December 28th — It was the destination wedding we all looked forward to, and it was finally here! Nearly 100 guests joined Fred’s brother, Jeff, and sister-in-law, Debbie, as they hosted the wonderful wedding celebration of their daughter, Kara, to her beau, Kyle. The immediate Jolly clan, 22 in number if I counted right, plus lots of other friends and family members took over many rooms at the beachfront hotel, not to mention a couple of party rooms at different times for other parties held in the days leading up to the big wedding day, and we all had a fabulous time living it up in the sunshine in Ft. Myers Beach!
The wedding day was a perfectly sunny one, and many beach goers took a pause when we all began to gather in the beachfront wedding area in the late afternoon. As Kara began walking down the sandy aisle, made extra special with the flower petals her two sweetheart nieces, Lauren & Kaelin, tossed out right before her entrance, the crowd erupted in loud applause – it was spontaneously awesome!
The ceremony was officiated by a local officiant, Miss Betty, with beautiful musical accompaniment from cousins, Mike & Karin, and their girls. Nine lovely bridesmaids, including sisters, cousins, and friends, and six groomsmen with two ushers, including a brother and brother-in-law, more cousins, and friends, donned blue and green wedding attire which was absolutely perfect for the beach wedding. Careful planning and attention to detail ensured the day went off without a hitch – indeed, it was a lovely day in every way!
Hover your cursor over the photo, below, and click on the arrows to see pictures of the beachfront wedding celebration:
Note no pictures are being shared from the post-wedding reception and party. Suffice it to say, it was another wonderful part of the destination wedding experience, complete with delicious food, funny and touching speeches (you were really in jail, Kara?!?) a first-rate DJ who kept us dancing for hours on the dance floor, and a bar tab that would do any wedding party proud! If this wasn’t enough, rumor has it that the 20-something- / 30-something-age cousins and an I’m-not-revealing-his-age older uncle (Tom) all found their way across the street to a taco stand, then to another bar, then the beach, and that bed checks around 4:30 a.m. found that not everyone was back in them at that late, or rather very early, hour of the next morning! A JOLLY day and night, indeed…!
So CONGRATULATIONS, Kara & Kyle! It’s going to be difficult to top this Jolly wedding…!!!
And to all the rest of our Jolly family out there, we love you! We are all so blessed to be part of this big, happy family….
Even though the skies were a bit overcast down here in Ft Myers Beach today, that didn’t keep the Jollys and many of the wedding guests from piling onto three pontoons and having a jolly afternoon cruising the Intracoastal Waterway. We enjoyed lunch on a sandbar and, of course, the contents in our coolers! Thank you, Tom & Eric, for hosting this wonderful afternoon!
Hover your cursor over the photo, below, then click on the arrows to see some photos of our holly Jolly afternoon:
After traveling for seven months and covering 25 states, we’re taking a pause down in Florida. We’re with most of the Jolly family who are gathering down here for the joyous occasion of Kara and Kyle’s wedding on the 28th; the rest of the family is due to arrive in a day or two.
Following the wedding, we’re heading over to West Palm Beach for a much-anticipated reunion between Fred and some of his Navy buddies with whom he served while onboard the USS Albany in Gaeta, Italy, some 35 years ago!
Our blog posts have kept you updated on the rest of our many adventures this year. As we’ve been traveling, we’ve thought about you all – our amazing friends and incredible family – and now during this holiday season, we want to wish you and your families a very MERRY CHRISTMAS. May the magic and spirit of this holiday season be with you in the coming year.
Sending lots of love,
–Fred & Laura; Charley & Toad; and our two traveling pets (thank you, Suzanne)
Another city in the U.S. I’ve always wanted to visit is Savannah, Georgia. It’s consistently ranked in the Top You-Name-It American cities… top places to visit, top places to live, one of the friendliest… and now I know first-hand why!
