Archive | July 2018

Atlanta 2018: The High Museum of Art

Day 5, Thursday, January 25, 2018

Thursday morning I got up early and took the subway over to the High Museum of Art.  The High Museum was founded in 1905 and its first permanent home was a residence that had been donated.  Today it has a home in a complete art center, and the museum is home to over 15,000 works of art, and is considered one of the premier art museums in the south.

I started on the top floor, like the woman at the ticket counter suggested, but found that it was the modern art exhibit, and not really what I like.  It was weird, but at least it wasn’t bizarre!  I really liked the second and third floors that had more traditional art.  There were paintings and sculptures, cut glass, majolica, furniture (including lots of Frank Lloyd Wright furniture).  They had a room of religious art and icons, and a lot of portraits.  They also have a collection of mid-century home décor.  The High Museum really has an interesting and widespread collection and I really enjoyed wandering through all the rooms.

I have chosen a few of my favorites to show you in photos – I hope you enjoy them as well!

After I saw the collections, I went across the courtyard to have lunch at Twelve Eighty Café, which is named after the address number for the Woodruff Art Center, which includes the High Museum.  I had the Deviled Eggs appetizer (5 for $5), and the Baja Signature Mahi Mahi tacos with fries.  I also had a Pom Collins cocktail, which had Tito’s Vodka, Pomegranate Liqueur, house-made sour mix, simple syrup, mint and pomegranate seeds.  The deviled eggs were good, the fries were just ok, and the tacos and Pom Collins were excellent!

Costs: Museum admission is $14.50.


Atlanta 2018: Polaris

Day 4, Wednesday, January 24, 2018

After the State Capitol Museum, I had a quick appetizer at Ted’s Montana Grill again – the Bison Chili Nachos – so messy and so YUMMY!

Then I went over to Polaris.  Polaris is the rotating restaurant at the top of the Hyatt Regency hotel.  It is so cool!  You check in with the receptionist and then she sends you up to the bar in a fancy high speed elevator.  I just went for appetizers, to make it more affordable, but they do offer dinner.

I had the charcuterie plate, which had a selection of delicious meats and cheeses along with honey harvested from their rooftop beehives (yea, this place is fancy!).  I also had a scallops appetizer that was to die for!  I had two cocktails too – the St. Nick, and a cranberry cocktail – both were excellent!


The service was great, and my server had been working for Polaris since they first opened years ago.  It was certainly worth the visit, and the sunset was great to see (but impossible to photograph well).

Circus Roadtrip 2018: 11 Days In

As I am writing this, it is day 11 of my big road trip, and I am having coffee and oatmeal at a campground in Sheridan, Wyoming, before getting on the road again.  So far, things have been good – a little different than I was expecting, but in some ways better.

I haven’t had any major meltdowns.  I did have a couple of minor ones – one when I couldn’t find my wallet and had to take a bunch of stuff out of the car (it had fallen in a crack behind the front seats when I was trying to slip it back into my purse), and once when I couldn’t find a campground in Bozeman, Montana (I was able to find a site in Livingston, the next town over, and I was headed that direction anyway).

I find myself pulling over and parking a lot more than I was originally expecting.  To look at the atlas to figure out where I’m headed, to call campgrounds when I know where I will be ending up for the night, to get a snack out of the cooler (it is on the floor of the passenger seat, but the way the lid lifts makes it hard to get things out without pulling the cooler out of the car – it is a snug fit in my car these days).  There is something about having a co-pilot that makes things easier, that you don’t really think about until you don’t have one.

I have found that I prefer sleeping in my car bed to the tent.  It is more comfy.  My 4″ thick memory foam mattress works well and I can’t even feel the plywood underneath.  I have just enough room to roll over easily and stretch out lengthwise mostly, but my feet touch the back hatch door when I do (this is when being really short comes in handy).  Getting in and out requires some acrobatics…  When the sun goes down the temp cools off a lot, so I haven’t been too hot in the car like I was worried about.

I am getting better at using my selfie stick.  It’s dorky, and people look at you funny, and surprisingly few people ask if you want them to take a photo of you when they see you selfie-ing.  It does come in handy though, so I will continue looking geeky, as I am never going to see these people again.  I do have to be better about remembering it when I get out of the car!

I do get lonely on the long drives, and sometimes at night.  I sometimes find myself listening to sad, cathartic songs on repeat (I shouldn’t do that!).  I am on my third audiobook already, but this one is longer than the first two.  Mostly I’m so tired at night that I don’t lay awake much, which is good!

