SouthFest part 1: Georgia

Last week, I was very fortunate to be able to make a (too) quick trip to Georgia to visit a friend.  I would have visited him even if he lived somewhere terrible, but this had the added bonus of adventure-appeal.  We did about a thousand things in four days, and we spent half the time in Florida, but that’s the next post.

Because I usually just go to my same old hangouts in places I’ve lived or frequently visited before, this time I think I will provide links to some of the attractions we saw.  Also, I’ve been to Georgia before but not for, like, ten years.

On Saturday, we went to the Fernbank Museum, which was very good.  Lots of gruesome displays of dinosaurs eating other dinosaurs and some really neat information on local ecology, evolution, and wildlife.  There was a really cool play room for kids with different hands-on interpretive things, and also a really neat temporary display all about fear.

This was, inexplicably, my favorite display

This was, inexplicably, my favorite display

smile like you mean it :)

smile like you mean it 🙂

stegosaurus is also the CO state dinosaur.

stegosaurus is also the CO state dinosaur.

That evening, we also went to the Netherworld Haunted House.  It was fun because it was a haunted house, and the first part – about witches- was definitely the superior of the two houses available.  Its major downfall was that a lot of the props are rigged to attack at crotch-height and neither of us appreciated getting bruised up and/or almost neutered.  The second house on site, “spliced” or something, was too alien-based to be scary, and also instead of separating groups out, they just let everybody file through.  Not as fun, but still fun.  Could have used more spooky clowns.

he was also dog-sitting this ferocious little hellion.  Fluffy!

he was also dog-sitting this ferocious little hellion. Fluffy!

Sunday was a really big, fun day.  It started off with a southern staple, Waffle House, which I’m pretty sure I’ve seen before but not that many.  Definitely saw more Waffle Houses than Starbucks, and it was a tossup between the waffles and churches.  Nothing fancy, but of course it was tasty.  I even had southern-style grits!  Yummy cholesterol 🙂

Then we went to the Georgia Aquarium.  As someone who works at an Aquarium, it is, of course, the penultimate of American aquariums – they have whale sharks and manta rays.  Whale sharks, guys.  And thanks to my friend’s connections, I was able to observe both a manta ray and whale shark feeding from above.  And it was so freakin’ cool.  I always really liked manta rays and whale sharks, but they definitely got promoted up my unending list of favorite animals.  I then was treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility, including their education stuff, which was an order of magnitude better than my current job.  I’m jealous.

IMG_20141112_143830[1]

It’s supposed to be a boat….

This is me!  I was enjoying the view, and also am pretty bad at posing.

This is me! I was enjoying the view, and also am pretty bad at posing.

Whale shark!  My friend could probably tell you which one this is, but I couldn't.

Whale shark! My friend could probably tell you which one this is, but I couldn’t.

Not the best picture, but damn those mantas are HUGE

Not the best picture, but damn those mantas are HUGE

So, apparently whale sharks are adorable hungry fish who mostly obediently follow the ladle and only sometimes try to drown their aquarists.

So, apparently whale sharks are adorable hungry fish who mostly obediently follow the ladle and only sometimes try to drown their aquarists.

A.) his expression is perfect, and... B.) I have a tattoo of one of these kinds of frogs!

A.) his expression is perfect, and… B.) I have a tattoo of one of these kinds of frogs!

They have a mangrove nursery by the coral exhibit.  Very cool!

They have a mangrove nursery by the coral exhibit. Very cool!

After zooming through the exhibits and stocking up on postcards in the gift shop, we hustled over to Cirque du Soleil Amaluna for the midday show.  It was pretty amazing; some of the acts were flat out disturbing, but all were very impressive and engaging.  For some reason, they didn’t give us seats together, but then nobody really sat next to either of us so I moved at intermission.  Also, the little girl behind me for the first act refused to look at the girl in the swimming acrobatics portion because “she’s naked!”  (She wasn’t naked).

The tents!

The tents!

Then we had lunch, picked up our stuff, and hit the road for Florida where we, among other things, swam with wild manatees!  Look for some great pictures from that upcoming.

After our swim with the manatees, we had a long, somewhat uneventful drive back to Georgia.  Our destination was the Georgia Sea Turtle Center, whose mission is sea turtle conservation through rehab, education, and re-releases.  It was a really good facility, with a good price whose proceeds serve a great purpose.  The exhibits were also really interactive and, as an environmental educator, I really appreciated their approach to interpretation.

I really liked the set up of the education room

I really liked the set up of the education room

They put mirrors over a few rehab tanks so you can look in

They put mirrors over a few rehab tanks so you can look in

this is the rehab facility, at least what you can see :)

this is the rehab facility, at least what you can see 🙂

A healing sea turtle.  It will be re-released once it is deemed healthy

A healing sea turtle. It will be re-released once it is deemed healthy

Kind of a cool pattern!

