THE FARMHOUSE INN

April 16, 2019


Have you ever just happened upon and experienced a serendipity moment?  A period in time or circumstance that made you say, “why have we not done this before?”  Where have we been.  Well, that happened to my wife and I this past weekend.  We visited Madison, Georgia and stayed at the Farmhouse Inn.  The pictures you will see were taken by me as we walked the grounds.  Let’s first see just where Madison, Georgia is.

MADISON, GEORGIA

Madison is located about an hour and one-half from Atlanta as you go east on Interstate 20.  According to the 2000 census, it is a town of approximately four thousand permanent residents and is the county seat for Morgan County.

The first town lots in Madison were sold in 1809 so this is an old town.  As the cotton economy of the county expanded, so did the population of Madison. Many of the wealthy plantation owners who lived in the county began building town houses.  Many of these Antebellum homes have survived and can be seen on the walking/driving tour of the historic district. In 1844 the first of three great fires struck the community. The county courthouse, begun in 1809 and finally completed 15 years later, burned to the ground. However, most of the county records were saved. In 1869 the entire business district burned after fire broke out in Albert Shaw’s furniture store on South Main Street. Twenty-six (26) businesses were destroyed. The heat was so intense that many of the salvaged goods placed in the middle of the street burned also. In this fire, the city hall and all the town records were destroyed. The community began rebuilding immediately; however, it took ten years before all the lots burned in the fire had buildings on them.  Madison’s Antebellum homes and Victorian homes, as well as its tastefully restored downtown, offer a wide range of shops, tastes, sights and services that delight visitors from this country and abroad, as they travel along Georgia’s Antebellum Trail, the Georgia Antiques Trail and the Historic Heartland travel region.

FARMHOUSE INN:

The description above gives you a very brief understanding of the town itself. Now let’s take a look at where my wife and I stayed.

As you approach the facility you can certainly see the one hundred (100) acres that constitute a working farm.  Cows, chickens, goats, turkeys, a peacock, and most of the animals you would expect on a farm.

This is the driveway as viewed from the guest house.

I know the picture below looks very rustic but the interior was clean, comfortable and “up-to-date”.  The owners of the facility completely renovated an actual farmhouse barn and constructed a dining area, kitchen, common space and rooms.  I have no idea as to how much money they spent on the reconstruction and refurbishment of the overall complex.  I would say close to one million dollars.

There were two rooms in the barn and twelve rooms in the “Common House” adjacent to the barn.  The two JPEGs below will show the main guest house and the walkway to the guest rooms.   These digitals will give you some idea as to the layout of the overall complex.

No farm would be complete without a garden, or gardens.

No garden is complete without a scarecrow.

On the grounds of the Farmhouse Inn is a Baptist Church established in the early 1800s.  It is still a “working” church with services every Sunday morning and Sunday evening.  The view below is looking at the church from the garden.

The interior is just as you might expect, Spartan, but with air conditioning.

The exterior of the church.

One HUGE surprise, was dinner that night at the 220 Restaurant in downtown Madison.  We were tired but hungry.  As you can see, the dining area is absolutely exquisite with every detail being considered.  The food was gourmet—absolutely gourmet.  This was really a surprise coming from such a small town.  I expected BBQ, fast food and meat-and-three diners.  Not Madison, Georgia.  Great dining and we did not break the bank.  They also had a marvelous wine selection.

CONCLUSIONS:

You never know what you might find when you take a long weekend but this time, my wife and I were certainly surprised.  We will definitely go back.  I would love to have your comments.

 

 

MATILDA MIDNIGHT

March 23, 2019


If you follow my posts you know I love to talk about Chattanooga.  Chattanooga, or Ross’s Landing, as it was known in the days of the Cherokee Indians, is in east Tennessee and situated on the Tennessee River.  My home town.  One of the great things about Chattanooga is the amazing number of events the city offers and hosts AND the great number of really unique home-owned restaurants.  My wife, shown below, and I visited one of those unique restaurants this past Friday—MATILDA MIDNIGHT.  Let’s take a look.

Matilda Midnight is located in the Dwell Hotel at 120 East 10th Street—right downtown.  From the Dwell, you can comfortably walk to just about any location in Chattanooga including the Northshore and the Southside.  Both are rapidly growing areas hosting retail shops, wonderful dining and events at Coolidge Park, the Walnut Street Walking Bridge, Riverwalk, and other really interesting venues in the downtown area .

