Hope For Anna (Part 4 of Anna’s Story)

Recap:   Anna is a teenager from Russia who dreamed of better things for her Mother and siblings, so upon seeing an advertisement for nanny jobs in the US in a shop window, she applied and was prepared to leave her family and her country/continent in order to send $1000.00 per month home to them.  She was scared and excited, all at the same time.

Unfortunately, favour was not smiling on Anna, and she was put on a bus that was supposed to take her to the airport and on to America, but instead took her to Laos where she was sold into slavery, and abused in every way imaginable.

She had begun to feel as though there was no way out, and that this was her life, and every ounce of life had been sucked out of her, when a young man came into the shop at the house she was a slave in and saw something fishy.  He reported what he thought he saw, and following a well orchestrated raid, her abductors were imprisoned and she was rescued into a rehabilitation home for girls and women just like her.

This is where we pick back up in Anna’s Story.  In today’s fourth (and final) installment of this fictional account of events (that are all too close to the truth of what happens all the time), we’re going to find Anna in a much better situation than she was in before.  Find parts One, Two, and Three of the story here if you haven’t already read them.  A reminder:  Though I’ve clearly never been through any of this myself, I did my best to use the information that Exodus Road gives in their monthly newsletters to their bloggers to empathize and create a piece from Anna’s point of view.

Read on for Part Four!!

I sat straight up in my bed, lightning fast.  I looked around me.  I didn’t know where I was.  The previous 36 hours had been a blur, and as the details started to focus in more clearly, I vaguely recalled commotion, being yanked out of the house I’d been in for the past 8 months, and being semi-assured, in barely comprehensible, broken Russian, that everything was going to be OK, that I was safe.  I was supposedly taken to a facility designed for post-abduction/slavery rehabilitation, run by social workers.  They gave me clean clothes, a hot meal (I hadn’t had one in months), and clean water to drink.

I looked around me.  Could this be real?  As my eyes focused in the faint glow of the sliver moon shining through the window, I observed that I was in fact safe, by all appearances.  I looked across the room at Kalina, sleeping soundly in another bed.  She looked peaceful.  She looked comfortable.  I laid back down.  I pleaded with God that this could be real.  I’d stopped talking to God a few months prior, feeling like a loving God would never have let me get where I was in the first place… but maybe it’s like my Mom always said…. maybe He works ALL things together for my good… and maybe this had a purpose.

I fell back into a peaceful, rested sleep.  When I woke up, Kalina wasn’t in the room anymore.  I noticed in the daylight what I hadn’t noticed in the early morning hours.  There were many other beds in the room.  All were empty and remade.  I looked at the clock on the wall.  10:45 am.  I hadn’t slept that late in months.  No one had let me.  I felt an incredible sense of peace then, knowing that I must not be there for someone else’s gains, but for my own good.  These people could truly have meant it when they said they’re here to help me.

I found the clean clothes I’d been given the night before and shuffled quietly, still waking up, down the hallway, looking and listening for anyone I could find.  I remembered more details from the night before, and recalled that the only Russian anyone spoke was broken at best, and so if I hoped to communicate at all, I’d need to find Kalina.  Her Laotian developed far faster than mine when we were stuck in that house.

The hallway ended at a large common room.  The sun streamed in through open windows.  Birds sang, and girls all around me smiled when I walked in.  Kalina spotted me and pointed me out to the woman she was sitting with.  I was intercepted by a young man who lead me to a line of so many choices of food to eat.  I’d never seen so much in one place before… or at least, not that I was allowed to eat.  I took my food and sat down with Kalina and the woman.

Kalina introduced the woman as our counselor.  She explained that they’d flown her in from Russia to make sure that we received the best care after all we’d been through.  Our counselor, Kasia, just smiled.  “I’m here to help you,” she said.

“What happens now?”  I asked.

“We have a doctor waiting to you,”  Kasia explained.  “You’ve been through a lot.  We want to make sure you’re alright.”

