Tuesday, October 26, 2010


Whew! I'm tired. Having family in to visit is WONDERFUL (you're all welcome, anytime) but the change in usual schedule can definitely be taxing. Although I am glad to get back to a more "normal" schedule, I would love for them to have stayed longer if they could. We got to do a lot of fun stuff and showing them around to our favorite spots and restaurants and knowing which streets to tell them to turn on (some of the time) and little things like that made Savannah feel much more like home. Here's a little rundown of our four days of fun...


When I left for work on Thursday afternoon, Mom & Dad were only 25 miles outside of Savannah, but I couldn't wait around any longer without being late, so I had to head in and know that when I returned home they would be here. Gearry had also arrived home by the time I did, and Bailey and Zoey were already being fully spoiled, chewing on new rawhide bones when I walked in the door. It was so great to see Mom & Dad! I couldn't believe it had been almost three months. They also brought with them a huge pan of persimmon pudding courtesy of my fabulous Aunt Cheryl :)

After a quick shower, we jumped in the car and headed to Tybee for a sunset beach walk and dinner at North Beach Grill. Dinner happened -- and was fabulous -- but the beach walk was short-lived thanks to the ridiculous number of sand gnats that had randomly decided to show up in the last day or two. The gnats down here are legendary, but they really hadn't been bad until the day before my parents arrived. They were so thick on the North Beach that our beach walk lasted maybe a whole 10 minutes before we gave up, in spite of the amazing show that a pod of dolphins was putting on for us not 20 yards off the shore.

Fortunately, the screened walls at North Beach Grill, along with a fan our server brought us to circulate the air by our table, kept 95% of the gnats at bay and we enjoyed a delicious dinner. Everyone enjoyed their meals, and Gearry and I enjoyed being able to toss back an extra cold one since Dad was driving.

On our way home, we decided to cruise down to the south side of the island and visit the pier. With the full moon, it provded some amazing views.


On Friday morning, Gearry headed into work and Dad spent some quality time with the dogs while Mom and I headed to the McQueen's Island trail to run. It was a gorgeous morning, sunny and perfect 70's running temps. We did some run-walk intervals and happened to run into my co-Sundowner's teacher at St. Andrew's, who was there getting in her morning run, so it was nice to be able to introduce my mom.

Gearry got held up a little later at work than expected (he is usually off around 11:00 a.m. on Fridays) and I had to go to work for a few hours, so Mom & Dad took off for some solo-exploring on Friday afternoon. That evening, I arrived home from work to some of the best smells you can ever imagine coming out of the kitchen. Gearry had been hard to work creating a masterpiece of a dinner. For me, there was eggplant parmesan (amazing) and for everyone else there was an organic roasted chicken with fresh thyme, olive oil, and honey. Mom and Dad raved about the chicken and Gearry said it was the best he ever made, so I'm going to go out on a limb and say it probably tasted pretty good. We also enjoyed a sauteed medley of squash, zucchini, eggplant, mushrooms, and garlic, as well as some really good homemade sweet potato mash. Yum, yum, yum.

After cleaning up from dinner, we drove downtown for our much anticipated Blue Orb Ghost Tour. The 9:00 p.m. walking tour started in Calhoun Square and took us to five different locations within that 4-5 block apparently very haunted section of the city (although apparently all of Savannah qualifies as very haunted). We saw and got to hear some interesting stories about 432 Abercorn (a mansion on Calhoun Square that hasn't been lived in for over 30 years), the Espy House (on the other side of Calhoun Square, also not lived in for quite some time), Calhoun Square itself (the documented site of the buried bodies of nearly 1,000 slaves), the Mercer-Williams House (made especially famous by "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil"), and the old Candler Hospital (where we learned there is a morgue tunnel that was used during the horrible yellow fever epidemic that stretches all the way underground to the other side of Forsyth Park). I didn't find anything on the tour particularly scary, but that kind of stuff generally doesn't scare me. It was more interesting than scary and a neat way to see a gorgeous part of the city, walking around under the full moon.


