Tuesday, April 2nd: We woke to another gorgeous morning at the Plains Historic Inn, and took a couple extra hours resting before starting on the next adventure in Americus. That last morning at the Inn was a lovely one, and while we were sad to leave these beautiful accommodations, we knew we were moving on to equally as awesome places.
Plains, you did our heart some good.
And I thank you.
We checked out of the Inn, and took the short car ride to Americus, where we met our dear friend Nicole at her office, and toured the Americus Visitor Center. Nicole is the Director of Tourism for the City of Americus. (If you don't already know Nicole . . . YOU WANT TO!) She is so knowledgeable about the area and knows all the best places to go . . . truly, she was the best tour guide during our trip and we were so blessed to spend these days with her. The Americus Visitor Center is a great place to stop to get some pointers on "All the Things to Do" in Sumter County. Not only do they have lots of brochures covering just about everything in Georgia, but they also sell great little souvenirs from tons of businesses, have information on and provide tours, coordinate lots of local special events, and have multiple selfie opportunities with the Carters (which, we HAD to take advantage of.)
|Have camera . . . will selfie!|
After a great exploration of the Americus Visitor Center, we decided it was time to get some good Southern Cuisine in our systems. Nicole took us for lunch to a place I am still drooling over . . . . GLADYS' KITCHEN. Oh, friends . . . what can I possibly say about Gladys' Kitchen that would make you get up and go? Well, how about absolute delicious home cooking through and through, affordable prices, and the best butter rolls I have ever had in my life? Yes, that is what I can I say. What are butter rolls, you ask? I have absolutely no idea . . . but I didn't know what I was missing in my life until I had a butter roll from Gladys'. And now that I have had one, I only wish I lived closer so I could get one right now (but that drive from Chicago might be a little long for me this afternoon.)
|I had the smothered pork chops with rice, broccoli cheese casserole, and fried okra. SOOOOO GOOOOOOD!!!|
|Gladys' Kitchen Butter Rolls . . . I couldn't even take a picture before I dove in. |
What is it? A bread pudding? A sweet roll in a pan? I have no idea. But dear Lord . . . it is heaven on earth!
Oh, Gladys. You shouldn't have. But if you had to . . . why couldn't you have closer to Chicago?
|Peggy and me, with our Butter Rolls . . . sigh.|
Photo courtesy of Nicole Kirksey.
With happy smiles on our faces, we left Gladys' Kitchen and decided to top off our delicious lunch with some equally delicious wine! (Yes, so far day 2 is all about pleasing the appetite! And I feel only slightly guilty about it.) So off we went, to Wolf Creek Plantation Vineyards and Winery for a wine tasting with Marketing Director, Hannah Cannon! With a really lovely tasting room (elegant and comfortable), we indulged in a small sampling of a number of their wines . . . and I will tell you, they were delicious!
I am pretty sure Number 9 White was my favorite. Or was it Number 9 Red? Wait . . . the Mapmaker Red was it, I am sure. I think . . . ;) . . . . Whatever it was, I was (once again) thrilled that we drove to Georgia, because I brought a whole bunch of these bottles home to enjoy. And since I can't have a Gladys' Butter Roll right about now, I think I will pour myself a glass of Wolf Creek Plantation wine! Special thanks to Hannah, who explained the fine art of Wolf Creek wines and educated this non-wine connoisseur on the great offerings they have. She was delightful!
|We plan on coming back to Georgia next spring with a group of friends, and will definitely be back for a tasting.|
Yes, the Mapmakers RED must have been my favorite - because I took a photo of it (AND came home with two bottles of this one!) Thanks to Hannah for helping us make some great selections of wines to bring home.
When we finished at Wolf Creek, it was time to return to the history, so we went back to downtown Americus and stopped by the amazing RYLANDER THEATER.
And my friends . . . this visit changed me.
For the better.
In so many ways.
I am a theater nerd, born and raised. I did a lot of plays in my lifetime (I think upwards of 30). I deeply admire, enjoy and respect anyone who does anything in theater. And still feel it in my soul, even though it has been over 20 years since I did anything on stage. Walking into the Rylander . . . I felt like I was coming home . . . to a person long forgotten.
