Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Revisiting Olde Towne Morrow

A few weeks ago I wrote about visiting the abandoned Olde Towne Morrow area near our local mall and mentioned that in a few weeks the city was going to have an End of Summer get-together there. I was very interested to see how the area would be transformed and so we headed over see what was what.

I'll start first with the carnival that was set up at the Olde Towne's entrance.

They had a little Ferris Wheel, some other rides, and, of course, fair food.

Here are two "before and after" photos...it helped that the two days were very different in enhancing how different the two experiences were. 

Here an empty row of shops and offices gets transformed with some tents from local organizations and some food trucks.

As we were leaving they announced the start of the hot dog eating contest. It was standing room only and a nice way to end a fun afternoon.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Marvel With A Mango: The Mr. Taco Experience

While we were in Texas we wanted to get some authentic Mexican food and Brownsville offered many options. Nearly all of the reviews we read recommended you bring your translation dictionary if you don't speak Spanish but Laura prides herself on knowing "some" Spanish off we went.

We ended up at Mr. Taco and had a very helpful older lady helping us and with her limited English and our limited Spanish we successfully navigated ordering.

We started with a bean soup...it reminded me a little bit of ordering in Eastern Europe when the waitress offers you soup you just say "yes" and just go with it.  It was excellent with bits of pork floating around in there too. 

How about a side plate of fried onions as a garnish? Why not!

Mr. Taco's tacos are a little like White Castle in that ordering four, or five, or six, is completely reasonable. They are a perfect little handful with nearly as much cheese as meat. It was great food and at a dirt cheap price. 

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The View From My Window #20: South Padre Island

The view of the Gulf of Mexico from our hotel on South Padre Island. Looks like there was a storm coming in the distance. 

Monday, September 22, 2014

From Atlanta To Houston

Here are a few photos I took only my flight from Atlanta to Houston a few weeks ago. 

This one has a feel of a Mark Rothko painting.  
Some cumulonimbus clouds from above.
A winding river...somewhere over Louisiana or East Texas.
I didn't know fields came in this many colors. 
 I had flown into Houston before but never during the day and the city turned out to be a lot more green than I had imagined it.

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Marvel With A Mango: Visiting The Famous King's Inn

On our way to the southern tip of Texas last weekend we passed through the section of Texas Highway 77 that connect Kingsville to Raymondville. This area of the state is famous for cutting through the King Ranch which means you have signs stating "Next Service Station 60 Miles." There are no gas stations along that route so be sure to fill up beforehand!

However, there is a road that leads to a restaurant along this path and it happens to be one of the most famous restaurants in Texas, The King's Inn.

The restaurant is located on Baffin Bay of the Gulf of Mexico and in the distance there you can see Padre Island, the more northern of its famous sister island South Padre Island.  

We stopped by based on the recommendations of my friend Craig P. If Craig P. says it's good, it's good.

Being on the ocean you can rightfully assume that seafood is their main focus. The King's Inn doesn't have a menu, I imagine because their stock of fish changes daily as well as the prices. While this is handy for them it puts the customer at a disadvantage of having to ask the price of things before ordering. 

We decided on shrimp and scallops. I can without a doubt say they were the most delicious fried shrimp I've ever had. They were fried perfectly and just look at their size. 

The scallops were also huge and tasty...but what could compare to the fried shrimp?

We also go some onion rings which were actually a pile of fried cut onion strands that had a distinct state fair feel. Also excellent. 

The visit to the King's Inn gave us a nice break from the road and if you ever have to make the same drive in South Texas I would recommend you stop by...just don't be afraid to ask the waiter how much things cost before ordering. 

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Rural Wisconsin

When I was home in Wisconsin this July one afternoon with my parents we took a drive around rural Wisconsin to visit some property that my Grandparents used to own. This let me snap away from the back seat at the countryside going by and here are some of my favorites.

Hay bales, hay bales everywhere. 

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Visiting Spooky Olde Towne Morrow

Down by my my local shopping center, Southlake Mall, there is an odd little "neighborhood" called Old Towne Morrow. There is a sign in front of the main road saying that the Olde Towne is closed and undergoing a face lift but that didn't stop us from driving in and taking a closer look at what it was all about. What's the worst that could happen, right?

Driving around it is a little spooky as there is no one around yet the building look close to brand new. This should definitely be a setting for The Walking Dead, which is filmed in Georgia after all

A little research after we returned home found that Old Towne Morrow was opened in 2009 as a mixture of park space, office, restaurants and shops. In total about $13 million went into the development. It was closed by the end of 2010 after only bringing in a few thousand dollars. 

And so there the buildings sit. Several have broken windows and although it felt like we were there by ourselves I imagine there were several people squatting in the buildings. This smaller buildings were intended for offices and on one of them you can see that the Morrow Police Department occupied one at one time. 

In a few weeks the City of Morrow will be hosting an End of the Summer party at Olde Towne so at least a few hundred people will be in attendance and it will be very interesting to see what changes will happen to "The Towne" between now and then.

There is also talk of building a college and high school football stadium on the grounds but as there is no particular college that would call the stadium home it sounds like another half baked idea.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

Marvel With A Mango: Boiled Peanuts

A dish that is found nearly exclusively in the deep South is boiled peanuts. These are peanuts that have been boiled in salt water. Raw peanuts are best for boiling and as you would imagine instead of a crunchy peanut it becomes the consistency of a pea and the outer shell is much easier to crack. The texture change along with the warm temperature gives you interesting variations to a food you've probably eaten the same way your entire life. 

I got to experience my first batch of boiled peanuts at D.B.A Barbecue in the Virginia-Highland neighborhood of Atlanta. I went with the brisket on my first visit but next time I will definitely be getting the Archie Bunker which combines pulled pork and mac and cheese in a sandwich.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Living OTP

The view of downtown Atlanta from Piedmont Park.
The neighborhood you live in can sometimes mean more to other people than it does to you. This was the case in my hometown as were was a Northside/Southside divide which split the city's two public high schools and could influence what you thought of that person. The same is definitely true in Atlanta where there is certainly a premium put on living in one of the city of Atlanta's neighborhoods. Looking at a map of Atlanta you can see that it is encircled by Interstate 285.

If you live inside the circle you are ITP or Inside the Perimeter. If you live in the towns beyond that boundary you would be living in the OTP or Outside the Perimeter. It is considered best to live in Atlanta proper, if you can't do that then at least live ITP. I think it's fairly safe to say that it would considered a sin for anyone living OTP to say they live "in Atlanta."

We live decidedly OTP and although we were told many times to live in the city and not live OTP it has turned out fine. And although we've mainly stayed around our neighborhood since moving down here we've recently been spending a lot of time ITP near Grant Park. During one of our trips we were driving down one of streets bordering the park and I noticed that there was a woman sweeping the street, This is something you rarely see in America but a regular occurrence in Ukraine. It was commonplace to see a babushka sweeping the street with a bristle brush missing 2/3 of it's bristles.

I jokingly said "look, it's a babushka sweeping."

Driving further down we saw that it was a Eastern Orthodox Church she was sweeping in front of and the world came around full circle. This was St. John The Wonderworker Church of the Eastern Orthodox Church of America. I enjoy also how it is in a "Church Zone"...I'm not sure if I have ever seen a public sign like that before.