Forest Bathing, A Cat Scare & Southern Charm – Savannah, GA
It’s 90% humidity and temps are soaring. It’s the kind of heat that lies heavy on your chest, and seems to dampen the world around you in a blanket of wet. Everything is moist and sweat starts running down your back almost as soon as you exit the door. It’s intense and makes you daydream longingly of ice and snow and other such silliness.
Yet beneath this oppressive heat the forest is alive, as it so often is in the deep south.
There’s the constant buzz of insects (cicadas?) that rises and fades rhythmically like a rolling ocean tide, the hammer of a woodpecker that echoes through the trees, and a racket that sounds like some kind of insanely large monster crashing through the greenery, but ends up being nothing more than a teeny armadillo pushing its way clumsily through the weeds (man, that gave me a scare). And everything is thick and green and heavy like the humidity. Tunnels of old oaks intertwine and weave across the road, draped in long strands of Spanish Moss that sway eerily in the breeze. High grass covers the low marsh water that seems to run to the horizon. And sometimes the vegetation is so thick you can’t see the sky.
We’ve made it to the Low Country folks, where nature mixes with historic charm, where roots run deep and old secrets hide. And yeah….it’s frikkin’ humid, and frikkin’ hot!
Normally I couldn’t care less if we have hookups, but here I’m super thankful for a north-facing site, good shade, 50A and dual A/Cs. After our early morning walk we all retreat into our air-conditioned palace and hole up for the rest of the day. Being a “beast” has its advantages, at times 🙂
Forest Bathing At Crooked River State Park
We arrived in GA just over a week ago, our first foray out of FL in 5 months and despite the heat it felt SO good to be somewhere new.
We spent 4 nights at Crooked River State Park (full review coming) where we should have done some sightseeing (really we should -> Cumberland Island is right there, after all) but our site was just SO nice and we were SO happy to be back in nature that we literally didn’t do a darned thing. Within minutes of arriving at the park it was like our minds had cleared, rinsed by nature of traffic, noise and all those other man-made things that clutter our brains. We were finally surrounded by trees again (instead of people), and for 4 days we did nothing but forest bathe and just soak up that glorious, perfect peace. It was exactly what we needed!
We Meet-Up With RV Buddies in Skidaway State Park
After our nature re-adjustment we headed just ~150 mikes North to our reservation at Skidaway Island State Park (full review coming). This is a spot we’d planned to visit last year on our fall trip down the Eastern Coastline, but the hurricane flooded the park and it closed just days before we were scheduled to arrive. So we missed both this and Savannah, and that was something we wanted to remedy.
As an added bonus RV buddies Tim & Kerri (Tales From A Van-Tramp Couple) extended their stay by a few days so we could meet-up. It’s been a few years since we crossed paths with these two, and when we last saw them they had just met boondocking in the desert and were just starting their relationship (love on the road, baby…and yes it’s so darn romantic I’m a little teary-eyed just thinking about it!).
Since then they’ve traveled up to Alaska, down into Baja Mexico and cross-country, splitting their time between Tim’s van and Kerri’s Airstream. It was a joy to catch up and see how their travels had progressed. In addition Kerri, being quite a serious foodie, tracked down an awesome place for dinner, The Wyld Dock Bar just minutes from the park. GREAT setting, FABULOUS food and it was dog-friendly too!
The Cat Takes Us For A Scare
Life wouldn’t be complete without our paw-babies testing us every now and again, right?? Taggart took us through the wringer last year with her hyperthyroidism, but she’s had 3 blood-tests since her I-131 treatment and they’ve been perfect every time. Thyroid levels have been completely stable, kidney values have been fine and everything has been in-range. So, what was happening??
Over the past month or so I’d noticed she started acting more agitated and losing weight, despite eating normally (or normally for her anyway…she’s always been a very picky eater). The first thing you think of when this happens in a cat is hyperthyroidism, but I knew for a fact she was fine here (her last blood test was only 7 days ago). The second thing you think of is Cancer, especially when nothing else seems obvious (oh, please no…). The third thing, which came as a total afterthought to me was her teeth (could it be??).
