While many students take weekends off from school and learning opportunities, LEAP students took this Saturday to grow culturally by going to dinner together and attending a play in Houston. We began the evening by dining at a small cafe near our main entertainment for the evening: Cafe Express. The Cafe Express provided us with an abundance of choices ranging from flavorful salads to decadent pastas. I enjoyed their Harvest Salad, which included fresh spinach, strawberries, blueberries, walnuts, feta cheese and delicious strawberry vinaigrette dressing. While conversing about the beginning of school and classes, we got our fill of salads and pastas before the play. It was a wonderful choice as our meal before we headed down to Playhouse 1960 for the showing of “Noises Off”.
Playhouse 1960 is a non-profit community theatre that was founded in 1973 and has since been providing their community with memorable theatre productions. “Noises Off” was very much a memorable play. The first act made it very clear to the audience that it was a play within a play, and when everyone was focused on watching the stage, we were caught off guard when we heard the voice of the director, Lloyd Dallas, shout from behind our backs. Act One is the actor’s disorganized dress rehearsal, which presented us with ditzy actors missing lines, prop malfunctions and confusion coming from the stage.
It delivered abundant laughter in the audience. The intermission gave everyone a chance to catch their breath from the laughter.
Interestingly, the intermission also gave us the chance to see the stage machinations in action. Unlike most theaters, much of the scenery changing occurred with open curtains.
Act Two was a behind the scenes look at the matinee performance of “Nothing On”. This act showed the entangled romantic relationships among the cast, which led to many on-stage missteps and misspoken lines. While all of the other characters were caught in their romantic turmoil, Selsdon Mowbray (the burglar with a fondness for alcohol) provided plenty of comedic relief along with the comical actions that were taking place back stage. This act was filled with behind-the-scenes whispering and misunderstandings among the cast while they performed their play. The act ended with a cliffhanger with the announcement of a pregnancy, which left us wanting to know more.
In Act Three, the actors are on their last show of the tour. With all of the relationship mishaps between the actors, we could see the growing tensions. The tensions were resolved with the more rational actors trying their best to tie up the play. Once the play had reached a point of no return, it ended with a quick confusing wedding ceremony. The entirety of “Noises Off” had us laughing until the end.
Afterwards we were even able to have our group picture taken with the entire cast!
The story of the Princess in DC comes to a close, but not before embarking on new learning adventures.
Beginning with a tour of the Coastal Guard’s Headquarters, courtesy of Ademide, where she briefly discussed the history of the buildings and introduced me to several of her co-workers. Later that afternoon, I toured the Capitol, it was a privilege to see the Senate Gallery along with the old Supreme Court Chamber and the exhibition hall.
That evening, Ademide and I enjoyed delightful cupcakes from Georgetown Cupcakes and ended the day with a visit to the Marine Corps War Memorial.
Throughout the week, I attended a press club panel at the National Press Building hosted by the Rabaa Story Foundation in commemoration of the second anniversary of the Rabaa Massacre. There I had the opportunity to hear stories from a couple witnesses of the Massacre and learn about the conditions in Egypt since the tragic occurrence.
In the week, I had the privilege to assist Nancy with a speech for a UN official to be delivered to the President of Nigeria.
I also visited The Library of Congress where among other galleries…
I had the opportunity to see Thomas Jefferson’s collection of books and admire the breathtaking architecture of this building.
Afterwards I headed to the Supreme Court, where I was greeted by a statue of John Marshall as I walked in!
I had the opportunity to actually see the court! It was so exciting to be in this building.
Continuing the last two weeks of my stay in DC, I visited the National Archives.
This was an extraordinary experience where I was able to see The Constitution, The Bill of Rights, and the Declaration of Independence along with other very interesting documents that have created history!
After visiting the National Archives, I continued towards the Smithsonian Castle, but stopped at the National Sculpture Garden and the Butterfly Habitat Garden on the way.
