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Old Sheldon Church

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About half-an-hour north of Beaufort, there’s a place in the woods which has become one of the low country’s favorite secrets. The ruins of the Old Sheldon Church are found down a tiny road, in a forest of towering oaks draped in Spanish moss.

Old Sheldon Church

The Prince William’s Parish Church was originally built around 1750, but was burnt down by the British during the Revolution. It was rebuilt in in 1826, and once again met a violent death during the Civil War, finding itself in the path of pillaging General Sherman. Since then, the church been left to ruin.

But what ruins they are! Huge bricked walls with intact archways have somehow defied gravity, while a number of columns sprout from the ground as though in competition with the oaks. Scattered around the site are graves, some which are too worn to read, and other that have sunk into the ground. Within the church sits the tombstone of William Bull, who was of great assistance to Oglethorpe in the layout and development of Savannah, and after whom Bull Street is named.

Old Sheldon Church is a popular place for wedding portraits, for reasons which are immediately apparent. If you’re anywhere in the area, make sure to stop by and take in one of the region’s most beautiful scenes.

Location on our Map

South Carolina Hotels and Inns

Sheldon Church
Sheldon Columns
Church Ruins USA
Sneaky Church Entrance
South Carolina Ruins
Brick Column
Fake Rose
Spanish Moss Graves
Grave Flower
Tombstone OX
Grave Paw
MRS MJ
Brick Filled Tree
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January 25, 2011 at 2:34 pm Comments (7)

Ebenezer – Home of the Salzburg Lutherans

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A weathered memorial stone in Savannah’s Emmet Park pays tribute to a group of Lutherans from Salzburg, Austria, who immigrated to Georgia in the 18th century to escape the persecution of their Catholic homeland. Under General Oglethrope, Georgia had become known for its religious tolerance, and welcomed the the Lutherans with open arms. Along the banks of a river to the north of Savannah, they settled a town which they would name Ebenezer.

Salzburger Ghost Town

We knew nothing about Ebenezer other than the text on the memorial, but took a detour there, since we happened to be driving by. Ebenezer is difficult to find, barely on the map, and we were skeptical about finding anything of interest. As we turned onto Ebenezer Road, a “Dead End” sign greeted us, which wasn’t encouraging.

But after parking at a church and stepping out of the car, we realized there’s life here, after all, and were swept into the arms of Ebenezer’s unofficial welcoming committee. An older man greeted us enthusiastically and introduced us to his town, which has become a sort of historical heritage site. There’s a museum dedicated to the Salzburg Lutherans, the Jerusalem Salzburg Church built in 1769, and an original log cabin filled with colonial artifacts of German and Austrian design.

Ebenezer Swan Salzburger

Ebenezer doesn’t exist anymore, as an actual, incorporated town. But in its early days, the Lutheran community had been immensely successful. The town even served briefly as the capital of Georgia, and was the home of a state governor. But the Revolutionary War devastated Ebenezer, and it never recovered. In 1855, it was abandoned for good and the few remaining residents brought into the nearby city of Rincon.

The history of the place is fascinating, and we loved stepping inside the original log cabin and the church, both of which are remarkably well-preserved. We spent an hour talking to our guide, his son, and another man who’s lived in the area his whole life.

Our visit to Ebenezer was a lot more successful than we had feared. During the trip back to Savannah, I reflected on how diverse my country truly is, despite its relative youth. I mean, we had just visited an abandoned town in the middle of the Georgian backwoods, founded by persecuted Austrians. It’s these kind of weird cultural conglomerations which really make the USA special.