Let’s start with where we stayed. In a campground, of course, but this was another really cool coastal campground. We spent three nights in Skidaway Island State Park – another first-rate (all except for the dated bath houses) state park that was not at all full… seems only us “full-timers” are camping here in the wintertime, and particularly the week before Christmas. This site was a long, level pull-thru, making arriving and departing camp quite easy. The tall moss-covered Live Oak trees created a nice shade canopy over our activities which, because the weather is really nice down here, included lunch outside at our picnic table. :)
It was recommended to us that we take the Old Town Trolley Tour as that was a good way to get around and learn about Savannah, and on weekends our state park is a pick up and drop off destination, so we took advantage of this and took the trolley to Savannah! While this was a hop-on-hop-off tour, we found it most enjoyable to ride almost all the way around while listening to our driver / tour guide tell us all about this glorious southern town.
Savannah’s Historic District dates back to 1733 when founder James Oglethorpe was sent by England’s King George II to settle an area south of the Savannah River and create a buffer zone against both the Spaniards in Florida and the French in the Louisiana territory. Oglethorpe laid the city out originally with four park-like squares around which the settlement developed. This plan was continued as the city expanded over the next two centuries. Twenty-one of what at one time was 24 squares still remain, around which lovely homes were built. Fortunately many of these homes still stand today because Savannah was spared from the devastation visited by Sherman’s troops as they tore through the south on their March to the Sea during the Civil War. [I’m picturing Scarlet O’Hara watch as her beloved city of Atlanta burns to the ground at the end of Act I of Gone With The Wind.]
Another couple of recommendations we took and were were happy for the advice: first, we ate lunch at The Pirates’ House. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the classic southern specialties we were served were the best southern food we’ve ever had! Fried chicken, greens, snaps, sweet potatoes, zucchini au gratin, biscuits, and so much more washed down with iced cold sweet tea. Paula Dean has a restaurant here in Savannah, as well, but happy were we that we were steered to this place. The building itself dates back to 1733-34, just a scant block from the Savannah River. Tales are told of men drinking their fiery grog with carefree abandon in this historic tavern, then waking to find themselves on a strange ship bound for ports half a world away; seems this was the remedy for shorthanded ships!
The other recommendation we weren’t going to miss was having a scoop of ice cream at Leopold’s Ice Cream. We were pleasantly full from our lunch, but deemed it a good plan to walk around the city and walk off some of our lunch to make room for our ice cream. But then we recalled niece Kelsey’s belief that you always have room for dessert because you have a separate ‘dessert stomach’ just for desserts! We opted for both exercise, then dessert, and were not disappointed. Leopold’s has been making ice cream since 1919, and Savannah’s resident crooner, Johnny Mercer, even wrote a famous song about one of their flavors – Tutti Frutti!
We walked around Savannah for much of the afternoon, seeing and enjoying the Historic District before trolleying back to our campground. It was a truly enjoyable day!
I haven’t read the book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil yet – Mom just gave it to me at Thanksgiving to read – but apparently in the movie [staring two of my favorite actors, Kevin Spacey and John Cusack; I can’t believe I haven’t seen this movie either!] there are some scenes filmed in an old cemetery. This would be Bonaventure Cemetery, a peaceful setting that rests on a bluff of the Wilmington River east of Savannah. It’s a charming site that has been a tourist destination for 150+ years due to the moss-covered oak-tree-lined roadways, and unique cemetery sculpture and architecture. There’s folklore, too, associated with the site and the many notable people buried herein. Fred roamed the grounds for a couple of hours taking lots of interesting photographs. Me; I strolled through and saw what I wanted to see, then went off to enjoy a latte at Starbucks (a rare treat these days) for a while before returning to retrieve my Ansel. He’s got loads more terrific shots from this mystic place which sometime soon we’ll post on a site of his own, but for now, you can see my photos below.
I know I’ve said it before in my posts about some of the other wonderful places we’ve visited, but when you’re down South, make sure you give Savannah two or three days of your itinerary – it’s a gem of a place you’re sure to enjoy just as we did!
