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Monday, December 31, 2012

A Stroll Through Savannah

Today was an eventful day!  We started with a propane/CO2 leak detector that we thought might be possessed, and we finished with a demented ghost tour of the City of Savannah!

The story of the leak detector is a long one.  Some months ago, David accidentally spilled some lemonade, and it splashed on our leak detector, which is mounted low near our refrigerator.  The lemonade ruined the detector's element, so we bought a replacement on Amazon.  It arrives a couple weeks later.  We install it.  Within 2 weeks, it goes bad for no apparent reason.  So we return it with a warranty claim.  Some weeks later (again), the manufacturer sent us a third one.  It wouldn't power up when we attached it to the power source!  We checked everything:  the wires we hooked it to had power; the unit would turn on when we connected it to another 12 volt source; the fuse wasn't burned out.  We were stumped.  So we finally called an RV serviceman, who stopped by, and in 15 minutes, he determined that, while our fuse wasn't burned out, it was defective and was only letting partial voltage through to the leak detector.  The serviceman said he hadn't seen that before.  Mystery solved.  Our leak detector is working.

It was about 11 am and we decided not to waste the rest of this beautiful day.  While the temperature had fallen to 28F last night, today it was to rise to 64F!  And sun, to boot!  We decided to drive into Savannah and walk around.  After a brief stop at the visitor center and history museum, we ambled over to The Distillery, a great beer pub, to have lunch.  The beer selection is extensive and the food good.

Stomachs full, we then set out across town on foot.  The first thing we spotted was SNOW (!?!) in a parking lot.  Kathy solved the mystery:  it was piled up outside the back door to the civic center and (probably) some zamboni had scraped it off an interior ice rink and left it in the back of the lot.  Here's Kathy building a mini snowman on the mystery snow:

Savannah is laid out on a grid, with 24 squares (parks), each with a small ward, or neighborhood, surrounding it.  Each ward contains private homes and public buildings.  We mapped our walk out to see as many of the surviving 22 squares as we could.  Working our way north to the Savannah River, we sojourned along River Street.  To the west we could see Savannah's famous bridge --

-- and to the right we saw sternwheeler riverboats.  Sailboats were moored all along the docks.  Back up the bluff into the heart of town, we walked through the Old City Market.  Kathy spied a bronze gentlemen reading a newspaper and decided to join him.  Are those his sunglasses?

Just past the bronze man we found Paula Dean's famous restaurant, "The Lady & Sons," shortened from the name of her original catering business, "The Bag Lady," and expanded to include reference to her two sons, who joined her in the business.  We inquired about whether we could make reservations for dinner.  Sorry, lunch is sold out, and dinner is sold out until 9:30 pm!  Oh, well, it was probably going to be too expensive - and just a buffet, anyway.

Continuing our walk, we found the Unitarian Universalist Church where James L. Pierpont, the author of "Jingle Bells," was music director.  He wrote the song in 1857.  This is memorialized by a plaque in Troup Square across from the church:

It seems we were following a church theme.  At Lafayette Square, we encountered the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the first Catholic church in Savannah.  The original colonial charter for Savannah prohibited Catholics from settling in the colony, out of fear they would sympathize with the Spanish, whose colonies lay immediately to the south.

As another religious first, we stumbled across Temple Mickve Israel, the only Gothic style synagogue in America, built by a Jewish congregation originating in a group of 42 Jews from London who arrived in Savannah in the 1730's, which is considered the third oldest Jewish congregation in America.

Our walking tour ended (more or less) at famous Forsyth Park, built in the 1840's.  It's centerpiece, the Forsyth Fountain, was erected in 1858 and is considered the most photographed site in Savannah.  We happened along just as two weddings were being celebrated.  One was of a young couple shown to the right in the photograph below:

From Forsyth Park we worked our way back to dinner - again - at The Distillery.  In addition to good beer, Kathy tried alligator tail and fries and David had a spicy bean burger.

This whole day was a prelude to the climax:  a Ghost Tour of Savannah!  We boarded a tour trolley.  We grew a little uneasy when the bus driver, a twenty-something self-professed Cajun girl, started apologizing for no heat on the trolley.  We got a little more nervous when she seemed to have trouble maneuvering the trolley out of the parking lot.  But eventually we were on the road.  Our narrator was a young man who seemed a little hallucinogenic - not quite all there.  He narrated ghost stories as she drove - but the stories didn't match anything we were passing on the streets!  Eventually, they drove the trolley into an empty parking garage (!?!), asked us to get out, and told us a story of a gruesome triple murder that took place in a rooming house that had stood on the site of the garage.  All of this in the hallucinogenic tones of the young narrator.  As we got back on the trolley, he suddenly jumped out and ran to a lavatory.  The bus driver reported that the narrator was running a 106F fever and was sick as a dog!  A woman passenger piped up that she didn't want him on the trolley anymore, as he was likely to infect all the passengers.  The bus driver agreed and called a supervisor, who rushed over to pick up the narrator.  With that, our bus driver took over a narration which consisted mainly of reporting that the tour was over and that she was driving us straight back to our starting point.  She said that in view of the narrator's illness, the tour company was offering to refund our money.  She was kind enough to let us out where we parked, and we left her a tip despite the very strange experience.  Certainly the oddest tour we've ever taken!  We may be haunted by it the rest of our life.

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