2015 Road Trip Report #08

And so it was time to leave Atlanta. I had a great time here and really would love to come back some day, perhaps when the Beltline is complete and I’ve more time to explore.

My train wasn’t leaving till the evening so I had time during the day for one last ride through the park, a bit of shopping downtown, one last lunch at the student food services (and, I’m sorry to say I did grab a couple of hard boiled eggs for the road figuring I’d have eaten in the cafeteria as well).

I took a cab to the Atlanta Amtrak station, not quite knowing what to expect. I’d been to both Pennsylvania Station in New York and Union Station in DC before (and would be again soon) so I thought I knew what to expect. Nuh-uh. Atlanta’s Amtrak station is a bit more like what you’d expect in Mayberry.

Atlanta Amtrak Station

 

I had to spend about an hour waiting for my train while the room slowly filled to capacity. It seems a lot of folks use the train down here as the place was packed by boarding time.

And here’s where my journey took an unexpected turn for the better. A friend of mine and her son were traveling on the same train to DC. They’d be continuing on from DC and I would be staying for a bit, but it was great to have company. Admittedly most of the ride would be overnight and we’d be sleeping, or at least trying to do so, but I was glad to have her and her son, a very nice young man, along.

Even better, she’s had a lot more ‘train time’ than I’ve managed. Because of this she was able to act as my ‘train mentor,’ letting me know what was what. Off through the night we went.

The trip lasted from about 8 PM till 10 AM the next morning. The train made stops along the way, mostly short. I did end up with a new seatmate several hours into the trip and I lost a bit of comfort, she seemed to have a lot of stuff, but it was fine. She left a couple hours before we got to DC so at the end I had some extra room and managed a couple of hours sleep.

Good thing too. It’s pretty natural that when you get to a hotel in the morning you aren’t going to be able to check in; it’s an afternoon thing. So yes, I had to wait, but these guys were great and let me build my bike in the lobby – so I was off. The hotel, btw, is The Americana and it’s more of a motel amidst its larger and newer brethren, but it’s a small and inexpensive lodging in Arlington. It’s just fine. The staff is great, very friendly, very helpful, competent, and fun to talk to when you’ve got a minute. Who chats with hotel staff these days? At this place it seems natural. Good folks.

So instead of checking right in, I took off on my bike and explored the area in several directions. I almost felt I knew my way around after a few miles. Apparently I rode so much I ended up at the Library of Congress…

Library of Congress?Now let me state for the record, I think the folks who told me that lied to me. I thought I’d seen the LofC last time I was in DC and frankly, this doesn’t jibe with my memory. Oh well.

When I got back to the hotel I was able to check in. I took a shower and headed out because I had a busy day and evening ahead of me. It was almost time for my second MLB game on this trip; The Washington Nationals.

More on that in my next post…

 

 

2015 Road Trip Report #07

And then it was Sunday, the last day of the convention. Today was really more about baseball than the convention, as I was headed to a Braves game as soon as we’d closed.

Being thorough when I can be I decided I’d check lost and found one more time, just in case my jacket and camera weren’t stolen.

Hah!

As it turns out it seems my jacket and camera were both stolen and not stolen. How’s that?

They were at the lost and found. But, and here’s the odd bit, they weren’t found anywhere near the room where I’d last seen them. It seems they’d been stuff under a bench in another hall. What’s up with that?

I was grateful to get my camera back, but really wasn’t up to making another trip out to the mall to return one of them. No, I guess I’ll just have two less expensive cameras with me on the rest of the trip. And, should I manage to lose one, perhaps I won’t lose (or break) the other.

The convention ended and I was off to the ballgame. If I’m completely honest I’m not a huge Atlanta Braves fan, though I’ve seen plenty of them on TV thanks to Ted Turner. I recall a time when about the only baseball I could actually get on TV in Hawaii (besides our own UH Rainbows) were the Braves. Ah cable.

