When we left Arkansas on the cold morning after Christmas Day, we knew we were heading into snow. There had been a dusting of the white stuff at Julie and Matt’s late Christmas afternoon, but nothing compared to the predictions for the northern parts of Alabama and Georgia where we were heading. Jason called to say be “careful, careful, careful”. Since my “dozing off at the wheel” incident, he makes a point of checking on me if he knows I might be behind the wheel for any length of time.
We hadn’t been on the road more than 30 minutes when I went into sleep mode, waking when Ted changed radio stations or we stopped to let Maddie and Bear stretch their legs and “do their business”. Opening the door of the truck and climbing out into temps in the teens made those doggy breaks real short. Man, it was cold!
I started driving outside of Memphis and while Ted napped, the snow began to fall. The fascination of all those snowflakes being swirled by some pretty blustery winds kept me wide awake. Ted woke up a couple of times and snapped some shots of the snow beginning to build up along the highway.
When Ted began driving again outside Birmingham, we tuned into the Sirius Atlanta weather channel. It didn’t sound good. As the sun began to go down, black ice was being reported on more and more Atlanta roads. I kept waiting for Ted to say, “let’s just get a hotel room and make the last 100 miles in the morning.” But he didn’t, although he told me later he certainly considered it several times. He knew I wanted to get to Jason and Blair’s to see them and Blake and have Christmas there, so he just kept driving. Calls to Jason for road conditions near their house eased his mind somewhat also.
Ted and I had mentioned in the past that we’d really like to go to the Georgia Aquarium the next time we were in Atlanta, so on Monday afternoon we loaded up and rode downtown. The company Jason works for, Brasfield & Gorrie, built the aquarium, which opened in 2005. That afternoon, with thousands of New Orleans Saints fans in town for the Falcons/Saints game, the aquarium was swimming (pardon the pun) with people.
The Georgia Aquarium is the largest such facility in the world, holding over 100 million gallons of water. It also has the world’s largest collection of aquatic animals. It is said 230 newly-constructed, average-size American homes can fit inside the facility. It hosted 1,000,000 visitors during its first 100 days and 3.6 million its first year. Here’s a few of my favorite shots from our visit:
Any visit to Atlanta should include a few hours to explore the Georgia Aquarium. I’ve just hit a few of the high spots of this wonderful facility, and a sixth arena – a dolphin exhibit – opens in a few months. Here’s a little tidbit about how the Georgia Aquarium came to be – the Georgia Aquarium was funded by a gift of over $200 million by Bernie and Billi Marcus. Bernie was born into poverty, somehow found the means to attend college, became a pharmacist, then branched off into other endeavers. The most profitable was founding – with another gentleman – the Home Depot Corporation. The land for the aquarium was donated by the Coca-Cola Botting Company. The Georgia Aquarium opened debt-free.
What a wonderful holiday we had – in Arkansas, in Atlanta, and then home for New Year’s Eve and a party with friends. It was our first New Year’s Eve at home in several years, and it was such fun to enjoy the weather here that night. It was warm enough for our friends to have their party outside by the pool – although by 10 p.m. temperatures had begun to dip, and most of us had moved inside the pool house. By the next day it was cold again, and that has hung on all this week.
Bear and I received our official registration notification this week, and I went into Albany Wednesday to take care of the orientation I needed to work with him at the hospital. We are ready to go and hope to work for the first time on January 19 at a nursing home, then the next week at a hospital one day and two assisted living homes later that week. Please send up a little doggie prayer that Bear gets over his “fear of Fords”. We are still struggling with that.
See you Monday morning – have a great weekend, and God bless.