Atlanta, 2011

A rare free weekend + an airline seat sale + a good deal on a hotel room made me decide to visit Jay again in Atlanta. He graciously didn't try to kill me back after the Mt. Washington debacle, the walk up Stone Mountain was pleasant. I do however owe him more for giving him my cold.

Friday December 2, 2011

I took the T to work in the morning, as usual when I do that, getting there later than I wanted to. I had a bit of a frustrating coding day, and was glad to head out at around 4pm to take the T to the airport. I managed to make speedy connections at each point (55 to green line to blue line to shuttle bus) and was at the airport nice and early. I had checked in the night before, but was able to walk up and check my bag with no delay. I even lucked out and got to go through the metal detector rather than the xray machine at security. A guy took quite a while to slip on his slip on shoes while implying that my lace up boots weren't that convenient. I'd packed my easier to lace hiking boots in my suitcase, along with the ever so dangerous collapsible hiking poles (disassembled into three metal tube pieces each), but wore the Fluevog boots on the plane in case of suitcase arrival failure. I had originally had about half an hour to make my connection in Philly, and had to switch terminals as well, but a good tail wind put us in early and I had time to go to the bathroom before boarding my second plane. The flight into Philly was a bit bumpy, they suspended beverage service, but the flight to Atlanta was smooth. Philly was very sparkly at night, it took me a while to figure out that it was blinking Christmas lights on most of the houses. I'd had some soup for supper at Logan, and picked up a bagel, and had that on the second flight.

We landed early in Atlanta, but had to wait for our gate to be free. Then it was a fast in terms of speed but a bit long in terms of time shuttle train ride from terminal E to the main building where baggage claim was and Jay was waiting. I was feeling pretty horrible by the time I got off the plane, the dry air had done a number on my barely healing airways and I was coughing and feverish. :/ My suitcase came out as we walked up to the carousel and we were soon out of there. Jay stopped at a Kroger so I could pick up more cold meds and an apple and soup and water, and then got me checked into my hotel room (at the Wingate by Wyndham Atlanta Galleria Center, near his house). It had a microwave, so I was able to heat up the soup and sip it directly from the container. Note to self: travel with silverware. :) A long hot shower and many glasses of water helped rehydrate me a little and I was able to sleep fairly comfortably.

Saturday December 3, 2011

I indulged in a bit of a vacation sleep in and missed the free hotel breakfast, but Jay had a great backup plan: Radial Cafe. We had a bit of a wait for a table but it was worth it. The french toast was amazing and our fabulous water kept me in hot water for tea.

From there, we went straight to Stone Mountain, aka the redneck Rushmore. Turns out that the parking lot ($10) was at around 1000 feet, so walking up the mostly gentle rock face to 1686 feet only covered about a mile. The geography was really interesting, with slabs of rock forming a natural staircase and black sand filled divots near the peak that were the results of lightning strikes. At one point my hiking poles made a hollow tocking sound on the rock and we mapped out a bit of the face that was going to break off soon. There were a couple of other people with hiking poles, and some doing laps jogging up and down the mountain, but it was mostly families and friends out for a quick trip. A group of gi clad young men were practicing on the summit with their nunchucks and one of them came by to offer Jay a brochure (hrmph, guess it was no girls allowed). The weather was warmer than expected, but I was glad of my wool underlayers and rain jacket to cut the wind at the top. There were two steep sections, one with a long railing installed on the stone face, and we stopped for me to take pictures and take in the view (and rest, as he was coming down with my cold now too). He pointed out the start of the AT, and the high rises of downtown Atlanta and Vinings.

