Last week, Eric and I made our way to South Carolina to spend Christmas with his family, whom I have mentioned before are pretty great. We flew into Atlanta, which is about two hours from Greer, and his brother picked us up. After we loaded up, Paul asked if we wanted to do anything in Atlanta before we blew out of town.
In grad school, I used to go to Atlanta about once a semester to visit my best friend who was in school at Emory. But because we never got to see each other, we mostly watched cheesy movies, cooked dinner, and once a year we went to a huge annual booksale where we could easily spend an afternoon. Other than that, I actually don’t know that much about Atlanta, so I had no suggestions, though I was up for exploring.
We started driving and quickly saw signs for the Atlanta Zoo and the Cyclorama. Paul and Eric are very into bikes, and I love a good Rama, so we started following the signs. When we arrived, we started walking down a path through a nice park type area. At one point we saw a big stone building that had a round tower thing off the back of it, and we suspected this might be where we’d find what we’d come for.
First, though, we were greeted by two men who were playing songs on five gallon buckets. They asked where we were from, and when we said Austin, the wrote a quick version of Jingle Bells that made a few references to Texas and then a second verse which suggested that we drop some money in their hat. We did, and then we asked how to get to the Cyclorama.
“Just keep going down this path,” one of them told us, “and take a left at the cannon.”
What did a cannon have to do with bikes? We followed the directions, which was easy enough since cannons are pretty easy to spot. Inside, Eric walked up to the ticket booth to ask what the main attractions were at this museum we were beginning to think wasn’t at all related to bicycles. For example, when I looked over in the direction of the Gift Shop and noticed they were selling Confederate flags.
Apparently, The Cyclorama is the home of a big painting that is displayed on the walls of a big round room. There are statues (maybe?) that come out from the painting and the whole thing depicts the Battle of Atlanta. After hearing the description Eric turned to Paul and me, and asked if we wanted to go in.
We all kind of hemmed and hawed, but managed to look these museum employees in the face and say, “We don’t really care about seeing that.” We said it in a nicer way, but the fact that we all walked out after learning what the place was pretty clearly expressed our truest feelings. We were not the sort of people who wanted to pay $10 apiece to look at a single, albeit very large painting.
Instead we walked across a small plaza to the zoo. We asked how late they were open, and were told that they were closing in 30 minutes. The zoo would have been a total bust, except they were kind enough to let us go in for free to use their bathrooms. As we were walking in, Eric looked to his left and made a comment about the flamingos that were on display near the front gates. I did what he calls the Teacher-Snap-And-Point.
“Don’t look at those animals! We did not pay to get in here, so you are not allowed to look at the flamingos!” I told him. “That’s stealing.”
I was just joking around, but his surprised reaction made me laugh so hard I almost peed my pants.
Later, in another part of the city, we walked towards a giant Coke sign, which we thought was attached to the Coke bottling plant that you can tour, but it was just attached to an empty building that used to be a convenience store. And that pretty much sums up our time in Atlanta.
South Carolina, however, was a different story. There, we roasted marshmallows, toured a small part of Pisgah National Park, played with Eric’s awesome niece and nephew, ate our body weight in delicious, decadent food, and I even high fived a bear.