A Sunny Atlanta Getaway

This past weekend was…refreshing? Trying to figure out the best word to describe the 50-hour getaway I recently went on with my wife is a little tricky, but I think the one I just used does it justice.

Sid and I both felt very fortunate that we could make our Atlanta trip happen. With Sloan in the caring hands of my in-laws, we were able to skip town and enjoy ourselves with complete peace of mind. We departed for our adventure with a couple items on the itinerary but with plenty of time open to improvise as well. This arrangement worked our perfectly.

It was tough leaving this little girl but we knew she was in great hands.

We dropped Sloan off with Sid’s parents on Friday afternoon and drove to Atlanta. We maneuvered in constant traffic the whole drive but enjoyed our time in the car together. We arrived in the city around 9:30 p.m. and wasted no time going to our first destination (hint: it was not the hotel).

We pulled up to the Cheesecake Factory with the good news that there was only a 15 minute wait. Giddy with excitement, we counted those minutes away as we sat in the waiting area gripping the pager. Once seated, we had our usual incredible meal. We went with our classics (spicy cashew chicken for me and Louisiana chicken pasta for Sid) and split a slice of Oreo cheesecake. Hauling leftovers with us, we checked in at our hotel and watched some late night TV.

We had another delicious meal at the Cheesecake Factory.

For the first time in just over 26 months, we stayed in bed until 10 a.m. on a Saturday. We then slowly got up, hopped in the car, and leisurely drove around the Cumberland area looking at what there was to offer. A small brunch spot called Oy in a tucked away strip mall caught our eye. The two of us enjoyed a nice sit down breakfast with no distractions.

We ate brunch at a cool little spot in Atlanta called Oy.

Afterwards we ventured to TopGolf Atlanta. Yes, it is true that we have a location in Myrtle Beach, but do we ever have the chance to visit it? That is a big N-0. Sidney enjoyed her first TopGolf experience as we had a blast smacking golf balls and sipping beers.

Sidney really enjoyed TopGolf.

Once our hour at TopGolf was up, we went to the Cumberland Mall so Sid could look at a couple different stores. After we were satisfied there we went back to the hotel to shower and put on our Braves gear. We then summoned an Uber and departed toward SunTrust Park.

Us waiting for our Uber.

Our driver dropped us off at what is called The Battery, an area filled with bars, restaurants, and entertainment options that leads into the stadium. Tomorrow I will go in depth about the entire Battery/SunTrust Park experience, but tonight is just about our weekend timeline. We strolled around The Battery for a little over an hour before heading to the main event.

Better photos tomorrow, but this is a photo I took of one of the main drags of The Battery. I took it while we were upstairs in a venue called Punch Bowl Social.

We couldn’t have asked for a better time inside SunTrust Park. As the Atlanta Braves defeated the Milwaukee Brewers in extra innings, Sid and I reclined in our seats and enjoyed every second we had to watch America’s Pastime on a gorgeous evening. We chowed down on stadium food, cheered hard for the Braves, and got a little too invested in the on-field promotions.

A look at the field from our seats.

After the game, we took a cab back to the hotel. Although it was late, we stayed up watching TV and drinking soda. The fun day had put us both in really good moods and we didn’t want it to end.

Sunday started with 7:30 a.m. mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King, the mother-church of the Atlanta Archdiocese. It was special to be in such a significant church with other early morning faithful. Msg. Francis McNamee preached on the necessity of adhering to the commandment that Jesus gave his disciples, love one another.

It was a holy experience to attend mass at the Cathedral of Christ the King.

Back at the hotel, we watched half of “Father of the Bride” before checking out. We made one last stop at Cheesecake Factory and ordered some slices to go. We then hit the road for Myrtle Beach. Although it might be sad for some to head home, we were overjoyed…we had Sloan waiting for us!

I feel it is important for the two of us to get away every now and then. This past weekend confirmed that thought even more. Thanks again to Mr. Sid and Brenda for looking after our little girl, we sure had fun! Don’t Blink.

$103.50 I Never Saw

Do you ever get sketched out using your debit card? I am talking about situations where you think you might get charged extra fees. Examples include swiping your card through the Red Box scanner 50 times, purchasing an item online, or having a small business or mom and pop restaurant run your card through one of those tiny readers. These experiences are unnerving and makes us all worry that we might have much more deducted from our accounts than we should. There is one other big example of activity with debit cards that always makes me uneasy. Unfortunately, I engaged in it this weekend and my fears were realized.

On Saturday afternoon Sidney and I were hustling to get to Turner Field for the Braves game. We took the Marta (Atlanta’s subway system) to the station’s main hub. From there we needed to hop on a shuttle that would take us to the stadium. Between where the train left us off and the shuttle, you had to walk through a portion of the Marta station called the Underground. This certain area was populated with built in shops on one side and then kiosks with people selling random junk running all the way down the walkway right in the middle. It just so happened that off to the side of one of these kiosks sat an ATM.

