Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Emma's Savannah Birthday

Our Birthday Family Reunion
Is it weird for a nine year old to want to visit a historic city for her birthday?  Is it even weirder if she wants to tour an old home while there?  I do not think this is normal.  I'm beginning to think this sabbatical is having a strange effect on our kids... for better or worse.

Since Sherman gifted the City of Savannah, GA to Lincoln for Christmas in 1864, we decided to give our youngest, Emma Grace, the same thing for her ninth birthday.  Is this considered regifting?  We also threw in The Bobo family who drove down from Canton for an added surprise to help us celebrate.  The weather for the day was pristine and our baby girl got what she wanted: a perfect sight-seeing birthday.

Emma awoke to a new outfit laid out on her bed.  This was a special birthday treat since we haven't purchased new clothes this year. (No need, really, since most school days are spent at home and no new clothes is a great way to save money this year.)  We dined on Emma's requested country ham and biscuits for breakfast and then got dressed for our big day out.  Mandy, Shannon and their new dog, Sophie had arrived late the night before and Emma was thrilled to see them (especially Sophie!)  Leaving the dogs behind to get along or duke it out, we piled into the family bus and headed to meet Hannah and Spencer for lunch.

The door to the upstairs bedchamber where
Captain Flint spent his final hours.
Savannah is about an hour's drive from Fripp Island.  Holiday traffic put us a little behind schedule, but we gathered together in plenty of time for a birthday feast at The Pirates' House.  One of Emma's favorite restaurants, The Pirates' House contains the oldest home in Georgia as it was built atop the original Trustee's Garden established by Georgia's founder, James Oglethorpe, in 1733.  The Garden main purpose was the colony's business venture of growing silk worms which quickly failed; however, Georgia and South Carolina's famous peach trees were first cultivated at the Trustee's Gardens.

Our party was fortunate to dine in this oldest part of the Pirates' House restaurant called the Herb House where the first gardener of the colony lived.  As the Garden failed, but the seaport of Savannah thrived, the Garden area was converted into an Inn for seafaring travelers as it was only one block from the Savannah River.  Soon merchant marines and pirates alike took over the Inn drinking grog and gambling to their hearts' content.  The city of Savannah and the Pirates' House is mentioned several times in the book, Treasure Island.  In fact, the famous Captain Flint died in one of the upstairs bedrooms of the Inn giving Robert Louis Stevenson the opening scene for his book.  On a previous trip, we visited the Pirates' House on a Ghost Tour and searched for the ghost of Captain Flint who haunts the restaurant on moonless nights.  We had tons of fun, but saw no ghost.

For lunch, The Pirates' House has a delicious buffet of southern specialties like fried chicken, BBQ, collard greens, black-eyed peas, squash casserole, fried okra and the quintessential southern vegetable: macaroni and cheese.  Our group of nine all went for the buffet.  I'm embarrassed to say my plate was laden with a little bit of everything!  Being a good southern girl, Emma enjoyed the fried chicken and the biscuits, but ate in lady-like proportions.  Some how she managed to eat a couple of bites of her strawberry shortcake after we sang happy birthday.  She's such a little lady!

What more could a girl want than a pirate
singing "Happy Birthday to You!"

We decided to leave our car at the restaurant to walk off our meal on the lovely tree-lined streets and squares of Savannah.  Oglethorpe planned his city well and laid out Savannah with a grid of streets and city parks every other street.  The result, almost three hundred years later, is a hypnotic and relaxed beauty admired by millions of visitors from all over the world.  We walked past the Colonial Cemetery with its duelers' graves and yellow fever victims.  As creepy as it is, I love a good graveyard!  This one's history thrilled us graveyard connoisseurs with it moss dripping live oaks and a wall of  headstones relocated when the city out grew its original boundaries.  Home owners across the street got a big surprise in the basement while renovating when they realized early civil engineers only moved the headstones!
The parlor of the Sorrel-Weed House in Savannah, GA
Anabel- Future Ghost Hunter

Finally, we reached our tour destination: the Sorrel-Weed House.  Reportedly (by the owners, of course), this is the most haunted house in Savannah with many love affairs and misdeeds including two gruesome murders to brag about.  Featured on both If These Walls Could Talk and Ghost Hunters, the home gives tours day and night.  We opted for the daytime, therefore less frightening, tour, but still got a couple of chills as we traced the footsteps of owner Francis Sorrel, his wife, Matilda and his mistress, Molly.  Anabel had the most fun trying to capture a ghostly image or orb with our camera.  She swears she caught Molly looking down at us from the window of her death chamber...

Can you spot a ghost?
In the basement, the owners have set up many infrared cameras to chronicle the supernatural activity.  Emma loved dancing around with the spectral dust floating by!   Is it really haunted?  Probably not.  But it was easy to let our imaginations run away with us for an afternoon.  We all enjoyed our private tour of this spooky home.
Hannah happily conversing with the other side... of the room.

Our final stop per the birthday girl's wish was River Street Sweets.  Without a doubt, this shop is kid heaven!  The aroma of browned butter and sugar smacks you in the face as you walk in the door.  The store was packed with holiday shoppers and merry tourists vying for the perfect Christmas confection.  After a free taste of their world famous pralines, Emma contented her sweet tooth with a bag full of sour ribbon candy.  Go figure.  We may have awakened her travel buds this year, but her taste buds are still 100% normal nine year old kid.  I guess she's not so weird after all.

Please, Sir, may I have some candy?  It is my birthday.
Happy Birthday, Emma!  We love you!

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