This weekend I went on an amazing trip to Atlanta! I knew it would be a good time, but I wasn’t expecting it to be this exciting!
I took Thursday and Friday off from work and we got on the road at 7 AM Thursday. It is a long drive! Georgia felt like a completely different country. As soon as you cross the border, all of the billboards are either for God, guns, liquor, or strippers. There were cops everywhere nabbing people for speeding. I hardly ever see that in Florida, but we passed at least 15 different people getting pulled over along the way. Thankfully, I am not a speeder so I didn’t have any problems. We stopped midway at the Farm House Restaurant in Lake Park, Georgia. I had missed Southern food so much! Surprisingly, there really isn’t much authentic Southern food to be found in Tampa.
We finally got to Atlanta around 3:30 PM. The main reason we went this weekend was for the Southern Fried Gameroom Expo, which had over 100 pinball and arcade games plus retro consoles and special guests. It was at the Atlanta Marriott Century Center hotel and I was able to get a special rate of $89/night. Man, this was a nice hotel! It is triangular shaped, and 15 stories tall. In the lobby you can look all the way up to the top and watch the elevators go up and down. We were on the 11th floor so we had a nice view. The bed was the most comfortable bed I had ever slept on. Seriously, if I had $3,000 to blow, I would totally buy one!
The expo didn’t start until Friday, so the first night, we went out to Stone Mountain Park. The park has many different attractions, but its namesake is a huge granite mountain with a carving of Robert E. Lee on it, which is actually a little bit bigger than Mount Rushmore! We rode the Skyride to the top. They cram up to 80 people in a box on a wire and send you up 825 feet to the top of the mountain which is 1,672 feet above sea level. The view up at the top was awesome! It is a huge mountain and you can walk all around the top, and you can even walk down it if you really wanted to. We ended up going down a little ways without realizing it, and the trek back up to the Skyride station was so painful! I’m used to flat Florida, not extreme hill climbing.
We rode down to the ground and had dinner at one of the park’s restaurants. The food, unfortunately, was terrible. I ordered fried chicken and it was way over done. The skin was super crispy and the meat inside was inedible because it was so hard. And they charged about $15 for it. That sucked, but I needed food badly after the workout on the mountain. At night they have the Lasershow Spectacular in Mountainvision, which is a huge laser show projected on the mountain. The show was very different from anything I’d seen before. It was like a redneck version of the Epcot fireworks show. We did have a very rude girl sit in front of us who was taking countless selfies of her family with the flash blasting right in my face. Other than that, I did enjoy the show.
Friday was a big day. We first went to Six Flags Over Georgia. As you probably know, I LOVE amusement parks, so I couldn’t wait to get there! Over Georgia is the sister park to the original Six Flags Over Texas. There were a lot of rides there that were similar to their Dallas counterparts, but all of the rides were much smaller. The biggest coaster there is Goliath at 200 feet. It was a great ride, but my favorite is still Titan at 245 feet. We got to the park before opening so we got a great parking spot and I got to go on four coasters in the first hour. We did have an interesting situation on the Georgia Cyclone, a wooden coaster. As we were going up the lift hill, the ride stopped. Eventually a worker came up the hill to talk to us. I guess some safety sensor got tripped which shut down the ride. After about 10 minutes the ride did restart, and we got a simple "sorry about that guys!" at the station.
The park has a brand new water park, Hurricane Harbor so we finished the day there. The water park is pretty small, just a kids area and two slide towers, but it’s nice that it is included with admission. While we were there, we saw something completely unexpected… They were filming an episode of Here Comes Honey Boo Boo! There were two camera men and a couple of directors, but they didn’t close off the area they were filming in at all. I got right up close to the whole family. I still can’t believe that I went to Georgia and got to see Honey Boo Boo in real life. What are the odds of that? It’s definitely a story I’ll be telling for a while. Below is the best picture I could get, you can see Sugar Bear with Honey Boo Boo peeking behind him.
After an exciting time at Six Flags, we went back to the hotel to check out the expo. They had two ballrooms full of games, as well as a room for retro consoles, including some really old ones that I had never heard of, an XBOX room, a room with cocktail tables, and a movie room. They had my two favorite pinball machines – Whirlwind and Terminator 2. It was definitely bigger than the Southern Pinball Festival in Orlando I went to last year. Pacman himself was also there, and I got to meet Billy Mitchell, the King of Kong! We played games until they closed for the night. It was a lot of fun. I wish arcades were still around today. Someday I will buy my own pinball machine, I just gotta get a house first.
On Saturday we went to the Centennial Olympic Park area of Atlanta. Finally after waiting my whole life, I got to go to the World of Coca-Cola! It was amazing!!! It felt a lot like being at Disney World in a way. They had lots of memorabilia, a 4D movie (which shakes the crap out of you), a photo op with the Coke Polar Bear, an exhibit on the bottling process, the vault that houses the secret formula, and the best part – Taste It where you can try over 60 flavors of Coke from around the world! My favorites were the international Fanta flavors. Why can’t America have Melon Fanta? After trying every flavor, I felt a little sick, but it was awesome. At the exit, you get to take home a commemorative glass bottle of Coke. Coke World was like heaven to me!
After that we walked around the park and saw the famous fountain of rings. We went inside the CNN World Headquarters building. It is huge! Everyone I talked to said the CNN tour isn’t that great, so we didn’t do it, but we did do SkyView Atlanta. It is a 200 foot tall Ferris wheel that overlooks the park. The cars are air conditioned so it was really cool.
Before heading back to the hotel we stopped by the world’s largest drive-in restaurant, The Varsity. This place is HUGE! There is a two story parking garage for it and there is either a traditional Sonic-style drive-in, or inside counter service. We went inside and it was packed. There are like 20 lines to order and each one has at least 10 people in it. The food is your traditional drive-in food – hot dogs, fries, and fried pies. It was pretty good, but definitely not something you should eat every day. After eating we went back to the expo and played games until midnight. We did have an interesting ride in the elevator with Darth Vader and a Stormtrooper. Let’s see, that’s how many celebrity sightings so far?
After an awesome three days, it was time to drive back to Florida today. We stopped for lunch in Juliette, Georgia, the town where the movie Fried Green Tomatoes was filmed. I had never heard of this movie before, but my friend wanted to go there and I’m glad we went. There is a little street with a bunch of little shops and the main attraction is the Whistle Stop Café which is featured in the movie. Our waitress told us we sat in the only original booth from the film, where the sheriff sat. I had a fried green tomato sandwich which was really good. I’m really gonna miss Southern food! I didn’t get home until 7 PM, and I am super tired right now.
It was definitely an incredible trip, but now it’s back to the real world. June 17 was my one-year anniversary at my company so I am now allowed to work from home 2 days a week! It is gonna be great to sleep in a little bit tomorrow and stay in my pajamas all day to recover from the trip. Now I need to start planning my next big adventure!