Jimmy Carter’s Sunday School

This past weekend we traveled a few hours south to see President Carter in his home town of Plains, GA where he regularly offers a Sunday lesson as part of the worship service at his hometown church, Maranatha Baptist Church. He’s 92, a warm and humble and welcoming human. You can visit him too, any weekend he’s in town (and that’s almost every Sunday this spring), we ecstatically recommend making the trip.

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Advised to arrive early, we showed up in the dark at 7am for what turned out to be a lightly attended day due to below-freezing temperatures, and had an hour wait in the car followed by the requisite two hours of Secret Service and church community member orientation. The church is small, with 25 active members and seating for a few hundred including the overflow meeting room in the back. This is an intimate small town ministry, as with so much of Plains and the Carters it is largely unchanged from 1976: they still live in the ranch home they built in the 1960s, and go to church with high-school friends and relatives, plus us curious visitors.

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President Carter spoke with the us for about 40 minutes, starting with current politics, reiterating his life-long commitment to furthering peace and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as embodiment of world religious ideals for living good lives in a global human society, and diving into the week’s readings from the Apostle Paul’s letters to Titus and Philippians. When he asks the congregation open-endedly “what do you know about Paul?”, you see a man confident in teaching, with no worries of being stumped on a favorite topic, and pursuing a life of Christ-like humility and disinterest in worldly measures of success.

If you stay on for the regular Sunday service of hymns and preaching by a guest minister, you can get your picture taken with the Carters, and attempt to match the glowing smiles of these two wonderful people.

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Getaway to Savannah

For our anniversary this year, Luke and I drove the easy 2.5 hours east to the Georgia coast. After lovely stays in Charleston and New Orleans, we were excited to explore Savannah…the third point in the triangle of southern colonial cities. I booked a room at the Catherine Ward House Inn based on the recommendation of The Southerly, a beautiful photo blog that serves as a permanent source of inspiration. We were not disappointed.

Catherine Ward House Inn

Catherine Ward House Inn

The Inn is adjacent to Forsyth Park, making it the perfect central location for exploring the city on foot. The weather was sunny and warm, and it was lovely to take our time meandering up and down the grids and small squares that connect the area.

Forsyth Park Savannah

Forsyth Park, Savannah

Juliette Low

Juliette Low and Stephanie in appropriate Girl Scout green

We were surprised and delighted to learn that the Savannah Jazz Festival was taking place over the weekend, offering free Jazz music in the park from midday to midnight. After sampling a few beers at The Distillery, we made our way to Parker’s Market for gourmet picnic items and headed to the park in time to hear Alon Yavnai with the University of North Florida Jazz Ensemble followed by The Greg Lewis Trio.

UNF Jazz Ensemble at Savannah Jazz Festival

Before the night ended, we decided to check out Perch, the rooftop bar of Local 11ten. Fancy cocktails in the treetops and fantastic people-watching, it was the perfect way to celebrate a great day in Savannah.

The next morning, after a delicious breakfast and pleasant conversations with the other guests at the Inn, we drove over to Bonaventure Cemetery to walk through the trees and tombstones in the vein of John Muir.

Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery

Bonaventure Cemetery

We also drove over to Tybee Island to stick our feet in the ocean and enjoy the sunshine and fresh air.

Tybee Island beach

Tybee Island beach

At Tybee Island

At Tybee Island

We sat outside of a local bar and enjoyed margaritas with chips and salsa while daydreaming about kayaking through the nearby marshes. On the way back into town, we stopped at Back in the Day Bakery for what I can honestly say is the best cupcake I’ve ever had. And, like every other great place we visited in town, they had the most beautiful antique chandeliers lighting up the place.