Georgia Salzburger Society – Website
Location on our Map

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Salzburger GA Church
Ebenezer Window
Wet Bricks
Ebenezer Bench
Salzburger Ebenezer
Johann-Martin-Boltzius
Ebenezer Open Air Church
Sugar Cane
Sugar Cane Press
Salzburger Tools
German Water Well
Ebenezer Ghost Town
Salzburger-House-1755
German Nachttop
German Waffle Iron
German Sewing Machine
Ebenezer Curtain
German Machine
German Tools
German High Tech
German Ant Trap
Ebenezer Fragrance
Ebenezer Couple Picture
Kate-Keebler-Neidlinger
Salzburger Coins
Old Ebenezer Clock
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January 24, 2011 at 7:04 pm Comments (6)

Bluffton, SC — Almost a Homecoming

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I grew up in Bluffton, Ohio. A Midwestern metropolis of about 3000 people, Bluffton is the kind of place where a knitting festival would be the cultural highlight of the month (if something as cool as a knitting festival ever actually took place). Friday night football, the bowling alley, and cruising up and down Main Street in an endless loop, looking for something, anything to do… ah, the memories.

Vintage Madhouse

So visiting Bluffton, South Carolina, was amusing to me. It’s about ten times the size of my hometown, and a lot more interesting. Located on the May River, close to Hilton Head, it’s a funny city filled with strange characters. We spent the day and on the way home, found ourselves in total agreement on one thing: Bluffton is bizarre.

Our unofficial guide for the day was a local. We met Nancy inside her store called Eggs N Tricities, which is packed from wall to wall with exactly the things you’d expect to find in a store called “Eggs N Tricities”: vintage clothes, old books, so-bad-they’re-good paintings, knick-knacks, seashell creations and other curiosities which defy description.

Blufton Church

Nancy was a perfect guide to Bluffton. She knew a lot of stories about the locals, and it was fun to see these beautiful old houses, and hear about the crazy things which happened inside them. We paused for a delicious lunch at a restaurant called The Cottage, which was still busy at 2pm, and then visited a few of the town’s shops. Bluffton is a very artsy town, packed with knick-knack stores and local painters. After finishing shopping, we went to the Oyster Factory and checked out the Church of the Cross, an impressive wooden structure which dates from 1857.

There are actually two sides to Bluffton, and the one in which we spent the day was the old part. The “new city,” built up and around the highway, is where the more usual businesses can be found, and is much busier. Nancy said that some people who live in New Bluffton have never even been to the old town. That’s shocking, because this is a special little place, and definitely worth the trip from Savannah.

Location on our Day Trip Map

Check Car Rental Prices

Cross Handles
Religion America
Blufton Bibles
Blufton Gas Lamp
Pink Church
Mystical Forrest
Blufton SC
Pier Blufton
Piers
Rare Jungle Monster
Tree USA
Modern Architecture Blufton
Orchard Green House
Orchard Wall
Blufton Orchard
Oyster Pile
Blufton Marsh
Artist is Out
Pierce Giltner
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January 14, 2011 at 5:49 pm Comments (5)

Skidaway Island

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Skidaway Island is one of Savannah’s larger coastal islands, found just past the Isle of Hope. Home to a state park popular with campers, it provides yet another great escape from the city.

Savannah Day Trip

There are campgrounds at Skidaway State Park, but since we don’t have a tent, we just spent a few sunny hours exploring the woods. There are a couple trails to choose from, and we went with the three-mile Big Ferry Trail. It was secluded and peaceful, and we enjoyed the views of oaks covered in Spanish moss, swampy marshes and shell middens.

The trail was almost too simple and the three miles passed by in a flash. We came upon a Prohibition-era bootlegging spot with barrels still rotting in place, and earthworks from the Civil War where Confederates prepared for a Union assault that never came. Near the water, there’s an observation deck from where people more invested than us might spot a bird or two.

Perhaps the most fun we had on Skidaway Island was driving east past the state park. Well, as far east as we could manage. This side of the island is dominated by gated communities with names like The Landings and Deer Run. There were a lot of SUVs and a lot of churches, all of which were busy, since it was Sunday. State parks, churches and gated communities… Skidaway might be the perfect representation of a certain type of American dream.

Location on our Savannah Map

Take The Savannah Ghost and Gravestone Tour

Savannah Hiking
Tree Wall
Tarzan Paradise
Haunted Island
Marsh Walk
Skidaway Island
Baumrinde
Shrooms
Savannah Island
Moss Carpet
Bowing Tree
Bootleg
Flying Over Savannah
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January 13, 2011 at 9:28 am Comment (1)

Wormsloe Plantation

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Located on the Isle of Hope, just twenty minutes by car Savannah, Wormsloe Plantation is a gorgeous historic site which allows visitors to explore both a museum and a couple nature trails. And this must be one of the only sites in America whose most memorable feature is its driveway.

