From the Bay to the A

Atlanta/East Point

Thirty days have passed since I posted my last Escape of the Day. Moving takes a ridiculous lot of energy, in case I failed to mention this, or have just not beat that drum ear-splittingly loud enough. Anyway, to make up for lost time, I’m turning out the Escape of the Day relocation special edition, outlining thirty of the ATL escapes I’ve found (and hope to find) during my month of silence. Wish you were here!

  1. Conversations with Strangers. Anyone here will talk to you, I swear to God. It is fabulous. They will tell you anything you want to know, and some things you don’t. Like, I know that my used car salesman almost bought his wife from Vietnam but then actually fell in love with her so decided not to take the money. I know that the guy who signed me up for gym membership is a 55-year-old stunt man who has been in 22 big-name movies. And I know that one of the women who attended the Decatur Book Festival has a brother who married someone he later learned was his cousin, but “it’s okay, they already had kids and everyone turned out normal.” (Kind of like my brother and his wife, actually…)
  2. L.A. Fitness at Camp Creek Parkway. I hate gyms, so this is a bizarre, unexpectedly fantastic bright spot in my new life. The hip-hop is always pumping, crazy-buff athletes are always lifting, and I swear that the guy cycling next to me yesterday was singing gospel music during his workout.
  3. Our Backyard. The other day we spread a patchwork quilt on the deck, lit up the tiki torches, and had a fab dinner under the giant pecan tree. We are no longer forced to share our outdoor time with our Russian mafia neighbor, who was forever chain-smoking on the porch back in SF. Our backyard rules.
  4. Piedmont Park Oh, am I ever a sucker for city parks. This weekend they had a fundraiser concert to expand the park by 53 acres—kudos, Atlanta. Just when I was starting to think everyone here had the “less is more” philosophy when it came to trees ….
  5. Side of the Road. This little vegetable stand, lunch spot, and ice creamery is located (you guessed it) on the side of the road, just up on Main Street in East Point. I dig their banana pudding, but apparently their specialty is ho’cakes, which I haven’t tried yet.
  6. Thumbs Up Diner. I can walk here from our house, and it’s always bustling with a great mix of locals. You can be naughty and order the chicken and waffles (which, yes, are served together) or eat healthy and get the egg white scramble—they’ve got it all.
  7. The Feed Store. This restaurant is housed inside an old granary, which my mom used to walk past every day on her way home from school. We ate there with her the other night, and dinner included fried green tomatoes with basil crème and a sweet tea float made with lemon sorbet.
  8. Lunch on Main. We are so addicted to this place, with their pecan-chicken salad and their “hot tub” peach cobbler (as my husband calls it)
  9. The Varsity Grease pit though it may be, the Varsity makes a mean chili dog, has great urban views, and offers stellar people-watching.
  10. The Flying Biscuit. The Coca-Cola-glazed salmon isn’t as weird as it sounds, the veggie milk gravy is divine, and the lesbian owner always flirts with me, which I admittedly get a kick out of (go ahead—have your ego stroked by both sexes).
  11. Oz Pizza. Pizza is just straight-up better on the East Coast. Anywhere you go, it’s gonna be decent, and lots of places, it’s gonna be really good. Get over it, California, and God bless you for trying, Zachary’s.
  12. Duck & Herring Co. I’m all done blabbing about all the great culinary finds … now I’m talkin’ culture of a different ilk. The world needs more old-school-style radio shows, and this ATL-based quarterly program is available in MP3 format and comes packaged with short stories, too.
  13. Wordsmiths. It’s nice to hear about independent bookstores opening up, rather than closing down. This one is in a really spacious old building between the train tracks and the Chick-Fil-A in Decatur.
  14. Agnes Scott. The well-manicured quad of this campus is a great place to bask in the sun (unless it’s 102 degrees) and you know, be scholarly. Its all-brick buildings are a great example of Gothic architecture.
  15. Paris on Ponce. This colossal, warehouse-sized antique store is the best place ever to duck into during a big crazy thunderstorm. It has a pricey room and a cheap room, and all of it is fabulous. I totally covet the cowhide headboard.
  16. Squash Blossom. I like to go into this boutique and imagine that I have mad, fat wads of cash to spend, avoiding the reality that I never know when my next paycheck will come in. It is a miracle that I have restrained myself the way I have and didn’t, for example, buy that great Free People sweater I saw last week, or the fun printed headbands, or the saucy little sleeveless top on sale.
  17. Airplanes. Living by the nation’s busiest airport is actually kind of retro-cool. After we had our cats shipped from San Francisco (because, you know, they’re such globetrotters), I had to go and pick them up from the cargo office at sunrise. I found it strangely peaceful to sit on the curb by the loading dock and watch the planes.
  18. Trains. Also surprising is my affection for the noisy, rusty, clanging trains that run through downtown East Point and College Park. Slow moving and cumbersome, they remind me of how much energy it really takes, even in the 21st century, to move things from Point A to Point B. (Which is to say … buy local! See # 5.)
  19. MARTA. Can’t say enough great things about MARTA. It’s clean, it’s timely, and it stops a few clocks from my house. Last weekend I thought that a guy wearing nothing but a hospital gown and an arm cast was going to try and rip off my laptop, but otherwise it seems safe.
  20. The Anti-Escape: Cars. The rumors are true … it completely sucks to drive in Atlanta! If you wish to be diverted from your life’s mission by spending hours motionless on hot asphalt, the automobile is the place for you!

