Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Not So Sunny Savannah

The intimate dining room at Cafe 37
The larger and boisterous  B. Matthews
ELE is huge but divided up into smaller rooms
Fantastic ice cream - can't believe I had them put their hot
fudge sauce on top!
Historic Clary's Diner on a unusually quiet morning
The weather report promised partly cloudy and highs of 70 degrees, but it lied. Instead we had a high of 60, thunder storms, showers and fog. Nevertheless we love Savannah and this weekend was no exception. Something kind of magical often happens to us there and this time it was the benefit concert for the Coastal Jazz Association (www.Coastal-Jazz.com) on Sunday, Jan. 22. The band consisted of the legendary Ben Tucker on bass, Quentin Baxter on drums, Teddy Adams on trombone and Kevin Bales on piano. Claire Fraizer and Val Davis chimed in with vocals. The big ballroom at the Westin Hotel was full and I'm sure we were one of the few tourists. The music was fantastic and at the break we met two charming Savannah residents, Joan Simmons and Patricia Stewart, that we had admired in the crowd. Patricia is a realtor with Southeby's and would be the person to go to if looking for a home in the area.
One of the delights of walking around
Savannah is the signs explaining the
history - in this case the construction
of tabby.
The Juliette Low tugboat chugs by the waterfront. The founder of the Girl
Scouts was born and spent much of her life in Savannah/
One of the many beautiful squares in Savannah, even on
a cloudy day.
As usual we ate very well. On Saturday night we came out of the rain to enjoy the small candle lit Cafe 37 (205 E 37th St. 912-236-8533). The chef was trained in France and the food is great. The wonderful crusty hot loaf of bread that started the meal made a promise which the Cassoulet and the Seared Scallops kept. Our salads had poached pears stuffed with rochefort cheese on them. Yum.
At our waitress's suggestion we had brunch the next morning at B. Matthews Eatery (325 E Bay St. 912-233-1319). The place was full so we sat at the bar. Unfortunately we weren't aware that alcohol isn't served until 12:30PM on Sunday and arrived too early. We were sorry as they had some great sounding special drinks. My Crab Cake Benedict and Scott's Smoked Salmon B.L.T. were very good and the ample fresh fruit served with it were perfectly ripe. That settled us until a late dinner after the Jazz Concert at ELE (7815 Highway 80E 912-898-2221), an Asian Fusion restaurant about 15 minutes out of the city. It's an unusual interior, very elegant and split into separate dining rooms, each with about 8 tables. There weren't many people eating and maybe because of that the service was attentive. The Tasting Appetizer for Two was the standout. Each of the four items were well seasoned and perfectly cooked. It would be a nice main course for one. Scott's Soft Shell Crabs were great, very crispy, but my Stuffed Haddock was rather bland. Still, it was a very nice evening. It's hard for me to believe that after all that we still stopped at Leopold's Ice Cream for dessert. There is a diet in our future!
The next morning we walked down to Clary's for breakfast. As it was early on a Monday morning it wasn't crowded - weekend mornings it often has a line. Our first trip to Savannah we stumbled into this place and immediately recognized it from "The Garden of Good and Evil" book and movie. It's where the John Cusack character has breakfast and meets the man with the flies tied to his head. It hasn't changed. The staff is very welcoming and the food is good. It still feels like the local diner every town has (or should have).
It sounds like we ate the whole weekend from this narrative. We walked as much as we ate, hopefully more. The interlacing trees overhead with Spanish moss dripping get me every time. There were flowers everywhere, even in January. Lots of pansies of course, but azaleas, Rose of Sharons, and lots of others I didn't recognize. Savannah is a city of parks, mostly squares, 22 of them at present. The architecture stars along with the greenery. We love both the historic district and the Victorian district equally. The grand building are of course awe inspiring but the smaller ones can be equally charming.
Shopping is a passion it seems in Savannah. There are huge numbers of eccentric arty shops throughout the city. Some of this must stem from the presence of the Savannah College of Art and Design which has more than 10,000 students in their four locations, most in Savannah. Their gift shop and gallery is an excellent place to pick up a present for someone. There are several theaters in town as well. We could have seen "Grease" or attended the Cary Grant Birthday Tribute. Well, we have to save something for next time. It's back to the boat for us.
General Lafayette waved to his admirers
from this balconey. We admired the solid
cast iron supports
This sign tells part of the amazing story of the co-founder
of Savannah, Tomochichi, a Mico of the Yamacraw tribe
who lived into his nineties and visited England.
Another lovely square with one of the many fountains
throughout the city

You can get a custom spice mix concocted for you at the
Spice and Tea Exchange
The Paris Market not only has a fascinating collection
of just about everything for sale, it also has a small
cafe where you can sip an expresso.
And on the other end of the scale, you can get anything
fixed at Bradley's, except a broken heart.

Just one beautiful garden after another.
Handsome wrought iron gates, this with a
beautiful emblem, and balconies grace
many of the homes.
Early morning in the fog with the gas lamps still on
Another lovely wrought iron gate, this one
with sunflowers
I can't get enough of the lush greenery and flowers in January!