A picture of the Dwell is shown below.

Three very interesting and unexpected facts about The Dwell Hotel let you know you’re entering a facility that is wholly original: Colorful treats prepared by an in-house pastry chef magically find their way to your room each day; the hotel’s  sixteen (16) rooms all feature a unique design complemented by vintage furniture and curated art pieces; and the hotel is the realization of a dream that has lingered in the mind of owner Seija Ojanpera since she was a little girl, the evidence of which can be found in journals from her youth. Today, that young girl is a first-time hotelier who is ensuring that guests have a truly unforgettable experience in her dream-come-true property. Chattanooga’s first luxury boutique hotel presents an interior which exudes the energy of Old Hollywood and South Beach, while its exposed brick and limestone outer shell gives a gentle nod to Chattanooga’s industrial heritage. The result is a swanky take on midcentury modern that creates a luxury-meets-retro feel, with each room evoking a journey into another era. Meanwhile, nightlife now thrives at The Dwell thanks to its boldly imagined cocktail bar, Matilda Midnight.

Shown below is the small lobby where a guest checks in and discover information about the city.

My wife and I went directly to the bar where tapas are served from four P.M. till well into the evening each day.  The bar is fairly small with somewhat limited seating but extremely well stocked as you might expect, or at least hope. One thing very evident is the number of paintings and sculpture located within the bar area itself. You can see that from the JPEG below.

You can get a better idea as to the size by the following JPEGs.  I might note, we always eat fairly early, and we were there about 5:10 in the afternoon.  When we left around 6:45, the place was full with just about every seat taken.  Definitely a meeting place for after work individuals.  The empty seats in the digital pictures really gives you an incorrect impression.

Seating is very comfortable and quite intimate.  Areas shown below are duplicated within the bar itself.

I mentioned paintings.  They are numerous.

 

The alcove area below is a very comfortable place for guests to relax and “chill” as my grand-kids might say before going out on the town.

The menu is REALLY interesting with the fascinating cover as shown below.

The wine list is completely adequate as are the dishes or “cravings” shown on the right side.

You never outgrow you need for a 5:30 P.M. hamburger.  That’s what I had and it was “fully loaded”. My wife had four (4) wrapped chicken rolls with curry sauce.  They were equally delicious.

One distinctive thing about the Dwell, it’s tucked away on an unobtrusive, somewhat narrow, very quiet street. One would never know it was there.  That’s one of the charming things about the Dwell.  You will find other boutique hotels in Chattanooga such as the new Moxy and the new Edwin.  All located in areas that most non-tourists would never realize exist.   Both the Moxy and the Edwin have marvelous bar areas and great food just as the Matilda.

YOU REALLY NEED TO VISIT CHATTANOOGA.

 


For most of us, the city where we were born is the “best city on earth”.  EXAMPLE:   About ten (10) years ago I traveled with three other guys to Sweetwater, Texas.  About sixteen (16) hours of nonstop travel, each of us taking four (4) hour shifts.  We attended the fifth (50th) “Rattlesnake Roundup”. (You are correct—what were we thinking?)  Time of year—March.  The winter months are when the critters are less active and their strike is much slower.  Summer months, forget it.  You will not win that contest.  We were there about four (4) days and got to know the great people of Sweetwater.  The city itself is very hot, even for March, but most of all windy and dusty.  The wind never seems to stop.  Ask about Sweetwater— “best little city on the planet”.  Wouldn’t leave for all the money in the world.  That’s just how I feel about my home town—Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Public Art Chattanooga decided to add a splash of color to the monolithic grey hulk of the AT&T building, located on the Southside of Chattanooga proper.  This building is a tall windowless structure resembling the “BORG” habitat detailed in several Star Trek episodes.  Not really appealing in any sense of the word.  When Public Art received permission to go forward, they called internationally respected artist Meg Saligman.  Meg was the obvious choice for the work.  This is her largest mural to date covering approximately 42,000 square feet.  It is definitely one of the five (5) largest murals in the country and the largest in the Southeastern part of the United States.

