We arrived in Atlanta later than intended, but missing a large thunderstorm with winds strong enough to scatter tree branches through the streets of the mid-town neighborhood in which we stayed. The attached apartment we found through Airbnb was in a perfect location situated close to everything we intended to visit while in Atlanta, which was primarily our daughter, Meredith.
Part of our “we will figure it out” mentality has us waking up when our bodies tell us they’re ready instead of to the sound of an alarm clock. After long drives, we allow ourselves to recuperate as necessary. This sometimes means that breakfast is at 11 a.m., and lunch is at 3:30 p.m., which is great for missing the crowds when eating out. This was the case on our first full day in Atlanta.
We met Meredith at a nearby Whole Foods where we planned and shopped for meals for the next three days. The many cheese samples on display sustained us for a while, but we needed something much more substantial by the time we made it out of Whole Foods. Meredith suggested a popular lunch spot that she had been wanting to try. There was still a bit of a wait at Highland Bakery, but the atmosphere, people watching and food made it worthwhile.
Meredith’s apartment is located off of a section of Atlanta’s 33-mile bike and running path, the Atlanta BeltLine.
Saturday was a full day with tours:
New Echota Historical Site
New Echota is a national historical site maintained by the State of Georgia Department of Natural Resources.
Being the location of Cherokee council meetings, it was essentially the capitol of the Cherokee Nation before its members were forcibly removed from their homes by armed federal and state troops.
We were surprised and delighted to see the legacy of George Lowrey, my 5th great grandfather and Assistant Principle Chief of the Cherokees at the time of the removal (Trail of Tears), prominently displayed throughout the site.
The State of Georgia does an excellent job of preserving and maintaining the site and telling the Cherokee story. I guess it is the least Georgia can do considering its history with the Cherokees — ignoring a Supreme Court ruling, and after the Cherokees’ were forced to march west, divvying up their property to Georgia citizens through a lottery. (A replica of the wooden revolving lottery drum is on display in the site’s museum.)
Atlanta Botanical Garden
Fetch! Atlanta Botanical Garden
The Atlanta Botanical Garden is a must see when visiting Atlanta. This isn’t your average city garden. It is a playful, wondrous, enchanted land where 200,000 plants come to life in the forms of unicorns, frogs, orangutans, butterflies and more!
We loved strolling through the tree tops on the new canopy suspension bridges, and lost track of time in the conservatory’s orchard house.
We were also particularly lucky to be visiting while artist Philip Haas’ installation, The Four Seasons, was on display.
Meredith and her boyfriend, Jordan, had plans for Sunday morning and afternoon, so it was up to Trey and me to figure out how to best spend the day. We had previously noticed signs in the area pointing the way to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, so being dreamers of a better society and great admirers of Dr. King, we didn’t want to miss the opportunity to learn more about him.
The visitor center, Dr. and Mrs. King’s tomb, and the King Center for Nonviolent Social Change are located in an easy walking distance within two city blocks, and adjacent to the expanded chapel of the Ebenezer Baptist Church, which is across the street from the original church where Dr. King’s father, and later, Dr. King, preached. His birthplace is a short half-block walk.
We were already familiar with the March on Washington, the march to the Selma bridge following “Bloody Sunday,” and Dr. King’s tragic assignation in Memphis. However, we knew little of his history related to his birthplace of Atlanta, nor his history before rising to a national civil rights leader.
We learned that Dr. King was greatly influenced by the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, and that he and his wife, Coretta, spent a month in India visiting with Gandhi’s family and studying his example of peaceful resistance.
In fact, the bronze statue that greets visitors as they approach the MLK visitor center is not the form of Dr. King, but rather it is of Gandhi.
In the afternoon, we walked from our apartment to the Virginia-Highland Summerfest,
an annual neighborhood art festival, where we perused the artists’ booths, ate Thai noodles and double-dip ice cream cones from food trucks, and listened to a talented local band play.
We decided to take a short cut on the walk back to our apartment and were stopped in our tracks by the sound of an amazing voice belting out across the parking lot we were cutting through. A band had begun playing on the patio of a beer joint and the female lead singer (Tray Dahl) seemed to be channeling a voice and style from another time. A strong, solid, yet smooth, voice that evoked comparisons to Ella Fitzgerald from both of us.
We had noticed the name of the band written on a chalkboard outside of the bar’s door when we’d walked by before the band started playing — The Jugtime Ragband. We initially agreed that the band should work on its name, but after checking out the band’s website and reading about them, I think the name probably well suits their distinct style.
Our last evening in Atlanta was spent with Meredith and Jordan at a local upscale pizza restaurant. The pizza was great, but we were so happy to be in the company of Meredith and Jordan that it didn’t really matter where we were or what we were eating.