Monday, November 08, 2010

The Trip Home: the Friends

First of all, as I speak, our outside thermometer here in The Netherlands has been sitting on 40 F all day. So as I think back to a couple of weeks ago, during our time in Atlanta, I wonder how it's possible we were then in short-sleeved shirts!

Meet Peggy, half of "the friends," who once was my boss in assisted-living. I knew her when she was dating Bob, the other half, and had the good fortune to attend their wedding. Once she retired from her executive directing, with me retiring shortly thereafter, we kept in touch ever since. They both were in on my own "story" from the very beginning, met Astrid before my kids did, and have simply "been there" for us. So it's always a no-brainer for us to get together when we're back in Atlanta.

Because Amy and Dennis were both working from home between those two weekends in October (last post), it worked out perfectly to spend M0nday-Friday with Bob and Peggy south of the city.

When you have a husband and wife team (like Amy and Dennis, I might add!) who enjoy cooking and eating as much as they do, you can understand why much of our time together was centered around wonderful meals, most of which we were able to eat out on the balcony. It's not that Astrid and I mind cooking. We both can do it and we both love to eat. But sometimes we'd much rather be the dishwashers, so this was a win-win situation for us. Notice the low-country boil in the bottom right-hand corner above. Another first for Astrid.

Did I tell you that Bob and Peggy both are recently retired? I'm their senior by a bit and Astrid is the baby, but basically we're all the same age...waiting for Astrid to join sweet retirement as soon as she's able. During the week she was Bob's sidekick on morning walks (that lovely water image above is hers!), farmers-market shopping, and odd jobs around the house...while I helped Peggy out in the kitchen or yard. Did I tell you Astrid is also a sharp-shooter (oh yes, remember the Fair from last post!)? On her first shot here, she almost got a bull's eye. The things we learn about each other in real life, right!

Midweek, between this, that and the other, we spent a day visiting two special places nearby: Whistle Stop Café and the Jarrell Plantation. Astrid and I had just watched Fried Green Tomatoes a couple weeks before our trip and Peggy had also already seen it. But Bob hadn't. So the day before we went, we found a rental and prepared ourselves for the treat of seeing the location in real life.

1. Whistle Stop, Juliette, GA

What Whistle Stop is most known for, of course, is its Whistle Stop Café, à la the movie. The unincorporated community of Juliette, GA is the sweet little setting that has capitalized on making it a tourist attraction for all us gluttons who love such things. I had been there years ago but thoroughly enjoyed going back to see it again, this time with Astrid and friends.

The main street includes the train depot, Ruth & Idgie's Place, the burial plot for Buddy's arm, and lots of gift stores.

But the main attraction, of course, is the actual Whistle Stop Café that was used in the movie. Juliette, GA, was nearly deserted when it was scouted out for the movie's location. "The building chosen to be the Whistle Stop Café was formerly an antiques and hardware store. It was redesigned as a cafe, with a horse-shoe shaped counter to allow for optimal camera angles. After the release of the film, Juliette saw an influx of tourists and, with John Avnet's encouragement, locals opened The Whistle Stop Café, recreated to mirror the film set."

Our main goal of the day was, of course, to eat lunch at Whistle Stop Café, which we all gladly did. Well, 'gladly' I use loosely since you're talking about southern cooking and fried foods. But once in a blue moon doesn't hurt anyone, so we just did it.

Oh yes, besides the obligatory serving of fried green tomatoes (DUH!) we all had Mr. Bennett's BBQ! You'd have to know the story to get the importance of that, so enough said. Peggy and I had sweet-potato fries and we all had iced tea in Mason jars. So fun.

Once our tummies were full to overflowing, we drove across the train tracks to the nearby park where the dam in the movie is. Couldn't get a good view for a picture but enjoyed the setting nonetheless.

That was Whistle Stop. A mere 10 miles away was our next stop, the Jarrell Plantation.

2. Jarrell Plantation, Juliette, GA

The historical museum and state park of Jarrell Plantation started out as a cotton farm before the Civil War, when its first permanent structure was built in 1847. Besides cotton, it also provided food crops and grazing for livestock...and eventually became a mill complex that included a steam-driven sawmill, cotton gin, gristmill, shingle mill, and planer.

Look at how huge the main house is (top-right corner), surrounded by myriad other a sugar cane press, syrup evaporator, workshop and barn.

But more than anything else, I was amazed by the spaciousness of the property between buildings. I could picture the kids (and the slaves!) having a heyday walking/running/climbing up and down the hilly terrain. Cozy and shady trees. Lots of wonderful walkways. And we were there on a gorgeous, sunny day.

While unable to enter most of the buildings, we were able to peek in and take pictures, seeing what things were like a century ago....

...and getting up close and personal with all the equipment used to make such a huge complex funtional. Talk about old-timey.