Back in the Day Bakery

Back in the Day Bakery

That night, we took a Savannah Hopper down to the river and enjoyed a celebratory meal at the Olde Pink House. Our driver shared ghost stories with us along the ride and encouraged us to check out the basement bar of the restaurant to experience stepping back in time. Dinner was lovely, crab stuffed grouper for me and halibut with pearl onions and green beans for Luke, and the bar downstairs quaint but crowded. We opted instead to walk the streets of the city and window shop.

Dressed up

Candelabra

We tried to find a place for a nightcap that matched our quiet, romantic mood, but instead ended up in a loud, expensive “jazz” bar filled with bachelorette parties and octogenarians performing covers of all the slow jams by the Eagles. We left after one overpriced drink and made it back to Forsyth Park to enjoy the last act of the Festival, Tom Scott with The Savannah Jazz Orchestra. The Inn was close enough that, even after leaving the park, we could still listen to the music while sitting in rocking chairs on the front porch before climbing into bed.

The weekend was full of great food and drink, fresh air, beautiful surroundings, and heartfelt talks. All the things we love.

*All photo credits: Luke

Driving South

An assortment of moments captured as we made our way from Philadelphia to Milledgeville:

Wednesday 9:02am: The movers arrived in Philadelphia to help us load our U-Pack pod. We’ve narrowed down our belongings significantly, and with Luke’s predetermined layout, were able to (just) fit everything into the crate.

Luke loads the last of our belongings into the pod

Luke loads up the pod

There goes our little pod - see you in Georgia!

There goes our little pod – see you in Georgia!

Wednesday 6:25pm: Our last night in Philly, we headed back to Monk’s Cafe for Belgian beers and food. Delicious!

Monk's Cafe

Monk’s Cafe

Thursday 12:26am: Road construction continued for the second night this week. We’d sold our a/c units, so keeping the windows open was a necessity. Sadly, the city chose this week to strip and repave our street. Doubly painful, they worked at night when there were fewer cars on the road. Jackhammers, the beeping of machines backing up, and the yells and whistles of the construction crew woke us up throughout the night.

Thursday 12:37pm: On the road! Irritated by the constant construction of Philadelphia, we made a pact to state things we’re thankful for during our year-long adventure here. For me, it was a year to discover what I want to do for a career, to set personal goals, and to continue developing the confidence I need to achieve them. For Luke, it was a year to explore the east coast, take advantage of our proximity to the Italian Market, and have meaningful conversations about our future.

Thursday 7:30pm: Dinner at Evening Star in Alexandria, VA. Good conversation with great friends and yummy food. Nights like this remind us how important it is to make time for the folks we care about, and to make a solid effort to be social in our new town.

Friday 11:02am: Stuck in traffic outside Richmond, VA. Laughed together at the lyrics to “How Many Drinks” by Miguel.

Friday 5:30pm: After a long day of driving, we set up camp at Badin Lake in North Carolina. Luke made a fire, and we played Gin while waiting for the thunder to turn to rain.

Badin Lake campground

Badin Lake campground

Friday 9:02pm: Fell asleep to the sound of rain plopping off our tent.

Saturday 5:30am: We’re the first site to wake up at the campground. We had the showers to ourselves, followed by breakfast and coffee around the fire. Ready for the drive to my parents house in South Carolina!

Saturday 6:45pm: A full homemade Southern dinner at Mom and Dad’s, including baked ham, potato salad, fried green tomatoes, crowder peas covered in hot chow-chow, cornbread, and peach blueberry crumble.

Sunday 9:15am: A full homemade Southern breakfast at Mom and Dad’s, including biscuits, gravy, bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs with cheese and green onions, fresh tomato slices, and cantaloupe. With full bellies, we made the final (and easiest) leg of the trip down to Milledgeville.

Saturday 4:32pm: After unloading the car in our rental cottage on the lake, we drove into the downtown area for exploring. A trip to the grocery store on the way home, followed by settling in back at the cottage.

Relaxing at the lake house

Relaxing at the lake house

We’re happy to be in Georgia, and look forward to sharing more of our adventures here with you soon!