The mosquitoes are a bother, and I already long for the day when I don’t smell like bug spray.  That stuff dries your skin out in a bad way too!  I suspect this will just get worse as I head deeper into the Midwest, where the mosquitoes are as big as my face.  Say a prayer for me – those critters love me, and I am already peppered with bites!

I am almost afraid to say the weather has been great.  A few raindrops here and there, but I have hiked and touristed to my heart’s content without any downpours so far.  Early this morning I heard some thunder, and it was windy, and there was a little bit of rain, but it is long gone now without a cloud in the sky.  I just knocked on the picnic table, so hopefully that helps…

Today I will roll over 2,000 miles.  Wow – that’s a lot of ground covered!  I do admit, my path through Montana was a bit circuitous for the first several days.  Montana is a really awesome state!  As much as I did – there was a lot more that I had to leave behind.

I have a few friends I talk to consistently each day or every couple days – they help keep me sane.  And I have been enjoying posting photos in mostly real time on Twitter and Instagram!  If you want to follow along – my username is @wineandhistory on both sites.  Wifi is often not good enough for photo uploads, so that’s where the current pictures are posted.

Farewell for now!

Atlanta 2018: Georgia Capitol Museum

Day 4, Wednesday, January 24, 2018

After the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, I took the subway to the Georgia Capitol Museum.  According to TripAdvisor, they had some interesting free exhibits.  The State Patrol Officer running the security screening seemed surprised when I told him where I was from and why I was there though – apparently this little exhibit doesn’t get much of a draw.  Hey, it’s free and I had some time…

The exhibit is displayed in cases on an upper floor of the capitol building, so as I was wandering around the floor looking at things, state capitol staff were going about their business up and down the hallways.  There were cases dedicated to the flora, fauna and minerals of the state capitol, and the history of Georgia.  There were also some interesting Georgia political stories and anecdotes, including a disputed election in 1946, a dead guy and a couple of men who were both very interested in having the outcome go their way.  It became dubbed the Three Governors Controversy.  You can read about it here.  Fascinating stuff really!

Seeing the inside of the capitol building was pretty cool too.  There is some really nice architectural detail there to check out.  It was worth the stop, even if the exhibit was small.

I walked back to the hotel from there, since it was a warm day and it was really only about a 1 mile walk, through an eclectic part of Atlanta.  I enjoyed it – there was so much to see!  Not to mention I walked down Peachtree Street from the Five Points district in Atlanta, which is mentioned repeatedly in Gone with the Wind.  It was interesting to see the real thing, and not just the reference from the book – it sure looks a lot different than Mitchell describes it though!



Atlanta 2018: National Center for Civil and Human Rights

Day 4, Wednesday, January 24, 2018

After my CNN tour, I went to the National Center for Civil and Human Rights.

The outside

The mural in the entryway of the museum

They had a powerful exhibit called, “The Lunch Counter.”  You sit at the lunch counter and put on headphones.  You listen to men yelling and screaming at you; threatening to kill you.  The counter and your chair both shake as if the men are shaking you from behind, like it happened in the 1960s.  It was very powerful and emotional.

The Lunch Counter

There was also an exhibit on Martin Luther King, Jr., and his work.  It started with his work as a Reverend, and moved into his Civil Rights work, and ultimately his assassination and the effect it had on the country.  It was very detailed, and the exhibit discussed the major events that occurred during the Civil Rights movement.  The Emmett Till murder, the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church, and more were covered to give visitors a holistic overview of the events of the time.

It was very good, but I didn’t feel it was quite balanced.  It was more the hero worship variety, and I like my history with the good and the bad parts of people.  The exhibit didn’t touch on Martin Luther King Jr.’s flaws; the fact that he had multiple affairs, or the fact that toward the end of his life, he was aligning himself more with groups that advocated for violent protest as a means to achieve Civil Rights Reform.  Not all of his supporters agreed with this shift.

An exhibit on King’s assassination

The Center also had an exhibit on the various abusers of human rights throughout history; political leaders who committed crimes against their own or conquered peoples.  Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong, Pol Pot, and Augusto Pinochet were all included in the exhibit.

A few of the world’s worst killers

Downstairs there was a special exhibit of the Reverend King’s papers and writings.  It was interesting to see history up close and in MLK Jr.’s own hand-written and typed pages.

Some Human Rights Laws in the U.S.

There are lots of good exhibits at the Center.  They did take some liberties though…  They had an exhibit on role models in Civil Rights history that included all of Eleanor Roosevelt’s great work for disadvantaged groups, but they didn’t mention her anti-semitism before and during World War II.  As I mentioned before, they also didn’t include anything about King’s flaws.  We are all flawed beings, and I think it is better to shed the light on it, so people get the whole story.  Even so, it was certainly worth the visit!

