Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Drive-Thru

Last month I had a really fun experience at Georgia's "Pine Mountain Wild Animal Park". I remember going to safari parks a lot when I was a kid because there's one located only about a 20 minute drive from where my parents live. But it's been decades since I last visited one.

It was a real treat spending the afternoon there. They even have dedicated vans that you can rent for your drive-thru so you don't have to risk your own car.

You just drive through the park on the designated road & enjoy seeing the animals flock to you! 

They certainly are not shy - you can buy animal feed to throw out to them, so they are extremely accustomed to approaching you in the hope of getting a treat or three. Many of them have no problem sticking their heads into your window if there's enough room.

It's a real gem of a place - we only found it because we were doing some online research trying to find local places for day trips. It's kind of tucked away off the beaten track, & not too well signposted until you're almost right there.

We had such a fun time, it was just a drive full of laughs. I tell you, animals really bring out the best in me. I loved the whole experience, but I think my favorites were the pigs - especially the dozens of piglets that were kicking around at that time. I love those little things!  

They also have a separate section that you can walk through, & we were lucky enough to catch one of their latest additions having an afternoon snack - this "little" guy was only a month old!

So be sure to check it out if you're in the area - I guarantee you'll have a lot of laughs.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Natives Are Revolting

I want to share some photos from a visit we made in mid-October to Andersonville, GA. We spent the afternoon at Andersonville’s National Historic Site - or Camp Sumpter, the Confederate Prisoner of War Camp during Civil War times. It’s an amazing place to visit, & not only hosts the POW Camp, but also the National POW Museum, as well as the Andersonville National Cemetery.  

It was very awe-inspiring, especially thinking that it’s the final resting place for almost 13,000 Union soldiers who were imprisoned there during the war. Another place that I’d highly recommend visiting if you are in the area.

The little town of Andersonville itself, just a bit away from the site, is worth a visit too - quite quaint! They do have a store there that has some wonderful ice cream as well - great on a sunny day, especially when you want to lighten your spirits a bit after some heavy-hitting history.

I'd recommend devoting a whole day to visit Andersonville if possible - best to have extra time available to you than be rushing through it at the end of the day. The POW Museum alone is so intriguing - I don't feel that I spent enough time there. It's a fascinating place.

Outside the POW Museum

Some amazing scenes from the Camp itself. 
Can you imagine being imprisoned somewhere like this for so long?

The National Cemetery

Time for a little post-ice cream light-heartedness in Andersonville town itself!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Well I was bullied by "It's a Dog Tag Wife Life" into posting my "fours", so here goes!

1. Four shows that you watch:
What Not To Wear
Law & Order, SVU

2. Four things you are passionate about:
My job
My volunteer work

3. Four phrases you say a lot:
"Not too much cream" (for my coffee order - Dunkin' Donuts love to give me anemic coffee)
"When did you say you needed it for?" (at work)
"For f$@#&'s sake!" (it's a British thing)
"Can we stop for a photograph?"

4. Four things you've learned from the past:
Trust your gut instinct
Watch what people do, not necessarily what they say
Trust people only as much as they show they are worthy of
Over-achieving at work only brings the reward of more work!

5. Four places you would like to go:
South Africa
The Galapagos Islands

6. Four things you did yesterday:
Finally made it home from Atlanta airport - it only took me 24 hours!
Opened 11 doors on my chocolate advent calendar
Did some editing of my most recent photographs
Revised an itinerary for our January NZ trip

7. Four things you are looking forward to:
My boyfriend arriving in a week
Christmas vacation in Niagara Falls
Some decent snowy days
Our January NZ trip

8. Four things you love about winter:
The snow
Christmas foods & flavors
Winter skies - you know, the clear, bright, blue skies (great for photography)
Festive lights 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Truffle Hound

On Sunday I cooked dinner for 2 dear friends, a married couple, who are leaving me this coming weekend as they move south on a new venture - leaving MA for new jobs in GA. I'd been promising them for ages that I'd cook haggis, so it was now or never! 

I spent a lot of time living in different parts of Scotland throughout my working life back in the UK, & I love all things Scottish - including haggis! A few years back I discovered a company, in Texas of all places, that sells canned haggis, & they have a convenient online ordering system too. 

