Forest Bathing, A Cat Scare & Southern Charm – Savannah, GA
It’s 90% humidity and temps are soaring. It’s the kind of heat that lies heavy on your chest, and seems to dampen the world around you in a blanket of wet. Everything is moist and sweat starts running down your back almost as soon as you exit the door. It’s intense and makes you daydream longingly of ice and snow and other such silliness.
Yet beneath this oppressive heat the forest is alive, as it so often is in the deep south.
There’s the constant buzz of insects (cicadas?) that rises and fades rhythmically like a rolling ocean tide, the hammer of a woodpecker that echoes through the trees, and a racket that sounds like some kind of insanely large monster crashing through the greenery, but ends up being nothing more than a teeny armadillo pushing its way clumsily through the weeds (man, that gave me a scare). And everything is thick and green and heavy like the humidity. Tunnels of old oaks intertwine and weave across the road, draped in long strands of Spanish Moss that sway eerily in the breeze. High grass covers the low marsh water that seems to run to the horizon. And sometimes the vegetation is so thick you can’t see the sky.
We’ve made it to the Low Country folks, where nature mixes with historic charm, where roots run deep and old secrets hide. And yeah….it’s frikkin’ humid, and frikkin’ hot!
Normally I couldn’t care less if we have hookups, but here I’m super thankful for a north-facing site, good shade, 50A and dual A/Cs. After our early morning walk we all retreat into our air-conditioned palace and hole up for the rest of the day. Being a “beast” has its advantages, at times 🙂
Forest Bathing At Crooked River State Park
We arrived in GA just over a week ago, our first foray out of FL in 5 months and despite the heat it felt SO good to be somewhere new.
We spent 4 nights at Crooked River State Park (full review coming) where we should have done some sightseeing (really we should -> Cumberland Island is right there, after all) but our site was just SO nice and we were SO happy to be back in nature that we literally didn’t do a darned thing. Within minutes of arriving at the park it was like our minds had cleared, rinsed by nature of traffic, noise and all those other man-made things that clutter our brains. We were finally surrounded by trees again (instead of people), and for 4 days we did nothing but forest bathe and just soak up that glorious, perfect peace. It was exactly what we needed!
We Meet-Up With RV Buddies in Skidaway State Park
After our nature re-adjustment we headed just ~150 mikes North to our reservation at Skidaway Island State Park (full review coming). This is a spot we’d planned to visit last year on our fall trip down the Eastern Coastline, but the hurricane flooded the park and it closed just days before we were scheduled to arrive. So we missed both this and Savannah, and that was something we wanted to remedy.
As an added bonus RV buddies Tim & Kerri (Tales From A Van-Tramp Couple) extended their stay by a few days so we could meet-up. It’s been a few years since we crossed paths with these two, and when we last saw them they had just met boondocking in the desert and were just starting their relationship (love on the road, baby…and yes it’s so darn romantic I’m a little teary-eyed just thinking about it!).
Since then they’ve traveled up to Alaska, down into Baja Mexico and cross-country, splitting their time between Tim’s van and Kerri’s Airstream. It was a joy to catch up and see how their travels had progressed. In addition Kerri, being quite a serious foodie, tracked down an awesome place for dinner, The Wyld Dock Bar just minutes from the park. GREAT setting, FABULOUS food and it was dog-friendly too!
The Cat Takes Us For A Scare
Life wouldn’t be complete without our paw-babies testing us every now and again, right?? Taggart took us through the wringer last year with her hyperthyroidism, but she’s had 3 blood-tests since her I-131 treatment and they’ve been perfect every time. Thyroid levels have been completely stable, kidney values have been fine and everything has been in-range. So, what was happening??
Over the past month or so I’d noticed she started acting more agitated and losing weight, despite eating normally (or normally for her anyway…she’s always been a very picky eater). The first thing you think of when this happens in a cat is hyperthyroidism, but I knew for a fact she was fine here (her last blood test was only 7 days ago). The second thing you think of is Cancer, especially when nothing else seems obvious (oh, please no…). The third thing, which came as a total afterthought to me was her teeth (could it be??).
