Sunday, April 13, 2014

A Yankee in plantation country

Since we last talked, I hooked up with my friends Robin and Noelle for four days of hijinks. It's thrown me way off my blog game. I'll continue to share parts of my trip even though I'm safe and cold back in New Hampshire.

We spent our first full day together at Middleton Place, a former rice plantation outside Charleston. It was magnificent.

Moise, roll the tape.

The main house burned down, so all that's left is, I think, a gentlemen's guest house.

I have no idea what the posing is about. They were just hanging out like this.

We debated whether this was real. Then it blinked.

Yes, more gators! And definitely real.

Noelle and Robin looking all sunny and cute.

These pics are not edited. It's just incredibly beautiful here.

This one smelled Yankee blood.

This was a big'un. It scared the hell out of Noelle, who came within 10 feet of it. Unfortunately, her squealing and running away was not caught on tape.

This was the big guy, taken from a very safe distance. We let some other visitors taunt him and took action shots. 

The lower level was used for refrigeration; the upper level
was a place of worship for slaves.

Noelle enjoyed the view until the buzzing of impressively large hornets became apparent. That was our cue to leave.

I still hate Guinea hens.

Lamb on the lam!

Water buffalo
The water buffalo fascinate me. Back in the day, they were imported from Constantinople to work the rice fields. Sailing was such a cruel, primitive mode of transportation that it's difficult to fathom what went on in the hold of ANY ship at that time.

This is the slave exhibit building. This is the only "rough" looking building in the joint. Even the barns and outbuildings are pristine by comparison.

An entire roster of slaves owned by the Middletons through the years. This puts things in perspective. Screw the water buffalo.

Do the quotes suggest that the slaves did NOT live in hovels?

The only quarters indicating slave life come in the form of a building built in the 1890s and moved to the plantation in the 1930s. There was an attached kitchen larger than this room. I don't know what went on at the Middleton plantation, but I'm guessing the exhibit slave quarters are not to scale.

Quick--more animals to make me feel better.

Middleton was endlessly beautiful. And we didn't even hit the gardens. It's hard to imagine any slave existence in such an amazing place, and I am left with a few questions. But I tried very hard to just bite my tongue and try to pet the sheep.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Gators and Gracie

What's cooler than alligators?


BABY alligators!

They were a little under a foot long.

Mama stayed very close by.

The Savannah National Wildlife Refuge is a very unassuming four-mile loop around 18th century rice plantation fields. Trip Advisor reviews would have you think the gators step up out of the water and shake your hand ("I saw dozens!"). That was not my experience. But maybe that's because it's April and still chilly out (by Savannah standards, not mine). But from what I saw, you could walk the four miles without fear of a close encounter.

I encountered maybe 10 vehicles during my time there, which was probably around two hours. And the only people going to a place like this are people who WANT to be there, so there was a shared enthusiasm with people slowing down to talk ("Did you see the eagle?!"). When I found the baby gators, I was so excited, I stopped a couple to tell them. They happen to be from Canterbury, NH, and we talked for a while and watched the babies.

My research tells me that this next bird is an anhinga. One (the father?) was at the top of the next tree, watching over everything. This one (presumably the mother) flew into the nest. And what's cooler than an anhinga?

A baby anhinga!

 And what's cooler than two turtles that look like they're paddling a log?
"I feel like we're going in circles. Are we going in circles?"
A bad picture of a baby turtle!

There was an alligator lurking about 10' away, so I got out of there before it did something untoward.
After being in such a quiet place, I wasn't ready to tackle downtown Savannah, so I went to the opposite extreme of all of this life, survival, etc. at the refuge.
I present to you the enormous and stunning Bonaventure Cemetery. 



 I went mostly to see what is arguably Bonaventure's most famous resident.
Little Gracie Watson
The cemetery is impressive in size.
And I thought I might not be able to find her after a while. But then a van went by with her face on the back. Apparently they give tours of the cemetery. And apparently I wasn't thinking that far out of the box after all.

Next up--downtown Savannah!