I needed to get some cash in my pocket for the game. I didn’t want to wait until I got to Turner Field because I didn’t want to deal with lines, exorbitant ATM fees, or the hassle of finding the machines in the first place. Although this rinky-dink, stand alone ATM in the Underground looked sketchy at best I decided I wanted to take the risk in the name of convenience and I swiped my card. I answered the questions, entered my pin, and selected $100 as my withdrawal amount. I hit the final button and the machine made the money dispensing sound effect but no cash came out. Frustrated that I would not receive the convenience I desired and unsure about whether $100 plus the $3.50 fee would erroneously be taken out of my account I stood at the machine for a couple seconds with my mind reeling. A receipt then spit out that reported I had asked that $100 be withdrawn but that no money had actually been dispensed. I thought I was in the clear. Sidney and I went to Turner Field, I used the ATM there, and I forgot about the failed transaction in the Underground.

Here is the receipt  I received documenting that I did not receive any money.

Here is the receipt I received documenting that I did not receive any money.

Fast forward to last night where I decided to check my bank information. Yes, I don’t routinely check my account enough…I know it is a bad practice but I only pull it up about twice a month. I immediately saw two withdrawals stacked right on top of each other for $103.25 and $103.50 and I knew that piece of crap ATM had screwed me over. With it well past midnight and with the receipt that I still had from the ATM documenting that I had not received cash I decided to not get too worked up and just take care of the issue on Wednesday.

The Upper Alambama charge is the one from the Underground and is completely bogus.

The Upper Alambama charge is the one from the Underground and is completely bogus.

Today I called up the Innovus Inc. ATM company to get to the bottom of this situation. After going through the automated menu I was transferred to a technician. After he gave some half hearted mumbled greeting I started to politely explain my problem. He cut me off half way through…

“How did you get this number?” he asked me in an interrogative number.
“Um, it is right at the top of the receipt,” I responded.

After his rude interjection he asked me for the terminal number. Alright, we are getting somewhere I thought. I told him the number.

“That number isn’t in our system,” he snorted.
“Well let me give it to you again,” I responded and then gave him the number a second time.
“No, that number isn’t registered,” he unsympathetically replied.
“Um, okay, can I give you the sequence number or the error number also found on this receipt?” I asked.
“No, the only number that matters is the sequence number. I can’t help you. Call your bank and file a claim.”
“How can you tell me that this ATM isn’t registered? I saw it with my own eyes and I have the receipt right here. It belongs to you guys”
“File a claim with your bank.”
At that I gave him a piece of my mind and hung up.

I called Bank of America (my bank) and told the representative my story. He treated me like a human being and a claim has now been filed. I will know in 45 days if I receive my $103.50 back.

Point of my story is to avoid ATMs if at all possible. Especially ones in large cities in the subway station. The whole ordeal frustrates me to a degree but the Innovus rep I talked to today boils my blood the most. I might have lost a hundred bucks but I didn’t need to also lose my patience and dignity talking to a condescending jerk. I hope the claim wins out! Don’t Blink.

BONUS: More trouble at the ATM

A Weekend in Atlanta

After enjoying the lovely confines of the Atlanta airport probably no less than a dozen times in my life, I finally got to actually enjoy the city this past weekend. Sidney and I went on a short and sweet trip where we had the opportunity to watch a couple Braves games and partake in some other fun Atlanta activities.

On Saturday morning at 6 a.m. sharp we departed from Myrtle Beach to Atlanta. The six hour drive seemed about half that length and by noon we were pulling into downtown Atlanta. We checked into the Best Western Peachtree hotel and then started our exploration of the city. We looked around at some of the downtown tourist attractions and it was busy. A massive Jehovas Witness convention was taking place in Atlanta and many of those folks and their children were living up the city life. With lines much too long for some of the things we wanted to see we just strolled through Centennial Park, walked inside the CNN Center, and relaxed at the bar of an upscale seafood restaurant.

Me hanging out in Centennial Park.

Me hanging out in Centennial Park.

By that time we needed to start making our way to Turner Field. We utilized the city’s transportation system, the Marta, to take us to the hub of the station. From there we boarded a free shuttle that dropped us off right at the stadium. There is nothing in life I like more than walking into a Major League Baseball stadium for the first time. I was like a kid in a candy shop as we walked around Turner Field. We hung out in the center field restaurant/bar for a little bit and then we went over to the visiting team’s bullpen area and watched from that vantage point for a little bit. With the 4:10 p.m. first pitch approaching between the Braves and Arizona Diamondbacks, Sid and I went to our seats just past the first base line. Only a few rows up, we had spectacular seats.

I was so happy to be at Turner Field.

I was so happy to be at Turner Field.

We had an absolute blast watching the game. Although the Braves spotted the Diamondbacks a 3-0 first inning lead the home team buckled down and defeated Arizona 10-4. Although the seats were amazing, Sidney could have done with a little less sun. It was true, we were at the mercy of the strong Atlanta rays for pretty much the whole game. I lost a lot of liquid in the form of sweat by sitting in my seat but it never really bothered me too much because I was having such a good time. After the game we took public transportation back to the hotel and took much needed showers.

