Patriots Point

Patriots Point
Patriots Point in the Charleston South Carolina area! I took this pic from the submarine!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Windsor Hotel in Americus Georgia

While we spent a lot of time in Plains Georgia, we actually stayed in nearby Americus.

Lets be honest, Americus isn't exactly a major travel destination, but we were able to spend some time at the Windsor Hotel in Americus (technically, it is the Best Western Plus Windsor Hotel).

The hotel lobby area is beautiful, and it reminded us of the Hotel Alex Johnson in South Dakota.  The interior and exterior and really attractive.

We were thinking about dinner one night in the hotel's restaurant, but we opted for the bar- Floyd's Pub.  Floyd's had a very casual, friendly feel.  We had an amazing waitress who kept the refills on the table.  I had about the best bar sandwich I have had in years, and I had a great bowl of tomato soup.  My wife was in the mood for pasta, and though it wasn't on the menu, our waitress said it wouldn't be a problem!

Floyd's is easily the coolest hotel bar we've been to in some time.

AND, they had a very attractive balcony area with a nice view of the city.  There was a lot of space and furniture- 50 people could hang out here comfortably.

This is the place to be in Americus!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Andersonville National Historic Site in Georgia

After visiting Plains, we headed down to Andersonville for about half a day.  Again, this is the kind of place that I really have nothing new to add to the readily available information on it.

In a nutshell, Andersonville National Historic Site includes the site of the actual prisoner of war camp, the National Prisoner of War Museum, and the Andersonville National Cemetery.  The Museum covers POWs in other wars, and the cemetery is open to veterans of other wars.

At the visitor center, a 1 hour CD is available to listen to as you drive around the former prison site.  It gives details about the prison and what happened specifically at various sites that you drive past.  The CD could be checked out for free!

Allowing only half a day here was a huge error on my part.  I was able to explore each part of the Historic Site, but I would have liked more time at each.  Also, there is a private Civil War museum close by that we did not get to see.

Monday, March 23, 2015

Jimmy Carter's Sunday School, in Plains Georgia

Our entire roadtrip south was built around one main goal.  We wanted to make it to Plains Georgia on a weekend to have the experience of seeing former President Jimmy Carter teach Sunday school.

To call this an amazing experience would be an understatement.  It is something that pretty much anyone can do if they want.  President Carter still lives in the small town of Plains, and he tries to teach Sunday school as often as possible, which is actually pretty frequently. 

This is something you should put at the top of your bucket list now.  The Carter's were born in the 1930s (though they could easily lie about their ages by several decades if they wanted).  They have maintained an extremely active lifestyle, but still, no one could get upset with them if they decided to stop appearing in public like this.

We arrived in Plains early on Saturday and we took time to first explore the shops in town.  The area is small, and there is only one small row of shops, but we had a blast at all of them.

We first went to Plain Peanuts.  This is a small shop packed with peanuts, and various peanut products along with various Jimmy Carter memorabilia.  As we walked in, we were offered a sample of fried nuts, and a sample of their peanut ice cream.  Both were great.  We ended up buying several bags of nuts for snacks on our trip, and to take home to friends... AND I picked up some cool political items (some political buttons and an empty can of Billy Carter beer).

We also stopped by the Plains Trading Post.  If you like history, and collect really anything related to politics, this place is for you.  I really enjoyed my visit here, picking up postcards and political buttons (many great vintage items were available at cheap prices!).  The couple running the place was very friendly and sweet.

We had lunch at the Old Bank CafĂ©, and this small restaurant was cozy and very affordable.  AND, they have displays relating to the Carters and the local high school.

After lunch, we went to the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site visitor center, which is the old high school (attended by Jimmy and Rosalynn).  We watched a film in the old auditorium about the Carters, and a very kind ranger told us some fun stories about Jimmy once skipping school, a very influential teacher, and about the Carters' relationship.  The school has several rooms open, and there are many displays about the Carters.

After that, we visited the Jimmy Carter boyhood home where we had a very thorough and informative tour of the home and surrounding property.  The nice but dated tennis court and family store were fun.  Our knowledgeable guide on this tour told us about a table in the home.  Jimmy Carter made a small table for the current National Park site to look like the one he remembered from his youth.  Well, since President Carter made it, it was viewed as too significant to leave out on display at the home.  It was replicated and replaced.  The original is in safe keeping.

In the evening, we drove around Plains to see other homes and places associated with the Carters.  Pretty much every shop in town sells a nice and easy to use little book about all of the historic homes for $2.50!