The ML King District Mural Project reinforces the critical role public art plays in lending a sense of place to a specific neighborhood, and certainly contributes to future neighborhood beautification and economic development efforts. The images and people in the mural are inspired by real stories, individuals, and the history of the neighborhood.  For approximately six (6) months, people living and visiting the Southside were interviewed to obtain their opinion and perspective as to what stories would be displayed by the mural.  The proper balance was required, discussed, and met, with the outcome being spectacular.

This is a Meg Saligman Studios project.  Co-Principal Artists are Meg Saligman and Lizzie Kripke. Lead Artists Hollie Berry and James Tafel Shuster In 2006, Public Art Review featured Meg Saligman as one of the ten most influential American muralists of the past decade. She has received numerous awards, including the Philadelphia Mural Arts Program’s Visionary Artist Award, and honors from the National Endowment of the Arts, the MidAtlantic Arts Foundation, the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, and Philadelphia’s Leeway Foundation.  Saligman has painted more than fifty murals all over the world, including Philadelphia, Shreveport, Mexico City, and now Chattanooga.  She has a way of mixing the classical and contemporary aspects of painting together. Prior to the M.L.K mural, Saligman’s most famous work is “Common Threads” located in the Philadelphia area. It is painted on the west wall of the Stevens Administrative Center at the corner of Broad and Spring Garden Streets. Other major works include “Philadelphia Muses” on 13th and Locust streets, a multimedia “Theatre of Life” on Broad and Lombard streets, “Passing Through”  over the Schuylkill Expressway, and the paint and LED light installation at Broad and Vine streets, “Evolving Face of Nursing”.  Saligman’s work can be viewed nationally in Shreveport, Louisiana, with “Once in a Millennium Moon”, and in Omaha, Nebraska, with “Fertile Ground.”

A key component of the M.L.K. Mural in Chattanooga was the local apprentice program offering an opportunity for local artists to work with the nationally recognized muralist and to learn techniques and methods for large scale projects such as this. From thirty-three (33) applicants, Meg interviewed and hired a team of six (6) locals who constituted an integral part of the program itself.  Each artist was hired for their artistic skill sets and their ability to work collaboratively as team members. Members of the local team are: 1.) Abdul Ahmad, 2.) Anna Carll, 3.) Rondell Crier, 4.) Shaun LaRose, 5.) Mercedes Llanos and 6.) Anier Reina.

Now, with that being said, let’s take a look.

From this digital photograph and the one below, you can get a feel for the scope of the project and the building the artwork is applied to.  As you can see, it’s a dull grey, windowless, concrete structure well-suited for such a face-lift.  Due to the height and size of the building, bucket trucks were used to apply the paint.

The layout, of course, was developed on paper first with designs applied to quadrants on the building.  You can see some of the interacies of the process from the JPEG above.

The planning for this project took the better part of one year due to the complexity and the layout necessary prior to initiating the project.  As I traveled down M.L.King Avenue, I would watch the progress in laying out the forms that would accept the colors and shades of paint.  In one respect, it was very similar to paint-by-numbers.  Really fascinating to watch the development of the artwork even prior to painting.

The completed mural covers all four (4) sides of the AT&T building and as you can see from the JPEG below—it is striking.

This gives you one more reason to visit Chattanooga.  As always, I welcome your comments.

SO THIS IS CHRISTMAS

December 24, 2018


I would definitely like to thank all of those individuals who follow my site and those looking while “clicking” through the Internet. As you all know, my site is not for everyone. I generally concentrate on the STEM professions, travel, and great restaurants my wife and I frequent in Chattanooga and during any travels we undertake. For all of you “out there”:

MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR.

Let’s hope 2019 brings health and happiness to everyone and PEACE ON EARTH for the billions of people living on this wonderful “blue dot”.

This past week, my wife and I traveled to Dallas to spend time with our son and his family.   Driving through their neighborhood, we were taken to one house that definitely stands out.  I’m going to give you a pictorial of the house and grounds right now.  Take a look at this one.

 

As you can see, the name of the hose is Lizzyland. Named for the owner.  She is obviously really into decorating for Christmas. Given below, is the view from the street.

You would not believe the traffic trying to take a look. People stopping with cameras and walking around the entire house.

While we were there, two local camera crews were filming for their late-night news programs.  Apparently, the word had spread far and wide about the efforts put in by Lizzy.  We discovered that she had hosting an open house during December for the entire neighborhood and wanted to welcome her guests in style.  I think this did it.

