Goodbye Georgia, Hello 2023

Last time on Garcia’s Moving Castle, the promise of a cannon fire demonstration and candlelit tour of Fort Pulaski was on the line, and I’m sure you will be pleased to hear that Joe and I, along with a hand full of retirees, enjoyed both. The tour included historical reenactments, complete with costume, Christmas carols, and refreshments.

During the refreshment portion of our tour, an elderly woman sitting across from me nearly dropped her apple cider due to the unannounced cannon firing outside with the group ahead of us. With a look that can only be described as righteous indignation she exclaimed, “Well! So much for that warning!” We did our best not to spit out our cookies.

To be fair, the glass windows of the fort literally shook when the 30 pound cannon was fired, and the Christmas carolers tried to school their faces and resume composure as they attempted to get back on key. Neither worked. Gotta say, I have a new appreciation for the term “shell shocked!”

Despite the unannounced cannon demonstration, we enjoyed the tour and gained a deeper understanding of Fort Pulaski’s rich history. Plus, it was pretty stinking school to see an actual cannon go off when it came time for our group’s cannon demonstration.

Following our candlelit tour of Fort Pulaski, Joe and I rushed to grab some dinner at a local, “divey” Thai place before it closed. We were treated to excellent food and a show performed by a couple entitled, “2nd Date Goes Wrong!” Who needs popcorn and a screen when you have spring rolls and a curious waitress?

The next day, Joe and I ended our time in Savannah by visiting Tybee Island and its famous lighthouse. The Tybee Island Light Station and Museum is home to the oldest and tallest lighthouse in Georgia. It was built in 1736 and has been guiding mariners safe entrance into the Savannah River for over 285 years (https://www.tybeelighthouse.org).

Part of what made visiting Tybee Island’s lighthouse so incredible was not only getting to learn about its vast history but also climbing its 178 steps to the top of the tower. I genuinely have never considered myself to have a fear of heights, but my legs may or may not have been shaking as Joe and I walked around the top of the lighthouse and peered out across the ocean’s tresses.

It was beautiful and serene.

And I found myself imagining the light keeper lugging oil to the top of the tower each day as we traced his footsteps.

Quite simply, Savannah was magical and the perfect way to end our travels for 2022. Joe and I still find it hard to believe we have traveled coast-to-coast this year.

If you have followed our blog and undertaken each adventure with us, thank you! We have had so much fun documenting our journey and sharing small glimpses of our life. I’m a firm believer in the saying, “the best is yet to come,” and I am sure 2023 will be no exception!

We hope you had a Merry Christmas and have an even better New Year!

See you in 2023!

Doin’ Just Peachy!

We made it to Savannah, GA!

It’s hard to believe that with our arrival to Savannah, we have officially traveled coast-to-coast this year, and though we certainly had a plethora of fun and adventure on the west coast, the east coast is shaping up to be just as venturesome!

In the spirit of seeking and undertaking new, exciting exploits, last weekend Joe and I delved into Savannah’s rich history by visiting several historic sites, Wormsloe Historic Site and Fort Pulaski National Monument.

Perhaps the most striking feature of Wormsloe Historic Site are the oak trees, draped with Spanish moss, that line the avenue leading to the tabby ruins of Noble Jone’s colonial estate. Noble Jones was one of the first colonizers of Georgia, and much to our amazement, his descendants still occupy the land in which he settled.

Wormsloe Historic Site contains a gated section of land with a large house that hosts the descendants of Noble Jones and several sites open to the public such as a museum, a gift shop, a replica of early colony life, tabby ruins of Noble Jone’s estate, and a small family graveyard.

Joe and I enjoyed traipsing through the trails on the property seeing all that Wormsloe had to offer. We were continuously astounded by our Spanish moss filled surroundings. The moss contributed to both a beautiful yet eerie scenery, and both myself and Joe were secretly glad we had each other’s company while navigating this unique setting.

Our time exploring Wormsloe and learning its secrets was truly unforgettable and worth the visit.

Not only did we appreciate Wormsloe historic site, but also we enjoyed visiting Fort Pulaski National Monument. In all honesty, Fort Pulaski National Monument was one of the main reasons why I wanted to visit Savannah. I have always been enraptured by its unique history and seeing it was a number one priority.

So, you might be thinking to yourself, “What makes Fort Pulaski National Monument so special? Why travel all the way to Savannah just to see it?” Well, for one, it’s surrounded by a moat, and two, its history is interesting and multi-dimensional. You may be surprised to learn that Fort Pulaski was a state of the art fort built after the War of 1812. This is an important fact because it played a pivotal role during the Civil War.

Because Fort Pulaski was built before the Civil War as a response to the British burning down the White House, this meant that Union forces were familiar with Fort Pulaski’s layout aka they knew exactly where the ammunition powder was stored. So, during the Civil War, when the Confederates held the fort, Union solders targeted the ammunition storage from over a mile away using their new rifled cannons.

Because the Confederates only had smooth bore cannons (with a range of less than a mile), they were unable to respond to the Union cannon fire and surrendered after only 30 hours. Not soon after, a Union general emancipated several hundred slaves at Fort Pulaski which paved the way for it to become a major destination for slaves seeking freedom along the Underground Railroad.

Needless to say, our time visiting Fort Pulaski was well spent and we may or may not be planning on returning for a candlelit tour and cannon firing demonstration!

