Savannah – I
You’ve probably already heard the story about my sister’s birthday celebration, but I’ll tell it again just in case you missed it. It started with the book Annie Freeman’s Traveling Funeral, which is a wonderful story about a woman (Annie Freeman) who dies. She’s cremated, and she’d left instructions for a group of women friends to take this journey to scatter her ashes.
In the book, she has the trip all set up, with planned adventures and encounters along the way, and then of course, there’s always the unexpected. If you’ve never read the book, I recommend it, it’s very fun.
So Julia reads it, and thinks it’s great, but – “why wait til I’m dead? I wanna have the adventures while I’m still alive.” She turned 50 this year, and once you turn 50, you realize that you really can do anything you want to. At least, that’s my theory.
So that’s what she does. All year long, Julia goes on little trips with different people she loves. Now, here we are, December, the birthday year’s almost over, and our adventure is almost past due.
I wanted to go somewhere warm. She’s always wanted to go to Savannah. I wanted to see the ocean – don’t have to lay out in the sun, just need to see it, smell it, be near it. She’s always wanted to go to Savannah. It was the perfect plan.
We knew it might not be real warm. We knew it was a long drive. When we heard it was supposed to snow the day we were leaving, we even knew it would be smart to leave the evening before we’d originally planned.
We didn’t know that we’d pull into Savannah looking like this:
We left about 6:00 Sunday night, and driven through the snow, past Lexington, past Corbin (home of the original KFC, and close to where our grandmother had lived.) It was snowy, and kind of slick, but we persevered.
We stop at the rest area on the Tennessee border. Laugh at the sign that says, “Use caution, roads may be slick.”
“Well, no duh,” we say. “The roads are a little slick. Ya don’t have to tell us to use caution! But it’s only 58 miles to Knoxville – let’s at least get that far.”
And we blithely head on.
5 miles, and 20 minutes later, Julia says, “Well, it’s not so bad as long as there’s a truck or something ahead of us. Their lights give me some depth perception. But without that, oh, geez, I can’t see – well, I can’t see much of anything.”
Fortunately, an SUV passes us – we follow him for another 8 or so miles. Then he picks up some speed – “No! Don’t leave us!” we say, half laughing, and watch his lights fade away far ahead of us.
We creep on.
So when we see a billboard that says “Comfort Inn – Exit 141 – 5 miles” we don’t even have to discuss it. It’s got our names all over it.
And it’s a beautiful sight – as we finally slide onto the exit ramp, we can see it, sitting at the top of a little hill. Lining the driveway up to it are rows of Christmas lights, arranged to lead us safely in.
“Yes!” we breathe a sigh of relief.
The woman at the desk is warm and welcoming, even if she might think we’re a little strange for being out in this. The room is cozy and nice. We’re happy.
Julia examines the trip tic – yes, we still have a Triple A trip tic, she loves them. “I think we want to avoid the mountains as much as we can.”
“Ya think?” I say, then add, “Really – do we have a choice?.”
“Look,” and she holds out the map, pointing, “If we go this way, through Atlanta, see here – I think we avoid most of the real mountains, and it’s only about half an hour longer.”
I don’t even have to put on my glasses, I trust her judgment on this completely. But I put my glass on anyway, just so it looks like I’m a full partner in the decision making. “Mmmhmmm,” I say, and it does look like there’s a lot less elevation, “Sounds good to me. Let’s do it.”
Of course, there is some talk about leaving early, then we realize that’s foolish. “If we wait til after rush hour, the roads will be clearer, traffic won’t be at a standstill, we won’t have to deal with all those other drivers.”
Sounds like a plan to me.
So we start out the next morning, after a good night’s sleep. It’s a little slow going at first, but no real problems the rest of the way.
I stop and get the car washed right before we get to Savannah because the snow is finally all gone, and I don’t want my car to be embarrassed in front of all the pretty, clean cars. For some reason, the GPS on my iphone, which had been guiding us unecessarily, quits talking right when we need her. I’m driving again, so I can’t fix it without drifting off the road, but we manage to find the hotel anyhow.
And at last here we are! Our hotel is right in the historic district, only about a block from the river. The desk clerk is delightful, answers most of Julia’s questions, and assures her that the concierge will be able to tell her much more in the morning.
At last, checked in, settled in, and freshened up a little, we’re ready to head out for dinner…