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Atlanta by Segway

This past week I traveled to Atlanta, GA for my yearly work conference. Given the state of things in the economy I wasn’t sure I’d be given the opportunity to travel at all this year, but it worked out for me and my co-worker Pam to make the trip. Pam likes to call me the travel advisor for our conference trips…as I always try to find something fun and unique to do and see in the various cities we travel to for our conferences. It was easy to find and plan wonderful things to do in places like Boston, Anaheim, Orlando, and New Orleans…Saint Louis was a little trickier (though riding up in the arch was pretty cool)…and Atlanta seemed tough too. Atlanta is a hopping city, for sure, but what is IN Atlanta to see, tour, etc? Coca-Cola headquarters…eh. CNN headquarters…eh. A big aquarium…can it really compare to Shedd? What else ya got, Atlanta? Well…after doing a bit of research I came across a company which gives guided tours of the city by Segway! What’s a Segway, you ask? Have you seen Paul Blart, Mall Cop? A Segway is that cool two-wheeled contraption he tootled around on. How fun would it be to tootle around Atlanta on Segway? How fun, indeed…

We arrived in Atlanta super early, and thankfully were able to check in and settle in at the hotel. After some breakfast and some rest in our rooms (we had left Des Moines at 5:30 AM…so needless to say, we were up EARLY), we met back up refreshed and ready to SEE Atlanta. It was a pretty gloomy day, temps were MAYBE around 50 and there was drizzle off and on. Perfect for touring the city, right?

We walked down to the Segway tour office and met up with our tour guide. She was tickled to have us (we were the only folks signed up for that particular day) and immediately got us started on the ins and outs of Segway safety and rules. We watched a video and then headed across the street to begin our Segway training…in the heart of touristy Atlanta…across from the Aquarium, Coca-Cola headquarters, and the Centennial Olympic Park. ‘Yep, we’re tourists…gonna ride a Segway…with a helmet on…you betcha!’ Learning to ride the Segway was a little intimidating at first, but once we got the hang of it we were raring to go…and then the drizzle started to be more like rain. Thankfully, our tour guide brought ponchos for us to wear. And just in case you can’t visualize…here’s a lovely shot of us with the full get up. Pretty hot, right? You’re jealous, I know. It’s ok, I understand.

We spent the next 3 hours riding all over downtown Atlanta stopping here and there to learn about the significance of various buildings, colleges, theaters, restaurants, government buildings, etc. It was wonderful! We saw so much and learned so much about the rich history of Atlanta and the south in general. Being a Midwesterner, I’ve not been exposed much to the history of civil rights and the civil war. I was amazed to learn about how the entire downtown was burned after the civil war, aside from one Catholic church. (Though I’m sure that I SHOULD have learned that a long time ago…history was never my subject.) It was sad to me to think about all that rich history gone…nothing pre civil war. Amazing. It was incredible to see evidence of segregation at places like the Fox theater with a huge outside staircase that went up and up and up for the Black theater goers to use. Crazy.

We passed the Olympic torch from the 1996 Olympics, Georgia Tech University, the Georgia Dome, and the site where the very first Coca-Cola was poured (though the building it was poured in is long gone). We passed by one of the oldest drive in restaurants where the locals rave about the chili dogs and the waiters come out to take your order in person. (The smell of greasy fries and burgers was heavenly!) We were all OVER downtown Atlanta…miles and miles in total, I’m sure. The rain and wind picked up from time to time and by the end of the tour we were pretty pooped, and pitiful looking. Taking off my helmet to reveal my wet, helmet head was a thing of pure beauty. I never felt more like a woman. As we made our way back to the hotel the rain turned into a torrential downpour and my piddly little ‘travel’ umbrella didn’t really do a lot to protect me from getting soaked. My pants were drenched, my hair a disaster, my cheeks flushed from running in the wind and rain…walking into the fancy hotel I felt like I looked REAL nice (to be said with a cousin Eddie drawl and wink). But after a quick clean up and change of clothes we were ready to meet and greet and let the conference schmoozing begin. The next few days were a blur of sessions, networking, amazing food, more sessions, more networking, and (unfortunately for my waistline) more amazing food…I had the BEST hamburger at the Hard Rock Café (bacon, cheese, heaven)….mmm. Leaving Atlanta Wednesday afternoon I was definitely ready to get back to my normal routine…and my own bed. Matt was happy to have me back home as well. George had come to stay in my absence and help out with the doggies etc, bu unfortunately they both had come down with terrible colds. Naturally, as soon as I got home I began to disinfect everything! I just hope I can avoid coming down with the crud too! The sun is shining, spring is in the air, and I just can’t wait to get outside and scratch in the dirt.

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