Apr 11, 2013

The blog in which Adventures with Ahrens goes to Stone Mountain.

It was an adventure alright.  No, seriously, it involved high levels of anxiety including a fashion fight with a six year old, Atlanta traffic, a lost wallet, eating of more junk food in an afternoon than is ever necessary, dancing, singing, loud fireworks, and talk of history I didn't even know I had in me!  Oh yeah... and then there's the "Unicorn."  I will have to blog that one on Randomobscuritites.com since it is a bit more "adult" in nature.  So... let's get started!

Even though we really don't have money to vacation, we can afford to get out and do a little "staycationing" this week.  I had work cancellations due to Spring Break, and Geoff is off all week, so why not?  The plan for today was to go to a hibachi where they cook with fire and play with knives at your table.  Well, that plan might have been fun, however, my migits don't care for Chinese food, and weren't looking forward to it.  They enjoyed all the classic tricks we saw on Youtube.com, and then told me that they didn't need to go.  So....  I thought to look and see if Stone Mountain Park had anything for us, and as it turned out, the Laser Show was scheduled for every night this week for Spring Break!  Woo hoo!  We had honestly tried going with the kidlets the last few years, and for whatever reason anxiety disorder,  it didn't work out.  Well, I knew the weather was going to be perfect, and we could arrange to leave mid afternoon, therefore, avoid the heaviest of traffic in Atlanta, and assuming this time of season would be much less crowded= less anxiety inducing, this seemed to be the perfect timing.  I was right, mostly.
Six year fashion fight involved the need to look good, regardless of the fact that it involved new, hand-me-down, winter boots on an 80 degree day where there is a lot of walking involved.  Eventually, my own mother's voice was rumbling through my head, "Pick your fights."  (It was rumbling through my head because she was in the same room.  How very convenient.) Sometimes, I need to remember this life lesson. In all fairness, this six year old child is an amazing child, who tolerates not only my craziness, but the rest of the members of the family with great love, patience,  and acceptance.    
We get on the road around 3: p.m.  If you live in or near Atlanta, you know, traffic begins around 4: p.m.  and ends around NEVER.  I had four highways to navigate in order to arrive at our destination.  The GPS said it should take approximately 50 minutes.  The show didn't start until 8:30 p.m., therefore, we packed our dinner and munchies, and planned on grabbing some ice cream for dessert from the park.  We get on the first highway, and find that shortly into the drive, there is something ahead that is stopping traffic.  I jump off the highway right before I would have to stop and wait on the highway, and detour.  Crisis averted, and we are able to jump back on the highway within a few miles.  On our merry way, and while it gets hairy, it is not horrific.  Then, it gets horrific.  We are moving along at a lovely clip, when I see it.  A sea of red lights, NOT moving. I quickly realize that I am not in a part of town I do not know, and I have no idea if it is me just imagining it, since I am the only person in the car having a panic attack in my head.  Then, as I am coming to yet another exit, I see up ahead just enough to read a sign that says, "Fire at ..... St., ALL lanes closed next 5.5 miles."  Easy answer.  ABORT! ABORT!  I jumped off the highway, and realized, that we were in a part of town that made my English speaking self a minority, and I was going to have to pull it together before I freaked my daughter out.  (Through the rear-view mirror, I sensed her feeding off my freakish anxiety.)  I pull into a gas station, and have a rapid, mental pep talk in order to even walk into the gas station to ask for help, since no one was outside at the pumps.

*I do not go into gas stations due to anxiety attacks.  Or banks, post offices, elevators, etc.  Essentially, criteria for why I would not enter a location is similar to that of the possible fatal side effects on most medications.  If anything bad EVER happened in that type of location, I will not be participating in activity there.

So, I am in the gas station, and there is a man of obvious Mexican descent standing off to the side, and the man at the register had an impressive collection of gold- in.his.mouth.  I wondered what his real job was that afforded him to wear gold teeth instead of the more common jewelry such as a ring, bracelet, necklace, or even an earring for the more progressive man.  So, I explained that I was not from the area. This fact should have been painfully obvious as I am a person without the ability to speak Spanish, dance, or have multiple "baby daddy."  I must not have enunciated, or spoke slowly enough for him, as he asked me why I couldn't take the highway to get to Stone Mountain.  I repeated the story of the highway closure, and he said, "Shew."  Then, he continued doing what he was doing.  He absentmindedly asked the man standing off to the side, and he quickly explained how to get there, without the highway. At first, I felt like the man was speaking in Spanish, but once my ears adjusted, I was able to understand his speech and learned that with the traffic at that time, we were within fifteen minutes of our destination.  So, it only took about an hour and a half, but we finally made it, and the anxiety of the drive was over.

