Wrapping Up the South Part I

23 Apr

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.

Hunter’s Pub and Steakhouse

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.

Oakhurst Farm, West Point, Georgia

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.

IMG_2267Anyway, 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.

Brother’s General Store, Columbus, Georgia

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.


Dixie Bound No Longer

14 Mar

IMG_2286It only took a year and a half, but we are no longer in the South! A few weeks ago, my husband got a new job, so we pulled up stakes and moved to Fort Wayne, Indiana. I am ecstatic to be back in the Midwest: the land of family, Faygo, and Meijer. I have to admit, though, that I do miss a lot about the South, especially things we’ve discovered while living in Alabama during the last eight months. You know, when I wasn’t keeping up with the blog? Yeah, sorry about that.

Anyway, I thought I would spend the next few blog posts “debriefing” myself about the Dixie Experience. The following are a few things that I know that I will miss, as well as a few things I won’t miss.

The Weather

I know there are people out there who love snow, but I am not one of them. Down in Alabama, we got our autumn weather in December, and it never really dipped below 45 degrees during the day, except for a few random times. I rarely wore a coat, and up until the day before she flew up to Michigan, my daughter was playing outside on the playground. My favorite time was Christmas, when we went to the “Christmas in a Railroad Town” in Opelika. My daughter and I walked around outside for three hours in little more than a sweater while she rode ponies, sat and watched a choral quartet perform, and ate s’mores while a guy played the banjo. We have a similar event in my hometown in Michigan called the “Candlewalk.” It’s essentially identical, except the streets are lined with candles in milk jugs, and it’s usually either ungodly cold or ungodly cold and sleeting. Of course, living in the South makes you “soft.” Our first week in Fort Wayne, there was a big winter storm where we got 4-6 inches of snow, and we realized the next morning that we did not have a snow shovel, nor did we have an ice scraper for the car.

But let me tell you something that the Midwest does not have: disgusting bugs that continue to grow and breed all year round. I know I’ve complained about it in the past, but I’ve seen more new and disgusting bugs in the last year than I had in my 29 years previous. I just hope to God that none have followed me to the new place. I’m not worried about cockroaches; we only saw one in the new apartment. Apparently the old apartment was just disgusting, and living on the ground floor is a no-no. In the Alabama apartment, we did have silverfish, though. They destroyed at least one pair of shoes, and they are GROSS.

The Culture

I was going to say that I missed the accent, but there is so much more that goes with it. It’s not just being offered “pah” and ladies “blessin’ yer little heart!” It’s about the sweet tea and grits, the Waffle Houses, the kids referring to their parents as ma’am and sir, etc. I didn’t notice until recently, but people have a lot more patience in the South than in the Midwest, and folks are more likely to smile at you and strike up a quick conversation with you.

Also, hearing a Southern person imitate a Michigan accent is hilarious.

Charlie Joseph’s

Charlie Joseph's 1Not too long after we moved to Alabama in June 2012, my husband and I had a hankering for a chili dog. Now, if you know anything about Flint, Michigan, it’s that the city is home to some fantastic coney dogs, i.e. Angelo’s, the Flushing A, etc. So we googled chili dogs and found this place called “Charlie Joseph’s” in downtown Lagrange, Georgia. The place is amazing. It’s essentially just a counter around a central cooking area. The employees are also amazing. We were new to the place, and went there maybe 4 times sporadically within 8 months, yet they always remembered us, cared about what was going on with us, and treated our daughter fantastically. My only complaint is that they didn’t carry Koegel hot dogs (their hot dogs are grayer than I’m used to), but that is a minor complaint. Charlie Joseph’s was the second to last place we ate before moving.

Osteria del Figo

Osteria del FigoMy favorite restaurant in Atlanta, which is down the road from one of my husband’s favorite wine shops, (Perrine’s), Osteria del Figo does things a little different in that you order up front, and then you seat yourself. That is literally the only difference between this place and any other awesome restaurant out there. The atmosphere, the food, and the servers – all fantastic. We were lucky enough to eat there twice. The first time, we met the restaurant’s manager (who shares the my daughter’s name, sort of), and his girlfriend, who was our server, and it was great. The second time we went a few months later, we had the same great service and food, and they cared enough to remember us and genuinely be happy to see us (and genuinely sad to hear that we were moving so far away).

