Spanish Moss is really pretty on the trees. It's closest relative is the pineapple. They also harbor what we call "chiggers" or "redbugs". A tiny insect that inserts an appendage into your skin to feed on you. Stay away from it.
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Calm Down People...
First of all, I was born and raised in GA. When I was young, I would vacation to Savannah and when I went to school there from 2007 to 2013 (yes, the Savannah College of Art and Design), I didn't experience anything worse than a homeless person asking for change or cigarettes.
It is true, Savannah has a pretty bad reputation for crime. It doesn't help that the city is run by corrupt politicians. However, because it is a major tourist destination, it's also a prime location for bad people to pray upon visitors because, they don't live there and they will never see them again. Also, they are the ones with the money, not it's citizens.
As far as the tourists go, I used to work on River Street, and let me tell you, when people come to vacation to Savannah, they trash our city( google Orange Crush Festival, and Savannah is the 3rd largest city in terms of St. Patty's Day celebrations) and are abhorrently rude to the service industry work force. You want to know why you got bad or mediocre service at a restaurant on River Street? Because those work staff have to deal with all the spoiled rotten kids, penny pinching jerks, and drunk idiots ALL DAY. Go ahead, get a job at Wet Willy's or Tuby's Tank House. I bet you wouldn't last a week dealing with all the crap tourists bring to Savannah.
I used to know some of the "palm tree leaf" crafters. Some are bad, true, but most are just trying to make a living. They're usually respectful if you are respectful to them. Don't snub them, smile and say "no thank you". It's not that hard to be social.
Here's a tip: Don't wear a ridiculous "fannypack" that you bought in 1989...
I used to live in a studio apartment in a horrible part of town (Jefferson st.), but those spots wouldn't be so horrible if the city actually gave back to the communities. The politicians don't care about the poor. The citizens don't care about changing anything. So yea, if no one cares about helping each other, and are too apathetic to give a *** about the city, then crime will still run rampant there. And what are you going to do about it as a tourist? Nothing. You'll clog up the sidewalks and try and take a picture of a statue with your Ipad.
There's another tip. Don't take pictures of the city with your stinkin' Ipad. Nothing screams "Mug Me" than someone taking a picture with a very expensive piece of technology...
I also wouldn't discourage people to stay off the beaten path. There are some fabulous local eateries hidden in different parts of the city, like Blowin' Smoke Bar-B-Q on Habersham st. I used to not tell people about them because I didn't want my favorite local places overcrowded with tourists. But now that I moved, I don't care about telling people all the cool places. But since they are terrified of homeless people, most people will never know.
If you're going to Savannah, just use common sense. Be friendly to strangers, even if you don't want to be, and nothing horrible will happen to you. Get out of your comfort zones and don't just ride the trolly for christsake.
Have fun but act smart.
Downtown Savannah is great fun, but there is crime here. It is safest to stay with a group of people and stick to the well-lit, patrolled neighborhoods. Have fun, but don't become that annoying drunken tourist and become a target. For the most part, if you're in a group and not acting irresponsibly, you will be fine. Take a haunted tour if you want to see the more run-down areas. Crime rate data shows that murder and rape rates were almost double the national average, but keep in mind that with a small population, translates into 14 and 20, respectively. There is poverty here, and certain neighborhoods, like Louisville Rd/Magazine Ave, have 75% of the residents living below the poverty level.
Neighborhood crime stats - http://www.neighborhoodscout.com/ga/savannah/crime/
Neighborhood poverty stats - http://www.city-data.com/poverty/poverty
BTW, postlarval chiggers are generally found in habitats of litter, soil and fallen Spanish moss, showing preference for decomposing tree trunks, lower temps and higher humidity. They are not found in vertebrate nests or underneath tree-bark and, contrary to mainstream belief, they are not found on hanging Spanish moss.
Whitaker Jr, John O., and Carol Ruckdeschel. "Spanish Moss, the Unfinished Chigger Story." Southeastern Naturalist 9.1 (2010): 85-94.
JENKINS, DALE W. "Trombiculid mites affecting man I. Bionomics with reference to epidemiology in the United States." American Journal of Epidemiology 48.1 (1948): 22-35.
Lathia, Bhavik. "Eutrombicula alfreddugesi This scientific name is not yet recognized in our classification database."
Lathia, Bhavik, and Ecosystem Roles. "Animal Diversity Web."
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Make sure your car is up for the ride out to Tybee Island. It only took 45 minutes for us to get there, but hours to get back after the old Honda Civic overheated with 215,000 miles on it...lol.
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