To hit both birds, Whistle Stop and Jarrell Plantation, with one stone in one day was absolutely perfect and very doable. I recommend it to anyone (Vagabonde?) who is interested. We'll never forget it.

For those of you wondering if poor Astrid was overwhelmed by this trip back to Atlanta, she would surely tell you she was in her glory, eating everything up. We both are gluttons for this kind of energy and excitement, thriving on it.

In fact, we just spent this past Saturday and Sunday in Münster, Germany, visiting a blogger friend...another post for another day. Miles to go before I finish all those pictures, trust me. Also, big things are happening for both of us (a new job for Astrid starting December 1, and, as of this week, I am stopping my school course and venturing into a new area for Dutch-learning). But that, too, will wait till my next post.

For now, here's the end of our great trip back to Atlanta, seeing family and friends. It couldn't have been a better trip, as far as we are both concerned!


  1. Oh, I loved the book Fried Green Tomatoes. I think I saw the movie, but the book is more memorable. How exciting to visit the Whistle Stop Cafe. As usual, lovely pictures Ginnie, and they are put together so creatively!

  2. First off, I love the porch/balcony of your friend's house. I wonder what it faces to. It's a lovely house.

    Second off, I cannot imagine how many times I've watched Fried Green Tomatoes, in parts, never from beginning to end in one sitting. I may do that one of these days.

    Keep the Atlanta posts coming.

  3. I lived and died for fried green tomatoes when we visited Charleston, SC. I think the name of the restaurant is "Justine's". Thank goodness no one else in my family like them and I go to gobble them up all on my own! I didn't even push the rule "you have to eat one!" ... no not this time. :)

    I love all the texture and faded colors in your photos of the old plantation. Got a kick out the chain link fence, that kind of did ruin the shot - and nothing you could do about it!

    ...expanding your learning - boy, you do keep busy. It will be fun to see what it is! And looking forward to the photos of Munster, Germany.

  4. I saw the movie Fried Green Tomnatoes a long long time ago, back in the dark ages I think it was, and now I can't remember a single thing about it, not the story, not who was in it, absolutely nothing except the title! So perhaps it's time for me to see if the library has a copy and renew my acquaintance, and see if your photos can help me remember!

  5. Ginnie, I'm gonna be in Atlanta again in February but I don't think I'll make it all the way out to Juliette so I'm glad that I was able to share in your photos.

  6. Karen: I am aware that the book is a bit different than the movie and that there was controversy over it when the movie came out. However, it's still a good movie and one I've seen maybe 5 times or more. Maybe I'll get my hands on the book one of these days. You probably know that Fannie Flagg, the author, has a bit part in the movie, which is fun to see. As always, Karen, thanks for stopping by.

    PC: That balcony faces off into the nearby woods, Maria. Their properyty is out in the middle of nowhere in the boonies south of Atlanta. Very quiet! That movie sure is fun, isnt it. So many things going on. Makes Whistle Stop such a feel-good place to visit!

    Margaret: When those fried green tomatoes are done right, they're to die for. Tart, crunchy. I'd save them all to myself, too, in your situation. Not sure why the plantation house has a chain-link fence around it...except that it's a B&B. Maybe it gives it privacy from all the visitors walking around?

    Sham: It's one of those movies that has a lot going on in it, so I can imagine not remembering it. Once you've seen it as many times as I have, it's downright fun!

    Mad: You'd need your own car to get there, so I can understand the restraint. But rats! Again in Atlanta when I'm no longer there! Something is not right about that picture. I'm so sorry I'll miss you.

  7. I love seeing Peggy and Bob there, after hearing you speak of them for so long. What a beautiful place they have.

    The Whistle Stop looks so cute, and it must be a great boon to that town's economy. Yummy FGTs! Did Astrid like them? Don added some green tomato to something the other day, not fried, but it added such a nice tart zip to whatever it was. The plantation is so rustic-looking! That really surprises me. What a wonderful trip the two of you had. Just perfect.

    For your information, dear sister, I was up late last night after first going to bed for a couple of hours. :) Bed at 9, up at 11:30. This is the kind of sleep-grazing I do these day-nights.

  8. It's lovely to meet you, Ginnie. I'm here via Ruth.

    I'm drawn to the Dutch connection. I live in Australia but my parents are Dutch from Haarlem in Holland in the early fifties. I look forward to reading more of your blog

  9. I have never tried fried green tomatoes, were they worth tasting?:) Nice to have 2 chiefs home, but to be honest, I would rather cook than wash dishes (in fact, I usually do both at home;-)Have a nice week!

  10. I enjoyed your trip to a part of Georgia I do not know. We drove by Juliette several times but never stopped. I also wondered about the Jarrell Plantation and am pleased to have looked at your pictures. When we were in Nashville visiting our daughter in her new house, I went to get some herbs in the backyard and found some green tomatoes. I had never cooked them and created a recipe. Everyone loved them. I have not read the book yet but I think it is in the house somewhere. I like Southern country cooking – and wish it was not so fattening….The first picture is lovely – what a great place for a walk. Today it was in the high 70s – I had to put the AC on in the car and all the trees looked golden.