I nodded.  “Then we set you up with a counseling schedule, and we’ll introduce you to the girls you’ll be doing group therapy with.  You’ll all have an opportunity to talk to others who’ve been through similar situations to your own, and you’ll be able to find strength in your recovery together.  We’ve made sure that you and Kalina both are in a group with girls who also speak Russian.”

I nodded again.  “When do we get to go home?”  I asked, and tears welled up in my eyes.  I had stopped thinking about home around 3 months into this whole ordeal.  It was too painful, and I couldn’t let myself do it.

“There’s a process around that,” explained Kasia, “Your case needs to be cleared through the legal system here in order to effectively prosecute those who took and sold you.  We’ll get you home as soon as we can.  In the meantime though, there are several phones scattered throughout the facility where we’ll be happy to get you connected to your family so that you can talk to them and tell them you’re OK.  You can talk to them for as long as you want.”

Until that point, I’d been determined to remain very strong.  Kalina was the only person who’d seen me cry, even when being beaten and abused.  I had stuffed every emotion so far down that I had occasionally forgotten they were there.  I had decided that it took some of the sport out of abusing me if my abusers couldn’t see how it affected me.  I couldn’t keep it in anymore.  I just wanted to talk to my Mom.  Tears flowed freely down my cheeks.

“Can I call right now?”  I squeaked out.

“Of course you can, let me show you to a private phone.”

Ten minutes later, I was sitting eagerly with the phone receiver pressed against my ear, praying my Mom would answer as the phone rang and rang.

Finally, I heard the ringing stop and her voice came over the speaker and into my ear.  “Hello?”  Came her familiar voice in Russian.  I couldn’t get any words out.

“Hello?”  She said again.  “Is anyone there?”

“Mama?”  I croaked out.

“Anna!?”  She cried!  My mother began to sob into the phone.  “Anna, is that you!?”

“Yeah, Mama, it’s me,”  I sniffled.  “I’m here.  I’m safe.”

“Where are you!?  Where have you been?  I’ve been worried sick?  What happened to you?”  My mother had more questions than she knew how to ask, and who could blame her?  For all she knew, I’d either abandoned my family or died trying.  I was sure she’d lost hope by now, only to have it all come flooding back with one phone call.

“Mama I miss you so much!  And my sister!  Alexis!  I took her for granted.  And even those little brothers… my heart broke when I thought that Liev and Zasha might think that I abandoned all of you.  I didn’t, Mama, I didn’t.  I wanted to come home.  I wanted to break free, but they wouldn’t let me, there was no way out!  When I got on that bus, the man…. he, he, he… he sold our passports and he took us to Laos, and Mama I’ve been here for 8 months?  I lost track.  I don’t know what day it is!  But Mama… I’m safe.  A man, he… he came to the store, and he reported what he thought he saw to the police, and they rescued us!  Mama, I’m safe now.  I’m still in Laos, I’m pretty sure, but I’m safe.”

My mother just laughed.  “Sweetie, my dear Anna, we never thought you abandoned us.  We knew something was wrong.  We prayed for you every night.  Even Liev and Zasha, they were on their knees and they talked to Jesus.  Just last night they asked him…. they said they were pretty sure he was there, and it made sense that he cared about them, but that if he really wanted them to believe that he loved them, they wanted their big sister back.  I tried to tell them that bargaining with God doesn’t work like that, but they were sure that they had to just tell Jesus what they really wanted.  And they wanted you.  Safe, and home… they wanted you.”

We both sat on the phone crying without words for several minutes.  Finally, my Mama quietly asked the question I dreaded.  One I didn’t really know the answer to.  “When are you coming home?”

“I don’t really know, Mama.  I hope soon.  They said something about making sure that process was followed, and that I can’t leave until that’s happened… I hope soon.  But they’re taking good care of me.  I have a comfortable bed, clean clothes, warm water and hot food.  I can call anytime I want.  They have social workers to help us deal with… all of this, and they’re letting me stay with Kalina, a friend I made in the house where we were held.  We live really close to each other in Russia, too.  As soon as we’re cleared through the system, we will be home.  But I’ll call every day.  And I’ll call tomorrow after school to talk to Alexis, Liev, and Zasha.”

