Keeping busy

I haven't posted for awhile because we have been really busy . . . working.  I work in the office during the week and Randy escorts the incoming RVs to their sites.  This makes him an official "Escort".  I think being an Escort was on his bucket list, but this is not what he had in mind!  In addition to this, we run the Snack Shack during lunch on Friday and Saturday.  And for the Memorial Day weekend there were a couple of additional events.  Saturday evening Randy served a hot dog dinner, comprising of a Nathan all-beef ¼ pound dog with chili, onions and relish, plus coleslaw, cheesy potatoes, baked beans, chips, cold soda, cookies and brownies.  We served 72 people while Neil entertained the crowd, and everyone had a really good time.  And on Sunday we opened the Snack Shack to serve Banana Splits.  Three scoops of ice cream - strawberry, vanilla and chocolate - dressed with a banana, of course, plus whipped cream, chocolate sauce, chopped peanuts and a cherry.  We sold 60 of those in a little over an hour.  One day off, and then it was back on the regular schedule.  And I'm getting a little tired!

Two Years Ago: Arriving in Nova Scotia
Three Years Ago: Life in a small Alaskan town, part 1

A Beautiful RV Site in a Beautiful RV Resort - May 19

Recently a Workamper couple finished their commitment and left the Resort.  The site they were on has a better pad that the site we were on, so we moved our RV there.  The owner of the site has replaced the concrete pad with beautiful paver stones and widened it a lot.  This is so much better for sitting outside. 
Our backyard includes a nicer table and chairs, and the site goes all the way back to the lake.
When I took the dogs out in the morning, I saw a visitor from the lake.
The next day I found what attracted him.  In the morning there are a lot of little hopping things in the backyard.  They are so small that at first they look like bugs, but if they hold still for a moment you can see they are tiny, tiny frogs.  They almost disappear in the grass...
But if they move, you can find them.
They are afraid of people and jump out of our way so I don't think they will be a problem.  It's the stork that they need to be afraid of!

Two Years Ago: Arriving in Nova Scotia

Cemetery Thoughts

Before we went to Savannah, we bicycled to a little cemetery here on Hilton Head Island (4.4 miles, each way!).  The Zion Chapel of Ease and Cemetery is a small cemetery with just one thing in common with Savannah's big Colonial Park cemetery - there is no telling where most of the bodies are buried.  This little cemetery has been desecrated by weather and people for years.  A big store swept over the island in 1893, and the remaining cemetery was neglected for a long time.  Now a fence surrounds the known cemetery but there are not many headstones left, and there are some kind of stones scattered outside the fence. . .  
The Baynard Mausoleum, built in 1846, is still standing but it's getting shaky.  Because of that shakiness, the deceased Baynard family members aren't here anymore.  But the mausoleum is billed as the "oldest intact structure on Hilton Head Island" and there is a project underway to sustain it.

The first chapel here was started in 1767, and the earliest documented graves are from 1795.  This is the resting place of some Revolutionary war veterans.  On one grave someone did a nice job of adding a new marker while leaving the original one - it seems very respectful.  Interesting to think how Isaac Baldwin would have lived, so long ago.
This place has been here so long that one of the trees has grown around a headstone.

I don't know why I like old cemeteries, but I do.  I get the same feeling from ancient hand prints on cave walls -  like a specific person is reaching out across time.  These markers are for people who lived full lives, were missed when they died, and documented by stones so their lives would not be completely forgotten.  It doesn't really matter that we will never know them, it only matters that these stones mark their existence, and the existence of their slice of time.

