Saturday, April 30, 2011


Atlanta Accomodations :

We went to Atlanta because my husband was presenting at a conference was held at the Atlanta Marriott Marquis. With 50 floors it claims to be the largest motel in Atlanta. The photo is looking up at the balconied hallways. It’s probably best that we didn’t stay at this motel as Scott is afraid of heights and wasn’t thrilled about riding in the glass elevator to attend a meeting there.

I however enjoyed riding the glass elevator and walking around one of the floors. While we were up there I noticed this: I think the shadow on the building looks like a man wearing a hat and reading. And since this conference was for college English teachers, I thought it was appropriate.

We actually stayed at the Motel 6 which is catty-corner to the one where the conference was, and there was an entrance on the same side as our motel so we were only half a block away. Our motel had free parking in their underground parking garage and free wireless. It was located less than a mile from Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Aquarium, Inside CNN Studio Tour, World of Coca-Cola and the Children’s Museum of Atlanta.

Atlanta Dining :
Because we went to Turner Field one night we didn’t have to get many meals in Atlanta. We had hoped to get something at Underground Atlanta but weren’t in the mood while we were there and instead ended up eating at Gibney’s Pub which we enjoyed (and were able to watch part of the Brave’s first home game of the season).

To read about attractions on Atlanta, click here.


Part of the Atlanta skyline reflected in the pool at the Atlanta Botanical Garden.
We went to Atlanta so my husband could present at a conference there. While he was working, I was able to take in some of the sights. Unlike Louisville, the conference location last year, I didn’t find Atlanta very walkable.

And while there were several attractions less than a mile from our motel, the ones I was interested in were five miles from the motel, so I drove to them. I didn’t really enjoy driving in downtown Atlanta, especially around rush hour, but it wasn’t too bad because I had a GPS system. And although she seemed to misplace me a few times, I always got to where I was going.

Atlanta Botanical Garden : this was by far my favorite place in Atlanta, so much so that I have 72 photos from there (I actually took more than that but I deleted some). I won’t put all of them on this blog but if you like plants or being in nature and you’re going to be close to Atlanta, I’d recommend stopping for a visit.

I was there in early April during their extravaganza of tens of thousands of blooming tulips (one of my favorite flowers).

They have a 600-foot-long canopy walk which is 40 feet high and allows you to walk through a woodland area up in the trees.

The extensive children’s area has lots of hands-on learning areas and when I was there they also had docents doing activities with the kids. Oh how I wished I the 8-year-old me could have experienced this!

The large conservatory was then filled with wonderous plants including some Cissus plants. The "vines" that you see hanging in this photo is actually their aerial roots.

Part of the conservatory has a large area dedicated just to orchids.

I thought that the Japanese Garden was colorful and also peaceful.

Many of the formal garden areas such as the Trustee’s Garden had walls and gazebos that made the gardens even more enjoyable.

= = =

Atlanta History Center : includes the Atlanta History Museum; historic gardens; and two historic houses, the Tullie Smith farm and the Swan House.

The Atlanta History Museum has exhibits about the Civil War, and Atlanta’s role in the Civil War and the Civil Rights Movement, the Centennial Olympic Games and Southern Folk Art.

The gardens include native plants located in a former quarry on the property, an Asian-American garden, a rhododendron garden, a colonial vegetable garden at the Tullie Smith farm, and formal landscaped gardens around the Swan House (photo above).

The Tullie Smith Farm includes costumed docents and a tour of the house and out buildings.

The Swan House is an elegant mansion built in 1928 for the Inman family who were the only people to live in the house which was donated, along with much of the original furniture, to the History Center. You’re not allowed to take photos inside the Swan House but I got some good shots of the outside.

Tours of both the farm and the Swan House are included in the admission price but you have to schedule your tour when you buy your tickets. The tours fill up quickly so it’s suggested you arrive early. The tours are offered every half hour but each tour also lasts for half an hour (or more) and are about a 5 minute walk from each other so you shouldn’t arrange them back-to-back. I spent several hours at the center and still felt a little rushed.