The Smithsonian Castle is a marvelous structure which contains much of the history behind the Smithsonian Museums. After learning about the Smithsonian Museums, I visited the Hirshhorn Museum and came across some interesting pieces.
Following the Hirshorn Museum, I met Ademide for dinner at Ted’s Bulletin.
We enjoyed breakfast for dinner at this lovely family restaurant, and had homemade pop-tarts for dessert. We said our goodbyes as she dropped me off at the Washington Monument where the adventure continued.
At the Washington Monument, I met with one of Ademide’s friends Ifa, who I had never met, and then I had two tickets to give away to go to the top of the Washington Monument. After asking a handful of people, I finally gave them away one of which decided to join us. So Ifa, Kevin, and I, three complete strangers at the time, ventured to the top of the Washington Monument together. Getting to know each other along the way and enjoying the stunning sight from the top as well as learning about the history of the building. But the adventure of the newly founded friends didn’t end there, we ended the night with some exploring of the city led by the two natives.
I also accompanied Nancy to give a presentation at the Leadership Institute regarding Fundraising and an all-day Fundraising Bootcamp which was a great learning experience for me. After a long day of fundraising, I had a delightful farewell dinner with Nancy at Bobby Van’s Steakhouse, and enjoyed a delicious dessert.
Continuing the week, I had the opportunity to reunite with camp friends that were in town for a couple of days and had dinner with them at Mehak an Indian restaurant in Chinatown which I loved, and will definitely be having again!
I also had the opportunity to visit the National Cathedral, which took 83 years to build! It was an impressive building.
Followed by a walk along the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historical Park in Georgetown.
The adventure ended with a late night stroll through the National Mall reminiscing on the adventures of the last several weeks, and sitting in front of the reflecting pool facing the Washington Monument admiring it for quite some time. On this peaceful summer night, I felt incredibly grateful to be in this beautiful city.
Thank you Professor Yawn, Nancy Bocskor, Chuck Jones and Ademide for making this possible.
The LEAP Center Ambassadors finished their summer they way we began it: by making learning fun. In May we headed to Austin for a fun-packed week learning about campaigning. Today, we went on a Phoenix Commotion Tour, seeing about 15 great homes built by Dan Phillips.
Dan Phillips runs Phoenix Commotion, a building company that emphasizes sustainability, recycling, and thinking differently. The result is approximately 20 homes in the Huntsville area that have the Dan Phillips’ look: small in size, unusual building materials, and character.
Taking a step further, the result is also, at least in some areas, transformative.
But that’s only part of the treat. Phillips is also fun to listen to.
He is a former Dance professor, a designer, and a builder. He brings a different eye to the world of home-construction, and his different outlook is apparent from his building philosophy. How many builders do you know, for example, who quote Plato? According to Phillips, you transform things by using the “space between your ears.”
Phillips doesn’t necessarily begin with a grand and detailed design in mind. He begins with a general concept, and then sees where materials and tinkering take him. He uses about 80% recycled materials for his homes, and he finds objects that can be employed to form organic patterns of the most interesting sort. Want an interesting ceiling? Use photo frames back-to-back-to-back to cover the ceiling.
Want interesting siding? Use corks. Want interesting windows? Use relish plates of various colors.
Unlike “starchitects” who come up with a grand design and minute detail ahead of time, Phillips prefers to let the process guide him somewhat. This process also contradicts, as previously mentioned, the ideas of Plato, who argued that reality suffers next to the abstract. Only in the abstract, argued Plato, can perfection be achieved. Once an idea is executed, imperfections occur. For Plato, art was even worse being two degrees removed from the abstract. Not so for Phillips, who allows patterns and experience help guide ideas, achieving a reality that might not have been thought of out of thin air.
Our tour of Phillips’ homes brought some of those concepts to life. We began at the “Bone Home,” so named for the many bones that constitute the home. If there’s a handle, it’s probably a bone. There’s also the bone furniture , which probably won’t be found in the Sears Home section.
