Georgia Adventures!

On my way to Savannah, which is just a short jaunt from Charleston, I stopped by the oldest church in Georgia in Rincon. The old Salzberg society came over and started Jerusalem Lutheran Church as well as an orphanage.

This church (Old Salzburger Church or simply Ebenezer Church, but officially Jerusalem Evangelical Lutheran Church) was built in 1767-1769. The bricks were handmade and you can see the fingerprints in them. This is the oldest church building in Georgia.

Savannah—what a beautiful port…seriously! Because I got in so late into Savannah (ie, the sun was starting to set), I just headed out to nearby Pilot station that I can get a shower ($12—highway robbery!) and park for the night.

Stopped at Pilot outside of Savannah to grab a shower and ended up meeting Billy!

Afterwards, that Monday, Nov 10, I worked at the library—you know, the one started by Andrew Carnegie especially for the African Americans so they too could have access to information back in the day (as a matter of fact, they were commemorating the dedication of the library on Nov 13th after 100 years).

Carnegie funded the establishment of a library for African Americans 100 years ago in Savannah, Georgia (which they celebrated their 100 year anniversary while I was there!)

Anyway, it serves the marginalized and underprivileged today and so I met many an interesting character (as well as went through all my cash!) But I did get the IIQ work done that I needed to, and headed back to Pilot since there weren’t any free camping sites nearer to Savannah.

The Olympic Cauldron where yachting events took place in the 1996 olympics. The five classic-style columns represent the five Olympic rings which form a pedestal on which the Olympic torch burns. Surrounding the flame are billowing sails symbolizing the sailboats. Gorgeous port city for sure!

This was the night I met my “living in a van” nomad tutor, Billy Sheppard! He’s a retired truck driver and have been traveling in his VW Westfalia for 5 months. There is a whole slew of “westys” out there, but we were both confident that I may be the only one trying to make a Chrysler Town & Country my home!

Caught these two hanging out in southern Georgia near Jekyll Island. I don’t know what the orange thing is that the bee is holding!

I had a buy one, get one free for Quarter Pounders, so we went into McDonalds for dinner. It was here that he informed me that I should NEVER pay for a shower, ever again. And he proceeded to start asking truckers who were in the restaurant if they had an extra shower on their card. Everyone he asked did so. “Just ask a trucker like this, ‘hey driver, do you have an extra shower on your card I could use?’”

Billy Sheppard and his faithful Westy (but not nearly as cozy as Big Blue, I’m sure!)

“I don’t know Billy, how can I make sure they would not expect anything in return?” “First of all, they are basically good family men trying to make a living. But another way is to keep an eye out for their ring finger. Most take the rings off if they have other intentions.” Of course, Billy didn’t have a ring…but that’s because he’s single! I’m thankful for this tip, because I haven’t had to pay for a shower since and have met many a fine men as a result.

Billy Sheppard with the green scrubbie Diana’s sister sewed for me. And there is Billy showing off his cooking skills there on his stove…bacon and egg sandwich, oatmeal with apple slices, and a tall glass of hot chocolate!

The next morning Billy made breakfast in his van for us (egg bacon sandwich and a tall glass of hot chocolate and a big bowl of oatmeal with sliced apples. More than I should ever eat, but it was so good. I thought I would not get hungry for the rest of the day!


Just a random photo of a lizard who was hanging out next to me while camping in Georgia!

I took $20 out of the atm (Billy informed me I should keep $300 in cash on hand…but I’m not so confident I could hang on to it for very long) and headed to historic Savannah to walk all the streets. (I spent $5 at the visitor center for postcards and stamps). And the history of the place is exhaustive! I did a lot of walking around that town on veteran’s day (which meant free parking too!). Watched the parade (long parade with many high school rotc programs…military is taken very seriously in Savannah) and continued on with my walk.

Congregation Mickve Israel synagogue in Savannah, GA…3rd oldest congregation. George Washington once wrote the Jews there:
“To the Hebrew Congregation of the City of Savannah, Georgia”:
“… May the same wonder-working Deity, who long since delivering the Hebrews from their Egyptian Oppressors planted them in the promised land – whose providential agency has lately been conspicuous in establishing these United States as an independent nation – still continue to water them with the dews of heaven and to make the inhabitants of every denomination participate in the temporal and spiritual blessings of that people whose God is Jehovah.”