= = =

High Art Museum : The art museum spans three different buildings that are connected on two of the five levels, which was a little confusing to me. I was mostly interested in the special Toulouse-Lautrec and Friends exhibit, which was on the Skyway (top) level of the Anne Cox Chambers Wing.

After viewing that I followed the skyway into the other two buildings which, luckily for me, featured contemporary art, modern art and folk art, all of which I enjoy. As I descended in levels, I moved back through art history, which was less interesting to me. I was a little pressed for time so I didn’t spend as much time in these levels.

Their website stresses the importance of reserving tickets and that special exhibits are timed so you can only enter during the time on your ticket, although I must have gone at a slow time because I didn’t have any problem getting in and no one checked the time on my ticket.

And while they allow photography of some exhibits with special permissions, they don’t allow those photos to be used in blogs or other on-line places so I didn’t take any photos of the art inside the buildings.

= = =

Turner Field : This year one of the conference vendors hosted a party at Turner Field, so Scott was able to go visit this attraction, which was on the top of his list of things to see. There wasn’t a game that night (and actually the party was the night before their first home game of the season) but we got to eat and drink in one of the VIP boxes overlooking the field.

They also had the batting cages and pitching games open so Scott took several turns at bat hitting baseballs and also throwing pitches to measure your throwing speed (didn’t care about accuracy) which he seemed to really enjoy.

= = =

Centennial Park : You might remember a few years back that Atlanta hosted the Centennial Olympics. Part of the area has been turned into Centennial Park. The evening we were there they had a free concert in the park and there were lots of families enjoying the park. There were several fountains, sculptures and public art in the park.

= = =

Folk Art Park : Courtland St. bridge over I-75 near Ralph McGill Blvd. (no relation). This was very close to our motel and we stumbled upon this intersection that had several pieces of public folk art.

The first permanent outdoor tribute to folk art, the park was completed for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Games.

It currently seem to be in a state of disrepair and also a place where some homeless people hang out, although it seems that there are a few groups who want to make some improvements to the park, so hopefully that will happen.

= = =

Underground Atlanta : this area was inadvertently created during the 1920s when construction of concrete viaducts elevated the street system one level to permit a better flow of traffic. Merchants moved their operations to the second floor, leaving the old store fronts for storage and service.

In 1968 the five-block area was declared an historic site. Many significant architectural features survived from original storefronts. One year later, Underground Atlanta opened as a retail and entertainment center. In 1980, the it was closed due to construction of the rapid transit but was reopened in 1989 and aimed at preserving and revitalizing the center of Atlanta.

Back in the 1990s my one and only business trip was to Atlanta for computer training and I remember going to a comedy club in Underground Atlanta and I really liked the architecture.

Unfortunately it seems that Underground Atlanta is yet another victim of the economic downturn and while we were still able to enjoy the unique atmosphere, many of the shops were closed and the ones that were open seemed to sell a lot of trinkets. Hopefully it will turn around in the future.

= = =

A short trip outside of Atlanta :

Arabia Mountain Heritage Area : located 20 miles east of Atlanta and features some large rock outcrops and is also home to several rare plants that are unique to these granite outcrop environments. In the spring, pools of red plants called Diamorpha can be seen for great distances.

We arrived early and parked in the small south parking lot, which was full by the time we left. The rock outcrops start right beyond the parking lot. The best time to go is when it’s overcast because there isn’t much shade.

There are rock cairns (piles of stones) that mark the path. The elevation doesn’t seem that high but there was a nice view from the top of Bradley Mountain.
=  =  =
Marietta Square : Marietta is located 20 miles north of Atlanta just of I-75. Marietta Square is a quaint little downtown area with unique shops and restaurants, and on Saturday mornings from April through November they have a farmer’s market.

The highlight of this detour was eating at the Australian Bakery where they feature Aussie Meat Pies. I had the chicken vegetable pie and Scott ate a spinach and feta breakfast pie, which was similar to quiche and we shared an apple slice (a pastry) that was very yummy!

If you want to see more photos, you can do so by clicking here.

