Savannah, St. Petersburg, and Sarasota / by deanna szuter

After leaving the cozy home of Warner and Reb in Atlanta, I made my way to Savannah.  Drove to the state park I intended on staying at, but.. unbeknownst to me, St. Paddy's Day is a HUGE deal in Savannah.  All lodging was booked up for days.  The helpful Ranger gave me 4 numbers and said, "These are a bit far out, but these are your best bets."  Another state park 40 miles out had one.. just one space left for that night.  Not the next.  I took it.  Then I called to get a spot for the next night.  An RV Park 30 miles in the opposite direction of Savannah had one spot.. so I took that.  Great.  Lodging scattered, but had.  Off to the Cemeteries.  
Fantastic subjects in the Bonaventure.  Bonaventure was the more wealthy cemetery, and had a lot of statue work I had not seen before.   I spent the better part of my first day in Savannah on those grounds.  Ft. McAllister State Park is where I spent the night.  Fine accommodations.. short stay.   
The next morning I hit the Laurel Cemeteries.  Both Laurel Cemeteries, North and South were more modest, with the South location being dedicated to Blacks, and North dedicated to Lower and Middle Class Whites.   I was having a horrible "spine day" and drove thru only. No reason.. just woke up that way. Being that there were no ornate statues or structures, I was able to just cruise the grounds while waiting for the pain killers to take effect. 
My second day parking spot was at the River's End RV Park and Campgrounds.  Crowded, well staffed, very clean.  When I arrived and took my spot, I hit the bed and slept for a few hours.  The pain was enough to make me think about abandoning the trip.  From here on out, the further I go, the farther from home I get.  I chewed more muscle relaxers, vicodine, and Ibuprofen... slept the night away, and woke up feeling like nothing had happened the day before.  See all the Savannah Cemetery Photos here.
And off to St. Pete to live the Dali Museum.  It was everything I hoped it would be, with the exception of the throngs of visitors.  Frida Kahlo exhibit was also featured there.. so BONUS.  Two of my favorite painters in one day.  Happiness.
Then, a bee line to see friends in Sarasota.  Always good to see old friends. 
My campsite for the night was at the Myakka State Park.  It would be good to go back there sometime...  Trails, canopy walks, and nice sites.  Interesting people. 
I camped next to Van that was all tricked out with spot lights, bars of lights down the sides, a satellite and other gadgetry on the roof along with solar panels.  Looked like the van from the movie "Troll Hunter" (if you haven't seen it, see it) and made me wonder what they might be hunting.  Gators?  Maybe.
A Man and Woman returned to the van.  When they saw me, they said they really liked my van. I then told them I was admiring all the DIY going on with their van, and asked what all the lights were for.  "Wildlife Photography", said the woman, and she wandered off to the other side of the van to do something.  The Man gave me the run down on the van, specs on the solar panels,  lights, etc.  By this time, the Woman walked down the dirt road toward the latrines.  The Man sort of kicked the dirt in front of him, acting coy, and then said, "My Wife doesn't like me to tell many people...  but... we actually are Big Foot Hunters."
I KNEW THERE WAS MORE TO THAT VAN than photographing birds and gators.  LOL!  
FYI: Big Feet living in the swamps are much more gentle than their North Western cousins who are known to be more aggressive.  Who knew?
Off to see friends, and catch up.  Had a great time at Pat and Karine's place.. got to see Joe for the bonus round.  
The next day in Sarasota, I experienced the Ringling grounds, museums, and history.  The larger "main" museum was full of wonderful works from all over the world, with many I had seen in books, and had no idea that they were housed here.  Just a great day of roaming around the Ringling Estate. You can see all those photos here.
That evening was spent with the rest of the boys.. Clayton, and Frank.  We then went to a club to see Joe play, and he was unaware that Clayton was in town.  The look on his face when he saw Clayton was worth the price of admission. (it was free)
Haven't seen those men in about 30 years, and it was a damn pleasure to have the chance to hang with them all again.