Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Atlanta - Day 1

On Friday morning, the alarm clock went off at 3:55.  I had showered the night before and got dressed as quickly as possible.  Craig was up as well, and we got Jacob out of bed pretty much on our way out the door.  We got to the airport about 15 minutes later than I wanted to (but quite frankly, it was so early that it was hard to get up any earlier!), and the security line was LONG.  We also got stuck in the line where the crew members were sneaking through, so it took forever.  By the time we got through the line and I took Jacob into a bathroom to change out of his PJs, we were getting a little short on time.  He fought me right away because he really wanted to stay in his new Spider-Man PJs that I had saved especially for this trip so he had presentable jammies to wear in the airport.  We battled and I finally compromised and let him keep the shirt on, merely in the interest of time.  We finally got to our gate and we walked right on the plane.  Yikes.

The flight itself was pretty uneventful.  Jacob handled it like a pro.  He had one or two moments where he was a little louder than he ideally should have been, or didn't listen to an instruction, but for the most part he just sat and watched his movie.  Once we got to Atlanta, we stopped in a bathroom to finish changing into our summer clothes, and then started the long but relatively slick journey through the airport to the rental car counter.  We had to take one train through all of the concourses, then another train past the convention center and over to the parking structure housing the rental cars.  It was quite a journey, but it wasn't too bad.  We got our car, a nice Chrysler 200, and Jacob's car seat--a big boy booster since I didn't trust the height/weight limits on the toddler seats they had, seeing as how Jacob is right on the cusp.

We headed out to grab a late breakfast and Jacob fell asleep on the way.  It would be the first of many car catnaps on this trip.  Anyway, we drove around the outskirts of the city and caught a glimpse of the baseball stadium as we headed to the zoo.  I had been looking forward to going to this zoo for years, because they have panda bears!  There's been a webcam that I've visited for years, particularly when a couple of cubs were born over the past few years.

Upon arrival, we saw this neat building near the entrance.

Turns out it's something called the Cyclorama, and I'll tell you more about it in my next post, since we actually came back to this place the next day.  But for now, here's a little preview...

Zoo Atlanta was pretty outstanding.  It wasn't a huge zoo, but it was plenty big and it was very nice.  It was easy to get around, they had a lot of unique animals, and the viewing vantage points were great.  One of our first stops was the pandas, and it was cool to see the habitats I'd seen online for all these years.  The windows were a little fogged up, but I managed to catch this cute shot...
I was fascinated by a weird bird with the longest eyelashes ever, and then I managed to capture these cute shots outside the elephant house...
Notice the elephant's headgear...
And holy cow, one where he actually posed and smiled...for once...

There were rhinos, zebras, giraffes, tigers and lions (which we could barely see).  The gorillas were a little hard to see, but we could tell one had a baby and another one was HUGE.  And then there's this one...

Jacob and I went into a cool "tree house" exhibit that had the coolest birds ever.  There were some birds with the most colorful feathers!  I caught this picture, which I love...

Jacob saw this giant nest and immediately wanted to curl up and sleep...

I spent quite a while in this exhibit (along with a lot of other people, actually) trying to capture a picture of one of these birds, because the colors were fantastic!

We saw orangutans, a komodo dragon, and naked mole rats (ewww), and Jacob played on a playground themed after the mole rats' tunnels.  The way we ended up wandering around the zoo, it afforded us another opportunity to hit up the panda exhibit after lunch, which was nice since they were a little more lively and the windows had defogged.  The pandas were all eating bamboo, which was really cute...

There was actually a baby in the exhibit (I think he's a couple years old), and one of the bigger pandas came up and stole all of his bamboo!  Silly bears.

The kangaroos were lazy and the otters were sleeping, so we made our way to a petting zoo, and Jacob and I hung out with the sheep and goats.  He even got to brush them.  He did pretty well, and he didn't even step in any poop!

It was a very hot day, and by the time we finished up, we were all pretty exhausted.  On the way to our hotel, Jacob conked out again.  This, my friends, is what a 4am wakeup call + busy day looks like...
This happened pretty much every time he fell asleep in this car seat.  Poor kid.
That night we kept things pretty low key.  We went to Mellow Mushroom for dinner.  It's a restaurant I loved when I went to Portland, and it actually started in Atlanta.  We went to a location near our hotel and had a delicious pizza.  We headed back to the hotel afterward to watch the Braves game on TV.  We listened to the pregame ceremony honoring Chipper Jones (the player we were really there to see) on the radio in the car, then turned it on in our hotel room.

Our room was nice.  It was in a great part of town, and I got it for about $40 less than I saw it on most sites.    The room was actually a full suite, with a kitchen, living room, bedroom, and walk-in closet.  There was a queen bed in the bedroom, and a queen sofa bed in the living room.  We had to request to have the sofa bed made up for Jacob, and it was ready when we got back from dinner so we all snuggled up on the bed to watch the game.  Around 8:30, Jacob and I headed to the bedroom, closed the doors, and eventually fell asleep.  Around midnight I woke up and grabbed Craig from the sofa bed, and he moved Jacob into the living room and took his spot back in our bed.  I was in bed for a long time that night, but I don't think I really slept that great.  At least Jacob didn't wake up crazy early!  It was a pretty good setup for us, though, and we were very happy with our free breakfast, too.

And after that, off we headed to another busy day...

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