Wormsloe Gate

Pulling into the plantation, the scene is breathtaking. Hundreds of live oaks tower over a straight road which leads deep into the coastal forest. Speed along the path is limited to 15 mph, but most visitors will want to proceed even slower. The oaks, evenly spaced apart and draped with Spanish moss, create a scene of incredible beauty, particularly on days when the sunlight filters through the foliage.

Wormsloe was established by Noble Jones, an English official who came to Georgia with Oglethorpe and the original settlers… and who had the coolest name of any of them. And throughout the succeeding generations, this plantation has continued to provide a home to the same family. Wormsloe’s mansion is still a private residence, although it’s opened often to fundraising events and private parties. When we visited, preparations for a wedding reception were in gear.

Wormsloe Library

There’s a museum dedicated to the area, with colonial and Native American artifacts that have been found here. But we paid it scant attention, wishing to spend more time outdoors; it was a beautiful day, and Wormsloe’s walking trails were calling to us. They brought us by the tabby ruins of Noble Jones’ original residence, and the shell middens left by the Isle of Hope’s original inhabitants: the Yuchi and Creek Tribes. We even found a makeshift “Colonial Village”, complete with a wooden house and big tools used by the settlers.

Wormsloe Plantation is one of the most photographed spots in Savannah, and for good reason. The grounds are simply stunning, and its proximity to the city makes it a favorite spot for day trips. Nature lovers and history buffs (and really, just about everyone) will find plenty to enjoy, here.

Location on Map
Wormsloe Historic Site – Website

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Wormsloe
Wormsloe Georgia
Wormsloe Chimney
Wormsloe Knecht
Fake Flowers
Wormsloe Lady
Antique Inbox
Secret Gardens
Deer Statue
Frida-Renne-Barrow
Relax in Savannah
Spanish Moss House
Plantation Ruin
Wormsloe Grave
Savannah Nature
Wormsloe Palms
Wormsloe Root
Tree Skin
Travel Blogger
Lost Bird
Wormsloe Bridge
Fuzzy Moss
Mogli Jungle Book
Savannah Fall
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January 12, 2011 at 6:36 pm Comments (5)

Captain Mike’s Dolphin Adventure

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I’ll admit it. I was already partial to Captain Mike’s Dolphin Adventure, out on Tybee Island, because I like anything featuring my own name. Mike & Ike’s? Delicious. Michael Jackson? The greatest ever. Mike the Headless Chicken? Best headless chicken ever. Mikes rule, and so it was no surprise to discover that Captain Mike’s Dolphin Adventure was totally awesome.

Savannah Dolphin

During our hour-long journey into the ocean, we saw probably over a hundred dolphins. Fine, they might have been the same dolphins over and over again, but we had well over a hundred “sightings.” Jumping dolphins, playful dolphins, sassy dolphins. One dolphin swam right alongside our boat, and I swear he was looking at me, so I named him “Mike”. He was my favorite.

Our guide was great, too. The whole time, she was sharing fun facts while continuing to direct our attention toward the dolphins. “Did you know that (3 o’clock!) while dolphins sleep, they keep one side of their brain (Jumper, 11 o’clock!) active at a time?” I don’t know how she spotted them so quickly, but her eyes were always well ahead of mine.

This tour is a great deal, both for the dolphin spotting and for the excursion out onto the water. If you even see one dolphin, it’d be hard to walk away dissatisfied, and if our excursion was anything like typical, you should see a lot more than one.

Location on our Day Trips Map
Captain Mike’s Dolphin Tours – Official Website

Download our Savannah Travel Book

Dolphin Xing
Captain Mike
Yellow Boat
No Tie Ups
Local Pelican
Swamp
Flying Birds
Tybee Island
Da Bird
Danger Dude
Jumping Dolphin
Jumping Dolphin
Double Dolphin
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December 13, 2010 at 5:00 pm Comment (1)

Hunting Island State Park and the Saga of Seventeen Splinters

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After spending the day in Beaufort, we drove out to Hunting Island State Park, a semitropical barrier island that had been used since the 19th century as hunting grounds.

