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.


Joe said...

That is one of the funniest travelogues I've ever heard! Trust me, I feel your pain. Great run-on stream of consciousness writing!

Anonymous said...

Car sick, huh? Good story. You're not knocked up are you? That would be cool but I still haven't met numero dos. Steph

Tom said...

I can't believe you tried to get out of this God forsaken traffic hell hole on a Friday afternoon - it's (as you found) impossible!! You guys should sell that place and move back intown with me! You could walk to the zoo and dodge the homeless in the park. There's nothing like it when the bums start to change color in the fall. It's spectacular. Come on back - they miss you.

Scott said...

That's misable right? Right!