one hour west of Shreveport, Louisiana.’
What surprised me was this whispered question, “What is the derogatory name for people from Louisiana?” Now, I was stumped. I told him the only one I knew and he said, “Nope, there’s another.” I couldn’t think of one worse, so I smiled and shrugged my shoulders and he sat and joined me.
I had the pleasure of eating dinner with Bill, the Merchant Marine, who had never been married and had returned to Brooksville to take care of his mom. He kept the conversation lively and fun. I had no idea what a Merchant Marine was before visiting with him. Before I knew it the owner who had called my name, came over and gave me a box for my left overs. He said, “I’m not saying you have to go home, but you have to go from here.” which totally cracked me up. I packed my leftovers, we said goodbye and headed to our cars.
Back at my hostel, I chatted with the people in the sitting room; two woman from Cape Cod and the couple from New York City, before heading to my bed. From beginning to end, my day felt like an adventure. I crawled on top of that uncomfortable mattress, preparing myself for sleep, feeling so very wonderful about my day!
I’ve started planning my road trip for the summer! Excitement is in the anticipation of where I’m going and what I’ll do along the way. Planning this trip is requiring more work than I’ve done on my previous trips.
This year, I’m driving up the coastline of Maine as far as ‘Downeast’ as I can go in the USA. ‘Downeast’ is what the people in Maine call the eastward coast because ships would have to sail downwind in an easterly direction. Pretty cool trivia! I’ve been pouring over travel books and looking at websites trying not to miss something I should do or go see.
For the first time I’m using a website and app to help me plan my route. In my past trips, I just relied on Google maps, road signs or Trip Advisor to point me to places to go. Sometimes getting lost is the best way to find things to see.
I do Google to find state websites that have information about visiting different areas that I’ll be driving through. One of my favorite sites to visit is Roadside America because it has offbeat tourist attractions. This site has so many oddities to visit that it really should be checked out! Think old Route 66 sites.
Things to see in Maine
This year I’m using Roadtrippers to help plan my route. In the past, I’ve used Googlemaps, but I like this site to plan my route. It allows me to put sixty places I want to see along the way and puts them in a guide.
I can choose attractions, points of interest, restaurants, shopping, entertainment and a whole list of other categories. It allows me to find scenic routes and I can change the route simply by dragging the blue line where I want it to go. It’ll tell me hours of driving, give me a gas estimate based on my vehicle, and the number of miles of my trip. Pretty awesome! It’s free and if you’re interested, please check out the website and they have a mobile app too! It is Roadtrippers and of course they have a Facebook page. I’ve made several route options and I’m still trying to decide which route to take, but I almost have it ironed out.
The next step of planning is to decide how many miles I want to drive in one day. About seven hours is the maximum I want to spend driving. After that my ‘bum’ is tired of sitting. I often stop more than I expect and my time schedule gets off.
I have expectations on where I plan on stopping for the night, but on the way, so far I haven’t made any reservations for sleeping. I’m not above asking people if they have relatives or friends along the way to spend the night at their house. If you have anyone along my routes let me know.
Once I get to Maine, I do have reservations. I’ve been using airbnbfor accommodations instead of hotels. One, they are much more reasonably priced. Two, it’s with local families, so they can tell you much better about the area. Three, it’s nice to have someone to visit with. Four, they are usually cleaner than hotels.
It’s simple to find rooms, suites, or even entire houses. Just create an account, put in where and when to be there and hit search and the rooms or houses in the area will pop up. Click on a price and the description will pop out and if interested click and the host information will be shown.
Now you may think it would be scary to stay with strangers, but I haven’t had any negative experience. Before booking a room look at the pictures, there are reviews of the host, so it’s easy to see if compatibility is an issue.
They don’t instantly book because there’s a place to put why you’re wanting to visit that area. After staying at an Airbnb room, the host also reviews the guest, so the potential hosts can see if the guest’s previous review and can accept them or not. Here are two of my reviews from previous hosts.
Payment is made on the website when booking, so there isn’t any money exchanged with the host family. You’re simply welcomed into the house. Some houses have keys while others have a box that a code is entered to get inside. Both work fine.