Both our cats have suffered from resorptive lesions (feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions) over the past 7 years. It’s a genetic thing where the cats’ own body attacks (and slowly dissolves) his/her own teeth. No-one really knows why it happens and there’s no prevention (or cure) other than removal of teeth when they start to bother the cat.
Just to make things more fun, resorptive lesions usually aren’t caught unless you go to a specialized vet dentist who takes X-rays and actually looks at the root structure of each tooth. Taggart has been to several of these dentists over her cat-lifetime, but they are hard to find (and of course quite expensive too), and admittedly she hadn’t been to one in several years. She’s had regular teeth cleanings (every year), but no specialized dental visits. At this point she only had one canine left (the others have already been removed) so my hunch was a long-shot, but perhaps that last big tooth was the cause of her agitation and weight loss??
This is where serendipity lined things up for us….in a serious way!
I phoned a vet clinic in Savannah at random (Case Veterinary Hospital) who just happened to have a board-certified vet dentist (Dr. Kevin Leroy) on-hand, who just happened to be there that day (he only consults at this clinic one day every 2 weeks), who just happened to have time to see Taggart, and who had ALL the specialized equipment and training to both X-ray and remove the canine (which is a very tricky tooth to remove). Plus he could do it all that very same day! WOW!!! As soon as Taggart was under anesthesia, the dentist quickly saw that her entire canine root structure was almost completely dissolved and that there was an open lesion inside her mouth, which was very likely causing her significant pain. He took out the tooth, put in a graft to help the healing and sent her home with antibiotics.
It’s been a week since the tooth removal and Taggart is like a different cat! She’s totally relaxed, sleeping all day again (as a cat should), and gaining weight. I’m totally confident we found the problem, and deeply thankful that we found exactly the right guy, at exactly the right time we needed him. Universe to the rescue and kitty disaster averted….at least for now 🙂
We Explore Charming Savannah, GA
I have to admit I didn’t know too much about Savannah before we came here. I mean I knew it was an old southern town with British roots (back in the day), but I didn’t know too much more than that.
From the top-level map-view it looked quite large and the rigid grid-like layout was hard to miss, a rather different arrangement from its more randomly-laid-out northern neighbor (Charleston). I put that down to the difference between French roots (Charleston) and British Roots (Savannah), and my first thought was that we might not like it as much. I mean we both fell in love with the old-town charm of Charleston last year, and this just looked so much more formal and “organized”. Our first impressions (just driving into town) kind of confirmed this too. The first thing you notice are all those big, long, straight streets and the hidden bits of charm just don’t stand out right away.
But the more time we spent in Savannah the more it grew on us, and in the end I have to admit we totally fell for the city.
Founded in 1733, Savannah is the oldest city in GA and once you get off the main street you’ll find its got some real magic to it. There are reams of old churches, over 22 cobblestone squares with old oaks and shaded benches, outstanding local eateries, and quiet alleys hidden away between historic homes. Plus there’s the big Art College (SCAD) which brings a breath of fresh youth and quirkiness to town. And once you start walking around downtown, that grid pattern really makes sense! It’s such a livable city and it’s all so easily accessible either by foot or one of the many tour-buses that roam around town. Plus there’s no end of places to sit down and enjoy nature when you need to rest.
By the end of our time in Savannah we were totally taken and had it firmly on our list for a return visit. Here’s some of the charms we enjoyed the most:
If I had to pick the one thing that tipped the scales and finally seduced us in Savannah, it was her 22 historic squares. These little havens of nature in the city are amazing and, once we discovered their charm we simply couldn’t get enough.
General James Oglethorpe came up the idea of public squares when Savannah was established way back in 1733, and the city executed on the idea flawlessly. They are all over the center of town with nary a few blocks between them, so that you can always find a shaded spot to call your own.
And they are just so darn charming!
Old cobblestone paths wrapped in heavy oak trees, surrounded by the fragrance of manicured flowers and decorated with fountains (or statues). From the dreadlocked vagabond to the old guy in his pressed suit and fedora hat, to business folk taking a break for lunch, these squares are the center of life in Savannah. Plus they’re all paw-friendly and family-friendly, and the perfect places to find a bit of quiet in the city. We went into town twice just to walk the squares and could easily have gone many times more. HERE is an excellent map that shows how to walk them all!