Costs: Admission was $19.99, or included with the Atlanta City Pass.

The Circus Trip: That Damned HAT

I hate trucker hats.  For those of you who aren’t aware of what these are, and the fact that they are “in” again, a trucker hat is a hat with a mesh back and a plastic adjustable back closure.  Anyway, there is a point to this – stay with me…

For the last birthday while I was married, my husband got me a trucker hat.  Mind you, he knew I hated trucker hats – we had at least a dozen conversations over the years about my contempt for them.  But, he didn’t actually get it for me.  You see, he bought the trucker hat for his girlfriend.  Yea – just let that sink in.  When he broke up with that girlfriend, he was left with this hat he hadn’t given to her and didn’t want, because it was women’s sized.  So, he apparently decided to give it to me instead.  What a guy!!!  Only he never knew that I knew all of this – I am sure he is still just toddling along thinking what a great guy he was for giving his wife a birthday gift in the middle of a painful, ugly divorce.

So I hated that effing hat.  I left it in the gift bag in my entryway for a long time (ironically, he gave it to me in a wedding gift bag – who does that?!?).  I asked many of my friends what I should do with it.  Ideas ranged from the simple throw it away or burn it, throw it off the mountain (I don’t like littering), give it to a homeless person (this idea has merit), to selfies with a new love interest (still waiting for that opportunity)…  My favorite perhaps, although I could never do it, is the the elaborate “poop in it, set it on fire, and leave it on his doorstep”.  WHA?!!!!  Remind me never to piss off that friend…

I have pondered this for a long time.  For some reason, it was important to turn this kick in the teeth into a positive.  Sort of a strange twist on the “the best revenge is a life well lived” sentiment.  So this damned trucker hat is going with me.  I am going to hike the National Parks, and see the National Historic Sites, and watch the sunsets, and roast the marshmallows.  All while healing, and growing, and showing him that he couldn’t break me, as much as he tried to.

So that’s me, on my first hike in the hat – Avalanche Lake at Glacier National Park.  Maybe at the end, I’ll drive over it with the car a few times and burn it.  If I do, I will certainly post the pics.

Atlanta 2018: CNN Studio Tour

Day 4, Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Tuesday and Wednesday morning I had conference sessions but then I was back to touristing – I went on a CNN Studio Tour!  CNN Studios occupies a giant building that was previously a hotel – part of it still is a hotel – this building is huge.

Architecturally, I learned that the CNN building has the longest free standing escalator in the world.  It goes up 8 stories without stopping at a floor!  While the escalator was cool, and I got to ride on it for the first part of the tour, it isn’t really the main purpose of the tour.  You do get a great view looking down at the courtyard area of the building, with shops and a food court down below.

I had Sarah H. as my tour guide, and she showed my group around the various areas. I got to see one of the newsrooms, where hundreds of people were packed in like cattle in a stockyard (I mean, they had their own desks and all, but not even any cubicle walls!).  They were all doing research on breaking stories and there were news tickers and televisions lining the upper walls of the room, monitoring news from around the world.  It was pretty amazing and sad to me just how much news does NOT make it into our living rooms.

I also got to see an anchor doing a live broadcast.  It wasn’t someone I recognize, but I don’t get the CNN channels at home, and they apparently have several different channels.  I got to do at a mock news desks for photos, and Sarah explained how the anchors all wear earpieces and how the producers can talk into their ears during a broadcast, directing a live interview or asking them to change topics during the show.  It must be tough to concentrate on your interview if you have someone talking into your ear.

So, should I quit my day job? Errr… Wait…

Other than the mock newsroom, you aren’t allowed to take photos on the tour though…  After my tour, I had some iced tea at the Starbucks in the food court and watched the goings on of the giant building.  It was then I noticed it even had its own Atlanta Police Department precinct office!

Costs: $15.00 per person for the tour.

The Build

I have never really been a hippie, or free spirit, so the idea of road-tripping by myself around the U.S. for three months takes me far out of my comfort zone.  But here I am, giving it a try…

My original plan was to fold up the seats, put a bed in the back end, and get a Thule roof box for the top of the car.  But the departure date moved up by about 6 weeks after I first got the bee in my bonnet, so to speak, so I wasn’t sure I would be able to get a Thule roof box without buying it new.  And lo and behold, those are expensive!

Around the same time, a friend sent me a YouTube video, where a guy built a raised platform bed in the back of his CR-V, and I thought, BINGO!  My dad is a hobby woodworker, and that thing didn’t look like it would be too tough to rig up – and much cheaper than the close to $1000 price tag to buy a roof box, buy roof racks, and have them installed.