I was a bit skeptical at first - dodgy enough risking buying haggis outside of Scotland anyway, but to order the canned stuff too. I was certainly taking risks at this stage. You can get a spectrum of haggis that ranges from "awful" to "fantastic" haggis, but let me tell you that this stuff from Texas is very fine indeed! I was just amazed at how good it was when I first ordered it a few years back, & I've used the same company multiple times now - it's been consistently good.  My friends loved their "haggis, neeps & tatties" dinner anyway, it was a big hit!

I also made some chocolate truffles for dessert & I thought I'd share the recipe with you - it's very simple, just how I like my recipes. I made way too many - I ended up packing most of them up to send in a care package to M. Naturally I saved a handful for me though! 

These are amazingly tasty treats for such a simple recipe.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Road Trip

Over Columbus Day weekend we took a roadtrip. M’s car had been stored at his parents’ place in NC, so he’d used a rental car initially when he returned home from Iraq. The long weekend was a good time for him to drive up to NC & combine visiting his parents with collecting his car.

He’d asked me if I’d like to do a roadtrip with him on the way back, so he picked me up at Raleigh Airport early Saturday morning & we drove across to Asheville, NC. We booked into a hotel & later in the evening we headed off on a “Brews Cruise”! It was a fun, organized tour of a few local breweries, with lots of “sampling” to be done, as you can imagine. Thankfully we were able to take a taxi, so we were both free to do a little tasting through the night.

Next day we spent some time in Asheville itself, wandering around the town, browsing the bookstores & coffeeshops. It was my first visit to Asheville, & I must say I really liked the little that we saw of it! The downtown area itself is quite quaint, with plenty of quirky shops, bars and restaurants to enjoy, & we decided on a local pub when it got to lunchtime.

Afterwards we headed out along the Blue Ridge Parkway for some sightseeing - what a stunning drive we had along there! The scenery was just breathtaking, & we had such a beautiful day for driving & photographs.

After a few hours driving & stopping off at different locations, we left the Parkway & headed off toward the northern, mountainous region of GA. We spent the night in Helen, a little town that is a re-creation of an Alpine village. It was a lot of fun, especially as we happened to arrive in the middle of Oktoberfest month. It’s quite a tacky, touristy town, but still fun, nevertheless, if you can keep an open mind.

We certainly had some great beer & lovely German food while we were there anyway, & even visited an amazing model train exhibition by a German gentleman who has been here for a long time. He wanted to celebrate his love of model trains by putting together a set-up that represents Germany - from the North Sea to the Alps. It had taken him about 23 years to put together. A fabulous work of art to see.

Overall this weekend was really my first introduction to NC, & I was extremely pleasantly surprised. I’d always known that it boasted some beautiful regions, but it was even more lovely than I’d imagined. Ditto for the mountains region up in northern GA.

Monday afternoon we drove south, & M took me to the airport in Atlanta for my flight home, & then headed home himself. Another fun, but all-too-short, weekend!

Friday, December 3, 2010

Take Two

After such a wonderful first weekend together, we’d decided to have a re-run the following weekend. In the middle, I was across the country in Iowa all week for a meeting, but we talked often, & both really enjoyed catching up a lot throughout each day.
My meeting ended on Friday October 1st & I headed back to Columbus, & this time it was M’s turn to meet me at the airport! I have to admit that I really enjoyed that bit - seeing him waiting at the bottom of the stairs wearing his uniform and a big smile was priceless. He took me out for a lovely dinner that evening, & we pretty much continued the weekend where we’d ended the previous one!
On the Saturday we met up with some of his friends for lunch as well as a wander around the Civil War Naval Museum at Port Columbus - another really interesting place with lots of cool Civil War history. Definitely worth a visit if you’re down that way (although I know not everyone is a history fan like me!). I do enjoy all kinds of stuff like that, so I’m usually very easily amused wherever I go, provided there is something historical to see.

M had also just moved into his new apartment midweek, so we spent a little time ferrying things out there that he needed & getting it a little more user-friendly for him. Overall I think his favorite new toy was the enormous LED TV that he bought over the weekend though!  

We spent some of the evenings with a bottle of wine & some travel brochures - the start of some research into a trip to New Zealand that we’re hoping to take in January. We'd actually started talking about this trip back in the summer when we were having our phone dates while he was deployed. Visiting that part of the world has always been top of my list for "far away travel", and I discovered that M was also very keen to head out that way when he returned from his deployment. Somewhere along the line we came to the decision that we'd travel there together, probably in the New Year.

I suppose he further confirmed for me that he is a man of his word when he presented me with a bunch of travel brochures he'd collected before I arrived that weekend!