Road-trippin’ through the Covid-19 Apocalypse was not the way I expected to spend the last Spring Break of the Amazon’s high school career. We faced the horror of selecting a university to flush our life savings down, so we choked down the Pepto and Imodium, threw common sense to the gutter, and saddled up the family ride for the trek Eastward.

Day 1 ended much like Season 1 of The Walking Dead in Atlanta, GA. Specifically, we stopped at the Hampton Inn & Suites Atlanta Buckhead Place, GA located at 3312 Piedmont Road NE, Atlanta, GA, 30305.  First-off Expedia’s directions were awful. Second off, the hotel shares parking with a neighboring shopping district, so they clipped us for $25 extra to park our car. In this case, booking through Expedia paid off because they covered the parking, but that fee would have been a deal killer in my book. The usual urban zombies were lurking around the garage when I parked. Made me glad to be south of The Line so my pest control options were not infringed. The room was adequate. The breakfast buffet pretty standard. We were DEFINITELY glad to leave that place behind.

Since the secondary goal of this odyssey was to have one last road trip as a family, we had planned to spend the day in Atlanta, so we made two stops.

The World of Coca-Cola was selected by the Mrs. for reasons still obscure to your humble correspondent. This place is a monument to successful marketing, and a disease pit of unbelievable scope. Lots of people packed into small spaces, not to mention the tasting room where folks can try various Coca-Cola products from around the world. It would be traumatic to a germophobe in normal times, but with Covid-19 in the air, you wanted to jump into a vat on sanitized gel and inhale deeply. If you are a genuine Coke fan, the memorabilia displays were entertaining, and the displays were well executed. The tour ends with the gift shop of course. All in all, I should have listened to my gut. Give it a miss.

On the other side of town was the Center for Puppetry Arts. This is an off the normal beat gem that more than made up for being dragged through the World of Coca-Cola. This small museum contains exhibits of historical puppets from across the world, and they offer classes in the puppetry arts.

 

The reason the Amazon chose this venue for a stop was the exhibits of Jim Henson’s characters, and artifacts from his 1982 film “The Dark Crystal” . Please do not confuse the original film with the Dark Crystal series recently released by Netflix.

StainedGlass_Kermit

Stained Glass window above entrance to the Jim Henson exhibit

 

 

The Dark Crystal exhibit was definitely worth the time. I’ll let the artifacts speak for themselves. If you are old enough to have watched the film in the theater, you know how remarkable the set and effects were. No CGI. No computers. Just practical effects went into creating a world and story that holds up to the present time.

I won’t bore you with the rest of the journey except to give a thumbnail review of the hotels where we stopped.

Drury Inn & Suites Charlotte University Place 415 West W.T. Harris Blvd, Charlotte, NC, 28262 United States of America <  >

This hotel was the best of the entire trip. We arrived in the early evening and were pleasantly surprised to find out they offer a “Kick-back Hour” that comes with your room. This included a taco/baked potato bar, Hot Dog bar, Salad bar, and two drinks from the bar. The breakfast offerings were also very good. All of the usual Southern treats like eggs, biscuits, sausage, and gravy. Makes my ol’ arteries clog just thinking back on it.

Home2 Suites by Hilton Durham Chapel Hill 3305 Watkins Road, Durham, 27707, NC, US  When I thought the hotel in Atlanta was going to be the low point of this trip, we stopped at Home 2. This is a “greenie’ enterprise promoting sustainability and healthy living. While I’m all for these ideas, the execution left a lot to be desired. The sheets on the beds were all microfiber made from “recycled materials” aka plastic. If you want to experience this for yourself, replace the sheets on your bed with vinyl shower curtains or plastic trash bags and snuggle down for the night. The breakfast offerings were little boxes of yellowish blobs that claimed to be scrambled eggs and sausage that you had to microwave. We bought some Slim Jim Meat Snacks at the gas station instead.

The nice part of this stop was an Asian confusion eatery across the parking lot called Tasu Express . A good selection of classic “Chinese food” options sold by the individual plate in a very clean and pleasant setting. Definitely worth the time to stop.

Best Western Plus Music Row 1407 Division Street, Nashville, TN, 37203 United States of America This stop was half-way between the Drury Inn and Home2. The bedspread had a big black footprint on it that proved housekeeping was less than engaged in their jobs. On the other hand, breakfast was excellent. Made to order omelets, waffles, and all of the classic Southern faves.

Stay Safe & Stay Away!