I have spent the last few days with my friends, Shirley and Tina, on our annual fall trip.  This year we returned to Atlanta, one of our favorite places to visit and shop.  I had learned about the Country Living Fair that is sponsored by Country Living magazine, and it sounded like just the sort of event the three of us like the best.  So, plans were made and off we went for 4 days of fun, frivolity and friendship.  Since the event was held at Stone Mountain, we stayed in a new place for us, Tucker, which is nearby.

We arrived in Atlanta and managed to do some shopping in the area of our motel before bedtime.  We intended to get up early, so as to be in line for tickets to the Fair, before the majority of people arrived.  When I checked in, one of the ladies at the motel handed me a ticket and said that another lady had checked in and one of the people in her group could not come.  She had given the ticket to her and told her to give it to someone when they checked in.  And she gave it to me!  Wow!  That was like an extra $20 in my pocket!

We did get in line early and were able to walk right in when the gates were opened.  It was an excellent fair.  There were lots of good vendors there with amazing wares!  We had the most fun looking and seeing all the new things and the old things and the new-to-us old things!  The fair is at Stone Mountain Park and the vendors were set up along a paved path winding through the woods.  It still was a help to have my cane, though.  The foliage was beautiful and the weather could not have been nicer.  Cool, a little breeze…just perfect!  We shopped until about an hour before they closed…but our feet had walked all they wanted to for that day!  Really didn’t buy very much…just a few little treasures we couldn’t leave behind!

Aren’t these the most gorgeous pumpkins?  They were everywhere!  So festive!



Though we had no problem getting there, getting out of there was a different story!  It could have been the driver…it could have been the navigator…it even could have been the passenger with opinions in the back seat…WHATEVER…we could not find our way out.  When we finally did, after asking a policeman and a park worker, trouble continued to follow.  We found the road out, but one of us wanted to go see what was in Stone Mountain Village.  So, we went that way.  Wrong decision.  In case you care…there is nothing there…nothing.  And even though there was nothing there, and seemingly only 2 roads…we still managed to get turned around.  Really, I do not even remember how we got back on the right highway, but we finally made it back to the motel and ordered in Chinese food.  Looooooong day.  Good day.

Saturday, we had tickets to return to the Country Living Fair…but, we decided we’d seen enough and besides, we wanted to visit some of our favorite places.  (There is NEVER enough time for us to get in all we want to when we travel…we just always run out of time.)  I will admit to being a little OCD about some things…and one of them is knowing where I am going and how to get there.  And, even though I was never a boy scout, I do believe in the motto, BE PREPARED.  So, I had printed out explicit directions to and from anywhere we could possibly have thought of going.  And, since Shirley had told me of a great place in Alpharetta she had heard of on several blogs, I had directions there as well.  Our plans were to go to Roswell and Alpharetta and visit our favorite shops and then visit the new place.  We dressed and got into the car and I handed the directions to the friend seated to my right.  All I asked her and her friend in the backseat to do is read and watch the road signs.  While I, as the driver, was dealing with all those crazy drivers going 90 miles an hour on 8 lane highways, and trying to merge from this road to that road and switch lanes because the lane I’m in suddenly and unexpectedly turns into an exit lane and trying to keep my wits about me when someone blows the horn at me for no good reason that I could tell!  I thought it was more than a fair plan of action.  And, that’s all I’ll say about that.  However…we ended up on a toll road going in the wrong direction when I was told to take the wrong exit.  I was cool…I didn’t mind wasting 50 cents to go the wrong way.  Heck!  I didn’t even mind wasting 50 cents again to try and get back to where I was when I was led down the wrong path.  And, that, dear friends, is how I ended up in Buckhead.  At a traffic light.  Staring right at a TJMaxx, one of our favorite places to go hunting.  So, to prevent myself from screaming unkind words, or from tearing my hair out by the roots, I instead suggested we take a little sanity break at TJM.  And that suited everyone!  We managed to stay in the store for 3 hours.  We also filled up 3 carts.  Sanity comes at a price!  We had fun.  But, we had to get it in gear if we were going to hit all the places on our list.  I used the navigation on my phone and found the way to the new store and it was a fairly easy trip there.

It turned out this place, Queen of Hearts Antiques and Interiors, was huge!  And we could tell it was just the sort of place we loved to spend time and money.  We went in and turned to the right down a narrow aisle through the vendor’s booths.  Shirley and Tina were ahead of me.  I had to step back to let 2 ladies into the booth we were walking past.  I didn’t, however, catch up with S and T, because one of the women who passed in front of me looked vaguely familiar.  I asked her what her name was and she told me it was Cherilyn.  I just stared.  Then she said that I looked familiar to her.  I told her my name was Tonja.  She then knew who I was, as well.  I had run into my first cousin whom I had not seen in 27 years!

We hugged and talked and hugged again.  Our dads were brothers.  Her mom was the one who always got the family together for reunions, and the last one she had was when Ian was about 2…he is 29 now.  That was actually the last time I have seen any of my cousins or aunts and uncles on my Pop’s side. I just recently made contact with another cousin, Margie, online.  Cherilyn and I exchanged contact information and caught up on the family that we knew about.  She works at this store 3 days a week and has a wonderful booth there, too.  What a serendipitous meeting!

This is what I know for sure.  We can make plans and leave home with all intentions to go to a certain place at a certain time…but if it is not in God’s plans…it will never happen. No matter how carefully we have planned our itinerary.  No matter how many directions we have printed out.  I totally believe that God orchestrated our whole morning…the going off at the wrong exit, the time spent in TJM, the finding the correct roads…just so that I would walk down that narrow aisle at exactly the same time as my cousin.  He is just that way.  Those of us who trust Him as our Lord and Savior are His children.  And, He delights in treating us to unexpected ‘good things’.  There’s no other way to explain it.  We even discovered we had been at the same place at the same time twice in the past few years!  But, we didn’t meet.  This was the appointed time.  How wonderful to touch base with some of my Pop’s family again.  What a blessed day this truly was!

We finished our shopping there (and we found some wonderful treasures) and reluctantly left to try to make time for our other stops.  (Next time we come here, we will allow a whole day!) (This is one of Cherilyn’s booths…great ‘stuff’!)

We made our way to Roswell and the delightful little Canton Street.  Finishing there, we attempted to find one more shop.  We got to the right exit, and we found the right road, and we decided they must have moved the store.  We did see a Cheesecake Factory, though, and decided this was a good place for dinner.  And, it was.  AND…we did not even get any cheesecake!!!  Hard to believe, I know!  As we made our way back to the interstate and on to our motel, we drove right past the shop we had been looking for all along….closed now, of course!

Up early on Sunday morning and on to the puzzle of trying to fit 3 ladies and all the treasures they could find into the Pilot.  That job was delegated to Tina and Shirl…my job was to stand guard and make sure I knew the way to get out of Tucker and back to Dothan.  The puzzle fit together and the navigation was correct and we pulled back into Dothan early evening.

Shirley still had a two hour drive ahead of her to get back to Moultrie.  And she made it safely.  (Pic below on Canton Street, Roswell)

What a trip!  Wonderful time spent with the friends who know me best and love me anyway!  Oh, how important it is to have people like this in your life.  I hope you do.  I know I have been blessed in this regard.  So, that’s it…until we gather together again in the spring for our next getaway!

“Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; …”  Psalm 126:2a