It was a multi-modal trip, starting on the subway and continuing on one of the many MARTA stadium shuttles. I was there in plenty of time and decided to get a bit of lunch. I had a really not bad salad (better than expected), bought myself an Atlanta Braves baseball cap, and found my seats.

They lost in 10 innings. It was definitely a pitcher’s duel for, although there were some hits, neither team scored through 9 innings. In the tenth the wheels came off the tracks and the Braves were derailed completely.

I enjoyed myself though and met two really great ushers. If anyone from Braves management is reading this (hah!), give these two big raises.

The Best Braves Ushers

And here’s the whole field:

Turner Field Panorama

 

Both shots are from my seat and as you can see, the panorama feature makes it look like I’m a lot further away than that first photo. I so close I could reach out and touch players, but I had a great view of the game.

After the game I made it back to the dorms in time for, wait for it, another ride. It was another good one, with a bit of coffee in the middle (and a to-go to boot).

When I finally got back to the dorms in the evening my roommates had cleared out and I had the place to myself. I was pretty tired and, after a shower, went down for the night. Monday, I figured, would take care of itself and sure enough, it did.

 

 

2015 Road Trip Report #06

As promised, though somewhat belatedly, here’s my about “another camera experience.”

On Saturday I headed out to the convention I was attending and went to one of the panel meetings. This was the day I’d really planned on doing a lot of panels and I was looking forward to the experience. Twas not to be though.

At the second panel, after waiting in line to get a seat, I placed my jacket over the back of a chair, my new camera in the pocket. Then, because I’d been in line for a while I headed out to freshen up. When I got back the door was closed and I told the attendant that I had a chair inside. Once inside I discovered someone in my chair and my jacket and camera were no where in sight. The fellow in my chair told me a volunteer came by and said no one could save seats. I had to leave the room as there was no space left.

As you can imagine was I was less than thrilled by the prospect of my new camera being gone. Gone, gone, gone.

I spoke with the volunteers and learned that this wasn’t there policy and none of them had done it. I spoke with the head of the volunteers and learned that while saving seats was discouraged no one would have taken my stuff.

Lost and found did not have my stuff.

In short, it had been stolen. Damn.

I had a couple choices. The first was to go without a camera. The second was to skip rest of the panels I’d planned to attend and go through the whole process of going out of town to get a new camera.

As I was headed to a Braves game immediately following the closing of the convention and wouldn’t have time to get a new camera I decided I’d had enough of the convention for the moment and went out for another camera. It was pretty much a repeat of the day before, though I did choose a different model. Sigh.

Once back from my shopping trip I decided that I really didn’t need to go to an afternoon session and I”d much rather go for a ride and burn off some steam. And that is exactly what did. I discovered that Beltline, unfinished to the south, ,is also unfinished to the north. In short I had a good time exploring, but couldn’t do the complete circle I’d hoped for. No matter, I burned off the steam and when I got back to my dorm I was at peace with the whole situation.

I made it to the evening session of the convention, had a good time, and, as I recall, had a big Greek salad with added gyro meat to finish the evening.

I should note that I didn’t really do much photography on Saturday, but here’s the lovely view from my dorm. Great, eh? Well it was clean and cheap and was surrounded by lots of good stuff.

View from Dorm Room

 

 

2015 Road Trip Report #05

As I said in my last post, shopping in Atlanta, at least downtown Atlanta, is a bit problematic. There aren’t really any stores! Yes there are plenty of hotels, plenty of restaurants, and a few other oddments, but I simply couldn’t locate a place to buy a cheap digital camera. Even places like CVS which, at least in Hawaii, carry a couple of digital cameras, had nothing.

Well this gave me the opportunity to try out MARTA, the local subway and bus system. I located big box electronics store, figuring it would probably have something, and set off. I have to say this about MARTA, at least the subway portion, it’s clean, it’s fast, and it’s easy to use. I had a seven day MARTA pass available to me and I ended up using it a lot.

