Monday, August 8, 2016

Tybee Island & Fort Pulaski

Originally posted November 29, 2014

Visiting Savannah, the oldest city in the Georgia territory established in 1733, offers a veritable shopping list of places to go, things to do and people to see. Working to keep travel expenses in line and under budget, I scheduled these two attractions on the same day because they are so geographically close to each other. It was only natural to combine the trip to visit both and save the driving and the gas. I could have spent a day on each. This Saturday, I chose these two.

This crafted sign welcomes residents and visitors alike.
Tybee Island is essentially a tourist destination, but I’m sure the local residents enjoy the beach and the view as well. It was my fortune to visit in the late autumn and at low tide. That’s just the way things worked out. I can always return when the tide returns. I still enjoyed the day. I didn’t do any shopping, dining or drinking – as most tourists are want to do. I just enjoyed the natural beauty of the surroundings, feeling the rushing sound of the pounding surf, watching the seagulls soar and people watch. I was rewarded by the presence of a group of wind surfers enjoying the fullness of the wind and waves.

I only got two shots of this low-flyer before he sailed away higher into the sky
I began snapping the Nikon at will as if I had never seen a beach before. In truth, I have never seen THIS beach before. As I only took one lens with me – my “normal-wide angle” lens – I returned to the parking lot and my car to grab my AF 80~200 mm, f/2.8 lens to get the action as best I could. It turned out to be a pretty good choice. No wonder photojournalists use this lens more often in their work.

Out of a dozen windsurfers on the beach today, I thought this shot exemplified their fun.
I really enjoyed the day and the energy of these decidedly younger men and a couple of women thrill-seekers, as well. They all wore warm suits and must have had an iron constitution. My feet would have been icicles.

The weather took it’s toll on even the bravest of wind-surfing thrill seekers and they eventually had their fill of fun – if that were possible. I walked down the low-tide exposed sandy of the beach toward the pier. It contained picnic tables similar to a state park pavilion that could be rented for large functions. The end of the pier put you on the nose of the Titanic – if you remember that scene from the movie.

Within minutes of actual low tide, the rocks will disappear when the waves come crashing back in.
The observation pier is an experience in “ocean”. Stand at the very end and look outward.

With the temperature in the high sixties, the wind seemed to bring that warmth “feeling” down a bit as everyone else was similarly clothed with jackets and hats. The rocks in the foreground will disappear from view as the tide rolls back inland. There was a beach reclamation project going on, which pumps sand from as far out to sea as one mile and will spread it around to reestablish the beach. Next summer’s tourists are gonna love it, I’m sure. it costs millions to do this.

As I finished my visit – due only to the fact that all parking is paid at $2.00 per hour – my time ran out after $3.00 worth. Besides, I had another venue to visit today. Here is the scene directly in front of where I parked my car. If I were a little taller, I could have shown more of the beach. I guess I’ll have to start carrying a small ladder with me.

View of the beach from my parking spot. It was cool, but the smell of salty air drove my exploration.
All-in-all, a nice visit however short as it may have been. I’m sure as I travel, there will be other beaches where I can get a decent sunburn. Today wasn’t the day for that.

Fort Pulanski National Monument

National Parks and Monuments always have first class signage.
People tailgate here. Either that or I was driving 5 mph under the posted speed limit trying to remember where that signpost was as I drove out to Tybee Island. Either way, I almost missed the turn-off to visit the Fort. As I handed-in my “America the Beautiful” Senior Pass and drivers license to the ranger in the booth, I was glad I’d spent the $10 during my visit to Mammoth Cave National Park. Today’s admission was free … for me. (Good Deal!) However, my driver’s license and pass ID number were scanned into their computer and essentially added to their data base. Now, I’m being tracked by the National Park Service, too.

Before I went inside the fort, I took some extra time to walk entirely around the outside of the fort and was reminded that a battle occurred here during the Civil War. This, of course, was evidenced by the canon-ball impacts in the outside walls all around the south and east sides of the fort. This is where the Confederates were attacked by the Union artillery during the 30-hour attack, which eventually caused the surrender of the fort as a humanitarian concern.

Cannonball hits on Fort Pulaski.
These “divots” in these 7-1/2 foot thick walls are evidence of the cannon attack. I can’t imagine the horror of being inside and watching the cannonballs coming right for me.

As one instructional postings indicated that over 5,275 shots and shells were fired into the 7-1/2 foot thick fort walls during a 30-hour period. The Confederates were defeated because the fort had been constructed by the U.S. Army since they had built the fort were well aware of it’s weaknesses.

After I walked around the fort, I went inside and was just in time for the canon firing demonstration. In other visits to other forts, I’ve seen these demonstrations at other events previously, but I always get a “charge” out of them. I don’t enjoy the high-sulfur (rotten eggs) odor of old-time black powder. As a 20th Century person, smokeless and more powerful gun powder had already been invented and replaced black powder. Some hunters still enjoy black powder, muzzle-loading as an homage to the past.

I just missed the fire coming out of the muzzle, but I got most of the smoke.
Of all the shots I took, this is the best one showing the discharge of the cannon and the positions the men took at each and every firing procedure. After the demonstration, but before the canon was cleaned and retired for the day, the park ranger offered to take group photos (using your own camera) with the cannoneers. I was last in line, since I was a single and there were so many couples and families attending.

Group photo of cannoneers and a civilian as taken by the park ranger on site - a nice thing for them to do.
As I found a place to sit, I told the guys, “I’m sorry about my hair.” and someone behind me said, “Yeah, so are we.” In the spirit of the moment I laughed so hard I couldn’t see. That’s the reason for the large grin on my face. I must get a haircut pretty soon. Priorities … we must have priorities.

Residence of the Commanding Officer at the fort. Aides kept the home fires burning and laundry clean.
I was amazed at the difference in sleeping quarters between the commander, quartermaster, troop chaplain and the regular enlisted men. This is the commanding officer’s quarters.

Enlisted barracks: Soldiers took care of themselves as best they could behind fort walls.
These are the enlisted men’s quarters. It was a hard life, but then war is always hard — always Hell.

I just thought this view of the cannonade was pretty cool under prevailing light.
With the daily retirement of the National Ensign, I decided to leave for the day.

Retiring the National Ensign.
I was disappointed at the number of people who witnessed it and yet failed to stop, face the flag and hold their hands over their hearts. As a youthful citizen I learned respect for our flag; apparently lost on later generations.

I had taken the photos I wanted to take and enjoyed the experience. At the gift shop, I purchased my customary hat pin and some penny stick candy (now 25 cents each and stale). I already have more t-shirts, coffee mugs and baseball hats of places I’ve visited to last a lifetime, but I always want to buy something.

The ride home was anticlimactic but necessary. The day was done. Gone the sun. It was time to eat something and revisit the day in my digital images. Editing would take a while before I could select favorites to use for my blogs and which were simply documentation or other memories of the locale.


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