Hover your cursor over the two photos, below, then click on the arrows to scroll through some photos taken at Bonaventure Cemetery:
This is the view that greeted us when we woke up at the Hunting Island State Park Campground on the morning of December 17th. How could we not have seen this when we pulled into our campsite last night?!? Because it was dark is the reason; very dark with no streetlights. We could hear the ocean waves and knew it was nearby, but boy-oh-boy were we surprised when we saw this long, unspoiled beach and knew this would be our view for a couple of days (that’s the top of Toad in the foreground) – we were so excited!
Hunting Island is about 15 miles south and east of Beaufort (BYOO-firt). It’s one of the few remaining undeveloped sea islands in Lowcountry. Bridges offer the only access to this wild, marshland paradise. Just off the beach strands, forests of palmettos and live oaks that are draped with Spanish Moss which, incidentally, is neither Spanish nor moss; it’s an air plant full of biting bugs. This sand island is laced with sleepy tidal creeks that offers premium shelling for the few beachcombers we encountered during our walk. The whole sea island is a state park, and our campground was right on the pristine beach strand.
As we walked southward down the beach, we came upon a most unusual site. It seems that surf and ocean waves have reclaimed some of the island as hers. What stands behind where there once were big oaks and palms is an eerie yet beautiful graveyard of dead trees.
And much further down, past the 19th-century lighthouse, visitor center, and nature center in the park, is a lone house on stilts out in the surf. Er… make that a former house. In researching this queer site, we learned that sometime around 1980, erosion destroyed a portion of the highway and some homes along the then oceanfront, and the frame of the house in the below photo is all that remains. Erosion is constant on a barrier island like Hunting Island, and up to 15 feet of land is lost each year if sand isn’t pumped back to re-nourish the beach area.
We really enjoyed the quiet beauty of Hunting Island, and would have loved to camp here longer, but alas, our schedule marches us on south….
Horseshoe crabs remains we found along the beach and made into a little serpentine.
December 16 — I turned 51 today and a great day it was! We’re still on the move south – leaving Charleston today and moving about 90 miles down the coastline to Beaufort – so we started out the day by doing our routine pack-up & move out activities.
Then to mark my special day, we decided on a visit to the Charleston Tea Plantation on Wadmalaw Island in the heart of South Carolina’s Lowcountry. Incidentally, there is some symmetry to our tea time here (pun intended!) as back in Chicago I liked to mark birthdays, both mine and Moms, with high tea at The Drake, The Ritz, or a new favorite, The Langham. So tea it was here, too.
While tea is grown all over the world, mostly in Asia, this is the only tea plantation in North America, so lucky for us that we were near it! As it turns out, the climate here is perfect for propagating tea, so hundreds of thousands of tea plants (Camellia sinensis) are grown and harvested in the fields on this plantation featuring American Classic Tea.
Arching Grand Oaks greeted us as we approached the plantation, as did rows and rows of tea plants. After tasting some teas at the Tea Bar, we took a very informative trolley tour all around the grounds, and learned lots and lots about tea. I used to fancy myself as a tea aficionado – well now I really am!
Top on my list of ‘I didn’t know that…’ was that black, oolong, green and white tea all comes from these same Camellia sinensis leaves. The difference in flavor is where in the world they are grown (like wine; think terroir), the time of year they are harvested, and the processing method. Green tea, for example, isn’t oxidized at all. By contrast, black tea oxidizes for 50 minutes which turns it black. So green tea really isn’t ‘healthier’ as it all comes from the same tea leaves. And watch out for decaffeinated tea! The American Classic teas produced here are not decaffeinated as that process introduces really crappy chemicals to take the caffeine out of tea; the same goes for coffee. We were advised that if you don’t want that much caffeine (and there isn’t that much in tea anyway), brew then discard your first cup of tea, as 65% of the caffeine in tea is with your first dunks of the teabag or first use of loose tea. Your next cups will all have considerably less caffeine. Another interesting tidbit of information: herbal teas aren’t really tea as they don’t come from Camellia plants; they’re infusions of herbs or flowers or fruits. Interesting, eh? In case my enthusiasm isn’t evident enough in this post, we loved our tour and all we learned here – it was a wonderful place to spend my birthday!