Saturday started with a delicious, traditional Gearry-and-Stacey Saturday morning breakfast, including pancakes and scrambled eggs with onions, mushroom, and garlic. We had to pack in enough calories for an action-packed day of playing tourists ;)

Our day started at Ft. Pulaski, which is a five minute drive from our house, about halfway between here and Tybee Island. The fort is a national monument, as well as a mini-national park, with lots of hiking trails, a museum, the fort itself, and tons of history. Since Ft. Pulaski prides itself on being dog-friendly (they are allowed everywhere except in the museum), we took Bailey and Zoey along for the excursion. We had a blast exploring the fort, which was extremely well-kept and impressive for a number of reasons, from the number of cannons to the ocean and river views from the top. When we had fully exhausted the inside of the fort, we hiked the Cockspur Lighthouse Trail, a 1.5 mile out-and-back trail around the north and east sides of the fort all the way to, of course, Cockspur Lighthouse.

The weather could not have been more perfect on Saturday and we sat on a bench for a long time by the lighthouse, just soaking up the breeze and the sun. Finally, though, we decided to get going so that we would have time to take a little break before continuing our day of exploration in town that evening.

After some light lunch at home and a little college football, it was nearly evening and time to head downtown. We made a quick jaunt to River Street to pick up a bag for Aunt Veneita, then climbed back up those infamous stairs and visited Moon River Brewing Company for dinner. I've heard lots of good things about Moon River and even though it's located right on the tourist stretch of Bay Street, it's pretty popular with locals, which always bodes well. It did not disappoint. I was OK with the 45 minute wait, as it meant 45 minutes of sitting outside, watching the day turn into night, drinking their delicious hand-crafted wheat. Dinner was really good, trumped only by the amazing brews. Gearry and I both agree that their sweet potato wheat, which had just finished brewing the day before, was by the far the best beer we've ever had, period. It kicked the butts of all other really good beer I've had before (sorry, Upland). It is, of course, seasonal, so we're probably going to be frequent fliers at Moon River for the next couple of months to take advantage!

After dinner, we took the ferry across the Savannah River to the Westin on Hutchinson Island, where we literally just sat on an outdoor sofa, feet propped up, and watched the lights of River Street and beyond on the other side of the river, before heading back to Talahi.


We had planned for Sunday to be a "beach day," so wouldn't you know it that it was the one day the whole weekend that was cloudy, with a storm front rolling through, and -- dare I say it -- a bit chilly (really it was still in the upper 70s, but that storm changed things a bit!). It ended up being a different kind of beach day, with sweatshirts rather than bikinis, but it was beautiful nonetheless. We spent a few hours holding down our chairs, walking way out into the inlet since it was low-tide, reading, amd just staring off into the distance.

On Sunday evening, we got to watch the Packers kick Favre and the Vikings' butt (yay!) and make homemade BBQ pizza. Gearry had to get up early Monday morning for work, so he had to say goodbye to Mom and Dad when he went to bed. I know he was sad, but for both of us saying goodbye was made a lot easier because we know that we'll see them again in less than a month for Thanksgiving and for almost two weeks in December.


On Monday, Mom, Dad, and I made one last quick trip into town to eat lunch by the river, take a couple of daytime pictures of some houses from the ghost tour, and just spend our last couple of hours together. They got on the road around 2:30.

Who's next for a visit? :)

Monday, October 18, 2010


The above picture was just too adorable not to put it front and center of this post. I snapped it shortly after sunrise, as Gearry and the dogs and I sat on the beach on Jekyll Island watching the world wake up for the day. This weekend's camping trip to Jekyll Island was MUCH better than the first, since I did not feel like I was going to keel over this time around. We enjoyed lots of beach-sitting-beer-drinking-open-fire-cooking-exploring-picture-taking-book-reading fun, and the experience reminded me how much things have changed in a good way -- This time last year, Gearry was still putting in 90+ hour weeks, with no hope of a weekend off, and we were lucky to see each other a day or maybe two a week.

The weekend was very bittersweet however, as on Saturday afternoon while eating lunch around the campfire I got a call from Josh, who wanted to talk about some awful news he'd just gotten, that one of his best friends from high school had passed away. It was a shocking and tragic death, and it was hard to hear how much pain my brother was in, and then imagine if he was hurting that much, how much were his friend's parents and brother and other family hurting? He hadn't spoken much to the friend in a couple of years, but in high school they were inseparable, and it's just an all-around horrible situation. Events like this make me question a lot of things, yet make me grateful for my own family and friends.