To read about some Atlanta accomodations and dining, click here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


World's Fair Park : On our way to Atlanta (post to come), we decided to stop in Knoxville overnight and check out some of the sights. Way back in 1982, my sister’s gymnastic group was invited to perform for almost a week at the World’s Fair which was held in Knoxville that year. I had hoped that when we visited the World’s Fair Park in downtown Knoxville I’d actually recognize some of the places. With the exception of the Sunsphere which was used in most of the promotion materials, I didn’t recognize anything.
World’s Fair Park is a nice little area downtown where they have a pond, an amphitheater, walking paths and the Sunsphere, which has been reopened. It’s open daily April-October from 9 am-10 pm and November-March from 11 am-6 pm and it’s free to go up. We went up during the day and then went back at night to see the city in the dark but unfortunately there are several lights on inside the observation deck so we didn’t really see much at night.

One memory I have from the World’s Fair was that they had a "new technology" that allowed them to put on a Laser Light Show every night. I also remember there was a 4-foot tall ketchup bottle that passed out pickle-shaped pins. We didn't see any laser lights or robotic ketchup bottles on this trip, but I still have my pickle pin.

The Knoxville Museum of Art : is a small but nice art museum with some permanent collections and several rotating exhibits. I was fortunate that the Knoxville Watercolor Society was exhibiting there during our visit as I really like watercolors.

The museum literally looks over World’s Fair Park and is open Tues.-Sat. from 10 am-5 pm and Sun. 1-5 pm. Admission is free but donations are welcome.

Market Square : is a little area in downtown Knoxville with a closed street that has several restaurants and shops.

Market Square is adjacent to a nice little green space named Krutch Park which boasts a pond and some water play fountains.

There are several public art pieces located in Krutch Park including this red piece which I didn't get the title of.

Knoxville Botanical Garden and Arboretum : this little gem sits on a ridge-top 5 minutes from downtown Knoxville surrounded by an urban community. Since it is April and has been a pretty cold winter in Ohio, visiting the gardens was very relaxing.

The gardens are a magical place with whimsical round stone buildings, stone-sided greenhouses and secret garden paths and alleys and features distinctive stone walls and buildings. The buildings even had curved doors. I'd love one of these for a painting studio.

The site is located on the former property of the Joe N. Howell Nursery and the C.B. Howell Nursery and features distinctive stone walls and buildings constructed by Joe Howell's employees. The Howell family's nursery business was originally established in 1786 and the Gardens represent a significant cultural landscape in Knoxville's history. They even have an area where they are growing bamboo which was neat to see.

Knoxville Botanical Garden is open to the public from sunrise to sunset, 365 days a year. Admission is free.


There are several motels in downtown Knoxville and many more a few miles out. There are several at exit 108 on I-75 just north of downtown and at exit 378 on I-75/I-40 east of downtown.

Patrick Sullivan's Steak House in Old City...we didn't eat here but I liked the photos of the "ladies" in the upstairs window.

Old City : There were two areas where we ate. The first was in the historic Old City which is in downtown Knoxville. This is where the nightlife and there are several clubs and restaurants (some which don’t open until late so check hours before you go). We got New Jersey style pizza at DaVinci’s Pizzeria and Calzones. We asked what makes a pizza New Jersey style and were told that it was the owner’s mother’s recipe and she lives in New Jersey. It was good no matter what state you’re in or from. Old City is located near the intersection of N. Central St. and W. Jackson Ave.

Market Square : The other area we ate in was in Market Square in downtown Knoxville. There is a little area with a closed street that has several restaurants and shops. We ate wonderful lunch at the Market Square Kitchen which sadly will be closing at the end of this month.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Reminders of our trip to the west coast

One of the 10 waterfalls at Silver Falls State Park in Oregon.

At the beginning of this year, when I took down the mini-calendar we had on the fridge, I noticed that the photo for Dec. was one of the waterfalls in Silver Falls State Park. The photo on the calendar was the same waterfall as the photo I took this summer when we were at Silver Falls State Park, although the photo on the calendar was taken during the winter.

I flipped to the front of the calendar and it's titled "Scenic Landscapes." As I looked through it, three of the other months used photos of places we were at this summer! There were photos from Crater Lake, Cannon Beach and the coast of northern California. When I picked the calendar last year I had no idea that we'd be going to California and Oregon that summer.

The calendar for 2011 has roosters on it...I wonder if that means something?