VACATION DAY FOURTEEN: JUST TAP IT GENTLY LIKE AN EGG…

27 Aug

Thursday, July 3. This day of vacation was the only other “Zach and Jordan” day, though Kori rejoined us at night. She had to work all day and some of the evening so when Zach and I awoke it was just the two of us. I’d known we were going to have a day to ourselves in Georgia so I had some different ideas planned and after getting ready we went into Atlanta on another beautiful day (such a perfect weather vacation!). Our plan was to visit the Georgia aquarium, supposedly one of the best aquariums in America.

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We’ll never know, at least not yet, because we didn’t end up going. We were waiting in line to buy tickets when we saw just HOW MUCH tickets were. They were $40 a person! The high price combined with the kids absolutely everywhere (holiday weekend) and the fact that we had only wanted to visit a couple of hours anyway and then go do more stuff made us say “No way!” and duck back out of line.

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Since we’d already paid for parking we decide to utilize it and walk the 20 minutes to our lunch destination, the Varsity.

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The Varsity is America’s oldest drive-in and as soon as you walk in you hear a chorus of “What’ll ya have, what’ll ya have?” Zach ordered and I grabbed us a table that overlooked some of the building as well as Atlanta.

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A few minutes later he showed up with an assortment of fine diner food. 😉

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We had onion rings, a chili cheese slaw dog, a chili cheeseburger, a Frosted Orange (their signature orange shake) and a fried peach pie (for Zach). Yes, I know, enough calories to feed a small army, huh?

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We shared the food, Zach ate the peach pie since I don’t care for fried pies and we had about half the frosted orange.

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Would I ever go back again? No. Was the food good? It was just all right. But you know us and something always has to be done for the experience because otherwise you just never know! Apparently a lot of other people seem to enjoy it judging by how incredibly packed it is at lunch-time…

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The best part about lunch here was probably the diner-style paper hats that we got a kick out of wearing. 🙂

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At this point we were ready to leave down-town behind and head to the next part of our day. We walked the good distance back to our parking garage which had a surprisingly decent view of the city.

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We headed for Stone Mountain as we’d heard it was one of the best hikes with a stellar view not too far away. When we started the walk-up trail we realized the entire thing was literally up a giant rock. It’s the largest slab of granite in the US! I don’t know why I should have been so surprised since the name is Stone Mountain but for some reason I was expecting a more wooded trail to the top.

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It doesn’t look too steep in the above picture but it was a 1 mile hike up to the top and it got much, much more difficult as we went on. It’s surreal to me how trees can still take root and grow even on a giant rock.

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We saw interesting carvings all over the stone as we climbed, some that dated back quite far. We also saw telephone poles just absolutely covered in gum.

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Fascinating in that really gross kind of way… As our climb got steeper our views got better and better.

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It was a very hot day with no cloud cover and we found ourselves stopping frequently for “photo breaks” that were really code for catching our breath, haha! Though you know I would never turn down a photo opportunity either. 😉

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If you look hard enough you can see the outline of the Atlanta skyline…almost 60 miles away!! Just beautiful, sweeping views everywhere. As we got close to the the top the trail was so steep that there were handrails in some places.

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Finally we made it to the summit and saw a cable car dropping people off who had preferred to ride up instead of hike (not that I will ever understand that…)

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We went inside the gift shop to cool off and to our pleasure found that they had Dip ‘n Dots, a unique type of ice cream that I usually only find at King’s Island. Sometimes the smallest things can make me happy. 🙂 When we’d finally stopped sweating we went back outside to sweat some more and snap a few more pictures.

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We even stood right under the cable car and waved at the people riding down. 🙂

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I balanced the camera precariously on a rock to do some self-timered photos and a group of people were just staring at Zach and I with amusement as we took picture after picture. Ha! That made it slightly awkward but I am never too deterred by what other people think.

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The way down was MUCH easier than the way up and we encountered a little rock cave (which I had to explore), one of the oldest carvings we saw and a rock that was perfect for Zach to launch himself off of.

