Thursday, March 20, 2014

Warm Weather Travels: The Fun And The Not-So-Fun

Hello! Our sojourn to Atlanta and back had times of fun and not-so-fun. I'll start with the fun (in case you have a chance to take the same trip yourself sometime):
  • If you were stressed out by cold and snow, as we were, then the sheer novelty of seeing the ground again was plenty fun right there! Even better, of course, was touring the beautiful grounds of the Atlanta Botanical Gardens and walking around with nary a coat around our shoulders.
  • We didn't have time to visit any museums while in Atlanta, but walking through the Cultural Center there showed what appeared to be a thriving arts scene. 
  • Strolling through the Ansley Park neighborhood was nice too - nice older homes. Nice bonus of patronizing a good yard sale there.
  • Websites such as TripAdvisor and Yelp make finding restaurants while on the road easy. Near our hotel in the Atlanta suburb of Alpharetta, we enjoyed pasta dinners at FIGO and Mideastern food at Jerusalem Gardens. 
  • Another great dinner was the hot buffet at Good Foods Market and Cafe in Lexington, KY. Since it was St. Patrick's Day, the cafe paid homage to the occasion by offering a number of foods with a healthy take on Irish cuisine. Corned beef and cabbage was one of the choices, which my husband enjoyed. My cabbage-based dish was a stuffed cabbage roll with a rice and vegetable filling. It was really good! I also had roasted brussel sprouts and turnip gratin, but just about everything at the buffet line looked good. The folks in Lexington are lucky to have this place!
  •  The "market" section of the business is a food co-op, and it was a very good one. 
  • We had never stayed in Lexington before, so although we knew it was thoroughbred horse country, the extent to which that was obvious was new to us. On our way to Good Foods Market and Cafe, we drove on Man O' War Boulevard, and passed streets named after other racehorses as well. Skimming through our hotel room copy of Keeneland magazine provided us with more information on racehorse culture. As the magazine's website says:
 Published four times annually (Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter/Holiday), Keeneland magazine provides in-depth coverage of the legendary Keeneland Racecourse and the Keeneland "lifestyle," including the color, excitement, tradition, style, and sophistication of Keeneland and the sport of Thoroughbred racing. Racing as it was meant to be. Regular features include News, Arts, Fashion, and Living. Keeneland Racecourse is located in Lexington, Kentucky, in the heart of Kentucky's famed Bluegrass region.
It was quickly obvious that the Keeneland "lifestyle" can involve huge sums of money, with eye-popping prices for horse farms in the area, the decorating whims of horse farm owners and so on. 
  • Stopped to pick up a few groceries at Jungle Jim's in suburban Cincinnati. It's one of the largest grocery stores in the country and is a blast to walk around in. It's the kind of place that would take a few hours to see everything.
  • Stopped in Berea, KY on our way to Lexington. It's a well-known center of arts and crafts, including the traditional folk arts of the region. There wasn't much going on since it was a Monday during the off-season, but the folks at the studios that were open were very friendly. 
Okay, you're thinking it all sounds nice, and that it was. But there were some not-so-fun aspects of our trip, such as:
  • Traffic in Tennessee. Hit I-65 lunch hour traffic in Nashville and later on heavy Friday afternoon getaway traffic in Chattanooga. Took I-75 on the way back, where we were slowed down by a 25-mile stretch of road under a heavy fog warning. As the road twisted and turned, I had some anxious moments as I kept fearing the fog would get worse around the next bend. But fortunately it never got so bad that I couldn't see the vehicle in front of me. Sill, slow going on both routes.
  • Rain in Atlanta last Sunday, so we went to a huge nearby mall to escape the elements. Of course, lots of other people had the same idea, so the mall began to fill up in short order. We're just not that used to big crowds anymore, so we escaped to a Goodwill store down the road. Nice clothing there, and we bought a couple of books. 
  • On the last day of our trip, we were looking forward to a quiet evening back home after a long day of traveling. Instead, when we opened the door to our house we were greeted by the sight of a mini waterfall pouring down from what had been a portion of our dining room ceiling. Turns out that a pipe in a storage room on the second floor had burst in our absence, causing damage in parts of the first and second floors and the basement. The plumbing repair was quick, but the drying-out and restoration process won't be. Nothing we can do but work through the situation until things are back to normal around here! Definitely in the not-so-fun category, this.

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