Borgo Italia

I can’t mention Figo without mentioning Borgo, because Borgo in Peachtree City, Georgia, was the first restaurant we really grew to love in the South. Their wine selection was great, their food was great (my favorite is the bolognese!), and the people there were wonderful. My daughter especially loved them, and they were always sweet to her, and to us! They really made us feel like family whenever we went there. It was also great to see the place grow and flourish while we were there. When we first visited, Borgo was transitioning from a deli/market to a full service restaurant, and we were blessed to see the place get progressively busier and busier with each passing visit. We never got a chance to go back to Borgo after moving to Alabama, unfortunately, but we think about them often, and will definitely be making a trip back if we ever go back to visit.

Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale

When I found out we were moving to Indiana, I decided to buy the most Southern sounding congratulatory beer I could find, and Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale won. I had been eyeing it for a while to try, but had to finish the mix and match beer that I already had before I made a new purchase. Of course, it’s fantastic. Probably my favorite beer. And they don’t sell it north of Tennessee.

Grace Heritage Church

In the last two years, we have lived in five different states. In the last ten years, we have lived at fifteen different addresses. In the shuffle of everything, we had neglected to really find a church. We had known, especially with our daughter reaching toddler-hood, that we really needed to find a good church and rebuild our foundation in Christ, but it never really happened. Finally, after a month or so of particularly stressful hardship, we decided to attend Grace Heritage Church in Auburn, Alabama. It was amazing. We were welcomed with open arms into the church, our daughter loved playing with the other kids in the child care room, and the sermons and bible studies seemed to target specific issues that both my husband and I had been struggling with lately. On top of that, the pastor and his family invited us into his home and introduced us to other young couples and church members, helping us really connect to good, decent, caring people. And three weeks later, we moved. Which is really sad, because I feel like we really could have grown in that church and become wonderful friends with those people. And while it’s discouraging that we had to leave them, it’s also encouraging to us that we might be able to find a church home that’s as welcoming and wonderful here in Fort Wayne.

Wesley Bintz Redux

17 Aug

Moores Park Swimming Pool (1923) in Lansing, Michigan

Since this blog began over three years ago, its purpose and content has changed a few times. First, it was primarily history and preservation focused, then it became a “Things to See and Do” kind of blog, and now it is sort of a combination of those things. And I don’t have many followers. Or any followers. Or whatever. Anyway, throughout my entire blog-writing experience, there has been one post that has attracted more visitors than all of the other posts combined, and that is my post about Wesley Bintz and his swimming pools. I assume that many of those who visit are city officials, park board members, history buffs, and the occasional friend of mine who reads a vague reference to Bintz on my Facebook or Twitter page, and then googles it to see what it’s all about (hi there!). Regardless of why you are here, I’m happy to have you!

Donnelly Pavilion, Kearsley Park, Flint, Michigan

I was introduced to Wesley Bintz as a graduate student at Eastern Michigan University. I was doing an assignment that required me to put together a Historic Structure Report, and I chose the Donnelly Pavilion at Kearsley Park, in Flint, Michigan. While doing research at the parks office, Kearsley Park director Kay Kelly introduced me to Wesley Bintz and his work. The pavilion, you see, served as the bathhouse of a 1919 swimming pool – Wesley Bintz’s first swimming pool, actually. The pool was demolished in the 1980s, but the massive concrete block bathhouse was too expensive to remove, so it was (thankfully) spared. At that point, I took Kay’s interest and research on Bintz, and ran with it. Finding and learning about Bintz pools, both demolished and extant, sort of became a hobby of mine, and over time I’ve developed a nice little list of pools, photographs, etc., that I’m quite proud of.

Right now, interest in Bintz Pools seems to be at an all-time high. Maybe it just seems that way because before I started writing about them, there weren’t really any resources online for Bintz as a whole – only individual swimming pools (Cuscaden, Johnson City, Camp-Humiston, and Moores Park seem to be the big ones that pop up on web pages and in newspaper articles). Because of this, I do play some cards close to the chest – I’ve spent a lot of free time gathering the research I have, with an emphasis on the word “free.” In the past, I’ve had one or two consultants who were being actually paid to research Bintz ask me to give them my research without compensation and, well, I just can’t. But if you are a community looking for ways to save your Bintz Pool from demolition, or interested in the general history or design of the pools, then I will help you in any way that I can and give you any information that is necessary for you to succeed in your goals.

