A trip south with the local senior center group of travelers proved to be quite an adventure. When people ask if I am going to write about a trip my answer is always the same. "It depends what happens!"
The time on the bus was spent knitting, sewing, reading, and working puzzles. I did not do all of those things, but most of us kept busy as we kept our eye on the scenery. I got a lesson on how to work an electronic reading device that also had games on it while playing a word game with my seatmate. If we did not find the longest word, it reverted to the beginning stage.
Of course, we had plenty to eat. When you travel with the seniors you get plenty of bathroom/exercise breaks and plenty of food. We never miss a meal!
The first day we rode all day. The second day was filled with sights to see. Our first stop was for food. The Boone Hall Farms store also had a gift shop with many homemade items for purchase. We found F.R.O.G (fig, raspberry, orange, and ginger) jam as well as T.O.E. (tangerine, orange, and elderberry) jam. Several of us just had to purchase them.
Our itinerary had us visit two plantations that were very different. Restoration has become a big thing down south. They definitely want to preserve their heritage. The first plantation was a work in progress. Since it is designated as historic, certain rules must be followed. There were a whole row of slave cottages that were restored. Each one had a presentation for us to watch. There was also a young lady who did a program on the Gullah culture. She assured us we would see many people weaving beautiful baskets out of reeds and grasses.
The second plantation had a section that was part of the Audubon Society. As we rode the trolley through the swampy area we saw many alligators. Some were walking out of the water. Some were sunning themselves on boards arranged for just that purpose. We saw white egrets and great blue herons as well as red-winged blackbirds and cardinals. We were able to view more of the manor house on this estate.
Many of us found that our tender northern skin was not used to the bugs we encountered. I became a victim of a tiny red spider the first day we were out while I listened to a lecture. That bite bothered me all week long. I was thankful, however, that I did not get as many bites as others did. There was a lot of itching on the bus.
One member of our group was particularly susceptible to accidents. He mistakenly got locked in the bus while he was using the bathroom when we stopped for a break. Quick thinking on his part and a phone call to a friend allowed him to catch up to the rest of us. That same gentleman also took a spill when he tripped over uneven pavement on his way out of a restaurant. I hear tell that was not to be his last fall either!
We visited the only tea growing plantation in the United States. The Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island is the home of American Classic Tea. They sell the tea fresh in bags and as loose tea. They were preparing for their annual "First Flush Festival". The first flush is the tea that is cut from the plant the earliest.
One evening was spent at the Paula Deen restaurant in Savannah known as the Lady and Sons. Our rooms were in the heart of the historic district. We were treated to a sumptuous buffet in an industrial style building as we dined on the third floor. Many purchased cookbooks and other memorabilia. Since I cook a lot, I chose wooden spoons with her logo.
The evening we arrived on Jekyll Island was a treat. We had reservations at the Jekyll Island Club. I could not believe my eyes when I entered our room. When my roommate arrived she called me because she could not immediately find me. Of course, this was off-season for them.
We had a suite with two bedrooms, two televisions, and two beds. There was also a balcony that ran around the outside of the turret that was our room. There were wooden rocking chairs and a table for us to use to observe a croquet game that was in progress. Boy were they ever serious. There was even a referee.
We could not resist exploring the circular staircase in the turret. When we climbed the nineteen step ladder we found a telescope as well as a full observation deck. It was a wonderful place to watch the gorgeous sunset that evening.
Our last day was in what is affectionately known as "Mayberry", otherwise known as Mt. Airy, NC. Andy Griffith was born there and grew up there. We ate at a family owned diner that made everything from scratch.
You cannot count out the time on the bus. A lot of visiting was done with everyone getting to know their fellow travelers. Thanks to a fellow passenger who told me about getting a $10.00 coupon at the hotel, my first meal of the trip cost me a whopping $.23. When you travel together you look out for each other.
The weather was wonderful. The only rain that we had was on our way home. Although the south can be hot and humid, we did not find that to be the case. It was pleasantly warm, but there was little to no humidity.
Thanks to Margaret, our escort from the senior center, we all had a marvelous time.
Ann Swanson writes from her home in Russell, PA. Contact at email@example.com