By the time we were done, we were a bit hungry again, and Jay drove us to R. Thomas for some uber healthy food. We both had juice, his was so gingery it burned my tongue when I tried it. Between the parking lot and the door was a row of cages with birds in them, we stopped to admire and play a little with the parrots and toucan. A bit of food coma and exhaustion set it and we relaxed in my hotel room, looking at youtube videos of MovNat and talking about books and generally not moving around a lot. I was feeling a bit better by the time it was getting dark and time to think about dinner, so I took another hot shower and put on my comfy knit dress and braved makeup and heels. Jay drove us to his house to get his dressy outfit and then downtown to The Iberian Pig. I couldn't resist the lovely cocktail menu and ordered an Aviation (lemon juice is good for colds, right? and cherries?). The diver scallops were perfection and our section was next to a server's who had worked with Jay before. He and his girlfriend (she also worked there) took some extra care of us, we got a lovely cheese plate with dessert. Unfortunately I was feeling worse as the evening progressed, and the stupid reason was a wardrobe malfunction and an underwire pressing into my torso at just the right painful point, which I didn't figure out until we'd left. I still had a great time and wish I'd been feeling better to take more advantage of the delicious food and drinks. That night sleeping wasn't really an option, I was coughing and feverish again despite the medication I was taking.

Sunday December 4, 2011

I slept in again and missed breakfast, and barely made checkout time of 11am. Jay threw my suitase in the trunk of his car and I insisted that I was well enough to go to the Aquarium, so we grabbed a quick (if expensive) bite to eat in Atlantic Station, made a quick stop at Ikea so I could get some magnetic knife holders, and then made our way over to the fishies. Oh, man, it was totally worth it! :) At one point a woman was giving me a bit of an odd look, and later on I realised that we were the only adults without kids going right up to the walls of the tanks and sitting down to get a close up view. :) The whale sharks were overwhelmingly huge, and so were the manta rays (who did loop the loops to feed). The main tank is big enough to fit three whale sharks (er, well, it was made for 6, but there were some that didn't make the journey) and I was mesmerised by all the activity. We were there at 2 and 3, so the main tank got fed and the belugas were also being fed while we were watching, so we mostly got to see their tails (including some pooping, that was our cue to leave and head to the next viewing station). The penguins were really playful, following a paper penguin that a kid was moving around on the tank wall. The videos I took with my camera came out much better than the still images, it was a very dynamic place. :) The giant octopus had passed away but Jay pointed out his old tank, and I got to see the info on how the whale sharks were shipped via UPS. I touched a ray in one of the touch tanks (the other one was guarded while the denizens were taking a rest), it's skin was amazingly soft. The otters were impossible to take pictures of, they were moving so fast. The giant crabs and crayfish were distrubingly leggy and spikey, and I kept thinking "yummy" when I looked at the flatfish. I took a look through the gift shop, hoping to find a big mug with a whale shark or manta ray on it, but none of them called to me, and I fled when I got boxed in by a group of young people. The place in general wasn't very crowded for a Sunday afternoon, we rarely had to wait at any window. We even crawled into a tunnel that had a bubble in the middle of a tank, though a screaming child drove us out fairly soon. The tunnel in the big tank near the entrance was amazing, seeing all the fish in silhouette from below was awesome.

Jay couldn't recall the name but had the address of Holeman & Finch Public House but we were having a hard time finding it. We were actually at the right place on the first try, but then thought it was on the other end of that road. The number didn't exist there, so we called them and the answering machine told us it was right beside the hotel restaurant we'd thought had taken it's place. Turned back, parked, and found the door locked, they'd closed at 3pm. :/ Second choice, Figo Pasta more than made up for it, I had an amazingly creamy mushroom rissotto. But as we finished up, it was time to head to the airport. He dropped me off and I had an uneventful flight home, well, except for the excitement of going through the metal detector again instead of the xray. :) And I had another man comment on my boots taking a while to lace. Hrmph. I had a longer layover in Philly, I grabbed some tea and sat in a rocking chair in the mostly deserted concourse. Airports after 10pm are really quiet, most of the stores had closed down. I got back in to Logan around midnight, collected my suitcase, and when I was faced with a long taxi line and an arriving Silver Line bus, I ran for and made the bus. The Red line was somehow stil running and I took it to Central Sq and took a taxi home from there, still spending $10 but ah well.

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