The Bone Home demonstrates Phillips’ talent for making everyday objects into a pattern that is pleasing to the eye and, as Phillips notes, “the human spirit.” He can use corks, bottle caps, glass, stone shards, or just about anything to create an interesting look.
We also visited the art studio, which contained a bone chandelier…
…and learned about the animating spirit of Phillips’ work.
From there, we visited the tree house. This 320 square foot home, built 35 feet above Town Creek, was probably the consensus favorite. This property actually consists of the tree house, a studio, and a “cottage.” Compared to the cottage (280 square feet), the tree house looks giant.
The whole complex has the look of a compound, and the front of the area and the trees surrounding the property pretty well obscure the tree house, the most photogenic of the buildings. But once you enter the gate to the property, you are led on a walkway that takes you to the tree-house which, despite its small size, is actually a two-story structure.
In the middle of the bottom floor, you’ll find a window that will purportedly hold 350 pounds, a claim no one was eager to test.
Phillips explained more of his philosophy from the tree-house’s art studio, which is about 1,000 square feet.
Following the tree house, we did a driving tour of Phillips’ homes in Huntsville: the beer can house, the storybook house, the courtyard house, and others, before touring one more home interior. Although this home has no catchy name as far as we know, it had a really cool door so, clever group that we are, will call it the “cool-door home.” The door is actually made from printing equipment that Phillips obtained from SHSU.
The tour was a great way to learn more about the community, and meet community leaders. In addition to us students, Dr. Keri Rogers and her husband, Chuck Mize; Dr. Bill Hyman and Carol Hyman; Brenda McNeely, Toni Abshire, Jean Loveall, Stephanie Fors were all on hand.
It was a great way to close out the summer and transition to the fall, gearing us up for using that “space between our ears.”
Once upon a time there was this young lady, a princess actually, she ventured through the streets of D.C. amazed by all the sites. This princess, Jazmin, lived with Ademide Adedokun, an insightful and generous young lady whom Jazmin became rather fond of. The Princess also interned for wonder woman…but really! Wonder woman did it all! This meant that Princess Jazmin had the opportunity to learn it all. How exciting! She was eager to learn! The first week of adventures flew by so quickly, but the story of the Princess in D.C. continues…
This weeks’ adventure begins at Thomas Jefferson’s Memorial which was breathtaking! The structure is massive and oversees the Tidal Basin.
After gazing at the Jefferson Memorial, I continued along the Tidal Basin towards the Roosevelt Memorial. This is the most unusual of the memorials I have seen thus far. The Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial offers a historical pathway of FDR’s presidency, allowing us to seemingly walk through his presidency.
Then continued to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial, an impressive structure emerging from the mountains.
Afterwards I headed back towards the Lincoln Memorial, to see some of the memorials I had missed in my excitement, the first time around. Now, I saw the DC War Memorial, the Korean War Memorial, and ending with the 56 Signers of the Declaration of Independence Memorial.
Throughout the week, I had the pleasure of observing Nancy (Wonder Woman) speak to a group of accomplished Japanese women on the subject of Women in Politics. This group of women were eager to learn from her. They seemed truly grateful to be there and even sent us off with several Japanese tokens! Having the opportunity to meet with these women and see Nancy in action was a pleasure! A bonus was then taking a tour of beautiful churches.
During this week, I also had the opportunity to visit two of The Smithsonian Museums, American History and Natural History. The collections in both of these museums are astonishing.
In the American History Museum, among my favorite collections is the 30×42 inch original Star-Spangled Banner, the American flag, from 1813 that inspired Francis Key to compose the Nation Anthem. Another of my favorites is The First Lady Collection, exhibiting beautiful gowns worn by the First Ladies.
The National Museum of Natural History also contained spectacular collections. Here, I was able to explore and venture into each of the numerous galleries. Some of my favorites were The Last American Dinosaur…
and the Hope Diamond.
To end this eventful and exciting second week of adventures, Ademide Adedokun along with a group of her friends and I enjoyed a beautiful Sunday at a winery in Clifton, Virginia. This was my first time in a winery! During our visit, we were able to engage in a wine tasting and learn about the various wines we were tasting. It was a great experience.
