Today, we travel to Connecticut–the second leg of our journey. We’ll be there for about a week and a half before we head to Miami for about four days. After Miami, we’ll return to Connecticut until our visas are approved and then move to France (we’re hoping by mid-May at the latest).
Yesterday, Matt only had a half day of training, so we decided to take a trip to President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Little White House in Warm Springs, GA and Callaway Gardens in Pine Mountain, GA.
We started at the Little White House, which is a historic site maintained by Georgia State Parks. It’s about a 40-minute drive from Columbus and is nestled into Georgia’s beautiful, fragrant, pine-filled woods. Admission (ranging from $2 for kids under six to $12 for adults) gets you access to the museum, grounds and houses (including the guest and staff houses) and historic pools museum.
Clearly the people of Warm Springs revered this president. FDR is described in the museum’s short video and exhibits as a very personable guy who loved children and often drove around in his retrofitted vehicle (with hand controls designed by him) to meet with people in the neighboring farms.
Indeed, Roosevelt did a lot for the nation and for the little community in which he chose to build his vacation cottage and Roosevelt Warm Springs Institute for victims of polio, but his marriage with Eleanor may not have been as much of a fairy tale as the museum painted it. Though one of the museum exhibits claimed Roosevelt called Eleanor his “angel,” another said she rarely visited Warm Springs with him. This made me wonder why, if they were that close, she didn’t spend much time with him at his seemingly favorite retreat. A quick Google search revealed a different picture of an estranged marriage due to FDR’s extramarital affairs–most notably with Lucy Mercer Rutherford.
Aside from a slightly rosier version of history portrayed in the museum, the site is really interesting and the grounds are beautiful. We didn’t make it down to the pools, which were a short drive from the main site, but in the museum we were able to feel the difference in temperature between a typical Georgia spring and the 88-degree natural spring waters that were hoped to be a cure for FDR’s paralysis. Unfortunately the waters couldn’t make him walk again, but they did provide relief–which is one of the reasons he ended up creating his institute, allowing other victims of polio to experience the warm springs.
We were impressed by the simplicity of all of the houses. The main house had a small kitchen, living room (where FDR passed away on April 12, 1945–70 years ago this past Sunday), two bedrooms, a room for his secretary and a front parlor.
Everything at the house is exactly as it was the day FDR passed away as he posed for a presidential portrait–right down to the log in the fireplace. A rose is placed on FDR’s desk every year to mark the anniversary of his passing.
A smaller exhibit on the way out of the grounds houses the unfinished portrait.
Guests exit the grounds through a gift shop that includes small and large stuffed animal versions of FDR’s dog, Fala, and other souvenirs to remember your trip.
After we left the Little White House, we drove about another 30 minutes through FDR State Park to Callaway Gardens. Our first stop in the 2,500-acre garden was the Cecil B. Day Butterfly Center. According to the website, the glass-enclosed conservatory typically houses more than 1,000 butterflies.
After walking past several glass enclosures that allow visitors to observe the butterflies in metamorphosis, we entered the man-made forest and were surrounded by gorgeous creatures flapping their wings and fluttering around our heads.
One of the butterflies landed on my shoe, which I thought was really cool until it began to climb up towards my leg. I screamed and flicked it off causing Matt to laugh and tease me about getting scared. I know it wouldn’t have hurt me, but it freaked me out thinking of the feel of its little legs climbing my own.
Following the butterfly exhibit, we headed over to the Callaway Brothers Azalea Bowl. We paid the “special event” admission of $25 per person due to it being Azalea season, but we were sadly underwhelmed by the blooms that we paid extra to see. There were some bushes blooming, but the majority were either past prime or not yet ready to bloom. Still, we did see these beauties:
We were nearing closing time at the Gardens as we finished up our hike, so we decided to head back towards Columbus and get some dinner. Though we enjoy eating at great restaurants, we try to make the majority of our meals at home. Obviously that’s a bit harder when you’re in the middle of a move, so we ended up at a little Indian restaurant off of Veteran’s Parkway called Bombay Bay.
It got great reviews on Urban Spoon, but we were a little nervous pulling up to see a fairly empty parking lot and, once inside, to find only one table of patrons. Fortunately, the restaurant lived up to its reviews. The service was quick and friendly and the food was very good. We started with some peppery papadum and three Indian sauces (one sweet, one savory and one pretty spicy). We then shared a basket of cheese naan, chicken tikka masala and sag paneer (cheese cubes and spinach). We enjoyed the food at Bombay Bay more than some of the Indian restaurants we’ve eaten at in Atlanta.
Next up, the trip to Connecticut!