Friday, July 6, 2012

Random Musings Friday: Hot-lanta

So the record heat last weekend is not breaking news. It's hot. It's hot in Chicago and New York and DC and, of course, Atlanta. Shana has had her plane ticket south for weeks so changing it due to unbearable heat was really not an option. Originally, we were going to head off to the beach for a few days...maybe Tybee or Hilton Head. But when we saw the 10-day forecast, we decided that neither one of us was all that eager beaver to deal with sweat AND sand. So, we booked a few nights at the Dobbins AFB lodging in Marietta (just north of Atlanta) and awaited our adventure.

As we hopped from air conditioned building to air conditioned building for 4 days, we realized it was the best decision we could have made. And when the AC in my hotel room started to go out 20 minutes before check-out, I knew that lounging in the sun for hours on end was never really going to happen anyway. The only ones lounging in 108 degree heat are the lizards.

So, here's a Random Musings Friday of what we learned/did/ate/saw in Hot-lanta this week. Warning: it involves poop and strippers.

1. The Cinebistro movie theater in Atlanta is exactly like the Movie Tavern in Lexington, except glamorous. We dined on white bean/smoky eggplant hummus, oven baked goat cheese with dried black figs, rock shrimp risotto, a shortrib/brisket burger with sweet potato fries, chocolate cake and peanut butter pie. Bonus: no one under 21 is allowed for movies starting after 6 PM. And we saw more movies in 3 days than I have in the past 3 years. Both Moonrise Kingdom (Wes Anderson's new one...minus Gwyneth Paltrow, plus Bruce excellent trade in my opinion) and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (I want Judi Dench and Dame Maggie Smith to by my honorary grandmothers. I think we would get along famously.) were playing at the Cinebistro. And I'm eager to take Mama Virgo back next weekend when she comes down for a short visit.

Also? They have the coolest sinks in the women's bathroom. Even Neal agrees that they are on the high side of awesome.

2. If you have a military ID, it is insane to pay triple the price to stay at a chain hotel. Dobbins AFB offers very nice and clean lodging that looks exactly like a Hampton or a Red Roof. The beds are comfy, the comforters are down, they sell alcohol at the front desk, and you have to pass armed airmen to get in. It's located in Marietta, which is approximately 10 miles north of downtown Atlanta. 5 minutes on I-75 and we were anywhere we wanted to be. And it's quiet. $117 for 3 nights and we even got a dorm fridge with freezer, a microwave, and this handy 1-cup coffee maker, which was just perfect for my morning routine. You will need to bring your own hair dryer, though, because the one they provide is roughly the same as using your own breath to dry your coif.

3. Breakfast on Monday morning was at The Flying Biscuit Cafe in Candler Park. After a weekend of cupcakes, pie, and dairy, I was experiencing a bit of gastrointestinal distress, so I stuck to the carbs on the menu. But Shana branched out to the "Egg-stravaganza"...complete with eggs, chicken sausage, turkey bacon, dreamy grits (which I also got...turns out, the secret is low-fat cream and cheddar cheese), and whole wheat french toast, topped with raspberry sauce and honey creme anglaise. (related: why don't they have accent marks on keyboards? Where's an accent mark when you really need one??) And this trip also ruined me for really fluffy scrambled eggs. Now, mine just taste like rabbit pellets. I would say that the service was pretty lackluster, but whatever...the food was amazing and sometimes, that's all that matters.

4. While perusing the rack of tourist brochures in the Dobbins lodging lobby, we ran across one that made us both go "hmmm...."

Yes, we paid money to attend an exhibit on excrement. As they exclaim, "It's the #1 exhibit about #2." And we even learned a few things along the way, like:

When your superstition involves driving over camel dung for good luck, you may actually deserve to get blown up...


Thank goodness that even when our species gives birth to multiples, we do not have to poop circles around them to know which ones are ours...


