Well, I meant to do a blog post about Monday … on Monday, but it’s been that kind of week.
I took my birthday off work. We’d actually done the family celebration on Sunday, as is our tradition, because that tends to be when we can get people together. Monday was my actual birthday, though, and I celebrated on my own.
My first stop was the Rock Creek Greenway in Lewisburg. A few years ago, I spent two months — about this time of year — filling in at the Times-Gazette’s sister paper, the Marshall County Tribune. During that time, I fell in love with the greenway, which wraps around downtown Lewisburg from the northeast to the southwest. It’s beautiful — convenient to downtown, and yet so well-designed and landscaped that parts of it seem to be out in the middle of nowhere. It parallels its namesake creek for most of the route, and you get to see a spectacular array of waterfowl.
The greenway is long enough that I could go a different direction every day, and was so convenient to the Tribune that I could be on it in minutes. It was a lovely little break in the day, and a great way to get some exercise.
By the time I finished my walk, it was 11 a.m., and I was at Hwy 55 Burgers & Fries in Lewisburg just as they opened the doors. Many people know that I can be geeky about trying new restaurants, even chain and fast food restaurants, whenever they open up. Many years ago, Shelbyville was a test market for a co-branded concept that Arby’s was trying out, and my brother in North Carolina still teases me for how excited I was to show it to him when he was home for a visit.
Well, Hwy 55 is coming to Shelbyville — it will be a tenant in a new little strip shopping center that will be built next to Kroger, in an empty lot behind Burger King and the car wash. Ever since Kroger opened, they’ve had a sign up promising a shopping center at that location, but the bad economy no doubt shut things down for a while. Now, the center is going to become a reality. It will have a Hwy 55 and a Petsense. I don’t know if those will be the only two tenants or if there will be additional space.
In anticipation of our own local Hwy 55, I wanted to try out the one in Lewisburg, which I’d heard good things about. (It wasn’t there back when I spent those two months in Lewisburg — the shopping center where it’s located was just being completed, but didn’t seem to have any tenants at the time.)
Hwy 55 is not a fast-food place; it’s a sit-down restaurant, with tables and a counter. In that respect, it resembles Steak & Shake. The decor, and the music on the sound system, are meant to give the place a 50’s vibe (like, say, Johnny Rockets). The kids’ meals come in little cardboard baskets designed to look like 1950s-era convertibles.
I had a double cheeseburger. If I’d known the patties were so large, I’d have probably ordered a single. In any case, it was delicious. I think you can always tell the difference between pre-made patties (like you get at fast food places) and restaurant-made patties. I think they have a better texture, and aren’t as rubbery. Some places, like Wayback Burgers or Steak & Shake (both of which I love), start with a ball or puck of meat and flatten it out on the griddle as it cooks. That’s good. The Hwy 55 burgers are thicker, more like you’d make yourself to cook on the grill, and I believe they’re supposed to be hand-made. They certainly seemed to be. I don’t know if you can get them cooked to your desired doneness (something that’s obviously not an option for the much-thinner smashed patties). I will have to ask next time. The crinkle-cut fries were good too.
I didn’t have any dessert, but the woman making up the “flavor of the day” of frozen custard, S’Mores, offered me a spoon, and it was quite good.
They also have cheesesteaks — in fact, the chain was originally known as Andy’s Cheesesteaks before changing its marketing and emphasis. My brother Michael recalls going to the one in Fayetteville, N.C., before the changeover.
Idiot that I am, I did not think until two days later about the fact that my big birthday lunch was at Hwy 55 — for my 55th birthday!
After lunch, I took a leisurely drive up U.S. 31 and east on State Route 96 to Murfreesboro, where I took in a matinee showing of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” I haven’t been to a movie in the theaters in months — I can’t remember the last movie I saw in the theater. It might have been “Risen,” more than a year ago. But I was a huge fan of the original “Guardians” movie and had been eagerly anticipating the sequel.
I was not disappointed. No spoilers, but I thought this was a great combination of character, action, visual effects, and clever pop culture references. I was particularly amused by two cameos I had not been expecting. One of them was spoiled by the opening credits, but the other one (which lasted only a few seconds) wasn’t. Be warned, though — the fact that Groot is going through a Baby Groot phase does not mean this is for very young children — the violence, while cartoonish, might be too intense for very young children, and at one point there’s a comic discussion of whether a godlike character (“little ‘g,’” the dialogue is quick to clarify) has male genitalia. There may be other stuff, but those were the two that stuck out. You can decide whether that’s appropriate for your kids.
But for the rest of us, this is a hoot and a half. If you enjoyed the first one, you’ll enjoy the second one, something you can’t always promise.
About those two cameos — I am not, of course, referring to Kurt Russell, whose role is more than a cameo and who’s been widely promoted as being in the film. I’m also not talking about the obligatory Stan Lee cameo. My first FB post after leaving the theater was “Best. Stan Lee cameo. Ever,” and I think I stand by that four days later.
Obviously, it’s a Marvel movie, so you already know to stay through to the end. In fact, this movie may set some sort of record for mid-credits and end-credits scenes.
Originally, when I was planning the day out in my head, I thought I’d see a mid-afternoon matinee and then find somewhere in Murfreesboro to eat. But I ended up at a midday matinee, and so it was mid-afternoon when I got out. I just headed home to Shelbyville after the movie, and took it easy the rest of the day. It was a lovely birthday.