Savannah - beautiful, historic and haunted

We've had a few days off now and it's so nice to get out and see the area.  A couple of days ago we went to Savannah for a walking tour.  We were going to take the tour on Friday but found our tickets were only valid on Monday through Thursday, so we high-tailed it over there in the afternoon.  It's hard to find parking in Savannah, so we parked on this side of the river and took the ferry across.  The ferries are free and fairly quick so it's a good option.
We didn't have much time before the tour so we just grabbed a sandwich at Five Guys.  That was the first time we've been disappointed by Five Guys - the burgers were really small.  But we didn't have much time anyway so we scarfed the burgers and went out to meet up with our tour guide.  One of the first things he told us was about the streets.  Many of the riverfront streets are made of big, ungainly rocks. According to our guide, the reason is this:  When ships arrived from Europe, they carried rocks as ballast.  When they loaded the cotton or whatever was being shipped out, the rocks were left on the riverfront.  A certain Irishman offered to get rid of them, for a fee.  After awhile the combination of rains and carriages made the riverfront a muddy mess.  The Irishman then offered to bring back the rocks . . . for a fee.  He made a nice business from those ballast rocks and the Savannah riverfront has some interesting roads, which, by the way, are tricky to drive or walk on. 
The sidewalks are usually made of Tabby, which is a combination of lime, sand and crushed oyster shells.  That tells you how common oyster shells are here - they literally pave with them.
One of the first buildings we saw was the US Custom house where, according to our guide, General Sherman stood on the roof to survey the city while he was deciding whether or not to burn it.  I can't find any supporting evidence of that but I learned elsewhere that he did review his troops here.  This is part of what I find so fascinating about this area.  I am used to "history" being in National Parks or museums.  Here it is in the streets and buildings that are used everyday.
What else did we learn?  Well, we learned why older houses here often have a lower level that is halfway underground.  According to our guide, the goal wasn't to lower one level of rooms, it was to raise the other.  The problem goes back to those muddy streets.  The lower rooms were usually kitchen and storage rooms, while the parlor and sitting rooms would be on the raised-up main level, away from the dust and mud that was raised by passing carriages.
I learned about Creek Indian leader Tomo-chi-chi, who was very helpful to the English settlers, making sure they didn’t do things that would start wars with local tribes.  When he died Savannah gave him a nice burial, but decades later a great big monument to William Gordon was set up directly on top of his grave.  To be fair, William Gordon’s descendants weren’t happy when they found out about it, and they personally setup a memorial to Tomo-chi-chi nearby.

I also learned that haunting is an inseparable part of the Savannah culture.  Whether or not that was true before "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" I don't know, but it is absolutely true now.  Currently Savannah has the title of the most haunted place in America.  Apparently much of current-day Savannah is built over at least 4 big graveyards, including the old Jewish cemetery.  Some are mass graves, from the times of cholera and yellow fever, and because the town basically burned down twice (not Sherman; it burned in 1796 and 1820), a lot of records have been lost.  They know the locations of 3 of those big graveyards but the 4th one could be anywhere.  So although our walking tour was not advertised as a haunting tour, a significant amount of it was.  

Our guide pointed out the CVS Pharmacy that closes at 6 pm, ostensibly because if they stay open later than that, the ghosts start thumping on the walls.  This theme - loud thumping if workers stay in the building after dark - is repeated at several buildings in town.  The ghosts seem to believe the town belongs to them after dark (or maybe the employees want to go home on time?).

Juliette Gordon Lowe, founder of the Girl Scouts, lived here, which gives Savannah the best of both worlds - a chance to combine history and haunting.  Her mom had a wonderful marriage and apparently didn't leave her house after she died in 1834; Juliette had a horrible marriage and apparently didn't leave her house after she died in 1927.

Our guide told us his own story; one night he woke up to hear footsteps coming upstairs towards him.  He stayed awake for almost an hour, scared and waiting, but nobody appeared at the top of the stairs, so eventually he rolled over and went back to sleep.  Now if I lived somewhere where I heard unidentified footsteps or after-hours thumping, I'd move.  But in Savannah they just leave the office before dark and go back to sleep.

Madison Square is one of the 20 pretty parks in Savannah - pretty, but with some dark edges.  The Sorrel Weed house, on one side of the park, is where a wife found her husband "with" a slave; wife committed suicide by jumping from the 2nd story and slave hanged herself. . . maybe.  Another version is that the husband hanged the slave, after the suicide.  Either way, not a happy home.  

On another side of the park is the Green Meldrim House.  This is the most expensive house in the city - it cost $93,000 back in 1853.  Hoping to save it from those @#!% Yankees, owner Charles Green offered it to General Sherman as his headquarters while he was in Savannah.  The General took him up on the offer, stayed there, and was suitably impressed.  Charles Green has another footnote in history; when Sherman sent Lincoln a telegram to present him with Savannah and 25,000 bales of cotton, that was Green's cotton.

Nearby is the Colonial Park cemetery.  I almost called it the DAR cemetery because the beautiful entranceway is labeled DAR, but it turns out that is a reference to the Daughters of the Revolution who donated the entranceway.  I love old cemeteries.  This one was started in 1750 and the city has grown up around it - and over it.  Moving graves is such a troublesome business, so when the city needed more room, only the headstones were moved.  There is no way to know where all the bodies are but they are definitely not all in the cemetery.  Even this mausoleum isn't all the way inside the cemetery.

The cemetery is supposed to hold about 10,000 bodies, including a lot of victims from yellow fever in a mass grave near the back.  One story is that there were 666 yellow fever victims but the local church rounded that number up to "about 700".  There are about 600 headstones in the cemetery now, and even allowing for some missing stones, it's hard to understand that 10,000 number.  Our guide offered one solution; the mausoleums can hold a lot of bodies.  It was common for a family to use one mausoleum for many generations, and just keep adding to it as needed.  Nowadays you can just barely see where the mausoleum doorways used to be - the small brick archway at ground level is the top of the doorway. Back in the day there would have been an open space there, with steps leading down to the door.  Over time, as the mausoleum was no longer used, the stairways filled in.

