Franklin, North Carolina is just a little over thirty minutes away from where I live so I  decided to explore it a little more this past few months and found some gems!

And, although my focus has been on North Georgia BBQ these past months, I couldn’t resist writing about this neat little place I found hidden in an older shopping center behind the Lowes Store called FAT BUDDIES RIBS AND BBQ! I didn’t have my phone so I don’t have any pictures for this part of my post but I encourage you to check out their website at http://www.fatbuddiesribsandbbq.com to see what they have waiting for you! I had their Lunch Platter of sliced BBQ Pork and Chicken with Cole Slaw and Potato Salad and I’ve just gotta say it was so juicy and good!

Take the time to find these guys! You’ll be happy you did!

As I needed to walk off some of that lunch, I drove down Highlands Road (toward Highlands…not towards Franklin) a couple of miles to find the Whistle Stop Depot in Franklin, NC. Check out their website at: https://whistlestopantiquesnc.com.

When I drove up, I was greeted by different kinds of vintage and antique vehicles, farm equipment and other really cool and inviting items.

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WHISTLE STOP DEPOT

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As I entered their antique mall, I gotta say I was quite impressed with all the vintage and antique items of every shape, color, size and category available that any shopper could ever dream of finding! The ladies at the entrance behind the counter are pleasant and eager to help you find whatever your heart desires!

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But I was really focused on finding my friend’s booth called “Mountain Laurel Makings” just past the main entrance in the front/center. It’s smaller than most of the other booths but has so many wonderfully exciting items to explore from vintage jewelry to current styles, a magnificent Peacock fabric Chair, paintings and more!

Please take the time to look at each of her display cases. I’m still dreaming of those gorgeous Glass Green vases on the top shelf in the case on the end! Well, yeah, those and the Peacock chair.

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Exquisite Peacock Fabric Chair!

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Paintings and jewelry

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Green glass vases on top shelf…a must see!

I’m so glad I took the time to check out my other neighborhood because not only did I get to eat some great BBQ, find all sorts of cool things to drool over but met a really nice woman who is known at Whistle Stop Depot and at the Rabun Gap, Ga. Outdoor Flea Market as the Dip Lady or, as her card says, “Dip Mix Chick!” Tonita creates her own fresh herb mixes for you to add to your favorite base!

HAPPY TRAILS…until we meet again!

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I’m just sayin’ when you find what you really can’t stay away from and are willing to drive across the state for two and a half hours to get it, ya’ might just be on to somthin’!

Yup! Happened to me and I’m not ashamed to yell out FIRE IT UP because I will be back again!

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Seein’ as how I’ve been known to drive 10,000 miles dreaming of the best steak I’ve ever eaten since I was a kid, so this lil junket was nuttin’! Well, on that steak trip, I have to admit there was a pork belly bacon burger involved as well as my daughter-by-another-mother, Jenni, can attest to. And, I kinda’ think we’ll both be road trippin’ it drive back to Montana to taste those again sooner than later! (It’s all on my blog from 2017)

But I digress.

And, as Jenni was with me on that trip and here from VegasBaby for a visit, I just HAD to take her to experience FIRE IT UP!

They have the BEST BRISKET on the planet! So juicy that it MELTS like buttah, honey. My mistake wasn’t taking a bite of Jenni’s”brisket until I was full on ribs but, don’t you worry, I’ll get some of that to go next time! And their pork skins? Get out! Best EVER! Brunswick stew done right! And more of it ALL will be riding home with me next time!

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Brunswick Stew, Collard Greens, Brisket and Ribs! YUM!

While I got my usual of awesome Ribs, outstanding Baked beans, killer Collard Greens! Everything is FRESH and done the way it’s supposed to be.

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We were never rushed and were treated with the Southern style of eating most places miss by a mile. I sure wish they’d open up a place in Clayton, Georgia now that Clayton wants to be thought of as a “Foodie” City! This would sure put us on the map if these folks did come up here! HINT! HINT!

Anyway, Jenni, being a professional musician visiting from VegasBaby and all, that gurl  just about went crazy when one of the musicians for the entertainment that night showed up with an instrument she’d never seen nor heard of before. It took her seconds to leave the food behind to find out what this contraption was all about. It kinda’ surprised me seein’ as how she being a Kentucky gurl that she ain’t never heard tell of a base tub fiddle!

I had so much fun watching her learn all about how it worked and then taking lessons on the spot! She played the melody her teacher taught her in just a few minutes!

