A few weeks ago, Kel sent me a message saying they had an opportunity to head to Atlanta for a friend’s celebration the first weekend of August, could we meet them there?
I looked at the calendar. In MY MIND, the first weekend of August was my birthday weekend. My birthday is August 1, which happened to be a Monday this year. So, I put “Weekend in Atlanta” on the calendar for July 29- August 2.
Kelly and I are people-people, so we excitedly talked about what we could do while we were all together. Specific dates were never mentioned between us. We picked out a place to stay all together, got the reservations all paid for, and dreamed happy dreams about seeing each other.
The Monday before we were driving to Atlanta, I sent Kel a message saying how excited we were to see them in only 5 days.
“Two weeks,” said Kel.
Oops. My “first weekend in August,” was not actually the first weekend in August.
Our weekend couldn’t move. Kel and Paula couldn’t change their date. So, we sadly realized we wouldn’t be seeing each other as soon as we hoped. (Luckily K and P are kind and forgiving friends and didn’t hold this against me for too long. Our children held their frustration for a little longer.)
Time to readjust to the new plans.
My mom was in town visiting, so she and Monkey decided they wanted to stay home, so on Friday, Buster, Yessa, and I loaded up the car. We got to the far side of Nashville before rush hour kicked in, and waited at a gas station while Buds finished up his work day and drove over to meet us.
The plan was to drive both family cars to Atlanta so Buds would be able to easily drive to work in the Atlanta office on Monday and Tuesday, plus we had some furniture items we wanted to purchase at Ikea and needed to be able to get them home.
After Buds joined us, we’d been on the road about 40 minutes, when I noticed smoke or liquid wafting out from under his vehicle. I called him and said, “Keep an eye on your heat gauge…”
“Accchhh,” he yelled. “It just shot through the roof.”
We pulled over at the next exit, parked on the side of the road in the shade, and called the insurance company. They arranged a tow, and we had a lovely family visit while we waited for the kind tow truck driver. Took about two hours total, and I was so grateful several times for having an air conditioned vehicle in which to wait, the pleasure of three other people who are among my favorite on the planet, and insurance. (In a nice karmic twist, I had added towing to our insurance the week before this incident.)
I always prefer when we are in one car together because I love that time to visit with Buds, so I was happy to enjoy the rest of our drive in his company.
Jack Johnson sums it up for me: Broken:
Tow truck towed the car off to the dealership to await our return to Nashville. We headed off to Atlanta.
In addition to the other adventures, the drive was beautiful.
We had a chosen a Suites-based hotel since we wanted to be able to make our own meals and share meals with Kel, Paula, and the girls. (Best-laid plans…)
By the time we arrived, it was too late to try out the outdoor pool, but the next morning, we gave it a splashy try.
Gettin’ some air.
Ready to launch.
I love how this series looks as Buds disappears:
Due to the car incident, the new plan became to get a rental car to replace the lame Subaru. Buds found a great deal, and we headed to the rental car office at one’ish to pick up the rental car.
The rental car office had closed at noon.
Wow. That was strike three on this birthday weekend. We just had to shake our heads ruefully and laugh at our misses for this whole trip.
But, after we shook that off, we started to get our mojo back.
Saturday ended up being a quiet day, while we took a collective deep breath to gather ourselves.
Then, on Sunday, we headed to the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Atlanta. This large church was both beautiful and friendly. It was the annual lay leader service, and the personal insights and essays shared were poignant, funny, and inspirational. It was also a Sunday where they had a gathering afterward, and though our crew was interested in the bouncy house out front, we bustled them off to Ikea for lunch and a scouting trip.
The plan was to make an initial Ikea visit, get the few small items we’d need, then make another attempt at picking up the rental car early on Monday morning, and drive down to Ikea on Monday night. Phew…
After Ikea, we turned our thoughts to issues much more important than a new mattress.
