Monday, August 8, 2011

Skidaway getaway

We are at Skidaway Island State Park, in Savannah, Georgia (map). We arrived Friday afternoon, and, as promised, they gave us a 25% discount at registration. That was partly offset by the fact that they charged us $5 apiece for gate passes for the scooters -- most states have been willing to count our pair of scooters as a single "car." Still, it was a good deal.

When we rolled into the campground we were astonished at how empty it was. In addition to the four camp host sites, there were perhaps only half a dozen other sites occupied, and we had our pick of the campground. We had a map showing where the 50-amp pedestals were, and drove all of the loops which had them looking for a place to get on-line. We found nothing but very narrow gaps in the trees, and after unsuccessfully attempting one promising 50-amp site, we then drove the two loops which had only 30-amp pedestals.

Here we found three or four sites with enough of a clearing to get on. Surprisingly, we also discovered that each site has not one, but two 30-amp receptacles, on opposite legs, in addition to a 20-amp. I have an adapter for just such situations that lets us use both 30-amp outlets simultaneously, and we've been able to comfortably run everything on the coach. Had I known up front, we could have saved an hour of fiddling around in the other loops and started right away with one of the sites with better look angles.

It's a lovely park, and being so empty it feels almost as if we are alone here, just as we like it. Not far from the park entrance is the tony retail enclave of Skidaway Village, here to service The Landings, and we had a nice dinner at the little restaurant there Friday night. There is also an IGA grocery, with the biggest wine department I have ever seen in such a small store. Even though the whole "village" is maybe two dozen store fronts, four of them are banks, and the largest building in the joint, save maybe for the IGA, is Merrill Lynch.

That may say something about Skidaway Island residents, whose homes we could not see because the entire island is behind gates. There are basically two public roads on the whole island, one of which leads here to the state park, and the other to the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography. There is no public access to the shoreline, and the nearest beach and boat ramp is on the other side of the bridge across the ICW. I am told that The Landings is the largest gated community in the world.

Saturday evening our friends from Savannah came and picked us up, and we had a great evening with them. They moved to the downtown historic district from Wilmington Island just a month ago, and are still in the process of moving in. But their new townhouse is just steps away from some nice restaurants and bars, and while we were walking around we ran into at least two "ghost tours," including one operator using converted hearses to carry their charges. We're looking forward to visiting them in their new digs in cooler weather, when we can enjoy walking in Savannah's wonderful downtown area all day long.

As nice as it is here in the park, without being able to enjoy the outdoors, Savannah holds little for us at this time of year. Since our friends are mostly busy, between their lives and finishing their move, we will move along. Yesterday over brunch at the Omelette House, just across the causeway, we had a long discussion about where to head next.

Long-time readers will know that even $30 per night, what seems to be the going rate for hookups in state parks here on the coast, is more that we typically like to spend unless we are really enjoying the area or have a very specific objective, such as a visit or a meeting. I once wrote here that the $18 per night we were paying in downtown San Jose was steep, which prompted at least one reader to express surprise. And so it is that we've decided we need to move to an area where there are some less expensive options, or else get out of the heat altogether so we are not needing power every night.

Getting out of the heat, given the current weather map, would be a long drive indeed, and while we'd love to head back to California or the inter-mountain west at this time of year, it is basically incompatible with our commitment to the Red Cross to be available during hurricane season. Regular readers may remember that, at this time last year, we were holed up in Fort Walton Beach with a $10-per-night power outlet, just waiting.

So, counter-intuitive as it may seem, we are heading to Florida. It's warmer there, to be sure, but at least we can find more Elks lodges with relatively inexpensive power outlets. Thus having made the Florida decision, and being as we are on the east coast, our attention has returned to boats.

As it turns out, there are at least three trawlers listed for sale on the east coast of Florida that meet most of our objective criteria. As long as we are in the neighborhood, or at least close, we've decided to go have a look. These will be the very first boats that we've looked at outside the circumscribed confines of a boat show, which really advances our seriousness to the next level. At the moment, I am contacting listing brokers directly for showings, but soon we will need to contract a broker of our own to act as buyers' agent, since some brokers will not show a boat without one.

The boats in question are in Daytona Beach, Vero Beach, and Stuart, and that now defines a plan and destination for us. We are in no rush, and so will head in that direction in our usual leisurely manner. Today we will leave Skidaway Island and head to Jekyll Island, where camping is equally expensive but at least there are a few attractions there. We'll spend perhaps two nights before moving south, if we like the park enough.

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