I actually planned my stopping points around the cheapest (nice) places that I found on Airbnb. I’m trying to keep my budget in mind, so I didn’t go for the tourist towns where rooming is more expensive.
Kennebunkport is the first place that I’ll explore in Maine and then Old Orchard Beach. I’m staying my first night in Hollis, Maine. It is a small rural home called Runaway Acres.
First day in Maine
My splurge was to stay on a Chebeague Island (Close to Portland, ME) where nothing is happening. Nothing, but downtime and relaxation.
2nd day drive
My final destination for 3 days
Three days of bliss! I’m ferrying over, so I’ll be on foot or bicycle if I can remember how to balance. It is an actual B&B, so there will be other guests.
My home for three days
My next stop driving the coast is in Belfast and I’m only spending one night here. It’s about a twenty-five minute drive from Camden. I’m sure I didn’t give myself enough time to explore the area, but I won’t waste a minute.
Next leg of Maine
My home for one day, minus the snow
Days six through eight is in Brooksville. I picked this spot because the room was so reasonable. It’s in a beautiful area and within driving range of Bar Harbor and Arcadia National Park.
The next journey across the coast of Maine is as far east as I can go without heading into Canada. Originally, I was going to stop at Bar Harbor, but most likely, I won’t do this trip again. So I thought add two days! I’ll end at Eastport, Maine. This is where I hope to do my whale watching trip. This is the only home where a picture is not featured, so I’m going to have to be surprised. They do however have four dogs, so I’ll get my petting fix in. I’ll be exploring two days here.
Then it’s time to turn around and drive back. I’m planning on doing it in one day, so not too much stopping along the way…if I can control myself. Thankfully, it is a small state.
I’ll spend two days in Portland, Maine. I’ll spend one day exploring the city and then I’m thinking about taking a day trip into Boston on the train. The train rates are reasonable, about an two hour ride, and I’m sure that I’m never going to drive to Boston.
my last room in Maine
From here, I’ll drive to visit Cam in Brooklyn for about four days before heading home. I’m looking forward to hugging my son!
Things still left to consider; I’m still looking for someone to watch my pets while I’m gone. I’ll be praying for safety on my trip and if you’ll say prayers for me, I’d appreciate it.
I’m super excited and can’t wait to write about my days!
Saturday, I went to an Elvis tribute. You know . . . one of those shows that carry you down nostalgia roads. . . where memories flashback to where you were when you heard a song. “We’re caught in a trap . . . I can’t walk out . . because I love you too much baby.” Haven’t heard that song in years, but I can instantly recall every word of it as it’s being played and faint memories of myself growing up hearing it, including the hairbrush as a microphone singing in a mirror. Fess up! We all did that!
We went from the 50’s to the 70’s in a few hours. There’s no way all the Elvis songs could be covered, but the signature, “Love Me Tender” was there! The three Elvis tribute artists were talented and did a wonderful job of making us feel that Elvis did indeed . . . live again
I didn’t buy a ticket for the show, I volunteered my time as an usher in order to see it. It was my first time to try that. I met at 6:00. When I walked into the lobby, I was happy to see a familiar face from church choir. I met some sweet people, three from church, two from Hallsville, and some students from LeTourneau. In all, there were about fifteen of us.
With my ‘official vest & tag’ I was partnered with two ‘veteran’ lady ushers, who were to show me what I needed to learn. I’m thinking they were in their late 70’s or early 80’s. I got one of them to take my picture!
At the ‘lower balcony’ I was given a quick lesson on seating and how to read the ticket. It was an easy task. I had fun greeting, taking their tickets, and pointing the way to the restrooms. The audience I met were in the age range that might have actually seen the ‘real’ Elvis.
After the show started, we found some seats and enjoyed the show. It was as entertaining to watch some of the audience members watching the show as it was to watch the performance itself. I noticed one older lady sitting with her husband, singing along with every song, clapping, and being animated. I think it was probably a good thing that the few seats beside them were empty. I smiled watching her joy of the performers.
As audience members, we went expecting to be entertained. The tickets were a bit pricey in my opinion, but since ‘The King’ of Rock N Roll is dead, impersonators are as close as we’ll get to a live concert of Elvis. They’re professional impersonators for entertainment, but how often do we feel the need to be impersonators in real life?
