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09 June 2011

Driving through the South - Jacksonville to South Carolina

Day 18: Tuesday, 7 June 2011
We woke up in Jacksonville, at Jennie's apartment. I slept on the couch, and Ueli on the air mattress, which had a small hole and slowly leaked out all night (this is the 2nd time we've ad a leaky air mattress). Unfortunately we had no glue, sealant, or even duct tape to fix the hole. Jennie looked noticeably different then she had in the evening, since she was dressed and ready to go to work (at Deutsche Bank) just as Ueli and I were waking up. She left, and Ueli and I soon got ready and picked up Pat at a nearby Dunkin' Donuts. (Jennie's apartment was very close to the house of Pat's friend Joel - we could not have stayed closer if we had tried.)

Jacksonville, Florida, is the largest city in the US (by land area). In any other city, there would be dozens of suburbs all around, but Jacksonville incorporates all those suburbs and beyond into the city limits. We drove back to the 95 and headed north into Georgia, passing by a a nuclear power plant. We stopped by the Georgia welcome center, taking a picture by the sign saying "Glad Georgia's on Your Mind." Ueli took over the driving, and we stopped for gas, searching for the cheapest gas station, but Ueli really did not know where he was driving, making 3 wrong turns just from the off-ramp to the gas station! A short while later, we were entering Savannah. The outer neighborhoods of Savannah looked rough, and you could tell that these areas had been ravaged by neglect, crime, and drugs. But central Savannah is a totally different story. It's charming and quaint, with lots of historic buildings and squares. Pat guided us first to Forsythe park, right in the heart of the city, where we walked around, saw a couple cool cafes, and asked some girls where we could find the bench from the movie Forrest Gump. They directed us to a square up the street, and so we drove there, where a bystander told us that there is no actual bench from the movie, that the bench was put in just for the movie. So we took pictures on a conveniently located bench. ("Good choice of bench," remarked the bystander).

Our main stop in Savannah was Paula Deen's restaurant, the Lady and Sons, located right in the central business district. Pat knew the way to get in without waiting: Go straight up to the 2nd floor bar and order food there. Unfortunately we got intercepted by a hostess at the top of the elevator who wanted to have our reservation card, but Pat was able to talk us into snagging an open table near the bar. We had had a wonderful host, Sidney, who exemplified the polite Southern hospitality we've encountered here and there, saying "y'all" and "sir." Ueli and I each got the buffet, which was $14 (such a good deal!), while Pat left us to find food elsewhere. The bread they gave us, a freshly-baked garlic biscuit and a buttery cornbread pancake, was a major highlight for me. But so were the candied yams, the fried chicken, and collard greens; and not to forget the peach cobbler and banana cream pie for dessert!