Old Southern Towns always have lots of old churches, and they encompass so much of the history of a town. Savannah boasts a slew of magnificent examples too, from the Gothic Cathedral of St. John the Baptist to the Independent Presbyterian Church to the oldest continuous African-American church in the United States. Plus they’re all super accessible. Most of the churches are open (and free) to visit, and easily seen by either walking around town on a self-guided tour, or hopping on one of the many tour buses that operate downtown. They are definitely worth seeking out, both for their stunning architecture and their history.
Savannah Eateries & Beer
Savannah has got some seriously good stuff for both foodies and beer lovers. There are no less than three in-town breweries (Moon River, Southbound & Service) as well as many more brew-pubs, all of which are excellent, but out of everything we tried Service Brewing Co got our #1 vote. Excellent quality beer, both their IPA’s and (especially) Saison. If you can’t make their opening hours (they’re only open 3 days per week) then check out Crystal Beer Parlour just a few hops from Forsythe Park. They have an outstanding beer-list (lots of local options). as well as super tasty food. We didn’t manage anymore eateries than this, but the little taste that we had left us wanting much much more.
We only spent a few days in town, but by the end of it we were totally taken by its easy livability and charm. Plus we barely scratched the surface. We didn’t get to the new in-town Distillery, nor Bonaventure Cemetery nor even any of the many museums or historic homes. Definitely a town we’d come back to without hesitation!
VISIT & PAW NOTES: If you’re visiting Savannah by foot just park your car on the street near Forsythe Square (free) and walk around until you’re ready for a beer. All the squares are dog-friendly, free and super easy to visit plus there are plenty of restaurants with outdoor seating that allow paws too. For those who prefer a guided tour, simply hop on one of the many tour buses around town (no dogs allowed on the buses, tho’).
And We Finish With A Lighthouse!
Yet another reason we wanted to come to Savannah was to see Georgia’s oldest and tallest lighthouse.
Located on Tybee Island, just ~30 mins southeast of the city, Tybee Island Lighthouse is a “must see” for any self-proclaimed lighthouse nutter. First built in 1736, the current tower is the third iteration of the lighthouse and stands 145-feet tall with 3 wonderfully-preserved keepers cottages nearby. The tower still has a beautiful first-order Fresnel lens, plus there’s a fort (Fort Screven) right across the way too. We enjoyed a leisurely (but very hot!) visit to the Island during the week-day, climbed the tower, explored the keepers houses and finished off the morning with a most excellent Mocha from nearby (and super cute) Tybean Bean House. The only thing that would have made it better? If Polly could’ve come along 🙂
VISIT & PAW NOTES: The lighthouse is open 9:30AM-5:00PM everyday except Tuesday (closed). It costs $9 per adult ($7 kids/seniors) to visit. NO DOGS allowed either at the Lighthouse NOR on any of the beaches on Tybee Island (there’s a BIG fine for dogs on the beach here), so I recommend leaving pooch behind for this one. Click HERE for more info.
Believe it or not that wraps up our short trip to GA. From here we head in-land and to a brand new (to us) state. Here’s hoping some cooler weather follows us there 🙂
Useful External Links:
- Visit Savannah -> Official visitor website HERE
- Savannah Tours -> Good info on all the various tour options HERE
- Self-Guided Walking Tours -> Sample itineraries HERE and HERE and HERE
- Visit Tybee Island -> Visitor website HERE
- Tybee Island Lighthouse -> Click HERE and HERE
Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in this blog post may be affiliate links, so, if you click on the link and make a purchase, I will receive a commission. Amazon, the Amazon logo, AmazonSupply, and the AmazonSupply logo are trademarks of Amazon.com, Inc. or its affiliates. WheelingIt is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.
We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Sherry Fields says
Savannah and The Low Country! We visit every year when we are camping at our little island paradise “just up the road” Hunting Island, SC. Sadly, Hurricane Matthew took a direct hit on her and caused devastating damage. From the emails I get from my Friends of Hunting Island, she’s slowly rising from the ashes. The Lighthouse survived with no damage! No trip to our Low Country for us this summer. Hoping the winter sees us landing there for a few weeks!