On Sunday, we arrived at Maranatha Baptist Church around 8:15.  There was a small line at the church door already forming.  There is a good (but reasonable) amount of security here.  A dog walks around each car with an security person.  After a friendly thumbs up from the handler, you can park.

The line moved very smoothly, as the secret service does its job.  These guys were efficient but friendly.

Once inside you are assigned a seat.  Ms. Jan (who was Amy Carter's school teacher at one time) helps keep the program moving, and she gives a thorough  lesson on etiquette at the church.  She is a pretty entertaining person herself, directing, giving instructions, and telling stories about the church and the Carters.  She could do stand up comedy if she wanted, as many of her stories are very funny.

After the orientation, President Carter comes out and begins his class.  There are prayers, and a lesson book.  The man knows he is at church, but he knows his audience.  A large majority of the congregation on any day that he teaches is visitors- and there  is a good chance many are not Baptists... or Christians.  Jimmy Carter is though (as are the members of Maranatha) and he is teaching and connecting to the believers and the non-believers.  Though his teaching was on creation, he discussed the topic while also touching on modern topics that concerned him, peppering in statistics here and there.  I think anyone (religious or non-religious) would have appreciated hearing his message.

After Sunday school, there was a church service, and then you could have your photo taken with the Carters.  Ms. Jan explained that this would be a quick chance to do photos, and she instructed the crowd how things would go. 

The line goes out of the church and in almost no time, you have your chance to get a photo with Jimmy and Rosalynn.  My wife and I ran up next  to the Carters.  Both seemed very sweet and kind.  Rosalynn linked arms with my wife, and Jimmy put his hand on my shoulder for the photo.  I wanted to let President Carter know how much it meant to us to, to be able to get to rub elbows with him briefly on this Sunday morning.  I had nothing profound to say to him, and even though I know he hears it many times a day, I told him, "this is a huge honor."

He made a point to look at me and to thank us for coming out.  I am sure he says it hundreds of times each Sunday, but there was no tiredness in his voice.  He is sincere in all of his actions.

I do want to mention that my wife bumped in to Ms. Carter at another point while in Plains, and she said that she could not have been any sweeter.  I asked three Plains residents that I talked to about their experiences with the Carters.  ALL talked favorably, and affectionately about them.

After church, we briefly went back to Plain Peanuts for a few more gifts for friends back home.  My wife wouldn't let me go back to Plains Trading Post after the coin I dropped in there the day before.

We wanted to make it to Andersonville before the day was over, but I was kind of sad about leaving Plains.  This is a friendly community with pride.  And the whole Carter/Plains relationship is very sweet.

I also can't say enough about the kind people of Maranatha Baptist Church.  It is pretty disruptive for them to have hundreds of visitors each Sunday.  They are very kind to accommodate this situation.  They obviously have good hearts and all, but this is a pretty big burden for them in many ways.

Check out:

Maranatha Baptist Church

The Carter Center

Again, seeing President Carter and his wife in this setting was an amazing, rare experience.  This was easily one of the most exciting moments of any of our travels.  Thanks again to the Carters, Maranatha Baptist Church, and the good city of Plains Georgia!

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter: Everything to Gain

Well, knowing that we were going to take a little road trip to Plains Georgia, I wanted to read a book on the Carters.  I picked up "Everything to Gain- Making the Most of the Rest of Your Life" by Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter.

The thing that made me want to read this particular book (Jimmy Carter is a prolific writer) is the fact that it was written, and put out during the Reagan years.

Its a bit funny to me.  Jimmy Carter is the first President I remember having knowledge about as a child.  I barely remember him being in office, but I remember vividly watching on election night as Ronald Reagan defeated him soundly.

But Jimmy Carter never went away.  He stayed in the public eye AND he stayed there with pride and dignity.  Sure, he took the worst beating an incumbent president could take, but he still hung around like the scrappiest fighter ever.  The man is tough.

Not only was he tough, he was a good role model- as this book proves.  Let me back up a bit....  Jimmy Carter is not bragging in this book, he is walking the walk of a man willing to personally get involved when he feels that it is the right thing to do.  If he mentions to some people that he will personally help them restore a building for needy people to live in, he will be there with his tools.  Especially in his community of Plains Georgia, he has made himself more available to the public than any other modern President.

