Steve’s Place (formerly Georgia Mountain Restaurant), Hiawassee, Georgia, May 18, 2018

This is a bit of a sad entry to write. The Georgia Mountain Restaurant in Hiawassee, Georgia is no more. OK, the old building hasn’t been demolished but the name has been changed and is now Steve’s Place. I remember the Georgia Mountain Restaurant fondly from my time at nearby Young Harris College in the mid 1980s. It was one of a handful of restaurants that students from the college would visit when we needed a break from the campus dining hall and breakfast was usually when we visit because it was a buffet. During my most recent visit to the Georgia Mountain Restaurant a couple of years ago they still had a breakfast buffet.

I stayed in the area overnight after a Friday afternoon meeting at the college and Saturday morning I found myself looking for breakfast. I had already decided to head east through Hiawassee then south through Helen and Cleveland to go home in order to visit a couple of antique shops on the way. I didn’t particularly want fast food and unfortunately, breakfast options in Hiawassee beyond fast food are still relatively slim. I’d noticed on a billboard sign that Steve’s Place offered breakfast so I decided to stop in and give it a try.

The first thing I noticed was that the interior had been given a fresh coat of paint and had been redecorated…same ‘country’ motif, different ‘country’ stuff. The second thing I noticed was that the old buffet bar that stood in the middle of the room was gone and had been replaced with a long table and individual warming trays. I wasn’t sure if this was a good sign or not.

I gave the buffet line a quick once-over before sitting down at a table. My server took my drink order and told me that I could help myself to the buffet whenever I was ready. I loaded my plate with a biscuit, cheese grits, smoked sausage, sausage patties, and some fried ham. For whatever reason there was no bacon on the buffet so my server offered to bring me some. Naturally, I accepted.

Either the restaurant wasn’t really as good as I remember it being back in the day or time and commercial cooking methodologies have not been good to the restaurant. During my last trip in I remember the food being good but not great, yet not bad enough to say I wouldn’t be back. The past year or two haven’t done the place any big favors.

The biscuits were large and I was hoping for light and fluffy like a good biscuit should be. Nope, how about dense and chewy instead. Someone please answer this question for me, why does every restaurant on the planet that offers biscuits have to paint their tops with butter before putting them in the oven? Every…blasted…one. It just makes them greasy! Butter goes inside a biscuit, not on top! The cheese grits had little to no flavor. I should have gotten plain grits and just added salt and pepper. The smoked sausage and sausage patties…not great. Now truth be told, the restaurant had no real control over the way the sausage tastes. That goes back to the sausage maker. The ham was OK…yeah, just OK and the bacon cool and rubbery…might have been good if it was hot and fresh off the griddle. Did I go back for seconds? Nope.

So how did Steve’s Place fare on the Thumbs Scale. After a bit of deliberation I decided on one thumb down. Although the experience wasn’t horrible, I just couldn’t find enough redeeming qualities to get it on the positive end of the scale. Think I’ll pass on return visits anytime soon.

Advertisements

Mojo’s Tacos, St. Augustine, Florida, April 25, 2018

I like tacos.  I like hole-in-the-wall restaurants.  Take me to a hole-in-the-wall taco stand and I’m a happy camper.

The stars and planets aligned last week while we were back down in St. Augustine to move Jenna home for the summer.  We rolled into town just before supper time.  By the time we got situated in our hotel room we were ready to find something to eat.  Jenna sent us a list of possible restaurants and we finally managed to settle on Mojo’s Tacos, located over on Anastasia Island on A1A, beyond the Bridge of Lions.

It wasn’t crowded when we got there so we took our time checking out the menu before stepping up to the counter to place our orders.  I decided on two beef tacos and a chicken taco, ConnieLou went with two chicken tacos and Jenna ordered shrimp nachos.

I didn’t realize it when we ordered but the tacos are served “double decker” with a hard shell inside a soft tortilla.  The tacos are dressed with cheddar cheese, lettuce, fresh house-made salsa and Mojo’s special Mojo Sauce.  The nachos were dressed with melted white queso, jalapenos, Mojo Sauce and black beans.

Our orders arrived quickly and we dug in.  Either we were really hungry or the food was really good, or more likely both, because our table got really quiet as our food disappeared.