Dad and I spent parts of four weekend days putting this baby together.  It is level and sits up off the floor of the back end of the CR-V, stretching from just behind the front seats all the way to the back of the hatch space.  It gives about a foot of clearance in back and about 18 inches in front.  It sits up on the wheel wells for support, and I can partially sit up, but obviously, it is primarily for sleeping.



We built two pull-out tables into the back of it, in case I’m somewhere with no picnic table; they have support posts extending down to the bumper so that the table doesn’t collapse when you put weight on it.  The legs holding up the bed are on hinges to make it easier to get things underneath.  The whole contraption is in two pieces, so I can remove it if needed to get to the under floor storage, where the spare tire, jumper cables and other car paraphernalia are.

I went down to the Storables store one day to get totes of various sizes to fit underneath and make the best use of the nooks and crannies.  There is still plenty of other unaccounted for space.  These areas hold my camp chair, Coleman stove, tent and tools.

My mom made curtains I can string up around the space for privacy – luckily she is a genius seamstress.  I fitted out my home on the road with a 4” thick memory foam mattress topper. It was a little too long and I didn’t really want to cut it, so I folded it under and my mom made a band to secure it.  I decorated my car-home with some girl power inspiration, and a few mementoes from past travels and friends.

Although it isn’t luxury, I hope it will be comfortable, and I don’t have to worry about setting up a tent every night as I move around the country.  I can just park and crawl in back. I’m secure with locked doors and am out of the rain.  And, for better or worse, it will be home…

The total price was about $60 for fabric, S hooks, and carabiners for the curtain rigging, and about $120 for storage containers to puzzle piece under the bed.  The entire bed itself was free for me, made with scrap wood and leftover hinges that my dad already had hanging around in his shop.  All in all a very reasonable investment!

Tonight will be my first night trying it out!

Atlanta 2018: Georgia Aquarium

Day 2, Monday, January 22, 2018

Monday afternoon I went to the Georgia Aquarium, where I was going to swim with Whale Sharks!  To say I was excited was an understatement!  I have wanted to do this for several years, and I decided this would be my Christmas gift to myself.  The Georgia Aquarium has the largest aquarium tank in the world, and is home to four whale sharks and four manta rays.  They purchased their whale sharks from the Taiwanese fishing trade, where they would have ended up in the fish market – Taiwan at the time had quotas on whale shark fishing, so they wouldn’t have been able to just catch more after selling their sharks to the aquarium.  But I digress.

Before my swim in the late afternoon, I had a chance to see all of the exhibits.  They had a really cool tropical reef exhibit, complete with wave action. I enjoyed watching that one for awhile.  They also have a bunch of penguins and puffins, doing penguin and puffin stuff, seahorses, sea dragons, and otters.  The otters moved constantly, so it was impossible to get a non-blurry photo of them.  The dolphin exhibit was closed when I was there, but I wasn’t too disappointed since I had the opportunity to swim with wild dolphins in Hawaii last year!  As a complete aside, did you know there is a Chocolate Chip Sea Star!??

The aquarium has a couple beluga whales, and two albino alligators!  Pirahnas, longcomb sawfish, Black Reeftip sharks, sea turtles, green sea turtles, cownose rays, and all sorts of other fish. The Ocean Voyager exhibit alone has an astonishing number of fish; the tank contains 6 million gallons of seawater!  You can see all the different animals in the Ocean Voyager tank.   It is a nice aquarium.

I checked in for my swim at about 4 pm; we were going behind the scenes at 4:30.  I was so excited!  There were 8 of us total, and we were paired up into buddy pairs.  We were led back into the back area to check out the tank – it was interesting to see the tank from above!  Did you know they have machines that agitate the water and spotlights at the surface so you can’t see what’s going on up there when you are looking at the fish from below?

We were fitted with our wet suits, gloves, booties and snorkels, and then headed into the dressing room to get changed.  Those suckers are really hard to wiggle into, just so you know.  Once we were dressed, we went back out to the surface of the tank, and they explained all the details.  We were to swim very slowly, mostly just occasionally paddling with our hands, to move in a lazy figure 8 around the tank.  The whale sharks stay near the surface, and they tend to swim close to the walls of the tank, so that’s where we would be.  We were told that we shouldn’t touch them, but we didn’t have to move away if they brushed up against us!

We got into the water and headed out, being wrangled by a lead diver and another bringing up the rear, in case we went astray.  A third diver was in the water getting video of the fish, and all of us.  The water is 76 degrees, which gets cold after a bit!

