Sweet Southern Spring Break - Atlanta (March 9-10, 2013)

Saturday, March 9, 2013
Kris and I drove in from Houston last night after work. We got in around 10:30pm. Kris wasn't feeling well, so I did the driving.

Terri, Wayland, Adam, Kris, and I got burgers from Five Guys before heading to the airport. While at lunch, Terri's fever started getting the best of her. She decided not to join us on the trip.

This trip is starting to feel a bit cursed with Kris sick, Terri down for the count, and only Adam and I left to pick up the pieces.

It took over an hour to get through security at IAH thanks to the 2% TSA labor-force decrease, but we had plenty of time to get to the gate. Unfortunately, there was just hallway to sit in due to a scarcity in seats.

A short flight later, and we were in Atlanta. Our United flight was uneventful. Our first impressions of the Atlanta airport were favorable - bright, clean, and modern. Our pickup of the rental car was amazing!

After we rented the car from Phoenix, I signed Kris up for Thrifty's BlueChip program. It is incredible. You fill in all rental details, credit card, and driver details pre-trip. Then, you skip all lines at the rental counter. You just go to the garage where they already have everything ready for you. We look at the sign where they had our name and the space where we could find our car. We headed to space 29 where they had all of our paperwork inside of the car ready to go. We got a super new and nice Nissan Altima. On the way out, they scan your documentation and verify your driver's license. Could not be easier. And our car only had 4 miles on it!

We headed out to Daddy D'z BBQ Joint for some seriously lick-smacking barbecue. Don't be scared by the appearance of this place. It's safe and nicer than it looks.

We definitely overdid it, but we wound up with leftovers. I got the turkey sandwich with fried zucchini and a side order of amazingly thick cornbread. I also tried collard greens for the first time (which I wouldn't hesitate to eat again). Adam got the sausage sandwich with some onion rings. Kris got the sampler platter which had pulled pork, chicken, ribs, fried okra, collard greens (they were out of 'que wraps), and cornbread.

We hit the Georgia State Capitol. At night you can't see the impressive golden dome of the building, but I love them at night anyway.

With Kris not feeling well and nothing else planned for the evening, we headed to the Country Inn & Suites Atlanta Airport North for a two night stay. (We got to use our points...only 15,000 Club Carlson points per night!)

Sunday, March 10, 2013
We woke up and had a tasty breakfast at the hotel. There were a few options more than the traditional continental fare. Adam and I both had french toast and full sized donuts. Good grub.

Then we were off to the World of Coca-Cola.

We had free tickets that I had gotten from My Coke Rewards points redemption, so we were able to skip the ticket booth line, save $16 per person, and head inside. There are several timed tours/exhibits at the World of Coke. Everything is themed around finding happiness and finding the secret recipe of Coke.

We stopped in every display and discovery area. We saw the 4D movie (shamefully lame).

We went into The Vault (after getting clearance).

It is inside of the vault where they house the formula for Coke under lock and key. You go through the entire exhibit area with them teasing you about getting the formula.

You learn the when, where, how, and who... you learn lots of other things too... but, as for the formula, they never reveal it to you.

There are all sorts of movie clips and displays in The Vault.

I honestly did enjoy the Coke history. It really is hard to fathom that this brew was concocted in 1886. That's incredible! And John Pemberton was quite brilliant to have kept the recipe under lock and key.

Later, Asa Candler joined in on the secret whenever Pemberton started selling shares. And Candler bought every single one of those shares. The only person Asa Candler trusted with the formula was himself. He ordered all of the ingredients and locked away purchasing records, removed labels from bottles, and had the only key. When his son entered the business, he was made to make the formulas from memory using unmarked containers he memorized by smell and location on shelves.

The final step to getting to view The Vault is a virtual reality game that Kris and Adam partook in along with two other ladies. Kris was the only one to really understand what he was doing. There were six stages they had to complete in 5 minutes.

Ultimately, the gamers saved the day, and the secret was to be unveiled...

The Vault was shown to us. Apparently the actual formula is now locked up in this vault in Atlanta.

We went through a really neat room with old-time artifacts of Coca-Cola years gone by. From the old original 1800s soda fountain to sheet music given away by Coke, I really enjoyed this step back in time.

They had pop art, advertising gimmicks (including some of the original coupons given out by Coca-Cola to allow people to sample the brew), and worldwide relics.

Marketing genius - free sample coupons from the late 1800s/early 1900s

The pop art section was kind of fun. They actually had a replica of the American Idol Coca-Cola lounge with the couch and everything. It was fun to finally get a photo of the three of us.

No trip to The World of Coke would be complete without seeing the equipment and system in which Coca-Cola is made.

We saved the tasting room for last. The tasting room is absolutely fabulous! They have over 60 flavors of soda for tasting from different regions of the world. I really appreciated the organization.

There were some great sodas, horrid sodas, and in between sodas.
Worst = Beverly from Italy, Thums Up from India, and Sparberry from Zimbabwe
Best = Candy PineNut Bibo from South Africa and Delaware Punch from Honduras
I can't tell you how many sodas tasted like carbonated cough syrup. Yucky!

Bibo Candy PineNut was awesome, but the other Bibo, Sparberry, and Stoney were awful!
Avoid the Beverly!  Italy knows their cheese, but they don't know soda.

Delaware Punch and Lift were pretty good.
Poor guy doesn't know what he's in for with this one.  Ugh!

Thums Up was a thumbs down!
Adam seemed to be fond of the Sprite-type clear beverages like Ice.

Kris ordered himself a Tab.

We left The New World of Coca-Cola (getting our free Coca-Cola on the way out) and went to lunch.

Lunch wound up being at the Mellow Mushroom pizza place for meatball and ricotta pizza. Yum!

We headed to a Folk Art Park on the I-85 overpass for a phototaking opportunity before heading toward Margaret Mitchell Square and Centennial Olympic Park.

Skitler joined in on the fun!

We passed people leaving a ComiCon convention on the way.

Gajeel Redfox from Fairy Tail

And found a stray dolphin near the public library too...

Centennial Olympic Park was packed with people and dogs. It was quite a gorgeous day.

We wound our way back to the car and headed to a nearby supermarket. We thought we were going to a Kmart, but it wound up being a Piggly Wiggly. I didn't know these still existed.

When checking out, the lady in front of us asked me to hand her a soda from the display behind me of Piggly Wiggly sodas. There had to be at least 10 flavors...grape, cola, root beer, orange, lemon-lime, etc. We asked her what flavor and were shocked when she looked at me confused and said, "it don't matter."

Dinner tonight was leftovers at the hotel since we'd had such a late lunch. We watched some tv and movies and relaxed.

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