I then stopped by and saw the oldest GA synagogue and the third oldest in the nation. (I spent $5 to donate to the museum). And inside the Congregation Michve Synagogue was a Torah from before the days of Christopher Columbus. The 15th century scroll traveled over in 1734 with the Jews who arrived here from Portugal & Spain via London. It was so meticulously written, the most readable of old Torahs I’ve ever seen. It’s odd to think that America has many more old synagogue buildings than does Europe. (Speaking of which, I just finished listening to the Diaries of Young Girl by Anne Frank. I don’t know why I did it. I knew she was going to die. I thought that knowledge would spare me the roller coaster of emotion that would come if I were blindsided by her death. But such knowledge does not prevent such responses, especially after having listened to her diary for two years). Anyway, seeing a Torah older than the reformation itself was really spine tingling.

An old Torah (1435) that came over to the USA in 1733 and is housed at the 3rd oldest Jewish congregation in America, Congregation Mickve Israel.

As I went from square to square in Savannah, I hooked up with a wonderful artist named Gullah who could turn the palm branches from the trees into pertin near anything! Here he is pictured with a rose and heart and cross all together. He wanted to sell it to me. And I certainly wanted to buy it for the artistry was phenomenal (I can’t even make a palm cross without youtube holding my hand). But there just wasn’t enough room in the van. So I just gave him $5 in the name of the One who died on that cross for him and I and humanity.

The great artist I met on Veterans’ Day in Savannah who could turn palm branches into pertin near anything! Gullah.

By about 2pm my tummy was rumbling, and I had $5 left. I strolled over to the oldest house in Georgia—the Pirate’s House—now a pub. Much much history and speculation about the going ons at this place which you can read about here.  But the menu at the pub had nothing less than $5. Then I met a trumpeter hanging out at Reynolds square where a statue commemorating Wesley’s visit is and he directed me to a pizza joint…but nothing less than $5. So I thought I’d just walk the river until I came across a convenience store where I could grab a bag of chips or something. And lo and behold as I was walking the river there was a little kiosk called The Naked Dog selling lunch specials of any kind of hotdog, a bag of chips, and a soda pop for $5! I know, I know…for you naturalists out there…big deal. But for the likes of me…I prayed more thanksgiving over that meal than I have over many meals before which were fit for a king!

Oldest house in Georgia with a very colorful history…but no food for less than $5!

Billy and I hooked up again at the TA further down the road as we were both headed to Florida. I was taking the coastal route and he was taking I-75. But the two intersected at one point and so we both met up there. In the morning he made tuna melts and oatmeal for breakfast. He even made an extra one for my lunch! (God just knew I needed a gourmet chef in my life, since I’m not living with my brother right now!)

After an unsuccessful ministry of 2 years at Savannah in the Georgia Colony, Wesley returned to London and joined a religious society led by Moravian Christians. On 24 May 1738 he experienced what has come to be called his evangelical conversion, when he felt his “heart strangely warmed”. He subsequently departed from the Moravians, beginning his own ministry. But Methodism flourished afterwards but Savannah was his first visit to the USA.

I drove south along the 81 miles of Sea Islands scenic byway from Savannah to Jekyll Island. (Its at times like this I wish I liked seafood!) So many beaches and swamps to see along the way, but the thing that caught my fancy was tripping into the smallest church in the USA. Lol…about the size of my van with just a bit more headroom!

Memorial Park Christ Church, the smallest church in America. Built in 1950, it measures 10’x15′ and has space for about a dozen people and is open 24 hrs a day!

Billy messaged me that he couldn’t get his van started and that I was to meet him at exit 1 in Florida if could, to help give him a push start. So I headed on down to Florida. Meanwhile, he got it started and told me of a Walmart parking lot he found to stay at. I was going to set up camp at the Stephen Foster State Park (near the Swanee River!) but headed to Walmart to stay the night with Billy to make sure he could get his car going the next morning before heading to his buddy’s house in New Smyrna.

Me and Billy Sheppard in Georgia and Florida…learning the nomadic ways from this retired truck driver!

He grilled us up some hamburgers for dinner and in the morning set me up with some pork chops for lunch and again some delicious oatmeal for breakfast. I’m going to miss him a lot! Anyway, after a few false starts God gave him one more good start so he could make it all the way to New Smyrna before discovering it was his fuel pump causing the problem.

Big Blue at Florida’s welcome center before heading a little more south to hook up with Billy at Walmart to see if we can get his van started!

This isn’t even the half of it, but I’ve gobbled up enough of your time for now. I will begin my Florida adventures in the next blog post!

One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Dan Ufkes on December 27, 2014 at 11:21 am

    This is a very nice blog site, and your adventures are very interesting. I am married to Billy’s cousin Angie. Thank you for watching over Billy for a while. We hope he didn’t talk your ear off. We love him a lot, he’s a great cousin. We will be praying for you on your travels.


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