Visiting Georgia had little to nothing to do with why I went to Georgia, so the tourism content will be scant. I’ll talk a lot about the real reason I went in a minute, but let’s at least start with my Georgia experience.
I was really excited to visit Atlanta, mostly because of this amazing article from Bucket List Publications on their amazing aquarium. It’s the only place in the world where you can dive with whale sharks. Talk about once in a lifetime! However, as we were specifically going to Georgia to visit friends, our schedule only had one day where it would be possible – and that day, the ENTIRE tank was rented out for a private event. Seriously, dick move. Personally I think that kind of thing should be after hours because who knows how many dreams you crush by doing it during the day? I was really mad. I figured when am I going to be back in Atlanta?
After the rest of our trip the answer is pretty decidedly never unless we pass through on our way to our friends again. Atlanta, like Nashville, just wasn’t for us.
First, it was a very long drive from our friends’ house. With young kids (kindergarten & preschool) it was a rough trip, especially for them. I felt so bad for dragging them out to Atlanta. Staying closer to their home would have probably been better, but as Atlanta was new to all of us there was no way of knowing. (I’ll explain why we were all so uninformed in a sec, hang on).
So we found a place to park and unloaded the kiddos, who blinked sleepily looking around the big city and asked “Are we in another state?” Atlanta was certainly different from the more foresty area where they live.
Our first stop was my bad, haha. I apologize to our gracious hosts because I insisted on going here: The Atlanta Underground. Atlanta built on top of itself at one point and the chunk of city that was covered was turned into a shopping district. Doesn’t that sound cool? Like a muggle Diagon Alley? Well… it’s not that. It’s mostly just really scary. And hot. And….scary. Think about the most run down mall you’ve ever been to – the one with no brand name stores and a lot of loitering ruffians. This is like that, except it’s underground in the dark. The elevator down smelled like urine, and the elevator back up smelled like weed, and I felt both dumb and guilty for having not done better research.
The picture we saw online….
IRL – but this pic doesn’t do justice.
Next stop was also my pick, and by now I was very nervous that I’d just dragged my poor friends and their poor kids into like, the worst day out ever. But, happily, this next stop was actually pretty cool. It was also very hard to find. But worth finding!
The Sundial Restaurant sits atop the Westin hotel. For $7-8 bucks a person, you can go to the top of the highest tower in the city to take it all in. There were telescopes and touch screens to help you find all the sights. The restaurant looked very nice, too, and even rotates. It’s a nice place to check out if you’re in town.
I know there’s lots more to see and do, but it didn’t seem like there was much that would be fun for kids. The only thing I can think of is the Aquarium but I was unhappy with them so THERE. There was a lot of cool relics from the Olympics, including a splash playground in the shape of the Olympic rings, but it was way crowded – and we could tell that from the top of the tower, so that’s pretty crowded. All in all, we had a couple nice moments in Atlanta but mostly it was scary.
The best way I can describe it is… ok, I work in Downtown Dallas. Dallas, like most big cities, has good parts of town and scary parts of town. I work in the scary part (don’t worry, though, we’ve got a gate and share an office with Texan Republicans so I assume someone has a gun if things get dicey. 😉 Also, I bring my big dog to work with me a lot, the hobos don’t like him.) and from what I saw of Atlanta (which I admit was not thorough) it’s like just the scary parts of Dallas. In some ways it did kind of remind me of New York, the buildings are all tall and very close together and a lot of people travel on foot. New York’s a little scary, too. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I was 11 years old at Christmas on the Today Show, but Atlanta scared me more than New York did.
But take that with a grain of salt. Remember I live in a Texan suburb where a Golden Chick has a city block to itself. Maybe I’m just prone to being uncomfortable in a big city like that. I was really missing my four-legged pal, too – without him, there was nothing to stop hobos from coming up and telling us about their unfortunate case of HIV. That’s nice and awkward, especially with the kiddos in tow.
And speaking of the kiddos, let me tell you why we headed out to Georgia in the first place.
I have a lot of great friends, but I’m really different from them. I’m married, and that makes life very different. In college, my husband and I had a lot of trouble making friends. It was so hard to relate to people or find people who could relate to us. I did, however, have one married friend, one who I had incidentally known longer than any of my other friends. We weren’t exactly close, but we went way back and I felt like I could talk to him about marriage and kids and relationshippy stuff. There was just one problem – he was in the Army living in Korea. Not only could we not meet up, but even skype or texting was hard because of the obnoxious time difference. So we talked sparsely and he would always tell me I could talk to his wife too. Text her any time, call her, whatever I want. But that felt a little weird since I didn’t know her and she didn’t know me.
Long story short, we did start talking. Then they moved back to the states and we talked a lot – like every day. She was quickly becoming one of my best friends. I cried to her, laughed with her, and she became the first to know about my every triumph and defeat. Together they have two impossibly beautiful little boys, one red head, one blonde. And their joking invites to come visit became a real goal. One day I plugged in their info on Cost to Drive and lo and behold, it was an affordable trip! Of course, at that time they actually lived in Maryland. About a month before the trip they called and said they actually had to move – Army life! But Georgia was actually closer and the trip was on. They moved about a week before we got there, so Georgia was new to all of us. And their house looked amazing – it took me like six months to unpack, I don’t know how they pulled it off.
I was SO. NERVOUS. This girl had become so near and dear to me that I didn’t know what I’d do if she didn’t like me in real life. I’m a writer – communicating online is my forte. I can correspond very well. But in person?
