Vacation observations


After four days in Savannah, I learned many things. Spending time together is the most important thing you can do for the relationship with the one you love. And four days in Savannah is simply not enough time spent in this wonderful city.

On the first day in Savannah we walked over 10 miles, and I learned about the founding of the unique and important river town. The Wife spent hours explaining that the settlement was the last of the 13 colonies and was built on a bluff overlooking the river. It seems some English guy named Oglethorpe had vision of a town square, but just one wasn’t enough.

After kicking the native Indians off the land, he built an additional 21 squares, all aligned in a perfect grid pattern. In the center of each was a park complete with a fountain, monument or statue of some old dead guy. One even had a statue of the Indian chief he had stolen the land from.

The squares were surrounded by a church, houses, eating establishments and coffee shops. I think the last two were added later, but I’m not sure. When I asked The Wife why Oglethorpe was so into food and coffee, she just started to laugh and never really answered me.

That night, we toured the many shops down on River Street. Aptly named because it’s the closest street to the Savannah River — those earlier settlers were really smart. Unfortunately the large cobblestones made the walking difficult.

The Wife said when the English ships came to the new world they were empty except for a cargo hold full of the stones used for ballast on the way over. Upon docking sailors offloaded the stones and the colonists, for lack of a better idea, used them for streets and buildings.

At the end of the evening, while waiting for the elevator of our inn, The Wife asked if I had learned anything about River Street. I answered, “Yes, I had no idea the English way back then were so into bars, tattoo parlors, and t-shirt shops.” I guess she agreed with me. As the doors to the elevator opened, she smiled, shook her head and stepped inside.

Note to reader: It seems that the art of elevator etiquette has been lost on the young – so here’s a quick lesson. First, if you and your date are on an elevator, and not getting off when the elevator stops, don’t stand right in the middle of the doorway, especially if you’re the only ones occupying the elevator.

If you do elect to do so, don’t be surprised if some tired old guy on vacation – who’s just walked 10 miles around squares in the hot sun – is a tad-bit grumpy when asking you to get out of the way.

Second, if the elevator you and your date are standing in front of arrives on your floor and the doors open with the occupants packed in like sardines in a can, don’t be surprised that, if you try to enter before letting the people off, especially the old grumpy guy who’s been walking around all day in the hot sun while drinking gallons of water, you get bowled over.

The second evening we enjoyed a glass of bubbly adult beverage on the rooftop of our inn. Five stories up there was a romantic view of the Savannah River and the sunset. We watched as container ships even taller than our inn, destined for ports unknown, pushed by miniature tug boats, floated by. The tugs resembled ants pushing an elephant.

Once finished with their important job of safely guiding the huge ships out of the docks and down the river, the powerful little tugs gave us a friendly, “toot-toot” as they passed back by.

The last evening we sat on a park bench — just like the one Forest Gump occupied for that famous movie about Bubba Gump Shrimp. The movie was filmed in this southern town, along with “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.”

It wasn’t midnight, and as far as I could see, there was no evil lurking around, except for a few mosquitoes. So we sat under a canopy of live oaks, draped with wedding veils of Spanish moss, as we listen to the sad tones spilling slowly forth from a street-corner saxophonist.

The entertainer was a student at the local arts college. Playing along, or so we thought, was an old man as aged as the oaks. It wasn’t until he had finished the third song that we realized his guitar didn’t have any strings. After two hours their donation box was full. Even so, when we passed we added to their overflowing stack.

Sadly on the fourth day we had to pack and leave the wonderful city, but we came away rested, with not only a better understanding of life for the thirteenth colonists, but a bunch of those little shampoo, conditioners and miniature soaps. One look at my picture above and you’ll know why I left the shower caps behind.

[Rick Ryckeley, who lives in Senoia, has been a firefighter for more than two decades and a columnist for The Citizen since 2001. His email is]