But, the story of the Princess in D.C. is to be continued…
After getting settled into the DC area, I finally got some sleep! The excitement of traveling across the country, then actually being here made for some restless nights. Luckily, I woke up feeling fully rested after about the third day.
I’ve been making boxes and other helpful tasks for Nancy, along with assistance from Katarina, Lily, and Charlie (three of Nancy’s cats).
I’ve also had a chance to explore. I stopped in to Alexandria, where I saw the Christ Church, which George Washington attended. It was stunning, not only because of its beauty, but also the history associated with it! I sat in the same pew that George Washington and many other presidents sat! It was incredible.
I also had a chance to walk along King street, which has some amazing shops. It also provides a different perspective on space. In Texas, there is a lot of space, parking space, space between buildings, road space. Here it seemed that every inch of spaced was in use and every building is built up several stories.
I also had a chance to go with Nancy to visit the Potomac River, the City Hall of Alexandria, the Ramsay House (the oldest house in Alexandria)…
…and then to the Topedo Factory Art Center. There, I wandered into several studios and gazed at many beautiful art pieces, and I also learned about the building, which used to be a torpedo factory!
Walking out of the building, I encountered a violinist, drummer, saxophonist…
and a stunning of view of the Potomac River.
That evening I met up with Ademide and some of her friends at the Marine Barracks Parade.
Attending this event at the home of the Marines was a honor. This is not an event that I would have normally attended. In fact I may have never known that this event was happening if it weren’t for Ademide, but it was a great event and I am grateful she invited me. I was fascinated with the synchronization of the Marines. After the event, we walked around the barracks to see the home of the Commandants, and walk around the neighborhood. It was the perfect ending to another wonderful day of adventures.
Outside of Arlington, I had a chance to see some of the cottages that were built from kits purchased from the Sears catalog, as well as several mansions in Arlington.
And more to the flavor of DC, I have had a chance to explore the capital! The sun was bright and the walk was dreadful, but I was excited. My first stop, the Lincoln Memorial, was massive and magnificent.
However, I was surprised by the infinite number of people that gathered on the steps to have their picture taken. After admiring the memorial, I turned my attention to the Reflecting Pool…
…and the Washington Monument.
It was breath-taking! I had to make it to the other side and see the monument up close. As I began to walk towards it, I stopped at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial taking a look at the wall of names, the Three Servicemen Statue and the Vietnam Women’s Memorial.
Followed by another beautiful memorial, the World War II Memorial.
Then I stumble onto, John Paul Jones Memorial…and caught a glimpse of the Jefferson Memorial.
Finally, I made it to the Washington Monument!
I sat in the grass admiring the structure for some time, then visualized The White House…I had to get closer. So I continued my adventure, looking for the easiest path around the Ellipse and to The White House.
On my way there, I came across the William Sherman Memorial and the Treasury Department. Then there it was…The White House! I was standing in front of The White House. How cool is that?! Now I had to go around it and see the other side, but before I did I saw the Eisonhower Executive Office Building. Then I was able to get a closer look of The White House. My adventure ended with the Jack Sot Memorial in the Lafayette Square directly behind The White House. There is so much here!
It’s been an incredible first week in Washington, DC!
It was the final day of our trip, and we wanted it to count as much as the previous days.
We began with a quick walk around the French Quarter, checking out the shops, restaurants, art galleries, all the things you don’t see in our home towns. We then went to the New Orleans City Park, which houses the New Orleans Museum of Art and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden. It’s a wonderful city park, with jogging trails, playing fields, large oak trees, botanical gardens, a kids’ section, a mini-railway, a lake, and waterways.
We explored the whole park briefly, then tackled the sculpture garden, which was beautiful and wonderfully interactive.