Kind of a cool pattern!

Even though we were hungry and a little tired, we decided to drive to a good beach.  After all, my friend the aquarist has barely seen the ocean and the Gulf-side of Florida where we were first was long on gross saltwater marshes and short on nice, pretty beaches.  Luckily, Jekyll Island has some absolutely stunning beaches…problem is, you have to work at finding them.

he liked the ocean, I promise!

he liked the ocean, I promise!

picturesque!  hence the picture

picturesque! hence the picture

unfortunately not a molt....

unfortunately not a molt….

we found two and a half dollars!  [sand dollars anyway]

we found two and a half dollars! [sand dollars anyway]

Eventually we did, though, and to my Pacific Northwest sensibilities, the water was really warm.  Like, lukewarm bathtub.  It was perfect.  But my friend didn’t think so, so we didn’t actually swim.  I did, however, “frolic” like a dork.  We also walked a couple of miles, collecting shells and sand dollars, admiring the waves and the birds, and poking at dead stuff.  The sun set and darkness settled over the sea.  It was majestic.

poking at dead stuff

poking at dead stuff

i also helped clean up some marine debris!

i also helped clean up some marine debris!

By that time, we were both famished so we stopped and got some dinner.  I think we were both pretty exhausted after dinner, but needed to get back so we pushed on.  I ended up driving for a few hours and, of course, we hit 4 lanes of dead-stopped traffic at midnight just outside Atlanta.  To say I was pissed is an understatement.  But we eventually made it home safely, to eat cookies and pass out.

It's blurry, but I think you can see how exasperated I am by the whole situation.  Also, livid and tired.  Atlanta, your traffic sucks.

It’s blurry, but I think you can see how exasperated I am by the whole situation. Also, livid and tired. Atlanta, your traffic sucks.

Seriously.  We were sitting in it for like 20 minutes.

Seriously. We were sitting in it for like 20 minutes.

My last day in Georgia, we ate a breakfast of yummy cauliflower mac’n’cheese that my friend made (he’s the healthy type) before getting lost trying to find parking for the CDC Museum.  The museum itself wasn’t bad; its interpretive exhibits could use some work, but overall it was interesting.  It was also free, so the price is right.

It was very fancy.

It was very fancy.

Some of the interesting history behind the CDC

Some of the interesting history behind the CDC

I wrote a really good final paper on environmental justice in college

I wrote a really good final paper on environmental justice in college

Then we went to the Center for Civil and Human Rights.  It is probably the best history museum I have ever been to.  Part of it is that it’s brand-new and is on the up’n’up with technology, but the exhibits are just really engaging and employ a lot of mediums.  We spent at least 2 and a half hours there, I think.  If you’re in Atlanta, be sure to check it out!!

A good description of the importance of human rights.

A good description of the importance of human rights.

One of the niftiest uses of technology

One of the niftiest uses of technology

martyrs who died in the civil rights struggle, either as activists or innocent bystanders

martyrs who died in the civil rights struggle, either as activists or innocent bystanders

A room about the Million Man March

A room about the March in Washington

This is what it looks like

This is what it looks like

We had a picnic lunch in the Olympic Park and decided not to do the big ferris wheel (someday!).  We hung out in the CNN mall, which wasn’t too bad.  It had the best food court I’ve ever seen, and an awesome but overpriced Tina Belcher t-shirt.

Atlanta

Atlanta

CNN mall.

CNN mall.

Finally, it was time to go to the airport.  I cried on the way there.  And in the bathroom.  Then we hugged before I awkwardly ran away to cry in the security line.  Then I got to the gate and saw that my flight was delayed by an hour, so I treated myself to some truly awful blueberry gelato, and cried some more.  It’s normal for me to cry at goodbyes and stuff, but not that much.  I think 4 days is too short a vacation.  Plus, I had to come home to -3 degree (F) weather, so….

Goodbye, Atlanta

Goodbye, Atlanta

Hello, Denver.

Hello, Denver.

At least someone was happy to see me return!

At least someone was happy to see me return!

But overall, it was an amazing trip, and I loved it, and I can’t wait to go back and disrupt my friend’s life with more fun adventures.  Thanks to him for being such a good host and for putting up with me! 😉

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About MurasakiOkapi

Work has taken over a huge portion of my life in recent years, but I am trying hard to get back in the habit of being at least marginally creative on a semi-regular basis. Other than that, I'm a nature enthusiast and love all animals. I try to see things from many perspectives, and live on the sustainable side. I wouldn't say I'm a positive person, but at the same time I don't tend to get too down about things.
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One Response to SouthFest part 1: Georgia

  1. Pingback: SouthFest part 2: Florida | What Adventures Await

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