Hey what’s up everybody?! Welcome back to #DoubleFML FatDarrellPalooza!
Okay, before we get started, let me first address that cover photo.
Nope! Don’t get it twisted, I am not a Green Bay Packers fan!
Although I always enjoy watching their games, respect the team and like several of the players, I am still faithful to my 0-7 San Francisco 49ers (hey, at least I’m loyal, right?).
That “cheesehead” was given to me by a Green Bay fan several years ago to taunt me after her team had once again mopped the floor with mine.
I also have a “cheesesteak head” from my days working with The Philadelphia Eagles marketing team. It must be buried deeper in storage than I thought though so unfortunately, I’ll have to show you that one another day. There’s no time to look for it right now because it’s time to go on a little road trip my friends!
Ever since I moved to Georgia, tons of people have told me that I should “go to Helen.” Hmm, in hindsight, it’s more likely they were actually telling me to “go to Hell” but either way, Helen, Georgia looks interesting too!
What’s the attraction? Here, check it out…
“Formerly a logging town that was in decline, the city resurrected itself by becoming a replica of a Bavarian alpine town, in the Appalachians instead of the Alps. This design is mandated through zoning first adopted in 1969, so that the classic south-German style is present on every building…” (Um yeah, thanks Wikipedia!)
And of course, since Helen is a replica German village, it also hosts one of the most famous Oktoberfest celebrations in the United States!
For those who aren’t familiar, Oktoberfest is a German fall festival typically held from late September into October that features traditional Bavarian music, games, rides and of course, plenty of beer!
Hey, it’s less than 2 hours away and sounds interesting enough so if there was ever a time to visit, it’s now before the festival ends, right? So, hey, let’s do this!
Hmm, although, Wikipedia also says this town only has a population of approximately 430 people. Wow, that’s about the size of my high school graduating class (GO LIONS!)!
Don’t most horror movies start with some random idiot driving into the mountains of The Deep South to go exploring? I’ve seen enough episodes of Criminal Minds to know how this story goes…and I’ll tell you what, it almost never ends well for the black guy!
And to make matters worse, this town is even in White County? Oh boy, I’ve seen the movie Get Out, this is a bad idea already! Although, those of you who read about my trip to Jersey, Georgia, may remember that I also had the same reservations back then too and it all turned out just fine.
Still, White County? Can you imagine how many Starbucks locations and antique shops there must be in a county with that name? I’d imagine it must be the same as the amount of Popeyes and Waffle Houses there probably are in Black County… (calm down PC fun police! It’s okay to laugh! You know that was funny…). Anyway, yeah, Helen. Let’s go!
“White County? Can you imagine how many Starbucks locations and antique shops there must be in a county with that name? I’d imagine it must be the same as the amount of Popeyes and Waffle Houses there probably are in Black County…”
Wait! Hold up…not so fast! According to this map, I’ll have to drive through Cleveland, Georgia to get there? Say What?!
Okay folks, this blog is about to take a very strange and unexpected turn because we’re about to take an extremely random side trip before we check out Oktoberfest. Yes, we’re first going to visit the birthplace of my son!
Wait, what? Son? Yes! …okay, sort of. Allow me to explain.
Back when I was in third grade, after bringing home a stellar report card (who “Little Rocked” his state capitals quiz? Oh yeah, “Juneau” it! <- see what I did there?), my mom presented me with this little guy and I’ve had him ever since.
For those who are unfamiliar, he’s a Cabbage Patch Kid (pin-up version) and how we went from talking about badass topics like horror films and manly German beer to suddenly discussing hand-sewn dolls is beyond me but here we are!
Anyway, the Cabbage Patch world headquarters aka Babyland General Hospital is in Cleveland, Georgia! I’ve been told this is yet another destination that I must see and since it’s only 15 minutes from Helen, it looks like a quick detour is in order!
So after a 90-minute drive north, I finally saw this sign…
Wow, this place is enormous!
