Elizabeth A.S. Brooke

Crafting, traveling and everything in between.

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge

On our return trip stop in Savannah, we went to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge in Hardeeville, S.C.

There’s a 4-mile wildlife drive in this refuge and lots of birds and alligators can be seen in the water and shore.

It was a very cold day so the few alligators we saw weren’t very active.

Chris about missed this guy floating in the water./All photos by Christopher Brooke
Do not reprint or use without permission.

We did see lots of birds though.

Park rangers said we could get out and walk along the levees in the park, but we didn’t do that. We just stuck to the road and drove around taking photos of what wildlife we did see.

Oh, and fishing is allowed. Here’s a couple of men (way in the distance) braving the cold and pending rain:

The refuge is former rice fields that are now used as freshwater wetlands for wildlife. Driving around the refuge you can still see water control structures, which are used to control the water.

Although it was cold and windy, it was a nice refuge to visit.

You can reach the refuge from Savannah by driving north of U.S. 17 for 7 miles.

Savannah, Ga.

On our way to and from Florida, Chris and I stayed over in Savannah, Ga. This has to be one of my most favorite places ever!

I love the old architecture and how the historic city is laid out. From the many greens and walkability of the city to the old buildings and the riverfront, I can’t pinpoint one thing that I loved the most.

Capital building (I believe)
All photos by E.A. Seagraves or Christopher Brooke. Don’t use without permission.

Cotton Exchange

One cool thing was how, along the riverfront, buildings were built on existing buildings, creating three levels of road and buildings. I tried to take a picture to demonstrate this neat engineering, but I didn’t do it justice:

The third, lower level is River Street and is behind these buildings.

While in St. Augustine, Fla., we bought a print demonstrating this cool view at Bouvier Maps & Prints, 11-D Aviles St., (904) 825-0920.

Mr. Bouvier is quite the gentleman and a lover of old maps and prints. He took the time to show us some maps and Bird’s Eye Views of various cities, including Cincinnati, Ohio, and Savannah. Chris didn’t realize Bird’s Eye View prints were so expensive (anywhere in the $100s  to $1,000s!). So we bought the small Savannah print instead.

Mr. Bouvier also gave us the name and address of another map collector in Savannah, V. & J. Duncan, but the store is open odd hours and would be closed by the time we got back. So that’ll have to be a scheduled stop some other time.

Restaurants we stopped at include Churchill’s, an English pub, and Papillote, a small shop offering French cuisine.

Churchill’s was fine, although I found it odd that the waiter steered Chris away from the shepherds pie. He called it “bland.” How can you screw up shepherds pie?

Chris went with the traditional roasted chicken instead, served with sage and onion dressing and roasted potato. (Chris first asked for chicken curry, but was told the kitchen was out of the curry.) I got the portabella and vegetable panini with sweet potato fries.

For the most part, the food and experience was good and I would recommend the pub. Nice atmosphere and good view of the busy historic street.

I hesitate to tell you about Papillote because, well, it was fantastic and if I tell you about it, it will sure be crowded the next time we stop by to eat there.

This is a tiny little store with just a few tables. Most diners, I guess, are expected to order and take out. Luckily, on the cloudy, cool day we were there, one lady got up as we placed our order, allowing us to snag the only table that would be available for awhile.

Chris got the goat cheese, spinach, roasted tomato pie and I got the crab mango tartine. Both were served with mixed greens and ginger vinaigrette. Both were out of this world.

Before ordering, I couldn’t decide between the crab mango (served on toasted brioche with avocado and a spicy sauce), the Le Parisien (ham and swiss with brie and apple on ciabatta) or the goat cheese tomato pie that Chris got. All made my mouth water!

Also, quite charming, was the glass bottle with a stopper attached that I was given when I ordered water.  It was quite an experience to pour water into my (plastic) cup from such a cute bottle.

We also ate at Dockside along River Street. Our waitress was great and taught me how to tear into snow crab clusters, my first meal in Savannah and first ever snow crab. Across the street is where musicians play, entertaining the crowds with horns, strings and voices.

Some activities I could recommend, visiting any of the historic houses (we went inside the Juliette Gordon Lowe Home, birthplace of the Girl Scouts founder), strolling down River Street (so you can view the river and view the three levels I was talking about earlier) and visiting the various greens throughout the historic district and Forsyth Park, the largest park housing the city’s famous Forsyth Park Fountain (below) and where lots of people mingle, playing ball or visiting.

Juliette Gordon Lowe Birthplace

River Street

Forsyth Park Fountain

We also visited Savannah Smiles, a dueling piano bar. The night we were there, four bachelorette’s, yes, four, showed up with their bridal shower party. So, there was a lot of “Our bachelorette is better than your bachelorette” going on up on the sign board. You pay money to change the message behind the piano players, upping the price each time to change the message.

A lot seems to go on in Savannah too. While we were there, the city was hosting a music festival and a home and garden tour. We didn’t get to participate in either one, but next time we’ll research a little more before heading to the city so we’ll know what activities to squeeze in.

Trips ahead

In the coming weeks, Chris and I will head south for a pre-anniversary get away. Our anniversary isn’t until April 26, but we’re heading to Florida the end of this month. It should still be cool(er) in Florida then.

On our list of must dos: Everglades, Salvador Dali Museum and Butterfly World. None of those selections should be a surprise to anyone. We love state and national parks, I am a big Dali fan and we both love butterflies, although Chris is the one you’ll find chasing the winged beauties with a camera. I swear he has thousands of butterfly photos on our Mac.

A coworker also suggested the Thomas Edison and Henry Ford Houses in Fort Myers and the Ringling Museum in Sarasota. If we have time and make it out that way, we’ll investigate.

Chris also has two cousins in Florida we hope to visit. So far we haven’t heard back from them. One lives near Tampa and the other near Miami.

To make traveling easier, we’re going to stop in Savannah, Ga., on the way down and back. So far we haven’t made any plans for this city. We’re planning on getting lost and exploring all we can with the little time we’ll have to spend there.

Sidney, unfortunately, won’t get to come along. She’ll hang out with her grandparents in North Carolina. Hopefully she’ll get along with their new puppy and share her water bowl and food dish if the puppy wants to stick her snout in.

I plan to take plenty of pictures and will share some of our adventures with you. If anyone has any suggestions of places to check out, let me know by posting a comment below or sending an email here.