Traveling teaches you a lot about yourself. And traveling with my family teaches you an extra amount about yourself because it requires an incredible amount of patience as misfortune after misfortune happens. And it’s not just on big trips either. Even on a weekend trip to Auburn, a trip we make multiple times every year, you have to have a lot of flexibility and more than a little patience as cars break down (which happened to us last month on our Auburn trip), restaurants tell you there is a 2.5 hour wait, and satellite dishes cease to work correctly and a mad dash is made to buy an antenna. Then we do things like forget to give keys back to the right person, or forget the tent canopy and have to turn back around in game day traffic. But in the end, as it always does, things work out, and great trips can happen. And if you are really really lucky, you get to scream at plays like this and go roll Toomer’s for it. (I can’t. stop. watching.)
This weekend we went down to Auburn for the Auburn vs. Georgia game, the South’s oldest rivalry and to celebrate my mom’s birthday. The game was crazy, and I could tell you all about the tailgate we had and how emotional the end of the game was and how we could actually hear the stadium roar from kind of far away. But it occurs to me that I have lived in Auburn as a student, and grown up going to Auburn on so many weekend trips, and yet I have never compiled a list of some of my favorite places to go and restaurants to eat at were you to travel to Auburn on a non-game weekend. We went down to Auburn a day early this past weekend, so I wanted to share with you some of my favorite classic Auburn experiences (particularly, some things we did this weekend).
To do: Shopping in downtown Auburn is a must. Auburn Art is one of our favorites: a store full of Auburn everything, from paintings and prints to jewelry and scarves to serving dishes of ever kind. Wrapsody is another favorite. It is kind of an ultimate Southern gift shop. And then of course there is J&M Bookstore with everything you might need in orange and blue, to Tiger Rags, known for their gameday shirts.
(Also, walking around campus is obviously a must. And if you want an outdoor experience, Chewacla State Park is right down the road.)
To eat: We went to a new restaurant in Auburn this weekend, Acre, which has only been open for a couple of months (and still seems to be working out a couple of kinks), but I thought our meal experience was so very pleasant. I loved their indoor/outdoor dining space. And on Sunday I was kind of glad that we were running behind on packing up in the morning because it meant Gerrit and I got to go to lunch at Pannie George’s Kitchen, a down home Southern lunch and dinner buffet that has the absolute best fried chicken and macaroni and cheese (you can call ahead to get the day’s menu to make sure they have your favorites, but they always have fried chicken on Sunday!).
I don’t need to tell you that Amsterdam Cafe is the place to eat for a nice dinner, but on Saturday night the wait was beyond ridiculous (I often feel miffed that they don’t take reservations) and so we went to eat at The Barbecue House, an Auburn landmark which somehow I missed out on until recently. But seriously, it seems like half of my parents’ college stories somehow have the phrase “when we used to go eat at The Barbecue House all the time.” (P.S.–That is where my family’s famous peanut butter pie recipe comes from.)
The great thing about Auburn for me is everywhere is a memory. Everywhere I look there is a story–The University Chapel is where my parents’ were married, The Hotel and Conference Center where my brother got lost in the elevator when he was three. There is the church I went to in Auburn and all the places various members of our family have lived while at school. The campus and the town are always changing (when I was little there was a parking lot next to the stadium that had the eagle’s cage…now that space is a green field and a new student center). But we keep going back and we keep making new memories. And this weekend, with my mom’s birthday and our doomed tailgate and the overcast weather and the most amazing catch I have ever seen in my life, is one I won’t forget.