Thankfully, the end of this week brings an opportunity to spend some much-needed time with family, as Mom and Dad are spending their fall break here with us in Savannah. They are set to arrive on Thursday evening and stay through Monday afternoon. I have to work on Friday from 3:00-6:00 p.m., and Gearry on Friday from 8:00-11:00 a.m.,  but other than that we should be able to spend the whole time with them. We're looking forward to showing them around our new homebase, eating at North Beach Grill, enjoying some beach time, visiting Ft. Pulaski, and going on a night time walking ghost tour, among other things. It makes me happy to know that even though they'll only be staying for a few days, I will get to see them in less than a month after that for Thanksgiving (4 days in Indiana) and then less than a month after that for Christmas (10-12 days in Indiana).

Thursday, October 14, 2010


I have tried to not get too excited about this upcoming weekend's camping excursion to Jekyll Island because, well, last time I got excited and that didn't turn out so great (unless YOU like camping with a fever, cold chills, sore throat, and headache). I realize getting sick had nothing to do with being excited about the trip, but somehow I keep telling myself if I pretend to be a little indifferent, my body will not decide to revolt on me and ruin another fun weekend.

Realizing that is pretty silly, I guess I'll break my "no excitement" rule for a few minutes to say: I'm so excited for this weekend! As luck would have it, the forecast is looking great (and the coolest it has been here so far this fall) at highs of mid-to-upper 70s and lots of sunshine, with no rain in sight. It will be nice to have a chance to re-do our trip from a couple of weeks ago, experiencing more of the eating-and-drinking-around-a-campfire-and-playing-on-the-beach that I had envisioned and less of feverish-half-sleeping-feeling-all-around-crappy that I experienced. We reserved the campsite that was right next to the one we had last time, as it provided everything the one we had did (privacy, space, etc.) but also had a little bit less canopy cover to let the sunshine in (it gets cold on those early mornings before you get a fire going!).

It's Thursday afternoon and I'm getting ready to begin the arduous packing process. Growing up camping in a camper, you don't realize how "spoiled" a version of camping it is until you go back to primitive tent camping. You have to bring along every single thing you think you might want (it's not going to be conveniently waiting in your camper for you) or you just have to do without it. We're pretty low maintenance, but even just for the two of us and the two dogs, our little car will be packed to the top! Tent, blankets, sleeping bags, pillows, tarps, firewood, cooler with food, cooler with drinks, lantern, clothes, dog crate, dog supplies, chairs, various tools, cooking supplies, toiletries, etc., etc. I guess if we were true hardcore campers, we'd fit everything we needed in a backpack and say to heck with the rest. But we're not, and I'm OK with that. I prefer to eat eggs and soy bacon cooked over the fire than MREs and freeze-dried food, and I don't mind lugging in a huge, heavy cooler if it is full of frosty libations. And the going more than one day without a shower thing is definitely not for me.

Monday, October 11, 2010


I can cautiously (very cautiously), sort of, kind of, with much hope and fingers crossed say that after being sick since the last couple days of September and all of October thus far, yesterday saw me back to something resembling my normal self, thanks to some encouragement from co-workers to go see a doctor. I am not the type of person that goes to the doctor for a cold, but after 10+ days of dealing with the sore throat, headache, body aches, sweating, etc., I was not about to let one more weekend get away from me. As I assumed, I had developed a secondary bacterial infection from whatever virus I started out with, which needed the aid of some trusty antibiotics to be banished. I visited a walk-in clinic on Friday (haven't picked out a doctor or dentist yet in Savannah), started a round of antibiotics, and was already feeling better by Saturday evening, and much better by yesterday. I've still got some conjestion/yucky feeling stuff going on, but I think I am finally on the up-and-up and was able to mostly enjoy the weekend.

