We’ve been roughly two months removed from the South, and it is harder to get used to than I thought. For one, it is cold. Really cold. I mean, we have our occasional nice days, but overall, not nice weather up here, while Valley, Alabama is having 80 degree days. I bet THEIR trees have buds on them… Anyway, I’ve also been to stay with family in Michigan for an accumulated total of 3-4 weeks since we moved back to the Midwest. My daughter is confused. “We’re going to go to the airport and see Grandma!” she says, and despite my explaining, she still can’t grasp that visiting family no longer requires leaving the pavement.
I find myself saying “y’all” more and more. I don’t like the way “you guys” sounds. And “yinz” works well in only a few instances, such as “where yinz going?” or “I’ll give yinz a ride.” I’ve also used “fixin’,” as in “I’m fixin’ to go pick up dinner,” in regular conversation. Lucca hasn’t been too phased though, and still speaks like a Michigander, despite only living here a month or so. She especially loves her glottal stops when pronouncing mid-word t’s. (For example, “mittens” becomes “mih-ihns.”)
But I digress. And regress.
I’d like to wrap up a few more things we did and seen in the South before I move onto something else, like Fort Wayne and the rest of Indiana.
Located out in the middle of nowhere near Hamilton, Georgia (11269 Georgia 219), Hunter’s Pub is not anything special to look at. It’s almost always busy (at least the three or four times that we went), it’s cramped, it’s cold when the door keeps opening and closing, and the waiting room is a lean-to built on the side of the building. That aside, it was one of our favorite restaurants, and my husband’s favorite steakhouse. I personally prefer the steak at Texas Roadhouse because I’m a fan of cheap steak smothered in mushrooms, onions, and brown gravy, but my husband, who likes his steak “plain” because he just likes the taste of steak said that Hunter’s Pub was the best. What I definitely recommend is the deep fried lobster tail. I know, it sounds a little weird, but trust me, try it. I don’t even like lobster tail, and I’m not a fan of deep fried stuff. But, yum. And although we were always the odd ones out, everyone there seems pretty friendly, and it seems to be THE place to socialize out there in the middle of nowhere.
The website says West Point, Georgia, but given the place’s proximity to Hunter’s Pub and the distance we had to drive to get there, I’d put Oakhurst Farm closer to Hamilton than anything. We only visited Oakhurst Farm once. It was mid-October and we were looking for a decent place to take our daughter for a Halloween pumpkin patch, hay ride, etc. You see, in Michigan, all you have to do is find a decent-sized apple orchard or fruit farm out past the suburbs, and you usually have yourself a hayride out to a pumpkin patch, caramel apples and cinnamon doughnuts, and other fun fall time activities, at least on the weekend. In the South, that’s a little harder to do. There are a few places, but they required that you pay admission in addition to whatever you would have to pay for a hay ride, pumpkin, etc. I suppose it’s a trade off for having 80 degree trick or treating.
Anyway, I found Oakhurst Farm’s website, which boasted a corn maze, straw maze, pumpkin patch, and hay ride, so we decided to try it out. To be honest, the website made it sound a lot more wonderful than the festivities actually were. Then again, I was going off of Michigan expectations. And they offered everything they promised. There was a straw maze for kids, a pumpkin patch, a hay ride (which we went on but they didn’t want to charge us for), and a corn maze, which we didn’t do because our daughter was a little too young. The people working there were very friendly, and afterwards, we went across the road to the farm’s market and picked up two pounds of frozen organic ground beef, which made FANTASTIC hamburgers.
*So here’s the thing you need to know about pumpkin hunting in the South. Most places ship their pumpkins in from Michigan or other states up north, and a lot of times, people will get pissy because they think the farms should grow their own rather than import from other states. But in the case of Oakhurst, most of the pumpkins in their pumpkin patch were yellow, small, and sick looking. One of the farm hands (I think an owner’s son, he seemed young, but authoritative) explained that the ideal harvest season for pumpkins in Georgia is actually after Halloween, but because of the holiday and demand for locally grown pumpkins, they are forced to plant pumpkins too early.
Living in Valley, when we wanted to go shopping somewhere, we essentially had three options: LaGrange to the north, Auburn to the southwest, and Columbus to the southeast. Columbus was a greater drive, but there seemed to be a lot more there for us – a bigger mall, more restaurants, etc. Unfortunately, it took us a few months to actually make our way to Downtown Columbus along Broadway near Columbus State University, which appealed to me MUCH more than the crappy mall. (It’s actually not a horrible mall, I’m just not much of a mall person…).
On our first trip downtown, the last place we stopped was Brother’s General Store to get ice cream. The store sells some food and popcorn, specialty candy (some made in-house, some from elsewhere) and hand-dipped ice cream, and also had a lot of the typical country general store type fare. The people, though are the jewels of the place. One girl was working while we were there, and before and after getting our ice cream, she was scrubbing the hardwood floor on her hands and knees. My daughter kept running up to talk to her, and each time, she would stop and talk and show her things. My husband made a comment about how rough it was for them to make her scrub the floor on her hands and knees, and she said, “Oh, no one is making me. The previous owner covered up the floor with linoleum, and the spots where the glue was attracts a lot of dirt easily. The owners are up there in years and its hard for them to get down and scrub, so I’m doing it for them.” Then, she showed my daughter their mechanical pony (if you are familiar with Meijer, it’s the same type of pony that only takes a penny to operate) that the owners rigged so that it operated continuously for free. THEN, she gives my daughter a stuffed bear for being so well-behaved. “The candy distributors send these with the candy for us to sell,” she explained, “but we just keep them and hand them out to good kids.” We were only in the store for maybe 20 minutes, but in that short amount of time, we were shown so much hospitality and love that I’ll remember it for a long time.
Well, that’s all for now. In my next Wrapping Up the South post, I’ll talk a little bit about Salem and Opelika, Alabama – two of my favorite places to explore.