Southern Hospitality

While in Atlanta I was able to spend time with my fine looking Southern cuzins Beth & Michelle! We had a great time and they took me to areas of Atlanta I would not otherwise have seen or known about:

Having a “FO” (Frosted Orange) and peach pie at Varisty, a drive-in dive and Atlanta tradition.

Had lunch here — was in the little “alternative” district of Atlanta (Little Five Points? — I forget already — They had good beer, though!). Was totally fun.

Welcome to Atlanta, now let me tell you a story…

I like to compare Belligerent Urban Miscreants (B.U.M.s) in different cities, as there is a distinct difference and local flavor in each municipality’s B.U.M. membership.

Atlanta B.U.M.s are not as absolutely direct as in Boston, ala “Welcome to Boston, care for some crack?”

In Atlanta apparently there is a law that you can not directly ask for anything (as in solicitation of money). So the B.U.M.s have gotten pretty crafty down here out of necessity. They’ve become the “helping tour guide.” They strike up the conversation and then ask you if you need directions and point out new bars and city hot spots. They’re pretty clever and engaging. Then they hit you up for a “contribution” for their services.

I never give money to any particular B.U.M. member, but I actually had to break down and do it here in Atlanta after I saw the same guy twice. Last night he gave me some “advice” on a local pub….and I’ll be damned if it actually wasn’t good advice and the pub was really cool. So I gave him a couple dollars when I saw him today; he was appreciative and I felt pretty OK too.

Today I’m touring Atlanta city including The Georgia Aquarium (apparently the largest in the World…who knew!) and CNN. Then just wandering around, seeing what’s up.

Fort Myers and a blast of children

Today I drove down to Fort Myers to see my good friends Scott & Paige, whom I’ve known since college, and their adorable kids Pierce (2) & Sloane (6 mo?). Most of you know I hate kids, so this may come as a surprise, but they really are cute. Pierce is talking up a storm and Sloane is the biggest, cutest smiley-girl you’ve ever seen — always a smile (Except when I took away the Tupperware of goldfish crackers from her after she started sucking on it — Ooooh, boy, did I hear protest about that!!)

The Paces are now putting the kids to bed, and I’m downstairs in the kitchen listening to the baby monitors down here — it’s really cute. I found myself singing along “abcdefg, hijklmnop, qrs, tuv, w, x, y and z…”

I’m down here thru Sunday and then I’m off to Atlanta!

Hopefully pictures to come — Pierce looks just like a little Scott!

At the beach…

I did dip my toe into the Gulf — it was cccccold. Like, freezing! At least I did it.

So writing this report outside from my balcony, sipping an ice-cold beer and observing interesting people. This part of the beach is devine.

So far…

Favorible impressions of Northwest Airlines
(soon to be Delta…sad to see NWA go…). So far — I haven’t flown NWA in decades, but each flight was spot on time and my bag came out only 10 minutes after arrival. First class was nice (when is it not?!) but actually I thought it was a wee bit better than American, my usual carrier. Food was actually good.

During the flight between MSP & TPA I was graced with a delightful traveling companion sitting next to me. She was from Minneapolis and ya, sure, you betcha — honest to goodness. Her mannerisms and accent were straight from Francis McDormand in the movie Fargo, but she looked EXACTLY like Ennis’s wife when she was blonde later-on from Brokeback Mountain (Was that Anne Hathaway?)! She was my age and travelling to a conference in Tampa — we had a great time talking about everything. It was a hoot.

Favorible impressions of Minneapolis Airport (MSP)
I actually haven’t transferred thru the main terminal at MSP before. It is quite large, and I had a hefty hike between gates, but it’s really nice. Massive mall will all shops you could imagine, incredible food choices. Makes me want to plan longer layovers here — with 2-3 hours you would not be bored in MSP. That said my 40 minute transfer was a bit tight, but worked perfectly — one of those magical layovers where just as you get to your next gate they pick up the mic and start announcing the boarding.

Favorible impressions of the Doubletree North Redington Beach, FL.
Slightly older building, sweetheart staff so far. I think I forget about the Doubletree when I travel — this is as nice as any Sheraton or Marriott I’ve been too, and it’s on the beach and was fairly inexpensive. And they asked, for $20, if I wanted a “welcome” package waiting for me in my room of assorted cheeses, crackers, fruit and beverages. I said yes, expecting a saucer of maybe 3 pieces of cheese and two small, green strawberries (but hey, I’m on vacation…) But then I found it and honestly — the thing is huge! All pretty and wrapped in a bow. I will never be able to eat all this cheese and fruit. It was awesome. Oh, and remember that Doubletree’s also give you a warm cookie upon checkin — yum!! Doubletree gets A+ from me so far…

So-so impressions of the beach.
It’s a nice beach for sure, and nice to look at and the Gulf view from my balcony is fantastic — love that! But, as I had thought, I can already tell that beach life is just not one of those things I’m attracted to. Laying in the sun and doing nothing. Just not my thing. And even off-season just before spring break hits there are still way, way too many people. I don’t like people as a rule. I DO like to lay around and do nothing, but not with people I don’t know and sweat dripping down my backside. Not comfortable! For me, relaxing on my balcony in the shade with a breeze reading my books OVERLOOKING the beach — well, that’s quite another thing. Lovin’ that. And the little lizards are cool.

According to Rhapsody, I’ve apparently moved to another town…

Ahhhhh, Indian call centers. I do like to mess with them on occasion: “Hellooo? Hi ‘John’, my name is Garrett Bartholomew Alexander Michael Thomas Gertrude Xavier Wiedmeier…. did you get that…?”

After calling (online music subscriptions) to change my billing info I stumbled across this as I was checking my settings… sometimes you just can’t make this up! 🙂