We went to Hunting Island SP our first year on the road, and I still gave super fond memories of it. Plus it was one of the first lighthouses we ever saw on the road! So sorry to hear it was hit that hard during the hurricane. So many places were down here. One day we’ll get back there!
Mona liza says
Savanah is one of our favorite southern city.
I’m a southeast girl through and through so your description of Georgia was fantastic and right on. You’d love it even more with the cooler less humid weather you should be getting now. Universe is absolutely with you and kitty. Great diagnosis doc. Crooked River and Skidaway are favorites. Have you been to Hunting island?
Yeah I’d LOVE to come back with cooler temps. I bet it would be just perfect! We did go to Hunting Island when we first came out East back in 2010 and really enjoyed the visit. Gorgeous little park, great beach and lovely lighthouse!
Near Skidaway is the community of Pinpoint and the Pinpoint Museum. We enjoyed a visit there, learned a little of the Gullah history, culture and language. A small museum and a unique experience.
Oh sweeeet! We missed that, so we’ll have to add it to the list for when we return.
Connie and Steve says
Are you heading to Alabama next???
Not quite…we’re motoring to Virginia 🙂
Lisa Cantrell says
I laughed as I shook my head in agreement about being back on nature. We were in FL for only 4 months and as wonderful as it was to spend time with family my reaction was to be relieved to be travelling again and exultant to be back with trees!
SO happy to hear the good news about Taggart. What timing! How many lives is that now?
Also happen to agree about both Charleston and Savannah. We returned this year for a longer stay because we’d only had a half day visit last year. Only 2 days though because we were out at a Harvest Host site that allowed a 2 day stay which was great as we could not find any openings in state parks in mid March. Did you happen to visit the Colonial Park Cemetery? We spent time there last year learning a lot of history but this year went to see, and chuckle at, the gravestones the Civil War soldiers, encamped in the graveyard altered. They did things like make people’s death dates precede their birthdates and other things that remind me that some things don’t change.
Happy travels. I will say I’m glad we were there before the hotter weather hit. Of course, we are camped on the banks of the Hudson now, across from Poughkeepsie and experiencing lows in the 30s and 40s at night. And it’s MAY!
You know those low-40’s sound REALLY appealing right now LOL. No, we didn’t make it to Colonial Park Cemetery so that’s yet another one I need to add to the list. SO many reasons to return!!
Lisa Cantrell says
I’ll bet. I found myself yearning for WINTER this year in FL!
Brenda king says
SO glad Tagget is ok! Our kitty Sucia has had some travel/stress related issues that have meant a trip to the vet, so I know how it feels to look for a quality vet when you are traveling.
Savannnah sounds wonderful, on our bucket list for sure especially after your post. Will you be headed to the PNW this summer?
Oh no, poor kitty! Have you ever tried Bach’s Rescue Remedy? Or Feliway? One of our kitties (Rand) gets stress-related cystitis, but those 2 things have helped her tremendously. I rub a bit of Bach’s on her ears before we travel (and spray a bit of Feliway where she likes to hide) and usually she’s good to go. It’s made a big difference to her stress levels.
No travels to PNW this year (unfortunately). We’re exploring the East, and will be flying home to UK for my sister’s wedding. So, it’s all going to be focused out here. Next year we hope to be back West!
I was in Savannah last Nov, stayed in the RV parking facility down by where you board the tourist trolleys. The weather was better in November 🙂
The trolley tours were worth every penny in that town!
Thanks for sharing!
I read about that parking area, and if it had been any cooler we might well have considered it. Hopefully next time we’ll get a chance to try it. I love how convenient the location is!
Gerri & Mike says
It’s hard to beat nature….green and woodsy!!
Your adventures in Savannah sounded great!! I never thought about Charleston/French and Savannah/British…interesting!! Savannah is a special place!!
Gerri & Mike says
Oh I forgot….so glad Taggart is doing much better. We understand the worry about our furbabies!!
Just spent a week at Cape D and then to Humbug Mtn. We put those places on our favorites list! North Head lighthouse and Cape Blanco lighthouse are both beautiful. We thought about you guys lighthouse hosting there and were able to relate to your blog posts about them. Thank you!
