Atlanta, 2013

It seems to be becoming a yearly tradition to visit Jay in Atlanta in December, and who am I to disrupt it? :-)

Friday December 13, 2013

I had run out of vacation days by this point in the year, so it was a shorter trip than I'd have liked to do. I had packed my hiking poles so I brought my small suitcase with me on the bus to work that morning. I met up with a co-worker who lives down the hill from me and we shared a ride on the CT2. I hadn't been updated as to the progress of the re-carpeting in my office area, and ended up kicked out of my office at 12:30 since they were ripping up the old carpet and I'd have been "trapped". I set up in the conference room in an area that had already been re-done and managed to get a decent amount of work done, probably partially due to internet connection problems. Then as I was packing up to head to the airport, I realised that if I didn't want to bring all my work stuff to Atlanta with me, I'd need to find a place other than my office to stash it for the weekend, with the extra requirement of being able to get it back on Monday morning. Luckily my bus riding co-worker was around and let me lock my laptop etc in her desk and I was on my way to Georgia. Because I'd been thrown off by the various upheavals, I hadn't had a chance to prepay for my checked suitcase, and also had to print out my boarding pass (but lesson well learned: I check in as soon as I can even if I can't print the pass). I was flying out of Terminal A on Delta, and it was surprisingly calm for a Friday, I was able to get my admin stuff done and through security and walk over to the area with my gate fairly quickly. The good trip karma continued and we had a fast flight south, arriving early. I had time to get over to baggage claim and pick up my suitcase and was waiting outside when Jay arrived.

I'd found a deal via Travelocity to prepay at Staybridge Suites in Buckhead, which is apparently a good part of town and the rate I'd found was awesome. The hotel ended up being great, with free parking and fairly central to everything, and also included breakfast. I checked out the pool and hot tub and weight room but didn't get a chance to use them, but I'll be keeping an eye on this hotel to see if more deals pop up - they were under renovation at the time, so that might have been why it was so cheap, but that didn't effect our stay at all. The room was a bit crowded with all the stuff in there, but it had a mini kitchen and a full sized fridge that was useful for storing the drinks and snacks we stopped at the nearby Kroger to pick up.

Saturday December 14, 2013

We tried a nearby bakery/cafe for breakfast first, but the place looked packed and I asked if we could go back to the Radial Cafe for breakfast again. Done and done. :-) Tea and their veggie hash were perfect for a day of messy weather. We decided to postpone the hiking to Sunday since my flight was leaving late enough, and do some indoor stuff instead. First up was the The Fernbank Museum of Natural History where they had a Marco Polo exhibit. I'd loved their Ghengis Khan exhibit last year, but this one felt like they'd reused some artefacts and skimped on the supporting text. It's always nice to visit the huge dinosaur skeletons though.

Checking the movie listings, we just had time to catch an early-ish showing of "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug" at Atlantic Station. I'd half hoped to grab tickets for a later show and get dinner first, but the movie kept me rapt and unconscious of any hunger pangs. It was *long* though and as soon as the credits started to roll, I was ready for dinner.

We went to Chai Pani for dinner, near Decatur Sq. I had a delicious cocktail that I tried to recreate at home a few days later, the Earl grey fizz: earl grey and hibiscus infused gin (Uncle Val's, a bottle of which I'd just recently purchased for my home bar), cherry heering, cardamom honey syrup, lime, egg, cream. So so good. The sag paneer was good as well, though Punjabi Dhaba in Inman Sq still owns my stomach. :-)

Sunday December 15, 2013

We were determined to hike today, so we were up early enough to take advantage of the hotel breakfast. I assembled a healthy repast from the options on offer (fruit, an egg omelet on toast, a bit of cottage cheese and my own tea). We got the car loaded up with wet and cold weather gear and were off to the East Palisades hike. The dirt road to the trail head and parking lot was a bit dicey, I seem to recall we had to pull way off to the side to let another car pass out, and the pot holes were epic. It was really muddy and a bit chilly too. Jay went back for another layer and I continued ambling back toward the trail head. I'd voted for this hike over the other options because there's a bamboo grove growing alongside the river. It was magical. The hollow knocking of the green poles as the wind moved through them was background music to the shifting shadows and rustling dried leaves. Quite a few people had made this their destination as well, including some inconsiderate dog walkers. We went on a bit to the end of the out and back trail, climbing up some rock faces to get views of the river, then turned back. When we hit the place where the printed out map showed a fork back the way we came or a trail following the river, we couldn't quite spot the latter one, but decided to go for it anyway (at least this time we were adventuring inside the Atlanta city limits instead of on the side of a mountain... well...). We quickly saw why the trail was no longer in use, it clung to the rocky outcroppings along the rivers edge and we had to do some sleuthing to figure out which way it turned - there were a few boot and paw marks from other hikers but no clear blazes. We'd often have one person stop at the current end of the discernable trail and have the other explore a few options and kept making strenuous progress. Turns out that we weren't as isolated as it seemed, once we got back on the clear trail a guy caught up to us and said that he saw us and that it looked like we were having fun. We were. :-) Probably took us close to an hour to go that mile, but the loop back to the car on the easy trail was super quick. We were out for 3 hours total, did about 4.5 miles. By the time we got back to the car, my boots and lower pant legs were coated with mud, it felt positively New Englandish. :-)

I was pretty hungry by then, despite packing some snacks (10 essentials!), so we drove over to Doctor Bombay's Tea House for lunch. It was pretty cramped in there, we were squeezed in at a long table along one side of a narrow book filled room while behind us another long table hosted a gothic lolita tea party group. :-) The tea was good and the scones and sandwiches and sweets were filling. As we were leaving, I finally got to meet (briefly) the "Devil's Panties" creator, as well as a couple of other friends of Jay's, there for their own dress up tea party. I felt a bit underdressed, and grubby, after going there directly from hiking, but the rest of the clientele were also dressed casually, so it wasn't a big deal. Poked around a bit in a quirky store on the same block, but time was ticking away and my flight was approaching.

Jay offered up his house so that I could change out of my hiking clothes and repack my poles into the bottom of my suitcase, so we headed there first. The scrambling along the unmarked trail had left me a bit sweaty as well as muddy, it was nice to change back into my clean travel clothes. A quick drive to the airport and I was there in plenty of time for my 7:15pm flight back to Boston. Which was good, because the TSA were extra clueless this time around. I wanted to opt out of the scanner, but there was no passenger pass through that didn't go through it, so one woman said I had to go around to the metal detector line and tell her I wanted to opt out. She got snippy saying that I couldn't opt out of the metal detector, and when I said no, I was sent here, she said that if I hadn't said anything I could have just walked through w/o the pat down. *sigh* Eventually they figured out what they were doing and I got out of there, wanting a drink. There wasn't a bar in Terminal A, I walked there from the main terminal, skipping the short train ride in lieu of a calming walk. I think there was also a gate change, I grabbed a now also traditional pomegranate vanilla chai from Caribou Coffee in lieu of alcohol. They had the reading lights turned off by mistake on take off and there was a tantrumy child in front of me - I kept my noise cancelling headphones on as long as possible, even into BOS.

My suitcase came out fairly quickly, but just in time for me to watch the Silver line bus pull away once I got outside. Luckily the next one was soon and it got me to the Red line easily enough. I decided, that since I had to change to a bus at Davis Sq anyway, I'd stop there and drop in on a friend's Scotch and socks birthday party. Of course this was discounting the recent snow storm and how hard it would be to pull my rolly suitcase through the mounds of snow, but I made it, had a drink, a few chats, and got an offer of a ride home.

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