Visit to ARN by Jenni Williams
WELCOME TO THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF LUCY!!
After a rather slow journey through Atlantas rush hour (now I know what real traffic congestion looks like) we arrived at Roswell at about 5pm to a rousing welcome from the menagerie: Max the dashing dachshund & Eli & Yahoo the very regal cats - Lucy & Robert had to wait to greet us until they had finished!!
First things first, before even unpacking Lucy shows us our itinerary a large flipchart with am & pm shown for each day of our visit. Its already practically full, often with a choice of places to go wow Lucy has been busy.
Before jet lag can claim us were fed, watered & sent to get changed for the first evenings entertainment were off to Darwins in Marietta, its Thursday so its Blues Jam night. Its little more than a shack but the atmosphere is electric - the house band were already on stage blowing up a storm with 2 harps adding to the guitar, bass & drums a fabulous sound! Jamie suddenly disappeared, Lucy & I thought hed gone to the bar but, when a little while later hes invited on stage to sing a couple of numbers we realise that hed gone off to sign up!! He introduced the band to a few blues standards popular on the UK blues scene Baby, what you want me to do; Statesboro Blues & Walking the dog & had great fun, the crowd were noisy & appreciative and the musos were a friendly bunch. Blues certainly is an international language! Finally its time for bed, Day 1 complete & weve had a blast Lucy assures us that weve seen nothing yet!
DAY 2 Did I mention the weather? Its glorious high 80s, not a cloud in the sky. We get up late as befits the rock n roll lifestyle. Lucy has a healthy breakfast prepared as we really dont want to go home having put on tons of weight as is usual after a visit to the
We work on the itinerary
a little having so much fun in such a short period of time takes very careful planning!
Lucy takes us for a drive around the
Next we have a look at some of the newer sub divisions (thats estates to us in the UK) dotted around the Roswell area: we see huge mansions, back to back, each house a show house; a monument to the American dream, its all pretty amazing, but perhaps to our UK eyes a touch pretentious. En route to one of the best views of Atlanta Lucy spots a house for sale with the realtor standing outside we stop & ask for a tour. The house is utterly amazing, its a bank foreclosure so will go cheaply the previous occupants have stripped it of most of the fittings & its in need of some work, most of it superficial but it has the most stunning decks on 2 levels with views over 2 or 3 states. Its a tardis we counted 16 rooms (only 5 bedrooms though!) all of them enormous to our
Next stop, lunch, it has to be American as its out first full day Lucy takes us to Wild Wings & we eat, what else but WINGS yummy!! Its then time for home & a quick dip in the communal pool wonderfully refreshing & Jamie suddenly announces hes got an idea for a song & he rushes off to write it down.
Theres no rest for the wicked, so they say, so after a quick wash & change ifs off to
Were in for a treat tonight as Lucy is taking us to see the Barry Richman Band at Niks in
Jamie & I decide to give Lucy & Robert a break while we explore
Were still early for the gig, so find a bar & the conversation continues to flow.
Time for the gig & weve already missed the first band & Dan suggests that giving the 2nd band might be a good idea too hes had them on his radio show & wasnt impressed. Neither was I, but thats another story Now for the main event - Holdcell. Wed already met Richard, their manager & his partner Angelica what a lovely couple & the guys in the band are all delightful too. I knew theyd be good but I was still completely awestruck, they were utterly amazing, so much energy & excitement they really do deserve a break as they are truly world-class. Jamie is already wearing a band t-shirt & Im dancing like a loon . We finally crawl into bed at 4am, but were too wired to sleep!
After the late night its a leisurely morning spend chatting & a quick trip to the supermarket to get some much needed supplies its a wondrous experience for me: aisles full of goodies unheard of in the UK; Havarti with dill; Rosemary smoked ham; my eyes are out on stalks piles of tropical fruits & ½ an aisle devoted to salad dressings alone the Americans really do know how to live!
At 2pm we head off to
Back to Lucys for a well-earned rest all this fun is exhausting!
Next up its to Players in
DAY 5 (LABOR DAY)
A late chilled start to the day after yesterdays exertions Jamie borrows Lucys very precious guitar signed by both Paul Rogers & Simon Kirk to work on the 3 songs hes already written since we arrived the creative juices are really flowing.