Oh I’m SO jealous! One of our favorite spots in the entire US. So glad you enjoyed your visit.
Aaron and Beth says
So glad the fur baby is doing fine! It’s amazing to hear about stories of fate and how things happen are meant to be! The chances of the right doctor, at the right time, in the right city, just at the right time to find and fix the problem! A wonderful and amazing world we live in. I know you and Paul already know…but all things truly do seem to happen for a reason! I hope for things to keep going yalls way again for a long while!
I’m totally with you on that. Sometimes we seem to be fighting our way through life, whereas other times (like this instance) it’s like everything was planned out for us and we just had to catch the tide and ride it in. The coincidences are too much too ignore. Over the long term it’s all part of a bigger plan….and with a bit of luck we get to figure it out while we’re here 🙂
Faith Haywood says
Enjoyed the read and photos. When I see photos I admire I like to ask about the camera. Do you mind to share what you use, Nina? I am in the market. Thanks.
Sure! I use a pocket camera and a DSLR. Here’s my full set-up:
Craig MacKenna says
Your writing involves and affects me. After reading your drippingly feelable first paragraph, I was asking myself how/why two such mobile and intelligent people get themselves into such a situation. Then, in the rest of the post, you proceed to answer the question, convincingly. Thank you for a fine post.
hector lopez says
Spectacular pics Nina. Beautiful!
great write-up…..and of course fantastic photos…glad you figured out what was wrong with Taggart….
After five years full-timing we actually settled in Georgia, on Jekyll Island, just an hour south of Savannah, and we’re loving it. Next time you pass through, check it out (perhaps you already have). There’s a nice wooded campground on the island, beautiful beaches and forests, historical district and lots of quiet. Being northerners, we’re surprised at how much we like the south, for lots of reasons. (Love your descriptions.) Y’all come back!
Oh yes we LOVE Jekyll Island!! We stayed there our very first year on the road and had a blast. Lovely spot, great campground and great (dog-friendly) beaches. What a wonderful place to settle down!
Betty Marvin says
I’ve wanted to explore SaVanna for years, your article just reminded why this is a good goal to have. Thanks for a great post.
hector lopez says
And I forgot to say … BEST kittie parents EVER 🙂
So glad Taggart is on the mend. Poor baby.
I know…that poor gal has really had a wringer this past year. Hopefully this is the last scare we’ll have from her for a while.
exploRVistas - Diana and Jim says
Savannah has been on our list for a long time, Nina. Such a beautiful place! Glad Taggart is doing well.
Barbara Harper says
Savannah was one of our favorites in the south. Glad you have Bonaventure Cemetery on your list to come back too. Loved it. Spent almost a whole day there. I had read John Muir’s 1000 Mile Walk To The Gulf and his description of Bonaventure had me wanting to go there for years. Happy to hear kitty is back to her normal self.
Service Brewing says
Thanks for the support guys! Glad to hear you enjoyed our beers and one of our favorite spots, Crystal!
See you next time!
How cool to see your comment on the blog! Love your beer and will definitely be back.
Jim and Gayle says
Poor Taggart. Good to hear that her weight loss was tooth related. After all she’s been though you must have been really worried.
I’m really ready for just a few months of completely uneventful, blissfully normal RV travel…no pet issues, no family issues, no nothing…Here’s keeping all paws and fingers crossed 🙂
Steve Colibaba says
We absolutely loved Georgia and Savannah is our favourite visited city to date. There is so much civil war history and old world charm. Definately recommend taking a tour bus first to get the history of the area and the lay of the land.
Jodee Gravel says
Lovely photos of the nature and city we are looking forward to visiting in the future – sans the humidity hopefully! So glad the universe aligned for kitty to get taken care of quickly. Our little town of Santa Clarita in SoCal has numerous walking paseos throughout the various neighborhoods with sitting areas among the trees and bridges that cross major streets, and every time I see photos of the squares in Savannah it reminds me of how sweet it is to have the green and relaxing space right in town :-))
Poor Taggart! What a year for your fur-baby! So glad the Universe was right there with the answer.