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Yeah. I think you need to FIRE IT UP and get over to FIRE IT UP! Check them out at: http://www.fireitupbbq.com

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

As I have the occasion to travel across North Georgia this year to meet family or friends, like today, I search out for what is rated to be good BBQ establishments. In researching today’s adventure to Blairsville, Georgia, I found a place called RIB COUNTRY for my next Rib adventure. I was not disappointed.

The outside was just as inviting as it was on the inside! The folks were friendly and the interior was handicap accommodating! 2019-04-11 RibCountry-1

When I told the waitress that I was writing a blog about finding the best, friendliest BBQ restaurant in North Georgia, she took me around to see this beautiful hand-made wood flag with tin roof stars! It’s hung high and behind a beam and she felt it was too beautiful to be “hidden” like it was. So, I took a pic and now it’s not!

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The whole place is decked out with cool local paintings and antiquities but the best part is the service…oh, and the food!

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As for me, there was only one thing for me to order on their menu. RIBS! So, I got the luncheon baby-back ribs, coleslaw and baked beans. Yum!

Oops! Note to self: remove toast before taking picture of juicy ribs!

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And when our waitress said “cobbler,” yep, my bro and I just had to try one of each. Blueberry and Peach.

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They have several locations so check out their website at http://www.ribcountrybbq.com!

And, as I pass right through Hiawassee past a little place I’ve always wanted to check out but was in too big a hurry to stop before, I stopped to check out LINDA’S. Maybe you should too! It’s a lovely store she’s had at 46 Main Street for a very long time. She has so much to explore in there including quilts, antiques, gifts, wicker and rustic furniture! I also saw lots of fabrics in there too!

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2019 is dedicated to finding the BEST BBQ in the North Georgia area which does not include any area in or around I-285 after my last visit to the one in my old hood! My newest qualifiers are that it must be outside Metropolitan Atlanta and only backroad reachable from my home!

To that end, I was told of a great BBQ place in Cartersville, GA called “Fire It Up BBQ” and I gotta say I got pretty fired up over their ribs, customer  service and friendly atmosphere!

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We had three persons in our five party group who were in need of special assistance and they were amazingly accommodating with bringing food to them and anything else they needed from their line oriented service.

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As I always love me some gooood ribs, that’s what I ordered. YUM! Their beans were some of the best as was their jalapeño cornbread melt in yo’ mouth collard greens!

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Yeah, I think I’ll be going back to this one! Hope it doesn’t burn down after my visit like the last one! YIKES!

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

Yup! I drove FIVE hours roundtrip to try out B’s Cracklin’ BBQ after seeing CBS’s pre-Super Bowl coverage on them and Bryan’s backstory. This young man’s history of smoking meat and cooking goes back generations as he learned how to cook from his family  on a self-sustaining North Carolina farm. He opened his first restaurant in Savannah, Georgia in 2014 which became a great success and tragedy when it burned in 2015 just after being named stone a “Top 50 list of The South’s Best BBQ by Southern Living magazine” and “featured in the June/July 2025 issue of Garden & Gun.”

Be sure to check out their website: http://www.bscracklinbbq.com to check out their menu and follow their journey!

However, undaunted, he moved his family and his smoker into my old neighborhood, Riverside in NW Atlanta to work his magic in an area where I lived twenty plus years ago.  I hear that amazing things are getting ready to go even bigger for them! I’m so excited to follow their journey as I travel some old and new backroads.

When I parked in the back of the restaurant, I saw a ramp and thought it was a handicap entrance so I walked to the two huge white front doors. I knew they were already open because my older brother was inside waiting for me. However, when I found those doors to be locked, I was somewhat baffled. Then I heard the rattling of keys and both doors opened like in a movie and there stood Bryan, the owner! He said he was glad he happened to be in a meeting or else no one would have heard my useless efforts to get inside!

I only mention this so you know not to go to those front white doors! Follow the ramp between the two smokers! It’s a lovely smell of all the goodness which awaits you inside!

Once seated, we met Dennis, our Server. He’s a lovely young man who obviously loves where he works as it shows in how he takes pride in working there. We wanted for nothing!   Thanks, Dennis!

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Love their signage!

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Loved our Server, Dennis!

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Love the whole place!

Now, for the food. A picture is worth a thousand words!

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I had three ribs, Brunswick Stew, Collard Greens and a Cracklin’ Bread like I ain’t never seen before! It was a flat bread with cracklin’s inside! I’m not sayin’ that’s a bad thang. I’m just sayin’ ya’ gotta try it! Everything we ate was so yummy! My friend had the Brisket, Slaw and Mac N Cheese and my Big Bro had…well…I honestly don’t know because I was up to my elbows trying out their three BBQ sauces!

