Atlanta, Georgia to Biloxi, Mississippi via Merida, Mexico
February, 2001

Next stop -- Atlanta, Georgia.
Here, the boys are playing "dodge the water" and are losing, (on purpose, I think.)  These fountains are located in Olympic Park; a beautiful park built a few years ago for Atlanta's summer Olympics.  We had fun in Atlanta.  It's a very cosmopolitan city with a great downtown area.  Some of the best restaurants we've ever been to are in Atlanta.
We enjoyed touring the downtown area and especially going on a tour of CNN.  The inside of this huge building is open all the way to the top with escalators running up and down the sides.  We got to watch some familiar faces filming the news and even ran into Bob Vila, (Rob Vollmecke's favorite handyman.)
Max read from a teleprompter and we watched the monitor as he covered headlines stories. We went on what they call the "VIP tour."  It's a little extra money but we had a chance to see and experience more of the studios.  The CNN main studio has a lot of live broadcasts, but most of the CNN Headlines News is prerecorded and mixed with stories from other CNN associated networks.  We toured CNN Sports Illustrated studios and the CNN International studios.

I ask about the coverage of news in the U.S. as compared to the news we watched while we were in Europe.  I mentioned that the European news we saw was more in depth and covered global events and international positions on issues.  But here in the U.S. the news seems to be only local to the U.S. or directly related to U.S. activities.  The stories are more "watered down" sound bytes that are repeated over and over again and then dropped when something more interesting comes along.

Our tour guided agreed and commented that their extensive surveys show that the American people "want it that way."  If you are intrigued by this response you may want to get a copy of the book "Dumbing Us Down", by John Taylor Gatto.
Atlanta is also the headquarters of the Coca-Cola company.  There's a very touristy Coke museum and an area where you can sample every Coke product that's made.  I can't remember how many products there are -- I think there were 70 or 80 of them.  Some products that are produced for other parts of the world seemed very weird for our American taste.
Mitch and Max pulled up a stool at the soda fountain.  The guy asked them if they knew what a soda jerk was.  Of course they said, "no." 
So he put them behind the counter, gave them a hat, a little training, and told them that now they were soda jerks.  Even I didn't know that the original fountain drinks were made by first pouring the syrup into a glass by jerking on the syrup handle. Then a strategically timed jerk on the carbonated water fountain.  You want a good blast from the soda but you have to be careful that you don't blast the syrup all over the place.

Here's some old memorabilia.  Cheryl remembers having an old radio like this in her house when she was little and I remember an old tray like this one.  But check out the faces, this one is of Mitch and Rachel.  (Rachel and Ed's son, Gabe, work for the same company that we do contract work for.  They had flown to Atlanta to meet us and fly on to Merida, Mexico to do some computer training with Cheryl's sister, Debbie, who lives there and works for our company.)
We asked around for the best barbecue place in town and learned it was "Mat's."  It was a small place that could have used more tables and parking, but the food was great.  We enjoyed the food and some good honky tonk and blues piano.
We also enjoyed The Atlanta History Center.  There was a great Civil War exhibit and a late 1800's restored farmhouse.
Next stop -- Merida, a beautiful, old colonial city on the Yucatan peninsula of Mexico, and the home of Cheryl's sister, Debbie.

Here's the whole gang in Merida.  From left to right, Mitch, Rachel, Fernando, (Deb's husband,) Gabe, Cheryl, Deb, (Cheryl's sister), Max, and Christina, (Deb and Fernando's daughter.)  Fernando and Deb's two boys, Fernando Jr. and Roberto were out with friends.

We went to see a Cuban song and dance show that we always try to see when we're in town.  For about $50 U.S. all of us could enjoy a two hour show, eat, drink and have a great time.  Unfortunately, the wireless microphones were not working, so after an hour of waiting we gave up and went back to the hotel.

This was a pretty uneventful trip, but that was OK.  The main reason we came to Mexico this time was related to business and to do some computer training with Deb.  It's always great to see Deb, Fernando and the kids and enjoy the great weather and food.  Click here for our trip to Merida two years ago.
Fernando and Deb are in the process of building a new house.  Here's a computer generated picture of how it will look.  It will have a large pool in the back yard, but I keep telling them that there's no way for us to get our trailer into their back yard.

So a week later, back we came to the U.S.  We landed in Atlanta, packed up and headed for new territory -- the Gulf of Mexico and a part of the United States we'd never been to before.

So what do you do when you hit the Deep South for the first time?  Well, as soon as we arrived in Biloxi, Mississippi we went out on a shrimp boat, of course.

Well, maybe it wasn't quite a "real" shrimp boat, but it did have a shrimp net on board and it was the only boat in the area with a permit to be out shrimping at this time of year.
While we were out dragging the net we were accompanied by two dolphins.
As the nets came up the pelicans and seagulls came down.
It wasn't the largest catch, but there was quite a variety of small sea life in the net.  There were several types of fish including anchovy and a small puffer fish, a variety of shrimp, a couple of different types of crab, a squid and even a small sting ray.

We really enjoyed the South.  The people were very friendly, the Gulf was beautiful and the weather was nice.  We're hoping to go back again when we can spend an extended amount of time there.

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