"Everything to Gain" is by Jimmy and Rosalynn (sometimes expressing a thought separately and sometimes together) about getting on with their life after leaving the White House.  They both realize that they want to stay active, and they want to contribute.  There is also a lot in the book about their desire to stay healthy.

The Carters, who must have been tempted to talk trash about President number 40 barely mention him.  In this 80s book (and in interviews I have seen with Jimmy) he has been nothing but classy about his political rivals.

Its almost like the Carters are preaching about staying healthy, active, and productive- especially in your later years.  I know that almost sounds funny, as Jimmy is now OVER 90 and it seems that he has never retired.

I could go on and on about Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter.  I really admire them on so many levels, and I am eager to read more of their books.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Moon River Brewing Company- Savannah Georgia

I have to give a HUGE tip of the hat to Moon River Brewing Company in Savannah.  This was a convenient restaurant just across from our hotel while in Savannah that served some great food!

Its become a bit of a rule of thumb for us that brewery type places are very safe bets for dinner....and we don't even drink.

I had a buffalo chicken sandwich there one night that I am still thinking about.  It was massive and tasty.  We really liked everything we had, and we had plenty of everything.

We had an amazing waiter named Brad that took care of everything.  I hope Brad is there next time we are in town!

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Biltmore 1949

There is some GREAT personal writing on the back of this postcard I found recently, sent in 1949. The writer tells her friend that she had difficulty talking her travel companions in to seeing the Biltmore as it was $2.40 each to go! She notes that one rug was valued at $75,000! She describes the beautiful garden and mentions the flowers she saw. She also talks about the Holly Inn, where she had reservations, had closed.

This blogger payed about $60 to visit about a year ago with a coupon. I was happy to see it, by the way.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Pies and Pints in Lexington KY

Me and a buddy walked in to the new Pies & Pints in downtown Lexington the other night.  This place is something special.

The vibe is cozy, casual and fun.  Its at a good location too.  It is a very short walk from Rupp Arena.

Pies & Pints has the best service.  The manager came over a couple of times to ask about our food.  He seemed excited to be there.  Our waitress was on it.  She wasn't intrusive, but she made sure we had refills and whatever else we needed.  After our meal, she boxed up our pizza, and got the to go items we added.  She had no problem splitting the wings and pizza on our checks.

I got a strong impression that this business does a good job of finding enthusiastic staff and training them to take pride in their product.  We were told all about their beers, various pizzas, and wings.  All had a unique flavor.

Anyway, we really liked this place and hope to go back soon!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

National Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force, Savannah Georgia

We were able to spend a couple of hours at the Museum of the Mighty Eighth Air Force in Savannah while we were there.

This is a very nice museum obviously focusing on the Air Force in World War Two.  I was impressed with their collection of authentic items from that conflict.

This is not an overwhelming museum like the one in Dayton (there is no museum like the one in Dayton) so you can cover this one in a reasonable amount of time.  It is still informative enough that a true fan could easily spend a day or more here.

I was personally moved by the huge photo of Hitler with some of the children of Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels.  The children in the photo were murdered by their mother after she learned of the death of Hitler.

The museum is very interactive, and we participated in a film viewing situation, that allows the viewer to pretend that they are going in to the Air Force, and preparing for a mission.  A short film is watched in 3 different rooms, and the last room is a very visual one involving actual footage from the period of air combat.  You feel like you are in the middle of it.

Also, at the beginning of the presentation, there is a briefing for the new pilots, on the targets that will be bombed.  I have a much better understanding of how this sort of mission worked.  A lot is involved!

Check out the museum next time you are in the Savannah area!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Interview with Ron Cerosky bassist from the RailShakers!

I just mentioned the RailShakers from Akron Ohio the other day.  I asked bassist Ron Cerosky about doing a quick Q & A and he agree!  Check it out!

1.  Hey Ron, thanks for taking the time to do a Q & A about your career, and your new band, The RailShakers!  To start out, I know you were a part of that amazing Akron music scene back in the 70s!  Did you ever rub elbows with the Mothersbaughs or the Hyndes?  How exciting was it to be playing music in Akron in the 70s?

LOL No never met them but have seen Chrissie running around Akron a few years ago. I knew the Casale's brother's Father (from Devo) for a while. He made my mother a stained glass piece for her birthday.
 For the most part the 70's scene here in Akron for me is a blur today. I was quite inebriated back then- you know...great times!
 I saw Hammer Damage, Husker Du, The Clash at the Civic and allot of other bands from NYC and all over who maybe got big. It was a big party- a big dirty party.  The music was loud and we lived it all night. I was a kid from the sticks so coming to Akron was like NYC to us.
 I saw things I never saw in the sticks and had only heard about like hookers and drugs... to see a real was wild.
 As a musician back then I couldn't get anything going. I really kind of gave up and just went to shows and partied.  It is  a period I will never forget. For awhile Akron was cool and we had a great music scene here..Kent also.

