Saturday, November 17, 2007

The Long Road Out of Atlanta

I love Atlanta. I really do. I lived near midtown about six years ago and had a blast. I could walk to Whole Foods or Kroger for groceries, walk to a dozen restaurants or coffee shops in five minutes or less, or enjoy a nice jog down a suburban, wooded, hilly street all in the same neighborhood. The only thing that sucked about Atlanta - and I swore then that it couldn't possibly get any worse - was the traffic.

If traffic were a four-letter word, then it would be H-E-L-L. And we lived through a little bit of that hell yesterday on our way to Tallahassee.

Now that I'm back in north Atlanta/Alpharetta, which is WAY different than midtown Atlanta, fo-sho, we're living the family lifestyle this time around. Which while it does still include trips to Whole Foods and Kroger of course --the restaurants, pubs and coffee shops, not so much. We do still, however, have to navigate the traffic like everyone else in this megalopolis. (Not sure if that is a word or not... but it seems to fit the Atlanta Metro area pretty well.) OK, so yesterday, Friday afternoon, we planned to set off for Tallahassee on an early Thanksgiving, weekend visit. We thought we planned this pretty thoroughly - leave by 2pm at the latest on the Friday afternoon before Thanksgiving to beat Atlanta rush-hour traffic - and packed and actually left the house by 2:22pm, which is a pretty good accomplishment for us, considering all the crap we have to haul with us wherever we go for the kids.

OK, so -- 2:22pm -- we leave the house. No big deal. Car has 1/8 tank of gas. The dialog went something like this:
Should we stop here at the corner and get gas before we hit the highway? No... we should blaze through town and get gas on the south side. Uh huh. Are you sure we'll have enough gas to get that far? You know this car goes through gas a lot faster than your diesel truck does... Ok, whatever you say. Honey, I promise I won't let this car run out of gas, ok? Don't worry about it, we'll be fine. Oh crap, look at all that backed up traffic right where 400 meets 285... we should stop and get gas soon. Oh I like this exit, they have Chic-Fil-A. I never ate lunch. That sign says Chick-Fil-A is to the left - yeah, but there's no gas that way. You have to go right to find some gas, near Roswell Road. Hey there's nothing but office buildings this way - yeah, that's because you have to go all the way to Roswell Road to find a gas station. Did I just see a Starbucks? OH! And a Publix- we need to go to the ATM to get some cash, we don't have any cash. OK, turn left on Roswell Rd. There's a gas station. Oh crap, the baby's hungry. I'll just feed him while we're here getting gas. OK, that took longer than I thought. Should I steal a case of that Red Stripe off that beer truck? The guy's not looking... NO, come on let's go. Turn left - 285 is right down that way. Wha - oh crap! I didn't want to turn left!?! Why did you make me do that? I didn't know you didn't want to go to the highway!! I'm turning around - I gotta go to Publix and get some cash and find that Starbucks. Here it is - Will you go get cash for me? OK, here's Starbucks - will you go get me some coffee? Ok, NOW we can get back on the highway. Which way is the highway? We have to go BACK the same way? Traffic is getting horrible. Oh crap we can't go that way, let's go straight and maybe I can find that Chick-Fil-A near the mall. Maybe the sign meant the Chick-Fil-A that's IN the mall.... man - I bet it did. Crappy sign! Oh man, look at this mall traffic. We're not moving at all! The highway is right there and we have moved 2 car lengths in 10 minutes. We're going to have to turn around. This is unbelievable. How did we get behind this slow-ass woman in the Mercedes? Where does she think she's going?! Grrrrr! OK, turn left here and go back to where we came from again. Wow, look at the traffic. What time is it? GOD it's 3:25. OK, just get in the left lane here to turn with all the other people trying to go south on 400. What time is it now? 3:40. Should we go through town or get on 285? Let's go through town, it can't get any worse than this. I can't believe it is this bad. Well, it is Friday afternoon, in Atlanta, the weekend before a big holiday. Should we turn around and go home? No, it would take us another hour and a half just to get home and then we'd have to start all over again tomorrow. Let's just keep going. I can't believe the connector traffic is backed up this far this early - is there a game or something downtown? Nope. I'm feeling carsick. Ugh, I can't believe this is this bad! Well look, honey, we're finally downtown. What time is it? 4:00. We left almost 2 hours ago. This sucks! {HONK HONK!!} Move it lady! Geesh this is ridiculous. La la la, I'm fine, this is fine, we're all fine, .. let's spend this quality time together in a positive way, honey... let's talk about our feelings, our dreams... I think I'm gonna be sick. Good grief, that took forever to get through town, maybe now it won't be so baaa... wait here we go again. Oh crap, the sign says there a wreck 3.5 miles ahead and one lane is closed. Is that what all this traffic is from? You mean we have 3.5 miles of this 5 mile an hour stop and go traffic to endure? I'm really feeling sick. If I tell you to pull over, do it quick. Stop yelling, sweetheart, Mommy's feeling ill. Are we in Tallahassee yet Daddy? When will we be there? We're still in Atlanta? WHYYYY????... Oh that traffic was for the 675 merge. We haven't even hit the wreck traffic yet. Oh, there's the wreck. What time is it? 4:49. Oh my God I'm feeling sick.. I'll be ok. Stop weaving like that unless you want me to hurl! Ugh. Finally - 5:10pm and we're out of the traffic. WAAAAAAAA!!!! Baby's hungry. Mommy I'm hungry... Ok the kids are ready for dinner now - we'd better find someplace to eat. Yeah and I need to get out of this puke machine for a little while. What time is it? 5:25pm. OK let's get off by the Tanger Outlet mall here, there's got to be something. BBQ ok? Sure. Oh but there's a Mexican restaurant, Ty likes the chips and salsa. Fine. Well which do you want? I don't care - you like BBQ, go there. OK I'm going there but I have to turn around first. Fine. Ok we're at the BBQ place, you sure this is ok? I don't care, you like BBQ. But I only did it because you told me to! Well then go to the Mexican place, I don't care! God! Now I have to turn around again! Mommy I'm hungry! WAAAAAAA! Mommy, I want to eat at Papa's house! Well fine! You eat at Papa's house, we're eating here! Don't tell her that, she has no idea how long it's really going to take to get to his house... ok, honey, I'm sorry. We're going to get some chips and salsa, ok? Ok.... ok we're here. Let's eat!