I myself, feel like I’m an impersonator sometimes. I smile when I am feeling blue. In my mind, I tell myself to fake it until it feels real and it does work most of the time.
There are all kinds of issues in our lives. Who we share them with depends on our types of personality and how much we trust the other people. I’ve noticed, some people are very open in sharing all the intimate going ons in their life. While others are more careful about what they share.
In real life, I’m a bit more closed up when talking to people. I tend to share with people who I know won’t gossip about my life. (Not that I have interesting things to be talked about)! I share feelings and situations with people that generally care about me. I’ll show my weaknesses to these people. Friends that will hold me in a hug and lift me up in prayer. I don’t feel judged as a person lacking, but as a person with all the foibles that comes with humanity.
My care group is my safe haven. My shelter when I’m feeling blown off course. My support group that is there to listen and love me. They let me into their lives too. These Christian couples who have taken me in. The funny thing about this care group is that I don’t even attend their church.
It is indeed a group that shows Godly love to one another. I’m not deeming them perfect because they aren’t. They are people who struggle with living in this world too. However, they are an entity of people who come together to shine God’s light on others in our group, and outward to their children and people in their life. I love that we can listen to one another, share some tears and laughter, and pray for each other. I look forward to the Sunday nights of fellowship.
Tonight, I didn’t feel like an impersonator of Becky, but my real self. I was able to share my doubts and my fears and the insecurities that go along with change and for that I am thankful.
So to the people in my care group; Thank you….Thank you very much! I’m trying to add the sexy lip curl, but it just comes off as a lop-sided smile.
It’s so nice to have a group for support, but if you don’t remember God is with you no matter what issues you are facing. The real King is alive! You simply have to reach out and embrace His love and His acceptance. Ask Him for help and in His timing, it’ll come. I believe God sends people in our lives to be His ambassadors and show love. Reading His word and prayer will bring Him more personally into each of our lives.
The last leg of my road trip was Northern Georgia where the mountains show their beauty in varying shades of blue silhouettes against the sky. The tops and hills covered by beautiful green trees.
I left Savannah later than I should and the drive to Amicalola Falls State Park took much longer than I had anticipated. It should have only been a six hour drive and I should have arrived by 10:00 P.M., but I’m notorious for being distracted while driving and I did make a few stops.
It was about 11:45 P.M. when I arrived at the state park. I had already decided that I wasn’t going to put up the tent that night, but as I pulled through the entrance and saw the sign that warned against ‘approaching bears’ my decision was solidified. Now (Am-i-ca-lo-la) is on the southern end of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Chattahoochee National Forest, so upward I drove. After I passed the entrance, I started to climb. I wasn’t looking forward to driving down the steep road. I have learned how to use my 3rd gear driving on mountain roads.
Curving up the mountain road, I saw a sign that announced the lodge. I pulled in and parked at the door. Midnight arrival, I was the only person in the lobby and smiled at the receptionist. I took a chance and ask if she had an empty room and the cost. Although it was a beautiful lodge, I just couldn’t make myself pay $112 for a room. I checked in for the state park and asked for directions. Back in the car, I took the turn for the campsite.
More climbing…I passed the sign for ‘cottages’ and campsites.’ It was a small oval with RV’s and tents occupying about half of them. I made the first round looking at my choices and hoped I wasn’t making too much noise. At the second pass, I picked campsite #20 and pulled my car in, turned off the engine, reached back for my pillow and sleeping bag, and leaned my seat back as far as it would go. I was snoozing in minutes.
I woke early and set up my campsite. I visited with the campers across from me who were packing up. After putting up and taking down the tent, I was getting pretty efficient at doing it.
My last night of campsite
All snuggled in
Later, I went to explore the treasure of this state park; The 720 feet Falls! My two options were to park at the bottom and hike up or park at the top and hike down. Either way was going to be a little strenuous. I started at the top and the first thing I saw was a group of youth coming off the trail….sweating!
After viewing the falls from the top, I headed downward. There were stairs leading down and at first I thought, “This will be easy going” despite what the sign at the top proclaimed. I was so wrong! The stairs were challenging the more you descended, not because they changed in degrees, just because there were 425 steps descending.