I see that most activities cost money, however, there is a little village with a candy shop, souvenir stores and a glass store that does live demonstrations.  I suggested that we let the kidlets each pick out a little candy to enjoy while waiting for the Laser Show to begin.  That is a challenge- having Chaz make a decision is one of those difficult things for him.  That is something that he and the hubs both share in common.  Both of them struggle to make up their mind on things.  I wonder if that is an autistic trait?  Hmm...  So, I found this long, lollipop-like things on a stick, and because it was named "Unicorn," I assumed both kids would want it.  Nope.  Shay had picked out some gummy candy animal shapes on stick that she was excited about, and luckily, Chazman did want the "Unicorn" candy.  So, we were able to avert a potentially long term "event" of making a decision.  Often, I feel like decision making is an actual activity that we can log as an event of the day.

We walk out of the candy store and immediately head for the glass blowing store.  I had my own fun in the candy store noticing a little extra special something on the "Unicorn," but I then notice the adult humor carries over to glass blowing.
 Like, really?  What other types of "blowers" would you have on the premises of a glass shop?  Thank you for stating the obvious.
This is an area behind the viewing glass.  This is one of three separate areas that are used through out the glass formation process.  Honestly, must it be called that???

After that, we were hot, and Grandma decided that before we go back to the car to get our picnic dinner of healthy subs, we should eat dessert.  She treated us to the worst, expensive ice cream ever at a theme park, and an glutinous funnel cake that we ended up throwing away at least half of.  After spending $30.08 on that junk, we sat in a pollen covered area and cooled off.  Then, as we reached the car to gather our blankets, and picnic items to settle in on the lawn for the last hour and half before the show started, my mom realized the wallet she had used within the past thirty minutes, was now missing in action.   Within minutes, it was located, and a policeman made us jump through hoops to get it back.  (Actually, it wasn't that bad, but the guy was ridiculous.  In general, I have the upmost respect/admiration/gratitude for our public servants.  This guy pissed me off.)  

Wasting time before the show began involved eating dinner after setting up our spot, dancing, gymnastics, enjoying a dollar container of glow in the dark bracelets we managed to create bracelets and necklaces with, and enjoying the candy that we had bought the kidlets at that store.  Once the show began, we snuggled up, and I ended up with Shay in my lap since the fireworks were a bit too loud and spontaneous for her appreciation.  

Stone Mountain is a park created around a big rock that has the carving of some men on horses.  Yeah, look it up.  I am pretty sure you can glean greater educational resources online besides this blog.  

It's actually magnificent to see in person.  The Laser Show is a 45 minute laser graphic show that incorporates music, light effects and some fireworks.  This year was really a great show.  They change the show each year, however, they have some portions that they have done since the inception of the show in the 1980's.  (Those are the GA inspired songs and famous places/people.)  

I found myself challenging my history knowledge, and sadly, much of the history is depressing.  Shay was weighed down by the loss and devastation that was highlighted in the show.  From the Civil War to The Challenger, to Amelia Earhart, and other tragedies,  it was not only educational, but gave great pause to reflect on where we have been and what our history says about us.  When a child asks why there "was" war, it's hard to answer.  While this generation is growing up during a time of war, it's even more confusing to tell a child about past wars.  And then, to learn that some high school in GA still have a segregated prom as of this month, I was at a loss for words to explain the efficacy of wars. As the lasers were telling a story of our history, both my mother and I were rapidly explaining to our migits in our laps who the person was and why they were important. From Betsy Ross to Buzz Aldrin, we were on our toes and I cold not believe how much I actually knew.  (I swear, I am an idiot when it comes to the most basic of knowledge that I should have retained.  Ask me to sing a camp song I learned when I worked there in 1996, I can not only sing it, and all it's verses, but I can also add the hand motions as well.  What a waste of brain cells.)  

Luckily, the drive home took exactly 45 minutes, and the kidlets were awake and able to shower off the pollen and then brush their teeth.  All in all,  making memories was the name of the game, and I will never forget the moment we turned down the street and they saw the mountain ahead of us.  Or the moment(s) when my children had asked for the umpteenth time when the show was to begin, and I told them it had begun, and acted like I was watching it.  I asked them to be quiet and apologized when they complained that they didn't see anything.  Grandma didn't allow the charade to go on as long as I was willing to continue, but while I did get play, I enjoyed myself. And isn't that the important part?  

PS  randomobscurities.com will have the follow up on the aforementioned "Unicorn" lollipop in the hours/day.  

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