Hunting Island Beach

The park office is in the middle of a huge forest which stretches out along six miles of beach. A number of hiking trails snake through the 50-acre area, which is home to alligators, raccoons, rattlesnakes and more. We started our exploration by climbing 167 steps to the top of the island’s light tower, out of use today except as an excellent lookout point.

After a quick stroll along the beach, we set out on a trail that led by a lagoon where fish were leaping out of the water. The fishermen lining the shore all had big smiles and full buckets. It was a beautiful day, and I was in a great mood. As the trail wound into the forest, I got to feeling energetic, “nature-y” and brave: a combination which nearly always leads to disaster. “Watch this,” I shouted to Jürgen, “I’m going to climb this palm tree like a monkey”.

Bushy

Before he could protest, I took a flying leap at the tree, grabbing it with my hands and feet. Mental Plan: Scurry up a few feet and have a laugh. Painful Reality: On contact, tons of prickly splinters entered my palms and I fell off backwards howling in agony. My hands were full of spiny, slender shards of thorn-wood. It was actually kind of scary to look at.

We cut short the rest of our visit to Hunting Island, and returned home, where I employed tweezers, a needle and copious amounts of vodka to get the splinters out of my hands. It would take more than a month to fully heal.

But of course, the lesson isn’t to avoid Hunting Island… it’s a beautiful place, and I was sad that we had to leave so early. No, the only real lesson to be taken away from this pathetic anecdote is: don’t be an idiot.

Hunting Island – Website
Location on our Map

Hunting Island Book

Dolphin
Fishing Hunting Island
Light House Hunting
Hunting Island Light House
Light House Entrance
Light House Stairs
Light House Detail
Light House Lamp
Optical Illusion
Shadow Walker
Sneaky Beach
Beach
Hidden Beach
Hunting Island
Fishing in the South
Fake Alligator
Bizarre Wood
Eerie Birds
Palm Hunting
Roots
Yellow Spider
Splinter Hand

Our 91 Days in Oviedo, Spain

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December 9, 2010 at 5:52 pm Comments (4)

Day Trip to Beaufort

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We took a trip to Beaufort, South Carolina, which is about an hour north of Savannah. This small coastal town makes an ideal excursion, but as I realized after receiving a number of puzzled looks, it’s pronounced “Beww-furt” and not “Bow-fort.”

Beaufort Mansion

On arriving, we had made a beeline for the Old Point, which boasts incredible mansions overlooking the Beaufort River. A brochure from the Tourist Office points out all the historic homes, and there were plenty. On Laurens Street, we passed a huge brick estate built in 1852; its two stories and facade supported by four massive pillars. In the yard, an older gentleman was playing with a boxer. I asked if he owned the house, and his response was classic. “No, actually, the house owns me.”

And I don’t think he was just being clever. This is an area where the houses have more character and history than people could ever hope to attain. Even if you living in one of them, you must almost feel like a guest. The entire historic district of Beaufort was declared a National Historic Landmark, in 1973, for its gorgeous Antebellum architecture.

Although the Point was our favorite area of town, with its stunning old mansions, the city center also has a lot to offer, including some great restaurants along Bay Street. We had lunch at a stylish downtown joint called The Wren, where we wolfed down creative sandwiches stuffed with Southern specialties like fried green tomatoes.

Once we’d had our fill of food and architecture, we decided to round out our day trip to Beaufort with a hike in the Hunting Island State Park. It was a great day. And although I can’t imagine anyone would ever run out of things to do in Savannah, Beaufort makes for a great excursion, just in case.

