Sunday, August 22, 2004

A Blue Stater Travels Through Red States, Part III

Dateline: St. Simons Island, Ga.

This is my first visit here -- a grand place that was once frequented by J.P. Morgan and others of his standing. I'd been to Savannah a couple of times, but was turned onto this neck of the woods after watching news reports earlier this year covering the G-8 Summit.

I had envisioned resort-style hotels well outside our budget. Instead, I booked us at the local Hampton Inn, and here we are.

The media reports suggested that those protesting the G-8 Summit were kept on the other side of the bridge separating the islands from the rest of civilization.

But I got a different reaction after speaking to our hotel manager. After I told her my G-8 story, I asked a question I hadn't seen answered by the media: "What happened if someone from St. Simons Island wanted to protest? There must be what, four locals who wanted to protest?"

She laughed, and I wasn't sure whether that meant that St. Simons Island had a protest movement or not. "Most of the lcoals left," the hotel manager said, apparently because they didn't want to deal with the road blocks, armed police, car trunk searches and military planes overhead.

With the locals gone, and the protesters kept outside of town, business sunk. "You could get a parking space anywhere," she said -- a unique experience.

I wonder if the various officials attending the conference noticed.



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