When you first walk in, there are hundreds of celebrity autographs. For those who grew up in the 80s and 90s, you know how huge Cabbage Patch Kids were back then so it’s no surprise they’ve had so many notable visitors over the years. Check it out, that’s Michael Jackson in the middle! Shamon Heee Heeeeeeee!
Okay, they weren’t messing around with this hospital theme. There are nurseries everywhere and all of the employees are wearing scrubs!
This is nurse Carly. She’s an LPN (Licensed Patch Nurse) and was kind enough to give me tons of great info and show me around.
Apparently, there was a birthday event happening while I was there. During the party, they did a “live delivery” which was both as cute and as creepy as you might imagine. The kids loved it though and the delivery room jokes (or at least I think she was joking…) were pretty clever…
Obviously, they had a ton of items for sale…whoops, sorry I mean up for adoption. I had no idea they also made licensed characters like Scooby-Doo and Ninja Turtles? Looks like I made the right hat selection for the day eh? #NINJA
Obviously, straight guys in their 30’s aren’t exactly the target demographic for Babyland, but it was still fun to see a slice of history. Cabbage Patch Kids were a global phenomenon and based on what I saw today, they’re still going strong in 2017!
In fact, on my way out, I passed 2 women who had travelled all the way from Tennessee to visit Babyland! They were very sweet so as I was taking my goofy photos in the cabbage patch, one of them brought over her doll Gladys so that I wouldn’t have to be alone in the picture!
Ha, Gladys was born in 1978 (the same year they were invented) which actually makes her older (and probably more mentally stable) than my last few girlfriends…
At some point during my photo session, this guy rolled a stroller next to me with what I thought was a doll inside. So, when his actual baby started moving around, it almost scared the bejeezus out of me (did I just say bejeezus? I’ve been living down here way too long, someone book me a flight back to Jersey ASAP)!
That was definitely my cue to leave but if you’re ever in the area, I’d recommend checking it out! But again, I suggest bringing the family or at least a date or something, otherwise you’re just the old creepy guy in the Ninja Turtles hat…
Anyway, after hitting the bathroom (which was ridiculously clean by the way. It really was like a hospital in there!) I was on my way!
The drive into Helen was actually quite beautiful with the mountain ranges and scenery.
And just as advertised, once you cross the border into the city, you’re literally transported to another place and time! It really did look like an Alpine town (or so I imagine…)! Here are a few photos…
Little known fact, I’m actually part German. Yep, that’s right, my grandfather was half-German. I’m not sure of the exact math to accurately calculate my percentage but in cooking terms, to properly make a Darrell, you’d take a dash of German, ad a pinch of Cherokee Indian, ad Black, Black, Black, Black, Black and stir… Bon Appetit!
“to properly make a Darrell, you take a dash of German, a pinch of Cherokee Indian, ad Black, Black, Black, Black, Black and stir…” -Fat Darrell
Hmm, the fact that I’m part German probably also explains why people always think that I’m yelling when I’m simply trying to have a conversation, but I digress…
Look, even national franchises like Wendy’s are required to have Bavarian architecture! This zoning board doesn’t mess around eh?
Another cool aspect about this town is that it’s completely surrounded by the Chattahoochee River (ha, that’s fun to say…Chattahoochee lol I’ve known a few of those in my day…). And I mean that literally. Most of the businesses and houses are located right next to the water! The river even runs parallel to the streets during most of the drive through town.
The area is surrounded by parks, hiking trails and even an active gold mine that I might have to check out some day! For now, this trip was all about Oktoberfest! With that said, here are a few pictures from inside of the main hall that was holding the events.
And you know things are getting weird when I’m wearing the most boring outfit in a photo! Check out these awesome get-ups!
The couple In the photos on the top row even came all the way from Los Angeles to check out the festival!
I actually don’t drink (that’s apple juice in the cover photo!) so I was there mostly for the atmosphere and the food.