So how did Mojo’s Tacos fare on the Thumbs Scale?  Give ‘em 6 out of a possible 6 and add a couple of toes.  There are so many good places to eat in and around St. Augustine that we typically try not to revisit restaurants unless they were really good.  Mojo’s Tacos definitely made the list of places to revisit.

Reposteria Criss, Newnan, Georgia, February 6, 2018

I’m a few days late getting this together.

Oops.

ConnieLou and I have been meaning to get out for Taco Tuesday but things keep getting in the way. Last Tuesday morning we were texting each when I said “Hey, let’s go get tacos tonight.” We’d already taken something out to thaw for supper but quickly decided that it would be fine in the fridge until Wednesday.

There are a few places around Newnan that offer 99 cent tacos on Tuesdays. We ran through the list restaurants that do and decided to give Reposteria Criss, a relatively new place in town, a try. Reposteria Criss is a Hispanic bakery and café that’s been around for a little over a year. Since we haven’t been there before we weren’t sure what to expect. When we walked in we found ourselves looking at a large case full of breads and pastries and a refrigerated case filled with cold treats.

We made our way to the counter to check out the menu and place our orders. Not knowing how big the tacos would be, we went easy at first. ConnieLou ordered two chicken tacos and I ordered two asada and two al pastor.

We sat down at a table to wait for our order which came fairly quickly. As it turned out, the tacos were a little smaller than typical tacos but they were piled high with meat and with a little cilantro and onion on top and a selection of sauces on the side. The ‘shells’ weren’t your typical crispy corn tortilla, nor were they flour tortillas. Instead they use soft corn tortillas which were quite tasty. For 99 cents each they were a pretty darn good value.

We both finished our tacos and decided we had room for a little more. ConnieLou picked out a piece of cheesecake from the refrigerated case and I opted for four more tacos, this time with chorizo and barbacoa fillings. They didn’t last long either.

So how did Reposteria Criss fare on the Thumbs Scale. Try an easy 4 out of a possible 4. The tacos and sauces were all quite tasty and the cheesecake was freshly made and better than any I’ve had around town. I don’t know that we’ll be able to do Taco Tuesday every week but I think it will definitely become more of a thing for us and Reposteria Criss will be a favored destination.

J. Buffalo Wings, Brookhaven, Georgia, February 7, 2018

I hate it when I make myself a lunch and then forget to pick it up on my way out of the house when I head to work in the morning. Not because it gives me an opportunity to go out to lunch, which I rarely do, and to have something hot to eat instead of a boring ham and cheese sandwich, but because that sandwich has been sitting out all day it won’t be fit to save and eat tomorrow. Oh well, mistakes happen and you just have to do what you have to do…and sometimes that means going out to eat for lunch.

If you know anything about Atlanta area geography, my office is in the middle of a triangle with corners more or less in Midtown Atlanta, Buckhead and Doraville. To say that the area is diverse is a bit of an understatement as there are people here from just about any cultural region in the world. As you can imagine, it’s not hard to find one or more restaurants purveying cuisine typical of those regions if you’ve adventurous enough to give them try.

I wasn’t feeling overly adventurous today so I decided to head to J. Buffalo Wings, a little wings and sandwich shop up Buford Highway a mile or so from my office. J. Buffalo Wings is a local chain with 10 locations around Atlanta and one location in Athens.

I’ve been to J. Buffalo wings a couple of times in the past at the suggestion of one of my co-workers. Usually I order the Philly cheesesteak and fries but this time around I was jonesin’ for some wings. I ordered the 10-wing special with medium wing sauce. When the girl at the counter asked me if I wanted fries or fried rice I decided to change things change things up and get house fried rice instead of fries. That turned out to be a good choice.

My order came out fairly quickly. The wings weren’t quite as large as I’ve had at some of the other wings joints I’ve been to but they weren’t scrawny either and the sauce was quite good. I was a bit surprised at the size of the side of fried rice that would have easily filled up of a typical Chinese ‘half-order’ fried rice take out container. They weren’t stingy with the meats in the fried rice which included chicken, beef, pork and shrimp. I added a little soy sauce to the rice to suit my own tastes.

So how did J. Buffalo Wings do on the Thumbs Scale? I couldn’t find a reason to give them less than 2 out of a possible 2. The wings were quite good and the fried rice was easily as good as any I’ve had and may have even overshadowed the wings just a bit. I’ll definitely be going back…probably when I forget my lunch again.

