John & Brenda's Excellent Tour travel blog

The wonderful world of Coke machines

Kids in the fountain - Centennial Olympic Park, Atlanta

The CNN Center

A memorial to Avery Brundage and the Olympic movement (actually Baron de...

May 25

Katie surprised us by showing a real interest in fishing, which, by coincidence, is Ron's passion. So, for our last full day in Fairhope, they began with an early morning run for live bait and headed out into Mobile Bay. They had fun, but came back skunked, except for one small fish Katie caught. That's why they call it "fishing" instead of "catching".

After the fact, we found out that some of their discussion in the boat was a bit of a counselling session for Ron who was about to break-up with his girlfriend. Katie had been advising him to be classy, honest and up front with it instead of how the majority of us classless males do it, by making the relationship a living hell and letting the girl take the initiative and responsibility for the dirty deed. They have had great cousin bonding and I think it has made their visit so much more than it might have otherwise been.

It was a quiet day for Moms and Dads as Darryl and Phyllis completed pre-moving chores and I worked on this Journal while Brenda went for a bike ride. In the afternoon, Brenda, Phyllis and Katie went for spa pedicures while Ron took me to a garden centre to pick up a couple of peach trees for Phyllis' burgeoning fruit orchard as a thank you gift...and something more thing for Darryl to move!

Brenda made slow-cooked baby back ribs for dinner and persuaded Ron to stay for dinner, prior to heading south to the gulf shore beach for a weekend with his buddies. We found out that he was also arranging to meet with his girlfriend to follow Katie's advice for an honest, face-to-face break-up. He returned an hour later, relieved to be done with it and, I think, feeling better for having taken the high road.

Phyllis had an ah-ha! moment when she realized we were the first overnight guests in this house on our trip with Ron and Anne-Marie several years ago and that now we would likely be the last house guests they would have before their move; kind of a warm thought for all of us.

May 26

We were up early for our departure to Atlanta International Airport for Katie's 5:00pm flight; we needed to allow 6 ½ hours for the 545 km drive, as we would lose an hour crossing the Georgia state line. It was a long and not too exciting trip as we drove into a smoky haze from wildfires in the south of Georgia that got thicker as we reached Atlanta.

CORRECTION: Between Montgomery, Alabama and Atlanta, we passed the exit for Warm Springs, Georgia, which I am now reminded, is where Franklin Delano Roosevelt went for soothing treatment for his polio-shrunken legs and not, as previously stated, Hot Springs, Arkansas. I have had a stern talking-to with my fact-checker (me) and truly hope it doesn't happen again (but it probably will). If any readers discover other errata, please e-mail me. JN

We arrived at the airport at 3:00pm on the dot and, much to Mom's chagrin, deposited Katie at the United Air Departures curb. Brenda thought we should park and accompany Katie to check-in but youthful independence of the experienced international traveler won out. We located a really nice all suites hotel south of Atlanta; it was so new and comfortable, we booked an extra day so that we could tour Atlanta for a day.

Brenda adjusted her routine to an evening workout as she had only had a couple of bike rides in the past week while we ate rather sumptuously. As well, we would get a quicker start in the morning for our tour. After dinner in our room, I once again found that I must not (!) drink red wine while lying on the bed watching TV; I'm sure Brenda can get the stain out (?).

May 27

Smoky air greeted us again in the morning and it was already warm at 29°C. We chose a tour of the World of Coca Cola as our main activity for the day and headed out with cryptic directions off the Internet and no map of Atlanta. After circling the downtown area for 20 or 30 minutes, we got directions from a taxi driver who told us to go one block further than where we had been turning back; wouldn't you know that this is what Brenda had been encouraging me to do?

The World of Coca Cola is in an area that also includes the huge Georgia Aquarium and the Centennial Olympic Park. We then remembered that this was the Sunday of Memorial Day weekend, and that we were joining all of Atlanta and environs as well as faraway tourists like ourselves in looking for a parking spot. Our luck continues to hold as we found an all day lot for $5 just a block from the Aquarium.

We chose the Coca Cola tour partly in honour of our good friend Bob Ward, a long time aficionado of all things Coke, who will be undergoing serious surgery on May 31st for oesophageal cancer. He has been undergoing some very tough treatments to a point where the tumour has diminished enough to maximize the success of surgery. Our best wishes go out to Bob and Rita for a speedy recovery so we can golf together (and drink some wine) when we get home in the fall.

The tour was as much fun as you can have after you have paid $24 for a 2 hour commercial. The animated theatre presentations are very entertaining and the displays of memorabilia would dazzle Bob. The have set up a full glass-fronted bottling plant and give you a commemorative sample at the end.

We left the Coke exhibit to have a tasty lunch at a nearby local diner, which was funky and had good food. As we ate, Brenda was surprised to hear that I would like to go have a look at the CNN Center and maybe have a tour (I had pooh-poohed the notion the night before). I think it's my feminine side exercising its right to change its mind...or maybe I'm just wishy-washy.

We walked to the Center through the Centennial Olympic Park, where we heard before we saw thousands of kids running and playing in a massive fountain in the middle of the park; their screams and laughter define a kid's summer. We got into the CNN tour just before closing and they showed us through the 8 floors of their studios with some interesting background, including some fun stuff with "green screen" magic that, of course, all Brenda's CWC cohorts know all about and are probably not all that impressed about.

On our way home, we stopped to pick up some wine, only to find the county where our hotel is doesn't allow alcohol sales on Sundays...line up your laws, people!!! I turned on the TV to catch the rain-delayed Indy 500 and decided to phone Steve Niven and Sharon Builder, who we knew were there at the race in Indianapolis. The call was short as they were kind of busy with a crash and it was hard to hear over the noise.

I next went to the Internet to check on the Vancouver Giants in the Memorial Cup Final in streaming audio, only to find the final buzzer had gone and the Giants won. So, what else to do but phone my sister Linda and brother Wilf, who were at the game. Another short call as the noise was horrendous and they were kind of busy celebrating but over-joyed...Go Giants!

Brenda had anther evening workout and did some laundry. Genius that she is, she got out the previous night's wine stain...and you wonder why I worship the very ground she walks on!

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