Again—a very MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR.  Thank you so much for stopping by. I hope to post more frequently in 2019. 2018 was another very busy year.  Take care. See you in 2019.

 

WESTIN—CHATTANOOGA

November 18, 2018


Just about every Friday evening my wife and I celebrate the weekend by going to dinner.  We like to go early, i.e. 4:30 or 5:00 P.M. In other words—happy hour.  The crowds are smaller and the prices are much more in line with a reasonable budget.  This past Friday, we tried the Westin—Chattanooga located at 801 Pine Street. Pine Street is just west of the “main drag” and close to I-27.  Great location for a restaurant.  We heard the Alchemy Bar and Restaurant on the tenth (10th) floor of the hotel was great.  We were not disappointed in the least.

The Westin was at one time Blue Cross-Blue Shield of Chattanooga.  A digital picture of that building is shown below.

This building was called the “Gold Building” for obvious reasons.  The gold windows reflected sunlight, thus keeping the interior office areas much cooler and saving considerable utility expense.  Blue Cross basically outgrew these facilities and relocated some miles away.  Westin purchased the building some time afterwards and spent millions and over one year of time in refurbishing it and turning it into a marvelous hotel and commercial facilities.

As mentioned, the Alchemy is located on the tenth floor.  We will take a pictorial tour of the facility.

You are greeted with a plaque indicating the location and name.

One of the great features of the Alchemy is the lighting.  Lights everywhere and beautifully done.

I hope you can tell the restaurant is “kid-friendly”. When we were there, there were children ranging from infant to young teen. All very respectful of the furnishing and QUIET.

The dining area is very spacious with plenty of room to move around.  I did not include it in the pictures but here are high tables along the picture windows to the left of this JPEG and to entry of the facility.

You get a great view of the famous Lookout Mountain.  Lookout Mountain is noted for the “Battle Above the Clouds”—a famous battle between the North and the South during the Civil War.  This profile is on the City seal just as you see it here.

The picture below shows a small portion of the Chattanooga skyline.

LOBBY:

The lobby is really inviting with an exceptional amount of space.  The pictures below will definitely give you that reality.

I want to note the “picture wall” below.  The Westin has hung pictures of Chattanooga new and old to show a very brief “evolution” of the city center.

CONCLUSIONS:

You really need to make Chattanooga one place on your agenda while driving South.  We have become a destination for visitors due to the following: 1.) Great dining, 2.) The Tennessee River and all the “stuff” you can do on that river, 3.) Great accommodations, 4.) Wonderful tourist attractions in the downtown area and the surrounding tri-state areas. It’s a great destination summer, winter, spring and especially the fall.  Come on down.

MERCEDES-BENZ STADIUM

November 6, 2018


Atlanta is the host city for one of the most beautiful stadiums in our country.  Also, from an engineering standpoint, one of the most complex.  You can see from the digital above the stadium at night.

My wife and I traveled to ATL recently to visit our granddaughters and thought we would take a tour of the stadium prior to our visit.  The Atlanta Falcons were not playing so things were relatively quiet; otherwise, you could not get within ten (10) feet of the places we were allowed to go on the tour.  The prices for a tour are as follows:

  • Adult Ticket-$25.00
  • Senior Adult Ticket: $20.00
  • Parking: $15.00 (In the parking garage.)

I don’t think this is too bad for the “look” we got.  The entire tour is about one hour and twenty minutes.

STATISTICS:

Let’s take a look at several statistics to get some idea as to the immense project this was.

  • Arthur Blank indicated the groundbreaking of the stadium would be conducted the last week of March 2014. The stadium opened in 2017.
  • Cost to build: $1.15 Billion (Yes that’s billion with a “B”.)
  • Construction time: Thirty-nine (39) months
  • Parking space: 21,000
  • Stadium height: 305 Feet
  • Field level: 1018 Feet above sea level.
  • Total stadium footage: 2,000,000 Square Feet
  • Total concrete: 150,000 Cubic Yards
  • Total structural steel: 27,000 Tons
  • Roof size: 14.5 acres
  • Total seating capacity: 71,000 expandable to 75,000
  • Club seats: 7,600
  • Number of suites: 190
  • Concession points of sale: 673
  • Bars and restaurants: 24
  • Beer taps: 1,264
  • Escalators: 25
  • Scoreboard: 63,800 Square Feet

In other words, this is one big place.  Let’s now take a digital tour.  I made all of these pictures so please forgive, in some cases, the armature nature.

