Tag Archives: The Tree that Owns Itself

Headed for parts very well-known

DSCN0668This past year has been a whirlwind of travel for me. It seems like every time I turn around I am either planning a trip, taking a trip or just getting back from one. One of my friends jokingly asked me if I planned to spend any time at home this summer. I laughed, and answered, “Maybe a day or two.” In hindsight, I don’t feel like I was that far off.

In the past year, I have been to New Orleans, Las Vegas, North Carolina (twice), Georgia (twice), Florida (twice-once to Disney World and once to Tampa), and Colorado. Looking into this year, I will be heading off to Florida four times (once to Tampa, twice to Disney World and once to Universal Studios), Grand Cayman, Cozumel, Georgia (at least twice), Greece, Italy, and probaby Charleston, South Carolina (once or twice…it’s up in the air right now). I would be heading back to Tampa a second time, but two days would overlap my Greece/Italy trip, so I had to put that trip off another year.

And these are just the trips I have planned. Who knows what other opportunties might present themselves to me.

close up Oxford CakeI’ve always loved to travel and this blog, which I have neglected for WAY TOO LONG, is littered with posts about fun places I’ve discovered while traveling (mostly within the U.S.). I have a habit of finding fun, quirky little corners of the world that far too many other people neglect in their haste to only see the big, splash sights. I love avoiding crowds and seeing quirky things like the Tree That Owns Itself in Athens, Georgia; historical things like Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh castleScotland; haunting things like The Irish Hunger Memorial in New York City; and delicious things like The Cake Shop in Oxford, England.

It is partly because of my love of actually traveling and partly because of my love for trip planning that I decided to add another hat to the many I already wear and become a Magical Vacation Planner. I spent about a month going through quite a bit of training, taking lots of quizes about amazing destinations, and taking oh so many notes about all the different ways I could help other people make their vacations as magical and as mine have been.

It sounds hokey, I know. But in my 22 years as a teacher, one of my biggest joys has been taking students on trips around the the world. I am just about bursting with excitement about our trip to Greece and Italy this coming June. I can’t wait to start having meetings with my kids so that I can get them every bit as hyped up as I am. I want to help them find the quirky, historical, haunting and delicious parts of the world they didn’t even know existed.

For this reason, becoming a Magical Vacation Planner makes perfect sense to me. Instead of just dreaming about my next big trip somewhere cool, I get to help other people plan their big events. Although I’m just starting out, I am already having so much fun. Today I got to send a client suggestions for places at Disney World where she can surprise her husband with a delicious dinner for his 50th birthday. I also got to give her all kinds of tips for rides that her kids are going to love (it’s their first trip). And, when I put in their reservation, I got to work with Disney to add an extra little surprise for them all. What’s not to love about this new gig?

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Yes, I know it’s going to be extra work, especially on those nights when I have 90 essays that I also need to grade, but to me it is completely worth it. I’ve already gotten several excited messages from my clients about all the cool suggestions I’m making to them. I get to hear their excitement and it makes me want to work twice as hard to make it as perfect as possible. As much as I do love teaching (and despite it being year 22, I still do), I find every minute I spend planning helping people plan their vacations even more exciting! I have a meeting with another client this coming Saturday and I cannot wait!

I love bringing a little extra magic into people’s lives!

 

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Travel Thursday: The tree that owns itself

Tree that owns itselfAthens, Georgia is one of my favorite vacation spots. True, it has no beach or theme park or plethora of dazzling museums. The weather is always a bit unpredictable in March, so there is no guarantee it’ll be warm. What makes Athens such a great place for me to visit is the fact that my best friend lives here.

To be honest, any place my best friend lives will become one of my favorite vacation spots. Anchorage, Alaska in winter? If she is there, I am there. The Mojave Dessert in the middle of summer? If she’s got a house there, so am I.

Thankfully, it turns out that Athens is also a pretty cool place, even if she didn’t live there. Of course, if she didn’t live there, I’d never have known this.

My kids and I just returned from a wonderful week long visit where we got to spend time in some of our favorite Athens locations. We went to several of their amazing parks (World of Wonders and the park next to the Bear Hollow Zoo are our two favorites). We played a ton of board games at The Rook and Pawn. We spent way more money that we should have clothes shopping. And we had some pretty phenomenal food at some of our favorite places (Cali N Tito’s, Pulaski Heights, and The Grit).

My best friend and I also got to try some place brand new (to us): Donna Chang’s. While I know this amazing little place would have been totally lost on my kids, my BFF and I adored it. My best friend is a vegetarian and although her husband is pretty accommodating, since Donna Chang’s is “family” style and there is only one full veggie item on the menu, he was not too keen on going. We didn’t actually even try that menu item since they have a bunch of really tasty small plate items that are vegetarian. My absolute favorite was the dry fried eggplant. She fell in love with the bouncy peanut noodles. We finished the meal off with some simply fantastic ice cream (lemon curd and ginger). It was glorious.

Another first on this trip was a drive over to see the Tree That Owns Itself. Yes, you read that correctly, there is a tree that owns itself in Athens.

When my BFF told me about this wonder of the Georgian world, I thought she was kidding. She definitely was not. However, despite all of our trips to Athens (this is our 7th or 8th visit), we’d never been to see it. While we were out and about driving one day, she suggested we hunt for it.

She’d actually only been to see it one other time, when another friend was in town. It took us a few minutes to find it, not because it’s hard to find, but because she forgot exactly where we are going. I had to plug it into my GPS. Turns out she’d only missed it by a one road. After a drive up an incredibly steep hill that I think would be absolutely treacherous if there was even a hint of ice, we found ourselves facing a rather large tree with a plaque in front of it.

The actual tree is set off by a little bricked “garden” area. The plaque announcing the tree’s origins and bequeathing the tree it’s “freedom” sit in front of it. On either side there are houses and it’s pretty clear the owners get a lot more traffic than they might like as they have signs reminding people the bit of brick “road” on either side of the tree is not public land. Only the small patch the tree sits on is owned by the tree.

The tree is a quirky little bit of history that I think speaks volumes about the kind of quirky town of Athens. If you are ever in Athens, it’ll take a minute to see, but it’s definitely worth it.

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