Atlanta – Part I: Coca-Cola, Big Fish, and a Family Reunion

On Saturday, the 14th of October we left our RV park in southern Tennessee for a two-hour trip through some of the North Georgia mountains to our next RV park in Cumming, GA, just north of Atlanta. Cindy and I would be flying out to Wisconsin for work on Monday, and Christy would be flying back to Ohio on Monday as well. So, we had less than two full days to pack in some excitement in the Atlanta area.

Our deluxe, super-roomy site at Twin Lakes RV Park.

At the Varsity

As quickly as we could set up at the Twin Lakes RV Campground, we hopped in the truck for a drive into Atlanta for a late lunch at our favorite restaurant that we try to visit every time we visit the city — The Varsity. Once our bellies were full of good food from this iconic restaurant, we were ready to tour The World of Coca-Cola, a museum showcasing the history of the beverage which was invented in Atlanta. In fact, the museum is located just a few blocks from the spot where John Pemberton invented the original Coke formula. Coca-Cola is so intimately connected to Atlanta, that those raised in the area (that would include me) refer to all soft drinks as Coke. For example, We might ask someone what kind of Coke they want, and they might reply, “Pepsi!”

Standing in front of the fake vault which holds the secret of the Coca-Cola formula. 🙂

I wouldn’t mind driving this delivery truck.

An assortment of old Coke machines, several of which I remember getting my Coca-Cola from.

Cindy and Christy at The World of Coca-Cola.

After hanging out at Coca-Cola World for a couple of hours, we headed across the plaza to the one of the world’s best aquariums, The Georgia Aquarium. From its opening in 2005 until 2012, it was the world’s largest aquarium (now surpassed by one in Singapore). Over 100,000 animals are contained in 10,000,000 gallons of salt and fresh water. From beluga whales and whale sharks to small reef fish and jelly fish, it has something to impress everyone. It certainly reinforced my homesicknesses for the sea, though.

Lionfish — I saw many of these snorkeling and scuba diving in the Bahamas and Caribbean.

Jellyfish.

More Jellyfish.

Christy “under the sea”

Nemo!

Sea-horses.

Again reminds me of my snorkeling days. 🙂

Look how massive this aquarium is!

The largest fish in the world: The Whale Shark.

Cute Penguin.

And another.

Starfish and an Octopus.

Beluga Whales.

Mr. Crab

At the aquarium Dolphin Show.

After our adventures of the day, we found a Buffalo Wild Wings at which to watch the Georgia victory over Missouri. It was cool to finally be watching a game in Georgia, where I wasn’t alone (or nearly alone) in rooting for the Bulldogs.

On Sunday, we had a Carey family reunion of sorts. My three sisters, who all still live in the greater Atlanta area, came to our RV for a noontime cookout and get-together. It had been three or four years since I had seen them. It sure was good to be with them and their families once again.

The Carey Clan

My sister, Wanda, and her family, including her husband Paris. Missing is her daughter, Holly, who lives in Florida.

My sister, Gail, and her family, including her husband Dennis. Lisa, my youngest sister joins them (on the far right).

Me and my three sisters.

Chattanooga/Cleveland, Tennessee

On Wednesday, October 11th, we traveled the relatively short distance from just north of Nashville to just southeast of Chattanooga, where we had reserved a site at the Chattanooga South/Cleveland KOA. We were given a very roomy spot on the end of a row of RVs that suited us just fine. Later that evening, we visited with some of Cindy’s family who live in Cleveland. They used to live in south Florida when we lived there. Going back even further, we spent most of our honeymoon in their house in Pompano Beach back in the ancient year of 1979.

Our lovely site at the Chattanooga South/Cleveland KOA

The beautiful property of Cindy’s Aunt Sis and her son, Gary, and his wife, Barb.

On Thursday, we drove into Chattanooga to visit one of my childhood vacation favorites, Rock City. I had remembered the kitsch associated with the tourist destination, but I had forgotten just how beautiful it was there. All three of us were pleasantly surprised at how gorgeous the scenery and vistas were.

The girls enjoying Rock City in the fall.

Photo-op.

Heading down into the Grand Corridor at Rock City.

Christy did not like “The Needle’s Eye” or “Fat Man’s Squeeze.” She is extremely claustrophobic. She especially didn’t like it when I was holding her hand and leading her through and I started yelling, “Help! I’m stuck!” 🙂

Mushroom Rock

A couple of goblins at the underpass.