Still not feeling well on Friday, we canned our plans for a sunset walk & dinner on Tybee and instead made pizza & watched a movie at home, in hopes that the extra rest would keep me going for Saturday. I woke up on Saturday feeling better -- not great, but better -- which was a good thing since it was finally time for Pirate Fest! Gearry and I put our two fabulous brains together and decided to cart our bikes out to Tybee for the afternoon parade so that we could park at the less-busy far north end of the island and then ride our bikes down to the more-crowded south end where the parade was. This proved to be a great idea. We enjoyed a little ride through the island, found a good viewing spot just across from Sting Ray's and Social, and enjoyed watching the various pirate ships and pirate-themed floats come by. (Although the experience was somewhat dampered by the hoard of bead-and-candy-hungry children who had no concept of personal space and no parents apparently willing to correct them who kept standing in front of us and running in the street in front of vehicles to procure the items of their fancy... I was truly afraid that if a piece of candy inadvertantly landed on my shoe, my foot would have been plucked clean off before I could react.) Afterwards, we hopped on our bikes and rode the parade route backwards, since it was still closed to regular traffic, making it all the way back to our car on the north end in five minutes flat. Biking is the way to go, man.

Some lunch at home, some college football, and a short nap provided the fuel to head back out to the island in the evening for round two. We visited the Tybee Island Social Club (just "Social" to most) for dinner for the first time and were pretty impressed. The vibe itself is awesome... We sat outdoors under an open-beamed porch roof laced with white lights, listening to a great live band (reminded us a lot of a grittier Eric Clapton, ala Sessions for Robert J) and watching college football on the giant projection screen. The food was also pretty good. The concept is a little unique in that you order at a counter and then select a table, and the food is then delivered to you. You can leave an open tab at the counter so that subsequent drinks or desserts and such can be added. We started with some really good homemade tortilla chips and queso, followed by a duck taco for Gearry and a veggie taco for me (not really tacos in the traditional sense... they are served in thick, handmade shells more like a pita) and sides of sweet potato fries. The best part of the meal, however, was undoubtedly the $2 Red Stripe tall boys.

After dinner, we walked down to Strand, where the tents had been erected for the Pirate Fest activities. Just moments after we started walking through the crowds, checking everything out, a random (obviously very drunk and probably hopped up on other things) guy ran up and punched this other guy in the face hard enough to send him flying to the sidewalk (and into Gearry, who smashed his beer all over my legs). As far as I can tell, it was completely random and we tried to stay out of it and let the guy and the friends with him work it out, but I have to say it definitely put a little damper on the rest of the evening. Angry drunk people are the absolute worst. If drinking makes you feel like you need to punch people in the face, uhhhh, you probably shouldn't drink?? We were a little weirded out and decided to get out of there for a bit, walking up to the pier to enjoy a quiet moment away.

Our intention for coming that evening, a concert by Eddie Money, began at 9:00 and we found a prime spot on the beach to enjoy the show. Wearing only a dress and still not 100%, I started getting really chilly as the night wore on, so we only made it to 10:00 before we headed home, but I did get to hear him perform one of my favorite songs, "Take Me Home Tonight," before we left, so I was satisfied with the day.

Sunday was a day of relaxation on the beach, grateful for the mid-80s temperatures and perfectly sunny skies. I read about 150 pages of my new book, so I'll call that a success. Today, Monday, is Columbus Day, which I have off but Gearry does not. I'm trying to get some work done (transcription for the IU researcher I work for, plans for my master's thesis/final project) and have successfully procrastinated for over half an hour by writing this blog entry ;) It's so gorgeous out, I'm tempted to take the puppies to Forsyth Park and do a little reading, but I'm conflicted in my need to be productive and yet enjoy the holiday off. Looking forward to a bike ride with Gearry this evening and to a busy week ahead preparing for another camping trip to Jekyll Island this coming weekend AND... Mom & Dad visiting the following weekend!!!

Monday, October 4, 2010


 I had been looking forward to our camping trip to Jeyll Island -- our first camping trip together in a couple of years other than the couple of nights here and there we've stayed in the camper with Mom & Dad -- for a couple of weeks and when the Friday we were set to leave finally rolled around I found myself... sick. Ugg. That kind of irony is just beyond annoying.