Location of Beaufort on our Map

Beautiful Beaufort Inns and B&Bs

Beaufort Beauty
Beaufort Architecture
Banana Tree Beaufort
Beaufort Castle
Beaufort Bench
Beaufort Bench
Beaufort Lamps
Beaufort Pier
Beaufort Leaves
Beaufort Warning
Blue Flowers
Beaufort Porch
White Porch
Columns Beaufort
Crazy Tree
BMW Beaufort
Good Doggy
Cozy Beaufort
Dawg in the Hood
Fall in Beaufort
Evil Eye
Low Clearance Beaufort
Horse Ride Beaufort
Trapped Spanish Moss
Lamp With Character
Southern Design
Southern Living
Stairs to Nowhere
Stars and Stripes
Sweet Iced Tea

Beaufort Books

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December 2, 2010 at 8:19 pm Comments (6)

Fort Pulaski – The South’s Not So Invincible Stronghold

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The road to Tybee Island takes you right by Cockspur Island, home to Fort Pulaski. Originally built after the War of 1812, the fort is now a national monument.

Pulaski Entrance

Fort Pulaski has been well-maintained by the National Park Service, and a visit introduces you to both its architecture and history. When Georgia seceded from the Union in 1860, confederate troops moved into the impenetrable stronghold, in order to protect the city from attack along the river. Savannah had one of the South’s most important ports, and control of Fort Pulaski guaranteed the flow of goods which were vital to the war effort.

Fort Pulaski was thought to be unassailable. There nearest solid land is over a mile away, on Tybee Island, and so the Union was unable to place cannons near enough to damage the fort. But the South didn’t know that the Yanks had a new, secret weapon: the rifled cannon. And it proved effective. After 30 hours of devastating bombardment, the white flag went up over Pulaski. Union troops secured the fort and effectively shut down Savannah as a Confederate resource. It was a huge loss for the South.

There are guided tours of the fort every day, which do a great job of bringing the fort’s fascinating history to life. And we can also recommend a walk around Cockspur Island, for the chance to spot wildlife. We saw a deer during our visit.

Fort Pulaski National Monument – Website
Location on our Map

Download our Savannah Travel Book

Fort Pulaski
Pulaski Walls
Pulaski Draw Bridge
Pulaski Chains
Magic Waters
Pulaski Canon
Pulaski
Old Wheels
Spiffy Clean Canon
Pulaski Stairs
Pulaski Tabby
Pulaski TNT
Canon and a rope
Hooked Pulaski
Pulaski Defense
Savannah
Pulaski Chair
Sad Little Boat
Pulaski Soldier
Last Soldier Pulaski
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December 1, 2010 at 5:58 pm Comments (3)

In the Water with North Island Kayak

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Click here to buy kayaks online

There are a lot of activities you can do on Tybee Island, but one of the best is to go kayaking. We decided to take my brother, who happened to be visiting, as a surprise present for his birthday.

Lighthouse Kayak

We arrived early at North Island Surf & Kayak, on the interior border of Tybee Island. The shop’s owner was out-of-town, but his parents had come down from Augusta to manage the place. They were a friendly couple, possessed of that southern tendency to immediately warm up to complete strangers. We enjoyed long conversations both before and after kayaking, and before leaving at the end of the day, we all got hugged.

We spent the whole day out on the water, paddling up the Lazaretto Creek which flows inland, and then into the ocean. It was a wonderful day, the highlight of which came when a dolphin surfaced just ten feet from my kayak. Being outdoors on a perfect, warm fall morning, exercising muscles that haven’t been used in years… it couldn’t have been better.

The kayaks can be leased for the whole day, and are of good quality; despite being total newbies to the sport, none of us were in danger of capsizing. The shop is perfectly situated. You can choose to go upstream, paddle over to Fort Pulaski, or just coast along the coast of Tybee. They also offer day-long guided tours. If you’re in the mood for some action, check our North Island.

North Island Surf & Kayak – Website
Location on our Map

Kayaking Tybee
Pelicans
Mike Tower
Tybee Sunsey Kayak
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November 22, 2010 at 7:02 pm Comments (5)

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Old Sheldon Church About half-an-hour north of Beaufort, there's a place in the woods which has become one of the low country's favorite secrets. The ruins of the Old Sheldon Church are found down a tiny road, in a forest of towering oaks draped in Spanish moss.
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