If you are on Facebook, there is a newly created group called the Wesley Bintz Swimming Pool Network that is trying to bring communities with and advocates for Bintz Pools together. It is in its infancy, but I’m hoping that it will become a way for communities with Bintz Pools to find extra support from other communities with pools, or that used to have Bintz pools, etc.

Me and the Marland Heights Swimming Pool (1934) in Weirton, West Virginia, 2009

Speaking of which, please sign this petition to save the Marland Heights Swimming Pool (Margaret Manson Weir Memorial Swimming Pool) in Weirton, West Virginia. Built in 1934, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is in excellent condition. However, it has been closed to swimming for about 8 years, and the parks board wants to demolish it.

** Please also keep in mind that any advice, opinions, etc. stated here or elsewhere on this blog are my own and not affiliated with any entity, corporation, organization, etc. Also, because I am currently employed by a consulting firm, there are certain services that they offer, like NRHP nominations, historic resource surveys, oral presentations, etc., that I cannot/will not offer independently (I believe this includes volunteering, too, but I’m not entirely sure yet). If you are interested in hiring a consultant for any of those services, please let me know, and I can submit a proposal and budget through my employer.


18 Jul

Today, we took a drive to Montgomery to see what we could see. First, we visited the Eastdale Mall, which was ok, store wise, I guess. The best part was the carousel, which was a little expensive ($2!!!!) But my daughter rode for free, and she loved it! The mall also has an indoor ice skating rink – no lie – which I thought was pretty cool. But the stores, eh. 

We drove to the Shoppes at East Chase in Montgomery, which had a lot of nice stores, but we weren’t really looking for stores, we were looking for a hair salon, and we didn’t find one there. 

Next, we stopped at wine shops. First, Ted the Wine Guy and Co, which was a nice place with nice owners. My husband spent some decent money there on six bottles. Then, we went to Filet and Vine, also very nice. I especially liked their beer selection, and they also sold some specialty sodas made with cane sugar – always a plus. I would visit both places again. 

Driving through the city, I also saw a sign for the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum. Um, yes? Yes. 

I’ve Been Looking for a Friend Like You

8 Jul

Please excuse the Fresh Beat Band-inspired title. When that show is on, it permeates my thoughts and my creativity is zapped.

Anyway, the other day I was complaining a little bit about our selection of grocery stores here as compared to Newnan, where there were markets everywhere. I’ve been trying to expand my horizons to try to find what I need and what I like without driving a half hour to Auburn, but haven’t had too much success, except reuniting with an old friend, which I’ll explain in a minute.

Piggly Wiggly

I was so excited about shopping at a Piggly Wiggly. I’m not sure why. Maybe it is the name. Maybe it is the fact that we don’t have them in Michigan (although apparently there is one in Chicago). Anyway, when I finally found the store, I was sorely disappointed. Perhaps a moment of foreboding, I hadn’t made it past the parking lot when a girl (who was too big to be riding in the basket of a shopping cart) tried to get out of the cart while her mother was loading the groceries and the other two children in the car, and in doing so, tipped the entire cart over on herself. I ran over and asked if I could help anyway, and the woman said “Thank you, no.” That was the nicest interaction I would have at the store.

The store itself is decent, though small. The aisles are narrow and crowded with displays, and the selection of foods is not great, but that is sort of what I expected. I didn’t have any grand expectations in that regard. It was the people who will probably keep me from going back again. For some reason, people visited the grocery store in large groups that day, standing in the aisles deep in conversation (in person and on cellphones) whilst their children played demolition derby with the shopping carts. Other times, they just yelled across the store to one another.  When I would try to squeeze by with my barrage of “I’m sorry’s” and “excuse me’s”, they just glared at me.

I had another moment when I decided that I needed to make another stop on the way home, and started putting back the few refrigerated things I had picked up. I get that grocery stores, especially the smaller local ones, have a certain “flow” to them, and that I was probably going the “wrong way” down the produce aisle, so when I turned the corner and had to maneuver around the woman coming the opposite way, I smiled, apologized, and said “Oops, looking like I’m going the wrong way!” She answered with an eye roll and an “Uh, yeah, ok.” Finally, as I was checking out, the cashier barely spoke to me and never looked at me. I don’t know. Was it because I am a Yankee? For the most part, the people I’ve met here in the South have been very very friendly. I don’t get it.