Trying to maintain a positive attitude, I hoped that the cold (sore throat, body aches, runny nose, all that fun stuff) would be short-lived and I spent all day Friday at work taking zinc tablets, drinking OJ and green tea, anything else I thought might help. I even came home on a two-hour break and took a short nap. Alas, short-lived it was not and by the end of the workday on Friday I was feeling less than sassy and up for a weekend of camping. However, I wanted to give it a shot so we finished packing the car when I returned home from work and set off for Jekyll (about an hour and a half), racing to get there before sunset so that we wouldn't have to set up our campsite in the dark.

We didn't make it before dark (of course, because that's how my luck was working that day) but thanks to the headlights from Gearry's car we were able to at least assemble the tent with a somewhat comfortable level of satisfaction that we had not done so in a nest of baby snakes or something equally as freaky. We hadn't yet bought wood to start a fire, so we just sat around in the lantern light for a little while before deciding to hit the sack. The following hours were some of the longest of my life. Between Gearry's indescribably loud snoring (I had forgotten my earplugs that I usually sleep with) and the fact that I could not breathe and felt, frankly, like a pile of poo, sleeping was nearly impossible. Gearry ended up heading to the car to sleep sometime during the middle of the night, but it didn't help much. I "awoke" with the sun, not sure that I had ever even fallen asleep.

Luckily, even after an awful night and even still feeling crummy, the beauty of the island and the excitement of the camping trip kept me going for most of Saturday. We took the dogs on a hike to Driftwood Beach --

-- and spent a couple of hours letting the dogs play on the beach, reading, and otherwise chilling. Zoey was adorable chasing any bird that dared cross her path. I have never seen her run so fast! The best was when she was concentrating so hard on chasing a flock that she didn't notice they had flown over the water and -- SPLASH! -- she crashed right into an oncoming wave, not even realizing she had run into the water.

After hiking back to the campground, I was absolutely exhausted from the combo of cold and no sleep, so we cooked some veggie hot dogs over the fire for lunch and then the puppies and I settled down for a nap while Gearry took a bike ride to the historic district to check out the Jekyll Island Club Hotel (originally built for the Pulitzers, Rockefellers, etc. and once the most exclusive social club in the U.S.) and the collection of late 1800s/early 1900s "cottages" (actually mansions) around it, built by some of the biggest names in our country's history (the previously listed Pulitzers, Rockefellers, as well as the Vanderbilts, J.P. Morgan, Henry Hyde, etc.). Later, when Gearry decided maybe he too would like a short nap, I took a bike ride as well and checked out some of the sights. Even though I brought three sets of rechargeable batteries for our digital camera, they all turned to be not-charged (duh) and so I only managed to get a few pictures of the trip and none of much else than our campsite and the beach. Next time we go, I'll try to get some of the historic district, as it's simple grandeur is hard to describe and better seen.

I thought the bike ride might help me sweat out some of the nastiness, but that was a big misconception. I felt way worse when I returned. We played it super low-key for the rest of the day, picking up a pizza and taking it, along with a cooler of refreshing beverages (that I am sure did nothing to help me feeling better in the long-term but seemed to help momentarily, if nothing else than to help me sleep) with us to the Clam Creek picnic area to watch the sunset. Afterward it was back to the site to build a fire, which we sat around for a couple of hours, enjoying some more beverages and listening to country music (because I think it's a law that you have to listen to country music while camping).

I slept slightly better on Saturday night. On Sunday morning we took the dogs for a long walk on the beach before coming back to the site to make a quick lunch and hop on the road to home.

All in all, I'm glad we went (the dogs had a blast, the island is amazing), but I'm hopping mad that I had to get sick and couldn't enjoy most of it. Gearry just felt bad for me all weekend and I could tell he was disappointed that I didn't feel up for much. We decided before we even left that we're going to try it again in a couple of weeks, hopefully healthy this time.

It's Monday night now and I'm starting to feel better. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that it stays that way since this coming weekend is the long-anticipated PIRATE FEST on Tybee! We are so not into dressing up like pirates and stuff, but we are totally into watching other people dress like pirates, concerts on the beach, and a healthy dose of drunken island revelry.