And they didn't use a fresh coffin for each person.  When someone in the family died, they opened the mausoleum, moved the coffin's last resident aside, took the coffin out and and reused it.  If there are only one or two coffins in there, you really can fit in a lot bodies.  By the way, this practice of reusing coffins is how the family learned they had buried someone alive; if you opened Aunt Ida's coffin and the inside lining was all scratched up, you knew. 

Well, there are less gruesome sights and stories in town.  The original Girl Scout house is here, with a small, beautiful formal garden in front and stone lions by the door, lying down instead of sitting up.  And Savannah is home of Pinkie's Lounge, where Jimmy Carter stood on the bar to announce his run for the Presidency.  The country's oldest continually-operating theater is here, open since 1818.  The oldest house in Savannah is a little one-story house that was built in 1734.  At some point the little wooden house was raised up and another little brick house was built under it.  So now it is the second story of a two-story house.
And there is something else special here - actually, it is something special all over the South.  The trees contribute so deeply to the unique Southern atmosphere.  I'm from the Midwest, where the beautiful deciduous trees of the plains, such as maples, oaks and elms, live; they grow tall and round and in large groves that line the roads and cover the hills.  Here, especially by the roads and in town, the great Live Oaks grow.  They demand room and can cover a whole city block.  Their branches twist and turn, as if mimicking the wrought-iron railing of the old houses under their boughs, and Spanish Moss softens their silhouettes.  I find it impossible not to be affected by these beauties; every one seems to be a piece of history.
Obviously, I liked Savannah.  A day off is always good; a day off in Savannah is even better.

Shorty finally has a friend to play with

Shorty has been with us almost 6 months, and the miracle finally occurred - Julienne started playing with him!  She doesn't always want to play, and if he gets rough she yelps high and loud, but sometimes she will condescend to play.  This has been a long time coming!
Shorty is full of energy so besides the social aspect, we welcome Julienne's help using some of it up.  He's always moving.  Sometime there is one fraction of a second when he's still . . .
And then he's on the go again!
Two Years Ago: Boston sights

Life is Good

I had a good day in the office today, and now I'm off for a few days.  For dinner we went to One Hot Mama's again. The Wednesday special is ribs - buy one, get one free.  And they do ribs right.   
Back at the Resort, time for the  hot tub.  Life is good.

Two years ago: The mystery of Gettysburg 

Cinco de Mayo in the Low Country

We had a Cinco de Mayo party tonight for about 50 people.  Randy diced, prepped, cooked, shredded and baked a ton of food:  cheese enchiladas, soft tacos with pork, chicken and beef, beans, rice, salsa, shredded cheese, lettuce, tortilla chips and cheese sauce, sour cream and jalapenos, plus tres leches cake and bread pudding with vanilla sauce.  
We had a piñata, of course, and since this is the Low Country, our piñata was an alligator.  Since this was a grown-up party, it was stuffed with little bottles of booze.  Good party! 
Two years ago: From the ridiculous to the heartbreaking in Pennsylvania
Three years ago: Getting started in Alaska

Food instead of sight-seeing - not a bad trade-off

Hmmm, it's been awhile since I updated the blog.  The thing is, the only things I have been doing are (1) working in the office and (2) food.  Since I don't write about what goes on in the office, I guess it's back to the food!

For starters, we had another Tea Party on Tuesday.  This will probably be the last one for a while - it feels like the right time to switch to something else.  Our theme for this one was Australia so we served Lamingtons, Fairy Bread, Pavlova with berries, and (just for grins) Vegemite.  It was all delicious except for the Vegemite ...that is an acquired taste and I most certainly did not acquire it.  But the whole idea of the Tea Parties is to try foods from other cultures so it's all fun, even the parts you don't want to repeat.
We did find a good diner on the island.  It's called Harold's and the food is both quick and tasty.  To order you take a card with a list of ingredients and check off what you want.  In my case it was sausage, egg and cheese on a Kaiser Roll.  I don't know if this looks good but it tasted great!
Last night we went to the "Meet and Greet" here at the RV Resort.  One of the new Workampers plays the keyboard, which added some extra fun to the gathering.  About 20 people showed up, most bringing some kind of finger food.  Randy made chicken and cheese quesadillas which were, of course, delicious.
And this morning we served a breakfast buffet of fresh fruit, fruit parfait, coffee cake, scones, pastries, toast and English muffins.
But today was cold and rainy - again.  I don't know why this weather is so goofy.  We should be practically into summer heat but today everyone was wearing sweaters.  Nobody was in the pool area except one couple who were determined to enjoy the hot tub, even if they had to huddle under the table top to avoid the rain.