We crossed Georgia quickly, stopping in the middle at Ogeechee State Park for just a night before driving to Richmond Hill. Once the winter home of Henry Ford, who infamously tried to use the region’s Spanish moss to stuff the seats of Model Ts, Richmond Hill is now a suburb full of families just west of Savannah. For us, reaching Richmond Hill meant crashing a beautiful 12 year old’s birthday, biking and gator spotting at a nearby park, tickling an adorable 4 year old godson, trying out matching pajamas, and playing with Snapchat’s face-swap app (you should try it, it’s terrifyingly funny). We got to meet some fun neighbor-friends and sample the amazing Murphy Italian beef sandwiches and Murphy cookies (the Murphys and their recipes are welcome in Maryland anytime). We even had space and time to wash the bugs and grit off the Woodebago. She’s looking good now!
A trolley tour of Savannah gave us a good look at this old coastal city, Georgia’s first state capital and an essential port during the American Revolution and the Civil War. Our tour guide pointed out historical sites and museums (the birthplace of Girl Scouts founder, Juliette Gordon Low, the Telfair Academy of Arts and Sciences), the manicured squares, park benches, and historic houses made famous by movies (Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, Forrest Gump, and dozens more), and told tales of the ghosts and pirates said to still haunt many of the city’s homes (and the light blue paint called “haint” and fish downspouts used to ward off evil spirits).
Sad to leave our friends but ready to head north, we soon crossed into South Carolina and drove along the Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto (ACE) Basin, which we learned from brown road signs is one of the largest undeveloped estuaries along the Atlantic Coast of the United States. Before the Civil War, this million acre area and the area surrounding it was all rice plantations (nearby Georgetown had the largest slave-holding rice plantations in the South). We passed by the Rice Museum and one of several Gullah museums, hoping to get to the top of South Carolina by day’s end.
We reached Myrtle Beach State Park in time for an evening stroll on the beach. We’ve never been here before, and there are plenty of signs that we are not as north as Maryland yet (apparently there is no limit to the number of beach items you can stamp with a confederate flag), but this soft sand and flat seascape feels familiar to us. That evening we collected tiny black shark’s teeth and delicate shells that surely wouldn’t survive the power of the Pacific. On our way back to our campsite, just a few hundred yards away, we talked turtles. Loggerheads will be arriving next month to nest along these beaches and there are cautionary signs everywhere to protect the nesting grounds (only 1 in 1,000 baby turtles will make it to adulthood).
So here we are, back east, in a campground filled with license plates from New York and Massachusetts. We are no longer the interesting ones who are so far from home. In fact, we are so close to seeing family, friends, and Sheba, our dog, that we can’t focus clearly on any other spots we might want to see between here and home. We will be back in Maryland in just a week to pick up our furry best friend, celebrate the kids’ birthdays, go to more than a dozen doctor’s appointments (!), and hug some family and friends before heading north for our last two months in New England.