Spectacular! The view was worth every step! There’s a bridge that passes over the 729 feet tall cascading falls. Standing in front of them is simply beautiful….and loud! The water rushing down and hitting the stones simply reverberated around me. I stood admiring the beauty because there wasn’t any need in rushing. This is the reason for the long drive and the breathlessness of the hike down. It was perfect for posing in front of for pictures and there were plenty of people taking advantage of God’s creation for a background.
This is the largest part of the cascades, but definitely not the end of the Falls. There’s about 175 more steps down and then a trail that continues downward to the reflecting pond where people fish. Luckily there are large rocks and a few benches for resting along the way.
I hiked past the pond to the Visitor Center, gift shop, and restroom. Sadly, I never saw a bear! . . . Or was that lucky? I have no idea what I would have done if I had actually come across one.
I visited with one of the rangers in the Visitor Center and she showed me the beginning of the Appalachian Trail. Wow! I can’t imagine hiking 2,184 miles from Georgia to Maine.
That day, I did pass four separate hikers headed for the trail with their backpacks strapped on and two of them had those walking poles. All were in their early 20’s. One of the girl hikers asked me to call her cell phone because she couldn’t remember if she packed it in her backpack. It was there hidden underneath something. She looked so relieved.
I journeyed back and the stairs were way more challenging going up than down. I was passed by two fourteen year old girls moving like bullets. Oh youth, young bodies, and boundless energy! I kept pausing on the landings like I was enjoying the view, but in reality, I just needed to catch my breath.
I drove to the lodge and had lunch at their restaurant. I saw a woman sitting by herself at a table by the floor to ceiling window view. I asked to join her. She was a widow visiting her daughter-in-law that worked at the visitor center. We visited while eating delicious burgers with fries. She shared a hilarious story about her son having a ‘bear connection’ while getting his tackle box ready for fishing. She kept me laughing and it was nice to have company eating.
After lunch, I spent some time at my camp, but went back to the lodge to sit on the back porch. It was a beautiful long one with rocking chairs and the most gorgeous view! I sat and rocked, listening to conversations around me, while enjoying the Internet connection and the view of Springer Mountain. It was cloudy as twilight crept over the mountain and turned the sky and mountains an indigo blue. Wow! I don’t think I could ever get bored with that sight.
I shared my disappointment of not seeing any bears with John behind the registration desk at the lodge. He said, “Now Ms. Becky, I can guarantee you’ll see a bear if you get a couple of T-bones from the restaurant and carry them down on the trail. You’ll have a few visiting you in no time and have a story to tell.” We both got a laugh at that.
The next morning it was raining, and I took down my campsite for the last time on this road trip. I had slept so great. There was a wonderful cool breeze that blew into the tent actually making me go into the sleeping bag for the first time on my trip.
The campers next door, needed me to jump off their car battery because someone left the interior lights on. For thanks, they made me a cup of coffee. It was instant, but it hit the spot! I suggested that they take advantage of the view and chairs at the lodge if it continued to rain.
Their youngest daughter (about 11) tickled me the day before because she was pacing back and forth in front of the restroom when I came out of it. I stopped to talk to her and she told me she was working up her nerve to use the restroom because of the spiders in it. I could relate because I hate those eight legged creatures too! The night before, I found a grandaddy long legs on the front of my shirt! I couldn’t flick it off fast enough.
Loaded up, I set off for my next stop at Tallulah Gorge State Park. It was my last scheduled stop for this road trip. My road trip was coming to a close and I hated to see it end.
Savannah …. the name simply whispers southern charm. It was the main reason I wanted to visit Georgia. It brings to mind Scarlett O’Hara and Forest Gump with all the history in between the ages. Savannah and the area around it is picturesque with the Spanish moss hanging from large Oaks, flowering Crepe Myrtles, and Palm trees.
I didn’t realize how many historical events took place here during the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. Many famous people involved with shaping our heritage lived here such as Juliette Gordon Low (founder of Girl Scouts) and John and Charles Wesley (founder of the Methodist Church). It’s the oldest city in Georgia and with the age comes history. Graceful old homes and churches rise like songs from the ground. Here they are grouped closely together singing majestically like a choir .
Jingle Bells was written by a pastor of a church in Savannah. I learned that by walking through one of their many park squares and reading a historical marker.
