Thursday, October 4, 2012

Atlanta - Day 2

Day Two started with a trip back to the Cyclorama.  Originally when we discovered this place, we were going to try to hit it up on Sunday when the weather forecast was questionable.  However, we discovered it wasn't open on Sunday, so Saturday morning it was.  Craig realized as we were walking around the outside of the building and stepped in the lobby on Friday that this was a place he had a chance to visit the last time he was in Atlanta 25 years ago, but opted not to.  Amazing since he's such a Civil War buff, but perhaps he knew someday we'd need an educational portion of our family vacation.  Anyway...the Cyclorama is actually the home of a Civil War Museum and one of the largest oil paintings ever.  The painting depicts the Battle of Atlanta and was originally created as a campaign poster, but later ended up with the circus as a traveling attraction.  Then the circus went bankrupt while in Atlanta, and the head of Coca-Cola bought it, and eventually the city of Atlanta ended up with it and built an entire building to house it.  It hangs in a giant 360 degree circle, and includes a diorama on the floor as well, creating a 3-D effect.  Visitors sit in seats that turn the full 360 degrees while a narration explains the contents and characters of the painting.  The Civil War isn't my thing, but the painting itself was something to behold.  I tried to take a picture but the lighting wasn't great...
If you look closely near the bottom, you can see little figures of soldiers.  At their tallest they're about 42 inches high.  There's a lot of foliage, as well.  Then the painting covers the entire wall.  There are lots of trees and groups of soldiers in this section, but the glare obscures them a bit.  I just wanted something to remember what it looked like.
We spent a little time wandering around the museum...

...and then it was back off to the hotel to retrieve the baseball tickets we forgot to bring with us. That's what I get for forgetting to ask for them after Craig printed them!  The big bummer there was that by the time we made it back into the city and to the baseball stadium, the ballpark tours were sold out for the day (and no tours on Sunday).  That was a letdown, for sure.  However, the good news is that there were plenty of other activities to keep us occupied until game time.

First up was the Braves Hall of Fame and Museum, right in the stadium.  There were lockers commemorating the Braves pennant-winning teams, old jerseys (even from their days in Boston and Milwaukee), a giant train car like they traveled with in the old days, the championship trophy and rings, as well as various other awards and memorabilia from Braves players over the years.  They also had the Braves' bench from their old stadium, as well as the other dugout accessories like the railing in front of the dugout and the bat and helmet racks, complete with the bullpen phones still attached.  Here are the boys sitting on the bench...

And Jacob "trying on" a helmet...

Back outside, we explored the plaza in front of the stadium.  There were giant, photo-op numbers of the Braves' best players, as well as a bunch of these baseballs...
A rare appearance by me!
 There were also a number of statues, and the boys tried to recreate one here...sort of...

Once we'd had our fill of that area, we headed out to the parking lot.  The whole back side of the parking lot is what we believe was once the back wall of Fulton County Stadium, the Braves' first Atlanta home.  They've preserved the location of home plate, the entire infield, and the warning track using bricks and metal bases.  Jacob LOVED it.
He also pitched off of the pitcher's mound and ran the bases!
They also kept a section of the outfield wall, complete with Hank Aaron's record setting home run marker.
If you look closely to the bottom right of the spotlight on the right, there's a small blue box.  It's gotta be the most obvious geocache I've ever seen.  Cool spot for it, though!
There were some steps up against the wall, and at the top we could walk down the street to the entrance to the ballpark road, which was framed by this:
Not gonna lie, pretty cool to drive under the rings!
That platform used to be attached to the Olympic stadium (now Turner Field, home of the Braves--did you know they ripped off one end of the stadium after the Olympics and rebuilt it into a baseball facility?!), and at the top of the close end is this:
The actual Olympic flame cauldron!
It was so cool to see an iconic piece of Olympic history.  At its base was a large silver wall engraved with the names of all of the Atlanta Olympians.  It was really cool to see that.
We spent some time chilling in the air conditioning of our rental car after that, before reorganizing our stuff and heading into the game.  We waited in a long line for gates to open because we wanted to get the giveaway item, a light-up tomahawk!  We had a long wait (Craig and Jacob played catch, I used the stadium wireless and checked in on my iPod), but eventually gates opened and we got our tomahawks!
One of our first stops on the way in was the Kids' Zone.  There was a climbing structure, video games (Jacob had a grand slam!), and a couple mini baseball fields.  Jacob got in line to bat and got a great hit on his first pitch!
You can see the yellow ball on the left.  He hit it to the wall and loved running the bases!
We had a lot of time to kill before the game, so we wandered around the stadium and got something to eat.  I had my first ever Chick-Fil-A (I don't care about politics--it was good!), and Jacob had his favorite, a corn dog.  Later on Jacob had a chance to test his skills and throw some balls (mid-20mph speeds), and he had a couple really good throws...
Later on we headed up to the Coca-Cola Sky Field, high above the stadium.  There Jacob got to run along a baseline with dirt like a real baseball field!

We also got a great view of the field, the giant Coke bottle and Chick-Fil-A cow adorning the top of the stadium, and a lovely view of the city itself in the distance.  There were these giant Coke chairs up there, too, and someone traded us family pictures while we were up there...
All three of us!  In a BIG chair!
After strolling around the stadium looking for our dream merchandise (no luck, believe it or not), the game finally started.  Here is the man of the hour, Chipper Jones, up to bat!

And here's our view!
The aforementioned Coke bottle and Cow are in the upper left.  Tough to see, but definitely cool additions to the view.
We had a blast at the game--the Braves won!--and it was a gorgeous night.  Before we headed out, I snapped one last picture of Jacob looking at the field from center field...
A little hard to see here, but there was a giant "10" in the outfield in Chipper's honor. 
We stopped in the team store again on the way out, and the budget-busting shopping trip we'd envisioned really didn't happen.  Neither Jacob or I found a shirt we liked (or, at least, that was worth the money), they had no stuffed mascots to add to Jacob's collection, and there really wasn't much catching our eyes.  Craig got a shirt and a program, but that was about it.  At least we had our tomahawks, a souvenir cup, and the giant footlong thing my Icee came in.  Turns out we'd fix that problem the next day, though :)
We spent a while in traffic and Jacob fell asleep on the way back.  It was a late night, but at least we could just put him in bed back at the hotel and not worry about the usual drama we go through trying to get him to sleep in a hotel room.  It was a full day and it was awesome to finally make it to Turner Field and see the Braves in person, particularly before Chipper's retirement.  It was also nice to be there knowing they were in the playoffs already (although it could only be one game--we'll see tomorrow night!).  I'm glad Craig had that opportunity and even happier he could share it with his son.  It was quite the day, but we had one more day left to experience more of Atlanta...

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