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Old 02-20-2009, 04:10 PM   #1
Pastor John OP
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Touring Georgia's Coastal Forts

I thought it would be fun to tour the Georgia coast, visiting some old (and new) forts and camping at some state parks.

The ride from Atlanta down to St Marys was mostly uninspiring, because I didn't stop to see the many sights in central Georgia. So mostly I saw trees and cows. No pics of those for you.

But I ended up at Crooked River State Park in St Marys for the night. It's a great park with lots to see. This is my trusty '08 Road Glide, now with 25k miles on her and doing great!





St Marys is a quaint coastal town with a scenic river walk and is gateway to the Cumberland Island National Seashore. There is a lot of history in the area, great seafood restaurants, and shopping for the wives.







St Marys is the home of the Kings Bay Submarine Base. This genuine simulated submarine is partially buried outside the main gate of the base. When I tried to take a picture of the entrance gate to the base, two heavily armed security guards convinced me that I shouldn't do that.





Across from the base are some ruins of a sugar mill from the 1800's which was later converted to a starch factory. The building material is called "tabby" which is a combination of ash, lime, oyster shells, and other ingredients to form a durable concrete-like substance.



So after 330 miles, some sightseeing, and a great seafood dinner, I bedded down for the night at my campsite in the state park. There's nothing like the patter of a light rain on a tent fly to ensure a good night's sleep! Tomorrow I'm northbound towards Savannah, stopping at several old forts for pictures and exploration.

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Old 02-20-2009, 04:57 PM   #2
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When I left Atlanta yesterday morning, it was 28 degrees and I cranked my Gerbings on high and had a pleasant enough ride to the coast. By the time I got to St Marys it was about 70 degrees and righteous. That gentle pattering of rain overnight was an early warning of what was to come though. More about that later....

After packing up my gear, I headed into St Marys for breakfast and another look around before I left. Although the temperatures were warm - almost too warm for February - the skies seemed to indicate that this would be a day of dodging rain showers.





But undaunted, I set my sails for the north and after an hour or so stopped for some roadside french press coffee at a picnic table overlooking the massive bridge going into Brunswick.



And after a quick stop at the Golden Isles Harley shop to check email, I landed at historic Fort Morris from the revolutionary war days. When the British demanded surrender of the fort, the defiant Colonel John McIntosh replied, "Come and take it!". The British refused at the time, but returned 45 days later and did just that. It's an earthwork-type fort, so there's not much remaining, but the views of St Catherine's Sound and the visitor center are nice.





The highlight of the day was Fort McAllister, on the southern side of Savannah, and considered to be the best preserved earthwork fortification of the Confederacy. This fort has more intact that Fort Morris, primarily a function of the time period (Confederate vs Revolutionary), but also because of the importance of guarding the mouth of the Ogeechee River. It fell in 1864 by none other than the famous General William T. Sherman.









By this time of my day dark clouds were gathering, and a quick check of the weather led me to believe that this would be a good night to enjoy the comfort of a hotel room in the historic district of Savannah and perhaps a stroll among the many downtown squares. So I bunked at the non-historic Hampton Inn and enjoyed beef pot roast with all trimmings at the Sixpence Pub. River Street in Savannah is a great place to stroll after dinner...





This turned out to be an excellent decision, because massive thunderstorms moved through the area overnight. That would have been uncomfortable in a tent at Skidaway Island State Park, where I had reservations. Sometimes the comforts of the city are a good thing!

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Old 02-20-2009, 05:19 PM   #3
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Thanks for the history tour, report and pics... I always enjoy your pastoral services! but then again, you are preaching to the choir!
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Old 02-20-2009, 05:28 PM   #4
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So having weathered the storm last night, I awoke to one of those "bluebird days" as we call them in the south - 60 degrees and not a cloud in the sky! Today's agenda started with coffee and bagels at a downtown Savannah coffeehouse, along with a bit of internet surfing to keep track of the cohorts of other forum members.

Ahhh... but I forgot to tell you that I stopped at Fort King George yesterday, in the small town of Darien, between Brunswick and Savannah. This fort, constructed in 1721, was actually the southernmost outpost of the British Empire in North America. The fort was built at the mouth of the Altamaha River to protect the colony from French and Spanish insurgents intent on undermining the establishment of the British in the area.







OK, so back to waking up in Savannah..... After breakfast I headed east of Savannah to Fort Pulaski National Monument, and what a treat that was! Construction of the fort was commissioned in 1829, before the Civil War, by President James Madision as part of a coastal fortification system adopted after the War of 1812. But two weeks after South Carolina seceded from the Union, that state's militia seized the fort and occupied it until the Federals seized it n 1862. It's a marvelous structure and definitely worth a lengthy visit!











On the way back into Savannah, I saw a small sign pointing to "Historic Fort Jackson", and a short ride though an industrial area yielded this treasure:







So after kicking around Savannah and vicinity most of the day, I later hopped back on the bike and headed inland. My goal was George L. Smith State Park, near Statesboro, for an overnighter in the tent as I started the trek back to Atlanta.

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'04 Gold Wing (God forgave me for buying it!)
'07 Harley Road King Classic (God forgave me for selling it!)
'08 Harley Road Glide (Gone but not forgotten)
'11 Harley Ultra Classic Dual-Sport (Ahhh...)
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Old 02-20-2009, 05:57 PM   #5
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So having spent most of the day in Savannah, it was time to head west. My destination was George L. Smith State Park, near Statesboro. It's in the middle of nowhere. I mean really out there. Pretty rural. But if you're a fisherman, or love camping and canoeing - this is your place! It's actually one of my favorite state parks because of the wonderful cypress-laden lake that is its primary feature. I have spent many a long weekend here gently paddling a canoe and grilling steaks over a campfire at night.

But tonight, it's just a quick stop on the way to tomorrow's treats. Still, the lake has a certain romantic charm.... too bad I am alone this week!







After a cold - I mean COLD - night (where it dipped to 28 degrees), I donned my Gerbings again, cranked it to "High", and continued westward to the Air Force Museum at Robins Air Force Base in Warner Robins. Now although this is by no means an "old" fort, our feature today is the museum. And what a gem it is!













And from there, it was back to home to thaw out and clean up. Quite a nice little adventure with lots of miles and lots of great things to see!

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'04 Gold Wing (God forgave me for buying it!)
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'08 Harley Road Glide (Gone but not forgotten)
'11 Harley Ultra Classic Dual-Sport (Ahhh...)
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Old 02-20-2009, 06:03 PM   #6
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Ahh yes, Savannah. A gem of a city. Even Sherman, the evil fire demon that he was, had the good sense not to destroy it.
Nice report. Nice bike.
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Old 02-20-2009, 06:19 PM   #7
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Nice report Pastor John. When you were at Fort Morris you were about 6 miles east of my house. Looks like you took a photo of one of my favorite fishing spots while you were there
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