Thanks Fishtailnz! I'm on a laptop, and they just "stacked" perfectly on my limited screen - hopefully I'll get the page breaks right this time.
So the trip down was uneventful. We made the trip in about 10.5 hours, stopping for lunch in Gulf Shores at a little seafood place I used to go to back when my hair was not gray.
Car performed wonderfully, with about 26 mpg @ 70/75 mph - top up most of the trip. We did try a bit of top down, but it was just too much sun and noise - with the windows up, I was very impressed with the way the factory windblocker works.
Got into Hilton Head at about midnight local time, found the hotel with no problems (go COMAND navi!). Girl at the desk admired the car, and told me to keep my eyes open for the "cool compact" parking spots. Had no clue what she was talking about until I found one!
I've traveled a lot over the last couple of years, and amassed an obscene number of "Hilton" points, so we were staying at the Hilton Ocean Front Resort. Excellent hotel, a bit older property, but the rooms have been updated and were great. I'm not a huge golfer, but the courses around Hilton Head are simply unbelievable. I didn't take many pictures, but we did bike around a couple of the nicer ones.
The view from the room was pretty nice! We arrived late on Friday night, and the place was packed with people. Weather was a bit iffy, but we knew that before we left.
One of the reasons for the trip was that the wife wanted to visit Savannah, but I didn't want to stay in the city, hence the "base" at HH. It's roughly an hour trip on some really nice backroads through the low country to get back down to Savannah. In reality, the wifey was looking forward to visiting Bonaventure Cemetery from "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil".
We drove down to Savannah, and after a quick bite to eat, took one of the "hop on, hop off" tours of the Historic district. Highly recommended, all the drivers were great tour guides. The old district is laid out in squares, and has been wonderfully preserved. One thing that we did find out was that the "bird girl" statue from the cover of the Midnight book was moved from Bonaventure over to the Telfair museum - and "no pictures allowed". As is to be expected, it's smaller than I'd imagined.
The historic district is bordered by Savannah River, with most of the old warehouse district now converted to shops and restaurants. The streets are all lined with old live oaks with lots of spanish moss - so great for top down riding.
We spent most of the day walking around and riding the tour "tram", and then headed out to Bonaventure about 5pm. It's about 20 miles outside of Savannah proper. We arrived just in time to be told it was closing! There was a really nice guard who offered to let us walk around a bit, but it was getting a bit rainy, so we opted to come back another day.
Headed back to HH with the top down, and actually made it back with no raindrops! Nice dinner in HH at "Hudsons" - super fresh seafood right out on the waterfront.
Next morning, everyone was checking out - which was great for us! Beach was deserted, so we spent most of the day biking around and generally relaxing.
Monday arrives, and we spend the day with friends out sailing. Not the best weather, but good food and good friends always makes things great. Only bad part was the flat battery in the camera!
Tuesday morning we decided to head back down to Savannah, have an early lunch, and then head back out to Bonaventure. Not the best ride down - raining off and on. Back at the cemetery, and the skys cleared up, and off we went.
I'm normally not a big fan of visiting cemetery's, but this one is amazingly beautiful. It's been in use since the early 1800's, and is covered with old live oaks, and bordered by the river.
We saw the Mercer graves (the ones from the book), and wandered around for the rest of the afternoon. Again, a very relaxing way to spend the afternoon.
We had the option to spend the rest of the week in Hilton Head, but with Faye beating the crap out of Florida, and looking like it was going to complicate life for the trip home, we opted to leave early Wednesday morning. Got up, and had one last breakfast and headed out. Naturally, it started raining almost immediately, and I though that it was a bad omen for the rest of the trip - to get back to LA, the easiest way is to go thorough Jacksonville and hit I10 - right where Faye was headed.
10 minutes out of the door, and the sun comes out, and the rainbows pop up - maybe a good omen!?
This one is a typical view of the low country, enhanced by the rainbow - vibrant, lush greens. You can imagine what the golfing is like!
We head south on I95, and hit a couple of bands of torrential rain just north of Jacksonville - fortunately we had no problems or incidents, and hit I-10 for the run west.
About an hour into our westward leg, we are cruising at 70, in the right lane, about 3 seconds behind some monster SUV. He kicks up a piece of tire, and there's no where to go - I slow down as much as I can safely, but still hit it just as it's hitting the concrete. I literally hear a "crunch", and think the worst. Pull into the next exit, and take a look. It's bad, but not as bad as I expected - the lower "lip" of the air damn has taken a pretty good smack, and is cracked almost from front to back, and has also cracked the "bottom" part as well. Nothing is hanging loose, so I curse a bit, and get back on the road.
We make it over to Mobile, AL., the weather has cleared up nicely, and we are ahead of schedule, so we decide to take a break at the Battleship Alabama exhibit. The place is pretty much deserted, and there's a B-52 out front, so I have to take a couple of money shots with the SLK! (Wifey was not impressed - said the car was too dirty!)
And finally, a shot of the better half! :-)
All in all, and tropical storm's excepted - was a wonderful trip. The only complaint was the lumbar support - or lack thereof - in the SLK. About 8 hours in I finally grabbed a small towel and rolled it up - worked a treat - still a shame in a car this nice there is no lumbar adjustment for the seats..