Unfortunately, the food tasted a lot better than it photographed so here a few pictures of some of the authentic Oktoberfest foods that I tried courtesy of the internet (thanks Google!).
Traditional Oktoberfest foods include items like Bratwurst Stewed with Sauerkraut. Wiener Schnitzel, Pretzel Rolls with Caraway Salt and cheese and potato dumplings.
If you’d like to have your own Oktoberfest feast at home, a full menu suggestion and recipes courtesy of Food Republic can be found by clicking here!
Although this sign was pretty funny… settle down Mike.
Actually, this sign looks a bit dicey as well. I’m not sure who thought to make the cardboard cutout this shape but they might want to reconsider for next year… unless it’s supposed to look like a “Wiener Schnitzel”? If so, then mission accomplished!
All in all, it was interesting to check out the town. As for the festival, perhaps it was because I went early in the day, but it was a bit tamer than I expected. I’ve seen photos from other cities that look much more exciting than this (including Southern California so I hope that couple made it out to Torrance as well)! Most others have games, rides, parades and more!
This version was literally all about the beer and not much else. And even with that said, it was still rather quiet!
And no, the alcohol doesn’t bother me at all so that’s not it. I’m constantly surrounded by it at parties and events, so I have absolutely no problem with beer. It was the lack of much else that was the problem.
But hey, that’s just the opinion of a sober guy who attended during the day (if I ever go back, I’ll see what the night crowd is like. Perhaps it’s more energetic) so take that for what it’s worth.
Although I was a bit underwhelmed by Oktoberfest, I was impressed by how clean and family friendly Helen is. It seems like a nice place to visit for a relaxing day trip, an authentic German meal or to do some serious outdoor adventures in the surrounding areas.
During the drive back from Helen (to Helen back), it occurred to me that in just one day, I had managed to check off 2 items on my Georgia Bucket List.
For those who are unfamiliar with Bucket Lists, it’s a list of things that you want to do or accomplish before you “kick the bucket.”
My Georgia Bucket List isn’t quite as morbid as that concept sounds though! Instead, it’s a list of things I’d like to do before I ever move from the area. Until I check off certain things, I can’t say really that I’ve experienced all this state has to offer.
For example, I’ve seen those maps where people light up a state each time they visit one. And while I could technically light up Michigan for example, I’ve only truly visited this tiny town barely across the Ohio border named Quincy that has one stoplight in the entire town!
Oh yeah, I also ate dinner in the next town over and briefly rode through Detroit but can I REALLY say that I’ve done Michigan? Not even close!
I’ve also been to Nice, France but not Paris so come on, can I REALLY say I’ve experienced France without visiting Paris?
So that’s my point. Before I eventually move from Georgia, I want to make sure that I’ve done it all. Although things can be added or removed constantly (it’s not that serious people), here’s where my list stands so far. Feel free to recommend others below if you’re familiar with the state!
Accomplished already (in no particular order. And If you’re curious about any of these experiences, let me know in the comments and I’ll talk about them in more detail in a future post):
• Visit CNN World Headquarters – I’ve gotten a chance to do this one a few times.
• Visit the Coca-Cola World Headquarters – check.
• Visit the site of the 1996 Olympics – I did that a few times and even used one of the photos for this post…
• Ride the Giant Ferris Wheel downtown – I checked this off last October.
• Visit MLK Historical Sites – Done.
• Visited Savannah – this was my first experience with Georgia back in 2006 when Paula Deen flew me down to be on her show. I’ve been back a few times but still missed out on St. Patrick’s Day (another giant beer festival lol) so I’ll have to go back.
• Met Paula Deen and ate at her restaurants – that was accomplished during the tv taping and again during a follow-up visit so check and check.
• Met Usher – This happened last year. He and Ludacris (I still haven’t met him yet) are like the unofficial mayors of Atlanta so that was pretty cool.
• I’ve attended an Atlanta Dream WNBA game but missed out on the Hawks game I had tickets for since there was rioting going on in the area at the time.