Fully Expecting To Add to This List:

  1. Buford Highway. Apparently, there’s tons of great Asian food in Atlanta; it’s just crammed up on a single strip of highway up in North Dekalb County. Since we live in South Fulton County, we’ll have to drive, like, an hour for a decent plate of Pad Thai. Despite my aforementioned aversion to cars (see #20) I will indeed make this journey someday, when my cravings become acute enough.
  2. The Wren’s Nest. Remember how I said I was obsessed with Uncle Remus? For real. I contacted the guy who runs the Joel Chandler Harris House (a.k.a. The Wren’s Nest) and now we’re plotting to have lunch. Yay.
  3. Jupiter Watts. We almost bought a car from this guy who plays in a band called … you guessed it. I haven’t heard them play, but I’m listing them here because he and his fiancé were just so damned nice. People here are so nice! What is up with that?
  4. Jai Shanti. The guy who runs this yoga studio trained at Kripalu, where I hope to train, and runs yin classes and even nekkid yoga classes. No she didn’t ….
  5. Shambhala Meditation Center. Offering plenty of classes and sitting times and perhaps a bit of calm for my super-scrambled brain.
  6. Dick Lane Velodrome. Oddly enough, one of only 18 cycling racetracks in the country is just a few blocks from my house. Wednesday race night, here I come …..
  7. Chatahoochee River. Why have I yet to drive to the Chatahoochee and walked along its miles of trails, or rented a canoe and paddled its waters? Cause it’s been hot as blazes, that’s why. See you in the fall, sweet river….
  8. Savannah. Uncle Bill, when are you going to invite me to your house on Sea Island? Summer is almost over, and I need to wind down from this move with a hot tub and a long walk on the beach. Oh, and of course it would be great to catch up with you and Aunt Darlene….
  9. Newnan. Uncle John, I can’t chastise you for failing to invite me—it’s all my fault that I haven’t come to hang out with your moonshinin’ inlaws on the farm. Should I bring my own slingshot, or will dinner be provided?
  10. Visitors!

3 thoughts on “From the Bay to the A

  1. jeannie says:

    Maybe I can be among your first visitors? In addition to longing to be near an old friend, I could use some home cookin’. Albany is not exactly known for it’s regional cuisine.

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  2. Lalla McGee says:

    Glad you’re enjoying the southside! I grew up in the small community of Red Oak, so College Park and East POint were my stomping grounds for many year. I work work with your uncle John at SunTrust, and he shared your blog site.

    Buford Highway really is only about 30 minutes from East Point on a weekend, but if you’d like some good Pad Thai or other Thai food, try Zab E Lee on Old National Hignway. And don’t let the looks of the surrounding area put you off. Hope you try it and like it! Lalla McGee

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