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Nik and Dusty (And Debby) Arrive in Tybee Island (VIDEO)

Hey everybody! Hope y’all had a safe and wonderful July 4th holiday!

Our road trip of a lifetime is a-rollin’ right along, and seems to just be going by in a flash. We’ll be in Seattle before you know it! But we’re doing our best to stretch and savor every single minute of this experience. And thanks to you guys for following along with us along the way! Nice to have lots of good company for the ride. :)

The Drive to Tybee

So we got a late start out of Bardstown and pointed our trusty Honda CRV (which we call “the Hondo” by the way) and decided to drive as far as we could. The drive down through southern/southeastern Kentucky and eastern Tennessee was nothing short of spectacular! Why didn’t somebody tell us this was such beautiful country? :) The drive was mostly uneventful, except that we ran into some nasty road construction and backups along I-75 south near Knoxville. We actually made about a 30-mile detour through the backroads which we thought would save us some time, but it in fact added about 45 minutes to the drive – and we didn’t hit Knoxville until late late. Fortunately we were able to get a last-minute reservation at a very nice Comfort Suites just east of Knoxville and got some good shuteye.

The next morning we drove through eastern Tennesee, across North Carolina (through Asheville, which was gorgeous like everybody says) and down through South Carolina, stopping for lunch in a neat little town called Clinton. As we pressed on and neared the South Carolina-Georgia state line, we noticed the weather beginning to change. Clear blue skies slowly and dramatically gave way to high, thin clouds which got lower and darker and meaner by the mile. And we knew exactly what we were headed for.

By the time we hit Savannah it was sprinkling on us a bit, and the clouds to our south were definitely darkening and moving our way. We got checked in to a brand-spanking-new Cambria Suites out by the Savannah Airport, where we decided to hunker down for the night and make our plans for our visit to Tybee the next day. (The Cambria was a beautiful place, by the way. It’s the top of the line chain in the Choice Hotels family, and you can certainly tell they’re putting a lot of love and money into it. Shot a fun little video there that we hope to have up in a couple of days if they allow us to post it. First video we’ve done with nudity. Yeah. Dwell on that.)

All this time we’d been paying very close attention to the forecast and were in steady contact with our connection on Tybee. We had already decided to rearrange our itinerary on Tybee because of the weather, but it wasn’t until we woke up the next morning at the Cambria and turned on the TV when we got really worried about the entire visit getting washed out.

Tropical Storm Debby had formed in the gulf a few days earlier, and had already dumped massive amounts of rain on parts of Florida. It was packing steady 45 mile-per-hour winds and all the models showed the storm moving north-northeast – directly toward Tybee – and sitting there for a couple of days.


Arriving on the Island

The weather was still fairly decent when we left the hotel and made the drive through Savannah and out toward the island. Cloudy and rainy, but nothing too bad. Bad news was, the forecast called for things to get a lot worse before they got better… and as we drove across the marshes between Savannah and Tybee and looked to the south, we could see the storm coming.

The rain and wind had picked up a bit by the time we met our contacts on the edge of town, who had said they wanted to meet us there and escort us onto the island. Considering the getting-nastier-by-the-minute weather and the overall circumstances, we obviously had no expectation of a crowd of people waiting to welcome us into town, which we knew would be a bummer for everyone involved including the townsfolk. This was Tybee’s time to shine, after all – and we felt so badly for the people there knowing that our visit was without question going to be impacted by Debby in one way or another. And even when we noticed that a couple of police cars were also there to meet us and give us a police escort into town (which never gets old, by the way), we still didn’t think anybody else would be there to meet us.

We were so delightfully wrong.

We fell in line behind the police cruisers that led us into town with lights flashing and sirens blaring, and as we crossed the last bridge leading into Tybee we saw them.

There they stood, on the side of the road (around a replica pirate ship!) next to the “Welcome to Tybee Island” sign. A crowd of dozens of people standing in the rain and the wind, waving and cheering and going wild for us as we pulled up in the Honda and made our triumphant yet soggy arrival. Wow.

Them standing out in the weather to welcome us was one thing. The fact that we were running late (as usual) and made them stand out in the rain for 30 minutes was something else altogether. Yet there they were, all smiles and cheers and enthusiam and warmth and love and welcoming. Craziness.

They actually held an awesome little welcome ceremony for us, right then and there. We shook hands, shared hugs, did a couple of interviews and even got the key to the city while we all stood out there in the blustery conditions. We were surprised, shocked, overwhelmed and so so happy with it all. Thank you guys so much for making sure our first few minutes ever in Tybee were so special, despite Debby’s best efforts. Good stuff.

Speaking of good stuff – after we left the welcome ceremony and got checked in to the drop-dead fabulous vacation home they’d reserved for us, we met up again with several of the locals at a legendary little Tybee Island dive called the Crab Shack. And we knew right away this was gonna be our kind of place. One of the owners, Belinda, met us in the parking lot (in the rain and wind, mind you) with big hugs and a couple of tall bloody marys, and led us inside the restaurant to another warm welcome followed mountains of phenomenal local seafood. And by mountains of seafood, we mean that quite literally. Massive trays of shrimp, crawfish, crab, mussels, sausage and potatoes piled so high they might have been snow-capped if it wasn’t almost July. We sat around a big table with a group of local folks and chatted and ate and drank until our stomachs hurt from eating and our faces hurt from smiling. Nice.

After lunch Belinda and Jack (the other owner) led us outside to meet some of the Crab Shack’s most famous and most popular residents: dozens of alligators, which they rescued and keep in a very nice (and very safe) custom habitat there on the outside of the restaurant. The actually have nutritous little “gator bites” (we guess you could call them) that you can feed to the gators via a long fishing-pole type apparatus. Very quirky. Very cool. And lots of fun. Gotta check ’em out when you go.

As we were leaving the Crab Shack, the storm really started getting amped up. The wind had gotten noticeably worse – creating white caps on the water,  rocking the boats in the marina back and forth, and carrying stinging little drops of rainfall in sideways. So it was clear then, at that point, that the rest of the day – and everything we had planned to do that day on Tybee – was a no go. Just wasn’t gonna happen. Rats.

Face to Face with Debby

So we (along with our Travel Channel buds, Bill and Lauren) gathered back at our vacation rental to strategize and try to salvage what time we had left on the island. It was then we looked out the window and noticed that the storm had gone from bad – to much, much worse.

Bill and Dusty are old TV news guys, so they were foaming at the mouths to get out and shoot some video on the beach as the storm rolled in. So that’s just what we did, and shot the following short clips during the craziness. Check it out:

Like we said. Crazy. (That’s just a short preview clip, by the way. The full Tybee video is coming VERY soon. Maybe even later today. So definitely check back!)

Anyway, we figured if we couldn’t get out and enjoy our afternoon in Tybee, we’d at least have a little fun with it. :)

The rest of the day was unavoidably low-key. After getting soaked and wind blown on the beach, we stayed inside to dry out, blog, edit some video and just chill. The highlight of the night came at dinnertime, when we met a local couple, Keith and Ann Gay, for dinner at a wonderful little restaurant called the Sundae Cafe. We ate some delicious food and drank some fantastic wine and talked about our adventure, the nasty weather, and life on this otherwise serene and beautiful island.

And as we went to bed for the night, we checked the forecast another couple of times and said a little prayer.

We had one day left to explore Tybee. And we hoped and hoped and hoped Debby would move on, and leave us at least a little bit of sunshine.

More tomorrow!

~ Nik and Dusty