Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Roadtrip: Atlanta

I guess it's one of the immutable laws of nature: If you leave your workstation for any length of time, many many problems will appear. There still are many things that need fixing at work at the moment, but I want to try and blog the past weekend before it gets stale in my mind.
(left to right: Anna, Carter, Lucy)
As the above picture shows, Evelin and I got to meet our twin nieces this weekend. In the photo, they were being a little fussy, but they were really great little babies, 95% of the time being either cute and happy or fast asleep. Murphy the big brother/Labrador retriever, on the other hand, was a bit attention-starved and really, really, really ready to play at the drop of a hat, sock, or any other object that could be used in a game of tug of war. So, things started off very early (around 3:00 a.m. on Friday) as we headed off on the drive South. The sun came up about the time we were crossing out of Virginia. Around 10:00 a.m., we stopped in Charlotte, NC, to have brunch with Evelin's uncle and aunt, who we hadn't seen in a while. They gave us the option of a local Southern cookin' place or IHOP. Usually, we'd opt for the local place over a chain, but Evelin had been craving IHOP for a few weeks. (apparently, there are behavior-modifying subliminal messages in the adverts for their "Never Ending Pancakes" promotion). After brunch, we headed downtown to take a quick spin through the Mint Museum of Craft + Design. Months ago, I ran across the website for "The Art of Tea" exhibition, and Evelin and I talked about visiting friends in Chicago or relatives in Charlotte as part of getting to see the exhibition. Of course, since I have to be in Charlotte for work in mid February, my mind got confused about the start date of the Charlotte mounting of the exhibition and we discovered that we were two weeks early for the show. We could get glimpses of a few pieces amidst the packing materials, but otherwise we were out of luck. That said, the Craft + Design museum was really neat with some beautiful pieces. While uptown, we also got stuck in the traffic jam caused by the pep rally for the Carolina Panthers ahead of the NFC championship game. The fans there deserve to be enthusiastic and I'm torn between supporting the Pats and the Cats in Super Bowl XXXVIII. Leaving Charlotte, a bit later than intended, we finally made it to Atlanta around 6:30 p.m. My mother had been in town to help out with the babies for the week, and she extended her stay until Saturday morning so that we could see her, which was really nice. When we got there, the girls were getting dinner and napping a little bit (I think Lucy was awake and eating and Anna had just gone down for a nap). But we got to see both of them for a while that evening. They really are adorable. Since they were about a month premature, the girls spent a week or two in hospital after being born, which mean the nurses set them on a pretty firm sleep/eat cycle, which my brother (A---) and his wife (N---) have been able to keep them on. I think this helped them deal with twins and also got the girls used to a routine, which has helped them sleep through the night. Saturday, Evelin, A---, and I went down to Zoo Atlanta to see their pandas and the rest of the place. It's a smaller zoo, but nice, naturalistic habitats/enclosures. The two panda yards really put the bears up close to the public, which is good for giving people a chance to see the bears, but I don't know if that also means the bears don't get the level of privacy that they want. (Or maybe Mei and Tian are just a bit spoiled.) The reptile house, although old, had a really wide range of beasties, including some cute turtles and tortoises from Madagascar, and the red panda enclosure was done really well. A boardwalk took visitors up to tree-level, which is where the arboreal animal spends much of its time. Saturday night, there was a full house. My mom had headed home, but friends from Louisiana were in town and everyone came over to A--- and N---'s. The friends were C---, her husband J---, her brother A--- (who is going to college in Atlanta), and her cousin L---, who lives in Atlanta now. My brother (a.k.a., Big A) and I used to baby-sit C--- and A--- (a.k.a., Lil' A), and it's been a few years since Evelin and I have seen either of them. Lil' A definitely inherited his father's "porch talkin'” gene -- he had all of us laughing with stories (all true, sadly enough) about misdeeds and mishaps during various hunting and fishing trips with friends. On Sunday, Evelin and I headed into the city to meet an online friend of hers that she met through the "Trying to Conceive After Multiple Miscarriage" (TTC AMM) board on Babydust.com. We got to see the house they just bought and are in the process of fixing and then went out to The Flying Biscuit Café for brunch. Their organic oatmeal pancakes with warm peach compote were fantastic. We then got a driving tour of Atlanta, including the Martin Luther King Jr. National Historic Site and Ebenezer Baptist Church. M--- and B--- were really nice; there's always a bit of apprehension to meet F2F someone that you only know online, but we were glad to get to know them better. [ASIDE: A long, long, long time ago, before the Web was such a big part of the Internet, I was active on the alt.society.generation-x Usenet group. A number of use from the group decided to meet up for a beer in D.C. one evening and at least one person was surprised to find out that I wasn't a large, black, gay man. I'm not sure what I was typing to give that impression, but I guess it speaks truth to the oft-cited New Yorker cartoon about how, on the Internet, no one knows you’re a dog.] Monday was spent driving home. I tried to talk Evelin into stopping at NC Zoo in Asheboro, North Carolina, but she wasn't interested. We made it home around 4:30 p.m., and the only incident during the drive was a nice-sized rock that came off a flatbed trailer and dinged my windshield somewhere just north of Richmond.

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