We felt welcome, but never did see a peach. Visitor centers are an opportunity for a date sometimes with Kelly. Kids sometimes stay in the bus, traveling, free brochures, sunny weather- only problem is how short these mini vacations usually are.

To start off with, something about this name just feels good: Savannah. The city itself seems to be hidden front he roads we used with tall thick trees along the intracity highways. You know there’s a commercial development along the side of the road, but you cannot see it until you have exited the roadway and passed through the foliage cover. It’s a great plan, and something we haven’t seen in any city until this one- makes for a comfortable small town feel for a big city.

You'd never know it, but just beyond all those lush trees, a major city with noise and parking issues just like everywhere else. Savannah was thinking when they protected these corridors. Nice job!

We try to plan ahead sometimes and pick out an overnight spot that will put us at the doorstep of the next day’s activities, so after some online surveying thought we’d try to park it at the downtown visitor center. Ha! We intentionally arrived late at night (11-12 ish) and found that this city was tight for a guy driving a bus- narrow, low clearances and constricted parking lots. We ended up retreating from the city center to a Walmart via MLK Blvd. Halfway down the street we locked the doors of the bus, and kept the wheels rolling. It was surreal, with low trees forming a canopy over the roadway, Spanish moss trickling over the spindly branches, clusters of residents on the street- men without shirts, rampant deep shadows across the front of every building and concealing alleys, bars on closed business windows and doors. It was as if we were traveling along a movie set, so rich in detail and drama. Two story wooden boarding houses, narrow brick row houses with half of the windows boarded up. The next morning we would discover that the street our friend TomTom had routed us through to the Walmart was ‘about the worst’ section of town to be in at night.

Along Franklin Square, the First African Baptist Church was a real gem.

That arrival experience set the stage for this culturally rich city that we really enjoyed- along the lines of New Orleans, but a little more subdued, while teeming with color and character. The highlight of Savannah was our visit to the First African Baptist Church, along Franklin Square downtown. This church was built by slaves that would work after their ‘normal’ 12-14 hour work day. They would gather well after dark and construct a place of worship, using their own money that had been squirreled away to buy their freedom.

The church members said that the gas fixtures still worked, but were never used because they raised the temperature so much- and for the folks in the balcony it was dangerous. The light fixtures were originally gas, and had been converted to electric. Original pews were located upstairs and in the basement, second generation pews were in use in the sanctuary.

On the side of each pew was a different pattern of what appeared to be just scratches. The tour guide pointed out several and after looking at all of them, it was clear that they were intentional- they asserted these were cursive Hebrew writing written by the slaves that built the church.

The church offers public tours that are worth including in your Savannah visit. Visit the church’s website for the details- you’ll wait outside the doors for the tour guide to invite you in, then sit in the sanctuary and hear about the past, followed by a walk through the halls and finally into the basement where escaping slaves would be concealed under the floorboards. Looking around the floor, some apparently decorative patterns in the wood are actually air holes.

All around the floor, groups of airholes that were explained away as a cross ringed by a diamond with an official sounding name. Actually, the provided access to the slaves moving along the Underground Railroad for air and rolled up food. There is also a tunnel that runs North to the rivers edge.

Better than the tour itself, attending church service. We made it to the Passover Communion on Thursday night (Thursday before Easter). We definitely stood out, 9 white faces in a sea of black members that were remarkably involved in their worship. This was the church we’ve been on the lookout for- intense passionate singing, preaching and believing. It was inspiring to be in the congregation for 90 minutes. The time of greeting your neighbor was a standout- we’re accustomed to pretty much meeting those around you- but here they almost all left their seats and met everyone in the sanctuary before they got back to business- and we had the opportunity to see and shake every hand in warm fellowship.

Kelly came through again with the versatile skillet! Nervous to start about how well we could hard boil eggs in it, wshe ended up impressed by the number of eggs at one time. We may replace all of our pots and pans when we get home with this thing. It has cooked everything on our trip, alongside the NuWave oven contraption.

Easter is this weekend, so we prepared with a day of getting ready: hard boiling and decorating eggs (yet another experimental success in the electric skillet), visiting a local mall to see the 4H club present baby chicks from rocking eggs, to cracked shells with tufts of feathers, to wet fresh chicks, and finally the heated bin of fluffy yellow chicks that everyone got to hold- until they fell asleep (the chicks). We visited a local theater for HOP and took in a concert with Forever Jones at the Savannah Civic Center after another church group presented an exciting children’s program for the community.

Ethan arranged an activity that went over well: blowing and decorating eggs. Fortunately the adults did not have a stroke. Have you blown out an egg lately? Whew!

Cute chicks at the mall! Henry has his choice, a soft little yellow one that hatched this afternoon.

Permanent dye was too dangerous inside, so we set up at the back of the bus in the shade to decorate eggs. Looked like class was in session.

Savannah offered so much more than we could tackle, which is why, like New Orleans, it makes our list of cities that we would visit again and recommend to others.