Restless night anticipating an early start and a long day. We were both up by 4:30 and rolled out of our site (quietly) at 05:15. This is a record for us and I felt good about it. Across south Memphis before the traffic was too bad on the surface streets and onto the freeway.
The new plan was to stop frequently walk about. Stay hydrated…. It worked. About 7 hours later we were circumnavigating Atlanta around 2PM. The reality is that traffic increases in intensity as you get closer to cities. The idea of avoiding rush hour is nice but if you are used to rural driving cities area intimidating. So I just chose a lane, tried to stay near my side of the line, and pretended the rest of the traffic was a video game.
We finally pulled off near the entrance to the Stone Mountain State Park. The entrance to the RV park was guarded by a little kiosk in the middle of the road. This left the entrance plenty wide if you were riding a bicycle, but a bus barely had a chance. The entrance hut was never used except to inflict trauma to unsuspecting coaches. Bev hopped out to guide. My driver’s mirror brushed the little “guard house” while my starboard side came within an inch of a huge rock placed there for no reason.
As parks go this one was decades old but in a beautiful wooded setting. In the “approach lane” we went to unhook the car. Dead as a door nail, as usual. Ignoring the heat I reached into the Explorer for our trusty jump starter. Unfortunately, this little rascal had tipped over and switched on the air compressor which had been running for 7 hours. Dead as the car. No worries. Pulled out the battery charger, turned on the generator in the coach, found a long extension cord and hooked it up to the car battery. No worries. In an hour or so I expected enough juice to start our little tow car.
Our site was beautiful and flat nestled into huge ancient pine trees with a view of a beautiful lake. Careful instructions had been given about not swimming in the lake. Lots of Canadian geese pairs and ducks. They didn’t seem to be having any trouble with the lake. Squirrels are a tonic that brings Socrates alive. He was immediately revived from the long drive on his first walk.
The next day was Coke. I drove into Atlanta. I’ll try not to do that again. Reminder that big cities aren’t my thing. The day was hot, as it has been for the last 3 weeks. We found a place in a parking garage. We were on the 6th level. I thought we were pretty high until I noticed there were 12 levels to the parking. You had to take a pill to protect you from vertigo on the way out.
As you might imagine we were not the only folks trying to tour Coca Cola headquarters. As we watched a hundred or so school kids showed up to precede us on the tour.
This empire was started by a pharmacist, John Pemberton, in 1886. He created the original syrup and added carbonated water. He truly “taught the world to sing…” . The company now has over 500 different beverages all over the world. Last year their revenue was $48 billion.
The tour was OK. An animated video was designed to get you to live a “happier life.” It lost me. But we got to taste 64 of their 500 drinks. Pretty interesting. The out through the obligatory gift shop. For me the most exciting part was driving in downtown Atlanta. We decided it would be safer for Don to drive next time.
Back to Stone Mountain. Terry, Don, and Bev decided to climb the rock. I decided to ride the park. It was a great ride, as most things at sea level are. As I rode past the large stone mountain I noticed a bas relief. It turns out this is a memorial to the heros of the confederacy. It is a huge carving of Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. It took twenty years to carve this from 1958 until 1978 when it was dedicated. Each confederate state had its own observation area in the park to look at the stone carving.
It turns out the Ku Klux Klan reorganized here in 1915. This was, historically, a pretty conservative place.
Yet today at least 1/2 the folks camping here are African Americans. I guess that is progress.
I wanted to swim in the morning. The pool was scheduled to open at 08:00. At 10:10 I noted the pool empty and that was because it was still locked. I hiked up to the office and asked about the pool. I met a delightful gentleman named “Joe.” He was an older African American. His name tag indicated he was the Assistant Manager of the Park. He said he would be glad to open the pool. As we hiked down to the pool I asked him why no one was allowed to swim in the lake. He smiled. He had been asked this before.
“Well, we used to swim in it until about 1998. Then a new company took over the management of the park and they cut it off.” He had a knowing look.
“Was it a liability issue?” I querried.
“Well, let’s just say the department of health says the lake is fine but there is run off from the fertilizer on the golf course.”
“The geese and the ducks seem to like swimming in the lake.” I observed.
“The geese and the ducks aren’t likely to sue us.” His smile was bigger than before.
We had a reservation for a 1:10 tour of CNN. This time Don drove into town. Much more civilized. There are two types of tours. The standard tour and the VIP tour. Bev likes VIP tours. So we paid a little more and it was incredibly worth it.
The four of us had our own guide, Stephanie, and our personal security escort. Stephanie seemed to know everything there was to know about CNN. We started up a 5 story escalator into the “World of CNN”.
From there we were allowed into a variety of studios as Stephanie explained each anchor person, their producers and editors, and we got to watch as they reported breaking news.
Don understood most of the technology that created these broadcasts. To me they seemed a modern form of magic. Wolf Blitzer was reporting from Oklahoma. HLN was covering the Jodi Arias sentencing trial. International news was coming in from London with a terror attack on a soldier. Stephanie explained how the hundreds of monitors, each with something a little different, all related to how the production was put together.
It was fascinating watching the anchors deliver the news.
This tour was nothing short of amazing. An hour was gone in no time. Out through the obligatory gift shop. We now have a CNN mug.
Back out to Stone Mountain to pack up for tomorrow’s early departure for Hilton Head.