I grew up in a corner of North Carolina where “Christmas shopping in the city,” or “summer baseball game,” or “weekend at the amusement park,” or even “day trip to get out of dodge” meant taking the winding 2.5-hour drive through the mountains and Georgia foothills to Atlanta.
Most of the trip is a peaceful four-lane road past dairy bars and pastures; however, about 30 minutes before you hit the city the roads widen, the traffic becomes more plentiful and as soon as you cross under the giant maze of bridges (which I discovered was the ‘perimeter’ as I got older), well, then you’re in Atlanta.
Seeing those tall buildings and soaking in the amount of sunshine has always been home away from home for me.
My family would make the trip every couple of months and I feel like I’ve spent many a mile-marker in Fulton and Gwinett counties; birthdays and vacations included.
It was the place I always swore I’d move to when I graduated college and it’s the reason why UGA was my first choice when the time came to apply.
Life happens. You get scholarships and choose an in-state school. You start dating a guy and move to a different Carolina town.
And instead, you visit Atlanta every chance you get.
And every time you visit you’re reminded of how “one day I could totally see myself living here.”
This weekend marked the second annual road trip of high-school best friends from North Carolina through South Carolina to Georgia. We remarked on the trip down how it had been a long time. I mean, sixth grade–when we all met? Well that was almost 15 years ago. (Insert nostalgic photo of awkward 11-year-olds with braces and baby faces that is probably laying around my parents’ house.)
Gigantic Braves fans, a game is always useful motivation to plan a weekend. So a Travelzoo deal later we were south-bound early Saturday morning.
Saturday of all Saturdays, we had tickets for THE GAME. The Braves had been on a wild sweep of 14-straight wins. If the team won Saturday night’s game they would have tied the franchise’s longest streak since 2000 when the Braves won 15 in a row from April to May.
So, of course — we figured they would lose. (We weren’t very confident in the luck we were bringing.)
A fairly short road trip into Atlanta, a customary stop for burgers at The Varsity, a meandering through Centennial Park and the World of Coke gift shop and we were off to the field for a preliminary afternoon of extremely hot tailgating. Man, I’m just not quite accustomed to that heat or humidity.
Our seats were a DREAM. Suite life, baby. I’m not sure if going to a Braves game will ever be the same after seeing one from the bounty of air-conditioning and private bathroom. That said, I would maybe trade for some field-side seats. All the same, it was incredible. Especially considering that there was an hour rain delay. Nothing like dry seats.
Once the game started up, it was a little bit of a snoozer (three hits up to the 8th inning!) and then a half hour of INTENSITY.
The Braves let up one run to the Marlins off of some sloppy defense and the stadium was erupting in rapture and cheering for an offensive answer once the Braves came up to bat.
We cheered for a single like it was a home run.
Three outs and Janish who stepped up to bat, noted has a .000 batting average, stuck out. Looking. Against the worst team in our division.
Sad ending to a 14-game winning streak.
It was humorous to see the onslaught of “You’re not allowed to go to Braves games when they’re on a streak” messages that were sent to us from various friends and family members.
The game went so late that by the time we got back to our hotel there wasn’t a lot of time to deliberate if and when we wanted to go out to a bar. Luckily we had found a really fun, random karaoke bar, Metro Café Diner, last summer that just happened to be down the street. On the way there, we passed 50 Cent’s truck from Fast Five. Interesting. So we went straight to aforementioned bar and proceeded to stay for three hours drinking Shandy beer and belting karaoke with other downtown-Atlanta strangers. It was of course followed up by a 3 a.m. trip to Waffle House. (Of course.)
What felt like only a nap later and we were back on the road to the Carolinas, smiling wildly at the adventures and fun that we had shared in a cram-packed weekend.
I was left realizing it may be a while before I get to see Atlanta again, so I took a good long look as we drove away. See you again as soon as I can, ATL. I promise.