Paula Deen wasn't home, but we had fun anyway


S AVANNAH, GA.—Granddaughter Kennedy, daughter

Kathy and I had been

looking forward to a trip to Savannah to check out the Savannah College of Art and Design that Kennedy is interested in attending next year.

We had a trip planned this summer, but weather cancelled our f light and we just had to wait until we had another chance to go.

Our trip started off with a bang when I discovered, just before we got to the airport in Austin, that my driver's license, thus my picture ID, was not in my billfold. Just then I remembered that I had given it to Bill when he needed it to make some other reservations.

Uh oh! It is highly imperative that you have a picture ID with your e-ticket when checking in. A close scan of my credit cards, insurance cards and other cards turned up nothing with a picture ID except my Sam's card. Not good....

When we got to security, I showed my Sam's card and my travel itinerary and boarding pass and the woman in charge just looked at me. I also showed her my voter registration, my medicare card, my library card, my VISA card, my grandchildren's pictures and she still just looked at me.

Then she yelled, "Security," just like they do on television. A supervisor showed up right away and I went through this entire scenario with him.

They finally decided I might not be a terrorist (because a terrorist would have been much more organized) and they couldn't decide anything else to do with me, so they approved my boarding pass. Moral, we decided, was that you might be a red-neck if you use your Sam's card for your picture ID.

The flight was uneventful after that—and we landed in Savannah right on time. We had been teasing Kennedy about needing to have a Southern accent and we found out about that when we got to our motel.

Kathy told the clerk we might need a "cot" (since we were all in one room) and the desk clerk said, "Oh, you need a 'caht' for your luggage?"

The next morning, we picked up our rental car and began to explore the city. It was really easy to get around and we only got lost once when we turned right, instead of left, and ended up in the boonies.

Since no men were with us, we did stop and ask directions and found out we were going the wrong way and we had no problem after that. Kennedy had an appointment at 2 p.m., we found the place easily and had time for a delightful lunch at a tea room right across the street from SCAD.

If you look over Peggy's right shoulder, you will notice a pair of glowing eyes that belong to one of the resident cats that demanded to be fed—and only shrimp please—at the Crab Shack. If you look over Peggy's right shoulder, you will notice a pair of glowing eyes that belong to one of the resident cats that demanded to be fed—and only shrimp please—at the Crab Shack. We were able to accompany her on the tour and saw a lot of Savannah as well. One of the possibilities for a degree at SCAD is in historical restoration and the school, and the students in that department, have restored over 60 buildings and use them for literally all the classrooms, dormitories, cafeterias, library, theatre, student union building and much more.

We learned that SCAD was founded in 1978 and is now the largest art school in the nation. We were more than impressed.

We drove down to River Street and had dinner at one of the restored buildings there. There are many restaurants, hotels, gift shops and even musicians performing on the sidewalk.

The area also has an outdoor market with local goods from artists and craftsmen for sale. We found the food to be good everywhere we went, especially the local specialties and seafood. This night we enjoyed shrimp and grits, shrimp salads and lobster bisque.

We decided to take a bus tour the next day and this was a good idea. The bus driver sounded just like Forrest Gump as he told us about all the sights of the city.

The historical district and the Victorian district were especially beautiful and all the area is dotted with 24 squares or mini-parks right in the middle of the street which makes the driver slow down and enjoy the scenery.

If you've ever seen a picture of Savannah, you have probably seen Forsyth Park with its beautiful white fountain which dates to 1858.

This large park (30 acres) has a bit of everything, including tennis courts, jogging path, place for outdoor plays and concerts and it is the home of the Georgia Historical Society which displays historical artifacts and manuscripts.

The park's one-mile perimeter is among the prettiest walks in the city and takes you past many beautifully restored and historic homes and bed and breakfasts.

Across from Monterey Square is the Mercer-Williams House made famous by John Berendt's 1994 book and later movie, "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil."