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By the time we made it back to Kori’s apartment we took a mini-power nap. Our nap would have lasted longer but Kori called saying she had surprisingly gotten off work early. She knew traffic would be really horrible coming home from Atlanta (where our dinner destination was) so she stayed down there and we got ready in a flash and drove to meet her.

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We had a little time to kill before our reservation so we wandered around a random shopping area. We thought maybe we’d go in and out of stores but they weren’t really the type to do that in so we just took pictures on train tracks instead. 🙂

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Then it was on to Canoe, the #1 restaurant out of over 3,400 in Atlanta!! There is a reason too. Combining gorgeous atmosphere, stellar service and outstanding food I completely understand why. The best part was it wasn’t even all that expensive! We got there and decided to wait for an outdoor table to open up so the 3 of us had a drink at the stand-up wood bar overlooking the river.

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Zach and I were classifying this place as one of our “anniversary dinners”, as you know I so often do at anywhere semi-nice while on vacation, but for this one we had Kori along! Haha definitely one of the few people in our life we could have a 3-person anniversary dinner with. The people seemed a bit confused that we had specified it as an anniversary dinner then brought a friend along, but once we explained that we were visiting Kori from Indiana they understood. 🙂 After our short wait we were seated on the most gorgeous patio overlooking the river and lush, colorful gardens.

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First they brought us out our choice of bread with fresh butter and from the basket we got to pick sourdough, spicy flatbread, olive bread and raisin walnut. Of course we each picked a different one to try several. Kori is just as big on sharing as we are. 🙂 I loved this concept too of them letting you make a selection instead of leaving the whole bread basket at the table for a) people to overeat and get too full for their dinner and b) for the bread no one touches to just get wasted. We ordered a bottle of champagne and two lovely appetizers:

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The first was Grilled Australian octopus, chorizo, peppers, horseradish, tomato broth and the second was Canoe’s house smoked salmon, crispy potato cake, Vermont’s goat cheese. The octopus was flavorful and cooked incredibly well (no chewiness!) and how could you ever go wrong with smoked salmon and goat cheese? 🙂 In between appetizers and the main courses we explored the grounds a little bit.

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What a beautiful outdoor area this place has! Kori and I also went to the bathroom and were impressed with the fact that they had a mouthwash dispenser with little cups.

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Haha and of course Kori had to try it.

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Right when we were all sitting back down dinner showed up!

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Zach’s was the Stuffed Vermont quail, chicken andouille, crisped okra, corn and tomato salad. Which he really seemed to like. I thought it was fabulous, don’t get me wrong, but out of our three dishes his was my least favorite. And by least favorite I mean that it was still better than most things I have eaten before. 😉

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Kori got the duck and beef burger, sunny-side egg, spinach, pickled cabbage, truffle pommel frites. I love duck. I love burgers. I love eggs. I LOVE truffle fries. Needless to say I was pretty into her dish! Though I was also very, very into mine…

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Slow-roasted carolina rabbit, swiss chard – bacon ravioli, sweet potato, candied garlic sauce. I am not even sure of the last time I have had rabbit but this was excellent. It was so juicy and tender and almost 2 months later I can still conjure up how good it was. Yeah, I’m THAT person. We decided that we were all much too full for dessert. That is, right up until the time she brought out the dessert menu haha! We got their dessert they are “known for”, the chocolate grotto.

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This was a chocolate shell filled with a chocolate mousse-like substance, salted caramel center and a pretzel dust. Zach especially raved repeatedly about how fabulous this was, ranking it in his top THREE desserts of all time. The server had told us to tap it with the spoon gently like an egg and it would release the filling. This resulted in a comical time of me whacking it repeatedly with the spoon and it barely cracking for the longest time… The kicker to a phenomenal meal. 🙂

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We debated going somewhere after dinner but were so exhausted we decided to just call it a day and hit the sack. Believe it or not I’ve only got two vacation days left to write about finally. 🙂

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