Then moving on… our next stop was to see the old Angel Oak tree on Johns Island, and I mean this girl is old! The tree, a Live Oak, is estimated to be around 400 years old, but it could be as old as 1,400 years old – nobody has been around that long to know! That’s me standing in front of it in the picture above – old and big! At 65 feet tall, the trunk has a circumference of 31.5 feet, and shades 17,000 square feet of area below. Its draping limbs and wide spreading canopy present the aura of an angel, but the tree is actually named for Martha and Justus Angel who owned the property which dates back to the early 1600s. It was humbling to stand beneath this massive tree and think of all that has taken place in the years that it has been growing. Another highlight of my day….
But we weren’t done with the day yet! In the late afternoon we arrived in Beaufort (BYOO-firt), another little coastal town we were really looking forward to visiting. But with Charley towing Toad and the sun quickly approaching the horizon, we drove on through to Hunting Island – a beautiful, remote, unspoiled Sea Island in Coastal Carolina. Unfortunately we pulled into our campground after dark, and while we couldn’t see the spectacular scenery around us, we could hear the ocean and we knew we were right next to it. We quickly set up camp in the dark – we’re really efficient at this by now! – but not that enthused to drive the 15 miles back into Beaufort, we decided to find the nearest dining establishment which turned out to be a very unique seafood joint about a mile up the road and across the bridge.
The Johnson Creek Tavern on Saint Helena Island was the site of my birthday dinner, and what a site it was! Fred and I were two of about 10 people there in total, and that counted the waitress, the bartender, and likely about three people in the back kitchen. This was fine, though, as it just gave us the opportunity to wander around the place. While it was too dark to see the surrounding marsh and creek, there was plenty to see on the inside. Make that between 35,000 and 40,000 somethings – $1 bills! Stapled everywhere. Written on. Drawn on. Folded into shapes like flip-flops. It was gimmicky for sure, but it was lots of fun to see people’s creativity all around this seaside restaurant. I had to get a ladder (can’t see it in the picture) to find some blank space way up high on one of the walls to staple the Fred & Laura dollar bill. My salad and basket of fried shrimp hit the spot – washed down, of course, with a couple glasses of vino. A piece of chocolate cake with chocolate frosting for dessert – could a birthday get any better than this??? I think not….
But my birthday was made all the more special as all throughout the day I got calls, texts, emails, and birthday well-wishes from many friends and family members. [But no cards yet; we won’t get our mail from our mail forwarder in South Dakota until next week.] As I get older, I’ve come to appreciate that that’s the best thing about birthdays – hearing from and talking to the important people in your life on your special day. I am blessed beyond belief to be on this two-year road trip with Fred seeing and experiencing all that we are seeing and experiencing on the road, but I am equally blessed to have such amazing people in my life who are supporting me with love and light and prayers as we are away. I love you all…!
December 12-15 — Back on the road after four relaxing days and nights with Daddy and Joan, we headed further down the Carolina coast, crossing into South Carolina, where we made our first stop, Charleston. We had four nights of camping here and little on our agenda; our main goal was to visit Fort Sumter. As it turned out, our relaxing came to an abrupt end, for with so much to do and see, we were on the go just about every minute of the time we spent here!
Once in Charleston, we realized that Fort Sumter isn’t the only National Park Unit here. The Charles Pinckney National Historic Site preserves a proud remnant of the prominent Pinckney family’s Snee Farm that once was a 700+ acre rice and indigo plantation. Charles Pinckney (1757-1824) was a member of an important Lowcountry family. As was common practice in those days, wealthy families felt a sense of obligation to serve in the government of this young, emerging nation, thus Charles began his public service career at the tender age of 22, and served until he was 64. Considered one of our country’s Founding Fathers, he represented state and national legislatures, was a four-term Governor of South Carolina, authored parts of the U.S. Constitution, and, appointed by our country’s third president, Thomas Jefferson, served as the Ambassador to Spain. Who knew this guy did all that? We sure didn’t! This is why it’s so interesting and wonderful to visit these lesser-known / unknown park units as well as the big ones!
