We rolled into Atlanta in a rainstorm that drenched the roads and cut the power temporarily from thousands of houses. It was July 4th and we had a hot date at an Independence Day party with one of my oldest friends, Christina, who I met as a 20-year-old when we both studied in Florence. I haven’t seen her for five years so it was fantastic to see her again, and to see the wonderful house she’d designed and had built (yeah, she’s a high achiever). It was fantastic to meet her 4 year old daughter at last, to see our boys playing together and also to see other Atlanta friends we hadn’t seen for too long! We ate good food, had a watermelon eating contest, had a water balloon fight (no drought here) and then watched the fireworks as the US celebrated not being British!!
We had a fantastic time in Georgia. It’s a beautiful state – lush and green, densely wooded. The houses are beautiful and there’s so much history there! We like the East Coast very much.
We did a couple of hikes, one in a little park near Roswell where Christina lives…
…and one at Red Top Mountain State Park to the north. The trails we hiked were all through woodland, covered with trees to protect from the heat but still humid!
We went into downtown Atlanta to the Martin Luther King Center. There’s an excellent museum, which was frankly very sobering, and we also got tickets to see his birth-house where he lived until he was 12. The one historical snippet that the boys took out of the whole thing was that young ML and his brother stole their sister’s doll to use her head as a baseball in baseball practise!!
We visited the wonderful Ponce City Market – an old warehouse which has been transformed into a cool shopping mall/food hall, similar in many ways to the SF Ferry Building.
We walked a little down the Beltline – an old railway track which circles the whole city of Atlanta. It had been abandoned but has recently started to be turned into a hiking/biking trail that will, one day, have a tram service and go the whole way round. As the trail gets re-established, whole swathes of the city are being regenerated and given a new lease of life. We visited Fourth Ward Park, which until recently was a wasteland and drug den but is now a beautiful park with a splash-pad that was an enormous success with our kids.
We visited the Tellus Museum, a science museum to the north which all the kids loved.
And then we finished off with the most incredible meal at a little place called Greenwood’s in Roswell, just north of Georgia. I’ve been vegetarian/occasional pescatarian for three or four years now but when I’m staying with friends, I eat whatever they give me, and I ended up eating quite a bit of meat in Georgia. For this particular meal, we ate southern fried chicken, meatloaf, creamed corn, collard greens, cheesy grits and fried green tomatoes, followed by chocolate pie, apple pie and custard cream pie. (We shared all of this between 8, to be clear). The food was utterly delicious and I walked away looking four months pregnant and slightly comatose with food. I’m glad I tried these different dishes but it didn’t make me want to go back to eating meat regularly again.
In the mornings, I’d headed out early both mornings to run and beat the heat. Christina came with me to walk – we’d walk/run one loop at the nearby park and then I’d run a second loop alone. Near her house, the park has an amazing trail which is lit in the darkness – her neighbourhood is super safe too. On the second morning, before we left, both Big Brother and Christina’s son came to join us. That was pretty special. And we wrapped the whole thing up with breakfast biscuits from the delightfully named Fickle Pickle cafe!
And so, carrying my food baby, Georgia, in my belly, we piled back in the car and headed north. We drove straight through South Carolina and into North Carolina where we stayed overnight with dear friends who had moved from the Bay Area years ago. We spent the evening hanging out at their pool and then in the morning, J and I headed out for a run. J was one of my first running buddies in the Bay Area and she’s a speedy lady but luckily she’s pregnant so I was finally able to keep up!
Hugs all round and we were back in the car, heading further north again. Georgia and the Carolinas, y’all were wonderful. But Virginia was calling!