Walking through Centennial Park to the Civil Rights Center:
We headed down to Centennial Olympic Park to tour the National Center for Civil and Human Rights. This was a powerful place to visit. Our country’s history, as well as the Human Rights issues around the world…so much to learn and ponder and mourn. And it felt good/valuable to me for our family to be in an environment where we were the minority. There were plenty of other white folks there, but black folks were the majority. It was also good for me to remember this is part of our country’s history, not someone else’s history.
Heading in to the Center.
Buds and I could have spent many more hours here, and Buster and Yessa both found different parts that interested them.
There was a recording booth where you could take a picture and add a caption, or record a video about what the center meant to you, then a space to watch the pictures that had been taken over the years.
We headed back to the Suites for an evening of time together spent watching The Food Network or HGTV. These are the two channels our crew loves when we are at a hotel. After watching several episodes of “Tiny Houses” on HGTV, Buds and I were ready to move into one. The children were not so sure.
In addition, I discovered that IKEA has altered their previously horrendous shipping costs, and now we could have large furniture shipped to our house for less than the rental car cost.
Turns out it was a win that we hadn’t picked up the rental car! I could feel our luck beginning to turn.
Buds took the car on Monday for his work day, and the kids and I walked to a movie theater a little over a mile away to see The Secret Life of Pets. It was a hot, humid, sunny day, and the walk proved to be character-building for the children. (That’s parent-speak for “They hated it, but I was glad we did it.”)
The movie theater was one of the most luxurious we’ve been in. Fully-reclining leather seats for each of us. It was restorative after our walk.
If only airline seats had this much room.
After the movie, which we enjoyed, we headed to a gelato cafe we had noticed on our walk past.
That gave us the strength we needed for the walk home.
Tuesday morning, I dropped Buds off at work, and the kids and I packed up the car and said good bye to our Suite home-away-from-home. Due to an accident, the drive downtown took over an hour, so we were happy to finally land back at our favorite parking lot by Centennial Park, and trot on over to The World of Coke.
I was probably the most excited for the place.
The tour begins with an offer of Coke, Diet Coke, or Coke Zero. Then, you head into the first room.
Viewing hundreds of items of Coke paraphernalia.
Coke was invented in Atlanta, and it was interesting to hear about some of the items in the room.
I love the Polar Bear…the children wanted no part of this picture.
Heading into the vault to see the Secret Formula.
The tour overall was part Disney, part Coke sales pitch. There are some interesting exhibits as you make your way to the “Actual Vault where the only hand-written copy of the formula is kept.” They even have a “guard” standing by the vault to warn you not to get too close. My crew was intrigued when an alarm went off with some small kids got “too” close.
How close can you get to the true taste of Coke?
This made us laugh all weekend. What happens if one of the people die?
The vault room looks like you are walking into an inferno.
I made us walk through the “factory” part of the tour where they are bottling Coke, but my crew was most excited to head upstairs to the Tasting Room and the 4-D theater.
The theater was one of the coolest of its type that we’ve done. Chairs raised, lowered, shook, and tilted. Water was blown at us and dropped on us. Air and chilly wind were puffed around, and in one scene with 3-D dragonflies zooming around, you even felt jabbed in the back. That was startling.
They also had a replica of the Olympic Torch that Buster and I took the chance to examine:
Finally, the Tasting Room.
We don’t drink soda very often, so this was an adventure for us. There are over 100 different soda drinks that Coke produces for different countries around the world. The room is sorted by continent, and it was fascinating to try to get a gauge on unique flavors and tangs from various regions.
Grab your plastic cup and dive in.
Some were delicious, some were sickeningly sweet, some tasted like water, but we tried samplings of a whole lot of them and it was a good time for all.
We picked up our souvenir glass bottles of Coke on our way out the door, then meandered through the gift shop. Buster found a few items of interest.
Not sure what to say.
Then a final visit to the adored playground at Centennial Park:
We stopped for lunch since we weren’t picking Buds up until 3. I took the children to Olive Garden, which we all enjoyed, then we scooped up Buds and headed home.
Despite the many foibles and flops of the whole trip, it was a great birthday.
The not-complete family.