What a gorgeous view! Ladies on the Swinging Bridge.

And on the slightly less disconcerting Sky Bridge.

As the sign says, one can supposedly see seven states from atop Lookout Mountain. Since I can’t see where one ends and the other begins, I’ll take their word for it.

Cindy and I standing out on a platform on the cliff with Lover’s Leap behind.

Barry on the cliffside platform.

And Cindy on the platform!

Cindy and Christy beneath the several ton Balancing Rock

Near the end of the Rock City Trail one enters Fairyland Caverns, a blacklist journey through dark passageways studded with glow-in-the-dark depictions of various fairytales. Here’s one of them.

We had a quick bite after walking the enchanted trail, and then headed over to the Battles of Chattanooga. There, we checked out a free educational display provided by the National Park Service. Then, we paid for an average multi-media history of the Civil War battles which took place in and around the city of Chattanooga.

Large painting depicting the Battle of Chattanooga. From civilwar.org: “After taking charge of the Union’s western armies in October of 1863, Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant focused on lifting the Confederate siege of Chattanooga, Tennessee, which had been in place since the Battle of Chickamauga in September. Grant opened the “Cracker Line” across the Tennessee River to bring supplies to the beleaguered Army of the Cumberland inside the city, and, in mid-November, brought Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s Army of the Tennessee into the city as well. The Confederates under Maj. Gen. Braxton Bragg had established themselves on Missionary Ridge and Lookout Mountain, both of which had commanding views of the city. On November 23rd, the reinforced Federals began to fight their way out, overrunning Orchard Knob at the base of Missionary Ridge and gaining a foothold for continued attacks against the Confederate line. The next day, Grant launched an attack on Lookout Mountain and captured it after six hours of fighting. On November 25th, Grant ordered Sherman to attack Tunnel Hill on the ridge east of the city. While Sherman’s initial attack was a failure, a second attack by Maj. Gen. George H. Thomas managed to completely break the center of the Confederate line along Missionary Ridge. This third victory in three days compelled a Confederate withdrawal and opened up the deep South to a Union invasion.”

The three-dimensional map with 5000 miniature soldiers and 650 lights on which is recounted the Battles for Chattanooga.

On Friday, we chilled for most of the morning. Then, in the afternoon we visited with Cindy’s family again before going out for an evening meal together at O’Charleys. We had a great two days and three nights in the area, but the next morning we would move on to my home state of Georgia.

Gary and I in his “barn”/garage where he restores old vehicles. Very cool!

Gary, Barb, Christy, and Cindy on the bridge on their property.

We all met up at Beatitude II after our dinner. We so enjoyed hanging out with our family.

Nashville – Part III: Return to the Grand Ole Opry

A couple of Nashville cool cats in their sunglasses.

Yet another BBQ place, Jack’s on Lower Broadway

Our final day in the Music City was spent, mainly, relaxing on the RV. Our pace over the first few days had been hectic, and we were preserving our energy for one last hurrah in the evening. We scored pretty good seats for another Grand Ole Opry performance, this time featuring Keith Urban. We felt blessed and were pretty excited for a repeat trip to enjoy the music and ambience of the nation’s longest continual-running live radio program.

The Grand Ole Opry House, primary home of the Grand Ole Opry since 1974.

Waiting at the doors for entrance into the auditorium.

John Conlee, Opry member since 1981, got things started for the evening.

Brooks and Dunn sang a few songs, including “Maria,” for the appreciative crowd.

The young female duet, Maddie and Tae, performing at the Grand Ole Opry.

The excitable Collin Raye, singing a few of his hits for us.

The hilarious Bill Anderson singing a few silly songs for us.

Jason Crabb at the Grand Ole Opry

Chris Janson is one talented singer and one funny dude!

Daily and Vincent, performing some excellent bluegrass music.

Last, but not least, Keith Urban, finished off the evening with a few of his hits.

Blue Ain’t Your Color

Our time in Nashville had come to a close and it was time to continue our journey southward. The next morning we would pull out of the Grand Ole RV Park and drive on.

Our site at the Grand Ole RV Resort north of Nashville.

Sharing my drink with Taylor Swift just outside of Madame Tussaud’s.

Cindy and Christy with George Strait just outside Madame Tussaud’s.