View of the CNN Center from Centennial Olympic ParkIn addition to CNN, we also checked out Centennial Olympic Park, which was constructed for the 1996 Olympics. This is where the bomb went off during those Games. We spent about 20 minutes waiting out a downpour. Across the street from this park is where the World of Coca-Cola and the Georgia Aquarium are located. Lucky for us, both of these locations were open late enough for us to visit after our second day of conference sessions. Not being a huge pop fan these days, I still thoroughly enjoyed the World of Coke. Despite the propaganda, it was interesting to learn the history (remember the New Coke debacle?), watch some old commercials, and go on a 4-D “ride.” The highlight, however, was the tasting room, where you can taste over 50 types of Coke products from around the world. I think my stomach expanded to double its normal size due to all the carbonation; I felt a little like Charlie Bucket in that part of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory when he and Grandpa Joe are floating around in the fizzy room.
Mmm...high fructose corn syrup!I’m really glad that the Georgia Aquarium extended a discounted offer to conference attendees because I’m not totally sure we would have ponied up the full entrance fee. It would have been worth it, though, because it was an incredible aquarium. We could have spent hours in the ocean exhibit alone. Before gawking at the 60-foot long tank, we traveled through the acrylic tunnel with sharks swimming overhead, a la Jaws. In fact, we even witnessed a hammerhead shark eat a fish, which sounds a little gruesome, but happens so rarely, it was kind of cool to see.
Whale shark front and centerOn the morning we left town, we had one final destination to check off on our list: the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site. I agree with one of my colleagues that it’s a shame that it took until the 1996 Olympics for any money to be spent on this landmark, but I’m glad that it was. Touring the Visitors Center was a moving and humbling experience; I felt ashamed of our nation’s treatment of African-Americans. I found myself wondering what type of action or non-action I would have taken if I had been alive during the Civil Rights era. Needless to say, I'm glad we made the time to stop at this important location.
The final resting place of the Kings
On a less serious note, the highlight of the trip (besides spending time with colleagues I hadn’t known very well previously), was our BBQ adventure. Thankfully, the other people in our group like to experience the local flavor of a particular destination as well, so we asked around for some restaurant recommendations and were told time and again to check out Daddy D’z. We liked it so much, we ate there twice. Being the fiercely loyal person I am, I won’t come out and say it’s better than Arthur Bryant’s or Gates, but it’s pretty close. We ate some of the biggest ribs I’ve ever seen, along with homemade mac ‘n’ cheese; collard greens; fried okra, zucchini, and green tomatoes; red beans and rice; broccoli casserole; corn bread; and of course, sweet tea (we all ordered different sides and shared). I felt like such a failure when I couldn’t clean my plate.
See, teachers don’t have the whole summer off…