It is said that General Sherman didn’t burn Savannah to the ground when he ‘captured’ it during the Civil War because it was too beautiful to destroy, instead he gave it as a gift to President Lincoln. Now, you would think that the Civil War was ancient history, but when talking to an 86-year-old gentlemen in one of the parks. Sherman was brought up.
Mr. Yllis, “So what are you doing in Savannah?”
Me, “Enjoying the town. Just Passing through.”
Mr. Yllis, “Yeah, you and Sherman.”
I decided to go to Savannah, the first time, on a Sunday because I figured there would be less traffic on a weekend. I set out for the historic district. It was an easy drive and traffic wasn’t a problem at all. I parked in a public parking place and set out on foot. I was wearing my wedge heels that I wore to church. At the time, I thought they were comfortable enough to walk in, but let me tell you….by the time I finished walking, they were murdering my feet. I put 26,313 steps on my pedometer that day.
After parking, I just followed the crowd of people meandering through the streets. I met a couple of ladies with a map and they gave it to me, since they were about to leave. Maps are wonderful things!
They also shared that the City Market is a place where a lot of action happens. I checked on the price of the tours and decided $28 seemed a bit steep for an on and off tour trolley. I bought one of their tour books and decided to simply walk the tour.
In one of those quaint parks, I heard a man singing; His voice welcoming and warm. His name was James and he made flowers out of twisted palm stalks. Now, he ‘gave’ me one because he said it matched my shirt. Of course, he did want a donation, so I gave him a couple of dollars. He said, “Girl, you’re a teacher aren’t you?” I wondered if he could tell by my clothes because teachers do have a tendency to dress alike. He asked about what I was doing and where I was from. Then he said, “Girl, you’ll be back in two years. You can believe ole James because I know these things.” I couldn’t help but smile.
Savannah is laid out beautifully. Every few blocks there is one of those square parks with residential and businesses laid out around the square. There are 22 squares in Savannah. They are perfect for strolling through and stopping to talk and bring people together. The traffic moves one way around them and stops for the pedestrians to walk across without any crossing signs telling them to do so. In fact, the only time I was endanger of being run over was by two cars with Texas license plates.
I walked toward Bay Street and toward the river where the historic area begins. At the stairs are signs that reads, “Historic stairs. Use at your own risk.” They do look like caution is needed in order not to fall down them.
I walked, stopping to read every historical marker that I passed. There are markers in front of buildings, parks, fountains, and houses. Yes, I stopped often! I browsed stores and went to Leopold’s Ice Cream to have one of my favorite pit stops on vacation….ICE CREAM! There are also cobblestone streets going down and I took one of those. The river front is full of activity with lots of restaurants, bars, stores, people milling around, and wonderful smelling candy stores making pralines. They were delicious!
You should smell these!
I didn’t make every historic street that day, but I left happy, tired, and ready to see more when I came back later in the week.
On Thursday, I had a room booked at a Historic Inn called 17Hundred90. It’s a combination Inn and Restaurant in the historic district on President Street.
Between packing up my campsite from Skidaway Island and finding my hotel, I stopped by the boat ramp under the Diamond Causeway Bridge crossing onto Skidaway Island. I had found the area one evening on the way ‘to my campsite home.’ This time it was full of people and activity!
I parked, took my chair out of the trunk, and saw two older ladies sitting near a tree close to shade. I stopped by them and asked if I could join them. Their names were Faye and Wanda and they were adorable. Two friends for twenty plus years and they worked together too, driving school buses. When they asked what I did and I said, “teacher” they both laughed and said, “We attract teachers!”
They offered me a cup of ice and some watermelon that they were pulling out of a Ziploc gallon bag with their fingers. I took the cup of ice, but declined the watermelon. One of them had her grandchild, Will, with her. He was about 13 and was swimming in the river.
We sat, talked, and watched the group of school kids ‘crabbing’ for blue crabs with chicken pieces for bait. One of them remarked, “They’ll never find a crab in that shallow of water.” However in the end, they did catch one. We talked about boats & bridges, schools in Texas, & Georgia, crabs, and the river. I spent about an hour there laughing and enjoying the sunshine with those two sweet ladies.
