Tuesday, March 15, 2011

A Day at the Beach--Sort Of

March 14, 2011
Tybee Island

We are on a little vacation just 26 miles from home. Dick bought a $25 raffle ticket from a Kiwanis buddy, over my objection at the outrageous cost, and, to his relief, he won us two nights at the Savannah Beach Inn on Tybee Island, validating the wisdom of his decision to purchase the ticket and invalidating my cheapskate objection.

Furnished in Victorian splendor, our Bed and Breakfast Inn is the centerpiece of Officers Row—a street of gracious homes built around the turn of the 20th century for high ranking Army officers serving at Fort Screven. The post was built for coastal defense, and occupied the north end of the island for half a century or so, although its big guns never fired a shot upon an enemy. It was active from the Spanish American War through the Second World War, when it was the Army’s only school for deep sea diving soldiers. George Marshall was a colonel in command here—maybe he even lived in this house.

Right now we are sitting in the kitchen, catching up on our e-mail while enjoying the cookies and milk our innkeeper provides for us every evening.

We have had a very full, but quite relaxing (for us) day, beginning with a breakfast of Bananas Foster French Toast at the Inn, which provided us with plenty of calories to fuel our bike riding adventures all over the island. In our quest for geocaches, we visited the island’s only cemetery, a very tiny plot originally created to provide a place of eternal rest for victims of shipwrecks and other drowning catastrophes. Modern analysis indicates there are no more than about 30 people buried there, including three beneath a gravestone that simply states “washed ashore.”

We rode to the beach, which was full of revelers celebrating St. Patrick’s Day week with temperatures well into the 70s. The bars have green beer and green margaritas, and the ice cream shops have renamed their mint chocolate chip ice cream to make it sound Irish.

We snagged a cache at the end of the crowded Tybee fishing pier, which has signs prohibiting shark fishing--a bit of a scary thought considering all the people in the water below who would prefer not to be swimming with sharks. While searching for another cache beneath a modest little fishing pier stretching into the Back River we saw some fishermen land a big ray.

Then we were off to the Crab Shack, “where the elite meet to eat in their bare feet,” to see if they still were harboring a hundred alligators in a big pen to amuse people who had to wait hours to get a table for dinner. Those little gators were an unforgettable sight the last time we were there, five years ago, and they remain so today. We can’t wait to share the view with our grandkids when they visit in a couple weeks.
We discovered another unique Tybee spot on our way back to the Inn—Ralph Douglas Jones Fish Art. Jones displays his whimsical and colorful fish sculptures made of found objects in the front yard of his shop, and a massive metal mermaid towers over the front door . It is impossible (at least for us) to pass it by without stopping to gawk--and giggle. At the entry gate there is a bucket with a sign requesting $1 for just stopping to look—we paid and considered it a bargain.
Sixteen miles and six hours after we left this morning, we returned, just in time for the Inn’s afternoon wine and cheese happy hour. We took our drinks and snacks out to the front porch where the sea breezes cooled us and kept the no-see-ums at bay. We agreed that we really need to vacation here more often.

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