Next time I get a hankerin’ for some good BBQ, guess I’ll drive five hours to my old hood! Thanks, Bryan, for giving my old hood some life!

Happy Trails…til we meet again!

Yesterday marked my first 2019 local adventure! I’d seen this salvage place few years ago on my way home from Cashiers, NC heading toward Highlands, NC hidden down in a niche in a valley on the right side just before the hospital. You won’t see it driving North from Highlands, NC until you’ve passed it. If you miss it, it’s okay because there’s a neat little turn around space just passed it. It’ll be worth the adventure! It’s called  RECLAMATIONS (99 Cherrywood Rd., Highlands, NC 28741, Tel. 828-787-2299).

A pleasant young man greeted me as I pulled in the driveway and assisted me in my adventure. As I walked around the huge lot, I was drawn like a moth to the flame toward   all the wonderful salvaged items from cars, Airstreams, trailers, doors, windows, fire pits and oh so much more! As a picture is worth a thousand words, here are thousands of words describing their outdoor facilities.

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A mighty plethora of treasures of all kinds await your exploration!

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Don’t rush through this! You’ll be sorry you did! Stroll, ponder and imagine the possibilities!

I meandered toward every nook and cranny of the outside portion of this wonderland of salvaged treasures. It was as I was exploring the outdoor covered space that I froze in total amazement at the sight of the word “AVA” (my daughter’s name) being spelled out in a rusted metal 18″ square vintage stencil! So embrace the DIG!

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Half of Outdoor covered section

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Other half!

The inside is even more exciting and fabulous and, even though some of their items are priced beyond my budget, don’t hesitate to make a reasonable offer. I did and was happy with both my purchases of the “AVA” stencil and an old oak desk which will work well for an outside workbench!

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If you’re in this area, don’t go past it!

Happy Trails…until we meet again!

The book, from a Friend, has been in the making for about 25 years when it was first predicted to me that I would write a book with my two children to tell the world a truth and that there would be no shame in telling that truth. It was confirmed to me several more times over the years which inspired me to write on it again and again. After finding of my son’s murder after his fifteen year absence, and the later suicide of my daughter, I wondered how this would ever happen.

It was on my first 2017 adventure West when my paternal grandmother “rode” with me through deserts to get to my favorite place, Glacier, when she “told” me it was time to go to the desert to write the book. I knew then she was right about what I needed to do but it was her thing, not mine, to write in the desert! I was going to write where I wanted to write! Hmmph!

As I drove back from that 15,000 mile junket, I conjured up the next steps. Travel trailer, pack, visit family and find the right RV park. In my head, it sounded pretty simple. It was until I learned just how many Snow Birds from ALL US northern states & Canada flee to the desert…any desert…for their winter retreat or permanent residence! They book a year in advance which meant I had slim pickings! Hurricane, Utah was wonderful in November and I got quite a bit done, but finding an equally beautiful and weather friendly place was going to challenge me, landing me to be in the middle of what I later deemed to be the ugliest part of the Mojave Desert with only one spot left where I wanted to be…close to the Office.

I planned to stay there through February but the constant high winds and ugly surroundings and isolation took its tole on me. By the end of December, I’d written 8-10 hours most every day for months in an alien environment and was ready for green, rain and comforts of home. The proof in the pudding was the day I actually got “car sick” from the constant 60-mile an hour winds while sitting at the table writing on the book! That was it! I planned my exit for the end of January. I counted down the hours until I could head home! Driven like the mad woman I was, I made it in two and a half days dragging that 4000 pounds behind me.

I slept in front of my woodturning stove through all of last February and March only waking at first appearance of sun on April 1st!

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My brain is always writing. When I “woke’ up on April 1st, I realized my brain had stopped writing. And, at first, I wasn’t concerned as I understood that my brain needed a break. My concern reared its ugly head when a couple more months passed it was still silent.  I kept waiting. But, in the meantime…this happened while I was making other plans!

After returning from my trip to Florida May/June, the summer proved to be one challenge after another which included three river floods, a burst outside water pipe, snakes around my house looking for dryer digs, in-house ant invasions for same reason, illness, anxiety, horrid combo of heat/humidity, a meltdown on my daughter’s birthday, all to be topped off with being bedridden about a month with sciatic nerve back pain.

