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Day Two in Savannah, Georgia: Fulfilling Our Tourist Duties

Thirty minutes after handing mom the room key, she lost it.

“Am I the adult, and you’re the child?” I wondered aloud. Mom shot me a glare.

As we waited for the front desk to make new room keys, two folks in our hotel lobby suggested the most touristy thing we could do: take the Old Savannah tour bus. Mom was tickled by the idea. I’m not particularly gung-ho for gaudy tourist buses, but my desire for spending quality time with mom outweighed my ego. Atleast we’ll get a grasp of the historical squares in downtown, I reminded myself.

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Before we boarded the flashy white tour bus, mom found a great-looking place to fill up our bellies for breakfast, Goose Feathers Cafe. It was a cozy little cafe hidden behind an unassuming awning next to a massive live oak. What grabbed our attention the most was the long line snaking out the door.

Must be delicious.

Here, the owner, Beth, rang up our order: mine was a birds nest with grits: homemade salsa, two poached eggs, a pinch of cilantro, and mom ordered an Italian breakfast panini. The food was unbelievably good!

Now on the tour bus, hundred-year-old oaks draped in Spanish moss passed us at every square. History was everywhere: Revolutionary and Civil War monuments, statues, and fountains decorated the busy squares.

Among our favorite sites was Forsyth Park, where the iconic fountain sat as centerpiece within the 30-acre park, and River Street, located down the old, steep brick steps beside the port of Savannah River. Here, old cotton mills have been converted into candy shops (my personal favorite: Savannah Sweets!) and bustling restaurants.

Despite the cold December air that day, we could feel the warmth of southern hospitality in every smile that passed us in the charming city of Savannah.

Follow our second day in Savannah, GA via GoPro.

Follow our day in Charleston, South Carolina.

Follow our day in the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge.

Follow our day in Tybee Island.

Travel

Traveling with my mother: Savannah, Georgia

I finally invited my mother to travel with me, and I didn’t regret it–not even once.

Well, maybe.

Just kidding, mom; I know you’re reading this.

After all, Tareq, my boyfriend, has always been my travel partner over the last several years. So, I figured, why not spend some bonding time with Mom?  With a full time job,  I am capable of planning and booking everything for both of us. Literally, all she has to do is bring her luggage. (I would even pay for everything.)

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So, when I asked her if she wanted to travel with me, without delay, she said, “yes.”

On December 27th, we left snowy St. Louis and arrived to a warm Savannah, Georgia by nightfall. Upon landing, the temperature was mid-60s.  We found our bright blue rental car right outside the airport, so I jumped in and rolled the windows down, “ya-hooooo!”

Palm trees lined the street and highway until we reached our hotel, the Econolodge in Garden City.  I couldn’t wait to unpack and lay down in what would be our home for the next week.

But what happened next, I never could have expected. Good. Lord. Have. Mercy. The Econolodge  was scuzzy, and for the first time in years, I chose a nasty hotel. It was nothing like the reviews said or the pictures portrayed on the website.

Travel Tip #1: don’t trust the hotel website’s photos.

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Why? The photos don’t capture the pungent smell of weed permanently infused in the hallway’s carpet, nor do they include shots of the beaten-in door locks; not to mention, when mom and I finally stepped inside the room, we couldn’t stop staring at the curiously dark stains scattered all over our comforter. But seriously though, I wondered, how could hotels pass off these deceivingly nice pictures of the rooms as true? Isn’t that unlawful?

Well, now I had a big mess on my hands. Mom was too upset to unpack. Once starved, we were now too concerned for our safety to think about food. I quickly developed a throbbing headache because of mom’s silence, and that’s the worst phase of her fretting. I had to do something… and quick.

I ran outside through the parking lot where I’m almost certain the hotel clerk was involved in a drug deal, so I politely waited for her to finish her shady activity with a droopy-drawered fella. Two minutes later, I checked out at the front desk.

Iris Garden Hotel

A couple hours passed, and I finally decided on a hotel with more positive reviews: The Iris Garden hotel. Clean, refreshing, and modern. But most importantly, Mom felt better. We called it a night after we unpacked at our new hotel. It was shortly after midnight.

Watch a video of our first day in Georgia via GoPro.

Running

Running as a Punishment: We’re Doing it All Wrong

As a chubby blonde-haired girl growing up in the early 2000’s, running through the woods around our house was a weekly occurrence. Rather than getting grounded and having my phone taken away, like all other children experienced at my age, I was forced to run laps. Several laps. My parents owned an acre of hilly land, and I also had to finish each lap in under a minute and 45 seconds. Brutal. As a young child, I desperately pushed my body as hard as it could out of fear of receiving additional punishment: more laps.

You must understand this: I deemed running a form of modern day torture. I will never forget those days where I was both running and crying to make it under time.

One of the great ironies of my life was eventually loving to run, particularly when the word “run” triggered dark memories. Despite my parent’s choice to cure “bad behavior” by running, I also put up with my softball, basketball, and volleyball coachs’ methods to motivate “lazy players” by making the team run. Why is this ironic? Because in many ways, it’s considered lazy coaching to punish a child for not making a basket or throwing the ball over third base, thus allowing the runner to score.  It’s a wonder I didn’t hate running for the rest of my adult life—a painful, lonely discipline—but instead, I pushed my childhood memories aside, and I ran my first 5k in 2014–for fun!

I owe many thanks to Pete, an ex-running coach from a nearby high school, whom sparked my interest in running again. He understood my excuses for not wanting to run, yet he met that with unlimited patience. With time, he challenged me to lace up my shoes and hit the pavement with him. Even as a total beginner intimidated by my first steps, Pete helped get me moving in the right direction. The first run was agonizing, but you know what? The second run, third run, sixth run… were fun.

And eventually, Pete suggested I sign up for my hometown’s Firecracker 5k, which happened to be under the baking July sun.

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My first 5k in 2014

I’ll never forget finishing that 5k with Pete right at 30 minutes–better than I could have imagined. Even though I pushed myself so hard that I had chills at the end of the race, it was such a new, energizing experience I’d never forget.

Since my first 5k, many years ago, I’ve run countless others: 5ks, 10ks, 15ks, and a half marathon. Each run is perfect in its own way: a chance to be extraordinary, a chance to overcome all obstacles, a chance to fight through pain and suffering, a chance to feel like a completely different person on the other side of the finish line.

Although running races doesn’t always mean I am improving my time or having an unforgettable, movie-like finish, at least I am enjoying it. I try to remind myself it’s not about being number one; that’s unrealistic. Instead, I dedicate my life to using this sport as my therapy, a healthy outlet.

I stand on the starting line, wait for the countdown, heart pounding with fear, hands shaking with adrenaline, and the gun goes off; everything changes. It’s just me and the road ahead, left with my thoughts to persevere, but most importantly, all bad childhood punishments left behind. Ultimately, I love every race I’m in, partly because it doesn’t remind me of sweaty laps around my house or laps around the softball field.