Decisions, Decisions

I’d just turned out the light when I saw the light on my phone was blinking. It was a message from Jess:

“What are you doing? Want to play pool with me, Liz, and Julio?”

I was warm and comfortable in bed. It was almost midnight. I checked the time the message was sent and saw it was sent only two minutes ago. Should I go? Or should I sleep off my lunch and the handful of stouts and porters I’d already drank?

I got dressed and messaged Jess.

They were in a club called The Basement which was underneath another club called The Graveyard. I’d made a point of bringing my passport with me as proof of age as I’d previously been denied a beer when trying to use my driver’s license. The bouncer, a man wider than the doorframe and with an unapproachable demeanour, squinted hard at my passport before letting me in. I bought a beer then went over to the pool table where Jess was lining up a shot.

She scuffed the cue ball sending it off to the side. Julio smiled then took the cue and ended the game.

We played doubles; Jess and Liz Vs Julio and me. It was a close game that we won by default. Julio disappeared and Liz got talking to Jess’s sister. I played against Jess. After a couple of beers I was in that “sweet spot” where my judgement was unclouded. I could make bank shots, carom shots, and sometimes even jump shots. I won but thought at one point I’d been hustled when Jess began making a comeback.

We drove home after first stopping off at Cinnaholic. A custom cinnamon roll restaurant where customers are able to pick any combination of icing and toppings.

I chose peanut butter icing with cookie dough on top. 

Fresh and warm out of the oven, the icing melted into the cinnamon roll, the cookie dough becoming gooey and amalgamated. As a late night snack, it was perfect and was a sugar-filled hug that helped me to crash into bed immediately.

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Eating With The Fishes

I’d heard that Georgia Aquarium was supposed to be a great attraction and that I should definitely visit. When I was planning the trip I hadn’t really given it much thought though I do like aquariums; they’re peaceful, calming, and are almost like windows into an alien world.

I arrived not long after opening, going to beat the crowds. The aquarium is divided into ecosystems such oceans, rivers, reefs, etc.

The river enclosure featured a lot of local fish but also a while host of reptiles and amphibians – including a pair of albino alligators. 

It took me a while to realise that there were fish above me. A lot of care had been taken to make sure visitors get a fully immersive experience.

There were a few environments featuring animals of never seen before. Georgia Aquarium is famous for its whale sharks but I hadn’t realised before going that they also cared for beluga whales, manta rays, and bottle nose dolphins.

I stood listening to a presentation about the 4 whale sharks at the aquarium, the amount of water used to fill their enclosure, and the thickness of the “glass” (2ft thick!). Then it was getting time… For the whales, I mean. 

Rope lines are pulled across the surface of the water. 4 boats enter the water with a keeper inside each one, they then drag themselves along the lines dropping krill into the tank for each individual whale shark. This is how they’re able to monitor the amount that each shark eats. For an animal so large – the largest fish in the world – the whale shark has a throat as big as a quarter. This surprised me but I imagine the other fish in the tank welcomed it; if they were accidentally gulped up by the whale shark during feeding, they simply had to swim or if its gills to escape!

Then it was my feeding time. I found a bar and ordered a beer and a pulled pork sandwich. There was a selection of success on the bar to go with it so I chose to go with their spiciest. There were also milder versions, mustard based sauces, and vinegar based sauces. BBQ sauce seemed like a dialect in the South. Everywhere had their own version, some thick, some thin. I think I prefer the thicker, stickier sauces but I also like them with a bit of a kick.

The side of mac n’cheese was well seasoned and obviously had more than one kind of cheese in there – not a bad thing at all. It was stringy and sharp (like an extra mature cheddar), keeping me filled until much, much later in the evening.

Atlanta

The flight from Savannah to Atlanta lasted maybe an hour though I feel like it was a little under. I’m definitely not complaining, the drive would’ve been 3-4 hours of concrete boredom with renting a car costing around the same price.

I was sad to say goodbye to Savannah but was also looking forward to seeing how a big city in the same state would differ.

It took me almost half an hour to get out of Atlanta’s huge airport. With almost 4 hours to kill until I could check in to my accommodation, I decided to take a taxi to the zoo. Zoo Atlanta is located in Grant Park which wasn’t too far from where I was staying. 

It was another hot and humid day in Georgia and carrying around a backpack filled with clothes was making life a lot harder but the zoo provided a welcome distraction.

Zoo Atlanta works hard to help conserve a great number of endangered species (including pandas), and aims to educate people about conservation and the dire situation into which a lot of these animals have been forced through human involvement; whether it be through trafficking, the pet trade, poaching…etc.

After walking around the zoo for around 3 hours, and having skipped breakfast, I was starving. I found a pizza restaurant and bar called Grant Central Pizza where I demolished a 12″ pizza in so little time it actually warranted the admiration of the bar staff. (I ate it so fast, I didn’t even take a photo).

“Where else are you going on your trip?” Jess, the bartender asked. 

I mentioned that I was going to Nashville.

“I have family up that way! I have a great great great grandfather who was a famous bear hunter. Now that part of my family lives up in the mountains… They’re what we call rednecks. In fact, once we had a family reunion and my cousins from up there tried hitting on my siblings.”

“Your family tree: the stump,” a waiter, Ryan, said, “A few twigs on there but even they’re growing into each other.” He picked up a glass of water, the bar phone, then ordered Chinese food.