Savannah is a favorite of ours, and we can’t wait to get back there. We rent a little pet-friendly historic flat there, and asked our landlord where the locals go to eat/drink. His answer was the couple blocks away Crystal Beer Parlor. We dropped more than a few coins there! We also loved having a square right outside our door. Perfect for morning pup walks. And Forsyth Park daily walks–the best!!
So glad you loved it, but also glad to know you’re now heading to cooler temps. It did, indeed, get hot & buggy early this spring in the south. Happy trails!
It’s such a GREAT town to just hang and walk around in. I have to say those squares were amazing. Such a treat to be able to find so many shaded, dog-friendly spots to hang. Plus we loved seeing all the walks of life there. How funny that you ended up at Crystal Beer Parlor too…great minds think alike 🙂
Glad to hear Taggart is doing fine. Savannah is one of our favorite southern cities. Love all the squares and the history.
Wonderful that you suspected it was a tooth that was bothering your kitty and got it taken care of! Your kitty loves you immensely, I am sure!
We are in Joseph, Oregon and visited Wallowa State Park and Lake today. It was a high of 49 degrees and beautiful! We were in Savannah last May, and we’ll take the weather here in Oregon any time! Here’s to your travels to a cooler locale!
All the best,
Oh the Wallowas, how we love them! Soak up that Oregon beauty for us please!
We just made it to Virginia and it’s 50 degrees this AM, so I’m a happy, happy gal. The dog is going crazy happy too. She hasn’t felt this cool since last fall, so she’s prancing and dancing around like a little puppy.
Just a heads up a few of the trolly companys do allow dogs, we used Old Savannah Trolley Tours last fall, they were very pet friendly.
Indeed you are right! Pets have to weight less than 25lbs and be able to sit on your lap, but they are welcome on Old Savannah Trolley Tours:
“Your pet is always welcome with us. We ask that they be less than 25 lbs., sit on your lap and enjoy the tour along with the other guests onboard.”
Sadly Polly is too big for this, but it’s an awesome option for those with smaller dogs. Thanks so much for that tip!
Thais Petrocelli Migliaro says
So glad kitty is ok! What a scare! We went to Savannah over xmas this year for the first time and also fell in love with the city. I think we also gained 5 pounds from all the yummy places to eat! Enjoyed your post!
I had the same tooth issues with my cat about 3 to 4 years ago. She had a couple teeth removed and another one that needed to be watched because it was kind of just starting. I then did a lot of research on cat tooth resorption and and came across a theory that there might be a link between excessive vitamin D and feline tooth resorption (http://www.toothvet.ca/PDFfiles/Tooth_resorption_in_cats.pdf). However there are 2 studies with conflicting results (pp 4-5). I had been feeding her a few different brands of wet cat food and I checked with the manufacturers to find out the quantity of vitamin D in each of them. There was one or 2 that were quite a bit higher than the rest (I think they were indoor cat formulas). I quit giving her those ones and she hasn’t had any problems since. Maybe just a coincidence, or maybe not. Just thought I’d let you know in case you may want to look into that possibility.
Yup I’ve read about that link and even tracked down the vet in FL who wrote the book on FORLs (and is still considered the leading expert in the field) to ask him personally about it. He told me the link hasn’t been confirmed and he couldn’t confirm one way or the other if excess Vitamin D was a factor. At the time I spoke to him he still felt it was mostly a genetic issue. I feed exclusively wet food and have tried to stick to brands with lower Vitamin D, but haven’t seen a difference in my cats, unfortunately 🙁
Your next trip to Savannah, you must go to Leopold’s Ice Cream Parlour! Super!!
I love Savannah, one of the great old southern cities…..would go back often if I were nearby! After years of being on the road in our 45′ motorhome, we have sold her and settled down — for summers, on the exquisite Prince Edward Island in the Canadian Maritimes, and winters, on the Gulf Coast of Mississippi. PEI is the
“Gentle Island” — beauty, lovely, lovely people, lighthouses all over! Where we are in MS – fabulous white unspoiled beaches and we are between Mobile, AL and New Orleans — enjoying the marvelous southern culture and hospitality. Have dear friends in Beaufort, SC and so get to visit occasionally and to see Savannah. Love the Low Country, too. Enjoy your travels up the east coast….and if you are ever in either area I have mentioned, let us know —