Well, maybe not totally back–school hasn’t started yet for the kids so I’ll still post only on Thursdays for the next couple of weeks–but back from vacation at least. I committed a major blogging goof last week and failed to post anything. Oops. To make up, I’ll hit my two posts this week (as I should be doing anyway just to keep the gears oiled).
Family summer vacation took us to Georgia where we visited my brother and his family. The flight out was relatively uneventful, aside from the scurry from one gate to another in Houston with a short thirty-minute window and the circling over Atlanta and subsequent redirect to another field to refuel because of bad weather. The latter caused us to arrive an hour or two later than anticipated, which meant we had zero time to do anything that evening aside from a fast food pick up on the way to the hotel.
The next day was spent in the vicinity of the Atlanta Aquarium and The World of Coca-Cola. The former, if you’ve visited very many large aquariums, wasn’t really anything new. The place has several rooms devoted to various marine life. Interesting, if you’re into that sort of thing. My wife and kids love aquariums and have to hit one every time we’re in a new city. I look at the fish and think, “Wonder how it tastes grilled?” But my wife indulges my similar quest for game stores, so it balances. But the Atlanta Aquarium just didn’t have anything that really screamed for my attention.
Ditto, frankly, The World of Coca-Cola. The kids were interested in looking through the place, but after about fifteen minutes, they were asking, “Where’s the tasting room?” A couple of displays in the place give the history of the Coca Cola company, which I found intriguing but nothing I couldn’t likely find with a bit of research in the local college library. The history lesson ends by squeezing the tourists into a circular room. The lights dim, and the sound of a cola being opened and poured fills the air as the walls show the image of said cola rising around the audience. Music crescendos and one wall slides back to reveal . . . The Vault, which supposedly holds the secret formula for Coke. A line across the floor marks where “You shall not pass” and sirens go off if you step over said line (as one kid found out). When the Big Reveal was made, my wife looked at me and said, “That’s it? Where’s the door?” Now, the Tasting Room is fun, for a short while. You get to sample the Coca Cola brands from around the world. There’s a fountain dispenser for Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. I found a few of the flavors pleasant but unfortunately didn’t note those I’d try to track down if I visit those countries. I do, however, recall the Italian soda (Beverly was the name, I believe) which tasted like cough medicine. And not any one of the grape or root beer flavored varieties.
That evening we ate at Ted’s Montana Grill in downtown Atlanta. The place was busy but we were seated fairly quickly (once the staff figured out how to work our table in around a large party due a quarter hour or so after we’d arrived). The young lady who waited our table was jovial, the food of good quality. We ordered the onion rings, thick cut and coated in a fine cornmeal batter. My son and I both had the Big Sky Ranch Salad (his with chicken, mine with bison–he said he couldn’t eat bison because it made him think he was eating Rumble, the OKC Thunder mascot). My wife had the chicken platter (half a chicken) and my daughter, the chicken finger basket. We agreed the onion rings were good, but my wife still prefers those from Cheddar’s.
The next day we visited the Center for Puppetry Arts where we saw a puppet show, naturally, called The Age of Dinosaurs. The show was fun and both my kids repeated lines for several hours that day. Afterward, we were able to go into one of the puppetry class rooms where we constructed shadow puppets (dinosaurs) which everyone could decorate to their heart’s content. The kids (and my wife) enjoyed that. Then we wandered the museums: one showing puppets from around the world, the other chronicling the life of Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets. I enjoyed the museums.
Lunch was a short walk down the street at Nan Thai Fine Dining on Spring Street in Atlanta. This was one fancy place. Signs at the door read, “Proper attire required” and “All hats must be removed upon entering.” Not that those are indicative of an upper scale restaurant, but the fine china, copper sheen flatware, and crystal at the tables were (the first and last of which were removed once the staff realized we were there to eat). The service was slow. I half suspect it was because they were hoping we would give up and leave but may have been because it was close to 2:00 p.m. when we arrived at the kitchen was likely shutting down until the dinner crowd. Anyway, the food was excellent. We had Kia Siam and the Kung Pad Thai. My wife grabbed a business card from the place to remind herself of it the next time we visit Atlanta.
Later that day, we visited my brother’s school, the Goddard facility in Dacula. He’s done a good job pulling the place together and keeping it running. It’s a daycare through kindergarten school with a rigorous curriculum that keeps the kids active as well as developmentally challenged. We went to dinner with his family that evening at Frontera, a Mex-Mex restaurant that really was quite unimpressive to my wife or myself. The kids were too busy socializing with their cousins to pay the food much attention. And, frankly, I was too busy socializing with my brother and his wife to care much, either.
I told my wife that evening as we drove back to the hotel that that evening was really the first time I’d felt on vacation.
We got up the next day and drove out to Helen, Georgia, a tourist town where most buildings in town have an “Alpine village” facade. The glassblowers was pretty neat. The kids bought a couple of glass figurines that somehow made the trip back home. We bought fudge at a shop there which we nibbled on the drive back toward Atlanta. Good fudge. But the thing I found most fun was Charlemagne’s Kingdom, a large HO-scaled mock-up of Germany with trains, balloons, a circus, and several small towns and castles scattered across it. Being a fan of trains in general and miniatures in particular, I found this to be the highlight of Helen.
That evening, the wife and dropped our kids off with my brother’s family. We went to dinner at Bahama Breeze, which we’ve loved since being introduced to it years ago when my brother married. There was a location in Oklahoma, but it closed a few years back much to our disappointment.
After lunch at Atlanta Bread Company, pretty much the entirety of the next day was spent with my brother and his wife and kids. He cooked dinner. We visited. Everyone had a good time. We came home. The kids already want to visit their cousins again.
The main problem with the trip: all the weight I’d lost over the last few months has found its way back.
I sure didn’t need to be saddled with it again.