“My dear Anna.  You are so strong.  I love you, you know.  So much.  I love that you tried to make a different path for us, and that even though you were intercepted while trying, and I can’t even imagine the horrors you’ve seen, you still have that Anna spark in your voice when you talk to me.  We never gave up on you.  We NEVER thought you abandoned us.  Never.  That’s not you.  We know that, baby.  We know that.”  She sighed.  “You keep calling.  We will see you very soon!”

That was the first of many phone calls filled with tears that I’d share with my Mother and siblings over the coming months.  Through some intense therapy sessions and counseling, I was able to regain a great deal of the trust of strangers that I’d lost.  My therapists and counselors said that it would make sense if I had trouble sleeping at night without remembering the horrific things I’d been through, but after 7 weeks I finally had a different dream.  I remember waking up smiling.  I had dreamed up my wedding.  I was getting married, and my family was all there.  Kalina was there.  Kasia was there.  I had found a man who loved me for me, with my strong personality that wouldn’t be pushed around that developed as a result of what I’d been through.  He loved me despite how I’d been treated, and he never let me feel used and worthless, even though many girls in my situation would feel that way.  I woke up smiling because I didn’t have a nightmare, and I’d slept right through the night.

That morning at breakfast, Kasia came to sit with Kalina and me to talk to us about our next steps.  She explained that all of the legal red tape was cleared up, and we were able to leave the country freely now.  Our flights had been paid for by a charitable organization in Vientiane driven to support the rehabilitation of human trafficking victims.  My face whitened though.  The last time I was supposed to get on a plane to something that sounded too good to be true, it turned out to be just that, and I was sold into slavery.

Kasia put her hands on mine.  “Don’t worry, child,” she tried to soothe the fear she could see plastered on my face.  “Hey, Anna, look at me.  You’ll be safe.  There is a volunteer from the organization paying for your flight who will be flying with you all the way to St. Petersburg, and you will not be out of his sight until you’re with your family again.  We promise.”

I relaxed.  Kasia had become a great friend of mine in the past 2 months, even though she started simply as my therapist.  She also explained that the Laotian government was going to give me $1000 USD with which to travel, but that since my flight and transportation were all covered, I could save it and use it for my own purposes.

When I got home to Russia a week later, I was met by my Mother, Alexis, Liev, and Zasha at the airport to be taken home.  They hugged me so hard I thought I’d stop breathing.  I had never been so happy to be squished by hugs in my life.

Over coffee and breakfast the next morning at a new house, my Mother told me that the local church had just given her two jobs.  She and my siblings moved out of our old house two days before I came home.  She would be their secretary and she would clean for them.  They didn’t want to hire the same person for two jobs because they felt it was too much work, but my Mother explained to me that before she’d gone to the interview, she’d prayed for a long time for a job that would provide the amount of money she’d need to stop being a prostitute, as well as to make sure that Alexis, Liev, and Zasha could stay in school without having to quit to work.  She knew the number, but wouldn’t tell any prospective employers without being asked.  She interviewed for the position as secretary, and when she was offered the job and told the salary, she started to cry.  It had seemed so good, but it wasn’t good enough, because she knew she couldn’t work at a church during the day and be a prostitute at night.  So she decided to tell the church her story, knowing that it was shocking and she may lose the job, but also knowing that in her renewed faith since I was rescued, she felt confident that this was the job her Lord wanted her to have.  She explained that she was willing to do anything, but that in order to leave her current job which was killing her soul, she needed to make a certain amount of money.  The Church leadership team’s eyes widened when my mother told them what she had to make per month to get out of prostitution, because it was, to the cent, the exact amount of money they were prepared to offer for both positions combined.  The church immediately offered to give her both jobs, and arranged to have her immediately moved from where we’d lived all my life to keep her safe from those who’d go looking for her.  Prostitution can be terrifyingly difficult to escape.

