Continuing with our recap and wind-down of 2020, by mid-December we made it back to the east coast. After a few long travel days we spent an afternoon catching up on errands (showering at Planet Fitness, groceries, etc.) in Brunswick on the southern end of the Georgia coast.
We found a free parking spot in a residential neighborhood of St. Simons at a public beach access that was literally right next to the ocean. When we parked we were the only ones there and could just barely hear waves in the distance. In the morning we hoped to go for a walk on the beach but the tide was so high there was nowhere to walk… disappointing but still one of the prettiest spots we’ve parked at. On the way out the next morning we passed another camper van parked a few spaces down from us. We’re still working on the van equivalent of a “Jeep wave”.
We spent the next day exploring Jekyll Island, just off the coast from where we spent the night. The island is only about 7 miles long and has a lot of bike paths, so we gave Wilda a rest and rented bikes for the day. The ocean side of the island is lined with beach houses and condos, and there was a nice boardwalk with a few restaurants, but overall it was pretty empty (December, and Covid).
After peddling up the coast for a few miles we stopped at Driftwood Beach, aptly named for the driftwood and fallen trees scattered along the coastline. From small limbs to full trees embedded in the sand on the shoreline, it was unlike any beach we had been to yet. We parked our bikes and walked down the beach for a while. It was also the first place we visited after finding out we lost Mike’s grandfather Hairig (pronounced “hi-dig”), so we spent a lot of time thinking about him, and this beach will always remind us of him.
We continued biking to the north end of the island, through a marsh, and then back down the bay side. We passed a lot of birds (Mike is an avid bird watcher), and a lot of Emily’s new favorite trees: southern live oaks covered in Spanish moss. They covered the entire path on the back side of the island and Emily’s phone is now full of tree pictures. We stopped to eat our PB&J lunch on a park bench overlooking the water and biked through a neighborhood of huge southern mansions with wrap-around porches and elaborate landscaping. Once we got back to the van, we rewarded ourselves after a 12-ish mile bike ride with ice cream.
Before heading back to the main land we drove to the southern tip of the island to St. Andrews picnic area to walk around the beach. This is supposedly the best place to watch the sunset, and even though we didn’t stay until it got dark, we agree. Overall, even though the average age of the few people we saw was probably 65, we loved Jekyll Island, which would be a great place for a laid back vacation.
From Jekyll Island we continued north to Savannah, a place we had both been for quick weekend trips, but wanted to spend more time in. On our first night we stopped for a drink at Two Tides Brewing, which was located in a converted single family home. The ‘family room’ was fit out with a bar and all of the other rooms were converted into themed seating areas. There were several porches and we enjoyed a beer on a hidden back porch, accessible only via a roll-up full-height window (since we were clearly newbies we had to ask the bartender how to get out there). While enjoying porch beers, we saw a cool looking outdoor beer garden across the street and headed that way next. It ended up being a full block and had an open-tab system where you swiped your card at the entrance and could order drinks or food from any of the vendors without having to settle up at each location. Convenient for both Covid-times, and everyday life. After another tasty beer we drove to the trusty neighborhood Walmart to spend the night.
The following morning we continued to take advantage of outdoor dining before heading north. We enjoyed coffee and breakfast sandwiches on the back patio of Foxy Loxy Cafe and then drove across town to explored Bonaventure Cemetery. The cemetery was filled with thousands of graves with all sorts of unique headstones, and more (of Emily’s favorite) Spanish moss covered live oak trees.
That afternoon we walked around Forsyth Park, ordered Greek takeout for lunch, and ate in one of the many parks downtown full of, you guessed it, Emily’s favorite trees. After lunch we explored more of downtown Savannah and spent the evening at Service Brewing Co., sitting on the patio with free WiFi to watch the Penn State game. After several drinks and a Penn State win we finished off a great day with ice cream for dinner from Leopold’s Ice Cream, and went back to our trusty Walmart for the night. Both of us woke up with stomach aches (could be something to do with all the beer and ice cream for dinner) which wasn’t great, but after a Planet Fitness shower and breakfast takeout in another cute downtown park, we got over it.
Savannah was as great as we remembered it, but unfortunately we had to keep heading north to stick with our home-by-Christmas timeline, so we hopped on an old familiar highway, I-95. The next few days of travel were relatively uneventful as we made our way up through South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia. The highlight of this leg of our trip was making a small but significant $20 upgrade to Wilda: a toaster oven! We weren’t 100% confident our power supply could handle it, but it worked like a charm with no issues and we were thrilled to enjoy hot biscuits with dinner.
On our way up through Virginia we crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge / Tunnel and headed towards Chincoteague and Assateague Island. We spent another day exploring and rented bikes, and even though it was sunny it was notably colder and windier than our Georgia bike ride. Our main goal was to see some wild horses, and we did see a couple in the distance, but part of the island was closed so we weren’t able to get much closer. We stopped at the beach in the morning, and then biked north to another beach access point where there were literally no other people as far as we could see. We enjoyed a PB&J lunch on our private beach with no one else in site. We both agreed this place is on our list to come back to in the summer, especially since it’s an easy weekend trip from DC. Naturally, after a long day of cold, windy, bike riding, we rewarded ourselves with ice cream from the Island Creamery.
Back on the main land we drove up through Maryland towards DC and stopped for dinner in Annapolis. Despite the chilly weather, we decided that we had to get fresh oysters and clams for our last dinner out of 2020. We sat outside a restaurant downtown in our winter coats and hats since fresh raw seafood doesn’t really make great takeout. It was worth the stop and downtown Annapolis had great Christmas lights as a bonus.
We spent our last night in Wilda for the year in a Lowe’s parking lot in Bowie, Maryland (sounds lame, but when you live in a van, home is anywhere). We spent the next day running errands in DC, checking our mail, and getting a few last minute Christmas gifts. With a negative Covid test in hand we were able to spend the holidays with our families, and start planning for what’s next for 2021. Stay tuned as @BeamsOnTheRoad hops on a flight for the first time in over a year…
- Emily and Mike