Tag: dunkin’ donuts

Adventures in Atlanta

This past weekend, my niece participated in the Big South club volleyball tournament in Atlanta, Georgia.  Last month, my wife, the consummate women’s volleyball fan (especially if my niece is involved), had suggested we travel along and provide some away-team support.  We decided in the end to turn it into a weekend getaway for Dee and myself to go check out a little bit of Atlanta and cheer on my niece and her teammates in their bid for Nationals.

Although we didn’t get on the road until Friday afternoon, we somehow managed to avoid the worst of the traffic and checked into the hotel only about 15 minutes later than expected.  Since my niece was playing Friday night, we grabbed our gear and headed out to catch the MARTA train from a park-and-ride station to avoid driving into the city.  I had a little fun along the way:

Breakin' the law My first MARTA station

We were ravenously hungry by the time we made it inside the convention center where the games were taking place, but we were pressed for time and the only concession stand still open was a gourmet hot-dog stand.  If you haven’t had a $9 hot dog before – let me tell you – if you’re hungry enough, they’re delicious, but I’d probably recommend you try to find somewhere else to eat, for the value.

This is what a $9 hot dog looks like.

It was close to 8:00 by this time, and most of the teams had already left for the night, but my niece had one match left to play, so we hunkered up on the court-side folding chairs and cheered our hearts out for the girls.

Setting the blurry ball.

It was pretty exciting stuff, but after the 5 hour drive and an hour of edge-of-your-seat excitement, I was wiped.  We hurried back to the MARTA station before the Celtics/Hawks game finished up, shared the car back with some Wrestlemania Axxess fans who were in town for their own convention, and crashed for the night.

It turned out that we had a little free time the next morning, as the play from the previous day put my niece’s team in the afternoon action.  We took a couple of hours to check out the nice neighborhoods in North Atlanta and went out to lunch at the Gordon Biersch Brewery & Restaurant, where I treated myself to a mouth-watering pulled-pork sandwich and a very-tasty beer sampler:

Soooo yummy...and as big as my head (almost)They were all delicious!

We settled in at one of the 150+ volleyball courts at the convention center and cheered on my niece as they tore apart the competition in a fierce match that had us yelling until we were hoarse.  My niece played extra-well, which was perfect timing since the volleyball coach from the college she’ll be attending next year was present and looking on.  She definitely caught my niece during the right game!

My niece sets for the spike and point.

There was a break in the action until dinner time, so Dee and I strolled across the street to check out the CNN Center and get some celebrity photo-ops:

Spiral staircase at the CNN Center Larry and MeLarry and DeeAwkward Half-Hug with Soledad O'Brien Anderson Cooper seems oddly unphased by my wife's flirty behavior

Dee was eager to go take in a few more matches before it was my niece’s turn again, so she headed back down to the madness.  I took a little break from the roar of the crowds, ref’s whistles, and shouts of adrenaline-fuelled athletes and found a nice quiet wall in the convention center to hunker down against and read a couple chapters of my book.  (Plus, my phone needed charging).

Dunkin' Donuts and a good book.

It was a nice oasis of calm in the midst of an otherwise bustling day.  Recharged (both the phone and my brain), I rejoined my wife on the floor where we screamed our hearts out cheering for my niece’s team in their last match of the day.

Pink hair for breast cancer day

Saturday night, we had a low-key dinner and crashed, worn out from the sightseeing and cheering.  We had an early start on Sunday, checking out of the hotel and getting back to the convention center in time for the girls’ final game of the tournament.  It was a nail-biter, with both teams playing some of their best volleyball of the tournament.  My niece’s team, up 1 game, barely lost the second 27-25.  The 3rd game tiebreaker, (played only to 15) had everyone on the edge of their seats as the two teams battled back and forth, stealing point after point away from each other until the score was tied at 14-14.  Heart in my throat, I watched the other team play an incredible last two points to take the game, the match, and the chance to play again later that afternoon in bracket play.

My niece was finished, and it was time for us to head home.  We took our time getting back, but I was happy to be home and give our kids a giant hug and a kiss when we finally walked in the door.  Too exhausted to do much of anything, we ordered pizza and hung out with the girls until bedtime, when we all promptly crashed and slept the sleep of the dead.

So where did my weekend go?  Looking back, we did a lot more than it feels like.  The whole thing was one big whirlwind of activity, and although I feel like it only took about 12 hours of my life to do/see everything we did in Atlanta, looking back on the photos now, I’m thinking it was time well spent.


Coffee Consumption Can Prevent Car Damage

Hope that post title caught your attention!  It's true.  And if you're skeptical, just read on.

This morning I made an unscheduled trip to my local Dunkin' Donuts for a heart-clogging treat breakfast sandwich & coffee.  The drive-through line appeared a bit shorter than the mass of people inside clamoring for sustenance of the sugary sort, so I decided to remain in my automobile and continue listening to my podcast of Spider on the Web. There were about four cars in front of me waiting to spout orders to the faceless speaker box that consistently garbles my orders, but the one that drew my attention was the one just before me in line – a black sporty Saturn coupe.

The woman within was obviously in a hurry – I mean, after all, who else would simultaneously be applying makeup, talking on a cell phone, AND honking their horn at the car ahead of them (indicating it should move up to close the half-car gap between it and the car in front of it)?  I guess the guy in the old piece-of-crap car decided she was in a hurry, too, and that she deserved to take his spot.  Because he backed up, bumping squarely into her front bumper, and then pulled out around the other cars in line, apparently intent on leaving the line and presumably, the lot.

As you might expect, Ms. Patience took umbrage to this action, and peeled out after the beater, honking her horn incessantly to flag him down.  Whether she planned to extract revenge with a pair of tweezers or a call to her lawyer I could not say, but the look of determination on her face as she zipped around the building made me sure she would achieve her goal, whatever it was.

A movement in my rear-view mirror caught my eye and I looked back to see Mr. Fed-Up circle around and pull into a handicapped spot at a diagonal, Ms. Patience hot on his heels.  She pulled her car up behind him so the nose of her car was blocking him in, and started lowering her window to give him a piece of her mind.  What she planned to say next was quickly driven from her mind as she watched Mr. Fed-Up put his car into reverse, back up directly into the front corner of her car hard enough to make both cars rock on their wheels, and then pull in more-or-less straight into one of the parking spots.

It was at this point that the two participants in this little automobile ballet got out of their cars and confronted each other.  I paused long enough to make sure they were going to interact verbally instead of physically, and just about the time I saw Ms. Patience get on her phone to call the police, I had to pull forward (and out of line-of-sight) in order to give my own breakfast order.

I made sure to circle the building once more after I got my food a few minutes later, checking to make sure that neither one was going to go postal on the other.  Ms. Patience had pulled into another parking space and was sitting patiently, waiting for the police.  Mr. Fed-Up appeared to have gone inside, probably thinking that if he had to sit around waiting for the police to show up, he might as well do it with a coffee & donut in hand.  I hope he bought an extra half-dozen for the responding officer(s) – it probably wouldn't help his case any, but at least it wouldn't hurt it.

As I drove off, I couldn't help but think about how strong the addiction to caffeine can be.  Before their morning cuppa joe, most people are sleepy, irate, dazed, slow, or depressed, and more often than not, all of the above.  And then, I wonder just how many accidents or attacks of road rage like the one I experienced this morning could have been easily avoided with the judicious application of a decent cup of Maxwell House.

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