I then told her about the thousand dollars I’d been given, and that I thought I would like to pursue business school.  The life we’d been living was behind us now, and it was time to move on and forward.  We were excited about our new lives.  My sister and brothers would get to stay in school, I would get an education, and my Mother could stop selling her body and her soul to the highest bidder.

Flash forward five years, and I’m sitting in my office in my very own bakery writing you this story.  I’ve been fiddling with a ring on my finger for the past three weeks because I can’t believe that I got married.  I met him in business school, which I successfully completed, and with his help and support, I bought my own little shop.  With the skills I learned working in a bakery before being sold to Laos, I make specialty breads and desserts that are popular all over St. Petersburg.  I’m currently looking into expanding into a second location.  The girls who work for me are at risk to end up in prostitution themselves, because I vowed that I would never willingly let someone go through what my family has been through.  I’ve been working closely with social services for the past three years, making sure that I can provide a constructive environment for girls who need a strong role model.  I offer free seminars on cooking and baking which double as support groups for these young girls, because they draw out older women who will mentor them, and I’m active in the community providing education about the dangers of human trafficking, how to recognize it, and how to stop it.

As I look out the window in my office, the thought hits me that some dreams really do come true.  I’m reminded as I write this story that I will never hang advertisements for American nanny services in my windows, and that I’ll always do my best to be a welcoming beacon for the troubled and the needy in St. Petersburg.  This needs to end, and I plan to help stop it.  Even if I only save a handful of girls, it’s still a handful of girls who never have to see the things I’ve seen.

The End.

Check out this video that Exodus Road sent us bloggers in our newsletter this month.  It’s called Is Justice Worth It?

And think about it…. Is it?  Is fighting for justice worth it, even if it only saves a handful of people?  I think so, don’t you?


Flying Into Heaven

After five glorious days in the Southern US this past week, I had to fly home yesterday.  I left a piece of my heart in Georgia.  Beauty as far as the eye can see, even right in the heart of the downtown district.  Even in the places we were told not to be walking alone.  Beauty.  Spanish moss, which although apparently neither moss nor Spanish, and full of a bug called a chigger which will eat you alive if you touch the moss, hangs everywhere, giving it that unique look that is so… Southern.

The Savannah Airport was a dream to fly out of when I went to leave yesterday.  Though, I truly did not need to be as early as I was.  It’s been more than a decade since I flew internationally, and so I thought I’d follow the requirements that wanted me to be at the airport 3 hours prior to boarding.  My plane took off at 4:30, so I decided I should be there at 1.  By 1:30, I was sitting reading a book waiting to board at 3:50, haha.  Oops, could have spent a bit more time around Savannah, but Mom needed to get to Orlando anyway, and it’s a long drive, so I read at the airport.

I was going to write this post last night, as I have to take such ridiculous amounts of pain killers to be able to fly without tears, and of course they’re non-drowsy, that when I landed in Toronto, I wasn’t tired at all… but there was a bit of panic following landing in Toronto, and by the time I got home and got myself (and all 3 dogs) in the door, I wasn’t so wide awake anymore.  So I’ll try to do this with the eloquence that I could accomplish it with last night.

I am so glad though, that while I could have saved a few extra hours in Savannah, I’m glad my flight left when I did.  The way the sun shone on everything as we took off was completely spectacular.  I had a book in my bag that I was completely prepared to read the whole way on both flights, but I couldn’t stop staring out the little teeny tiny plane windows for most of the trip.  Especially heading over the mountains in Virginia, the way rivers mingled in and out of valleys and up and down mountains, winding through sleepy little towns (or at least that’s how they look from 20,000+ feet in the air) was breathtaking.  I snapped a few photos from the air, though they’re hard to capture, and not many turned out.  All photos taken from my iPhone.

Check them out.

