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Day 27 – 30: Savannah – Richmond Hill – Fort McAllister – Jesup, GA


Day 27: Savannah – Richmond Hill (23 miles)

The morning was spent having a look around Savannah, exploring the sights and drinking a lot of of orange juice. Interesting place with amazing historical sights and architecture, and typical college-town contrast – the quiet town I was in, surely in contrast to that when the student population returns after the holidays. It seemed to now be mainly tourists walking around the popular River St and Broughton St. There are a lot of cyclists cruising the streets, and well thought out lanes, which is unusual for many of the towns and cities visited on this trip so far. After a few hours of typical-tourist stuff in the town, I began cycling out of Savannah at around 3pm, keen to get cracking with  the aim being to find somewhere to sleep. In Richmond Hill, outside of Savannah, nestled between a Church and a housing complex was a football-pitch-sized field. That’ll do.

Day 28: Richmond Hill (3 miles)

All set for the bigger miles today, I woke up early to get going. Unfortunately I’d pitched in an ants nest. Not the best of starts.

It wasn’t a very eventful day other than a chance meeting. Quick stop to pick up supplies, and I bumped in to two folks called Frank Thompson and Ty Stowe, both from out of town. They were intrigued by the bike outside, and after chatting about the Vague Direction project, they mentioned what they were in Richmond Hill for. An unusual invite, there was no way I was going to miss this, so plans for the days cycling were halted, because…

Day 29: Richmond Hill – Fort McAllister (9 miles)

It’s 1864, there’s cannons going off. It’s the civil war. Thousands of William Sherman’s Union forces are preparing to attack a small number of Confederate forces, to take the strategic position of Fort McAllister. Only kidding, no time travel here, it’s still 2012 of course. This is a civil war re-enactment held in the same location as the Battle of Fort McAllister in December 1864, nearly 150 years ago. And this is what Frank and Ty were in town for. They, and around a hundred others, are Civil War reenactors, and were in Fort McAllister to recreate those 1864 scenes, play-by-play and in real time.

Having never been to a reenactment before, I wasn’t sure what to expect. But it was epic and the people were so friendly. A complete range of men and women, from retirees through to workers to students. Even a heavy-metal / hardcore vocalist. Whole families as well as individuals. Large groups walking round with huge muskets, in genuine clothing, and speaking in traditional ways. Cannons going off. Huge flags being waved. Orders being shouted. Everyone was really happy to share the story and incredibly welcoming, and really enjoying the battle. What did surprise me though, was the amount of people laying on the grass having a nap in the sunshine. Everyone has to sleep, but whole groups having a nap in the midst of a battle?!

It seems like after chatting to many of the reenactors, it’s a hobby that runs through families, generation after generation – a lot of the people were born into it and often their direct relatives took part in the actual civil war. Here’s a quick video with Ty, Michael Croft and Lawson Owens – in the fort and the traditional campground, looking at how they got into this, and what they enjoy about it.

(Click here if the video doesn’t load in your email browser)

After the battle was over, I spent time with some of the participants, which was great fun, and also some of the local people who had come to watch the Battle. Guns are common place in Georgia, so it was interesting to chat to one of audience members about personal security on this trip. He was shocked that I wasn’t carrying a firearm. And after explaining that in the UK guns aren’t common place, what followed was a slightly uncomfortable conversation about what positives carrying a gun can bring.

“You don’t carry a gun?! What if you have to defend yourself?”. He has a whole host of firearms, ranging from handguns that he keeps on him at all times, to shotguns and more. He mentioned that his house is covered in CCTV cameras, and he’s stockpiled ammunition in case one day it’s needed. I was hit by a sense that perhaps this all indicates an end-of-the-world paranoia, but perhaps the situation in the South is very different to that of the UK.

A unique and fun day nearly over, time spent with the reenactors was something I won’t forget. They were incredibly welcoming and once again it was a case of warm Southern hospitality. As the day came to a close, I found a park bench in the trees just outside Fort McAllister, and after the gun talk felt a sense of paranoia myself, with strange sounds (which turned out to be squirrels dropping stuff from the trees) and total darkness. Another night of spooky luxury!

Day 30: Fort McAllister – Jesup (56 miles)

Up at first light. Awful nights sleep. Bitten by bugs. Let’s go. Incredible empty roads to start the day’s pedalling.

