HOTlanta

Atlanta has been on our ‘short list for several years now, primarily because it’s home to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Museum. In the five years we’ve been wandering, this is the only Presidential Museum we haven’t visited. It’s a checkmark we’ve been anxious to score.

When visiting any major metropolitan area, camping can be problematical. We’ve usually had to resort to private campgrounds because there oftentimes aren’t state, city, or county parks nearby. But Stone Mountain Park fit the bill nicely for us. It’s kind of like a ‘super’ state park, with a big variety of recreational attractions – watersports, a golf course, gondola rides up the Mountain, hiking, museums and theaters. The campground is old, but clean, and staffed with super friendly folks. Our reserved site (selected by them, not us) was close to the lake with a pleasant view (for the first night anyway). wp-image-301489796We were pleased to have a site with electric power, as running our CoolCat a/c was necessary. Temps every day were between 85-90, with dewpoints in the mid 70s. It was very uncomfortable. Never was there a breath of a breeze. Not sure how we would have managed without the a/c, and leaving Jezzy alone for the day in the camper without it would have been out of the question.

Atlanta has a series of pedestrian/bicycle beltways which run to the City Center from various points outside the city. Although we couldn’t bicycle all the way into the city from camp, we were able to drive to Piedmont Park (about 20 miles), then cycle into the city for exploration. 20171011_115257.jpgThe Carter Museum was right alongside the beltway. Perfect!wp-image-1866454064For all of our anticipation of this visit, both of us were disappointed. Granted, Carter was only President for one four-year term, and he had zero national political experience prior to that, so perhaps that accounted for what we considered ‘light’ content. As always, we began by watching the film, which overviewed his early life and career – US Naval Academy, submarine Executive Officer, peanut farmer, Georgia State Senator, Governor, then US President. Carter’s years in the Oval Office were marked by our first energy crisis, high inflation and recession, and the Iranian hostage crisis, which shadowed more than his last year in office.wp-image-1272462176 Yet the Museum didn’t really offer insights into Carter’s thoughts and/or options in working out these problems. One aspect of other Museums we have especially enjoyed is the exploration of the decision-making process on some of the major issued. What were the options? Where did all of Carter’s advisors stand? Other than Cyrus Vance’s resignation letter (Secretary of State) over the disastrous hostage rescue mission, we didn’t get much insight of these thoughts. Compared to other Presidential Museums, we left without much of a sense of the political man, except of course his honesty and unfaltering quest for racial equality and justice. Carter’s big international achievement was the historic peace accord between Egypt and Israel, which stands today.

On display is Carter’s Nobel Peace Prize Medallion, awarded in 2002 for his work to find peaceful solutions to international conflicts, and advance democracy and human rights through the Carter Center, founded after his Presidency ended.wp-image-531713582The Nobel Peace Prize is a nifty segue for our next stop, the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, located in downtown Atlanta.wp-image-193479201 Included here are MLK birth home and Ebenezer Baptist Church. Construction on the site prohibited us from visiting his grave, where he and Coretta Scott King are both interred. King was the youngest person ever to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. His reverence for the teachings of Gandhi and non-violence is well documented.wp-image-1080519483King’s family and supporters established the MLK Center for Nonviolent Change, which is also onsite.

Our third Atlanta quest is also one that could be accomplished on this trip – a visit to the State Capitol. Several cities, including Savannah and Augusta have been the site of the State government, but Atlanta has held the reins since 1868. The capitol building is magnificent – not overly embellished, but stately and elegant. The legislature was not in session, so we were able to wander freely about. Such a treat.wp-image-143839748wp-image-720904366wp-image-298568694Although there are probably many other spots in Atlanta that deserve a visit, we were happy with our Big 3, wanting to spend the rest of the time hiking and exploring Stone Mountain.

