How does one make a senior-citizen-in-training feel young? Ask her for her ID in the presence of her adult son. This is one of the wonderful things that happened during my recent long weekend in the north Atlanta suburbs. My son takes after me in many respects, not the least of which is his fondness for exploring locally owned restaurants and taverns with interesting and diverse offerings. Fortunately, my daughter-in-law, also shares our adventurous spirit, and is a willing accomplice. I always return home happier, and with five extra pounds.

I travel several times a year to visit my son, Drew, daughter-in-law, Jennifer and granddog, Charlie Bear, who is a most delightful mix of pit bull and boxer, and hasn't a mean bone in his body. His bark is terrifying, but his preferred activities are eating and snuggling on the couch with his people. I love the neighborhood in which they live, with its easy access to great shopping, tasty dining, Lake Lanier, the mountains and Ga. 400. I adore that there is always a festival going on somewhere nearby when I'm there. This recent weekend found me eating delicious food, trying new beverages, frolicking in a field of sunflowers, and eventually, in Marietta, where "Merry Marietta," was taking place, complete with Santa Claus, Christmas music and plastic pink flamingos adorned with Santa hats. We had planned to enjoy an outdoor concert in Alpharetta Saturday evening, but Mother Nature decided torrential rain would be a better idea. 

It's amazing the positive effect only four days away from home can have on a person. I had not had any time off since Christmas, and had become cranky and difficult, which is not my default setting. My mom used to use the phrase, "It's refreshing," when she really enjoyed something, and my son and I keep it alive by using it, sometimes not in a context of which she would have approved, but we always end up laughing like a couple of hyenas. I'm pretty sure she would like that. This trip was certainly refreshing. I needed a change of scenery, a touch of the unfamiliar, perhaps a little adventure. Seeing different faces and trying new restaurants was fun, but nothing topped the home-cooked meal my daughter-in-law served Friday evening. I did miss my people, and my dogs, "back home."

The only drawback is the traffic, which bears no resemblance to the occasional inconvenience we endure here. This is epic traffic, y'all. Highway construction is constant. Vehicles are everywhere, and the multi-level patchwork of main roads, side streets, highways, and shopping center and subdivision exits and entrances, etc. is exhausting and anxiety-inducing. I have taken a vow never to complain about Frederica Road or Torras Causeway traffic again, at least not while anyone is within listening distance.

Like I said, all that traffic can stress a person out like nobody's business, but in this issue of Coastal Illustrated, we have some keen recommendations for your body and soul. We feature Patricia Ploeger, a veteran yoga instructor and paddleboarder, who speaks to the benefits of both pursuits. In our Spotlight, we highlight The Island Players Children's Summer Theater Workshop, and talk with director Jeff Dempsey. This year's play is Disney's "Mulan Jr.," which is a shorter version. More than 50 area kids are involved in the production, and spend their summer learning tech skills and working on their singing, acting and dancing.

In Coastal Home, we feature Lane Applegate and Marilyn Hodor, of Kitchens by Design, on St. Simons Island, and learn about how to make a home's kitchen decor both up-to-date and timeless. The Q&As focus on Realtor Dana Gardner, of Gardner Keim Real Estate, and designer, Edward Armstrong, of Edward on St. Simons. 

We also have great tips and recommendations from our columnists, and a lot of pictures of people you know. Sit back, pour yourself a glass of iced tea, put your feet up and enjoy the issue! 

P.S. No stressing about traffic allowed. It could be worse. You could be negotiating an 18-lane multi-level freeway.