Road Trip 1 - Atlanta

Mickey's car packed for our Road Trip - not really

NOTE: This spring and summer were very busy, as well as very eventful for me. I got way behind with posting on the Dog Blog. I am going to try to catch up, and as I do I will post events in chronological order. Some of them were a while ago but I will write what I remember.

The road trip happened because we had a hiking trip to Europe planned for this summer.

Since I get a month off in the summer, Sandy and I usually take a big trip during that time. This winter we put together a plan to go back to Europe and hike in the Austrian and Italian Alps. That trip will certainly get a lot of Dog Blog posts of its own. But that meant that we were committed to be gone for an extended period in July. And then something else came up, of course.

I have to confess that I am a fanatical Rush fan. They are pretty much the only band that I listen too. The console in my car is full of CD's, all of them Rush. I know. It's hard to believe that anyone could be that fanatical. Most people who know me think think that maybe I'm a little obsessive.

The Varsity is the world's largest drive-in

The reason I mention this is that Rush announced a major concert tour this spring/summer to celebrate their 40th anniversary playing together. I eagerly scanned the tour dates and found lots of concerts in the western US that it would be easy for me to get to. All of them were in July while we would be in Europe.

So I called my son Mickey and asked him if he would be interested in seeing a Rush concert. It had been a year since the last time I had been to Summerville and I figured that I could combine the concert with a visit. It just happened that he had two weeks leave scheduled in late May while Rush was in that part of the country. He already had a weekend trip to Atlanta planned to visit his cousin and catch some Milwaukee Brewer games. Right after that Rush had a concert in Tampa, Florida. It wasn't that close, but we could certainly do it. We had a plan for a Road Trip.

The concert was on a Sunday night in Tampa. I didn't want to take any chances with travel problems, major delays seem to be the norm with United, so I flew out to Atlanta on Friday. I arrived in the early evening, took a taxi to a hotel near the airport, and had a quiet evening, eating at the hotel and reading afterwards in my room.

Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta

The next morning, Mickey drove in from his cousin's house in the suburbs and picked me up. We were going to the Atlanta Braves/Milwaukee Brewers game but since it didn't start till four we had some time to kill.

Neither of us had eaten breakfast so we decided to have an early lunch. Mickey suggested eating at The Varsity, an iconic restaurant chain with locations all around the city. We went to their main location downtown which claims to be the world's largest drive-in. It was indeed a big place. Although there was a huge crowd of people, they were handled easily. Our burgers and fries were good, although I was disappointed by the souvenir merchandise. I was already looking to buy my first tshirt of the trip.

Fortified by a good lunch, our next stop was Centennial Olympic Park. Built for the 1996 summer olympics, it's a beautiful park right in the center of the city. There are a number of tourist attractions in and around the park and we visited several. There has been a real effort to improve the city of Atlanta and I had to admit it seemed much nicer than when I had been there before on business back in the late eighties.

Wall of helmets at the College Football Hall of Fame

Since Mickey is a big sports fan, our first (and main) stop was the College Football Hall of Fame. Originally located in South Bend, Indiana when it opened in 1995, it moved to Atlanta in 2014. For me the most impressive thing was the first thing we saw as we entered - the wall of helmets. It dominated the huge entry hall and had close to a thousand different helmets from college football teams. Although we tried hard, we ended up having to look up where the helmets for Boise State and the University of Idaho were located on the wall. There were a lot of helmets!

There were a lot of exhibits but my favorite part was watching a film of the greatest college football games of all time. Of course, the 2007 Fiesta Bowl with Boise State beating Oklahoma was featured prominently.

Next we wandered over to the CNN building, but we didn't want to wait in line or pay the money to take the official tour. We did wander around the building, where for some reason there was an army humvee piled high with luggage on display. Now that's how we should have done our road trip. The building connects to Philips arena, where the Atlanta Hawks basketball team plays, and where the Atlanta Thrashers hockey team used to play. Mickey and I watched hockey all the time together while he was growing up but since he has moved away from home I haven't followed it closely. It was news to me that the Thrashers had left Atlanta and become the Winnipeg Jets in 2011. Hey, I still have a Thrashers tshirt. I guess I should hang on to it as a collectors item.

Ceremony to honor veterans before the Braves/Brewers game

Next we made a brief stop at Coca Cola World. We didn't take the tour - the line was really long. We just checked out the gift shop. I was hoping to find a clever tshirt but I struck out again.

Finally we headed for the ball park. Even with our sightseeing we got there early and had time to walk around. I thought it was a nice stadium with a view of downtown Atlanta from our seats, but apparently they are going to tear it down soon and build a new facility. Roads and bridges in the US may be falling apart but at least our sports stadiums are shiny and new.

After a while, Mickey's cousin Michelle and her husband joined us. It was a beautiful day, perfect for baseball. Before the game there was a ceremony honoring US veterans. Mickey got to stand when they asked all veterans in the crowd to stand. I was really proud of him. Plus we got a camo-style tshirt. I wasn't that excited about an Atlanta Braves tshirt but hey, it was a free tshirt. Then it was time to Play Ball!

Play ball

Even though he was born and raised in Boise, Mickey is a big Brewer fan. I guess he inherited that from me. It was a close game but rooting for the Brewers was very frustrating. It seemed like they just didn't want to win. They had a lot of opportunities but just could never make the play - sloppy base running, hitting into double plays, not quite making the good defensive play. It went to extra innings but the Braves ended up winning 3-2. It was disappointing, kind of like their whole season this year.

It was evening when the game ended. By the time we walked back to our car and got on the freeway, it was getting late. We started to head out of the city. We drove far enough to get out of the Atlanta area, then started to look for a place to stop. We were both tired and found a motel around ten. After checking in we went to the Denny's across the street for a late dinner. Just after we sat down, two guys walked in behind us. One was about my age, one about Mickey's age, both wearing Brewer tshirts. Looked like another Brewer father/son pair who had just come from the game.

Tomorrow it would be on to Tampa for the Rush concert.