I'm not quite sure if I fully understood what I was agreeing to when Collin asked if I wanted to go to Atlanta to visit Esther and Ryan. It was only when I came back that I realised that the trip to Chapel Hill to Atlanta was actually longer than my flight home. However, it was a fun journey, with time passing much quicker than you would think, passing the time discussing politics, switchgrass, and all sorts of things while listening to NPR. We soo crossed into South Carolina, where we were confronted by a hge array of McCain, Romney and Paul signs everywhere. You know, there might be a primary here soon. While we were heading to Atlanta, we made a stop on the way to have dinner with Collin's grandmother. We went to a local Italian restaurant where it seemed that the only way to eat spegehetti and not induce heart failure was to order a half-order, and even then the mound of pasta reached three inches clear of the plate it was occupying. The lasagne was nice, though! And not quite so scary! For those of you who have never travelled on an interstate before, there are often huge billboards on both sides of the road, promoting a) eateries / shopping at the next set of exits, b)radio stations, c) acts of pride and unity under God (We did pass Bob Jones University on the way down, after all). But then there's d) The Plain Crazy. Our favourites on the journey included this as we arrivied into Atlanta:
Real Daddies Financial Advice: Dominate in 2008!
And on the way back, a dating website:
Find The Woman To Obey Your Command! EquallyYoked.com
Christians Be Scary.
We got to Atlanta itself at around 11pm, the skyscrapers gleaming into clear black sky, looking like the great American city of cliché. You don't get this in Chapel Hill, you know (although it must be said that at the foot of the gleaming spires there seemed to lay a never-ending orgy of construction, making things a little less pretty).
Esther and Ryan live in the top floor of a fabulous house in the city of the city. The landlords, Seth and Westin, are a couple who live in the ground floor, and seem as nice and friendly as you could hope for in such an arrangement. Unfortunately, I arrived just as they were taking the Christmas decorations down - they must have been quite impressive, as it took two days for Seth to pack everything away and for Westing to bring it all up to the attic.
I've been to Atlanta before, of course; somewhere in my bedroom is a yellow legal pad that includes three or four pages of notes I made for blog entries while I was on the way to Portland in 2005, but I don't think I ever typed them up. Yes, a familiar story. That time, I stuck to the downtown area of the city, but Esther and Ryan wanted to show us some of the hipper parts of Atlanta, so we went to an area known as The Little Five Points, home to many a vintage clothing shop, a good record store, and yes, a co-operative local suprmarket! Hippies be thriving.
The next day started with breakfast at The Flying Biscuit, an Atlanta institution and also where Esther works.
Again, for those of you that are unfamiliar, the Americans at some point decided to go a completely different rout with 'biscuit' Whereas to us it conjures visions of garabaldi, digestive, jammy dodgers, ginger, bourbon, hob-nobs, and a nice cup of tea, to those across the Atlantic, it describes a bun of scone-like density, often made with something savoury like cheese. I know. I'm sorry for them too. But they won't listen to reason on this front.
After a turkey and chicken omelette that was good but not as good as Christa's lovely apple and cheese combination a few days earlier, Ryan, Collin and I went off to the High Museum of Art. I will pause to allow Mum to laugh.
The building itself is quite impressive; a blocked white monolith that looks as if it could double as the headquarters to an evil megacorporation in a 1980s film. The evil extends into the building itself; the higher floors are reached by a series of ramps which look over into the central atrium. How I made it to the top skyway level, I do not know (I'm just glad that the schoolchildren that seemed dressed as if they had just come from Chilton were nowhere in sight as I inched my way up the final ramp)
All too soon, we were back on the road home, seven hours straight back to North Carolina with the sounds of the BBC World Service to keep us sane. It was a little bizarre to be hearing about Newcastle firing Sam Allardyce as were were crossing the border from Georgia to South Carolina...