Saturday, May 18, 2019

Georgia on My Mind

I meant to get this post done a bit sooner, but life has been a bit more hectic than usual.  You may have noticed a few less posts from me here and on social media, but I'm still here!!

Last month my husband and I took a trip down South for the purpose of attending the wedding of a couple of our good friends.  It was also a bit of a trip down memory lane as we were visiting the city in which we both went to undergrad.  We spent a long weekend back in Atlanta followed by a couple of lovely days in Athens, GA with my bestie and her husband.

We had a bit of an ordeal actually getting to Atlanta due to a lovely April blizzard in Minnesota, but eventually made there, albeit sans checked bag.  Sigh.  Anyways, we still managed to keep a dinner date with one of my very best friends from college and her guy before going to the hotel to crash after a very LONG travel day.  And as a bonus, Delta got us reunited with our bag before we went to bed... yay!

At least the MSP airport has some cool bathroom murals!  You can find fun art in unexpected places.
Friday we woke up refreshed and ready to do some exploring and looking forward to seeing friends, enjoying yummy food, and imbibing some delicious craft beer.  We started the day with a little breakfast and coffee at one of our old college haunts, Cafe Intermezzo.  (Full disclosure, this was our first time actually going there together.)  Eric's camera in tow, we decided to wander through Piedmont Park as we made our way slowly toward our eventual lunch date.  They were setting up for the Dogwood Festival (more about that in a bit) but they weren't quite ready to go at that point so we just enjoyed wandering the park admiring foliage and wildlife as we passed through. 

After exiting the park, we headed toward a nearby entrance to the Atlanta Beltline.  What is the Atlanta Beltline?  Great question!!  We were only introduced to it last fall on a brief stop in town.  From their website:  The Atlanta BeltLine is a planned loop of 22 miles of modern streetcar (an expansion of the Atlanta Streetcar), planned 33 miles of multi-use trail, and anticipated 2,000 acres of parks. It will open in phases through the anticipated completion in 2030.  It is based on railroad corridors that encircled Atlanta and will ultimately connect 45 intown neighborhoods when completed.  There's tons of development and revitalization along it including new housing, restaurants, and retail space.

We only got the chance to go along part of the Eastside Trail, but really enjoyed being off the roads and away from traffic.  It felt safe and well maintained and there was plenty to see.  The best part is that is a ton of really cool public art along the way.  Local businesses seem to be embracing the artistic spirit too...  many buildings had fun murals on them!  Here's a little collage of some of the treasures we found along our stroll... plus an obligatory selfie of me and my Sweetie in Piedmont Park!

It always amuses me when we have to go to another state to see friends from home.  We're all too busy sometimes.  As luck would have it, our friends Jackie and Joe, along with their daughter, flew into town to meet their new grand-baby.  We were able to arrange things to meet them all for lunch at New Realm Brewing.  This time we managed photographic evidence of our visit!  (We are really terrible at getting photos of people!!)

Full of lunch and sloshing with beer, we said goodbye to Minnesota friends and started making the journey back toward the hotel... but not without some other stops along the way!  Eric probably got some really cool shots along the way, but I haven't seen them yet.  You'll just have to settle for my picture of him taking pictures and some iffy cell phone shots. 

Our next stop was the Ponce City Market where we picked up some yummy snacks for later (including biltong!)  This is one of the really cool developments connected to the Beltline (although Ponce City Market opened first I believe).  Located in the restored Sears & Roebuck building, the star of the Market is the amazing Food Hall in my opinion.  This mixed use space also includes retail, housing, offices, event space, and even a rooftop amusement park.

Since our friend Shea wasn't quite ready to play with us yet (work, blech), Eric and I decided to wander back to Piedmont Park to check out the now-open Atlanta Dogwood Festival.  Wasn't it nice for our friends to plan their wedding location and accommodations just a few blocks from an amazing art festival?  Ok, that was just luck too, but a happy occurrence for those of us able to get out and enjoy it.  Eric and I had time to a good percentage of the art booths Friday afternoon and even came home with some new art purchases.  If you ever have the chance to attend, I highly recommend it.  This seemed to be a well juried show... the caliber of the artwork was unusually high IMHO.  I suppose that I shouldn't be surprised since it's been running for over 80 years!  We ended a fun day with an amazing dinner at Empire State South with Shea and finally completed our foursome when Kathleen finally got in from the airport later that night.

Saturday Shea was still needing to get some work done so Eric, Kathleen, and I went out exploring on our own.  Our mission was primarily to get to a few more breweries that Eric wanted to visit but we started the day by finishing checking out the rest of the art at the Dogwood Festival.  With only so many hours before the wedding we ending up limiting ourselves to lunch and brews at the lovely SweetWater tap room followed by some amazing flights at Orpheus Brewing.  For my money, Orpheus was the star of the trip as far as beers go.

Being the terrible friend that I am, I didn't get a single picture of the happy bride and groom at the wedding Saturday night.  I did at least get one decent snapshot of the four of us when we were all looking spiffy.  You'll just have to trust me that the bride was radiantly beautiful and happy and the groom was quite handsome!  Here's to them living happily ever after!  The backdrop of the Jimmy Carter Center was fabulous for the moving ceremony.  We pretty much all had something in both our eyes by the end of the ceremony... in a good way, of course!  Between the wedding and the reception we were treated to a guided tour of the Jimmy Carter Center museum by one of their senior docents.  Very cool!

Sunday morning we shifted our base of operations to Shea and Kathleen's lovely new home in Athens, Georgia (Go Dawgs?).  We'd hoped to visit one of favorite Southern breweries, Creature Comforts that day, but they were closed for a staff appreciation event.  We ended up mostly hanging out and playing games since it was a rainy, grey day.  No worries, we had plenty of Creature Comforts (and others!) at home to keep us happy. 

Our last full day in Athens, we finally caught a break weather-wise and were able to get out and explore campus and the State Botanical Garden of Georgia.  Seriously, every other time I've been to Athens it's been cold and rainy for most of the trip.  Not this time! Here are a few of my snapshots from the afternoon.  I can't wait to see more of Eric's more artistic shots. 

Sadly, this ends my chronicle of our little vacation to warmer climes.  Thanks for sticking with me as I reminisce.  This blog does seem to serve in part as a sort of online journal for me.  Eric and I will have to get back to Georgia at some point to check out some more of the breweries in Atlanta that we haven't tried yet, visit with the newlyweds, and more.  Now that we have a concentration of friends so close together it's more of a magnet.  Who knows, maybe we'll fly to Atlanta and then road trip someplace!  For now, I'll remember this trip fondly as I plan for our next adventures.  Stay tuned!

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