I’m glad I previously visited Savannah before my recent trip, because this time around I saw very little of it. That’s what I get for visiting in July. “It’s too darned hot,” as Cole Porter penned. The only bearable times of day were between 6:00 a.m. and 7:00 a.m., and after the sun went down. At one point it was 98 degrees, with 85 percent humidity. That’s just too hot to live.
On Independence Day I booked a Savannah River cruise for the fireworks, for a few reasons.
Crohn’s sufferer here – on demand bathroom – check. No need to stake out a piece of real estate all day in the blaring sun. Check. And, air conditioning. Not so check! My dining reservation was on the first level, where the air conditioner had sputtered its last and given up the ghost. I could not stomach fried chicken, hot roast beef and mashed potatoes in those climes, so I ate the cold dishes quickly and sped to the top deck for the views and the breeze.
By the time Gil and Becky came for a visit from Baton Rouge, I had gone out very little; other than the July 4 fireworks cruise and treating myself to a July 7 birthday dinner at The Olde Pink House,
Our first outing was a free guided tour of Bonaventure Cemetery by the historical society, at 2:00 in the afternoon! I arrived outfitted for the tropics, with sunscreen, headband, sun hat, fan hung around my neck, sun umbrella, and cold wrap.
Becky remarked that I look like a Southern Belle; I felt like a steaming pile of anything that sits in a pile, steaming.
One morning we queued up for a soul food lunch at the venerable Mrs. Wilkes’s Dining Room, and at 10:00 a.m. it was bearable to wait outside.
Thank goodness our food tour of Savannah was in an air-conditioned van, and we just had to run from the van into the restaurants.
Not so with the trolley tour of Savannah; open to the outside and traveling at rather slow speeds, it didn’t muster enough of a breeze to even dry the sweat from our brows. We finally cried uncle and spent an afternoon at the pool in the RV park, but the water was like bathwater. The only thing enjoyable about it was laying in the shade, soaking wet, air drying.
It was so hot one afternoon that we decided to visit Wormsloe Plantation, but we stayed in the car and just drove along the oak allee’.
My deodorant, the same brand of which I have used for years, stopped working. I learned I have sweat glands in the small of my back when I felt rivulets of perspiration traveling down my coccyx, and beyond. I ran both coach air conditioners morning, noon, and night, praying they didn’t seize up from over-use. I showered at least three times per day.
I was pretty ready to leave Savannah when I packed up for three weeks in Charleston, a mere 98 miles down the road. Because Charleston sits on a peninsula with the Cooper River on one side, the Ashley River on the other, and the bay at the tip, the breezes from the water gave a little bit of respite. The humidity dropped to the basement – a mere 65 percent! Still, the temperatures were maxing out in the high 90s every day. I scheduled my activities for the morning and the evening.
When Annmarie arrived for a week we made our plans for before noon and after 5:00 p.m., retreating to our respective shelters during midday. Architectural tours proved challenging for buildings in their original state; the old city jail,
the Aiken-Rhett House,
and Drayton Hall Plantation,
all unrestored and in original condition, had no air conditioning, and we sweltered and fanned ourselves the best we could. Carriage rides found us drenched, to say nothing of the poor horse pulling us along. (A horse dropped from heat exhaustion last season, prompting the city to enact new laws related to their well-being in the summer.)
While it can be difficult to muster up an appetite in such heat, I sallied forth. How could I not? As Anthony Bourdain said about Charleston, “The food is better than it needs to be.” Thank goodness the chefs of Charleston can stand the heat and are staying in the kitchen! Some memorable meals: breakfast at the Lost Dog Cafe on Folly Beach; a seven-course meal in honor of the summer tomato at Prohibition;
sandwiches and pork rinds at Artisan Meat Share;
and The Glass Onion;
happy hour at High Cotton;
fish tacos and shark bites at Roadside Seafood;
and breakfast at The Early Bird Diner (thanks for the recommendation, Felix!).
However, sitting outside was almost out of the question, except for the cool and breezy day we ventured to Bowens Island and overlooked the low country as we ate fish and chips.
Our boat trip to Fort Sumter was quite lovely given the water breezes, but I dodged the sun and hid in the shade on the island until it was time to return.
Looking back on these photos, none of us look as hot and miserable as we really were. This much I know: If you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the South from about June to September!