We toured the lovely mansion on our last day there and also visited the book store appropriately named, "The Book" Store which features memorabilia, pictures, CDs and many other gift items which have connection to the book/movie or the city. Savannah is Georgia's oldest city since General James Oglethorpe, founded the 13th and last of the British colonies in 1733. Sadly, we were told, the founder believed that only hard work and temperance would reap prosperity and forbade the use of any alcohol in the city.

Modern day Savannah-ians believe that is the reason many settlers found their way to South Carolina.

The founder of the Girl Scouts, Juliette Gordon Low's birthplace is in the city.

The Wesley Monumental Church, an 1868 Gothic-Revival church is in memoriam to John Wesley, founder of Methodism. It was on our tour, as were Forrest Gump's bench in the park and the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist, the French Gothicstyle cathedral you can see all over the city.

It is the seat of the Catholic diocese of Savannah founded in 1799.

We got off the tour at the stop nearest to Paula Deen's restaurant and the City Market for some delicious food and shopping.

We had heard all about the long lines at the restaurant but when we walked up a 12:30 p.m. there was not a line in sight.

However, you couldn't even open the door and stick your head in and look around. There was a hostess stand blocking the door and you had to be "let" in, as if it was some kind of "Speak- Easy" joint.

By the way, there's a whole other Paula Deen Gift Shop next door, where I guess you're supposed to go in while you wait.

The hostess looked at us, as we grinned at her, and simply said "2:45."

I said "2:45 what?" She just stared and didn't answer.

I said "You mean, it's going to be 2:45 before we can get in to eat? It's going to be 2 1/2 hours before we can even go in?"

At this point, we all just laughed. We walked across the street to a cute little dress shop, without skipping a beat.

One of the funniest things that happened on our whole trip was when we left the hostess standing there and walked across the street, an older gentleman said to us as we walked by, "I wouldn't wait 2 1/2 hours if Paula Deen herself was gonna spoon-feed it to me!"

Yep, that was a unanimous thought. We ended up right around the corner in a lovely French bistro that Mom wrote a bit about last week and the food was delish! And no line!!

We decided to make the short drive to Tybee Island that evening since we had been advised by several people to visit "The Crab Shack" for dinner. (No relation to Joe's) and it was worth the drive.

The Crab Shack is a huge, rambling outdoor restaurant, complete with its own alligator pond. A sign said, "Please be safe. Do not stand, sit, climb or lean on fences. If you fall, gators could eat you and that may make them sick...Thank You."

We had a wonderful seafood boil complete with shrimp, crab claws, crawdads, mussels, all boiled to perfection with sausage, corn and potatoes. It was a serving for one and we three couldn't eat it all, but there were three hungry cats waiting for our leftovers.

The next morning, we visited the Bonaventure Cemetery that was prominent in the "Midnight" movie. It was a beautiful resting place with huge live oak trees draped with Spanish moss, which we found out is not really a moss and is not really from Spain, provided a background for huge monuments and sculptures which decorated the gravesites.

Kennedy enjoyed taking pictures of this art work. It was a quiet place and some sites had a view of the water which ran alongside the cemetery.

We signed up to take a tour of the Mercer House, the house where the incidents in the ''Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" actually took place.

We had been lucky with the beautiful weather, even though we had been told that it rains at some point during every day, and about lunchtime, the bottom dropped out and it rained enough for the entire time we had been there. Luckily enough, we all had umbrellas, but we still got soaked.

We had a wonderful Southern lunch out of the rain at the Olde Pink House. This is a pinkbrick Georgian mansion built in 1771 for James Habersham, one of the wealthiest Americans of his time with the original Georgia pine floors, Venetian chandeliers and English antiques.

After lunch, we strolled a few blocks in the rain.

Our trip wasn't nearly long enough and next time we go, we've already made a list of places we missed, like Miss Wilkes Boarding House and 1790 Cafe, two wonderful Southern food places to eat, a place called "Club One" where The Lady Chablis herself still performs once a month, back to Bonaventure Cemetery to see if we can locate James (Jim) Williams, Danny Hansford and the Voo Doo lady's grave.

Savannah is wonderful, we fell in love. If Kennedy goes to college there, as planned, Mom and my only question for her was "Where are we going to sleep?" But we're not worried, she'll figure it out.

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