Unfortunately the MARTA station was a good hike from where I was staying, but not so much that I needed to catch a bus to get there. No worries, these days I like walking. I ended up at the Peachtree Center station and took one of the longest escalators I’ve ever seen. It’s long enough and steep enough that after just a bit of riding on it I felt like I was riding a level path as at an airport.

Going Down the Escalator - Peachtree Station

 

The ride was smooth and I ended up at Inman station, a couple of stops out of downtown at a mall that was pretty much indistinguishable from any other small mall anywhere. However I did note that the art I found in Atlanta proper was still with me…

Street Art

I ended up buying a new Canon Elph 170 IS which is about as basic a digital camera as you can get. But as I’ve learned, good photography is more about the photographer than the camera.

When I got back to town I carried on the conference almost as if I hadn’t turned my first camera into toast.

On Saturday I had another camera experience, but more on that another time.

2015 Road Trip Report #04

Yesterday was…um…interesting is one way to put it. The day started off well with an omelet at the student dining hall, an excellent one at that, lots of coffee and a decision to head in the other direction along the Beltline this morning.

Yesterday I’d gone north once I connected to the route, today I would try heading south. As it turned out, this was both more or less impossible and a lot of fun.

Where I’d picked up the route yesterday, just east of GSU, the path heading north was lovely, the path heading south was…a dirt road behind a construction site. I started off and within a quarter mile I came to the end of the dirt track and no clue how to continue. Okay, back the other way and lets try again.

I’d seen some other folks bike up a road just bit further that what should have been the start of the trail heading south and found myself in Cabbagetown. This is a decidedly funky neighborhood and I’d love to live there if I were a resident; lots of street art, small cafes, and small residential homes of a certain age. It’s not one of the toney neighborhoods I passed through heading north, nice as they are, but rather one that has a working class character, and one would hope, price level. Honestly I’d be more comfortable there than up in the stratosphere. Enough class warfare for the moment.

Okay, as nice as Cabbagetown is, I soon discovered that I’d found the Beltline again and started off. This time it was a dirt track alongside old railroad tracks.

Beltline South

As I’m riding on 2″ tires this presented no problem and it was great to be a on a bit of ‘rails to trails’ conversion.

This state of affairs didn’t last however. The path got narrower and narrower and the tracks were harder and harder to find.

Beltline South ... where?

 

I pressed on. Soon the tracks were back but the ground where it was clear enough to ride was sandy, beach sandy. Even with my 2″ tires I found it almost impossible in places and had hike a good part of the way. ┬áSometimes I could ride, sometimes I walked. No worries, with my new hip and after only a year I still think of it has new, walking isn’t a big issue.

Finally, however, I realized that if I kept this up I’d be at it all day. The next time the path crossed a road, I started cycling again. As luck would have it I’d been moving mostly south and just a bit east so the road I found was exactly the one I’d have chosen. Go figure.

I ended up passing by the Atlanta Cyclorama, which has nothing to do with cycling and a lot to do with the Civil War. I didn’t stop but if I’ve time on Monday I plan on getting back to it.

Again I hit Cabbagetown and as it was still early I decided I’d stop at one of the cafes for a quick cup. Big mistake.

The morning, which had been overcast, opened up with major passing thunderstorms. In seconds the roads were awash. Luckily I was under cover having hot coffee, but I did wonder if it would let up. It did, but none too quickly.

And here’s where my actual day deviated from my plan. On the way back to my dorm, probably less than a mile from my newly found coffee house, my camera dropped out my bag and hit the ground.

Toast.

Really.

Toast.

Sigh.

PIcked up the decidedly broken camera and tried to figure out what to do. Get back the room first, then decide. When I got back to the room I checked the camera just to be sure and I’d been right. Toast.

Since I’m on a rather longer trip, with more stops to come next week and beyond, I needed a camera. It turns out that downtown Atlanta isn’t the most shopping friendly place I’ve ever been and finding a new camera became an adventure.

More on that in my next post…