Monday, January 23, 2012

It was an exciting trip down to Florida. Naturally we left during the snow storm. At first we couldn't believe that the tiny Cape Air plane in Rutland, VT was going to depart. It was howling and snowing. But a burly man came in and grabbed everyone's hand luggage (all 10 passenger's at once - he was that big, not fat) and took them out. He distributed them in the wings. Then he placed us in seats according to weight. Scott was the co-pilot and the same man got in - he was the pilot. A woman mechanic was trying to de-ice the plane but the small generator kept going off. So the pilot got out, ran the generator and then finally de-iced the plane himself. I wasn't sure I wanted the plane to leave. It was so tight inside that I had to sit sideways in the seat with legs in the tiny corridor mixed with the fellow across from me. Once up in the air after a very bumpy ascent the rest of the trip was easy. Naturally there were delays in Boston and a stop over in NYC, but we did arrive that same day in Jacksonville.
The view from the cockpit while on the hard
Karen on Mustang II - she and Jim were
very helpful to us while at Green Cove
Scott Free in the water at Green Cove Springs. This is one
of the huge docks remaining from the days when this was
a big Naval facility
We arrived on Thursday and planned to put her in the water the following Thursday. Meanwhile, thank God, we're stayed in a hotel for five nights. We had leaking in our stateroom and mold. It's a mess. I've replaced the mattresses and the dry cleaners saved the upholstery and curtains. Scott's replacing the throttles and steering cables. Lots of cleaning and bottom painting was accomplished.
Amazingly the boat went into the water on time. But then the usual disaster struck. The engine wouldn't start. A recommended mechanic, Bob Belcher, arrived quickly and was a great help. The heat exchanger has been removed and has been sent away to be repaired.
 Then Bob and Scott will reinstall it along with many new hoses. Estimated time is a week. So we're in Green Cove Springs for another week.
As we have several days while the heat exchanger is being repaired we're spending two nights in Savannah, Georgia having fun. More in another entry.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Celebrating the New Year with Aussie Cruising Buddies

A dusting of snow was appreciated by our Australian friends
Celebrating the New Year in Vermont with Julie, Heather, James, Scott and Sean  (Peter's taking the photo)
We did some hiking around our town of Shrewsbury
Our townhouse time share condo at the Bethel Inn.
Dinner in the Bethel Inn Tavern - two for one
 entree special on Tuesday evenings
Julie and Peter at Sunday River Ski Area

The Town Green outside the Bethel Inn was lit up as were
many of the houses around it.
Rather dark shot of the entrance to the historic Bethel Inn
The formal dining room is also lit up beautifully
We had dinner there our last night
Bob and his new Sheltie "Ruff" lead the way on our walk
to the Albany Covered Bridge near the Kangamagus
Highway in N.H.
Ruff, Bob, and Scott take a break along the river. 
Peter and Julie Gowan, our buddy boat cruising friends from our trip around the Bahamas last spring came for a visit. They are New Zealanders now living in Australia and spend half the year on their boat "Anything Goes" in Florida. They took AMTRAK from Toronto, where they spent Christmas with their son Kristian, to Albany, NY. James and I picked them up there on 12/27. It's about a two hour drive away.
Our sons James and Sean stayed with us through New Year's and then they drove back to Washington DC while Peter, Julie and ourselves went on to spend a week at our time share at the Bethel Inn near Sunday River. We bought week 52 there many years ago and when, every few years, we get an extra week to even things up, we use it ourselves. Otherwise we rent it out for the holiday week. We don't recommend buying a time share in general but it has worked out all right for us.
Sunday River didn't have much natural snow but we enjoyed one day of skiing and the rest of the time, used the great health club and outdoor heated pool at the Bethel Inn. It's a lovely area and we enjoyed just spending time with Julie and Peter.
On the way home we stopped to visit Bob DeFeyter in Conway and had a great hike along the river and a fun evening with him and his new dog, Ruff.

Sunday, January 01, 2012

Christmas in Vermont

James and Sean drove up from Washington on Friday the 23rd and stayed until New Year's day - ten wonderful days.

Our Bridge Group Christmas dinner was at our house on
the 20th of December;here are Barry, Paul, Dan and Ginny

We each brought a present and had a "Yankee Swap"
here; Chryl, Rhonda, Gerry, Jan and Linda

Barb, Doris, George, Dick, Donna and Barry

Some of the presents were very amusing. Al tries on some
"cool" sunglasses.

Joan tries on several of the great bridge
related gifts

Josh and Michal had a new daughter on December 20.

And she's a beauty!!!

Christmas morning before the rush for the presents

Sean tries on his new soccer shirt from Italy

And James his new sweater

Sean and James cook up a storm for Christmas dinner.

Leslie, Rob, Sean, James, Scott, Colin, Gail and Harvey pose with Sean's curried pumpkin soup starter.