How very fortunate we are to NOT have to nuzzle our babies' rectums in order to stimulate them to poop. Clearly, I would prefer not to come back as a white-tailed deer.

5. There is no better way to follow an exhibit about poo/dung/excrement/crap, than to watch a 45-minute IMAX film about the disappearing ice caps, narrated by Meryl Streep. Bottom line: watching a polar bear fall into the water when the piece of ice they stepped on has melted beyond their weight limit is heartbreaking. And I want to deliver copies of the DVD to the 4 new families on our street because, apparently, driving their cardboard moving boxes to the recycle, 2 miles away, is just too much. I hope your homes melt.

6. After some R&R back at the hotel (and a little House Hunters, followed up by Say Yes to the Dress), we headed over to Seasons 52 for dinner. We had made reservations for an earlier supper so that we could arrive in plenty of time for our all-male revue showing of Magic Mike. Again, seasonal dining at its finest. Artichoke and goat cheese flat bread, roasted artichoke-stuffed shrimp, and cedar plank salmon were followed by "mini-indulgences" of german chocolate cake and pecan pie. I will warn you, though, that they serve their water STRAIGHT from the tap and the tap water in Dunwoody tastes a lot like our public pool. Also, if you go (and you can's a chain), drive your nice car. When we left, the valet drivers were parking Bentleys, Jags, and Beamers next to my pretty little Prius with the bird droppings and tree sap running down the rear window.

7. Magic Mike is...magical. And had just enough plot to keep me interested. But if plot is not your thing, they also offer penis pumps, Matthew McC in boy shorts, and a scene in which they wear nothing but camo pants, Army boots, and dog tags. It's a shame it will never make it to the IMAX.

8. Breakfast on Tuesday morning was courtesy of Highland Bakery...which was loud...and crammed full of tables. I understand making the most money possible in a recession but if they took out just 3 tables, we would have all been more comfortable. But who can complain when there are fluffy scrambled eggs and sweet potato pancakes with brown sugar syrup involved? And...they bring your check out with this:

I do find that a compliment under my bill contributes to a higher tip. And just starts the day off on the right foot, in general.

9. You can buy Celine Dion's My Heart Will Go On right now on iTunes for 69 cents. It really sets the mood for a day at the Titanic Exhibit in Atlantic Station. It's the 100th anniversary of the sinking and they've dredged up as much as possible from the wreckage and put it on display for those of us who missed it. Get the audio tour. It cuts down on the reading. And don't forget to touch the ice. It's the only thing in the entire exhibit that you can touch.

10. In an effort to spend as little time as possible in the actual out of doors, we left the Titanic (and its gift shop, which offers a variety of Rose-inspired jewelry and entire sets of china available for purchase) and headed over to the Virginia-Highland neighborhood. Virginia-Highland is known for its quirky, independent shops and locally-owned restaurants...most of which are closed until dinner or on Tuesdays or when it's high tide or mercury is in retrograde or any time 2 out-of-towners just want to get a bite to eat before they start gnawing on their own arms. Fortunately, we found a noodle house just in time.

And, as it turned out, the beef and portabello bowl with crispy spinach over fried rice was an ideal late lunch. I had no idea you could make spinach crisp up and I don't want to know how much butter is involved in making that happen, but it was delicious.

11. The shops in the Virginia-Highland area are very boutique-y and thus a little on the pricey side...especially if you are one to peruse the $5 DVD bin at, say, Walmart. But we found them to be quaint with very friendly salespeople. These girls were hanging out in a window outside of Dakota J's:

While the blue feather boas look just like a refreshing dip in the pool, the shocking site of Barbie in a sea of fuschia sort of looks like she is drowning in a puddle of her own blood. Maybe stabbed by a stiletto? Either way, these girls are nekkid and, probably, up to no good.

But there's also this:

although the first time I saw it on Trip Advisor, I read it as Dr. Bombay's Underwear Tea Party, which is not exactly the same as being underwater. Either way, we had to take a pass on having "high tea" underwater or in our underwear. After all, when one has had high tea at The Plaza, everything else is just an affair with monkeys.