Interestingly, we saw art works by artists we had seen on other parts of our trip and on other trips. One of the first sculptures we saw, for example, was a totem by Jesus Moroles…
…we had seen his work in Birmingham, at UT when we traveled there in June, and of course at our own University, SHSU. But we don’t know a lot about art, so it’s an interesting find when we come across art we do know.
We also saw the “Blue Dog” by George Rodrigue, whose gallery we had seen the night before in New Orleans.
And we saw Robert Indiana’s famous “LOVE” sculpture, which inspired The Beatles to write, “All you need is love.”
…similar to one we had also seen at the University of Texas. Interestingly, when we drove around the Garden District, we saw one in someone’s front lawn! One of these pieces costs about $219,000, or about the cost of a nice home in Huntsville, Texas.
We also saw a piece by famous Spanish artist Jaume Plensa. This one was called “Overflow”….
…but it is very similar to the set of sculptures he has around Buffalo Bayou in Houston, called “Tolerance.” Plemsa also did the “Crown Fountain” at Millennium Park.
Finally, we saw work by Louise Bourgeois, who is famous for her large spiders.
In passing, we saw works by Henry Moore, Rodin, George Segal, Anish Kapoor (who did “Cloud Gate” in Millennium Park) and Paul Manship. It was a fun and educational morning, and much more fun than a typical sculpture garden!
Following the art garden, we booked it back to the French Quarter and visited the market. We mostly went our own ways, shopping and having lunch.
None of the food we tried really stood out, but it was functional and allowed us to maximize our time looking at shops and such, along with a final picture of Jackson Square.
With a sad goodbye, we turned our back on New Orleans…
…and headed back to Huntsville–via Baton Rouge.
In Baton Rouge, we visited our fourth state capitol building of the trip. Amazingly, we (the students) had only visited the Texas capitol, so we each increased our total numbers of capitols visited by a factor of five!
The Louisiana Capitol isn’t the prettiest one in the country, but it is the tallest.
It also is historically interesting. Besides sitting beside the Mississippi…
…it is the location of the Huey Long assassination. There is a small exhibit on the first floor marking the site of the assassination, along with some basic facts. One interesting item is that they aren’t entirely sure that the “assassin” killed Long. The Senator’s bodyguards fired dozens of bullets at the assassin, and it’s at least possible one of them killed the governor. One of the bullet holes is still visible in one of the marble columns.
The capitol building has beautiful chambers for the House and Senate…
…and also has an observation deck on the 27th floor…
…which allows for good views of the aforementioned Mississippi, the armory, and the gardens.
This 360 degree view…
…was a fitting conclusion to a trip that gave us a similarly panoramic view of the south, its culture, and its politics.
We began our last day in Savannah embarking on an adventure. We went on a dolphin tour through the Savannah River and Atlantic Ocean. It was a sunny day, perfect weather for a boat ride.
Our tour took us past Tybee Island and into the Atlantic Ocean.
The view of Tybee Island from the ocean was nice. We encountered a shrimping boat that attracted many pelicans and dolphins.
The majority of the dolphins we saw today gathered around the boat because they feed off anything the shrimpers throw back into the ocean. My personal favorite was a baby and momma dolphin swimming together!
The Southern Legislative Conference provided us with lunch on our dolphin tour. We had packed sandwiches, chips, fruit, and a cookie for dessert. It was an okay lunch with a great view.
We learned much in the process. For example, the US government has established several “bird islands,” where birds can go to nest. Predators’ populations are controlled and care is taken to ensure that birds have a natural habitat.
The tour also highlighted several forts, energy plants, and bordering states.
As the tour came to a conclusion, it started raining. Fortunately, we dodged any serious storms. The tour was perfect way to begin our last day in Savannah, however we still had a long day ahead of us.
We browsed the store and a couple of us bought glass nail filers that we’re pretty excited about. On our way back to the car, we stopped at a nifty shop right next door that sold many natural products such as soaps, seasonings, and oils.
After some shopping, we visited the birthplace of Juliette Gordon Low…
…and, a few blocks away, her carriage house, where she founded the Girl Scouts of America.