Our next port of call is a visit to the WRFG Labor Day Blues BBQ at the Park Tavern in
Lastly my personal favourites of the day, Motor City Josh & the Big 3 they played a stunning set of funky blues which had everyone dancing a brilliant end to a brilliant day. With exhaustion creeping up on us we took a slow amble through
Shopping day all those of a nervous disposition look away now First stop & Lucy thought Jamie might find some great gigging gear at Kohls she wasnt wrong, her first pick a black embossed/embroidered shirt, a princely $8.40, & she just kept on pulling out bargains from the multitude of racks 30 minutes later Jamie has 6 shirts at a total cost of $63, a huge $144 of savings off list price!
Next stop Michaels Arts & Crafts we went for adhesive magnetic sheets so I can make some fridge magnets (Ive never seen it in the
Lunch was a fabulous steak at Charlies & I simply had to sample a Grapefruit/Orange Marguerita delicious. Its a tough life ..
Suitably fortified its off to Horsetown, a western superstore, as I want to replace my old cowboy boots. They advertise that they have 30,000 pairs & the dizzying range on display looks like it, but as usual Lucy comes to the rescue, she looked me up & down, smiled & said Ill be right back & low & behold in less than a minute there she was clutching a pair of boots & said These are the ones! I fell in love with them instantly & once wed found the right size they fitted like carpet slippers. I put all the others back! I shant say how much they cost but I havent stopped grinning since I got them.
We get back & its time to head off to meet Daniel in
Doug joins us during his break & soon discovers that Jamie is a singer/songwriter too & immediately offers Jamie his guitar & sends him up to sing a few numbers.
Thanks to Lucy we have met some truly wonderful people & this really is turning into the trip of a lifetime.
Sightseeing weve promised ourselves a trip
First stop the Georgia Aquarium its the biggest in the world & absolutely amazing. Its spread over 5 distinct areas but you can end up with a crick in your neck from constantly looking at all the fish, rays, sharks & whales swimming over your head! The beluga whales were my particular favourites they seemed such gentle giants as they glided through the water & of course the otters were as cute as cute can be!
Next stop the World of Coca Cola not being a huge consumer I wasnt sure what to expect but it was an amazing experience as we were shown the entire history of the company. There were historical artefacts; cartoon characters; rooms full of advertising across the ages & from around the world; a breathtaking 4D film show; an art gallery & finally a tasting session where you could try all 162 flavours currently available across the world needless to say we didnt quite manage to sample all of them! It was however a really worthwhile visit, one I would highly recommend to any visitor to
We strolled through Centennial Olympic Park just as the choreographed water fountain show was due to start it was beautiful with the jets rising high into the sky to tunes from Sinatra etc.
Robert had told us that the best view of
We made it to Niks in
So ended another fun filled day in
Time for the full American breakfast well you have to have at least one its the law! We took Lucys advice & went to IHOP & had the full works, served with the obligatory pancakes, Jamies with strawberries & cream & mine with apple, cinnamon & cream & delicious they were too, I just needed a forklift truck to get me out of there!
We then bought a few souvenirs to take home to the band & retired exhausted to the Diesel Bar had a couple of drinks sitting in the sunshine & put the world to rights.
The evening was going to be busy, Lucy had lots planned. We began at .? A Mexican restaurant in ..?, sitting at a long table on the deck overlooking fields of horses, with a game of football going on in the background. I had a marguerite to start; in fact it was so good I had to have second! We all ate fajitas, which were utterly delicious, & we ended up taking more home in our doggy bags than wed managed to eat. The entertainment was provided by Ian Schumacher who played a stunning set of originals & covers with guitar, drum machine & a loop pedal, he really was superb. He joined us during his break & on learning that Jamie was a fellow singer/songwriter he immediately dragged him onstage to sing one of his songs. Unfortunately we couldnt stay for long as we had places to go .
