Friday, August 31, 2012

2011 and 2012 In and around Georgia

I never consider heading to Georgia for a vacation!  That is until my daughter and son-in-law moved there in 2010.  That's when I discovered Georgia is a great place to vacation.  And it's even drivable from St. Louis (9 hours) or a quick cheap flight away.  Unfortunately (or fortunately---we'll see!), in the summer of 2012 they moved again---this time to Ft. Lauderdale.  So this blog is about the few trips I took to Georgia while they lived there.

On Dec. 15th of 2010, I rode with Angie from St. Louis to Atlanta to help with the move.  First impressions weren't that impressive. 
 We spent the first night in a hotel.  The next morning we met the movers at their new home.  It was a nice townhome, but why would anyone want a place with 3 stories!?  They actually lived about 20 miles north of Atlanta in the city of Alpharetta. 
After spending much of the next few days unpacking, it was almost time for me to fly home.  We left for the airport early and were able to spend a couple hours at the spectacular aquarium in downtown Atlanta.  I love aquariums and found this to be one of the best.  Angie was a great guide!  When she lived in St. Louis, she actually worked on the Atlanta Aquarium as the architect from PGAV Architects in St. Louis in charge of their new penguin enclosure, as well as the outside walkway from the parking garage.  I'm happy to say the penguins seem to enjoy their space!

 Another of the displays
 A huge whale shark in the huge tank! 
 Some south American fishies.
 They were even decorated for the Christmas season.

The next time I made it out there was the end of April, beginning of May.  I was actually heading to the Biltmore in N. Carolina to take wedding photos of architect friends of Angie's, so we left Ken with the dogs, and I rode to the Biltmore with Angie and Josh.  It was an easy drive from Atlanta, so I'm including a couple pictures in my Georgia vacation blog.
 The view from my room at the Biltmore Inn.  Sure wouldn't mind waking up to that view everyday!!

On our way back from the Biltmore, we met Ken in the Blue Ridge mountains of northern Georgia and spent a couple of nights in a rental cabin.  We had a great time.  Even brought the dogs with us.  We had a cabin right on a good sized river so we were able to do a little fishing and playing in the water.  The water was pretty cold, so we didn't play in it long!  Georgia reminds me a lot of my beloved Oregon, only with warmer weather---lots of pine trees, lots of cold rivers, mountains (although not as big as the ones in Oregon), lots of outdoors oppurtunities.
 We loved the cabin and the huge patio overlooking the river.  Even had a jacuzzi on the deck (to the upper left of this picture).  We even talked about how neat it would be to own a little vacation home up there.
Just another look at our cabin from the river.
From there, Ken and I headed home.  A short, but sweet vacation!

I headed back in Aug. 2011 for another visit.  Angie and I headed to Edisto Beach for a couple days.  Edisto Beach is in South Carolina, but it's another very doable drive from Atlanta and a nice place to spend a few days.
The sunsets there were beautiful!

We also discovered a unique beach where trees rise out of the surf---Botany Bay.
More on those Edisto trips here:     http://travelingwithsue.blogspot.com/2013/07/edisto-beach-cute-little-south-carolina.html

Another surprise to me was all the wineries in the mountains of northern Georgia!  We had to check them out.
 Here at BlackStock we listened to live music---
 drank wine, and had a delicious lunch.


In Dec. we headed to Angie and Josh's for Christmas!  That was the first time (of many to come, I hope) that we were away from home for Christmas.  We didn't do much sightseeing, but we did have a very enjoyable Christmas!
The matryoshka dolls Angie painted for me.
Angie preparing a gourmet Christmas dinner.

Cheers!

When March of 2012 rolled around,  I headed back to Georgia.  Angie and I headed back up to the wineries.  Beautiful countryside along the way!


The wine was pretty tasty, too!    We went to BlackStock, again---
as well as Frogtown.   Loved sitting on the porch chatting away.

I love botanical gardens, too, so I made a point of using my reciprocal membership to our Missouri Botanical Gardens and went to check out the Atlanta Botanical Gardens.  I was very impressed!




They had a special iron gate exhibition going on at the time. This was just one of the many throughout the gardens.
It was also the time of the year for their orchid display.  I've been to several special orchid displays in St. Louis and thought I'd seen just about every kind of orchid you could imagine, but I was wrong. 