Megan and Alex tried to get into the Girl Scouts photo with us, but they weren’t Girl Scouts, so we wouldn’t let them be in the picture. Well, they were in the picture, but not in any official capacity. The photographer captured them sulking in the background.
We also took another look at the Andrew Low House (Juliette Gordon Low’s Father in Law).
After taking photos, we made our way to Forsyth Park to see the famous Savannah water fountain that was built in 1858.
The fountain is striking from a distance…
…and from up close…
While at the fountain we took some selfies, group photos and tried to capture the beauty of the fountain.
Forsyth Park was laid out in the 1840’s so we really enjoyed the giant Oak trees covered in Spanish moss.
We also took a look at the Confederate War Monument in the Park, one of many veterans memorials in Savannah.
By the time we were done “modeling” for the camera at the fountain, we were all ready for Leopold’s Ice Cream. Leopold’s Ice Cream was founded in 1919 by three immigrant brothers from Greece and has been visited by many including Johnny Mercer, the famed lyricist.
We each tried Leopold’s famous Ice cream sandwiches. They were absolutely delectable!
Before wrapping up our time in Savannah with the State Dinner, we made a pit stop at Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah. Bonaventure Cemetery is where Savannah native, Johnny Mercer is buried. Johnny Mercer is relevant to the state of Georgia for many reasons. He was a thriving lyricist with over 850 songs and founder of Capitol records.
He wrote a hit song called Moon River and today he still makes profits from his music. The cemetery overlooks the Moon River, so while there we snapped some photos of us and the famous river.
For many years, the Bonaventure Cemetery was the home of “The Bird Girl,” a statue featured on the best-selling book, “Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil.” Because of the success of that movie, however, visitors flocked to the cemetery, and the sculpture was moved to Jepson Art Center.
The visit to the cemetery was interesting. While leaving flowers at gravesites is popular, we saw rocks on tombstones at this particular one. We couldn’t figure out what they represented, but they were different and some rocks were beautiful. Because we were running short on time, we didn’t spend as much time as we would have liked to, but nevertheless we enjoyed our time learning about Mr. Mercer and Moon River.
Following a few more photographs of local scenes…
…and street performers…
Every evening, the conference has hosted a reception for socializing and networking. Each night, the receptions have been fun and memorable. This evening, the final night of the Southern Legislative Conference, we attended the State Dinner, which featured presentations and speeches by elected officials and entertainment. The dinner theme was “Georgia on my mind.” All the details of the décor reflected Georgia and its signature items, such as peaches and cotton.
We were pleasantly surprised when the LSC staff asked the four SHSU students to represent Texas in the flag parade.
While elected officials represented most of the 15 states attending, Texas was represented by four college students!
Following the parade, the Georgia Speaker of the House, David Ralston welcomed the conference attendees and thanked everyone for their dedication to the conference.
Dinner began where we enjoyed the filet mignon and peach glazed chicken among sweet tea and southern style sides.
Our table consisted of our group and Mr. & Mrs. Hickman. Mr. Hickman is the Deputy Staff Director of the Senate Finance Committee in the Virginia Capitol. Both Mr. and Ms. Hickman were knowledgeable and very welcoming, they offered interesting history facts about their hometown of Richmond, Virginia and travel tips for when we have the opportunity to visit Virginia. Our dinner conversation was pleasant and we were happy to have met them.
For entertainment, Jeff Foxworthy delivered hilarious comedy material, which everyone enjoyed.
Although most of his set was new material, he closed with some redneck jokes, including:
If your matching salad bowls all say, “Cool Whip,” you might be a redneck.
If your son’s name is Dale, Jr., but your name isn’t Dale, you might be a redneck.
Comedy was an amusing way to end dinner.
Comedy did not end the evening, however. That honor fell to Sheila Raye Charles, the daughter of the late Ray Charles. She sang some new materials, some covers of various artists (including Maroon 5) and covers of songs made famous by her father.
