- Where We Started: Savannah, Ga.
- Where We Ended: Atlanta, Ga.
- Miles Driven: 272 (1,413 total)
- New States: 0
- Total States: 4 (Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia)
THE DAY'S HIGHLIGHT
It was a busy day on the FHMA tour, with sightseeing stops in three cities, a fair amount of driving and our first visit to a really nice hotel room, which was immediately followed by our first incident of a beagle throwing up all over a really nice hotel room.
Our day began with a last-minute decision to go to Fort Pulaski National Monument, located near Tybee Island, Ga. This fort has a fascinating history, having been claimed by the Confederate States of America at the start of the Civil War, even though its construction wasn't complete yet. So this forced the Union to try and claim a fort it had built, but never occupied. In April 1862, after the Confederates refused to surrender the fort, the Union used new rifled cannons to penetrate its brick and stone walls. The cannons, ironically, were located one mile away on Tybee Island, which the Confederates had abandoned, inadvertently allowing the Union to occupy the only place from which their cannons could reach Fort Pulaski. Thirty hours after the bombardment started, the Confederates surrendered. These new rifled cannons -- and the battle for Fort Pulaski -- changed forever the materials used to defend against cannon fire.
The inside of the fort is interesting, especially the storage areas and underground paths to the cannons. But it's the pockmarked exterior that's most interesting.
We also saw a musket demonstration, which gave you a sense of how hard it was to load and fire in Civil War days. A skilled soldier could only get off three shots in a minute. We left the dogs -- who aren't keen on loud noises, especially Hank -- in the car for this.
We stayed at Fort Pulaski longer than expected, for all the right reasons, but we were now behind schedule. Luckily, I-16 allows you blow through Georgia faster than Sherman, and about two hours later, we arrived in Macon, Ga. First stop there was the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. The regular part of the museum was pretty solid, though -- and maybe this only matters to anal journalists like me -- there were way too many misspellings, i.e. Eddie Vetter. They had nice exhibits for Georgia-based artists like the Allman Brothers, Ray Charles, R.E.M., and many others, though the Hall has also inexplicably inducted a lot of non-Georgia artists like Lynyrd Skynyrd (Florida), Kenny Rogers (Texas) and others.
The museum's highlight was an excellent special Otis Redding exhibition that featured a lot of memorabilia and personal effects.
The next stop was going to be the Harriet Tubman Museum, but turns out it wasn't a museum about her specifically, but more about African-American art. Not being a big art guy, we decided to pass, though Joan took a cruise through and said it was good. Our last stop in Macon was more of a morbid one, as we drove through the intersection -- Hillcrest and Bartlett -- where Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident in 1971. Ironically, one year later, bandmate Berry Oakley died in a motorcycle crash only three blocks away.
From there, we headed to Atlanta right at rush hour, and continuing our good traffic luck, had no issues. We pulled up to the ritzy Westin Peachtree Plaza -- with a smelly car, two dogs and lots of little bags -- looking a bit like the Clampetts arriving in front of their mansion in their jalopy. After taking 15 minutes to get ourselves organized, we finally got to our awesome room with a view on the 63rd floor. Joan decided to feed the beagles before we walked them, and not more than two minutes after he plowed through his dinner, Hank regurgitated it all over the floor in about five separate places. No, Hank couldn't have done this at the Quality Inn in Savannah, where it wouldn't even have been noticed. Oh well.
Anyway, after the hazmat team left our room, we walked to boys down to Centennial Olympic Park at sunset, where you can get some awesome skyline views of Atlanta.
- We can't seem to escape Washington-area basketball teams. In Richmond, we stayed at the same hotel as the George Mason men's basketball team. In Atlanta, the Westin is where the Maryland men's basketball team is staying for the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament. They won last night, and as I was having a drink in the hotel bar with a friend, Maryland fans started pouring in, and they cheered wildly as coach Gary Williams and the players came back to the hotel and walked past. The Terps play Wake Forest today, so the mood in the bar will probably be more somber tonight. Joan also entertained these inebriated fans when she brought Fred and Hank though the lobby on the way to a late-night walk. Just about every one of them stopped to play with the willing pups. Drunk people really love playing with dogs.
- For those still learning the art of hotel haggling from Sensei Joan, she's learned a a new trick. After wearing down the Starwood rep on the other end of the phone, the woman finally said "Well, let me try one more thing." I thought that thing would be hanging up on Joan, but instead she came back and offered us half off our second night. A nifty total savings of $66 for us, though I'm sure it'll cost the Westin rep 100 times that in counseling. Joan's note to self: Always ask about multi-night discounts.
- Things we're going to skip in this area: Dalton, Ga., the self-proclaimed "Carpet Capital of the World," and Claxton, Ga., which bills itself as the "Fruitcake Capital of the World." No word on whether any other town in the entire universe even wants to compete for either title. We do plan on trying to see one of the many contenders vying for largest peanut statue in Georgia, though.
