Sunday, July 1, 2012

"They're Building a Bomb!"

My apologies for a super long gap between my last post until now.  I moved out of Oak Ridge on June 26 and prior to that I was frantically trying to sell my car, unsuccessfully.  Now I'm back home, but a tribute to my home for the past year:

I should have done this way earlier, talked about where I live, my point of reference.  I lived in the beautiful East Tennessee in the City of Oak Ridge.  Located in between the Smokies and the Cumberland Mountains, it was called the Secret City and hence there is a yearly Secret City Festival to celebrate its history.  It was chosen because of its obscure geographic location between two mountain ranges that most planes would not fly over that area, and if they did, the plane would not see this little town.  I'm not an Oak Ridge native, so please correct me if I have these details wrong!  Prior to World War II there were farmers living here, but during the war, it was chosen to be one of the sites to enrich uranium, one of the steps in building a bomb.  The farmers who were living there were forced off their property, and I'm not sure if they were fairly compensated for that, but those who have relatives buried there have access through the high security gates.  The town of Oak Ridge was built in record time, and the house I lived in was from that era, although with additions.  During the war, most people who worked at "the lab" (Oak Ridge National Laboratory) and "the plant" (Y-12 National Security Complex) did not know what they were building.  They had pretty cheeky answers for people who asked them questions:

"What do they have you making there?"
"Not enough"*

"What do you do there?"
"Hardly anything"*

*Based on memory from a tour of Y-12 over 3 years ago...
Said to be the largest swimming pool in North America.  The pool was built to give families something to do in Oak Ridge, during the war.
I came to Oak Ridge also to work at the lab, but nothing related to bomb-making.  The lab doesn't really do that stuff anymore, or so they say!  I worked with a team of social scientists and it was a blast.  I can only hope that I will work with similarly wonderful people later in my career.  Oak Ridge was a bigger city during the war, but now there are about 27,000 residents.  It seems like the City has tried to attract chain stores and restaurants rather than boost small businesses.

There are many great locally owned restaurants in town though!  With all local businesses, they weather many obstacles in order to provide their services.  Although is this a small measure, paying in cash helps them keep more of your money, rather than paying by credit or debit, since credit & debit companies will take some off the top to process the transaction.  Below is a picture of Razzleberry's Ice Cream: Cafe & Market.  It used to be called Razzleberry Ice Cream Lab and Kitchen.  Maybe they wanted to emphasize the food a little more, since they started out in the corner as a teeny ice cream store.  Their ice cream is rich and creamy and the flavors are excellent.  The owner was trained in a culinary school in Poland, he smokes his own meat & fish and makes the sausage.

This was probably my second home in Oak Ridge.  Ice cream & wifi, what else does a person need?
My favorite place to eat was Mediterranean Delight.  It was opened by a Jordanian couple.  They close at 7pm, so get there early.  As a lamb-lover, this was the place for me to get my lamb fix.  Their dips are great to bring to parties.  They also have great vegetarian and gluten-free options.  It's primarily a catering business, but if you got food to eat there, you can eat it outside or in a side room.  The owners are funny and kind people.  The second time I went there, about 2 or 3 months in between, the owner recognized me and I was like, "I"M DEFINITELY COMING BACK HERE!!" 

Hot Bagel is a local favorite as well.  They have kiosks at the lab and so if I forgot my lunch, I often ate their bagelwiches.  Aside from their famed bagels, their pastries are delicious and not your average pastries.  They'll have things like eclairs, flappers, and other cool things.  The owner is German, and he bakes most of the things, and the other owner who runs the front of the house has a strong southern accent.  Many of my friends are from Oak Ridge, and they've all experienced getting yelled at by this owner as kids.  Ha.  (For taking too long to decide or something)

Magic Wok is THE place to go in Oak Ridge if you're only around for a short visit.  This is the place to stop at.  Most people refer to this place as "Miss Betty's" because the owner's name is Betty.  I asked a local friend what her husband's name was and they said, "Mr. Betty??"  Hahahaha, I love it.  I have friends who say that as soon as they get into town, the first thing they want is "Miss Betty's!!!"  There are only two options there, Cashew Chicken and Sweet and Sour.  You can also order egg rolls and friend wontons.  The fried wontons are so good.  So this is definitely a hole-in-the-wall kinda places, it's sort of like a diner, some people say it's "sketchy."  Ha.  The first time I had it, it reminded me of Taiwanese food, like the "stewed flavor."  Later I heard from someone that they were from Taiwan.  High school students love it because it's cheap and good.  Or at least "an experience." 

Melton Lake is the gem of Oak Ridge

This was my last sunset in Oak Ridge, Tennessee
There were of course other great places to eat in Oak Ridge, but these were my standout establishments.

"What makes Oak Ridge beautiful" is the greenway belts.  In the town of Oak Ridge, there are trails where you'll hardly think that there is a residential area just 5 minutes in the other direction.  There are bodies of water that get all foggy after a rainstorm.  There is a "West End Quarry" that I was never able to find ::sigh:: that is brilliantly blue.  It's blue because that is the color of radioactive material.  Don't touch it, but I bet it's beautiful.  Someone wanna show me a picture of this elusive quarry??  Pretty please?  :P  Eventually I'll find pictures of the fall and spring in Oak Ridge.  Actually Oak Ridge is beautiful all year round, but maybe I'll save that for another post.  That's what makes Oak Ridge beautiful, oh oh!  (One Direction sang a song called "What makes you beautiful")

1 comment:

  1. What a sweet parting post! I'm glad to see a picture of the ice cream place you spent all your time at :) Now you get to do a series on fun places down under!!