Just before we left, Ms. Hickman, introduced us to her friend and Virginia State Senator, Barbara Favola.
Senator Favola offered her advice and experiences on how to pursue a career path in politics one day. She was very knowledgeable and gave us some insight to her career. Throughout our Tour of the Deep South, it has been interesting to learn about how state legislatures differ from Texas’s. Thank you to Ms. Hickman for introducing us to Senator Favola!
After a few final pictures, we headed back to the hotel to get ready for our early morning departure and next full day of sightseeing in Alabama and Mississippi. Reflecting back on our time in Savannah, we have learned a lot about the rich history of the city and immensely enjoyed all the sightseeing. Thankful for the opportunity to attend the Southern Legislative Conference, we are sad to leave the beautiful city of Savannah…
…but excited about visiting more cities in our Tour of the Deep South!
We knew that today would be great because we were going to spend part of the day shopping! Early Monday morning we hit the squares to find souvenirs, clothes, and candy. City Market is full of small shops that are all unique. As we were shopping we also had the opportunity to visit many of the areas within the historical district we learned about the day before. After we finished City Market, we also walked down River Street (conveniently named for its location on the Savannah River) to do some last minute shopping and enjoy the view. The group bought gifts for our family members, including lots of candy from the Savannah Candy Kitchen. We all have thoroughly enjoyed the pralines. Savannah has the best by far! With all the purchases and walking around the squares we worked up quite an appetite and we decided to try a local pizzeria called Your Pie.
Your Pie was a welcome break from the heat and humidity Savannah summers offer. We decided to split the ten inch pizzas, which turned out to be the perfect sharing size. However, before the pizza arrived, we indulged in cheese sticks, but we considered them to be more like cheese bread. Megan and Alex decided to custom make their pizza, while Kaitlyn and Karla opted for a specialty pizza called “The Nat”. When the pizzas arrived, we were not disappointed at all. Fresh out of the wood fire oven, the cheese was perfectly gooey.
Rumored to have the best cupcakes in Savannah, we wanted to see for ourselves! After ordering various flavors, we agreed that the Rich Butter Vanilla cupcake was our favorite.
After lunch, we continued our sightseeing of historic Savannah. Our first stop was to the Cathedral of St. John the Baptist. Built in 1863, the cathedral is one of the tallest structures in Savannah.
When walking in, we all paused in amazement of the intricacies and beautiful interior of the Cathedral.
The church brings many visitors every year because of its beauty and Gothic architecture. One of the intricate details of the church included numerous stained glass windows with detailed biblical scenes on them.
The walls also had decorative narratives from the Bible.
The grandeur of the Cathedral can be observed from every angle which we thoroughly enjoyed.
Also, in our free time we visited Chipewa Square where Forrest Gump filmed a scene where Forrest famously says “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re going to get.” In an effort to recreate the picture, we searched the bench where the scene was filmed, but came to the conclusion that the bench had been moved for the purpose of filming the movie and chose one with a similar view.
Although it sounded daunting, we were excited to begin the 178 step climb up to the top of the light house. The climb up to the light house served as a great workout for us!
We eventually all reached the top of the light house which is 145 feet tall and 154 feet above sea level. Some of us were nervous to step out onto the ledge of the light house but everyone eventually got to enjoy the view despite the phobia of heights. We even got a peek at the lighthouse lens, which was always on and required a 1,000 watt bulb–the brightness of which was amplified by numerous and layered reflectors.
The system that was put in place consists of two lightbulbs, one in use and one ready to light up when the other burns out.
The top was windy, but it didn’t stop us from taking selfies…
…and group shots…
and shots of the view from the top.
After taking many pictures at the top and enjoying the view along with the breeze, we descended down the flight of stairs again. Once we finally reached the ground we were able to tour the homes of the Lighthouse Keepers that were built in 1881. We enjoyed wandering inside the homes and finding old metal irons and telephones that had once been used.