This was an amazing experience.  The whale sharks are so big and so gentle!  Being in the water with them was like one big, long WOW!  I literally said “WOW!” over and over again through my mouthpiece.  The manta rays move more quickly and come right up underneath you!  During the swim, one whale shark swam right underneath me and brushed my abdomen with her back and dorsal fin (I think they are all females).  None of the manta rays touched me, but they did brush against a few of the others in the group.


The water is really clear, so you can see all the way to the bottom, and can see the other fish swimming.  The Cow Nose rays, the Longcomb Sawfish, the Blacktip Reef Sharks, and countless other types of sharks and fish were all just moving below you constantly.  It was so cool to see from this vantage point!  The aquarium has a tunnel through the tank where the other swimmers’ family and friends could watch – it was interesting to see them standing down there under the water!

It is absolutely one of my favorite experiences so far in my life – I had so much fun doing this!

An added bonus was the fact that my swim coincided with an evening where they were switching over the computer software for the cash registers.  Since the registers were shut down for this, they gave each of us a video of our swim for free!  Normally you have to pay – it was an unexpected treat!


After the swim, I walked back to the hotel (in the only pouring rain of the trip), and brushed out my wet hair.  I was hungry, so I headed right back down the block to Ted’s Montana Grill.  Ted’s is a chain, founded by Ted Turner (of CNN fame) and specializes in bison with a Western Saloon theme.  I had a delicious mushroom Swiss bison burger, with pickled cucumbers, and tomatoes drizzled with bleu cheese and balsamic.  It was sooooo gooooood…  I also had some Bison Ridge Merlot wine, which I believe is another Turner project – it was a great wine!  The meal wrapped up a fantastic day!

Cost: $45.95 for general admission during peak hours (there are significant discounts for online pre-purchase, early or late arrival, groups, etc, and it is included on the CityPass).  Swimming with the Whale Sharks (called the Journey with Gentle Giants) was $233.95 and included aquarium admission, the swim, a t-shirt, and a sticker.  There is also a dive option for certified SCUBA divers.

Atlanta 2018: World of Coca-Cola

Day 2, Monday, January 22, 2018 (morning)

In the morning, I went over to the World of Coca-Cola Museum.  I had heard good things about this place online, and hoped it was worth the kind of steep price tag of $17 for admission.  It is possible to drink your weight (or at least $17 worth) in Coca-Cola there though, so there’s that.  On the walk from my hotel, I walked through Centennial Olympic Park, which was one of the sites from the 1996 Olympic Games.  There is a fountain/spray park with a timed musical show, and some statues to see there, along with a little garden.

The docent leads you in and goes through the canned spiel, showing some Coca-Cola artifacts.  Note: there are a lot of Coca-Cola artifacts out there in the world!  Once she gives the spiel, you get spit out into a theater, to watch the Coca-Cola movie.  It’s actually a pretty well done movie, that gives you all the Coca-Cola feels.  Who knew a soft drink could make you fall in love?  Apparently I have not been drinking enough of this stuff lately, if this is the secret to a lasting and satisfying relationship!

After the movie, you are free to wander around at your leisure; exhibits include an area on the “secret formula,” how it is guarded, who gets to know, what rumors have circulated about the formula, etc.  I found it to be directed more towards children.  One exhibit shows a ton of memorabilia and historic Coca-Cola stuff, including a replica of an old fashioned soda fountain.

The museum also has a replica bottling line, that shows you just how bottles of Coke are filled.  It has factoids printed on the windows, so you can see how much water the process uses, how many bottles can be filled each minute, and information of the like.  That was really interesting and I enjoyed watching the bottling line.  I found no one in this area, so I guess I am the only one who found this fascinating.  It was one of my favorite parts of the museum.

Water Treatment on the Bottling Line

There are exhibits on Olympic torches too, which have really become high tech over the years!  Upstairs, there is an area with Coca-Cola artwork.  Artists have tried their hand at decorating giant Coca-Cola bottles; some are very well done.

Olympic Torches

In the tasting room area, there are spigots dispensing over 160 Coca-Cola products from all over the world.  You can try as many as you like.  Not all are sodas; many are juices, and it is interesting to see what becomes a juice in other countries.  Some of them were really good, but I probably don’t need that much sugar!

So, my verdict. Interesting, but not really worth the price, and don’t expect it to keep you entertained for long.  I think I only spent an hour there, and I was kind of trying to go slow…

I had lunch at Baja Fresh and had the Blackened Shrimp Salad – for fast food it was super delicious!  They did run out of avocado though, so I didn’t get to have that on my salad; to make up for it he gave me extra shrimp!  And they had guacamole in the condiment bar, so I had that on top and it was pretty close to being like avocado.  YUM!!

Cost: $17.00 for general admission, free with the Atlanta City Pass