A boat trip with some salty dogs

My friend Magen and I have been talking about going out on her boat for a few years, but the timing just never seemed to match my schedule until this week.

Since I haven’t been swimming at all this summer due to one of my favorite beaches being closed and the others being too crowded for comfort, this Floridian was excited to be on the water. I was also excited for my dog, Vash, to finally have his first boat ride.

For all his barking and bouncing around my yard, he really isn’t an adventurous dog outside of it. Vash was apprehensive about getting on the boat and it took me and Magen both to coax/pull him on. He nervously paced around and tried to hide underneath me, but he eventually got used to it.

Magen and I had talked about looking for Shark Tooth Island, but due to uncertain weather, we ended up off the coast of Pigeon Island between Shipyard Creek and the Skidaway River, which part of the Wormsloe Historic Site.

Since it’s protected property, people aren’t actually allowed on the island. You can stay just off of it. Magen told me there aren’t any gators or wild boar, so it was safe for the dogs to run up and down the tiny beach while we swam. That’s the closest we got.

Even though Magen and I were just splashing around, we were still able to enjoy some wildlife. Magen pointed out an eagle as we were pulling into shore. Its huge nest in one of the pine trees was hard to miss. While Vash and Magen’s dog Miles were busy playing tug of war with a stick they found, I spotted a dolphin a little ways off the coast. Magen wondered if it was the same dolphin she spotted earlier this summer near the Isle of Hope Marina.

If you head out to Pigeon Island, DO NOT GO ON THE ISLAND! You don’t have to worry about being chased by a wild boar or eaten by an alligator, but it’s important to protect natural habitats. I can’t tell you how many nifty places I’ve seen ruined by careless tourists with no regard for nature or history. (More on that in next week’s post.) Being just off the shore is still fun, and there are plenty of good photo opportunities.

A walk around Wormsloe

I love taking my dog, Vash, and my foster dog, Hemingway, out for scenic walks. Before the pandemic, Vash and I would walk around downtown most weekends and end at Gallery Espresso for a puppuccino. Nowadays, it’s too crowded for my comfort level, so we look elsewhere. Luckily for us, Wormsloe Historic Site is close by, dog-friendly, and gorgeous.

When we arrived, I stopped by the office to say hello to my friend Gretchen, who works at the park as the site manager. She gave the boys some homemade dog treats that she keeps on hand for all the dogs that visit. In fact, Georgia State Parks are incredibly welcoming to dogs. There is also an entire program dedicated to them called Tails on Trails! Gretchen was able to explain a bit about it before the dogs signaled that they were bored and wanted to starting hiking.

Tails on Trails offers hikes at 42 different parks across Georgia. A $20 membership gets you a t-shirt for yourself, a bandanna for your dog, and a checklist for your explorations. You can learn more about it on the website. I didn’t have time to get my membership on this trip, but I’ll definitely get it next time.

Once the dogs got me outside again, we headed down the trail to the tabby ruins, which is all that’s left of the home built by Noble Jones in the early to mid 1700s.

The Tabby Ruins

I stopped there to give the dogs a break and some water while I shot some video of the ruins. I’m always amazed at what it took to live in places like Coastal Georgia before the invention of air conditioning. You can still see the remnants of a cellar inside the fenced-off portion of the ruins. That probably was a relaxing place to steal a few moments on hot summer days.

The dogs and I kept hiking down the trail along the water before taking another mini-break at the family burial ground. If you ever go to Bonaventure Cemetery, you’ll notice Noble Jones has a family plot there. His wife and son are still buried at Wormsloe though. In fact, some descendants of the family actually still live on the property. You pass their home as you drive to the Wormsloe visitor’s center.

Hemingway and Vash sported their new bandannas from Buddy Bandana.

After some more wandering, we ended up at the Colonial Life Area. There’s a blacksmith shop and a small home with a garden. It was quiet the day we went, but this spot is buzzing with activity in February during the Colonial Faire and Muster. There are reenactors showing how early settlers would make tools, cook, harvest, trade, and defend the area. (Vash may have been startled and growled at a Revolutionary soldier, who laughed it off and told him to use that attitude on red coats.)

Poor Hemingway was getting tuckered out by this point, so we had to cut the trip short because he’s just a bit too big for me to carry. On previous visits, Vash and I have explored more of the 3.2 mile trail. During the summer, this trail is perfect because it’s shaded and breezes from the nearby salt marsh keep it cooler than some other hikes we’ve been on. If you’re tackling this trail, don’t forget to bring bug spray and water. Sand gnats and mosquitoes are no joke, and the humidity makes it easy to get dehydrated.

One of the things I love about Wormsloe is the photographic opportunities. Some of my photographer friends love taking clients out to the park because the canopied drive and salt marsh offer beautiful backdrops, so when you visit, don’t forget your camera.

Gallivanting through the graveyard

A graveyard may seem like a strange place to take your dog for a walk, but Savannah is used to the strange and unusual.

Cemeteries aren’t just got Goths and ghost hunters. The South has plenty of fun graveyards to explore; each with its own unique stories to tell. Savannah is no exception.

Driving through the gates of Bonaventure Cemetery, it’s easy to see why it was used for the opening of the 1997 film adaptation of “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” The branches of oak trees laden with Spanish moss crisscross over dirt roads winding through old headstones.

My dog, Vash, and I like walking here for different reasons. I like it because it’s quiet and easy to socially distance from people, and I also enjoy spotting the names of tombstones that match with streets, squares, and nearby towns. Vash likes it because it’s shaded against the summer sun and there’s plenty of wildlife to smell.

Vash loves all the smells the wildlife provide for discerning doggie noses.

It isn’t just local historical people you’ve never heard of buried there. You can follow the same paths that inspired poet Conrad Aiken to write Cosmos Mariner, and even stop by his grave site, sit on the bench inscribed with his name, and see what words it inspires in yourself.

If you’re a music fan, pull up a Johnny Mercer playlist on Spotify (Yes, the guy who wrote the song Moon River.)and wander over to his family’s plot. Snippets of the songwriter’s vast catalog can be found engraved on some of the headstones as well as a bench.

Given the recent scrutiny Confederate memorials are receiving, it’s worth pointing out that there are some graves of those who served in the Confederate army. A few years ago, you would’ve found tiny battle flags next to the headstones. Those have all been removed, but you can recognize some of them by a small Maltese cross sticking out of the ground nearby.

If you love a good ghost story, don’t forget to stop by and say hello to Little Gracie.

When you pull up to the cemetery gates, you’ll notice there are two entrances. The one to your right leads to the Jewish side. Savannah is Georgia’s first city and is home to the state’s oldest Jewish congregation. If you’re wondering why the Jewish side has a separate entrance, it’s a religious custom. There’s also a special chapel.

On one trip to Bonaventure, Vash and I found the Holocaust monument.

While Vash and I walk here year round, I think the best time to go is in the spring when the azaleas are in full bloom. If you have seasonal allergies like me, make sure to take your antihistamine before you go, but the sight of all the pink flowers spilling out everywhere is worth a few sniffles.

There are plenty of tours available to give you a better history (and some ghost stories) of Bonaventure Cemetery. The Bonaventure Historical Society also has a free app available if you’d like to tour by yourself. And if you happen to see me and Vash out there, you can definitely ask me for directions.

Here’s some video of my favorite spots with a Johnny Mercer tune.

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