Vacation is meant to be relaxing, which makes the heightened stress and lack of patience that goes with planning and preparation for departure comical. Regardless of the destination, those last few days and hours before leaving town creates a sense of unmatched paranoia. I tend to lose patience and squabble early and often. Every vacation begins with an argument. Add a toddler into the mix and you get squabbles on steroids.
The Dargatz Family was headed to Atlanta and the Great Smoky Mountains, As my wife points out, being on "teacher time" adds an element of frustration as crowds seem larger and more rushed. Knowing our first stop was the Atlanta airport, a place where we've had previously encountered delays, less than helpful staff, and general chaos, certainly didn't ease our tension.
Luckily, some people's biggest stress tends to be one of my biggest stress relievers. Embry eased a lot of our pre-flight anxiety buy doing her usual shtick. After insisting on pulling her own luggage through the airport (with looks of dismay from other travelers), a stop at the concourse playground was requested and accepted. That extra physical labor and playtime, along with watching planes arrive and depart through the windows, led to a sacked out toddler as soon as the plane left the ground. And if we weren't lucky enough, her eyes opened up just after landing in overcast Atlanta.
Back at the Atlanta Airport. Our nemesis. But when flying out of Milwaukee, it seems impossible to avoid. After traversing the crowds to find the baggage claim, concocting a mountain of suitcases ever so carefully balanced and strapped together, and procuring the child in a stroller, we set off on a journey through concourses, on trains, and up and down escalators in search of the subway. Not for lunch, but for transport to near the hotel.
After weaving in and out of tourist and traveler traffic and purchasing tickets, the subway took us to a drop off right near our hotel. . .or so we thought. Fortunately for us, we found a personable and pleasant city worker just outside the station with a smile and a knack for customer service. Scratch that. We found a lady who seemed annoyed at our questions and actually sent us in the complete opposite direction of where we eventually needed to go.
TRIP TAKEAWAY #1 - Southern hospitality was non-existent in downtown Atlanta.
But when all was said and done, the hotel was found, the bags were unpacked, and an evening of Atlanta entertainment was staring us in the face.