Clearly, Joe and I are history buffs and instead of inundating you with more historical facts, allow me to fill you in on our other weekend activities such as exploring Savannah’s historic downtown district and fully appreciating the city’s fine restaurant selection. Let’s just say that after only a few days in Savannah, Joe and I had reached a consensus in deciding Savannah may be tied with Marfa, TX, for best cuisine during our travels.

Delicious food aside, we had so much fun shopping downtown and visiting the city’s Prohibition Museum. Yep, it was definitely a weekend filled with history! The Prohibition Museum not only detailed key historical facts such as the creation of an income tax due to Prohibition causing a major drop in federal taxes from alcohol sales but also featured its very own Speakeasy. The fully-functioning Speakeasy even offers its very own mixology classes!

Joe and I were content enough to simply enjoy the exhibits in the museum, but we did receive a few restaurant recommendations and a great book suggestion from the Speakeasy’s bartender!

Quite simply, we have had a fantastic start to our time in Savannah! We have a few more adventures planned before our departure; so be sure to stay tuned for what’s to come!

Until next time!

The Midnight Train to Birmingham

After a few weeks of noticeable silence on our part, you will be pleased to hear the hiatus is over – we’re back!

Though I’m sure you are living in suspense as to what shenanigans occupied our time during the months of October and November, rest assured that nothing too nefarious took place *insert wink.

Rather than regale you with stories of autumn past, allow me to spin another tale. A story unique and solely our own – the journey and happenings of our time in Birmingham, AL.

Like all great adventures, this particular odyssey began at the crack of dawn. After having driven 8 hours from Corpus Christi the day before, we woke up groggy but well-rested on my parent’s property in Tyler, TX. All members of the Bentley family (my family) happened to be in town, and before we took off, Joe and I, along with all other subsequent family members were treated to pancakes and bacon.

Bellies full and cups of coffee in hand, Joe and I began the 8 hour drive to Birmingham. Naturally, 8 hours ended up being more like 10 hours, but we burned the midnight oil and traversed through state lines until we arrived at our destination, Oak Mountain State Park, the largest state park in Alabama.

After traveling approximately 950 miles in one weekend, it’s safe to say we were exhausted upon arrival.

Despite the long journey, Birmingham quickly became a favorite destination. Every day Joe, the dogs, and I enjoyed hikes along the park’s trails and the peaceful silence of the forrest. In the evenings, we ventured out to various places around the city and winded down by watching the new Netflix series, Wednesday.

The weekend was when our true exploration took place.

Friday night, Joe and I partook in the city’s offerings by tasting the local brews and appreciating its fine cuisine. We went brewery hopping and gelato hunting. One of our favorite breweries we visited was Good People Brewing Company, Alabama’s oldest and largest brewery. After our patronage to this historical venue, we began our late night jaunt in search of good gelato.

1 mile later, we found the pièce de résistance of gelato, Cannella Gelato. I chose the lemon, lavender, honey and goat cheese gelato, and Joe enjoyed a butternut squash, pecan gelato that tasted like a slice of pecan pie. Needless to say, we ate well in Birmingham.

Although it’s clear we appreciated the city through our stomaches, we also took time to acknowledge the city’s deep history.

One of our most profound stops took place at the Birmingham Civil Rights Institute. I’m not often at a loss for words, but I find myself lacking in trying to describe the emotion we felt as we visited this national monument.

It’s impossible to pin-point the most impactful exhibit, but certainly some of the most powerful displays are the ones featuring Kelly Ingram Park and the 16th Street Baptist Church.

Prior to reaching these exhibits, the museum walls are enclosed without windows. However, as soon as you reach the Kelly Ingram Park exhibit, which details the brutality civil rights protestors faced by Birmingham police and firefighters, one of the walls disappears. In its stead, panes of floor-length windows face Kelly Ingram Park.

Looking out at the park across the street, I immediately felt chills.

Continuing on in the museum, the walls close yet again until the 16th Street Baptist Church exhibit. Suddenly, a window appears, this time facing the 16th Street Baptist Church where white supremacists detonated a bomb killing 4 young girls and injuring 22 people.

Any words I could use to describe the affect of these exhibits are inadequate, and although each exhibit in the museum was difficult to see, Joe and I are grateful for their existence.

Finally, not only did we appreciate a key cornerstone of human rights history, but also we enjoyed the world’s motorsports history. After all, to know Joe is to know his love for motorcycles!

To bask in the glory of all things motorsports related, Joe and I visited the Barber Vintage Motorsports Museum. This museum consists of 5 floors and a race track. Upon entry, it appears as if someone brought their childhood, hot wheel dreams to life!

There are vintage motorcycles and cars everywhere! Joe genuinely didn’t know where to look first. He continuously skirted from one motorcycle to the next, vacillated between which motorcycle was his new favorite, and took/sent pictures of each favorite motorcycle to his brother, Rick. I was 100% the third wheel! Ha!

Clearly, this destination was a hit! In Joe’s words, “This would be my aquarium. I would 100% own an annual pass to this museum if we lived here. I wish we lived here.”

It’s safe to say, we enjoyed our time in Birmingham and can’t wait until our next visit! There were several attractions we didn’t have time to see. After all, Birmingham was just a pit stop on the way to our final destination aka Savannah, GA. Stay tuned for more adventures – until next time!