Ok - this was 5:30 at this point and we were only 20 miles south of Atlanta, I was carsick, the kids and Brian were starving and it was just as well we had to stop because if I had kept going I would have thrown up all over the car.

It was a much better ride after that - I started driving after Macon because I couldn't shake the heeby-jeebies - and we arrived at Dad's house at 10:15pm. It's never taken me 8 hours to drive from ATL to TLH before and we have sworn off Friday afternoon trips out of Atlanta FOREVER.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A Weekend at the Races

If any of you are like me you probably just skip through the t.v. channels that show things like motorcycle racing, fishing, extreme fighting, etc., but not Brian. He is into all that stuff - especially if it requires focus, skill and danger. It's kinda sexy, actually. ;-) Well, Mr. B. has been racing motorcycles all year and, I gotta tell ya, it's really cool. The final race of this season was at Barber Motorsports Raceway in Birmingham (Al-uh-BAM-uh!) and it is probably one of the finest raceways in the country. They have a huge motorcycle museum, giant animal sculptures all over the park - indeed, one of the tightest curves on the track lies next to a giant spider sculpture and is therefore called "The Spider" - but more on that later. The track park is very lovely, nice rolling hills all around, beautiful landscaping, very professional looking place that would indeed be television quality. And another thing I gotta tell ya - I really had no idea there was such an audience for this kind of thing, the place was packed with racers and spectators alike. Guess I've been living under a rock.

Anyhoo, like I mentioned in the previous post, Brian had a practice day on Friday, nothing special. Practice day is the day all the racers get to preview the track, practice their lines (not like acting lines - the lines they visualize on the track for the optimum speed and control of curves) and see who they'll be up against on race day. This is the day I took the kids to the zoo.