I drove the short drive to Savannah and parked outside my Inn. I was tickled to get to stay in a ‘guest house’ about a block and a half from the original inn. My room was on the bottom floor, room 312, and it was like having a small flat to myself. I had my own key to the house and one to the back red door that led to my own private patio. (My very own parking space too!)
I entered a hall in which there was a small parlor filled with antiques (with price tags) and my room. It was very pretty. Upstairs was another parlor filled with a more modern sofa, two Queen Anne chairs, a TV, and books about Savannah. This room had two long windows facing the front street. It was neat watching the tour trolleys go past the windows and around the block. A thunderstorm came while I was upstairs and I saw a man dressed in G. Washington type clothing make a run from the Presidential Inn across the street to his car. It made me laugh seeing the difference in the clothing and the car.
I took a long shower (bliss) and dressed for dinner. I had a free drink coupon for the bar in the restaurant. I decided to take a short nap on the inviting bed. I didn’t wake up until 11:39 P.M. I was so mad at myself! I changed into my pj’s, pulled back the covers, and went to bed. I woke up about 5:30 A.M. and dressed and left the hotel to investigate the parts of the historic district that I hadn’t had time to explore.
I set off down the street towards Forsyth Park (I did eventually get there), but hadn’t gone very far when I passed this small restaurant called Clary’s that I had read about on Trip Advisor. It opened at 7:00 A.M. I thought it would be a great place to eat breakfast, so I wanted to stay in the general area until it opened.
At this time of morning, there were runners and people walking their dogs. I stopped to pet one or two and then wandered into the next square and sat on the bench. As I was sitting there, an older man approached and said, Spreek je Duits?”and I said, “Excuse me?” and he repeated it. I thought it meant, “Do you speak Dutch?”, but it was actually Dutch saying, “Do you speak German?” I said, “No.” and he laughed and said, “Neither do I.” which totally made me laugh.
That’s how I met Mr. Yllis (sounds like Ellis). He was 86 and walking a brown and white Spaniel dog. I reached out to pet him and could tell he was old and he was. (17 years old and had some cysts hanging on his side). Yep, that’s when the conversation about Sherman (see the beginning) started. He sat with me and we talked for a while after learning I was from Texas.
He moved on, but that wasn’t the last I was to see of Mr. Yllis. By this time, Clary’s had opened and I went in to see what I could order under $10 because that’s all the cash I had with me. I walked in and took a seat at the counter between two men. Sitting at the counter is always better to visit with people. One was chowing down on a ham slice and eggs and the other had pancakes.
I ordered coffee and a caramel nut sticky bun. The waitress went to the fridge by the front window and said, “You’re lucky. It’s the last one.” She then unwrapped it, put it on a plate, microwaved it, pulled it out, and squirted caramel over the top and heated it a little more. I took my first bite, sighed inwardly, and listened to the conversation between the waitress and the ham eater. He was obviously a local that she knew well. They talked about her son practicing for band and visiting grandparents for the summer. I found a way to jump in the conversation. (Love doing that)!
Before too long, I learned that he lived practically across the street and was an electrical engineer. He loved his job and said they pay him to play with circuits and spend time doing what he enjoys the most. (That made me smile.)
In a bit, I noticed Mr. Yllis come in (without dog) and sit at a table behind me. We acknowledged each other and the waitress said, “I would have put out a table for you if you didn’t want to take your dog home.” Obviously, he was a regular too. He responded with a smile and a hand wave-like it was fine.
After the electrical engineer left, I got up to leave. Mr. Yllis said, “I’ll buy you a cup of coffee if you want to sit with me.” I said, “I already had coffee, but I’ll have another cup with you.” The waitress came and filled up my cup and I sit down with him. I asked him his name again and he said, “Oh you’ll never forget it if I tell you that it’s ‘silly’ spelt backwards” Absolutely! That’s how I remembered it!
He chatted about places I needed to see while in Savannah. The bar that faced the river with half priced drinks and the Telfair Museum, where he volunteered. (I would have liked to have seen the museum). I listened, not telling him that I was leaving after lunch. He obviously loved his city and knew its history.
He talked about the houses that were being renovated and ask me if I had seen the large house with the scaffolding around it. I had. He said that was costing a fortune to redo, but he’d love to see it when it was finished. He mentioned his ‘female companion’ and said she was an architect.
