Kathy and I have heard many tales about Savannah, Georgia's great food, fun pubs, and its arts atmosphere for years. And though many Southern sojourns have taken us tantalizingly close, the quick going-elsewhere spell of the super-slab has always prevailed. Until now our glimpses of the grand, old city have been relegated to the green blurs of exit signs rushing by on Interstate 95.
Twice a year, after my mom and dad loaded the dog and me into the back of the Volkswagen Beetle, we'd head north from Miami to visit family in West Virginia. Somewhere around Jacksonville dad's grumbling would begin, and though my young ears weren't privy to most of his hissed muttering, I always managed to pick up a choice word or two. Back in those days, the early 1970s, the Interstate hadn't been completed through Georgia, and the old highway funneled traffic through the city's downtown and across the narrow Talmadge Bridge over the Savannah River. Dad never wasn`t much for stops while traveling, and that situation always called for plenty. On the other hand, I thought Savannah was a cool diversion from the endless concrete drone.
My how things have changed in Savannah. That old, rusty cantilever truss bridge is gone, replaced by a much higher and stunning cable-stayed span. I-95 now passes ten miles west of town, erasing the gridlock that incited so many angrily harrumphed words. But what's exciting is that Kathy and I have finally broken free of the Interstate routine and honored our long-standing promise to pay this town a proper visit.