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Water Pipe repair

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Flooding river

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SNAKES!

The good news is that all I needed was a reminder from Ava’s oldest and dearest friends who texted me during her own health battle, “I wonder what it is the Lord is wanting me to learn from this.” Her reminder triggered the question about all the summer/fall battles I’d had. God immediately answered with my own Donna’ism: “FEAR is a four letter word that starts with F that we do to ourselves!” I also received the word “Faith.” I started praying for release of the pain and, literally, felt the muscles in both my neck/shoulders and lower back unwind like a released tightly wound rubber band. The pain was totally, instantaneously and miraculously GONE! And, it was and still is! Call it what you will but I’m telling it true!

It was then that I started embracing the Holidays with a rejuvenated spirit not present for a decade! I planned a Thanksgiving meal for one with joy where in days of old it was for no less than twenty! On Thanksgiving Day, I celebrated my passed parents and children with our decades old traditions of black/white Christmas movies, decorating the tree and decking the halls! I was joyful! What a blessing! The extra blessing was that it continued all through the rest of the year and now, for the first time in a year, my brain is writing again! My only challenge is to get to the computer fast enough to remember what I wrote in my head!

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from days of old Christmas Fire

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and Christmas Morn celebrations

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to my $5.00, 18″ Wonder Woman Christmas Tree decoration celebration

2018 was quite an adventure with many hidden blessings. I’m still processing it all, but in the meantime, I’m happy to announce that “it” is coming back to me and I’ve started on the Prologue!

Happy New Year! And, Happy Trails…until we meet again!

First Merry Christmas in a Decade. I’m overdue for sure but I’ve also gone through the test of many fires and now that I’m on this side, I’m happily reflecting on those days of old when the magic was still there in the joy of the Reason for the Season, family and friends. So, in honor of that, I submit this rhyme.

Twas the night before Christmas and all kept quiet, except the activity upstairs out of our sight.

There were sounds of machine clanking and bustling around, with the promise of surprises on the morrow which did abound.

We really weren’t sure of what it was all about, but we knew it’d be exciting and kicked off with a shout!

Once the porridge was consumed and the dishes done, we’d scamper ever so quickly hoping the festivities hadn’t yet begun.

We ran outside to get to the living room upstairs, knowing Dad had a roaring fire welcoming us with closely placed chairs.

The tree was all glowing and bright, and underneath, full of presents to our hearts delight.

For my brothers, train billowing smoke, a caboose and track, a Teddy Bear for me, doll for sister…oh, how it takes me back.

The smell of the cedar Christmas tree cut from our field, with an abundance of food and cheer this day would yield.

Later on, my kids and I would create our own stories to tell, in that same room with the freshly cut tree with wood fires to smell.

Now that Mom, Dad, Carl and Ava are all gone, it’s finally nice to recall those times of merriment and song. 

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1951 Christmas Train

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1949 Christmas Fire

A very dear friend of my daughter’s, Beauregard, sent me a PM on FB about this event and encouraged me to come have some fun. I’d met the owners of Hatch Camp & Art Farm a couple of years ago when they hosted other musical events where Beau (of Beauregard & The Downright) was performing when Mama & Daddy Hatch were awaiting their blessed event. The timing was perfect as I’d been on the computer in my office for days doing research and working way too hard for a retired woman. So, armed with water, camera and excitement, I jumped in my truck and headed  East toward what promised to be a fun day at Hatch Camp & Art Farm!

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Yes, I cheated. I took a screen shot of their FB page to post what they are doing, who was there and was quite surprised at many things. Firstly, they plan to have one of these monthly! Secondly, they have spaces for booths available for people to share their art! Thirdly, they have a lovely place for exploring on a good sized stream, which I hear is good for fly fishing, where people can camp for the weekend and do the kumbaya thang all weekend long if they want or just hit and run like I did.

As an aside, Mama Hatch was busy with orchestrating the whole event while looking after Baby Hatch who was exploring everything! Turns out that Daddy Hatch is a master fly fisherman who loves creating flies so much so that he explores his creek regularly to see what larvae are in the water so he can mimic just the right fly de jour! He has turned his garage into a shop and fun place for you fly-fisher-persons to explore!

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Another interesting aspect of venturing out in this area is that you never know who you will run into! I saw one of the waiters who always took care of Mom and I when we went for our traditional Sunday Brunch at the Lake Rabun Hotel! But this time, Tolvin Stiles wasn’t waiting on tables, he was sitting at one making the most delicious copper wire jewelry!