Saturday was the first race day and the park was packed! Brian and his crew were lined up to race near the end of the day so I took Tyler & AJ to a bounce house in the morning and we came out to the track right after lunch, after picking up our friend Lea from the hotel parking lot. She came down from Columbus to see Brian race and hang out with us. Daddy was psyched up for his race and we all walked down to the viewing area to watch the show. AJ tried really hard to sleep in the Snugli pack but the motorcycles were so loud it was really impossible. We watched Brian go around the loops one time and then on his second run he crashed on The Spider - scared the crap out of me. But it was a low-side crash, meaning the bike just slid out from under him and he spun like a turtle on his back right into the grass. As soon as he stopped spinning he was able to jump up and give the OK sign and I knew he was fine. That's when I was able to breathe again. I think it only took about 30 seconds but it seemed like an eternity. Here's some pictures:

He wasn't hurt in this last picture, he was just looking at all the broken parts on his bike and grumbling to himself.

So because of the crash he was out of the race and had to wait on the side of the track for the race to finish and get picked up by the tow trailer and ride back on the "Ride of Shame." Way better than the "Ride of Pain" in the ambulance though, and we saw a few of those over the weekend as well. In fact, one rider actually died on the track on Sunday - he was an older rider in his 70s and he just lost control of his bike and his helmet came off, pretty much killing him instantly. They didn't announce it at the track but the news spread through the pits pretty quickly. Everybody said "At least he died doing what he loved..." - God I hope I never have to say those words about Brian - but you know what, I just want Brian to be happy and if driving like a maniac on a motorcycle around a racetrack makes him happy, then, by God, I'll let him do it. Anyone who has lived with Brian knows life is much better when Brian is happy than when he's not. ;-)

So Saturday was a wash for Brian but his teammates placed second and third in their races that day so all was not lost. Sunday was a better day for him - he placed second in his race and we watched the whole thing. Every time Tyler saw her daddy go by on his motorcycle she did the "Daddy Dance" which Lea was able to capture on her cell phone and I'll post it here when she sends me a copy.

The trophies they made for this event are the ugliest things I have ever seen in my life. They are these rusty looking greek urns lying sideways on top of a little crinkled gold colored ball of aluminum foil, planted on top of a plaque. Completely hideous and I can't figure out what they have to do with motorcycle racing. The other trophies he's won this year at least have statues of motorcycle racers on top or an etching or something - this is just godawful. But at least he won one!

Monday, October 22, 2007

The Birmingham Zoo and Motorcycle Racing

Ok so we just got back from a long weekend in Birmingham, Alabama (or as Brian insists on saying it, every single time he says it, ala Forrest Gump: Al-uh-BAM-uh!) where Brian competed in a weekend vintage motorcycle racing event ( and the kids and I hung out and amused ourselves in various ways. We left on Thursday afternoon and basically went straight to the track, checking in and getting our weekend passes, etc., and met up with the other guys from the bike shop before going to eat dinner & check in at the hotel. Friday Brian had to get up early for a practice day at the track - well, he had to get up early every day there to be at the track by 7am for tech checks, etc. - but the kids and I went down to the Birmingham Zoo for the better part of the day instead of watching them practice all day. We saw hippos, giraffes, zebras, gorillas, orangutans, pygmy marmosets, lions, tigers, monkeys, you name it. All good fun and even got to ride a carousel - backwards, for Halloween, they said - and a train that went through a spooked-up forest for Halloween as well.
I took a very funny picture of Tyler, right after I told her that this tiger-
would eat us all up if he was given the chance...

and this was her reaction: -Gulp.

Some of the animals were lively and photogenic.. ..others were just plain tuckered out.

The kids had fun:
and it was a good day.

I have to say, though, I feel awfully guilty and sad looking at all the animals in zoos who really should be out roaming their natural habitats and not locked up in a small zoo pen where people ogle and irritate them day in and day out, but, as Scott would probably say, those animals just shouldn't have left home that day they got captured by the zoo people. Ah, Scott, thy middle name is Sardonic Sarcasm.

Anyway, I only have a couple of pics right now of the race so I'll post them now & more on the races next blog.

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

--- _ _ _ ---

OK! Melanie, I'm copy-catting your copy-cat-ness and embarking on a blog. My life is consumed by child care, cooking and cleaning (ok, cooking) so these days anything I have to say for myself, my real self, feels like I'm tapping out morse code from deep inside some dark, remote, and really not much seen or heard from place, much like a mine shaft I suppose. And since typing on a keyboard is kind of "tapping,"... well, you get the idea. Still, don't expect much more here than updates on the kids, the hubby, or a good recipe I find or create; time at the computer is in short doses and usually accompanied by a baby on my lap and/or a preschooler jockeying for her "turn."

Here's to low expectations!