Also celebrated at the Pinckney NHS as well as all around Charleston and the Carolina Lowcountry is the Gullah culture. The Gullah are the descendants of enslaved Africans who live in the Lowcountry regions and Sea Islands of South Carolina and Georgia. The Gullah people and their language are also called Geechee. The Pinckney home showcased the lovely traditions, creole-based language, and culture of the many generations of the Gullah. And yet it’s difficult not to forget the great disparity in incredible wealth of families like the Pinckneys who owned several plantations, and the crushing hardship of slavery that made such southern life possible.
Sweetgrass basket weaving is a Gullah tradition that traces back hundreds of years to the people and settlements in Africa. Today all around Charleston women can be found weaving and selling their baskets and other sweetgrass wares, keeping up this lovely artform.
As I mentioned, the one place we knew we wanted to visit while in Charleston was Fort Sumter, where the opening shots of the Civil War were fired. We had visited Appomattox Court House in Virginia back in November – the place where the Civil War effectively ended – and now our travels brought us here.
Fort Sumter was one of a series of coastal fortifications built by the United States after the War of 1812. During this time, Charleston was a large, important port city; home to many plantation owners made wealthy off the backs, literally, of enslaved African Americans. By the mid 18th century, most of the northern states had moved to restrict slavery, but South Carolina and other southern states, heavily dependent on slave labor to fuel their agriculture-based economy, felt that the Federal government was encroaching on states rights, constitutional rights, human rights and property rights. Slavery was at the heart of issues involving economics, politics and sectional power.
The election of Abraham Lincoln in November 1860 further heightened tensions between the North and the South. In December 1860, after a half-century of growing sectionalism, South Carolina became the first state to secede from the Union, with Mississippi, Florida, Alabama, Georgia, and Louisiana soon following. By early 1861, the Confederate States of America elected Jefferson Davis as their president. Texas joined the Confederacy in early March, and by then nearly all the Federal forts and navy yards in the seven seceding states had been seized by the new government of the South. Fort Sumter was one of the few that remained in Federal hands.
When South Carolina seceded, there were four Federal installations around Charleston, but only one, Fort Moultrie, had more than a nominal number of soldiers. There, Federal Major Robert Anderson commanded two companies; 85 men in total. Six days after South Carolina seceded, Anderson concluded that Fort Moultrie was indefensible and secretly transferred his command to Fort Sumter, a mile away in the heart of Charleston’s harbor. South Carolina regarded Anderson’s move as a breach of faith and demanded that the U.S. Government evacuate. President James Buchanan refused.
Lincoln took office in March 1861, and vowed he would not consent to a division of the Union. On April 4th, he ordered the resupply of Anderson and his men at Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor. Confederate forces demanded Anderson surrender, but despite his limited personnel and supplies, he refused. As Union resupply ships approached, Confederate forces made the decision to attack. At 4:30 a.m. on April 12, 1861, a mortal shell was sent up from nearby Fort Johnson as a signal for the other surrounding forts to begin their fire. Confederate artillery bombarded Anderson and his men at Fort Sumter for 34 hours, after which time Anderson surrendered the now-decimated fort. The long-dreaded Civil War had begun.
Fort Sumter remained in Confederate hands until February 1865 when southern forces abandoned Charleston. By then Union bombardment had left Fort Sumter in ruins. After the Civil War, Fort Sumter was used as a lighthouse island at the entrance to Charlotte harbor. During the Spanish-American War in 1898, a new concrete artillery battery was built. In 1947, this historic fort was deactivated and turned over to the National Park Service to be run as a National Monument.
The Civil War would be fought in 10,000 places once it got started here in Fort Sumter. Three million men fought in this four-year war, and over 600,000 men died in it. Our visit to the Visitor Center along the Charleston waterfront, ferry ride out to the fort, and time spent out there was a meaningful way to recall this most important event in the life of our nation.