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Tolvin’s works of art!

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Tolvin creating new ones!

I meandered around the pathways and byways of this lovely retreat meeting a variety of local artists along the way whilst musicians played folk music. It reminded me of the many times my daughter, Ava of avascorner.org, and I went to events similar to this. Those, however, were much larger. I like the more intimate variety where you actually have a chance to connect with people instead of getting lost in the crowd. This was lovely and I will go back again!

Now, for what I really came for. I could hear Beau getting ready on stage. It was time for me to have some Beauregard! Not only do I love seeing him but also having the chance to  listen to one of my favorite singer, songwriter, musicians who really puts his heart and soul into his music like few do these days of cheating with canned music, tricks and screaming. Bearegard & The Downright are Down Right! Personally, I love his most personal touch to all his ukulele songs. Something very beautiful in his soul is revealed each time he plays it. Don’t get me wrong, when you hear his band, you will be moved…but to the dance floor! I’ve been known to dance the night away the first time I went to see them play a few years back. If he is in your neighborhood, go see him! Follow him on FB! It’s a funky Jamaican Mountain Country City boy sound unique just to Beauregard!

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As he makes his living doing what he loves, he always has hats and albums for sale a his events!

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Beauregard singing solo and so good!

If you are up this way for their next event, maybe I’ll see you there! Y’all come on up, ya’ hear!

HAPPY TRAILS…until we meet again!

I do love Atlanta because of its Southernness and history; my history there; varied trees,  plants and flowers; backroads; special places to visit; and Ava memories. I had a blast giving one of Ava’s dearest friends and mentor Phase 1 of Donna’s Atlanta Driving/Some-Walking Tour.

As always, I start in my home area of Sandy Springs which is in Northwest Atlanta which used to be a sleepy little area of farms (including ours) and quiet country living. Now, it’s all that and more. It’s THE place to live! Do those rich people know that a tenement farmer raised pigs on that property and that’s probably why their grass is so green? Or that the multi-million dollar house sits in our cow pasture of yesteryear? It’s definitely hard to recognize and my brain gets all tangled up in reality and my memories of horseback riding over to the Chattahoochee River and riding the old timber roads or milking the cow or playing in the creeks or happily padding along barefooted chasing after someone or something. Awww. The Good Ole Days!

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Me “driving” our tractor I called “The Green Dragon!” Looks like I got stuck!

Anyway, here’s some of which I included in the Phase 1 Driving/SomeWalking Tour for Ava’s friend and one of my Chirrens yesterday. Yeehaw!

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Swan House is in an area we call Buckhead because it was there was a General Store at its old crossroads with a Deer Buck Head over the door. The Swan House is a part of the Atlanta History Center. One Ticket at the History Center gives you access to Center’s fabulous Exhibits, the Swan House, and, in October, to the relocated Cyclorama which used to be at the Atlanta Zoo!

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Fox Theater’s outstanding acoustics have been recognized all over the world!

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When we used to go to the movies here, each side of this area was where the latest, finest lady’s fashions were exhibited. It was saved from demolition in 1976 by locals. YAY!

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I’ve been wondering where they moved the famous CocaCola sign to and there it was in all its glory right over the building at Five Points in the heart of Downtown Atlanta on top of the old Wormser Hats Building!

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Brand new Mercedes-Benz Atlanta Stadium! Quite impressive!

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On to my favorite restaurant – No Mas – in the Castleberry Arts district across the street from the old GE Supply Building where I used to work a hundred years ago!

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Whoever created this place, needs a gold star for doing it right! Plus, the food is amazing!

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Got a hankering for outdoor seating?

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So many interesting things going on inside with the old and new structure being married with Mexican artifacts and art!

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Ohm yeah! I want one of these for my front porch!

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Before you leave, go into their Artisans Market store just to the left of the restaurant patio for more stimulation of the purchasable kind! LOVE this place!

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Our State Capital Building is crowned with none other than Gold from our very own Dahlonega! I remember when they brought the gold to the Capital in wagon trails from there to refurbish it.

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And, last but not least, Ava’s love – Little Five Points. She loved living here and felt safer here than anywhere. Junkman’s Daughter was her favorite place to shop; The Vortex was her favorite restaurant; and the Brew House was where she’d go for libations.

I modify each tour according to the wishes of my passenger, their age, the heat/humidity index and my energy. Most of this was a driving tour but we’ll hit the streets next time she’s in town and do it right! This was just the tip of the iceberg tour!

HAPPY TRAILS…until we meet again!