I woke at 7am to the pinkish glow of the sunrise on the wall. I sat up on my elbow and watched seagulls and pelicans flying past the balcony. I realized that I was hearing almost the same sound I hear at home when we have the window open, only at home, it’s traffic on Crosstown, not the ocean. Sigh.
We drove into Savannah and parked near the City Market. We found a little breakfast place called the Express Cafe, which had a million tasty-looking pastries and espresso. I got oatmeal with apples and cinnamon, and the world’s largest iced americano. From there, we walked down to the riverfront along the Factors’ Walk. It’s a level down from the rest of the downtown, with cobblestone streets built with the ballast from ships coming from England. The shops there are all pretty cheesy/touristy, and we stopped into one for postcards. One of the women who worked there came running at me from across the store, raving about my hair. And, yes, I had to admit, my hair was perfect. We had named it ‘ocean hair’, because of the effect of the humidity. It was really curly, but not at all frizzy. I hardly had to do anything to it in the morning, just poke it around a little and spray it. It was magical. I wanted ocean hair to come home with me, but that was not to be.
We walked down to see the waving girl statue [OK, I found this link about the Waving Girl, and I order you all to complete the Suggested Activities, and get back to me with your very own monument design], then went back up to the main part of town. We wandered amongst the huge trees draped with spanish moss, through squares with statues, and past beautiful old homes. Around 11am, just as we were arguing about whether the south understood decent coffee or not (Heather’s standpoint being that there’s nothing in between Minneapolis and New Orleans; I hold out that there are little enclaves of espresso-consciousness), we happened across a cute little coffeeshop right on the corner near SCAD*.
*Heather also has a deep and burning fascination with SCAD, since she works for MCAD, and there’s some kind of art college rivalry, or something. Don’t ask me.
Anyway, the cafe doubled as a little shop, and at least 99% of what they were selling was cute. Our experience there might have been ideal, had it not been for the women. OK, back up a bit. At our hotel, there were all these people who were in town for a wedding. Seemingly everyone there but us. Which was fine. But, then, at this coffeeshop, all of the women there were in town for a wedding as well. We were starting to get the sense that, in fact, everyone was in town for this wedding, to which we were not invited. And I’m perhaps just a little miffed by that. Yes, I said miffed.
So, I kind of hated these women. They were so very Ivy-League-Sex-And-The-City-South-Beach-Diet-Ann-Taylor. They talked about their sorority reunions and their babies and their socially clueless lawyer husbands. But the way I see it, it was good to spend some time in close proximity with those girls. It was a reminder of exactly what I hope to never be. Hopefully it’s not contagious.
We left the shop and did some more walking. We wandered into a little gay gift shop (Yes! There are gay people in Georgia! Outside Atlanta, even!) with a supercute puppy by the door. Heather stayed outside and got chewed on, and I went in and wandered around. I ended up talking to one of the owners, who used to work for Norwest Bank, so he spent much of his time in Minneapolis. He missed the winter mornings where he’d walk outside and the air was so cold it cleared his sinuses instantly. I told him he was crazy.
We eventually ended up back near the City Market, and decided to try our luck with lunch there. The City Market is this little pedestrian mall about three blocks long with shops and cafes. When we first went to Savannah, I was excited about going to the market, because I thought it would be all cart vendors and local crafts and food and such. I was wrong, but that market does actually exist in Charleston, so I got my wish later. Anyway, we went to shops and looked at menus and didn’t find much promising, but by then it was about a hundred thousand degrees (in the shade), and humid, so we finally settled on the City Market Cafe.
After lunch, we went back to the car, which had been sitting in the sun all morning and had warmed up to the internal temperature of a combustion engine. Heather got in, because she is a trooper, or possibly a masochist, while I stood outside and danced the there’s-no-way-i’m-getting-in-there dance, until a car pulled up wanting my parking spot and I felt stupid. So we were off. We drove around and explored some more, ending up at Colonial Cemetery, which was really cool, and almost as good as those in New Orleans.
There was a mix of above-ground brick vaults and regular graves and some random headstones affixed to the wall. Some of them were ancient, cracked and barely readable. I liked the font, or whatever it was called before there were fonts. Typeface? On a gravestone? I’m not sure. Many of the headstones were worn down almost to little nubs, which made me wonder. Why were those so much more eroded than the others? Crazy wind patterns? Poor choice of materials? People rubbing them for good luck? Hmm. Also, the walkways were made of oyster shells. Neat.
We went past Mercer House again (you know, because of that book), took photos, mailed some postcards even though the folks back home wouldn’t get them until long after we were back in Minneapolis, and headed back to Tybee Island.
On the way to the hotel, we stopped again at Jaycees Park to see if our ducks were still around. Heather found a gigantic, cranky blue heron, various other waterfowl, tiny fish, and finally, the ducks. This time, we came armed with some styro-corn chips from Schnucks, so they were happy. We met a guy out walking his dog, Lucy. He called her a hound dog and said, “Y’all have a good night,” and I was charmed by his Georgia-ness. We stopped at our hotel, changed, and went back to the beach.
Heather swam again, and since there were more people around to notice if she started drowning, I told her I was going to take a walk on the beach. I left my shoes on the blanket and set off, heading north, walking at the edge of the water. Now, the problem with me is that I’m not good at stopping. If you set me walking in a straight line, I’ll keep going until I run into something, or collapse. In this case, I ran into the huge rocks at the north end of the beach, by the lighthouse and the place we had dinner. It was where all the huge cargo ships came out of the Savannah harbor, and headed off into the great unknown.
So I stood there for a minute, looked at all the funny people and the ships, then turned around and headed back. I had no idea how long I’d been walking, but it felt like a lot. A woman pointed out a stingray that had beached itself, wondering out loud as she picked it up by the ‘wings’ if it was going to sting her. It didn’t, and seemed a little stunned to find itself back in the ocean. I started to notice jellyfish on the beach, which I knew had definitely not been there the first time around. They were those perfectly transparent blobs, and they were hard to see on the sand. I started seeing more and more of them, and realized I was walking through a jellyfish minefield. Also, my feet were hurting, and I could feel blisters starting to form on the bottom of my left foot and heel. I thought walking on the beach would be all soft and comfy. I was so wrong.
About the time I was beginning to wonder whether I was going to make it back alive, I spotted the pier. My feet were killing me, and my injured hip was aching. I had the choice between walking on the wet sand or in the water, which was causing blisters, or walking on the dry sand, which was hot and slowed me down. In the distance, I saw Heather on the blanket, and figured she was probably wondering where the hell I had disappeared to. I laid down, and we shared a protein bar and figured out that I had been walking for two hours. It hurt.
We went back to the hotel room so Heather could shower. I considered changing, since my pants were wet and would be all salt-stained when they dried, but I figured it was the right thing to do, wearing ocean-wet pants to a restaurant on the beach. Because, yes, we were going back to the North Beach Grill. It’s that good.
The exact same band was there again, playing the exact same set. We had plantains yet again, and watched the people around us. They were weirder than the previous night, so it was good entertainment. After that, we stopped in at Ben and Jerry’s again, and were back to the hotel by 9pm, sitting on the balcony and watching the tide come in.