So after my glorious month of warmth and happy adventures lounging on Florida’s beaches, I decided to make a quick sojourn home to DC for a weekend. Among the reasons I did so were: 1) it was my friend Pam’s birthday and I’d be able to make a surprise visit for her party shenanigans; 2) I could pick up my mail and tax documents; 3) I had to renew my library card and I was driven by spite at the prospect of losing my place in the holds list for a few books; 4) I could make all my friends jealous of my sweet tan; 5) I could see my family before heading west for a while. So north I went, and went from beach in a bikini to snow in fleece pajamas in a few short days, but I’m jumping ahead.

I stared north and arranged to stop by and visit my friend Jessy at her place outside Atlanta for the first in a series of ‘friends my age with real houses who are real grown ups while you live in a van down by the river like a college gap year kid’ visits. On my way there I made a detour to Plains, home of Jimmy Carter, really so I could find a giant peanut made to resemble him from my list of roadside attractions. I got more than I bargained for, as I decided to stop at an actual historic sight exhibit to make the detour more legit, plus it was Presidents’ Day so it seemed appropriate. When I pulled in to the overflow parking area (having missed the first entrance turn) there was an SUV sitting outside, and I actually said aloud to myself “huh, wouldn’t it be funny if that was secret service” moments before, sure enough, out the agents came escorting the Carters to the car. I guess a new exhibit section had a grand opening for the holiday and I had excellent accidental timing. I know he’s kind of everywhere in Plains, but it was a cool surprise for me!

The Carter historic site I went to (I guess there’s also his boyhood home and one other place I didn’t go) is in the old school he attended, and I enjoyed seeing the reminders of a time not so long ago when our Presidents earned Nobel prizes, said inspiring things actually meant to bring people together, and worked to serve others in need rather than throw money at their own corporations. Plus I got a sweet photo op behind a fake desk, and found my Carter peanut.

Further on up the road I made another pit stop for lunch at the small town where the movie Fried Green Tomatoes was filmed. The town of Juliette, GA kept the row of buildings used for the film pretty much as they were, so it was fun walking through the scenes and of course had to have the fried green tomato salad. When I was young my godmother took me to the movies, our first together, and the only thing my mother told her was to make sure it wasn’t violent. The first death a few minutes in was not a great sign for that promise, but a great book and movie for sure! My favorite part is the gravestone for Stump, the arm.

Jessy welcomed me to her home and I got to play with her enthusiastic dog, and we had dinner at one of the couple of restaurants in her community. Poor Jessy put up with me asking her a million questions and trying to fill the silence between two people who know one another and all the same people but have never really spent much time along together. If me keeping her from her usual routine wasn’t enough, I treated her to some ridiculous photos from my next day’s roadside attraction, which is a place that will definitely haunt my brain with nightmares forever.

The Cabbage Patch Babyland General Hospital is an old mansion turned into a weird store/museum of Cabbage Patch dolls. The whole place is made to be like a doll hospital, and the staff of mostly elderly ladies all wear old fashioned nurse’s outfits. There are cases with original hand sewn dolls creeped me out like crazy. There are baby nurseries for dolls with Andy Warhol prints on the walls. There are ‘adoption offices’ where they take you to fill out forms before you buy a doll. There are kids here totally into it, and adults totally into it, and a few sane people nervously laughing with tentative looks on their faces. There’s a shop with a magical forest garden complete with baby dolls crowning from cabbage heads…. I may never eat a cabbage again. It was bizarre. And blegh. And hilarious. And now my last memory of Georgia before I crossed into Tennessee.

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