Well, Team WestEnders had been home for just over a week, recovered from the time-zone and weather differences, unpacked, reorganized, and gotten back to normal life...so, clearly, it was time to get the heck outta Dodge again. For this excursion at least the logistics were less complicated--no airport, no "restricted item regulations" for what we could stow in our bags, no limits on how much we could bring (except, you know, the volume of stuff we were able to smush into the trunk of the Hyundai), no time constraints. It was sure to be (relatively )stress-free traveling, I tell ya!
Oh, right...where were we headed? 300 or so more miles south, to Hot-lanta. (LITERALLY, but what else could we reasonably expect in July?) After we loaded the car and vacated the premises at a leisurely 9:45-ish, we settled in for a day of road-tripping...with one new wrinkle. You see, Derek would be taking a turn at the wheel, for the very first time on a family getaway. Yep, that's certainly a recent development...and one that, if I'm being perfectly honest, made me a wee bit (translation: super-duper)...nervous. Don't get me wrong, it's not that he's a bad driver. It's more of the...hmm... "inexperience factor" that causes my unease.
But, as the most alert Morning Person, Husband accepted the first shift--2 hours or so, before a "visit the facilities and play musical seats" stop at a gas station just off the highway. Then the teenager stepped up for the middle portion of our journey--and I moved to the back, to situate myself as far as possible away from the scary view out the windshield. Just kidding! (Mostly...) He did fine, except for a tendency to go slightly faster than my comfort zone...and to drift a smidge too close to the rear bumper of any number of very large trucks that seem to clog any and all lanes of Interstate 85. (In case you're wondering, this was proven to NOT be just my imagination, as Husband finally pointed it out and advised him to widen the distance. Whew! Then I decided it might be in my best interest to take advantage of the opportunity to close my eyes and take a lovely, therapeutic, nerve-soothing NAP, so...problem entirely solved!)
At the end of the rookie's allotted 2 hours, after one more brief break, I took over the controls for the final approach (eventually) into Atlanta. Aaannnnd, cue the gridlock. (Grrrr...) Actually, it could have been a great deal worse, as it was now closing in on official Rush Hour on a Friday afternoon...but it turned out to be just a fender bender that had already been cleared out of the path, so it didn't end up slowing us down for too long. Shortly past the excitement, just as the road ahead of us appeared to be seriously jamming up, for real this time, the GPS instructed us to exit. Yesssss!
We had arrived at our destination: Buckhead. (Or, as Derek insists upon calling it, "Where are we staying? Buckwheat, right?") I know you must be thinking, "Wait...didn't you just tell us you were going to Atlanta? Then why is your hotel in a neighborhood to the north?" Well, it's very simple: I didn't wish to (ahem, make that "utterly refused to") pay $800-$1,000 for 3 nights in downtown Atlanta. Therefore, we sleep in the suburbs! (She said with authority...and the credit card...)
And you know, we haven't seen very much yet, obviously, but Buckhead so far seems like a lively, interesting place. Okay, to be more accurate, when we arrived it was a noisy, congested, trafficky nightmare. But then things calmed down; we walked around a little bit; and we even found a suitable dinner spot...merely a short stroll away from our lodging. (Right? How often does THAT happen? To answer my own rhetorical question: N-E-V-E-R.)
Anyway, it's called Farm Burger, and besides the meat versions for the Male Posse, they offered a veggie/quinoa variety...on a gluten-free bun. AND (wait for it...) sweet potato fries. Seriously, for me this was like some kind of...culinary dream come true...or what have you. And I know I hadn't eaten since breakfast, so I was well beyond the outer reaches of starving...but it was delicious. Not only that, but the lady at the counter who took our order called Riley "sweet pea"...steered me away from my initial selection and into an alternate choice on the menu (which as I already mentioned, worked out beautifully)....and when I inquired as to whether I could get honey for my tea, gave me a look that said, "Why are you even asking me such a silly question?" before exclaiming, "Why, of COURSE you can, sweetie!"
A bit later, as we were devouring our meal, not one, but two separate employees came over to check on us, ask where we were from, and chat about how one of the owners (Jason, I think they said) likes the Durham/Chapel Hill area and may consider expanding there in the next couple of years. So, we here at Team WestEnders, speaking for the entire Triangle region--with no power whatsoever, but take our word for it anyway--hereby put our wholehearted stamp of approval on this plan...for what it's worth...Jason...my new buddy.
Then, given our long day of cruising the blacktop, we decided to take it easy, chill in our (pleasingly swanky, by the way) home-away-from-home, and rest up for the actual sightseeing we'll be doing in the next few days. Goodnight for now, Atlanta...Buckhead...whatever--catch you in the a.m.