Givorn’s Foods

So I was about to give up when I saw something about a grocery store across the river. That shows you how much exploring I’ve done. I didn’t even KNOW there was an “across the river.” Anyway, I found Givorn’s fairly easily. It looked like a regular family-owned discount grocery store. For those of you from my neck of the woods, like a smaller Bueche’s before the remodel. Definitely a smaller selection than Kroger, but the aisles were big, the place was clean, and most of the other customers were nicer. However, the sales weren’t great, and the selection wasn’t great, so I didn’t know if I would ever shop there again. That is when I found it. I was actually avoiding getting in line behind a woman who was still shopping while her cart sat at the check out when I found an amazing find tucked in the back corner of the store. FAYGO!

For the southern folks out there who may not know, Faygo is a soda brand that we find in Michigan. You find it in Ohio and sometimes Pennsylvania and other places, too, but since we moved down to Georgia, I have not seen it anywhere down here. Not even around Atlanta. And I’ve looked. Often. They did not have my favorite, Rock’n Rye, but they did have Red Pop. I bought a 3 liter. So now, I at least have an excuse to go back to Givorn’s once in a while.

Another thing I found in that back corner was a 12pk of Red Rock Cola and Red Rock Orange Soda in cans. I really liked the Red Rock Cola in the glass bottles that Kroger carries, especially because it is made with pure cane sugar. So I bought a case of each. Unfortunately, the Red Rock in the can is made with high fructose corn syrup, NOT pure can sugar. It definitely affects the taste, and is a FAIL.

So that is my little story about grocery shopping around here. I haven’t checked out the Winn-Dixie in Auburn, yet. Maybe I’ll go there on a day I’m out that way and don’t need milk. Cheers!

Happy Independence Day, Y’all

5 Jul

Here’s to wishing that everyone out there had a happy and safe Independence Day! We had a great time. The family spent most of the day at a new friend’s house, and my daughter spent a LOT of time keeping cool in the swimming pool. We had hamburgers and hot dogs, and in the evening, we drove out to watch the community fireworks. All in all, we had a very nice time.

This 4th of July made me reflect on how different last 4th of July was for us. We had just moved down to Georgia from Michigan, and we had no idea about the lay of the land, or what. We actually went out on July 3rd to a tiny little town called Haralson. In maybe an acre of so of mowed down field between two houses, a church group and community organizations had sent up a DJ/Band booth, a bounce house, and a booth for some good eats. My husband and I stood in the field with a 13 month old and had a great time listening to the music and people watching. It was a really good time.

But I have to admit, spending time with friends was a whole lot sweeter. Here’s to hoping that next year, we’ll be able to spend the 4th with friends AND family.

From Newnan to Valley

30 Jun

Last Saturday, our little family packed up our belongings and drove an hour down the highway to our new apartment in Alabama, just across the state line. It was a rough move, with just my husband and I hauling all of our totes and furniture up a flight of stairs on a 97 degree day. (I am thankful we did not wait an extra week to move, as today is 106 degrees!) Although I am willing, I am not particularly strong, and was not the greatest moving partner to my husband, but at the 11th hour, we did get some help from a friend for the last few heavy bits.

So it has been a week! And while the apartment is not quite all the way put together yet, I am already seeing some pretty significant differences between our first Dixie home and our second.

First, the cons: 