- I have always believed that the "Push to Walk" signs at intersections are one of the great frauds in modern society. Let's be honest, there are lots of people hired to make sure traffic flows properly though major cities, and that pattern isn't going to grind to a halt because Mabel has just decided she wants to cross a street somewhere. I'm pretty sure that, in many cities -- D.C. included -- those buttons are connected to nothing, and are there to give pedestrians the illusion of control. In Savannah, however, they actually appeared to make something happen. It wasn't that pressing the button made the light change at that moment, but if you didn't hit it, you never got a "Walk" sign. Essentially, it didn't force traffic to stop if there was no reason to stop it. Thumbs up for Savannah.
- Eddie Sutton passed on this video of a guy who's is one of the fastest oyster shuckers in the world. As Eddie mentioned, one key warning: Kathie Lee Gifford does appear in this video. Side note: I was disappointed that this guest was a guy, if only because I couldn't work "mothershucker" into this blurb.
- Another commenter notes -- and I'll take his/her word on it: Apparently, the bench Forrest Gump sat on in the movie didn't exist before the filming either; it was placed there for the movie and then placed in a museum. Here's an old Entertainment Weekly article around confusion on this bench.
- Joan and I are both inveterate Five Guys Burgers & Fries fans, and we're proud to say that -- because we're trying to eat better -- that we have not stopped there yet. But that's not because we haven't had about 100 chances. It's only when you get out of the D.C. area that you realize how much they've expanded. We've seen one just about everywhere we've been, even as far south as Savannah. Will power, Jim, will power.
- Random iPod shuffle song of the day: "The Office," by Bernard Herrmann. Yes, another film score piece, this one from "Psycho." You may think that appropriate.
- Most-played albums: We did a tribute to Georgia artists in the car on Thursday, listening mostly to the Allman Brothers and R.E.M., but also managed to work in "So Into You," by the Atlanta Rhythm Section, since they're also members of the Georgia Music Hall of Fame. We have more car time today, so will spin some Ray Charles, Otis Redding, the B-52s and what little Indigo Girls, Black Crowes and Georgia Satellites we have on the iPod. Side note: At 33 minutes 41 seconds in length, the live version of the Allman's "Mountain Jam," from "Eat a Peach" can carry you a third of the way from Macon to Atlanta all by itself.
- One fact I learned at the Otis Redding exhibit He actually write and recorded "Respect" before Aretha Franklin recorded it and turned it into a smash No. 1 hit. Redding actually wrote it from the man's perspective -- obviously -- so it's doubly ironic that it's become somewhat of a female anthem. Surprised I didn't know that, but I didn't.
- Lunch: Subway, Metter, Ga: This meal was purely for fuel, as we made our way from Savannah to Macon. Good news: This wasn't another "Eat Blecch" meal from Jared's friends. We each had perfectly solid subs. I had a six-inch tuna, and a side of Baked Lays. Extra humor note: On Yellow Pages link above, dress code is listed as "casual." Now when was the last time you thought about tossing on a jacket and tie to head down and pick up a tuna sub? Jim Nutrition Rating: 4 stars (out of 5). Restaurant Rating: 3 stars (out of 5). Of course, y'all understand that Subway is graded on a different scale than the nicer places we go. This rating is in the fast-food category.
- Dinner: Westin Peachtree Plaza room service, Atlanta, Ga.: We didn't have it in us to head out when we arrived in Atlanta, so we decided to take advantage of being in a really nice hotel room for the first time. I had a burger, which would have been fine if I didn't break my vow not to have fries. Started with a salad, though. Jim Nutrition Rating: 2 (out of 5). Since a few of you have asked, a 5 would be a totally healthy meal (not that you've seen one of those yet), and a 1 is when I completely fall off the wagon. Restaurant Rating: 4 stars (out of 5).
- Westin Peachtree Plaza, Atlanta, Ga.: One word: Yay. Rating: 4.5 stars (out of 5).
- NFL Distribution Maps: We're in the offseason, of course, but if you're out of town and want to see if your team is going to be on TV where you'll be, or if you just want to know what games will be on where, this is a great site.
COMMENT OF THE DAY
From Ori Hoffer, explaining why the weird shoes from Wednesday's post are called "Five Fingers," instead of "Five Toes.":
- The reason the Vibram Five Fingers are called that is because apparently, the Italians (Vibram is from Italy) have the same word for fingers and toes. I've also tried them on and while they take some getting used to, they become comfy and are actually better for your feet than regular shoes.
This still does not explain why it's called "Five Fingers" and not "10 Fingers."
UPCOMING PLAN (subject to change)
- Today: Friends and family in Atlanta, and watching the AU basketball team play for the NCAAs.
- Saturday: Andersonville, Plains and Warm Springs, Ga., and dinner near Montgomery, Ala.
- Sunday: Alabama, specifically Montgomery and Mobile.
BONUS BEAGLE PHOTO