I’m clearly wearing lime green… but check out South Carolina below.
another airplane on a different flight path off in the distance 🙂
Another plane on a different flight path headed for somewhere else 🙂
a big river right before we flew over the mountains in Virginia
The mountains in Virginia from tens of thousands of feet above, through a thin veil of cloud cover.

IMG_4121 IMG_4122 IMG_4123  IMG_4125 IMG_4128 IMG_4129 IMG_4130 IMG_4132 IMG_4133 IMG_4135

We flew into some pretty thick cloud cover as we headed for the Great Lakes region.  I had to transfer in Detroit.  We landed with water streaming off the windows, because, you guessed it, last night it was raining in Detroit.

I had a little over an hour between flights.  They boarded us back onto the plane in Detroit on time, which I was thankful for.  I can’t stand sitting around at airports.  I had just finished a book before landing in Detroit where one of the chapters was about how stress can lead to weight gain (well, not the whole chapter, but it was mentioned), and how these daily opportunities to be stressed out and frazzled are equal opportunities to be gracious, thankful, and patient.  I thanked God for the ability to just switch planes with ease…. and then we didn’t take off at 8:00.  Or 8:10… 8:15… At 8:20, the flight attendant finally came over the speaker to tell us that there was a mechanical issue with the plane and we were waiting for a mechanic to show up to determine whether we could stay on the plane or have to switch.

We had to switch.

We finally took off at 9:30, and I was finally headed for Toronto.  Not overly bothered by the delay, I just kept reading, and decided to be thankful that whatever the mechanical malfunction was was caught before we were in the air, and that we didn’t have to make an emergency landing somewhere or worse yet, crash.  I’d rather leave almost 2 hours late than crash.

I was pretty content, and like I said, wide awake from the pain killers needed to fly (I forgot to buy Advil Cold & Sinus in Canada before we left, so I bought it in the States… I use it to make sure my ears actually pop… had to get it from behind the pharmacy counter and sign to assure the Pharmacist that I was going to use it for medicinal purposes only… apparently you can make Crystal Meth with Advil Cold & Sinus).  As we were headed for Toronto, I’m sure because we left almost two hours late and therefore didn’t have the same flight path/plan, we had to wait to land… so as we were flying across SW Ontario, low and slow, I was caught by the beauty.  The sky was clear, and the lights were all lit up in the cities below.  I could make out the end of Lake Ontario.  I found Hamilton, Burlington, St. Catharines, and more, just by knowing where they are in proximity to the Lake.  I found Lake Erie when the lights stopped, and the towns on the other side of Lake Ontario were a faint glow of light in the distance.  It was stunning, spectacular, breathtaking.  All I could do was whisper “wow” under my breath as we flew over.  I found the CN Tower and the Downtown Core as I flew past it and looked down on it, from thousands of feet above and at the other side of the city.  The expanse of Toronto is incredible.  I mean, I know it’s big.  It’s the biggest city in Canada.  I know what it takes to go around it to avoid it when the traffic’s too busy… but to fly around the outskirts, slowly, at 10,000 feet, waiting for the go-ahead to put the bird on the ground… that was new.  The only other time I landed in Toronto it was day-time, and I hadn’t yet discovered that sinus medication makes it so that I can in fact land without pain.  I was distracted to say the very least.  This time, the breathtaking intricacy with which everything around me has been created was not lost on me.

After we were given clearance to land, the pilot started to descend, and as he did, we went through a low-lying patch of dense, puffy, grey clouds.  Right before we disappeared into the clouds, the view out the window was nothing but strikingly beautiful, puffy mounds of grey beside me, and a black expanse with the crescent moon above.  No city, no lights, no cars (because before we dipped into the cloud cover, we could see the cars on the highways… I found the 401, the QEW, the 407…), just me, the clouds, the moon, and an airplane.  Oh, and millions of people below and a bunch on the plane… but at that moment, none of them were really there in my world.

I couldn’t get a picture.  We were in “no electronic devices” mode as we were below 10,000 feet.  But someone managed to, because I Googled it and I found it.


See what I mean?

