For Mike’s birthday I talked him into taking us to Macon, GA to the International Cherry Blossom Festival. Knowing that the cherry blossoms wouldn’t be a big draw for him, I tried to emphasize the fact that we could eat dinner at Shakeys Pizza in Warner Robins, GA.
Shakeys brings back lots of happy memories of our first dates, fellowship with old church friends, a little bit of home in Thailand, and of course really good food. The Shakeys in our home town, San Angelo, was at one time the largest Shakeys in the world. Most everyone went there after church at least once a week – one of the best examples of what church should be like to us. Mike, Shanna (who had a big crush on him) and I went to Shakey’s after a football game my first time there and Mike slipped off his shoe and played footsie with me. It was only our third time seeing each other and I was only there because Shanna wasn’t allowed to single date. I was so embarrassed and afraid Shanna might look under the table and didn’t know how to get him to stop without making a scene. Boys. It was a while before I decided that I liked you, Sweetie, but I’d be up for a game of footsie anytime you’d like now.
The Shakeys in GA is the only Shakeys left outside of CA. We discovered it a couple of months ago when Mike had a class there. I love their fried mushrooms and Mike loves their rojos (battered and fried potato slices) and the pizza of course.
Back to the cherry blossoms.. Last year we planned our trip to Washington DC the week after their cherry blossom celebration and to our disappointment most of the cherry trees lost their blossoms by that time, so when I heard that Macon, GA claimed to be the cherry blossom capital of the world, I didn’t want to miss their cherry blossom festival. They have over 3000 cherry trees and lots of entertaining activities.
We took care of first things first and spent Friday night in an inn near Shakeys, ate too much and went to bed early. The next morning we got up early (6 AM GA time which translates into 5 AM AL time) to go to the air port to see the hot air ballon lift off. We were thankful later for the early start because we showed up at the wrong air port and a nice police officer had to give us directions to the right one across the county. I was very excited at our first site of the cherry blossoms along the road to the right air port.
The morning was gorgeous – cool and crisp. Some boy scouts had the right idea and camped the night on site. The atmosphere was very peaceful and we enjoyed guessing which hot air balloon would be the first to lift off.
The day before our neighbor, Marry Lou, related an experience she had of waking up one morning to the sound of dragons out side her window. Confused she thought, “But dragons don’t exist, do they?” When she looked out her window, she saw a bunch of hot air balloons flying low over her house. We enjoyed remembering her story while watching the balloons flying over head. Princess J didn’t think they would have been loud enough to wake her and I am sure she is right.
Our favorite balloon got lost in some trees but eventually made it out safely and over to the field where they were giving tethered rides.
After the hot air balloons we went to explore Macon’s Central City Park and found their pink pancake breakfast, Bengal tigers, art exhibit, craft show, and train exhibit with its pink cherry tree filled trains.
The park was beautiful. The cherry trees were decorated with Japanese lanterns. I really enjoyed the exhibit of photos from their photo contest and the quite peaceful atmosphere.
Around 10:30 we started getting hungry for lunch (change of time zone) and went down town to find a a parking space and a place to eat. The town is very well laid out with beautiful buildings. We ended up eating at Acapulco (best Mexican food I’ve had in a long time). It was right on the corner where they were holding the bed race and the professional riding lawn mower grand prix.
After lunch we found a great seat on some bleachers in the shade in plenty of time to see the bed race. So many people were wearing pink to celebrate the cherry blossoms that Judi and I wished we had worn our pink shirts from the day before the day of the celebration instead.
There were about 9 contestants in the bed race running to win money for their cause. Most of the beds were so modified that I wondered if they were ever beds to begin with. The slowest one was actually a hot tub on 5 inch wheels. The girls inside were dressed like Greeks in togas and the runners pushing it were dressed like the mob. The “beds” were pushed by 5 or so runners up a couple of blocks one at a time and timed. The most creative bed was the Flintstone bed racer complete with wooden wheels.. one of which fell off near the end of their run. I think that the ladies running for breast cancer won the $500.
The professional riding lawn mower grand prix looked a little scary.. they drove souped up lawn mowers while wearing helments but not seat belts. They were traveling pretty fast and two crashed as they went around cornner number 3. During the delay we decided to go a head and start traveling toward home. All the fun and excitement had worn us out.
On our way home with my new knowledge of what a cherry tree in blossom looks like I started thinking that I might have seen a cherry tree in my neighborhood. I was right! There is one down my street. Then last Thursday I spotted 8 of them conspicuously planted in the median of East Chase Parkway, the road that I take to Costco every week. I don’t think they blossomed until after our trip to GA. Next year I’ll know to watch for them.