  11. Ruth: Bob and Peggy have become great friends for us. So unexpected how it came to be. One of life's serendipities.

    Yes, Astrid liked the FGTs. I actually found a healthy recipe for them and might try them one day, if I can find green tomatoes, that is.

    The plantation was a surprise for me...maybe all of us. I have never seen another one like it.

    Now you're sounding a bit like me on those nights that just aren't quite right for sleeping. (sigh)

    Elisabeth: Thank you ever so much for stopping by via my sister. That means the world to me. It really is a small world after all, isn't it!

    Ola: FGTs are worth trying at least once in your life. I could eat them again right now! Since you prefer cooking, we'd have a very nice arrangement if we lived together. :)

    Vagabonde: I thought of you that day, knowing you would eat it all up. Our temps are still in the 40s, so thinking about the 70s is like another place, another time. Your day will come soon enough, of course, so soak it up.

  12. Thank you so much for this - we are visiting friends in Tyrone GA in the spring which doesn't look too far away from Juliette (even by British standards!)

  13. Anna: You're a sweetheart to stop by and comment! Thank you. I think you'd be very happy making this a day trip...both sites, especially if you're familiar with the movie. I hope you let me know, if you do go. :)

  14. You sure had a fabulous time in Atlanta, Ginnie!!
    They even fry their tomatoes there?!
    And they're green?!

    What soup was that in your first collage?
    Looks yummy with crabs, prawns, sausages, corns, etc!

    Thank you sooo much!

  15. LC: Awww. Aren't you a sweetie-pie for stopping by here and commenting! Thank you. That 'soup' is actually what we call low-country boil in the South. It's all done in one pot and is just fabulous. Here's a recipe to show the ingredients. Bob, as you saw, also added some crabs:

  16. Where do I start, after seeing these pictures, I don't know what to say, ......erm I without words????, however, our time with Bob and Peggy was just great, a lot of 'first' times here too.
    The low country boil was great, I am glad I took some pictures of it.
    The whistle stop cafe was a delight, I love green tomatoes!!
    The Jarrel Plantation was wonderful to be, great for my education.
    So many things we did in so little time.
    Thank you mijn lieve schat for making these collages, for making our memories of many many happy days.
    Every trip is so special, I don't take anything for granted, thank you, MDSTLL

  17. it's always fun stopping here to read about and see where your latest adventures have taken you. I must be better at getting here on my own. Those planation shots are my special favorites because, as you probably know, I'm a sucker for time travel. I'm glad you had a satisfying trip home, but I'm looking forward to more windmills.

  18. Astrid: I never did count up all your firsts, did I. It all was so much fun, sharing it with you. Thank you for being such a good sport. You really fit right in...your realize that, right?! I love it.

    Ted: I feel so lucky to have a place where I can document all these events/trips. I'm really very fortunate! BTW, I use Google Reader to keep me up on new posts. It helps. You will definitely get more windmills...the next from Germany, of all places.

  19. I would like to follow in your footsteps and help myself to all the delicious, down-home meals. Quite a change from "erwtensoep" or "hutspot".

    I love all your photos; they all have a timeless feeling to them. The Whistle Stop Cafe and Jarrell Plantation look like worthwhile stops on your trip.

  20. I should have known you posted after a comment on my blog, but thus too tired to read more blogs until I did weekend catchup!

    What a great time that you had all around Atlanta area. P's boss is there this week in fact...

    Ok - but you have me so curious on the future...Can't wait to hear about it!

  21. DB: Did I ever tell you that I love erwtensoep so much that we have it once a week! I'm serious. Astrid loves it, too, so why not. All year 'round, too, not just during the cold months. Thank you for your kind words about my photos. Both places really were timeless to us.

    ET: I can't imagine why in the world you're tired, Jen! HA! It now makes perfect sense. But please pamper yourself...and that precious baby. You'll see in my post tomorrow what the change is for both of us. It's all good!

  22. Another marvelous collection of photo collages... alright... am now going to reply to you on my blog... maybe I should be doing more of that to encourage interaction. :-)

    I love reading your descriptions as well as looking at all the photographs. Your format is so much nicer than the format of my travel blog. (different from my photo blog and not nearly as active or interesting as yours!)

  23. Victoria: Now you have me curious about your travel blog. So, see, already you’re getting more activity.

    When I first started blogging 5 years ago, a friend taught me Blogger Etiquette 101: when someone leaves you a comment, reply and return the favor. That’s how the blogging world turns. A whole bunch of us patting each other on the back!!! But somehow it works and some dear friendships develop. In fact, Astrid is my Dutch wife today because she first commented on a photo of mine on August 31, 2007 (at Shutterchance). As we say, the rest is history!