Now imagine disappearing through a veil of clouds, and it all goes away.

Once we hit the runway though, that peace was gone… my phone decided not to find service, and I couldn’t let my ride know where I was.  I had to go through customs while panicking about my phone, and I was doing my best not to freak out, but by the time I got to the exit, through customs, with all my bags, and NO IDEA where my ride was, I lost it.  I cried a little bit standing in front of a payphone that I had to use my credit card for.

Not my shining moment.

BUT we found each other, my phone works again, and life is good.

Life is very good.

Museums, Outlet Malls, and a Super Cute Puppy …. and the story of good old Southern Hospitality.

Today’s adventure into Savannah was much less energized than yesterday’s, haha, we’re both pretty exhausted… but this is how I do vacation… at warp speed.

We finished our Trolley Tour up yesterday by buying a ten dollar re-do day for today that gave us free parking right in the downtown and all day trolley on-off service.  The plan was to go into the city, park at the free lot, do the three museums I’d wanted to see, then trolley all around the downtown again, seeing some of the things we didn’t get a chance to yesterday.

Problem:  Exhaustion.

We finished the Savannah History Museum and the Roundhouse Railroad Museum… and then I couldn’t remember what the third was that I even wanted to see.  We tossed around the idea of just going back to the hotel because we were tired and couldn’t think to do anything else… didn’t want to just wander for the sake of wandering.

So I had a thought.  I thought we could go to the trolley tour sales booth, and explain that we’d done the museums and were exhausted, were going to go back to the hotel, and since we’re doing a dolphin tour tomorrow (YAY!!!  SO excited!!), could we please just apply the cost we spent on the extra tour day since we didn’t tour to the cost of tomorrow’s tour?  Mom was concerned that since there was no way to prove that we were telling the truth, they’d never go for it, but figuring it couldn’t hurt to ask, we asked anyway.  They were SO accommodating, and were happy to discount our dolphin tour tickets by 20.00.

Southern Hospitality.

It’s so nice down here.  Everyone smiles, calls you ma’am, and is accommodating and helpful.  We went to a different hotel than where we’re staying so Mom could check it out, as she will be crashing in Savannah next week again on her way out of Florida, and they let us go look at a room and everything!  So nice.

After all, we made it to the outlet malls near our Hotel, which were awesome.  The book store was my favourite.  I got 7 books for 16 dollars.  So cheap.  The most expensive book was 3.99.  Most were .99 or 1.99.  Beauty.

We went to Perkins for dinner, and outside before going in we met the cutest puppy I’ve seen in a LONG time.  Like, not since my little pooch.  A beautiful, 11 week-old Bernese Mountain Dog puppy named Samarrah.

Tomorrow, I’m super stoked for touring by the water, seeing some REAL dolphins!!!!!, and eating dinner with some PIRATES!!  Yarr…. Oh, and I bought a Pirate book, and I can’t wait to read it… can.  not.  wait.

Here are the pictures:

Cutest story ever at the Savannah Historical Museum
Roundhouse Railroad Museum
the spoils from the outlet mall
A historical fiction adventure novel about Pre-Revolutionary War Pirates. I cannot wait!!


165 Miles to Savannah… 165 Miles….

So I’m on a road trip.

I’m with my Mom.  We decided it’d be a FABULOUS idea to DRIVE from Southern Ontario to Savannah, Georgia.  Over 2 days.  Crashing in Virginia for one night.  Fun times.
Well, it was QUITE fun.  We stopped in Spotsylvania County in Virginia for the first night, and I decided, being stupid tired by that point, and since we were nearly out of gas, that if we ran out of gas and had to walk to the hotel, the Spotsylvanians would eat us alive.