The Blue Hen Cafe, St. Augustine, Florida, October 22, 2017

One last entry from our Flagler Family Weekend weekend in St. Augustine.

Family Weekend Sundays usually aren’t fun days. We tend to be pretty wiped out from trying to cram way too much into a couple of days, there are goodbyes to be said, and then there is the long drive home.  But, more often than not, there are bright spots during the day like having brunch with Jenna and her roomie, Hannah, and Hannah’s mom Jodi before having to leave and then being greeted by Ashley and our dogs and cats when we arrived home.

We ran into Hannah and her family Saturday morning as we were on the way to lunch in the college dining hall (No, I’m not going to do a review of the dining hall) and they were on their way to a lunch meeting.  We only had a few minutes to talk but it was enough to decide that we were going to get together for breakfast/brunch Sunday morning and that ConnieLou and Jodi would work out the details later.  By evening the details were worked out and it was decided that we’d meet up at the Blue Hen Café in St. Augustine’s Lincolnville neighborhood.

Sunday morning rolled around and we met up with Hannah and Jodi and got our names on the wait list.  The Blue Hen Café is a small place with a dozen or so tables and, by the number of people waiting at any given time, a fairly large following.  Good things come in small packages, right?  We waited about thirty minutes before being seated but it gave us time to talk…yes, talk.  Remember that?  That thing we did before texting and instant messaging?  You know, verbal communication.

Once seated we placed our orders.  I picked the Corned Beef Hash, Jenna chose the Breakfast Burrito, and ConnieLou went with the King’s French Toast, French toast made with a brioche roll stuffed with banana and peanut butter.  Hannah ordered the Pumpkin Pancakes and Jodi selected the Zada Jane’s Stack, a sausage frittata with sweet potato home fries.

I’m not going to go into detail about everyone’s impressions of their meals but it’s safe to say we all walked out stuffed and satisfied.  How did the Blue Hen Café fare on the Thumbs Scale?  Yeah, 10 out of a possible 10 thumbs and I think I saw a few fingers and toes thrown in.  FWIW, I happened to notice their Chicken Biscuit on a plate at a nearby table and it looked mighty good.  Think I know what I’ll be trying the next time we visit.

MoJo BBQ – Old City, St. Augustine, Florida, October 21, 2017

It’s a small world.

A little over thirty years ago ConnieLou and I attended Young Harris College in northeast Georgia along with a guy named Chris who was a year ahead of us and Chris and I were pretty good friends at the time.  After Chris graduated and moved on we lost touch for a while until we bumped into each other again a few years ago on Facebook.  Unbeknownst to me, Chris’ youngest daughter Sarah was considering attending Flagler College where Jenna is now.

One day last April I got a message from Chris saying that they were at an Accepted Students event on campus and that they would like to meet Jenna if possible.  A small flurry of emails ensued and Jenna was able to meet up with Sarah, Chris and Chris’ wife Heidi.  ConnieLou and I had hoped to get a chance to see Chris, Heidi and Sarah during move-in weekend back in August but our move-in schedules didn’t allow.  Fast forward to Family Weekend and we were finally able to get together.

We traded text messages with Chris, playing an abbreviated version of the “Where Do You Want to Eat?” game.  Thankfully Chris cut the game short when he suggested MoJo BBQ in the Old City section of St. Augustine, just a short walk from the Flagler campus.  Chris told us that they’ve eaten there several times and were always pleased.  We did a quick check to make sure there was a fish or veggie option that Jenna would like but to be honest, I was hooked when he said ‘BBQ’.

I learned later that MoJo is a local chain with six other locations in northeast Florida and one more in the works.  We’ve never been to the MoJo location in St. Augustine and I’m not sure how we’ve missed it.  I know we’ve passed by at least a couple of times while we were in town.  Regardless, we arrived at MoJo and got a table and Chris & Co. strolled in few minutes later.  We placed our orders and spent the next hour and a half eating and catching up on the past 30-plus years and learning about each other’s families.

Without going into a lot of detail about who ordered what, I’ll say our entrees included pulled pork barbeque, North Carolina barbeque (chopped pork instead of pulled and already sauced with a NC style vinegar sauce), burgers and barbeque shrimp, all of which were served with mac and cheese or fries…yeah, fresh cut fries…the best kind…and they were good!