  • We are an hour further away from Atlanta. In Newnan, we were but a 20 minute drive to the airport, which made going back and forth between here and Michigan a breeze. Plus, we were close to everything a big city has to offer. We had a membership to the Atlanta Zoo, frequented a number of wine shops, and had easy access to an IKEA (which is evidenced by our living room and bedroom furniture). In Valley, we are quite a haul from Atlanta, but could probably make a trip if there is something specific we want to do.
  • The quality of grocery stores is significantly lower. I sort of feel a little pretentious when I say this, but to be honest, I was spoiled in Newnan. Within ten minutes of our apartment, we had three Krogers, three Publixes, a Wal-Mart, and a Food Depot. This does not include the Kroger, Publix, Wal-Mart, and Fresh Market just down the highway in Peachtree City. And aside from quantity, these stores had quality. The Kroger I frequented the most had a fantastic selection of foods and beer, and my husband was really impressed with the wine selection. It rivaled a lot of the wine places we went. Here in Valley, we supposedly have a Kroger, and as a general grocery store, it is decent. However, the wine section is very small (I haven’t really looked there yet), and beer selection is basic. Another problem is that when I went to open a Bertolli Oven Bake meal I bought there the other day, I noticed it was expired by nearly a year. Today, I checked again, and all of them are expired, some by a month or two, but many by 6 months. (I told customer service about it. Apparently people in Valley don’t like cannelloni. I will buy them if they are good! I promise!). Now, there is supposedly a Piggly Wiggly around here, so I will have to check that out.
  • Living on the second floor is a little rough with a toddler. In Newnan, our apartment was on the first floor facing the parking lot. When I had a load of groceries, I could easily leave my daughter in the car while I quickly threw the groceries just inside the door, all while she was still in sight. Here, it’s a little more difficult, but not horrible. Today, for example, she fell asleep in the car, so I took her up first, laid her down, and then left to get the rest of the groceries. Leaving her upstairs to get groceries while she’s still awake, however, or trying to haul everything plus a two year old up the stairs at once, is a little more of a feat.
  • I’m not sure if Valley has great community events like Newnan has. This is something I’m not sure of, so I don’t want to just call it a con. But Newnan had fantastic downtown events (as you can see from some of my earlier posts). The Market Day on the Square and Pickin’ on the Square events were such fun, and there were a lot of events, like wine tasting, art walks, a taste of Newnan, etc. that I never got a chance to attend! I hope Valley/West Point/Lanett does something like that because it really was a lot of fun. If not, oh well. I’m sure we can find fun things to do in Auburn, Columbus, Lagrange, etc.

And because I like to end on a positive note, the pros:  

  • Our apartment is 10x nicer (and cheaper!) than the last. Rather than divide this up, I will just cover it all at once. This apartment is nicer! Just the fact that we are on the second floor and not facing the parking lot is a huge improvement (I know, I sort of complained about that above, but trust me, it’s worth it!) I don’t have to worry about anyone sneaking into our windows at night, or headlights shining into the bedrooms, or the fact that we have two entrances to guard. The view is fantastic (it’s actually an overgrown abandoned construction site. My daughter calls it a jungle). In Newnan, the noise coming from above and through the walls was awful, but here, I wouldn’t even know we have neighbors if it wasn’t for the cars parked out front. The carpet, hardware, appliances are all nicer (When I say this, I mean that my kitchen faucet is made of actual metal, not plastic). The use of space is better, too. The bathrooms and kitchen are smaller, and the laundry room only (barely) holds the washer and dryer. However, I actually have linen closets for both bathrooms, AND an actually food pantry that isn’t in the laundry room. I could go on, but I’ll stop now.
  • Valley isn’t a shopper’s paradise. I know I complain a little about the “quality” of places here. Yes, the Kroger kinda lacks, and so far, the fast food joints have been bleh (even for fast food joints), but I think I prefer this over the Big Box Store Paradise that Newnan seemed to be. I appreciate the locally owned places, and hopefully now I will frequent them more often, instead of opting for the easy big box options.
  • We are less than an hour away from two college towns. Valley is about a half hour away from Columbus (which has a Fresh Market) and Auburn (which has, well, everything). My husband works there, so I also have a good excuse to travel that way, especially if I need something that I can only find at a big box store, or a funky college-area resale place.
  • Valley is more “Southern” than Newnan. I think. And no doubt, people in Newnan will disagree because, well, they are from Newnan! It’s the hometown of Alan Jackson, for goodness sake! He’s like, the small town country legend! But that aside, a lot of what Newnan has to offer is exactly what I can find in a regular retail commercial district in Michigan – Target, Babies R Us, JC Penney, Office Max, Rack Room Shoes, Kohls, etc. Plus, a lot – maybe not the majority – but a LOT of people I talked to in and around Newnan were transplants from somewhere northward, especially Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan. That might be the case here, too. I dunno yet. We’ll see. I just know that the terrain, the businesses, and the culture seems a lot more like I imagined “southern” would be than what I found in Newnan.

So that is my take so far. Incredibly presumptuous? Maybe. Entirely inane? Probably. But hey, at least I’m writing something again. :) Your Happily Devoted Yankee, Tegan.

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