2.  You and Mike were previously in Lo-Watt Radio together, can you tell us about where the other members of Lo-Watt Radio are now?  I was a huge fan of Doc's!

Well Doc (Glen Blankenhorn) has a band now down where he lives around Athens Ohio. I see him on facebook sometimes and its a bluegrass band.
When LWR was folding he was diagnosed with Cancer. I have heard he beat it and from the looks of things he is retired and doing quite well.
 He is a great guy and a master player. Doc used to say" if it has strings I can play it". Truer words could not be spoken.
Drummer Joel Geiser moved to Virginia and is playing in a band down there. We stay in touch a little. Evan Moran (keys) is in Cleveland and has a band again. We don't stay in touch much but they were all great guys and great players. I am honored to of had the time with them and playing together.

3.  Are you guys (The RailShakers) doing much material from Lo-Watt Radio?

Yes and no. Mike Harven is the soul of LWR and the Railshakers. He is truly a gifted songwriter- one who I'm afraid will never be heard by the masses ...which suits him just fine.
 Mike is very humble is very anti- music business establishment.  More so than most performers at his level. He doesn't do it to be vain or trying to be a tortured songwriter behind a vail, he is just a family guy who likes to play and go home. I have played with quite a few people but nobody impresses me like Mike does. He is talented beyond his years.
We do cover some LWR songs, some old songs have also been restructured. Mike has plenty of songs and really wants to distance this band some from LWR and let the Railshakers walk on its own.

4.  Can you give me a brief rundown of the other members of your new band, and their previous projects? 

Kristine Jares (violin) has performed for years all over NE Ohio. She is a former member of Cats on Holiday and Jehovah's Waitresses back in the day. She is a great violinist and performer.
 Chris Celleghin (drums) has also played around the scene for years and plays for his Church. He is a very talented and tasteful drummer.
 We just added a guitar player James Bucceri. James played in the Cleveland band The Not so Good Ol' Boys. I don't know a lot about his past band but he is also skilled and knows the scene.

5.  You guys seemed very comfortable as a four piece- and it felt like there was a lot of music coming out of the four of you!.  Do you feel like five is the right number for what you all are doing?  By the way, I will take a violin/fiddle any day of the week over a lead guitar!

Well funny we just added a lead guitar a month ago.. LOL. James does play tasteful and understands Kristine's violin is the main lead instrument of the band.  The guitar adds some grit and allows Mike to take a step back on guitar when he wants to.
 We are now really working James and his sound into the Railshakers and are excited to see what it will add to the music.

6.  When will we see a RailShakers album come out?  Where are you all going to be playing over the next few months?

There is an EP out now. I did not play on it or, for the record, any recorded tracks the band has now. I joined after the past bassist left and was reunited with Mike again. I wanted to play again with him before I kick the bucket so that one is crossed off the bucket list.  There are tracks being mixed for a full album with the former bassist.
I do not know when this will be out but stay tuned.  We are on facebook and reverbnation so go there for more details in the future. We are booked to play around the Akron/Cleveland area this year. Our next gig is April 24th at The Barking Spider in C-Town.  It's my favorite place to play there and I'd say its like the Austin City Limits of Cleveland.

7.  Again, Akron is such a great city for music.  I remember seeing some amazing shows downtown... there are some great venues.  What are some of your favorite venues to play and what is special about them?

Well Akron is limited for live music and playing originals makes it even tougher to find places to play. I enjoyed Musicia, Highland Square Fest, and the Old 97.  Thats a favorite place. We did a show at a club now closed on my 50th Birthday. It was a great crowd and was just weeks after my Father had passed. My Sister brought my Mother down for that show. I was deeply moved since my Mother or Father never seen me play. They both bought me my first guitar as a kid.
 It was quite a night which I will never forget. In Cleveland I love the Barking Spider, Brothers Lounge and Prosperity Social Club. Bonnie at PSC was the first and only club owner to give LWR, an Akron based band, a shot. We play there again this summer.
Any gig is a good one for me, I'm an old hack and just playing with fine folks is always a great night.