In May, I flew back out to Atlanta for another visit.  Again, Angie and I headed to Edisto for a couple days.  I'm going to miss those trips to peaceful little Edisto!  We had another great time there.  We even went through Savannah this time and had lunch there after driving around the enchanting town then drove around town a bit.

 One of the many statues in the 22 "squares" or blocks of  Savannah.  Most of Savannah's squares are named in honor or in memory of people or historical event, and many were like little parks which contain monuments, markers, memorials, statues, plaques, and other tributes.
 A sightseeing tour of the city.

 Beautiful old Victorian homes of the south.


Our Edisto stay was even better then last time.  Our accommodations were much better.  Sunsets were great again and we spent a day at Botany Bay again.  Another thing we found really intriguing at the beach were hundreds of horseshoe crabs.  Apparently it was mating season.
Again, more on Edisto here: http://travelingwithsue.blogspot.com/2013/07/edisto-beach-cute-little-south-carolina.html

Back in Atlanta, we wandered through Oakland Cemetery.  You might not think touring a cemetery can be fun, but this one is beautifully landscaped and has lots of history.  They even have walking tours and phone tours.  Oakland is an excellent example of a Victorian-style cemetery, and reflects the "garden cemetery" movement started and exemplified by Mount Auburn Cemetery in Massachusetts.  Because of its age and location, the cemetery reflects the history and changing culture of the City of Atlanta and the significant events it has seen.



Oakland contains numerous monuments and mausoleums that are outstanding examples of art and symbolism, or are of great historical significance.


There were even fountains in the cemetery.
Being as old as it is, the cemetery has a black section.  Most of the grave sites  in this section are unknown due to the markers being made of wood and other degradable materials.  But there is this placard.
Across from the black section is the Confederate section  It's the home to about 6,900 burials of which 3,000 are unknown.  During the Civil War, Atlanta was a major transportation and medical center for the Southern states. Since several of the largest military hospitals in the area were within a half mile from Oakland, many soldiers who died from their wounds were buried here.

In July, 2012, I made my last trip out to visit Angie in Atlanta.  Josh had already moved on to Ft. Lauderdale, so I was also there to watch the pups while Angie joined Josh for a house hunting expedition in their new home.  But before she headed to Ft. Lauderdale, we did a little more touring.
We headed back into the city to the World of Coke museum at Pemberton Place (named after the inventor of coke).  Angie was even able to use Coke points she'd saved from Coke products as her entry fee saving her about $18, as I recall.

After going through an x-ray check point, we entered into the lobby where large Coca-Cola bottles stood made up of different materials from around the world.  Then we were funneled into a theater room where a promo film was shown, then let out into the Level One Hub.  The Polar Bear mascot was there, but we didn't wait in line to see him.    Instead, we wandered around checking out all the artifacts and bottling room.  There is even a vault there with the secret recipe for Coca-Cola.

On the 2nd floor, we saw more attractions, then headed to the Coca-Cola product tasting center.  With  64 Coca-Cola products from around the world, we tasted quite a few.  Although we found the floor disgustingly sticky from spilled soda.  With it being summer time, I was a bit surprised to find hundreds of little kids running all over everywhere on daycare field trips.  We really didn't spend a lot of time there.

Back outside, we walked around Pemberton Place and enjoyed the scenery.
The building in the middle is the Georgia Aquarium.
The building in the middle here is obviously the Coke museum.

Also right there by Pemberton Place is the Centennial Olympic Park which was built as part of the infrastructure improvements for the 1996 Summer Olympics. 


Besides the Coca-Cola museum and the Aquarium, the Georgia World Congress Center, the Georgia Dome, Philips Arena, and the CNN Center are along side of the park.


One evening we checked out sips n strokes.   It was a blast! 
We brought our own wine and snacks and participated in about a 3 hour painting class.   The instructor was hilarious, as were the participants and the more wine we drank, the better our paintings got!


All too soon it was time to head home to St. Louis again.  We made it downtown near the airport with quite a lot of time to spare, so we did a quick walk through the Atlanta Botanical Gardens again---only about 10 minutes away from the airport.  There were more statues and tensegrity sculptures throughout the park.  I've definitely gotten my money's worth out of my MOBOT membership this year---just with reciprocol garden entrances!



I only know what a tensegrity is because Angie had to make one in college!
 
Don't know if we'll have a reason to go back to Georgia on vacation again, but I'm sure glad we had the opportunity to learn a little about the area.  Great towns, weather, mountains, scenery, not to mention the people we've met there.   I'm going to miss my frequent visits there!

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