The Ultimate Road Trip: THE SILVER SNAIL : A solo woman's full-time RV adventure
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Savannah, GA

I had recently been in contact with a long-lost friend who was now living on Hilton Head Island, and I was eager to catch up with her, so I headed straight down I-77 from Cleveland. It didn't matter that the temperature was in the 30s the night I arrived - it still seemed tropical to me, since there wasn't any snow or ice. So when Sarah came to visit me at the posh RV resort I had chosen as my initiation to RV campgrounds, we got some firewood and caught up while shivering around a weak campfire.

Hilton Head, it turns out, is not my style. It's an island of mini malls, golf resorts and "plantations" - what they call gated residential communities down there. I wondered how Sarah could stand living here, being so far removed from the walkable neighborliness of Portland, where we were neighbors. It DID, however, have a nice stretch of uncrowded beach where Riley could run off leash and where many species of shorebirds liked to hang out. While I was there, Sarah and I took days trips to Charleston (nice) and Savannah, GA, which I immediately connected with, maybe because Savannah College of Art & Design is a major presence there. We also scoped out Hunting Island State Park, which was rumored to be a gem. Indeed it was, and I quickly made reservations, since the RV resort was way out of my price range at $40/night.


I got a beautiful waterfront site at Hunting Island where the sound of the waves would lull me to sleep and Riley could run free on miles of empty beach. It wasn't peak season, so it was wonderfully uncrowded, but I could only get a reservation for 5 nights, as the place was booked for the weekend. I loved it here. I loved hearing the ocean and having a waterfront view. Beaufort, a good place for services and under half an hour away, was a charming little southern town with cafe porches looking out over a tidy waterfront park and marina. The weather was mostly sunny and averaged in the high 60s to low 70s, but it rained a couple of days as well. News from Cleveland and Maine spoke of more single digits and piles of snow.


Ahhh... Savannah, Georgia... beautiful, beautiful city. Blocks and blocks of beautiful antebellum and victorian architecture, shaded by moss-draped live oak trees and organized around 21 landscaped squares. It just beckons you to walk, which Riley and I did every day. He'd come with me to Gallery Espresso, where I'd work on my laptop for a few hours and he'd nap or make friends with the locals, then we'd go for a walk around town and have lunch somewhere like Zunzi's. Back to the coffee shop for another few hours of work, and then back to Peyote in the Snail before night settled in. Working at the coffeeshop was a good way to absorb Savannah's vibe and meet people and it was right in the center of town, which gave us a good home base for exploration.

While I finished a number of large work projects, I decided to stay here for a month, so I had scoped out my options for long-term accomodations around Savannah and settled on Hardeeville RV because it was a 10-minute drive to Savannah over the Talmadge Bridge. Len, the owner, was always very friendly, helpful and welcoming and I couldn't beat the price at $300/month.

I knew Savannah had a reputation for being one of the most unsafe cities. One of my friendly neighbors and a full-timer at the campground, Ben, had a campfire every night, so one night around the fire I asked him and the others what they thought about that. "I never, ever go into town without my 38," he said. Dorothy, a woman my mom's age, wouldn't even dream of going into town during the day by herself. From the way they talked, you'd think people were getting brutally murdered on every corner every minute of the day. This kind of talk definately had an effect on me and made me a little nervous, especially since I was still getting used to being a stranger in a strange land. But I have to say, i felt perfectly comfortable and safe in Savannah. One night I went by myself to see a free screening of the movie "The Honeydripper" at the Lucas Theatre, and really enjoyed experiencing the local culture at the event. I felt perfectly safe walking to my car, but was definately hyper-aware of my surroundings. Still, the crime that happens in Savannah is the kind of crime that happens in any urban area and it's something to be wary of at all times.

While I was here, I tried to hit all the hot spots like Bonaventure Cemetary, Wormsloe plantation and Tybee beach. I watched the weather channel and saw tornadoes making headlines not too far from where I was. I learned a delicious way to prepare collard greens, which were abundantly available, and loved 'em. The Dixie Sugar plant exploded, not even twenty miles away from my little home; I felt the trailer shake that night and didn't know what to make of it until seeing the news the next morning. I did some home improvements (new bed, tv/dvd, thule roof box), and by the time my work projects were finished, my time at Hardeeville RV was coming to an end and I was excited to start TRAVELING. I had been feeling like I had just come to Savannah to live in a trailer and work.


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