We talked about the story of the man who killed his male lover and the Mercer House, which I hadn’t seen yet. A movie had been made about it called Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil. We visited a bit more and I shook his hand and told him it was a pleasure having breakfast with him.
I went to pay and the waitress rang up my ticket. I took my money out to pay and she stopped me and said, “Breakfast is on me today.” and tossed my ticket in the trash. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so touched as to have someone do that for me. She smiled. I thanked her and asked for a picture. She posed by the sign that said, ‘Clary’s.’ My spirit was so lifted by the conversation with Mr. Yllis and the kind gesture of that waitress.
I knew that I wanted to take advantage of that jacuzzi tub before I left my room at the inn, so I got a move on in my sightseeing. I walked across the street and sat on a bench and looked at the map in the book that I borrowed from the hotel. I wasn’t sitting there long, when a younger man walked by and said, “Wow, you really get around.” He had been sitting at the table next to us. He told me he sometimes worked in Savannah and tried to see one new thing every time he visited. He asked if I could tell him about the Mercer House that we had been talking about in the restaurant. He had actually seen the movie, unlike me. We looked it up on the map and figured out where the street was based on where we were. Actually, it was pretty close, so he thanked me and set off toward that direction.
I found Chippewa Square where Forest Gump sat on his bench telling his story. A very friendly homeless man took my picture of me seating there. The bench has been moved to the Savannah museum. (‘Thanks to us tourists’, so says the homeless man.)
Yes, I contributed to his lunch in the form of a couple of dollars. He made a family that was visiting a little uncomfortable, but he seemed pretty harmless.
A smile and eye contact goes a long way in making a person feel friendly. Even if I’m passing someone on the street and I feel a twinge of uncomfortableness, I smile and make eye contact. Usually, they smile back. It’s a connection. People need to feel connected. Maybe that’s why I don’t feel afraid traveling by myself. I’m not being naive…I know some situations need to be avoided, but by the most part….it’s simply treating each other with kindness and walking with confidence.
I toured until 10:00 and then headed back because I had to check out by 11:00. I planned on eating at Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room and I knew they only served until 2:00 and there would be a line. After checking out and re-parking my car, I headed toward the restaurant. I had been looking forward to eating Southern food. It was about a twelve-minute walk and I enjoyed all the elegant homes along the way. I joined the line and visited with a few people.
I walked to the front of the line to get a drink of water (provided by the restaurant) when I noticed a sign on the door that said, “Checks or cash only.” What? I had cash, but it meant a walk back to the car, so I hiked back (went too far and had to circle back) and then walked back to the restaurant. By this time, it was about 12:30. I joined the line again and met more people whom I thoroughly enjoyed visiting with.
We waited in line for about an hour and then people were getting worried if we’d get in the restaurant before 2:00 when it closed and wondered if there was a cut off for the line. There were still plenty of people waiting to eat. I decided to go to the restroom and ask about the line.
A man stood at the register inside. I asked if I could use the restroom. Without batting an eye, he said, “It’ll cost you one dollar.” My reaction was like …WHAT! He laughed and said, “Just kidding!” and pointed the way. On the way out, I stopped to ask if there was a cut off in line for service. He said, “Are you in front of the lady in red or behind her?” I had no idea because I didn’t notice a lady in red. He must have seen my puzzled look because he said, “Just teasing! We’re going to feed everyone.” That made me feel so much better. I laughed and went and told the others that there wasn’t a cut off and we were all going to get to eat! Just like me, they were relieved. We had been standing out there a long time. Yes, by this time we knew where everyone around us was from and their names.
At Mrs. Wilkes, they sit at a table of ten and serve family style and it smelled delicious! We got in there about 1:45. The table was loaded with bowls of food. We passed left to right and right to left and finally just said, “If you want something you didn’t get, just ask for it.” We left stuffed. Now, I was grateful that I had to walk twelve minutes to the car. I passed Leopold’s and couldn’t even get excited about ice cream because I was so full!
So, it was about 3:30 when I left Savannah behind. It was beautiful and I utterly enjoyed visiting and exploring. Maybe I will visit again in a couple of years. James, the flower maker, might be right.