Nicole introduced us to the wonderful Heather Stanley (Rylander Managing Director) and Will Dozier (Rylander Administrator) who were kind enough to take us on a little tour of the theater - telling us all about the history of the building, the renovations of the space, and talking a little about what brought us to Americus. Do you know that feeling when you just meet someone, but you swear you have known them your whole entire life? Or at least, for a good portion of it? That is how it felt with Heather and Will. I think I could have spent ALL DAY talking with them . . . they truly were my kind of people. And the theater . . . what an amazing gem of a place! Heather and Will . . . if you are reading this . . . I ADORE YOU!!! 😘
The 600 seat theater originated in 1921, and is chock-full of all the gorgeous charm you'd expect from a theater of that time. Although it was closed for more than 40 years, an extensive $4.8 millions dollar restoration process brought the theater back to it's original splendor, and it reopened in 1999.
The lobby is full of the most gorgeous paintings done by artist Jeff Williams. His work is stunning and I found myself mesmerized by the style, texture and design of these 1920s women. I love this time period, and his work is just perfect for the Rylander. Here are just three of the paintings hanging in the lobby of the Rylander. I can't remember how many more are there, but there are quite a few. Each as awesome as the next:
Once inside the theater, Heather and Will shared more great stories of the history and restoration, and Peggy and I soaked it up. The restoration, now completed 20 years ago, was really well done . . . beautiful murals were recovered, tile work, lighting, everything. So lovely.
It took me all of two seconds to run up on stage when they asked, "Would you like to go on stage?"
I thought they'd never ask.
|"All the world's a stage, and all men and women merely players." Thanks, Shakespeare. |
And yes, that's me!
Oh, my friends. The stage. Any stage. It still carries my soul.
Of course, when there is an audience, one must perform . . .
Even an audience of one. (Thanks, Peggy.)
I could have easily monopolized Heather and Will for hours longer, especially while standing on stage, so we bid farewell to the Rylander and our wonderful hosts, and went on our next location.
But I will remember this place for a long time. Thank you, Rylander. For helping me find a bit of my old self.
After the Rylander, we stopped in a couple shops in downtown Americus (LOVELY SHOPPING, FRIENDS!) and walked over to Cafe Campesino Coffeehouse for a coffee to go (Cafe Campesino . . . I will tell you more about this wonderful company and wonderful place tomorrow).
Then we walked across the street and checked into our rooms at the Hotel Windsor. Oh, my friends . . . the Hotel Windsor . . . . beautiful!!!
After leaving our bags in our rooms, we leisurely found ourselves sitting out on the veranda of the hotel, enjoying our coffee beverages from Cafe Campasino. This being our first true moment of rest since we arrived, looking at the beautiful southern sky and feeling the cool breeze across the balcony, my mind paused long enough for thoughts of my sister to surface.
And for a short time, some tears fell.
Not because I was sad (well, maybe a little because I was sad.) But, the tears fell . . . because I felt her there. Sitting with us. Right where she should have been.
She would have loved this trip.
She would have loved just sitting on that veranda.
She would have loved Nicole.
She would have loved Georgia.
She would have loved the sunshine, the breeze, the history.
She would have loved all of it.
So we sat. And talked. And cried.
Just then, Vic Patel (General Manager of Hotel Windsor) walked up to us. What a kind, compassionate gentleman. I would think it is not very often when he walks up to visitors of his hotel and finds them crying . . . but his compassion will never be forgotten. He asked if he could give me a hug when he learned this trip was in honor of my sister, who passed last December. And there, in that moment - I realized once again how amazingly good this trip was for my soul. And what good there is in the world.
A hug. From a stranger.
So thank you, Vic. Your few moments with us meant the world to me. And I appreciate it.
We dried our tears, bid farewell to Vic, and Nicole took us for a little driving tour of Americus (oh, the gorgeous old homes - how I love it there!). We ended the evening at a local place it seems EVERYONE knows - for some good music and a whole bunch of fun.
Tuesday night is bluegrass music night at Pat's, and I have to tell you, it was a blast! We arrived early to make sure we had a great table (we had prime seating, my friends!) and we enjoyed some good food until the live music began. And when it did . . . oh, it was awesome!!
We stayed long enough to get a great feel for the bluegrass of Pat's, and found ourselves with just enough energy to get back to the Hotel Windsor and get ourselves to sleep. What a great day in Americus, my friends! Absolutely awesome!
And, we weren't done yet! Stay tuned . . . for the next day, we made latte art, blew some glass and did even MORE!
Be back in a couple days with my final (I think) post about this incredible visit to Plains & Americus, Georgia! Thanks for being here, friends. I am so grateful to share this story with you.
As always, peace.