One of the main features of Stone Mountain Park is the huge ‘rushmore-like’ carving of Stonewall Jackson, Robert E. Lee, and Jefferson Davis which is carved into the side of the mountain. Ironically, the project was actually started by Gutzon Borglum, the sculptor who later went on to create Rushmore. After disagreements on how the project was to be run, Borglum left the project, and his start was blasted off the mountain by his successor. In retrospect, it seems like Borglum might have had a better idea – this is not terribly impressive. It sure doesn’t have the impact of Mt. Rushmore.20171016_0947361898180297.jpg All the activity in front seems to be the building of some kind of giant snow slide (next to the laser light show area). Yes, this really is a super-park. It must be jammed in the summer.

How could we visit Stone Mountain without actually climbing the mountain. It’s a pleasant walk up a granite slickrock surface, with perhaps a hundred others. There’s only one really steep section, and so this is doable by people of all fitness levels. If it weren’t so damned hot! We steamed ourselves on that mountainside! But, getting to the top made it all worthwhile. 20171012_120932332599642.jpg20171012_1208071638164989.jpgThe guy in the second photo was just sitting there reading a book. Loved that!  We hung around for quite awhile, watching the skytram disgorge crowds of folks. 20171012_1216431920994185.jpg20171012_1210161791349385.jpgwp-image-761210315We spent the rest of the day in the Museum there watching a film about Stonewall Jackson, and another about the creation of the mountain sculpture.

We’ve moved on to Savannah, envisioning cool ocean breezes. Nope. Try again. But, we’re enjoying ourselves at Skidaway Island State Park, where we’ve got a fabulous campsite.20171014_125041549243403.jpg

10 thoughts on “HOTlanta

  1. So even though it’s an unofficial presidential museum/library, have you ever visited the John Adams site in Quincy, MA?? No? Road trip back to Massachusetts! Yahoo!

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  2. Great blog! I think we’ll add Atlanta to our next itinerary in Georgia as I too like to visit state capitals! It looks beautiful there but we might skip the Carter Museum and spend time at Stone Mountain!!

    Keep on Camping…
    Jan Brian
    Road trips and Tiny Trailers

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    • Hi Jan. Thanks for your note. There are lots of great sights to see in Atlanta that we missed I’m sure. The Presidential Museums have all been thought-provoking for us – some were very emotional, and others less so. I imagine that when it’s due to be remodeled (both Nixon and Ford were done in the last two years), that new exhibits will be more interactive.

      In any case Stone Mountain is certainly worth a visit. We really enjoyed camping there.

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  3. My thoughts on Jimmy Carter, a very good man with great ideals, but without the moxie to get the things done required to reach those ideals.

    On the other hand, Martin Luther King had it all, both the great ideals, and the knowhow to make things happen. His assassination was such a sad day for the country, and the entire world. If he had lived, we may not have found ourselves where we are today.

    I had never considered visiting Stone Mountain until I saw the photos in this post. But, I think that if I were to ever go there, it would be in January or February, when the locals are wearing their winter coats because it’s only 65 degrees outside.

    I’ve also been impressed by the various state capitol buildings that you’ve shown in your posts, if I wasn’t such a nature geek, I would consider visiting all of the 50 of them that I could, and doing a photo shoot of each.

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    • H Jerry. You raise some interesting points. I really don’t remember what the Congressional makeup was during Carter’s term.i certainly do remember all the new energy policies – he established the Department of Energy. That was also the time of the first time I ever remember folks queueing up for gas, the jump in price, and the reduction of the speed limits on the Interstates.

      You and I are in sync on MLK. I wonder if he would have the same emotional and political strength now that he commanded in the 60s. Losing his voice was huge. It’s one of those things that are date-stamped in my mind.

      I wish you would turn your lens to the State Houses, if you get around to it. The most fabulous, in my opinion are MA, PA,and (surprisingly to me, anyway) Utah. I remember actually gasping in amazement when we walked in. Even if you don’t take the time to photograph, they are all certainly worth a gawk.

      There’s lots of history around Stone Mountain. Sure wish we were there when we could have worn the warm clothing we so foolishly brought – thinking that we would need them camping on the seashore in October. I wish…..

      Hope you are working at, and enjoying your new job.

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