I am not charming. Luckily, though, I think she liked me anyway. I’m hesitant to write too much about our friendship since the last time I wrote about bonding with someone they completely disowned it. I apparently imagine friendships a lot. Poor elementary school aged me…
Anyway! I was actually more nervous about meeting the kids. Kids are honest – if they don’t like you, they’ll let you know. Luckily, though, they seemed to like us too. I got probably the BEST first impression possible from the younger one. We arrived very late at night and the kids were in bed. While we were saying our hellos the little one ran in in a t-shirt and absolutely nothing else. His parents told him to “Say hi to Rachel and Tobyas” so we got a “Hi Rachel, hi Tobbsssss… hi.” Then he got a snack and was back off to bed. And here I thought they’d be shy!
The older one was a bit more reserved but was still pretty quick to invite us to play make believe and watch movies with him.
I don’t know about you, but for me hanging out with little kids can be really intimidating. They’re so quick and so imaginative. They’ll hand me a lego block and a stick and tell me to fight them and the lego’s my health so I have to keep it safe and I can fly if I want to. And I’m like dang, there was a time when I was good at this. WHAT EVEN HAPPENED?
Luckily, though, the kids were really patient and Toby was MUCH better at playing than me and helped me out. So I’m like, cheating at playing pretend now. That’s new.
If you’re thinking about having kids, I don’t need to tell you to hang out with kids more to “practice.” I’m sure you’ve already blurred the lines between “playing” and “kidnapping” a couple of times. But seriously, there’s just nothing like spending a day with kids. You play, watch some movies, even eating is different. I may be rusty at playtime, but there were still a lot of moments that, at the risk of sounding like a Hallmark card, I’m going to treasure for the rest of my life.
The little one is so sweet, when he wants you to pick him up he stretches out his arms and says “I want to hold you.” And in my head I’m like “OMG REALLY??? ME???”
I tried to play it cool, though. Sort of.
They also like to play this game called “kitties” which is mostly them mewing and cuddling you to death.
So you know, it’s THE BEST GAME EVER.
Spending all day with kids can be really tiring, but amazingly I didn’t need any pain meds this trip. I had some low pain levels but it was totally manageable. I did just have surgery so obviously that helps a lot. I guess it’s not much of a “Chronic Travel Bug” post if I felt fine the whole time haha, but maybe at least that tells you it’s possible. It gets better, you’ll have really good days, it happens. 🙂 Oh! I do have one tip – if you see something awesome just go ahead and pull over for a quick pic, you won’t regret it.
There were some low points of course. We witnessed a few melt downs and tantrums (which is to be expected, especially when we were in Atlanta!) but again, if you want to have kids, watching your friends parent and handle that kind of thing is endlessly educational. Playing with them, there were times when we were in the big middle of it and I even got a couple of light thwacks on the nose with a heated “GO AWAY!” and my brain was like “Alright, you want to be a mom, right? Let’s see what you got.” Mostly I was a deer in the headlights I admit, but to be put in those situations before it’s your kid… I dunno, it was awesome to get a chance to try quick critical thinking and philosophizing, but no pressure because mom and dad can swoop in and give you answers and ideas too. It’s kind of like shadowing for a new job I guess. I’m forever grateful to have one set of friends my age with kids who I’m close enough with to get to test-drive their family. I’m blessed, I’m spoiled, I’m a lucky dog.
One really fun thing you should do if you’re visiting out of state friends is bring presents from your home state. In this case, my buddy grew up in Texas and loves it, but even if they’re not from your state it’s still cool to bring keepsakes and things you can ONLY get in your home state – food, stuff like that. It was so fun playing tourist in my hometown and finding all these little things. One thing we brought was lollipops with crickets in them – the older one was wise to it and turned ’em down, but the little one ate both! Mmm, protein. No, actually he didn’t eat the actual crickets but the rest of the candy was fine by him.
In Texas there is for some reason a variety of bug candy.
Of course, I need to say that you shouldn’t meet internet friends in real life willy nilly. We were lucky to save some money by staying at their house, but I was long-time friends with one of them and I figured he’d let me know if his wife was the kind of person who baked tourists into pies or something. 😉 But if you’re meeting someone for the first time it’s always safer to meet in public places and room separately. I feel like it’s simultaneously important and unimportant to put this disclaimer up – on one hand internet safety has been at the forefront of the media and education but on the other hand technology’s progressed so much that it’s really easy to feel like you really know a person when you may not. Always be careful and never go alone.
Georgia was the highlight of the whole trip. It’s nothing particularly exciting to read about I guess, but I can’t imagine a better vacation. We played pretend all day, ran in the sprinkler, played Cards Against Humanity and enjoyed some adult beverages at night, and just had the best time. We saw the Lego Movie for the first time and I highly advise you watch it with little kids because that’s way better than 3D. It becomes a very immersive experience. We even got to attend a church service with them, which was really cool. I’ve never really gone to church while on vacation before but it was such a special experience, not only to have fellowship with friends but also just to maintain your own spiritual upkeep. I just felt better and happier for the whole trip than I would have otherwise, I think. We got to pray with our friends about all the things we’d facebooked each other about for so long. It was awesome. Heck, even normal stuff like taking the older one to school Monday morning was awesome.
Well, I can’t not say it:
Now back to your regularly scheduled tourism. ❤