Both our cats have suffered from resorptive lesions (feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions) over the past 7 years. It’s a genetic thing where the cats’ own body attacks (and slowly dissolves) his/her own teeth. No-one really knows why it happens and there’s no prevention (or cure) other than removal of teeth when they start to bother the cat.
Just to make things more fun, resorptive lesions usually aren’t caught unless you go to a specialized vet dentist who takes X-rays and actually looks at the root structure of each tooth. Taggart has been to several of these dentists over her cat-lifetime, but they are hard to find (and of course quite expensive too), and admittedly she hadn’t been to one in several years. She’s had regular teeth cleanings (every year), but no specialized dental visits. At this point she only had one canine left (the others have already been removed) so my hunch was a long-shot, but perhaps that last big tooth was the cause of her agitation and weight loss??
This is where serendipity lined things up for us….in a serious way!
I phoned a vet clinic in Savannah at random (Case Veterinary Hospital) who just happened to have a board-certified vet dentist (Dr. Kevin Leroy) on-hand, who just happened to be there that day (he only consults at this clinic one day every 2 weeks), who just happened to have time to see Taggart, and who had ALL the specialized equipment and training to both X-ray and remove the canine (which is a very tricky tooth to remove). Plus he could do it all that very same day! WOW!!! As soon as Taggart was under anesthesia, the dentist quickly saw that her entire canine root structure was almost completely dissolved and that there was an open lesion inside her mouth, which was very likely causing her significant pain. He took out the tooth, put in a graft to help the healing and sent her home with antibiotics.
It’s been a week since the tooth removal and Taggart is like a different cat! She’s totally relaxed, sleeping all day again (as a cat should), and gaining weight. I’m totally confident we found the problem, and deeply thankful that we found exactly the right guy, at exactly the right time we needed him. Universe to the rescue and kitty disaster averted….at least for now 🙂
We Explore Charming Savannah, GA
I have to admit I didn’t know too much about Savannah before we came here. I mean I knew it was an old southern town with British roots (back in the day), but I didn’t know too much more than that.
From the top-level map-view it looked quite large and the rigid grid-like layout was hard to miss, a rather different arrangement from its more randomly-laid-out northern neighbor (Charleston). I put that down to the difference between French roots (Charleston) and British Roots (Savannah), and my first thought was that we might not like it as much. I mean we both fell in love with the old-town charm of Charleston last year, and this just looked so much more formal and “organized”. Our first impressions (just driving into town) kind of confirmed this too. The first thing you notice are all those big, long, straight streets and the hidden bits of charm just don’t stand out right away.
But the more time we spent in Savannah the more it grew on us, and in the end I have to admit we totally fell for the city.
Founded in 1733, Savannah is the oldest city in GA and once you get off the main street you’ll find its got some real magic to it. There are reams of old churches, over 22 cobblestone squares with old oaks and shaded benches, outstanding local eateries, and quiet alleys hidden away between historic homes. Plus there’s the big Art College (SCAD) which brings a breath of fresh youth and quirkiness to town. And once you start walking around downtown, that grid pattern really makes sense! It’s such a livable city and it’s all so easily accessible either by foot or one of the many tour-buses that roam around town. Plus there’s no end of places to sit down and enjoy nature when you need to rest.
By the end of our time in Savannah we were totally taken and had it firmly on our list for a return visit. Here’s some of the charms we enjoyed the most:
If I had to pick the one thing that tipped the scales and finally seduced us in Savannah, it was her 22 historic squares. These little havens of nature in the city are amazing and, once we discovered their charm we simply couldn’t get enough.
General James Oglethorpe came up the idea of public squares when Savannah was established way back in 1733, and the city executed on the idea flawlessly. They are all over the center of town with nary a few blocks between them, so that you can always find a shaded spot to call your own.
