Savannah – A Southern Belle

Fountain at Forsyth Park, Savannah, Georgia

The Spanish moss was my favorite in Savannah, Georgia. You can see it hanging from the trees in Forsyth Park (pictured above), but also, most beautifully, at Wormsloe Historic Site. Not far from Savannah, this is the place where the first settlers arrived from England in 1733. A “Spanish Moss Avenue” is leading to the ruins and a little museum, where you can learn more about life in the 18th century.

I only spent two nights in Savannah back in April 2016, but really loved the place, having never been to Georgia before.

There is a lot to explore in the city itself, with its beautiful houses, parks, and a lot of restaurants, some of them featuring Southern cuisine. (Yes, I did try fried okra, but have to admit, I am not really a fan.)

Equally impressive is the Savannah River, and the big container ships going upstream or downstream, sometimes being steered by (comparatively) tiny but powerful tug boats.

I took a little tour on the river on the Savannah River Queen, a paddle-wheel riverboat. I enjoyed the different view of Savannah’s historic riverfront, and the scenery along the river.

And, since I absolutely love lighthouses, I stopped by at the Tybee Lighthouse on Tybee Island.

Then it was time to get back to the hotel at the waterfront. A short, but memorable trip.

Savannah River, Georgia

South Dakota – Much More Than Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore, SD

On a must-see-list of the US is, of course, Mount Rushmore – the “majestic figures of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln” carved in a mountain. It is definitely worth a visit, but there is much more to see in the “Mount Rushmore State” South Dakota I realized when explored the area in 2013.

Another impressive mountain is the Crazy Horse Moutain, where in 1947 Chief Henry Standing Bear and sculptor Korczak Ziolkowski started an undertaking that is still going on today: Carving the likeness of the Lakota Leader Crazy Horse into a mountain.

You can take a tour close to the mountain, and I would also recommend attending the Legends in Lights laser show in the evening (from Memorial Day through September). It is quite the spectacle, when the mountain becomes a giant screen for a laser show.

And then there are, of course, the Badlands , a spectacular mountain range you can explore hiking.

If you need a place to stay, and are ok with something really basic – but clean an with the friendliest owners, how about the Badlands Budget Host Motel in the tiny town of Interior, right at the entrance of the national park, with a population of 67.

You realize how much comfort you are used to these days when visiting the Prairie Homestead, the home of the early settlers.

And in case you were wondering how a prairie dog looks like, here is one.
If you want to see buffalos, however, make sure to be in South Dakota for the Buffalo Roundup in Custer State Park. It is interesting to see all the buffalos rounded up together, to be counted and checked out.

An exhibtion of a completely diffent kind is the South Dakota Air and Space Museum, where you can check out different planes and can sit in a cockpit of a F-106 fighter jet.

They even have an original “Rosinenbomber” (Candy Bomber) used in the Berlin Airlift 1948/49, when the Western Allied Forces supported Berlin – cut off from West Germany by the Soviets – through the air. The billboard mentions Col UASF ret. Gail Halvorsen, who dropped candy bars with tiny parachutes off his plane for the kids in Berlin – hence the name “Candy Bomber”.

I had the pleasure and honor to meet Col Halvorsen at the 60th anniversary of the Berlin Airlift at Andrews Air Force Base, Md., in 2008.

Col UASF ret. Gail Halvorsen, Mr. “Candy Bomber”

What else is there to see and do in South Dakota?


Dinosaurs – at Dinosaur Park in Rapid City.
The Black Hills with its waterfalls and scenic roads. If you feel romantic, spend the night at the Spearfish Canyon Lodge.

And don’t forget to stop at the “famous” Wall Drug Store, 55 miles east of Rapid City. You will see the billboards when you are still miles away. It is, well, made for tourists. But you can get free ice water, just like in the old days.

I’ve already written a post about the Minute Man Missile Site.


And if you feel really adventurous yourself, spend a few hours in the Aerial Adventure Park.

A Historic Blizzard in Deadwood, SD

Ever experienced a blizzard in a historic mining town? If you are lucky, you are on the right side of town, and have enough cash to last you through a few days.

The historic blizzard of October, 2013, dumped dozens of inches of snow onto the Black Hills region in South Dakota. From October 3 – 5, much of the area was paralyzed. I was in the middle of it, in Deadwood, the historic mining town.

It started to snow heavily on the evening of the 3rd, and didn’t stop for over a day.

Since the trees still had leaves, the heavy snow made them fold as if they were made of paper, taking power lines with them. Half of the town lost power. People had to be evacuated from one of the big hotels, which had no heat and no lights. Getting food was a challenge. Most of the restaurants and shops were closed.

Blizzard Entertainment in Deadwood, SD

The saloon, however, still provided food, drinks, and entertainment, just like in the old days, I guess.

The next day, most of the shops and restaurants were still closed, there was no way of getting out of town. My car was in a garage, so I didn’t have to worry about it. But then, in the evening, all credit card machines stopped working.

Spent the last couple of Dollars on pizza and wine

For the few dollars I had left in cash, I got a pizza and wine. All I could do was be patient, cuddle up in my hotel room which thankfully still had heat and electricity, and wait.

On the third day, people started to slowly dig themselves out. I took a walk around town and into the hills. People were anxious and stressed out, they had not been able to leave their homes for 48 hours, had no electricity or phones and over a meter of snow in their driveway. I made a phone call for a lady who wanted to know whether her relatives were okay and ask them for help. The roads out of town, however, were still closed. I was supposed to fly home the next day. Well, that was not going to happen.

On October 6th, with a rental car with summer tires, I dared to take the road that would get me to Rapid City. It was a bit scary at first, but I made it. The airport, however, was still closed. It would take two more days, until I was able to head home.

Before heading home, though, I managed to visit the fifth state on my trip. I mean, I was grounded anyway, but the big roads were clear, so why not take another trip.

Four States in a Day

The day I arrived in Deadwood, I had taken a trip through four states: Wyoming, Montana, North Dakota and South Dakota. Of course I bought a magnet in each state. (Have I mentioned that I collect these magnets?)

In Wyoming, the plan was to visit Devils Tower National Monument. Guess what? It was closed because of a government shutdown. Sound familiar?

Well, I like traveling in the US, because you never know what jewel you will encounter along the way. In Baker, Montana, I just wanted to take a quick break and stretch my legs. And walked right into Prairie Rose Classics, an antique and classic car sales store, that takes you back to another era. They not only exhibit cars, but hundreds of everyday items from the last century. It’s like a museum.

Prairie Rose Classics, Baker, Montana

So after the blizzards, and while waiting for the airport to open, I decided to take another trip to South Dakota’s southern neighbor, Nebraska. It was only a quick trip, and I had to buy a deck of cards with the state’s name on the back, because I could not get a magnet.

As I said, I didn’t drive far, but still managed to make this a trip I will never forget. I have one tip for you: Even on an empty road in Nebraska, stay within the speed limit. And if you don’t, at least buckle up. It might make the difference between a ticket and a warning. Trust me. I know.

State Trooper in Nebraska, Photo: RS

German Band Artig rocks the German School

Artig at the German School/GLC in Potomac

 

After their great success in 2012 and 2011, the German band ARTIG is once again bringing German Pop Rock to High Schools to several US States this fall. Their first performance was tonight at the German School/German Language Courses in Potomac, MD. More than 100 kids and their parents celebrated the four young men from Germany. Continue reading