The sun beat down on us all game.

The sun beat down on us all game.

We marked our lone night in Atlanta by walking to the Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel. It was there that we took an elevator 73 stories up to a viewing center/bar area. Once on top we enjoyed gorgeous night views of the city. Sidney and I pointed out various buildings and landmarks. After hanging out in the rotating lounge area (it makes one complete full rotation every hour) we navigated the elevator back down to ground level.

Sidney and I were at the top of the city at the Sundial restaurant.

Sidney and I were at the top of the city at the Sundial restaurant.

The next morning I ate way too much of our hotel’s yummy hot breakfast. We then checked out and went back to the CNN Center where we purchased tickets to take the actual tour. At 9:40 a.m. we reported to a security checkpoint where we walked through a metal detector, rode up a huge escalator, and then started a tour of the world’s largest news organization. After the CNN tour we purchased some Braves gear at the team store in the CNN Center and then we walked across the street to the World of Coca-Cola where we took the tour there. Once we had tasted our fair share of Coke products we got back on the Marta and went to Turner Field for the 1:30 series finale between the Braves and Diamondbacks. I purchased a couple tickets from a scalper and we went back inside the stadium.

This photo is at the very start of the World of Coca-Cola tour.

This photo is at the very start of the World of Coca-Cola tour.

While I splurged for Saturday’s tickets, it was cheap seat mania for Sunday’s game. We sat in the upper deck although we were right behind home plate. Sidney and I had a very chill time just relaxing, eating ice cream, and watching baseball. We took the game in from high up and enjoyed all the in-game entertainment. However, we must had done something wrong as Atlanta’s nine game winning streak came to an end as the Diamondbacks defeated the Braves, 3-1. After the game we took the Marta back to the hub station and walked to our vehicle at the hotel and departed Atlanta. Just 42 hours after setting out on our adventure we arrived back in Myrtle Beach at midnight.

A look at where we sat for the second game we watched.

A look at where we sat for the second game we watched.

A little more info about Turner Field, CNN, and Coca-Cola…

Turner Field – As I sat in Turner Field I kept thinking how cool it was that I was in the stadium that housed the Summer Olympics. With that said, the place is completely converted to a baseball facility so it is difficult to picture it as a multipurpose Olympic complex. What will really jump out to you about Turner Field is the video board. It is HUGE, by far the largest I have seen at a MLB park. Although not high def, it was entertaining to watch. Every seat in the park is great and getting in and out of the stadium is a breeze. As for the fan experience the Braves are obsessed with the Tomahawk Chop. Turner Field will cue the chant over and over and over again…but it was fun. The seventh inning stretch song is “The Devil Went Down to Georgia.” The team has a stadium host that runs promotions involving fans from a designated spot in the ballpark which leaves a little to be desired. Overall Turner Field is a wonderful ballpark. I am glad I got to see it before the team leaves for a new facility in 2017.

Turner Field is a great ballpark.

Turner Field is a great ballpark.

CNN Tour – As a news junkie who has a fascination with live television, I knew from the start that I wanted to do the CNN tour. A 55 minute guided walking tour we got to see the inner workings of both CNN and HLN. We saw a model control room, studios, newsroom floor, weather forecasting technology, and much more. Throughout the tour we passed large photos of major personalities such as Anderson Cooper, Wolf Blitzer, and Robin Meade. The highlight of the tour came when we got to see CNN anchor Victor Blackwell finish up a segment. When he finished he waved to us (we were standing behind glass) and then he actually came around to where we were at and said hi! It was pretty sweet. Sidney and I got a really cool picture sitting behind the CNN anchor desk.

The CNN tour was very interesting.

The CNN tour was very interesting.

Coca-Cola Tour – Although more of a Pepsi fan myself, I still love Coca-Cola history. During this tour we saw some really cool Coke memorabilia and mementos. We also saw very interesting displays and exhibits including how Coke is bottled. But I would be lying if I didn’t say that the absolute coolest part was the soda tasting session at the conclusion of the tour. Upon exiting you get to enter an area with seven stations where you can drink soft drinks until your heart explodes. The seven stations represent the seven continents and at each station there are several sodas that represent the various countries of that particular continent. You are free to take generous sized cups and fill it with the different sodas. I tried everything from watermelon pop to discontinued Coke products to a blueberry selection. After you passed the continent stations you could enter a section where they had about ten different taps just serving classic Coca-Cola. On your way out they even give you a glass bottle of Coke that was bottled on site. The Coke tour was AWESOME and I highly recommend that anyone who visits Atlanta takes time to do it.

The Coca-Cola tour was a blast. I recommend that anyone who visits Atlanta makes time to do it.

The Coca-Cola tour was a blast. I recommend that anyone who visits Atlanta makes time to do it.


What a great weekend it was in Atlanta. Sidney and I crammed a lot in and really enjoyed the city. I love exploring the South and I don’t intend to stop anytime soon. In fact, I am already planning my next trip. Don’t Blink.