But something was wrong with the bike. The chain was skipping every 7 pedal strokes. Strange, but something to take care of when stopped in a better place. Passing through Hinesville a little later, and getting annoyed by the skipping, the plan was to stop, get something to eat and then take care of the chain. So as I was pulling up to a shop, SNAAAP. Funny how things work. Chain snap number 2.

After a painless and relatively fast fix (and a thought that I really need to get the chain replaced asap), and now fuelled up, the next stop was Jesup after a few hours of easy riding on wide shoulders. The plan was to keep going further and to drop the miles to St Augustine, but after filling water I was offered a complimentary room at a local independent hotel, the Red Carpet Inn – can’t refuse that after the last few nights. People must really like bikes with a lotta’ bags.

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13 comments on this post

  1. Lee says:

    How did you quick-fix a broken chain on the road? I’ve been in that situation and had no way to fix it . . .

  2. Isaac says:

    Hey Dave! You have a wonderful package waiting for you at the post office. he he he ! :)

  3. Gill says:

    Yet another brilliant blog. One of my friends re-enacts here in the UK and has a really good time. They dress up as the tudors and speak olde English. I guess it’s one of those things you have to try before you can comment. The gun question is an interesting one. I find the idea of people walking around with loaded pistols very scarry and having a huge stash of ammunition in your house even more so!! What do the rest of you american’s think?

    • Joshua says:

      Because i grew up being around it, it actually makes me feel a little more safe. not everyone actually carries them everywhere. you do have to own a permit to carry it. plus we do a lot of hunting here in the south so honestly that’s what we use them mainly for. we keep them for sport and home security. i love the fact that we have that choice to have them or not. plus Americans have had guns in their houses since the British settled this country. so its kinda normal. i would feel out of place not having them in my home. and less safe.

  4. Herb Coats says:

    Wow, so sorry to have missed chatting with you. I was one of the “sleeping reenactors” on the parapet. Most of my fellow group members had been up since 4 AM, and had been on guard duty. I think it was a chain reaction type of moment for us all. Very glad you could stop and talk to the folks who volunteered at the park. Sometimes, visitors are hesitant to come up and chat with the dressed out reenactors.

    As for the firearm comment. Many citizens in this state own firearms, but the folks who have handguns in public must have a permit to carry them. It honestly is not an issue to many in the state. Granted, some gun owners may have “stockpiles” of ammo, but most have firearms and the ammunition as a home defense, use in hunting, competative target shoots, and some people here are gun enthusiats/collectors. It is not the Wild Wild West, with guns a blaze’n everywhere, but I won’t deny the fact that firearms are used in criminal activities.

    Also, it is great to see somone biking around South Georgia, and recording their experience. Good luck and be careful! Many times, drivers here don’t respect/pay attention to bicyclists on the road. That is a shame.

    • Dave says:

      Hi Herb. Thanks for the comment. What a day at Fort McAllister, a great experience.
      Thanks for the firearm comments too. Good to have insight from a local!

  5. Tony Norris says:

    Still following you on your great adventure. Was hoping you could see some of our Civil War and Revolutionary War history. I will be sending you an email.
    Got to replace that chain!
    Stay safe.

  6. Dave Lang says:

    Greetings fae Scotland. following your journey with keen interest. I have just returned from my first cycle tour, Boston ma to Bar Harbor, up the east coast of America. I loved it and met some wonderful people along the way. I note that you are not normally a cyclist, and from your little ant invasion picture I see that you are using cleats to lock your feet onto the pedals. How is that working out for you? Not so good when you have a moment when ou can’t get your foot off the pedal! Take care, loving the blog. Dave L

    • Dave says:

      Hi Dave,
      Thanks for the comment, glad you’re enjoying it. I’m new to touring cycling but have experience in other forms so have used cleats before. Wouldn’t have it any other way – once you’re used to them (takes a couple of sessions) the power you get out of them makes a lot of difference. You can pull up on the pedals as well as pushing down so it’s much more effective!

  7. […] off late after finishing the previous blog at 5.20pm! Bring on the night riding. It wasn’t a complicated day, just simple cycling on a quiet […]

  8. Tony Norris says:

    Great. You are doing great. Did the other tourers have a web site? Bet that was interesting meeting them. How long you gonna be in St. Augustine? If you travel due west, you will be ridin in the Fla. Panhandle. Hope you get to see the Forgotten Coast. Qiiet little fishing villages along the Gulf Coast. Should begin to see a few more travelers.
    Stay safe.

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