Surviving Atlanta, illegal turns and all!

(Writing from beautiful Savannah, Georgia)

Margaret Mitchell’s home. She and her husband lived in the lower-left apartment, where she typed Gone With the Wind.

Right off the bat, let me say that in my last post I overreacted just a bit with my fears of navigating around Atlanta without getting killed this past Friday. In fact, our thirty-minute drive from our hotel to Peachtree Street, the location of author Margaret Mitchell’s home, was very pleasant and enjoyable.

Perhaps it was the gorgeous 55° morning that made it so nice, but whatever it was, we found where we wanted to be without a hitch, other than my piece of careless driving which involved turning the wrong way on a very wide one-way street. Fortunately, there were only a few oncoming cars whose drivers graciously slowed to allow me to hurriedly get out of their way and turned in the right direction, before pointing out what a total moron this guy from Illinois must be!

The tour of the house lasted about thirty minutes, and the most enjoyable part was going through Mitchell’s tiny first-floor apartment where she typed her masterpiece on a small Royal typewriter, which sits on a small table surrounded by dozens of manilla folders and envelopes in which she’d place her Gone With the Wind manuscript parts. The place is set up just as it was when she and her husband lived there.

The guide provided a pretty informative and comprehensive biography of Mitchell, who, it turns out, was like many creative folks: Lacking confidence in their work and afraid to show it to anyone. The story of how she wrote her one-and-only novel is very intriguing.

Of course, afterward, the inevitable gift shop drew most of my wife’s attention, so I waited patiently studying the map to figure out just exactly how to get out of Atlanta and on to our next destination: The A.H. Stephens State Historic Park in Crawfordville, Georgia, about two-and-a-half hours to the east. Originally, we had planned to visit the World of Coca-Cola in Atlanta, but since we arrived in the area much later than planned, we decided there wouldn’t be time. So when we finished with the Mitchell house, it was a quick hop, skip, and a jump to the interstate we needed to connect up with I-20. Soon, we were well on our way, leaving Atlanta in our rear view mirror.

The weather was very cooperative as we motored east through very pretty country. It was wonderful to see actual green grass and bushes and trees along the way. I even had my window down a bit to let in the fresh air and to blow out the stale winter poison we brought along from Illinois.

The “Welcoming Committee” at our cottage in the pines of A.H. Stephens Historic Park, waiting for some tasty treats!

Now it was time to become immersed in the life of the man for whom the state park is named, particularly since his home is there. I had very little knowledge of the man who was the vice-president of the Confederacy and governor of Georgia.

By Saturday, I had learned much and gained a respectful appreciation for A.H. Stephens. And our two-night stay in a very nice cottage on the park grounds was a fun and pleasant experience. After all, how bad can it be when a welcoming committee of two tame, friendly, and hungry ducks patiently waited for us to get the suitcases unloaded and to find some Fritos for them!

In my next post, I’ll write more about our time in the park, touring the Stephens home and museum, a “down-home” Georgia barbecue place, and our journey on to Savannah. Stay tuned…CortlandWriter


Out of the snow and into the traffic!

A famous Scot wrote a long time ago that “the best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry,” and how true–time after time–his words prove to be.

In my last post I wrote of our plans to set out on our February “get-away” to points south: Atlanta, Savannah, Charleston, and Waynesville, North Carolina. And we hoped to be on the road and out of the treacherous winter weather by late Tuesday evening and drive through to Stone Mountain and spend a couple of days in and around the Atlanta area.

driveway before leaving
A clear path from our garage to the snow-covered street so we can begin our February “get-away!”  (Image property of CortlandWriter ©2014)

However, as seems to be the case this winter, whenever any plans are made, some major winter storm will set in on said date when those plans are to begin! Thus, our leaving was postponed until late morning on Wednesday, after first having to fire up the snow thrower so we could get out of the driveway.

Though not completely cleared of snow and dangerous ice patches, the interstate highways in northern Illinois were not too bad, but the farther south we went, the worse they became. Very tense driving was the rule for most of the day and early evening, until we decided to stop in Paducah, Kentucky, and revel in the joy of having survived the long, icy, snow packed haul.

Although there was far less snow piled all about than what we’re used to at home, there was plenty of cold and ice on the side roads and the hotel parking lot. But things were beginning to look up as the forecast was for no snow and I-24 to Nashville and Chattanooga was going to be dry and bare in the morning. Yea! I could actually drive the speed limit unlike our first day’s adventure. And so we were up and out and on I-24 by 7:30 this morning and enjoyed the drive on a mostly cloudy day and arrived at Stone Mountain right before 3 p.m.

I’ve often wondered where all of the people driving in and around Atlanta come from as there always seems to be millions of them going here and there and very fast. I’m used to Chicago driving, but I’m familiar with the lay of the land so can pretty much deal with it. Being in uncharted and unfamiliar territory today, though, in the midst of motorists in a mad hurry, we found it just a bit over the top.

In spite of the traffic, we found our hotel and checked in without any problem and soon we paid a short visit to nearby Stone Mountain Park and viewed the famous Confederate Memorial Carving on the side of the mountain. Over the years I had heard mention of this but never had the opportunity to see it up close and personal, live and in color!

The famous carving on the side of Stone Mountain. Quite impressive!
The famous carving on the side of Stone Mountain. Quite impressive! (Image property of CortlandWriter ©2014)

The museum and Memorial Hall provided some interesting information and background. We enjoyed seeing a couple of well-produced movies about the carving and the Civil War in Georgia.

Of course, Carolyn managed to squeeze in a quick visit to a gift shop just as it was about to close, and managed to purchase a coffee mug, a couple of post cards, and a Stone Mountain Christmas ornament. Uncanny, that woman!

So it’s onto the Margaret Mitchell House in downtown Atlanta in the morning. I’m already steeling my nerves to deal with the morning hum and buzz of traffic and trying to navigate more uncharted waters. It’s not surprising that Mitchell, the author of Gone With the Wind, died by being hit by a speeding automobile on Peachtree Street in downtown Atlanta in 1949!

Assuming we survive the fun and games of Atlanta traffic, we’ll be on our way to the A.H. Stephens State Park in the afternoon, where we’ll spend two days browsing about and learning what there is to be learned.

My wife is very excited to gather as much information as she can on Alexander Stephens, a second-cousin twice removed and vice-president of the Confederacy. I, of course, plan to find some interesting tidbits to share in my next update. Since we’re staying in a cottage on the park grounds, it should be very unique and fun.

At this writing, I’m pretty confident that we won’t have to do any snow blowing or shoveling to maintain our planned itinerary. But then again, this winter really shouldn’t be underestimated and really shouldn’t be trusted!…CortlandWriter

Stone Mountain
Stone Mountain (Photo credit: ucumari)
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