So…how did MoJo BBQ fare on the Thumbs Scale?  Call it an easy 6 out of a possible 6.  It was quite good and we hope to be back sometime…although now I’m getting a concerned that our ‘St. Augustine Restaurants to Revisit’ list is going to exceed the number of opportunities we have left to eat in St. Augustine before Jenna finishes school.  Ehh, not a bad problem to have, right?  And besides, we can always make trips to St. Augustine after she graduates just because.  Seriously, it’s a fun town to visit.

Prohibition Kitchen, St. Augustine, Florida, October 20, 2017

Yep, we were back in St. Augustine. Once again it was time for Flagler College’s annual Family Weekend festivities. We’d made the drive down from Newnan, arriving a little later than planned but in time to check into our motel then meet Jenna and go out for dinner.

Jenna has been telling us about a relatively new place on St. George Street called Prohibition Kitchen. We’ve tried to go a couple of times but when we encountered waits of a couple of hours or more we decided to explore other options. This time around we were told that the wait was only around 45 minutes, which isn’t bad for a Friday night, so we decided to stick it out.

Prohibition Kitchen’s website’s About Us page states:

“Deep in the heart of America’s oldest city, a vintage gastrobup and lounge is being born. Invoking the spirit of Bartolo, who on this very spot created “Genovar Theater”, the social epicenter of Flagler’s prohibition era…we offer you an escape into the clandestine, mysterious, and yes, illegal world of flapper dresses, speakeasies, moonshine and swing. Sashay in and let your senses be seduced. Let chef Bradford’s seasonally inspired techniques using local ingredients put the exclamation point on your rendezvous back in time… experience the PROHIBITION KITCHEN.”

Fortunately, our 45 minute wait seemed to go by fairly quickly, not exactly surprising on St. George street where you can spend time either people watching or checking out the nearby shops. Once seated, we were able to take a good look around. Now we’re 90-plus years removed from the Roaring 20s and prohibition but it appeared that the restaurant owners went to a good bit of effort making the place reminiscent of a hidden-away speakeasy in a building’s basement or maybe in a warehouse somewhere. Jenna said that it had an ‘industrial’ look to it.

OK, just broke my ‘no pictures’ rule again. Maybe it’s time to modify that rule to ‘no pictures unless one is really deserved’.

That works for you?

Good.

We sat down, placed our orders, and then sat back to listen to the band that was playing near the front of the joint. Every now and then we’d notice a couple of folks from the wait staff remove one of the nearby tables and carry it to the back. Our server told us that as the evenings progressed the bar area got more and more crowded to the point that they simply moved the dining tables out of the way as they were emptied and the space was needed…and by time we’d finished, we understood what they meant.

OK, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. Jenna ordered the Mac and Cheese which was described as creste de gallo pasta with a smoked cheddar blend and toasted bread crumbs. ConnieLou and I both ordered the Fried Chicken Sandwich which came with tomato confit, pickled green tomato and homemade ranch dressing and fries on the side (yes, fresh cut fries). Of course, I left the tomato and tomato confit off mine.

How was it? Let’s just say it was definitely worth the wait. Jenna’s mac and cheese was quite tasty, they definitely know how to fry a piece of chicken and the fries were crispy and golden brown. Did I mention that the fries were fresh cut? I did? Good.

So how did Prohibition Kitchen fare on the Thumbs Scale? They received an easy six out of a possible six. The only thing that I could find to complain about was that I was stuffed when I walked out. We’ll be back.

Happy Hawg – Dine-In Addition, Hiawassee, Georgia, August 26, 2017

I originally intended to simply add this to the end of my previous Happy Hawg entry from a couple of weeks ago.  But…as I thought about it, I realized that this was a different experience and really deserved its own space.  For those that aren’t already familiar with our recent car issues and would like to read the back story, just click on the link above.

The car has been repaired and we’re the proud owners of a new used transmission.  OK, we’re the proud owners of new front brake rotors too.  The car needed them and since the garage had the front end taken apart to replace the transmission, it just made sense to go ahead and do the brakes too because there wouldn’t be any additional labor charge.

