• gfeldstein

Day 45 Savannah, GA to Brunswick 98 miles 1,181 feet

Today was scheduled to be a 66 mile ride to Townsend followed by a van shuttle to Brunswick. We would then take a van shuttle back to Townsend tomorrow morning and cycle back to Brunswick. A few of us decided to just ride the 100 or so miles from Savannah to Brunswick and avoid the hassle and timing issues of a shuttle. We walked to the Savannah Coffee Roasters, see yesterday’s blog for details, for breakfast. In addition to my bagel and lox I had a large piece of pavlova that was amazing and probably had enough calories for at least 50 miles. I started riding at just past 8AM, with the sun just peaking up above the horizon, yet it was already warm and humid. The ECG route took us south down Bull Street, the north-south street that divides the city. Many of the antebellum homes lining the streets, whether grand or simple wooden structures, are still standing. General Sherman decided to preserve Savannah and present it to President Lincoln as a Christmas present rather than burn it to the ground as he had done many times before. Subsequently, most of Savannah was registered as a National Historic Site to preserve it for prosperity.

I rode once again through Forsyth Park and marveled at the whimsical cherubs and swans adorning the fountain.

I stopped at the Civil War Memorial to grab a photo before it gets canceled.

In less than 2 miles I was outside the

city and riding through suburban homes on large lots with grass lawns. Most were all decked out for Halloween.

Just 5 miles farther down the road I was in the country with mobile homes raised up on cinderblocks and livestock roaming about.

Fall foliage on the east coast has been delayed due to a wet summer and a hot fall, it is just creeping down to Georgia.

A fair portion of todays route was along US-17, our nemesis in South Carolina. For the most part I found no problem riding on US-17 today. In fact a few of the early side routes that I ignored were along some of the best stretches of the highway with shoulders as wide as 12 feet in some cases. There is also much less traffic on US-17 in Georgia which runs parallel to and a stones throw away from US-95, which was not the case in South Carolina. Anyone in a hurry, or going a long distance would chose US-95 over US-17, which had predominantly local traffic. Once south of the industrial area on the outskirts of Savannah the highway rolled through marshland or forests. Rolling mile after mile through the dense pine forests surrounding US-17, I could not help but hum the old Diamond Rio song, Meet in the Middle

“I'd start walking your way

You'd start walking mine

We'd meet in the middle

'Neath that old Georgia pine

We'd gain a lot of ground

'Cause we'd both give a little

And their ain't no road to long

When you meet in the middle”

At about the 35 mile mark we rolled through the small historic town of Midway which was settled by Puritans in 1752. It was predominantly a rice producer with the labor provide by 1,500 enslaved people brought down from South Carolina. The city hit the national news in 2011 when the city police shut down a lemonade stand run by some young girls trying to raise money for a school trip. City officials and the police claimed that the girls needed to obtain a business license. A month later, the neighboring town of Richmond Hill welcomed the girls with open arms.

I was riding way off the front of the pack and at least 20 miles ahead of our support van so I stopped at a convenience store in Riceboro to purchase some water. Just south of town I was on the lookout for the “Smallest Church in America” and thought it was this Presbyterian Church.

A few miles farther down the road I found the church I was looking for.

The ECG route wound several miles east of US-17 to Shellman Bluff, a peaceful, picturesque fish camp village that retains its distinctive charm. Quaint, screened fishing cottages sit back among oaks festooned with Spanish moss. Shellman Bluff was the location of Shellman Plantation, operated by William Cooke until his death in 1861. It still maintains many of it’s old fishing cottages, but some have been replaced with grand family compounds boasting waterfront docks and even air conditioned tree houses.

I guess all is not as idyllic as it appears. I certainly hope this shared driveway dispute was resolved with lawyers instead of loaded pistols.

Just north of Townsend lies the tiny farming community of Eulonia, noted most by the mile long alle of majestic old live oaks bracketing both sides of US-17

I stopped in the historic town of Darien for lunch at the Spartina Grill, 103 Fort King George Rd, Darien, a delightful restaurant with a screened in porch overlooking the Darien River. I went with the bourbon burger, with arugula, cheddar cheese, caramelized onions, and bourbon sauce. After riding over 80 miles on a few peanut bars and the calories left over from breakfast, I inhaled the burger and a pitcher of ice cold water. Beer would have been much better but I had anther 20 miles to ride.

Darien has a bit of a checkered past. In 1721 it was the site selected for Fort King George, the first British fort in the colony of Georgia. The fort was established to help protect the Carolinas from the Spanish, French, and Indians under the command of the French. The fort was manned with older retired Scots who had been injured in previous battles. The fort never saw a single battle but nearly a third of it’s troops died every year, predominantly from malnutrition and excessive alcohol consumption. Many hundreds are buried on site in unmarked graves. The fort was abandoned in 1736 after a treaty with the Spaniards. The The blockhouse, the main defensive structure, was built of 3 inch thick pine planks which were thick enough to stop musket shot. The pine was obtained locally and hand hewn on site. The blockhouse was 3 stories tall with a basement for powder and shot. The main floor had larger openings for cannons pointed in all directions. The second floor had small openings that allowed rifleman to shoot in all for directions. The upper level was only open on the north and south ends and provided an excellent view for sentries with telescopes to monitor the water approaches to the fort. Since the fort was built of wood, fire was an ever present risk. After the fort burnt down for the second time it was decommissioned. The State of Georgia acquired the site in 1949 and began to reconstruct the fort for visitors. The blockhouse was completed in 1988 and by mid 1990’s the remainder of the construction was completed, including placing nameless headstone over the gravesites.

During the Civil War, Darien was looted and burned to the ground by invading Union troops from St Simons Island. The burning of Darien, undefended and of little strategic importance, was one of the most controversial events of the Civil War. Just as I was about to leave town I noticed a beautiful old church, Saint Cyprian’s Episcopal Church. Terry, the carpenter doing some restoration on the church invited me inside and told me the church’s history. The church was built after Darien had burned down, in 1876, for the “Colored People of McIntosh County,” and is still in regular use.

I crossed the bridge over the Darien River and saw many docks full of shrimp boats. Shrimping is currently Darien’s primary industry.

On the south side of the Darien River lies Butler Island and the Butler Island Plantation. Major Pierce Butler, a slave owner and one of the founding fathers of the United Sates owned the property and ran the plantation until his death in 1822. It was a rice plantation, one of the harshest places for enslaved people to work. Many died where they stood, suffering from insects, heat exposure, and malnutrition.

Our route into Brunswick followed the marshland and we could just make out the Sidney Lanier Bridge in the distance. Our trip out off town will route us over that spectacular bridge.

As I rolled into the historic residential district I spotted bougainvillea, brugmansia, and plumbago, which I have not seen since I left California, a sure sign that we are in a frost free tropical climate.

Dinner was at Fox’s Pizza Den, 1435 Newcastle St, Brunswick, lot’s of choices and full of locals. A great way to carb up after 100 miles.

After dinner we wandered through town and discovered a great local band playing vintage Greatful Dead in the square.

Thirteen states down, 2 more to go.

Cumulative Totals

Miles 2,409

Feet Climbed 81,887

States Visited Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia

For more details on my route, see my Strava Links

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