My quest to run all 50 states is far more than just about running shoes, some miles and a medal. It’s learning about different cities, cultures and people. The race is usually just a little more than 90 minutes of my time there – the rest is spent exploring and discovering!
I flew into Atlanta last Friday, arriving late afternoon and was spoiled by having twitter friend, Luis, pick me up at the airport – how nice is that??!! Once there, I messaged him to say that I had retrieved my luggage and was waiting outside for him – he messaged me back urging me to get back inside to the AC asap and that he would let me know once he arrived. It was cute. He thought my Canadian system couldn’t handle a little southern heat. lol. I stayed outside and soaked it up!
He and I were both staying at the Hilton so we got there and he left me to check in, unpack and settle a bit before we met up to head off to dinner. This particular Hilton is big and has lots of great amenities – the view from my room shows off some of them:
Yup, a massaging soap. You’re jealous, aren’t you? lol
I met up with Luis and we headed off for dinner to Max’s Coal Oven Pizzeria where we each enjoyed pizza and BEER.
Then it was off to Glenn’s Skylounge which is an awesome rooftop bar that gives patrons a great view of the city – but when we got there we found it was closed for a private party. Sigh. Oh well, we found another rooftop patio (only it was about 20 stories lower down that Glenn’s lol) and enjoyed some more beer!
Saturday morning Luis and I decided to walk to pick up our race kits. Google maps gave us clear walking directions that were to take 20 minutes..yeah, I now know that Google Maps needs a function where it tells you “Note: this route will take you through incredibly undesirable neighbourhoods with VERY sketchy and aggressive individuals…and large rats”
About 10 minutes, one rat-the-size-of-a-dog sighting, and after Luis casually said, “Gee, I hope we don’t get jumped here” (WHAT??!!) we reversed our course and high tailed it out of there and chose our own route. Although you can’t completely avoid the yucky areas…this group of men seemed to really want to make my acquaintance.
After getting our race kits, we rushed back to the hotel to meet up with twitter friend Russ and his wife, Nancy, and head off to our tour of CNN!
…but Luis and I both agreed that our tour guide hates his job and the people he has to tour around. It’s interesting how tours can be made or broken just by the tour guide – my memory of CNN will be that it was just a big TV station and…well, that’s about it. Yet I’m sure there are LOTS of cool things going on there – our tour guide just didn’t care to make us excited.
In contrast, that afternoon we went on an Electric Car Tour (what is that you ask? Well, it’s a tour in an electric car lol)
Ebenezer Baptist Church – Dr. Martin Luther King (MLK) was co-pastor here with his father and this church was an important meeting location during the civil rights movement.
The home where MLK grew up While this is now part of one of the universities, it was built for the 1996 Olympics and used as the Athletes’ Village. He gave us pop quizzes like for this funny looking structure below, what was it used for in the late 19th century? a) a port-a-potty b) jail c) telephone booth c) prayer booth The answer is…a jail! Someone acting unruly, could be detained in one of these until the police could come with a paddy wagon and take them off to the real jail. If people were held in there long enough, it could probably double its use as a port-a-potty!
But he also showed us “hot-spots” in Atlanta like this restaurant often frequented by the less than civilized Housewives of Atlanta cast! I was way more excited than I should have admitted. lol
I’m not sure how to explain this in words. But trust me, it’s like a cult in there. And they try very hard (and well) to indoctrinate you…and literally, make you “drink the kool-aid” except in this case, it’s one of the million products that Coca-Cola owns:
The history is cool though…here is the progression of the can
Here is the first soda fountain/dispenser made for space travelAnd at the end, you have free access to fountains dispensing Coca-Cola products from across the globe – it was interesting trying Ice Tea from North America, Latin America, Africa – and tasting the difference in taste that each culture prefers.
But my all-time fav part of the tour was when you had your pic taken with Coca-Cola’s Polar Bear. It wanted Luis’ hat SO BADLY and Luis was having none of it – which you can see by his hand firmly on the bear’s paw. (I am DYING of laughter…Luis is NOT impressed)
After Coca-Cola, I said goodbye to Luis who had a 3-hour drive home ahead of him, and I carried on to the amazing Center for Civil and Human Rights.
It is a must if you are in Atlanta. I only had the time to visit the part of the museum focused on the American Civil Rights Movement. And it was incredible. The Center is very new so the pictures and interactive displays are very modern and very moving. One of them brought me to tears.
The lunch counter. The idea is that you sit yourself on one of those stools, put the ear phones on and place your hands on the counter and imaging you are a black person sitting at a lunch counter only meant for white people, during segregation and see how long you can sit there – there is a timer in front of you. Through the earphones you are subjected to the angry yelling, taunting, violent threats that you would have been subjected to back then. I lasted a minute before I was too tearful to continue. It was awful. But that’s the purpose. It’s an incredible way of teaching people.
Then it was time for dinner…I went to the Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint where I ordered myself a side of “southern mac & cheese” and a Cobb Salad which gave me the chance to taste, for the first time, deep fried okra!
I flew home the next day and my mom picked me up at the airport with Abby who was over the moon excited to see me (and I her) and then when we got home she promptly pulled an Abby.