Day 2’s highlights were twofold.  First, we stopped at THE CHEEZIEST tourist attraction I’ve EVER seen.  Pedro’s… in South Carolina, just inside the South Carolina border.  I think it’s actually called South of the Border.  This place is advertised for 200 miles as you drive South down I-95 S, and probably all the way from Florida going North.  Epically ridiculously cheezy, but so fun.  It was a nice break from the trip… and I have lots of pictures of me sitting on animals that I would never otherwise get to sit on (don’t worry, they were statues…)

Second, with about 165 miles to go until we hit Savannah, the road signs started telling us how many miles there were to go….. so we started singing… to the tune of 99 bottles of beer on a wall.  Well, let me tell you, it takes longer to drive a mile than it does to go through one verse of that song, and so there were silly additions as we sang.  Trust me.  Ridiculous.
Today, we hitched a ride into the City (we’re staying outside of it due to the fact that it is so much cheaper) on a trolley tour bus because we planned to take their tour so they offer free shuttles.  We met some lovely people from NYC, Boston, Florida, all over the place.  It was fun.  And then we rode around the Downtown of Savannah ALL DAY on a Trolley bus, getting on and off at will.
I have so many pictures already that it would make your brain hurt, but below I will feature the highlights.
More to follow, as tomorrow we hit up three museums, and Wednesday we do an Atlantic Ocean dolphin cruise, where we have been guaranteed to see Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphins swimming alongside our boat… and even if not, we get a river tour of some historic forts, some lighthouses, and some of Georgia’s beautiful islands.  I’m stoked.

Here are the pictorial highlights so far:

Stop # 1 -- Canadian Tire in St. Catharines for an Oil Change.
Stop # 1 — Canadian Tire in St. Catharines for an Oil Change.
Artsy Passport Photos.
Artsy Passport Photos.
artsy map pic
artsy map pic
Coming up to the point on the QEW where we had to make a choice on bridges, I whipped out my iPhone, Googled "border wait times" and got the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission website... Guess which bridge we took!
Coming up to the point on the QEW where we had to make a choice on bridges, I whipped out my iPhone, Googled “border wait times” and got the Niagara Falls Bridge Commission website… Guess which bridge we took!
Cracker Barrel!!  Turns out... they materialize roughly every 20 miles.
Cracker Barrel!! Turns out… they materialize roughly every 20 miles.
This place is RIDICULOUSLY cheezy and touristy, but it was fun.  South of the Border was advertised for about 200 miles driving South down I-95.
This place is RIDICULOUSLY cheezy and touristy, but it was fun. South of the Border was advertised for about 200 miles driving South down I-95.
I like to call this..."Go Home Moose, You're DRUNK!  Why are you in South Carolina!?"  because it was the first thing we saw when we pulled into SOUTH of the Border.
“Go Home Moose, You’re DRUNK! Why are you in South Carolina!?” because it was the first thing we saw when we pulled into SOUTH of the Border.
Welcome to South Carolina!!  I took this one at the Welcome Center.
Welcome to South Carolina!! I took this one at the Welcome Center.
That's right, my arm was out the open window!
That’s right, my arm was out the open window!
Palm Trees!!!
Palm Trees!!!
South Carolina sunset.
South Carolina sunset.
Welcome to GEORGIA!!  I took this one, too!  (We stopped at the Welcome Centre)
Welcome to GEORGIA!! I took this one, too! (We stopped at the Welcome Centre)
FLOWERS!  With bloomed petals!
FLOWERS! With bloomed petals!
This is a fountain, dyed green for St. Patrick's Day this weekend.
This is a fountain, dyed green for St. Patrick’s Day this weekend.
So this is a McDonald's walk-up window.
So this is a McDonald’s walk-up window.
This house is pink, purple, and turquoise... I think because it wasn't in the historic district so these guys wanted to march to the beat of their own drum and be different.
This house is pink, purple, and turquoise… I think because it wasn’t in the historic district so these guys wanted to march to the beat of their own drum and be different.
Spanish Moss, which is neither Spanish nor moss.
Spanish Moss, which is neither Spanish nor moss.
This is the oldest building in Savannah (and Georgia), built in 1734 after the Colony was commissioned in 1733.
This is the oldest building in Savannah (and Georgia), built in 1734 after the Colony was commissioned in 1733.