12. After an early showing of The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (again, excellent film although slow as molasses in the dead of January until about an hour in), we hit Noche, a tapas restaurant in the same shopping center. We managed to score a table 10 minutes before the kitchen closed and we counted ourselves among the lucky as we polished off 3 varieties of tacos (including lobster) and apple-smoked bacon-wrapped dates. The interior is brick and concrete so bring your outside voice and your guide to reading lips. Or brave the outdoor tables. It was raining sideways so we just screamed at each other.

13. Wednesday, as we all know, was the 4th of July.

(note to self: dirty hippies who sell local artists' goods also have the best temporary tattoos)

and, apparently, is something akin to Christmas Day. After hitting 3 restaurants near Oakland Cemetery and finding them all closed, we finally ended up at Six Feet Under. And since we had been on the hunt so long, it was actually lunch time. One shrimp po boy and 3 crab cake sliders later, we were ready for an adventure. And a pedicure. Both could only be had at the Lenox Mall since everything else was closed. Literally. I take that back...I'm sure Walmart and Lowe's were doing a booming business, but every locally owned anything was closed for the 4th. We ended up paying $25 for the Asian women in the mall to do our toes (which, admittedly, was something of a disappointment for Shana, who is used to a full calf-wrap with pumice stone scrub, but fine for me as I usually just cut all of my callouses off with a pair of toenail clippers) and meandering around the mall for 5 hours.

There is an Anthropology in Lenox for anyone who has drool they need to express and a Pottery Barn for decorating inspiration (which you can then take to IKEA for 1/32 the price). And plenty of divine people-watching. But that's about it. Fortunately for me, Shana is incredibly flexible and forgiving.

What else did we learn?

  • Exit 261 comes up on you really fast. Be prepared to cross 6 lanes of traffic with .5 miles worth of notice.
  • Lots of lanes shift. You should really have a co-pilot to warn you of lanes that are ending when you're trying to figure out where in the hell you're going. Expect honking and middle fingers if you are trying to turn into a Publix from a lane that used to be a turning lane for you but is now a driving lane for oncoming traffic.
  • Sea salted caramel gelato is divine. When it is served as a milkshake, it's orgasmic. 
  • Atlanta is closed for the 4th of July. Wait...did I say that already? 
  • There is a song on the Magic Mike soundtrack that makes it absolutely worth it to purchase the entire CD from iTunes.
  • I feel really fancy when I go to a Target that is underground. 
  • A golf umbrella is of no use against sideways rain. 
  • Always bring extra underwear. 
  • There is a store in Atlanta that sells bondage attire, corsets, baby clothes, bobble head Jesus, marijuana accessories, and has kittens for adoption in the back. 
  • After you've had maid service, always make sure you still have a remote. 
  • It's OK to leave cupcakes in lieu of a tip for housekeeping. 
  • Don't let the dirty hippies gift wrap your purchases. Just....don't. 
I think that's about it. It has been next to impossible to get back to my routine after 3 days of family and 4 days of vacation and a holiday thrown into the middle of all of that. I think I'll just open this bag of chips and watch a movie and start over on Monday.

Happy Friday and Cheers to you! We had our fair share of mimosas last weekend so I expect y'all to catch up! 


  1. That is SO my kind of vacay! POOP and biscuits! WOOP!

  2. OMG!!! It sounds like you girls had such an amazing time!! And what a way to beat the heat. You girls made some very fine decisions (also I saw Magic Mike last night and HELLO MATTHEW! Yum. After the movie ended, I couldn't stop saying "alright, alright, alright!"). Also really want to see Moonrise Kingdom. Have heard such great things!

    LOL @ "Don't let the dirty hippies gift wrap your purchases." I mean, I could have told you that myself :p

    Poop exhibit sounds pretty awesome, actually.


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