As you approach the stadium you get an idea just how big it is. This is the walkway leading from underground parking.

The most prominent indicator announcing “we have arrived” is the Atlanta Falcon—otherwise known as the “dirty bird”.

We mentioned earlier the number of escalators used to access seating. From the JPEG below, you get some idea as to the layout.

With out a doubt, the most prominent feature of the stadium is the dome and the skylight.

As you might expect, the roof is an un-suspended design with no supporting internal posts or columns blocking view from any seat.  The complexly of the superstructure may be seen as follows:

This is a civil engineers dream, or nightmare.  Choose one.  There are eight (8) petals to the retractable dome and they actuate like the shutter on a camera lens.

CLUBS WITHIN THE STADIUM:

There are various clubs within the stadium, each bearing the name of the sponsor.

The AT & T Perch is the first you encounter.

Atlanta is the hub for Delta Airlines so you know they will be involved in a big way and support a club—a beautiful club at that.

Mercedes-Benz sponsors an equally beautiful restaurant and bar called the Gullwing.

 

Another “Benz” club is shown below with internal seating.

PLAYING FIELD:

OK, this is a football stadium.

LOCKER ROOM:

By far, the most disappointing aspect of the entire facility was the locker room.

We are taking bland and generic although, maybe for game day, things improve greatly.  After all, this was a guided tour.

CONCLUSION:

I can certainly recommend to you taking the tour the next time you are in Atlanta. It is well worth it to see the come by itself.

SEPTEMBER 11, 2001

September 11, 2018


Do you remember where you were this day seventeen years ago?

I was working for the Roper Corporation, a company owned by General Electric; sitting in the “cube farm” working on a project for the appliance group.  My “next-door” neighbor, Dwayne Lee, came over and told me he had just gotten a telephone call from his son.   A small private plane had flown into one of the twin towers in New York City.   My very first thought was possibly a pilot, maybe a student pilot, had gotten into to high winds, lost control, and impacted one of the towers.  As tragic as this seems, I honestly did not think we were under attack.  The wind patterns around high-rise buildings are very troublesome and even experienced pilots have difficulties when flying close to tall structures. Every pilot, according to FAA rules, is supposed to keep

A few minutes went by and I decided to call home to see if there were any updates to the story.  At that time, my son told me a second aircraft had flown into the second tower.  This never happens by accident.

At 8:46 a.m., American Flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.  At first, newscasters were not sure whether it was an accident or a deliberate attack.

At 9:03 a.m., United Flight 175 crashed into the South Tower, leaving no doubt this was an attack.  Some news channels captured the moment on live television.

At 9:40 a.m., American Flight 77 crashed into the Pentagon. Five minutes later, for the first time in history, the FAA ordered all aircraft to land at the nearest airport.

At 10:03 a.m., hijacked flight United Flight 93 crashed into a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania. The plane’s target was believed to be the US Capitol. The passengers on board tried to gain control of the flight and divert the hijackers after learning of the other attacks.

By this time the news at Roper had spread to the point where we all had to find a television to see just what was happening.  There was a TV in our test lab so we all hustled downstairs to find the set already on with coverage that lasted the entire day.  The day was shot as far as work so we all gathered around the TV huddled like cowboys in winter around a campfire.

About an hour after the second strike, three of our guys who were in the National Guard, were called and told to report to their duty station immediately.  They were not allowed to go home first—just report and do it now.  They left, came back the next day and waited for orders.  Those orders came fairly quickly and all three were shipped out within the month.

  • 2,753 people were killed in the New York attack.  That number includes 342 firefighters and paramedics and 60 police officers who rushed to help in the aftermath.
  • Another 40 people were killed in Pennsylvania
  • 184 people died in Washington, DC as a result of the strike on the Pentagon
  • Rescue efforts at Ground Zero continued until October 9, and the flames from the collapsed burned until December.
  • Over one thousand first responders have since died of cancer resulting from the rescue and cleanup efforts.

NEVER FORGET

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