Next stop, and en route to our final destination, we popped into
We have to go home, were all shattered, weve crammed so much into such a short period of time & tomorrows our road trip to the north of
Up early & a quick breakfast & its into the car heading up I75 to the
Something catches Lucys eye & were off The Bear Shop I cant believe my eyes, its a whole shop selling everything to do with bears: ornaments; toys; clothing including a range of very tasteful pants; even CDs of bear songs it did put a smile on my face.
On our way out of town we find the Welcome Centre & stock up on maps & info.
Were now in lake country & everywhere you look between the mountains are beautiful shimmering lakes with stunning houses scattered between the trees. After an hour we arrive at Hiawassee & the Smoke Rings BBQ. Lucy found this restaurant on the web & wanted to check it out. What a fabulous setting, it sits slightly back from & above the main street & has a large balcony overlooking
We see a small road side stall & decide to get some peaches the place is amazing, it has a whole room devoted to jams, another to sauces, racks upon racks of different types of home made bread & just about everything you could possibly need from umbrellas & garden ornaments to fridge magnets & piles of the biggest peaches you have ever seen a real Aladdins Cave & right in the middle of nowhere.
Back in the car we see bumper-to-bumper traffic heading to the mountains for the weekend; luckily were heading in the opposite direction.
We get home later than planned & so decide to miss the first gig Lucy had planned, just time for a quick shower & were off to Sidelines Sports Bar to see the Marty Manous Band. Wow theres a truck parked inside the venue acting as the backdrop for the bar, how cool is that? We try to work out how the hell they got it into the bar; it must have been put in before the walls! The headline act tonight is a Red Hot Chilli Peppers tribute band but were only here to see Marty, so we have a bite to eat before heading over to the venue. Luckily Robert manages to get a quick look at the support band before we pay our $10 entrance - its not Marty. Close shave there! It appears that theres been a mix up & the band isnt playing after all.
So Plan B, we head over to Matildas in Marietta, Lucy has heard its an interesting occasional outdoors venue behind some craft shops she wasnt misinformed, its actually held on an patch of ground behind a group of arty shops, between the trees with an improvised stage, no bar or seating, everyone brings their own drinks, picnics & seats. Its really casual & the music had a really laid back, funky feel. We couldnt see the band as there were so many people dancing but there was a great atmosphere definitely not to be missed, but we were all tired & decided to make an early(ier) night of it.
So its our last full day, where has the time gone, I cant believe were leaving tomorrow, how sad. I spend the morning packing. Lucy & Robert are taking us to
The drive takes just over an hour & then I see why its called
On the way home we encounter one of the scariest thunderstorms Ive seen & Lucy wonders whether the Blue Grass gig were going to tonight will be cancelled as its outside. She calls Richard & Angelica to check - theyre not sure but they say come on over anyway, so we do. The house belongs to Richards parents & there is a welcoming committee of grand & great grandchildren, to whom we soon add the gentlemen, returned from their trip to the liquor store, there are about 14 of us in all & the noise level is fairly high. The adults soon descend to the games room; a pool table takes pride of place & Richards collection of vintage guitars & amps take up one wall. Lucy, Richard & Angelica take themselves off to the jigsaw theyve been working at for the last few weeks (its mainly black & very hard going) & Janice challenges me to a game of pinball on her vintage Elvis table. Ive never played before & have enormous fun, how on earth did I miss pinball when growing up? Richard makes me a wonderful Marguerita to his own special recipe, which is just to die for. Its now too late to go to the gig, even if its still on so we decide to head into
Home today - what a dreadful thought.
We finish off our final bits of packing & take our farewell of the Max (the dashing dachs) & Eli & Yahoo. Lucy & Robert take us to the Flying Biscuit for our final breakfast (well brunch as its gone 11.00am); Jamie has steak & eggs & I opt for the full American, pancakes included scrummy!
We finally take our leave of Lucy & Robert. I really hate goodbyes & am really bad at them & weve had such a brilliant time here, its really hard to leave. Lucy has worked so hard in making sure that every detail of our stay has been perfect and there is just no way in which to thank her. She has shared her home, her family, her pets, her friends & her music with us, but most importantly she has become a great friend, someone who will always be in our hearts.
WELCOME TO THE WONDERFUL WORLD OF LUCY!!