And they are just so darn charming!
Old cobblestone paths wrapped in heavy oak trees, surrounded by the fragrance of manicured flowers and decorated with fountains (or statues). From the dreadlocked vagabond to the old guy in his pressed suit and fedora hat, to business folk taking a break for lunch, these squares are the center of life in Savannah. Plus they’re all paw-friendly and family-friendly, and the perfect places to find a bit of quiet in the city. We went into town twice just to walk the squares and could easily have gone many times more. HERE is an excellent map that shows how to walk them all!
Old Southern Towns always have lots of old churches, and they encompass so much of the history of a town. Savannah boasts a slew of magnificent examples too, from the Gothic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist to the Independent Presbyterian Church to the oldest continuous African-American church in the United States. Plus they’re all super accessible. Most of the churches are open (and free) to visit, and easily seen by either walking around town on a self-guided tour, or hopping on one of the many tour buses that operate downtown. They are definitely worth seeking out, both for their stunning architecture and their history.
Savannah Eateries & Beer
Savannah has got some seriously good stuff for both foodies and beer lovers. There are no less than three in-town breweries (Moon River, Southbound & Service) as well as many more brew-pubs, all of which are excellent, but out of everything we tried Service Brewing Co got our #1 vote. Excellent quality beer, both their IPA’s and (especially) Saison. If you can’t make their opening hours (they’re only open 3 days per week) then check out Crystal Beer Parlour just a few hops from Forsythe Park. They have an outstanding beer-list (lots of local options). as well as super tasty food. We didn’t manage anymore eateries than this, but the little taste that we had left us wanting much much more.
We only spent a few days in town, but by the end of it we were totally taken by its easy livability and charm. Plus we barely scratched the surface. We didn’t get to the new in-town Distillery, nor Bonaventure Cemetery nor even any of the many museums or historic homes. Definitely a town we’d come back to without hesitation!
VISIT & PAW NOTES: If you’re visiting Savannah by foot just park your car on the street near Forsythe Square (free) and walk around until you’re ready for a beer. All the squares are dog-friendly, free and super easy to visit plus there are plenty of restaurants with outdoor seating that allow paws too. For those who prefer a guided tour, simply hop on one of the many tour buses around town (no dogs allowed on the buses, tho’).
And We Finish With A Lighthouse!
Yet another reason we wanted to come to Savannah was to see Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse.
Located on Tybee Island, just ~30 mins southeast of the city, Tybee Island Lighthouse is a “must see” for any self-proclaimed lighthouse nutter. First built in 1736, the current tower is the third iteration of the lighthouse and stands 145-feet tall with 3 wonderfully-preserved keepers cottages nearby. The tower still has a beautiful first-order Fresnel lens, plus there’s a fort (Fort Screven) right across the way too. We enjoyed a leisurely (but very hot!) visit to the Island during the week-day, climbed the tower, explored the keepers houses and finished off the morning with a most excellent Mocha from nearby (and super cute) Tybean Bean House. The only thing that would have made it better? If Polly could’ve come along 🙂
VISIT & PAW NOTES: The lighthouse is open 9:30AM-5:00PM everyday except Tuesday (closed). It costs $9 per adult ($7 kids/seniors) to visit. NO DOGS allowed either at the Lighthouse NOR on any of the beaches on Tybee Island (there’s a BIG fine for dogs on the beach here), so I recommend leaving pooch behind for this one. Click HERE for more info.
Believe it or not that wraps up our short trip to GA. From here we head in-land and to a brand new (to us) state. Here’s hoping some cooler weather follows us there 🙂
Useful External Links:
- Visit Savannah -> Official visitor website HERE
- Savannah Tours -> Good info on all the various tour options HERE
- Self-Guided Walking Tours -> Sample itineraries HERE and HERE and HERE
- Visit Tybee Island -> Visitor website HERE
- Tybee Island Lighthouse -> Click HERE and HERE
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