• Eaten at one of the original Chick Fil-A locations.
• Visit Stone Mountain – but I’ve one gone at night so hiking it remains on the list
• Visit the Cabbage Patch Kids Museum – I just told you about that one
• Visit Helen, GA – and I just told you about that one too.
Here are a few less flashy honors that make me feel like an actual resident here:
• I’ve flown from the airport
• I’ve experienced Atlanta traffic
• I lived through Snowmaggedon
• I’ve gotten a ticket (shhh, don’t tell my Dad thanks)
• I’ve ridden the bus and train
Still on the list (again, in no particular order)
• Attend a Falcons game at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium
• Visit the Civil Rights Museum
• Attend a Braves game at the new stadium
• Attend a UGA/SEC game and tailgate experience
• Take a photo with President Jimmy Carter (he still teaches Sunday school at a church 3 hours south of my apartment)
• Visit the Georgia Aquarium
• Visit the Georgia Zoo
• Have a Georgia Peach. I don’t think I’ve actually eaten one of these yet.
• Eat at Mary Mac’s Tea Room (yes Lisa, I’ll finally get around to it!)
• Hike Stone Mountain
• Eat at Sun Dial restaurant (the restaurant rotates 360 degrees while you’re eating…but not fast enough for you to get sick don’t worry!)
• Watch the giant peach drop on New Year Eve
• Participate in the Peachtree Road Race 10k (I hate running but I hear this is a right of passage)
I’m sure that I missed a few but if you’re familiar with the state, again, let me know any other recommendations in the comments below!
But here, is a final item that I crossed off on the way home from Helen!
I finally went to this southern restaurant chain Zaxby’s for the very first time!
Yes, it was finally time to see what the hype is all about!
People who live here are probably shocked it took me over 5 years to finally do so but hey, better late than never eh?
Although these are in several other states, it originated in Athens and the campus of UGA. I’ve been to the headquarters for a meeting before, but until now, I’d never eaten at one of the restaurants.
Since I had already crossed 2 items off the list, I decided to cross this one off today too!
Here’s what I got:
That’s a chicken parmesan sandwich on the left and on the right, we have buffalo strips, wings, fries, texas toast and something called Zax sauce, which I hope isn’t anything like Mike’s Nuts…
It was all really good and yes, I did finish it all! Perhaps I should have crossed off that Stone Mountain hike next because that was a lot of food!
Do you have another restaurant or food that we should all check out? Tell us about it in the comments below! Also make sure to join our Facebook Foodie group Phenomnomnomenal by clicking here!
Oh yeah, and before we move on….let’s check out that tank top!
Ha, truer words have never been spoken. #facts
Obviously, many of the goals and accomplishments that I listed above are silly. However, making a list of your fitness goals, taking inventory of what you’ve already accomplished and listing what you want to accomplish next are great ways to make sure that you’re always moving forward. Your goals and priorities might change over time, but reflecting and tracking your progress (especially in written form) are great ways to stay motivated and hold yourself accountable!
Do you have a fitness question you’d like to ask or an accomplishment you’d like to share? Tell us about it in the comments below!
99 luftballons – Nena (it’s the original German version of 99 Red Balloons)
Yeah – Usher
Dangerous – Michael Jackson
Rock Me Amadeus – Falco
Southern Hospitality – Ludacris
Do you have another song that fits today’s themes? Do you have a song that doesn’t fit but is just so good we should check it out anyway? Tell us about it in the comments below!
Alright folks, that’s about enough beer, cheese and emasculating dolls for one day so it’s about time for me to close this one out but not before my obligatory reminders for you to follow me on social media by clicking the links on the side panel! Also make sure to join my foodie group on Facebook! It’s Phenomnomnomenal… no, I mean literally, that’s the name, look it up!
Also, please drop a comment below before you leave!
Whatever you have planned for the week, I hope that it’s awesome. Let’s make it a great day people!
Until next time, May the Fork be With You…
“Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth 😊”