If that wasn’t enough military history, we spent most of another day at Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum. The centerpiece of this museum is the World War II aircraft carrier, the USS Yorktown. Known as “The Fighting Lady,” Yorktown played a significant role in the Pacific offensive in late 1943 and ended with the defeat of Japan in 1945. Also at Patriots Point are a destroyer and a submarine, a brand new Vietnam Experience Exhibit, and the inspiring Medal of Honor Museum. We both really enjoyed touring all around the exhibits, but perhaps most fun was seeing the groups of Boy Scouts who had spent the previous night on Yorktown through what is evidently one of the nation’s top educational adventures. The special energy and enthusiasm of these boys, ranging in age from about six to around 18 was contagious. Or perhaps theirs was an over-tired energy because they had spent the night probably notsleeping in the berthing areas where heroic sailors once slept, and watched movies where these brave men once did the same. Whatever the reason for their enthusiasm and joy, it was a treat being there when they were there at this special place that honors our heroes. It’s a must-see place when in the Charleston area.
In addition to the sites that we visited, we thoroughly enjoyed just walking around in this old, storied city known for its well-preserved architecture. Known also for its distinguished restaurants, we couldn’t pass up eating out a couple of times. We had seafood, of course, including delicious she-crab soup; and for Sunday brunch I just had to order a soul food specialty: pecan-encrusted fried chicken & waffles, both topped with Vermont Maple Syrup – a tribute to our Vermont friends, Pam and Stan! We strolled in the sunshine along East Bay Street and in Battery Park, and visited the historic City Market. Established in the 1790s, this old historic landmark stretches four blocks long, and today hosts vendors selling all kinds of wares. After spending four charming days in Charleston, we can see why Conde Nast magazine voted it the #1 City in the U.S. for the past four years! Do come down here y’all!
December 8-12 — Even though it doesn’t snow down here in the Carolinas, that doesn’t mean Santa’s sleigh doesn’t land on rooftops and Santa doesn’t come down chimneys to deliver toys to good children in 50 degree weather. No… we’re pleased to report that Christmas preparations and traditions still take place, despite the lack of snow, down here in North Carolina.
This past week we enjoyed a very relaxing visit with Daddy & Joan down in Southport. It was wonderful visiting with them and it really looked and felt like home, which is special particularly this year since we have no home of our own to decorate and host friends and family at Christmastime.
It was a low-key visit – just the way we like it. We read, walked, photographed, visited, and, of course, ate and drank well. We took advantage of their carpet cleaner one afternoon and Fred gave a good cleaning to the couple of sections of carpet inside Charley – it almost looks like new! A good mopping and scrubbing down, washing the duvet & duvet cover and all of our clothes… we are ready to keep on keepin’ on! We’re not sure when we’ll get back here next, but we sure enjoyed this visit, and Charley sparkles, shines, and even smells clean!
Thanks, Daddy & Joan, for a great visit!
Search Jolly Out There
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
~ Mark Twain
# of total NP Units*= 189 Latest NP Units* visited: ⊕ Delaware Water Gap – 07/15/18
⊕ Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historic Park – 05/08/17
* National Park Units include National Monuments, National Historical Parks, National Battlefields, National Seashores, etc.; there are 413 NP Units at present; we’re seeing as many of these as we can along the way.
Quote of the Day
Sing your song. Dream your dream. Hope your hope….
Out There by the Numbers
2 years 5 months on the road 82,501 miles driven 50states visited 1,122 miles hiked 176 miles biked 263 miles paddled 301 different places stayed 4,450 gallons of fuel for Charley ... June 1, 2014 - October 31, 2016
January 2018 — It’s winter here in southwest Michigan, but Fred has been training in earnest for his next endeavor which is to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail; the A.T. for short. March 25th will find him “stepping off” at the Southern Terminus of Springer Mountain, Georgia, and with a mix of good training, good planning, and good fortune, he will finish up some 2,200 miles / 14 states / six months later atop Mount Katahdin in Maine. Stay tuned for much more detail about this in the days to come….