At any rate we decided the best way to spend the last weekend of summer was to head to Atlanta, Georgia to see my West Virginia Mountaineers take on SEC/national powerhouse and number two ranked Alabama at the Georgia Dome. The game had a lot of nearly heart stopping moments (which I'll get to in a minute), but first let's talk Atlanta. And sweet tea.
We had a very early flight out of Lansing on Friday morning (also my 36th birthday), rolling into ATL before 10 am. We've all heard the horror stories of Atlanta traffic, and I was pleased to discover that Atlanta has a public transit system, the Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority (MARTA). MARTA is one of the most accessible public transit systems I've ever used. I could not be more impressed. It's a lot smaller than systems in New York, Chicago or Washington, DC which probably helps, but regardless MARTA is awesome. We bought a 4-day pass, which is no longer an option in DC (unfortunately) for only $20. The MARTA station was only a quarter mile from our hotel, the Intercontinental in Buckhead. After exiting the train there were directory signs pointing riders to hotels and attractions. I've never noticed that in another transit system. It was very user friendly, and without MARTA the trip would've been considerably more logistically complex.
|Representing my Mountaineers on a MARTA train|
The security guard suggested we pop into the Governor's office to sign the guest book. Signing the guest book turned into an impromptu tour of the Governor's office. We were given a tour of the office, shovel room (filled with shovels from various groundbreaking ceremonies) and given cold bottles of Coca-Cola and Georgia peanuts. Here in Michigan you can't even get into the Governor's office building without an escort (assuming you have an approved meeting), and the Capitol office is rarely open. It was certainly a more visitor friendly experience. Plus Coca-Cola is delicious.
|My husband at the Governor's office.|
|The Georgia Capitol Building|
|Obligatory jumping photo|
We spent a few hours relaxing by the pool with cocktails, and we both fell asleep by the pool. That isn't something that happens to me - the early morning flight caught up with me. We were joined in Atlanta by my dad's two brothers and their spouses, plus one of my cousins and his fiance (my sister joined us on Saturday). We had a birthday dinner at Capital Grille about a mile from our hotel. It was one of the best steaks I've ever had, and lobster mac 'n cheese? Yes, please. For those of you keeping score, I DID have mac 'n cheese twice in one day.
Saturday was the best day of the entire year - the first Mountaineer football game! I will admit that I didn't have high hopes for the game. Alabama is an amazing team, and with only a four win Mountaineer season last year I didn't have great expectations. We met the family at Dantanna's in the CNN Center for food and drinks before the game. We got there early and ended up with a great vantage point to watch everyone coming and going. It wasn't traditional tailgating, but if I'm being honest it may have been better (although my husband points out not cheaper).
|Jones family tailgating at Dantanna's|
|In the Georgia Dome before the game|
I never sleep in, and sometimes I think I've forgotten how. I must've worn myself out in Atlanta because every day I woke with a start between 8:30 and 9 am wondering how I had ever slept so long. On Sunday morning my husband and I went for a run near our hotel on the sidewalk abutting insanely busy Peachtree Road, the main artery that runs through the City. On part of the street near our hotel they created a boulevard with trees and flowers in the middle. It at least gave the appearance of a smaller street. Unfortunately the Buckhead area is a prime area for big box stores and large retailers. In some parts the big stores fronted the street, but around the corner from our hotel I had to walk through a parking lot to get to a Caribou Coffee. After reading (and being somewhat obsessed with) Jeff Speck's Walkable City I had plenty of negative comments to make about Atlanta's street design.
|A gorgeous day in Downtown Atlanta|
|With President Gee. He's adorable!|
|There are no words.|
Visiting Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthplace was a stark and poignant reminder of the impact one person can have on history. Ebeneezer Baptist Church made me nostalgic for the Baptist churches I attended as a child, and the entire neighborhood creates an emotional homage to a great leader. There were various sites (the church, a firehouse, Dr. King's childhood home) that are all run by the National Park Service. It was an extraordinary place to visit, and I'd highly recommend it to anyone visiting Atlanta.
|In front of Dr. King's birthplace|
|The final resting place of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King|
After walking back to the MARTA station we spent the remainder of the afternoon relaxing at the hotel pool before heading out to dinner at Seven Lamps. I had an incredible tortellini in a cream sauce that was divine. It was a great final dinner in Atlanta.
Monday was another late sleeping day as we struggled to get up and go for a run. The humidity and heat in Atlanta is fantastic except while running. We struggled through three miles before heading out to Midtown to check out the Margaret Mitchell house. I love Gone with the Wind (it's my favorite book and movie), so I wanted to check that out. We then discovered that Midtown is a very cool neighborhood.
|The actual door from Tara in Gone with the Wind|
As we were walking down the street in Midtown I said, "I don't need any more running shirts". As soon as those words were uttered we realized we were standing in front of a Big Peach Running Company store, and I am now the proud owner of a Run ATL shirt. I think my running shirt addiction is out of control. Midtown was a very cool, walkable neighborhood with lots of restaurants and shops. Lunch was at The Vortex. I LOVED this place. It was naughty and all around awesome. I had a burger with bacon and pulled pork (see Operation Weight Gain above) and tator tots. You're required to be 18 to enter the restaurant always. No kids allowed. I love that there's a place that says no to kids and just doesn't give a crap. It's awesome.
|Debauchery at The Vortex|