Note: Part II can be found here.
Since we didn't get back to the hotel room from The Jersey Boys performance until nearly midnight, Cindy and I slept in the next day. There's nothing like snuggling with your baby on a quiet Sunday morning.
After a nice late breakfast, we drove about 30 minutes to visit Stone Mountain. When I first arrived in Atlanta in April and told Cindy I could see Stone Mountain from my office window, she said she's always wanted to go see it. So we did.
Stone Mountain is the largest single piece of exposed above-ground granite in the world. In other words, it's like a big zit on the face of the earth. I don't mean that negatively, just using it as an analogy.
Here's the obligatory tourist souvenir photo.
Overall, I was not that impressed with Giant Granite Park. The admission price is reasonable enough, but the food, drink and gift shop prices almost rival those of the Mouse House. In other words, too much. And if you're going to advertise a "Hot Fudge Sundae" don't give me vanilla ice cream with Hershey's chocolate syrup. Chocolate syrup is a long way from hot fudge.
We started out by taking the Sky Trolley cable car up to the top of the mountain, which was better than walking up (yes, there is one side of the mountain you can hike from the bottom to the top or vice versa, more on that later), but not by much. Each car holds 80 people, however when 80 people are crammed inside (and I DO mean crammed) only the people who are fortunate enough to be on the windowed outer edges of the car can actually see anything more than their fellow sardine-member's body.
The top of the mountain was fun. As one of my friends remarked after seeing the Twitpic I sent from my cellphone, "You look like you're on the lunar surface." Well, maybe, but I don't recall seeing a snack and gift shop on the surface of the moon, however this hunk of rock had both. We spent about 30 minutes, I think, just walking around taking pictures and waiting to see if some of the annoying children might roll off the edge.
The trip back down in the cable car was a bit more exciting than the trip up since we got in early and were able to position ourselves at the front of the car as it descended. It was almost like a rollercoaster ride without the track. And I kept scaring the two little girls in front of us by saying things to Cindy like, "Does that cable look frayed to you?" and "What was that bump? Did you feel that bump?"
But the absolute highlight of the visit to the Big Rock Candy Mountain...ummm wait, that's another trip. Anyway the most exciting part of the visit was riding the "Scenic Railroad Ride" on a real train!
My first hint of disappointment came when the train pulled up and I observed an engine that looked more like an AMTRAK train. Since the train ride was attached to what was designed as an old western town (but was really just a cover to overcharge for various food and merchandise products) I was expecting an old "steam-powered with a black smokestack engine" type. The AMTRAK-looking engine was just so out of place, especially since it was pulling old-fashioned open-air passenger cars. The clash of times/cultures was sending my mind into a logic-conflict of epic proportions.
As we seated ourselves and the train began to roll, an audio tape began playing over the speakers. The scenario was that a mother and her young son were on the train and the young son was unimpressed (I know how he felt) with the ride until the friendly old conductor came to collect tickets and began telling the boy how train robbers used to stop the trains and steal from the passengers. Cindy and I both thought this meant that there would be some actors who would be dressed as robbers on horseback as we slowly rounded a bend in the track that rings the base of the mountain. In fact, through the trees (trees were the major portion of the "Scenic" part of the ride) I saw people and told Cindy, "I just saw what I think will be the robbers through the trees and bushes. They'll come out and board the train when we come around this bend."
Instead we rounded the bend and saw that what I had observed were actually people walking down from the mountain (remember them?), not robbers.
But "scenic" meant more than trees and bushes. There were graffiti-covered concrete steps standing alone on the side of the tracks, a dilapidated mobile home with an industrial-sized dumpster full of trash next to it, and an abandoned "town" which consisted of fake-front businesses with one real structure that looked like a 10-ton weight had fallen on it, causing the roof to buckle in and the window and door frames to be bent out of shape. Or maybe it was caused by a group of passengers who were as ticked off as I was.
Very disappointing. If it weren't for the fact that I was enjoying being with Cindy, I might have thrown myself under the wheels of the train to put an end to the "excitement."
I could recommend a visit to Stone Mountain Park, but only to people I don't like. The rest of you, please don't waste your time.
I'll get the best photos I took uploaded to Flickr in the next day or so.
To be continued...