But I digress…

The next challenge to tackle was picking up the car from the garage and getting it back home.  Picking up a car from the garage we usually use isn’t much of a challenge.  We simply leave work a little early to get there before closing time of go by on Saturday morning.  When the garage is 150 miles away from home things aren’t so easy.  This was going to require taking a full day off or going to pick it up sometime over the weekend.  Still not too daunting but there were still other obstacles to contend with.  The upcoming weekend was move-in weekend for Jenna at Flagler College…in St. Augustine…400 miles in the opposite direction.  The car would not be ready until Friday afternoon and we needed to be home Friday evening to load up and get ready to hit the road Saturday morning.  We thought about simply driving up Monday morning but found out the garage would be closed Monday in anticipation of heavy traffic because the garage was located within the zone of totality of the total solar eclipse that was set to occur.  We finally worked out a plan to have our good friend and YHC Alumni Affairs Director, Dana Ensley, pick up the car for us on Friday, bring it back to YHC and park it.  We had planned to go up to YHC to see the eclipse ourselves but after driving 400 miles Saturday, spending most of Sunday getting Jenna moved in and situated then driving another 400 miles back home Sunday night, when we looked out at the car Monday morning and thought about the drive up to Young Harris which would take nearly three hours and the likelihood of a five to six-hour drive home due to eclipse traffic and simply said ‘nope’.

Fast forward to Saturday.  We finally had the opportunity to make the trek up to Young Harris to get the car.  We arrived on campus around noon, spent a few minutes in the bookstore and decided to grab some lunch before picking up the car and heading home.  It didn’t take us long to decide that we wanted to go to the Happy Hawg and give the dine-in option a try.

The Happy Hawg is a tiny place off Highway 76 between Young Harris and Hiawassee.  When I say tiny I mean that there are five tables inside.  Fortunately, there are another ten to twelve tables outside in the front of the building and on the deck overlooking Lake Chatuge.

We placed our orders at the counter, got our drinks and picked an indoor table.  ConnieLou ordered the pulled pork plate with cole slaw and Brunswick stew on the side.  I ordered the pulled pork plate with Brunswick stew and fried corn.

We sat down to wait on our food and I noticed that each table had three bottles of barbeque sauce on it.  ConnieLou had already made the same observation and picked up a spoon along with our other utensils and napkins because she knows that I’m a bit of a sauce nut and that I’d want to taste each of the sauces before deciding which to put on my pork.

She knows me well.

Their sauces include a tomato-based ‘House Sauce’ that’s thick, smoky and just a little sweet – think about a cross between a Georgia-style sauce and a K.C.-style sauce, a North Carolina vinegar-based sauce that’s tangy with a little bit of a pepper kick, and a South Carolina mustard-based sauce that’s a nice mix of sweet and tangy.  All three were quite good and all got a bit of use on my plate…not overlapping of course.

When our orders arrived, I was a bit surprised to find that the fried corn was fried on the cob rather than being cut off and then fried.  It wasn’t what I was expecting but was still quite good.  ConnieLou enjoyed her slaw and we both enjoyed the Brunswick stew which was a little chunky without being too chunky, if that makes any sense, and tasted quite good.  I ended up giving mine a small squirt of one of the sauces but that’s not unusual.  As for the pork…we had no complaints at all.  It was moist and smoky without being overwhelming and paired quite well with each of the sauces.

So how did the Happy Hawg (dine in edition) fare on the thumbs scale?  Four thumbs-up out of a possible four…easily.  Needless to say, the Happy Hawg has earned a spot in the list of restaurants that we tend to return to over and over when we’re in the area.

Georgie’s Diner, St. Augustine, Florida, August 20, 2017

We were back in StA to move Jenna in for her second year at Flagler College. The cars were finally unloaded and her room was organized and mostly decorated, and it was supper time. We’d somehow managed to skip lunch and we were hungry. ConnieLou asked what we wanted to do for supper and my response was ‘any place that we don’t have to drive to’. It’s a shame that I was thinking it was Saturday instead of Sunday. Downtown St. Augustine wouldn’t be nearly as crowded as it usually is on Friday or Saturday night and it probably wouldn’t be too hard to find a place to park. Driving a little way would have opened up a lot of good dining options.

Nonetheless, there were still a few good options within easy walking distance of Jenna’s dorm. In fact, two of those options, Carmello’s and Georgie’s Diner, were directly across the street. Since we’ve been to Carmello’s a couple of times we decided to give Georgie’s a try. Georgie’s is a 1950s/1960s-style diner with all the chrome and neon that comes with the style but with a Greek twist.


Yeah, I know, I broke my no pictures rule again.

