Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Summer Road Trip, Pt. 1: Atlanta

I'd like to take a few days now and share all the fun we had on our road trip this summer! The trip was centered around my annual family reunion in Cleveland, so that was how we decided when we would go and generally set our course, though the timing ended up being slightly stressful. We signed a lease on our new house and gave notice to vacate at our old house just a couple of weeks before we left, so by our road trip departure date our house was largely in boxes (and entirely in shambles) and we knew we had the worst parts of moving waiting for us upon our return. But, we tried to put that out of our minds and hit the road!

Last year, we took an eastern course up to Cleveland, with stops in Washington, D.C. and Pennsylvania. This year, we stayed further west as we made our way north, and our first stop was Atlanta, Georgia. We left early in the morning on July 31 and drove five hours to Atlanta, arriving in time for a midday Braves game at Turner Field!

We're off!

Crossing over into our first state!

You may remember it is Eric's goal to see a regular-season baseball game played in all 30 Major League Baseball Stadium. During our New York years, we made pretty decent progress on that list, and we checked off a few more during our midwestern road trip when Ellie was a baby. But since then, our efforts have been at a standstill, so it was good to get things going again! Turner Field brought Eric's stadium count up to 20, mine to 16, Ellie's to five and E.J.'s to two (he has some catching up to do!). We're making progress!

At Turner Field

Upon arrival, we snapped some pictures outside and then went inside as they were singing the National Anthem. We were pretty hungry, so first on our agenda was finding a shady spot to eat some hot dogs. (It was HOT.)

These kids are ready for some baseball!

The kids and Hank Aaron's number

They were PSYCHED for those hot dogs.

Eric and I enjoyed some tasty burgers!

Ellie taking good care of her little brother

Then, we let the kids burn off some of their five-hours-in-the-car energy in the kids' play area. They had a great time playing on the miniature baseball fields!

What a natural!

Ellie's at the plate!

It's outta here! Home run!

E.J. in the outfield

E.J. gets some pretty good height, there!

This wasn't in the kids' area, but Ellie wanted to take a picture with the "Statue of Liverty." She has been really fixated on going to New York City to see it (for the second time, since the first time she wasn't even six months old yet). She's even saving her coins to pay for a plane ticket!

Then, we took a quick family photo out by the field just in time before a rain delay!

Enjoying a day at the ballpark!

You can see the 1996 Olympic torch in the distance from the stands!

When the rain cleared, we found some empty seats in the shade and sat for a while. There were lots of empty rows in front of us, so the kids just ran around and played, and we relaxed and actually watched some baseball. To our surprise, we made it through all nine innings of the game, including the rain delay! We certainly did not anticipate that with two small kids in tow.

Pulling back the tarp! Let's play ball!

E.J. keeping us on our toes

Enjoying the game

Home run!

Ellie's reaction to the fireworks

Father and son

After the game, kids were allowed to run the bases, so we joined the loooooooooooong line for that. As we waited, Homer the Brave came around to greet the kids.

HIgh fives for Homer

Eventually, we were led out onto the field. The kids were lined up to run the bases while the adults were ushered up into the stands. It wasn't especially well-executed, and parents were still trying to walk to a good viewing spot as their kids were running, causing pileups and lots of screaming from Turner Field employees, but oh well. Ellie ran like a pro and we were so proud of her! When she finished, they gave her a certificate to mark the occasion and a t-shirt.

Down on the field before Ellie ran the bases

Go, Ellie!

She LOVED it.

Sporting her new shirt

VIDEO: Ellie running the bases at Turner Field. (Sorry for the shakiness! As I mentioned, we were being rushed along through the stands as she was running, so I did the best I could! Just look for her little pink dress!)

And that was it for the baseball game! We were staying in a hotel just across the street, so we ran back there (the rain had returned as the kids ran the bases!), checked in and then went to get dinner at Gus's Fried Chicken. We ate at Gus's in Memphis on our midwestern road trip and loved it, so when we saw there was one in Atlanta, we had to have it! We planned to dine in but the service as terrible, so we ended up ordering to go (also terrible). The food, however, was tasty, and we made it into a picnic on our hotel room floor.

Hotel picnic dinner!

And, on the way to Gus's, we were able to drive past the torch from the 1996 Olympics!

What a way to get us in the spirit for this year's games in Rio!

After dinner we got the kids to bed and then retired ourselves after unwinding with a little wine. We had a one-bedroom hotel suite, so the kids shared the bedroom and Eric and I slept on the World's Worst Sleeper Sofa in the living room. Our sleep was interrupted at 5:00 a.m. when the fire alarm went off because a hotel employee burned the toast for breakfast, but luckily, the kids slept right on through it. Phew! That was lucky!

When we woke up, we had some breakfast at the hotel then packed up and checked out. We were departing Atlanta that day, but decided to make a quick stop at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library on our way out. We enjoyed the museum, and a particular highlight was the replica Oval Office.

The kids at the Presidential Library museum

Our "future president" (or so says her shirt) in the replica Oval Office

The library above the museum

Carter's Nobel Peace Prize

Outside the library

And that was it for Atlanta! Next stop: Cumberland Falls, Kentucky!

To see more pictures from Atlanta, check out our Shutterfly share site here.

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