Friday, October 4, 2013

Dragon*Con Part 3: Bone Adventure in Bonaventure

I grew up in an old Victorian coal mining town, with one of the most organized historic cemeteries in the United States.  I blame this for my odd fascination with cemeteries.  I don't find it so odd, really, but other people tell me it's strange.  I've always loved ghost stories, statues, and quiet, overgrown places, so to me it seems fairly normal.  And visiting Bonaventure?  Well, that's been a dream since I found out about its existence.

I never really knew how I would get there, though.  I didn't know anyone in the area, and driving across the country to visit a cemetery sounds a little crazy.  But then I had the weird fortune of ending up married to a Georgian, and we planned our trip to Atlanta to visit his parents and go to Dragon*Con.  Savannah is 4-5 hours from Atlanta, but that's not far to go when you've already driven across the country, right?  I'm also working on a project for which I needed reference materials, and Bonaventure was perfect.  So, camera in hand, off to Savannah, Georgia we went!

Nothing about Georgia was very spectacular.  It's green and pretty, but no greener or prettier than my hometown in Washington, and the trees in Georgia are very short.  Nothing about it really captured my heart.

And then there was Savannah.  I only spent about 24 hours in Savannah, but I will remember them forever.  Everything there was gorgeous.  I wish I'd taken more pictures of just things in general in Savannah, but it was kind of a rush trip with the main focus being Bonaventure.  We stayed in this gorgeous boutique hotel, the foundation of which turned 201 years old this year.  The hotel was called The Olde Harbour Inn, and I highly recommend it.  Here's a picture I took on the walkway leading to our hotel room at night:
Here's a link to their website, in case you are planning a trip to Savannah, or just want to read about this haunted hotel: Click!

Is it haunted?  Uhmm, maybe?  One of the alarms in our room went off in the middle of the night.  The hotel is situated on a weird cobbled street called Factors' Walk.  There is a huge drop-off from the sidewalk above Factors' Walk, and people have fallen and died.  The railings around our room all say to be careful, watch your step, and so on.  It's a bit spooky, and you are very aware that one wrong step and you could be splattered on the cobblestone below.  Factors' Walk also has quite a history.  All of the slaves that were brought through Savannah walked down Factors' Walk, and its darkness and massive retaining walls along the street have provided the perfect setting for robbers and rippers to stalk their victims throughout Savannah's history.

I realized on the way there that I had left my pencils and sketchbook in our car in Atlanta.  Some quick Google-ing revealed that there was a Dick Blick store TWO TENTHS of a mile from our room.  Seriously?  Could this place be more perfect?  We walked down there after checking into the hotel and I promptly blew $200 in 10 minutes.  Like a boss.

We asked for restaurant suggestions and they suggested a restaurant where it turned out we were going.  My in-laws really wanted to show us Tybee Island, so we drove out there to see the sights.
Tybee Island is like a whole other world to me.  At first, it seemed not all that different from the coast I am used to.  And then we went to dinner at The Crab Shack.  It wasn't the best seafood I've ever had in my life, but it was the best seafood experience I've ever had!  It is hands down the most bizarre restaurant I've ever been to.  It's all pretty much outside.  You eat on a deck, or in a room that is basically just mosquito netting.  We ate on the deck, but not before visiting all of the alligators (yes, I am completely serious).  We only counted 19 alligators, but they claim to have almost 80.

We ate dinner in the company of Tootsie, a very fat stray cat who they caught, spayed and vaccinated, and then released.  She never left, along with 20-something other cats, and she lives a very hard life begging for table scraps in addition to her kibble.  As soon as we were done eating, she was off to beg at another table.

They also have a building for rescued birds.  The birds range from fairly mundane small pets to enormous tropical birds.  Some of them were abused, some had owners who passed away.  Many of them have lost or pulled out their own feathers to the point that their feathers will not regrow (stress causes birds to do this), but many of the birds were still willing to pose for me.

The drive back to Savannah was punctuated by the most spectacular thunderstorm I've ever seen.  I have never seen so much lightning in my life.  It was incredible.  I had hoped it would pass over our hotel and I would get to watch it through the skylights above our bed, but no such luck.

The next morning we were off to Bonaventure.  Finally!  It was crazy hot and stupidly humid, but I still walked around a fairly good chunk of Bonaventure.  I still haven't seen all of it, so I hope to go back some day.  Here are just a few of my favorite shots from Bonaventure, taken with my cruddy little pocket camera.

I'm not sure how long we were in Bonaventure.  Maybe a couple of hours.  I took so many more photos, but I haven't had a chance to edit them all yet.  I got a lot of material for my project, lots and lots of reference photos, and a ton of inspiration.  I'm sure you'll see Bonaventure popping up in my work a lot for a while, and its influence probably for much longer.

Before we left town, we ate lunch at Moon River Brewing Company.  This restaurant is supposedly so haunted the ghosts won't let them finish renovations.  By the end of our short stay in Savannah, it almost seemed like just another ghost story to add to the pile, but the food was delicious, and I am not sure I have ever seen an organic hamburger on a menu for $8 anywhere else.  So if you're in town, definitely give it a try!  I am not sure anything in Savannah can compare to the bizarreness of The Crab Shack, though.

And that concludes my trip to Georgia!  Phew!

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