8.  Ron, thanks for taking the time to talk!  Any last thoughts?

My pleasure! Its not everyday somebody takes and interest in an aging ,semi talented bass player. Bass players never get the spotlight you know.
 I love still playing and, for what its worth, I give it my all.  I might not impress many with my musical skills but you will have a hard time beating my passion and desire.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Plantation Jewels in Savannah Georgia

I am not a jewelry person.  I honestly can't tell the difference between any two rings.  Seriously.  I just don't feel excited or even interested in metals and stones.

Ever so often though, I find something that even catches my eye.

While in Savannah on River Rd., we found a very nice lady selling some VERY cool items.

My wife stopped when she saw some very attractive designs on small pendants.  I also noticed some broken Frozen Charlotte dolls that had been made into attractive necklaces. 

We stopped to chat with Jeanie at Plantation Jewels about what she makes and sells.

She explained that what they do is excavate at old sites around Savannah.  She finds broken bottles, dishes, etc. and she makes the pieces into really unique Savannah jewelry!

I would put a picture up of the items we purchased, but check their photos out on their site.  They are stunning, and obviously a lot of time has been put in to each piece.

Each purchase came with a card explaining the item, its approximate age, where it came from etc.  Each item she sells has a very unique story, and each item is a great, one of a kind souvenir from Savannah!

They also had a great selection of other items that one might find while excavating, including fossils and Civil War related items.

You will spend a little more at Plantation Jewels, but you will be getting an exceptionally unique item that will be treasured.  This place gets my highest endorsement. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Entrance at Lookout Mountain, Georgia

The bottom postcard has a special offer on the back-
"You will be give a pocket calendar for each occupant of the car and a souvenir decal of Rock City with the purchase of one or more gallons of gasoline from the service station at the entrance of Rock City compliments of Pettway Oil Co."


Let me tell you about the RailShakers!

This is my new favorite band and you really need to check them out.  This is a great four piece band that is fronted by Michael Harvan, who was previously the main guy in another favorite band of mine, Lo-Watt Radio.  I mentioned those guys here, here, and here.  Bassist Ron Cerosky is also in the band, meaning that one half of the line up was also in Lo-Watt Radio!

The RailShakers have the same folk/rock feel that Lo-Watt had, but I think they are getting more into the folk, where Harvan and Cerosky's previous band was a bit more rock.  Its still a very thin line though- the bands are both a good mix of genres.

You do notice a difference in the two bands when you realize that the mature vocal/multi-instrumental talents of Doc Blankenhorn is not present (I have heard that Doc has retired to the Athens Ohio area).  Instead, the youthful Kristine Jares fills that role on violin and vocals.

If you have ever played music with other people, you know how hard it is to find a competent drummer.  Luckily, Mike has always had good drummers behind him.  Chris Celleghin is the perfect drummer for the band, playing intelligently while not trying to dominate.

You can listen to their songs here.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Lady and Sons in Savannah Georgia

Like Leopold's Ice Cream, you can't leave Savannah without stopping by Paula Deen's restaurant, Lady & Sons.

Just about every local I talked to said that this is a great place to eat.  I was kind of impressed with the fact that the locals still strongly endorse her.  There was no pretending to be too cool to go to her place.  Savannah loves Paula Deen.

So we stopped in and had a very nice lunch.  We were trying to eat sensibly on this trip, but that is hard to do at Lady and Sons.  I know our meals look healthy but the toast on my sandwich was buttery.  DELICIOUS, but buttery.

Half a sandwich, salad and soup was about $12, which was more than reasonable in Savannah, and at such a nice restaurant.  The buffet was around $16.

We had a great waiter named Zack who took care of us.  We enjoyed the food, the atmosphere, and Zack.

I have always admired Paula Deen, and I am glad that she and her restaurant are still such distinguished parts of Savannah.

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Leopold's Ice Cream in Savannah Georgia

EVERYONE told us that we had to go by Leopold's while in Savannah.  I guess this is kind of one of those places that is very distinctly Savannah.  When you go to Savannah, you should have some ice cream here the same way you must have a beignet in New Orleans.

There is a ton of history at this place.  It has been around for almost a century (it was founded in 1919!) so that alone makes it a business to check out.  Also, they claim to have invented tutti frutti!  Stratton Leopold, son of one of the shop's founders and long time head of Leopold's has had a very successful career in films.  You can see many movie used items in the shop today!

We stopped by for some great ice cream.  The staff was helpful and friendly.