In the museum, we learned about the origin of the settlers and meaning of Tybee. The Spanish were the first to arrive on Tybee and we also learned that “Tybee” is a Native American word for salt. As we walked through the museum, we were able to see how much has changed in the past century. We saw an old diving outfit that had a helmet which weighed 31 pounds! We also walked through an exhibit that showed the evolution of the swimsuit, which we found very interesting. The museum had an exit onto the roof top so we went up and enjoyed the beachfront view for a while before heading to dinner.
After the adventurous tour at the light house and Fort Screven, we headed to the Crab Shack for dinner. Throughout our travels, many people recommended the restaurant to us, making it a must try! The restaurant’s decor was interesting and the food was great (visitors be warned: no air-conditioning). We had their specialty sampler dish for three with shrimp, crab, crawfish, mussels, potatoes, sausage, and corn. Our food was served on one larger tray which brought enough food for the entire group of six to eat.
The restaurant also has a mini-gator farm, where patrons can feed the baby gators with “gator treats” (for $3…).
Since we were extremely close to the ocean, we hoped the seafood would live up to our grand expectations and we were satisfied when we walked away.
At the beach, we enjoyed the waves and the sunshine.
While some of us searched for seashells on the beach, others went swimming in the Atlantic Ocean. Luckily for us, it was perfect weather for a day at the beach. Of course, before we left, we took some nice pictures on the beach, one with our backs to the beach…
…and one facing the beach…
…and even one of us jumping…
Ending our delicious dinner and fun times at the beach, was time to get back to the hotel to freshen up for the Kentucky Kick off Reception.
As the day came to a close, we joined the other participants of the STL conference on the Kentucky Bourbon Trail. This was a kickoff social for the upcoming STL Conference in Lexington, Kentucky next year. Governor Beshear of Kentucky, Kentucky Speaker of the House, the Kentucky President of the Senate, and the Mayor of Lexington flew in and gave an introductory speech and expressed their excitement for the upcoming STL Conference in Lexington by formally inviting guests.
The highlight of the speeches was Governor Beshear’s, which highlighted themes of togetherness:
I want to talk about what brings us together. You know about Kentucky’s horses, and the Kentucky Derby; you know about the first Saturday in May; you know about our history; but I want to stress more substantive things, what really brings people together: short, tall, black, white, male, female. Kentucky Bourbon!
He also highlighted the success they’ve had in the production of bourbon. Kentucky has 4.4 million residents and 5 million barrels of bourbon, how fascinating is that? “That’s one barrel for every resident, and the rest is for you!,” he exclaimed, to much applause.As it turns out, Kentucky produces 95% of the world’s bourbon, and the other 5%, according to Governor Beshear, “is counterfeit.”
The group closed with a serviceable rendition of “My Old Kentucky Home,” and many in the audience knew enough words to follow along. The song was written by Stephen Foster, the “father of American Music,” who also wrote “Oh! Susannah” and “Camptown Races.”
Sadly, no one offered to sing “The Eyes of Texas” or “Deep in the Heart of Texas.”
There were small refreshments for us to enjoy throughout the night. We tasted the ham and beef mini sandwiches. Also, the homemade bread pudding was scrumptious. I think all of us would agree that we have had the best and second best versions of bread pudding we’ve ever tried, although we were in disagreement as to whether the Paula Deen bread pudding (with rum sauce) was better, or whether the Kentucky version (with bourbon and more icing) was the best. Our plan was to wait on the bread pudding until we got to its home, New Orleans, but that plan went out the window.
The others tried the various cheeses that were available and seemed to have been a fan. Kentucky did a great job of putting out the best of the state. We watched the mingling for a while and after a while decided that tomorrow will come early, so it was time to head back to the hotel. On the walk home I reflected in the day and was kind of sad that my stay in Savannah will soon be over. For a few of us, Professor Yawn treated us to a bike taxi which was a fun way to end the evening and see a little more of beautiful Savannah!
Each day, we’ve been having a great time learning and experiencing new things. Tomorrow, we will make the most of the day…for it will be our last day full day in Savannah.