i've known Caprice since i was 19 and she was 17 and still in high school in Miami. she was my roommate's childhood friend (neither one of us talk to that roommate anymore. she was a total bitch). for years we talked about taking a trip together. so in the fall of 1998, when i lived in Savannah and Caprice lived in Gainesville, Florida, we were to drive up to Nova Scotia and do some whale watching. pretty laid back, right? my boyfriend at the time called it our "Thelma and Louise Trip Minus The Body Count". i've only seen parts of that movie, and all i know is that one chick sleeps with the Brad Pitt character and then they both go sailing off what i think is the Grand Canyon in a big ass car with shit eating grins on their faces. i don't know what said boyfriend thought we were getting up to, but it was none of that. for whatever reason - school, money, but probably money - the plans didn't follow through, so lofty ideas of tooling around the Canadian wilderness evaporated.
over the years, we both moved - me to Atlanta, then Baltimore, then back to Atlanta; her from Florida to Pittsburgh to Baltimore. and even though we saw a lot of each other over the years, particularly when we were both up North at the same time, we never got around to taking that girls trip until now.
our goal: one week to tour Cumberland Island, St Simon's Island, Savannah, then Charleston. and no body count.
i can't believe in all of my years of living in the South that i've never been to Cumberland Island, especially when i lived in Savannah. i had some buddies who camped out one weekend and they came home full of stories of waking up to wild horses walking through their campsite. i thought they had dropped too much acid; but sure enough when Caprice and I were on the ferry as it pulled alongside the island, those horses were there. most of the other people on the ferry were part of some bird watching tour and they were all losing their minds over a bunch of ospreys, so once we got off the ferry we immediately rented bikes to get as far away from them as possible. i didn't come to Cumberland Island to hear them chat incessantly about "What number are you?", "Oh, i'm 301 as of this morning! i never thought i'd get to 300" (birds, that is). if bird watching makes you happy, then i hope i'm not pooping on your parade; but this group of over-eager binoculared folk were annoying us. having said that, i would have loved to see the looks on their faces when they saw the wild turkeys roaming around the ruins of Dungeness on the south part of the island. i'm not sure they contained themselves physically or emotionally.
once we rid ourselves of the bird people, we scooted away on our bikes and saw maybe 4 other people for the rest of the day. and that was freaking WONDERFUL.
miles and miles of empty beach. we sat on a sand dune and ate a lunch of Cheetos and soy and wasabi almonds. it was one of the best lunches i've ever had in my life - even though i think Cheetos are gross on principal and i'll never eat them again.
we biked as far as we could along the sandy roads, and wanted to see wild boar roaming around the north part of the island, but we had a ferry to catch so we grudgingly turned around. the next day, we headed into St Simon's; frankly, if you're not into golf, there's not much to see other than the lighthouse built by Charles Cluskey. i happen to know a lot about ol' Cluskey as i did my senior thesis on him, but that's not interesting to anyone but me i'm sure. an artist by the name of Keith Jennings carved face sculptures into a few dozen trees in the mid 80s, but there's only one left on public display (the other being on private property, so said the old biddy at the tourist desk). the trees have grown over the sculptures and swallowed them up, which in itself is kind of cool, in a sad way.
in Savannah, i may have gotten verklempt because it'll always be, in my book, as the best place i've ever lived in my life. it's way more crowded than it used to be, and probably a little cleaner too since my day. i had my graduation dinner at the Lady & Sons, and even though i'm right up there with everyone else in the free world as we make fun of Paula Deen, Caprice and I still hit up her restaurant before leaving town. the location has changed since my day; it's down the block and now occupies three whole floors of a building. and who am i kidding: you know going in there that there will be a pound of butter in everything, but her mashed potatoes didn't suck because of that. since i rarely eat mashed potatoes these days, you can bet i gobbled those up, along with mac and cheese and turnip greens. one of life's greatest pleasures is dipping a piece of hoecake into turnip green pot liquor. bliss.
As much as i love Savannah and will always have a soft spot in my heart for it, the food in Charleston was by far much better. We stayed on Rutledge, down the street from the Hominy Grill, where we ate a couple of times. one morning, their breakfast special was a pulled pork omelette draped with red mole, and who am i to say no to pulled pork? we also ate at Octobachi on the corner of Spring and Rutledge, partly because it was less than a block away from where we were staying, but also because i believe the people we were renting a room from own the place.
while shopping on King Street, some long haired hippie kid behind the counter at some shop was all, "Hey! psst. you into ghosts?", which made me giggle because he acted like he was conducting a drug deal. not that i know anything about those. he mentioned that if we kept walking down King Street, at some point on the right, nestled between two buildings we'd see a gate, and when we walked through the gate we'd find a "haunted" cemetery. so we did walk down the street, and found the gate, and walked down a little alley or lane until we landed in an overgrown, whimsical cemetery, with gravestones falling every which way and mounds of flowers carefully maintained to keep an overgrown (but not too overgrown) look. i don't know if it was haunted, but it was actually quite enchanting and very pretty. what got us to leave were not ghosts but mosquitoes and sand gnats that lord over the low country.
outside of Charleston, we decided to swing by and see something called the Angel Oak that we'd read about in some guide book. i'm quite fond of old trees, but nothing, and i mean Nothing, prepared me for the Absolute Awesomeness of This:
those of you who know me know that i absolutely loathe the word "awesome" since it's completely overused of late, and used for all the wrong reasons. does anybody even know what it means? i'll tell you what it means. it means ANGEL OAK, that's what. i don't know how long we sat there gazing at that tree, but i didn't grow tired of it. i guess no one really knows how old it is (they say between 500 and 1400 years old), but i wonder how many people over the centuries have climbed its branches? or took naps under its leafy shade? when i got back home and tried describing it to an acquaintance, all i got in return was a deer in headlights look. unless you've seen it in person, you won't understand. so, go.
so i wrote this post as more of a diary entry to myself than anything, because Caprice and I live so far apart and only get to see each other once or twice a year anymore. i want to remember these times, the afternoons in our host rooms with me drinking cider and her drinking Bud Lite Lime - although, yuck, Bud Lite Lime? i made endless vomit faces to her over this, much to my delight (yes, i'm mentally 12). i miss my friend and hope one day we'll be able to do another trip, even if we're 75 and crusty and going whale watching.
if you're interested to see them, i took a few more pictures which can be viewed here.