On the menu one can find typical American diner fare along with a good selection of Greek favorites. Once seated our server took our drink orders and gave us a few minutes to look over the menu. Jenna selected the Greek pizza, ConnieLou went with the BLT with fries and I ordered the gyro with fries. With our orders placed, we settled in to enjoy a few minutes with no task to complete.

When our orders arrived the first thing I noticed was the fries (imagine that)…fresh cut, not frozen. My gyro was piled high with sliced meat, onions and lettuce (but not too much lettuce) and Georgie’s ‘special sauce’. ConnieLou’s BLT had no shortage of B and T and was served on toasted bread. Jenna’s pizza came loaded with spinach, melted mozzarella and feta cheeses and tomato sauce.

And the table got quiet…

As we were finishing our entrées our server tempted us with dessert…and we caved. Jenna ordered a vanilla shake and ConnieLou and I both ordered rice pudding.  Looking back I really wish I had chosen the baklava.

So how did Georgie’s fare on the Thumbs Scale? We gave them a healthy 5 ¾ thumbs out of a possible 6. Here’s the low down… ConnieLou said the BLT was one of the best she’s ever had and the fries were quite good. Jenna initially said the Greek pizza was really good to begin with but ended up not being too thrilled with the sauce. It was a bit sweet for her taste. Me? I thought the gyro was fantastic and the fries were just icing on the cake. As for dessert, Jenna’s milkshake was quite good and it was huge. ConnieLou and I were a bit disappointed with the rice pudding. There was something there that just didn’t suit either of us. Neither of us deducted for the rice pudding. I had strongly considered it but then decided the fries made up for it. We’ll definitely be back and since Jenna lives just across the street, I suspect she might be back a little more often than me and ConnieLou.

Happy Hawg, Hiawassee, Georgia, August 10, 2017

How does one write a review of a restaurant that one has never actually been to?  Well, it can be done and, of course, there is a story behind it.  Here goes…

A few months back, Melanie Hale, one of our long-time friends from Young Harris mentioned the Happy Hawg to us and raved over their ‘Hickory Tater’, which is basically a baked potato topped with chopped pork barbeque.  We’d intended to go give it a try the past couple of times we were in town but with other events demanding our time, we just weren’t able to work it out.

This past Friday I had a morning meeting to attend at Young Harris College so I decided to head up Thursday afternoon with the intent of finally stopping in and giving the Happy Hawg a try.  Of course, as often happens, things didn’t go quite as planned.  I’d turned on to Highway 76, was on my way into Hiawassee, and about to head up the hill in front of Towns County High School.  I pressed the accelerator, the car engine revved up and…the car began slowing down.  Not good.  Time to make some phone calls.  Connie Lou, in turn, called Melanie to see if she could recommend a reputable mechanic (of course she could) and then began texting me numbers for our Allstate Motor Club account so I could arrange a tow.  In the mean time I managed to nurse the car into a nearby parking lot.

As it turned out, Melanie wasn’t far from where I was and offered to give me a lift over to the college.  By this time I wasn’t all that concerned about supper.  Well, Melanie being Melanie, was concerned for my well being and when she arrived to pick me up, had a piping hot Hickory Tater in the car waiting for me.  Yeah, she was worried about me not getting to give the Happy Hawg a try yet again.  That’s just how she rolls.

Anyway, Melanie dropped me off and I settled into my overnight digs and finally dug into my tater…and I wasn’t disappointed!  The Hickory Tater was a large baking potato, split lengthwise and topped with a heaping helping of chopped pork barbeque and came with a couple of tubs of barbeque sauce and ranch on the side.  The pork was smoky and tender.  I really don’t have a preference over chopped or pulled but chopped works quite well here.  The sauce was a basic, slightly sweet tomato (ketchup?) –based sauce that worked quite nicely with the pork and baked potato.

So how did my Hickory Tater fare on the Thumbs Scale?  An easy 2 out of a possible 2.  I definitely need to stop in next time I’m up that way and see what else is on the menu but if everything else is as good as the Hickory Tater, it’s going to be tough to choose.

Oh, and maybe you’re wondering about the car?  Yep, transmission is toast and is going to have to be replaced.  Ouch.  Oh well, could be worse.  Fortunately cars can be fixed or replaced and we have good friends that are willing to help us out when circumstances go south.  Life is good, make the best of it.