Friday, March 8, 2024

RonnieAdventure #0609 - Atlanta: Stone Mountain, Olympic Park, Atlanta Wheel, and more

Stone Mountain near Atlanta had been on my Bucket List for a long time, so I was really looking forward to visiting the site. However, like several other things that had been on my Bucket List, my expectations were far greater than reality. 

I had envisioned that Stone Mountain would be something like Mount Rushmore in South Dakota; but in reality, the monument was not well maintained and the services were not well organized. The mountain sculpture is in need of a major cleaning to restore the figures because it is difficult to see the sculpture details.

We arrived at 9:30 AM and the entrance attendant collected our expensive parking fee and then told us that the viewing areas were not open until 10:AM. Since it was only 30 minutes until the viewing areas opened, we parked the car and walked up to the gift shop; only to find out that it also did not open until 10 AM. While we were standing around with a group of other people waiting for everything to open, a person that operated the aerial tram came out and announced that everything would not open until 11 AM. 

Since we had an hour until opening, we drove around the park to several other sites we wanted to visit.

Our first stop was the historic granite quarry that was located on the west side of the mountain. Just east of the parking lot there was a sheltered area with displays that gave a brief explanation about the historical quarry operations and the granite industry in the 1850s through the 1970s. 

From the shelter it was short hike to the quarry site along a wood walkway that was very slippery. The wood was covered with leaves, and it had been raining, so I had to walk carefully. Once at the quarry site, there were various exhibits, informational kiosk, and monuments. One large granite block had a sign indicating that it weighed 66,000 pounds. Not the kind of thing that you would want to drop on your big toe. 

On the other side of the granite quarry parking lot was a historic grist mill. I was surprised that there were no information signs about the mill, or maybe I just looked in all of the wrong places. In any event, I found the mill, which was located in a very picturesque setting.

Not far from the grist mill, the Washington W. King Covered Bridge connected the shoreline to a small island in Stone Mountain Lake.

It was about 11 AM when we returned to the viewing area parking lot. By this time there was a much larger group of people waiting to get into the viewing areas. Needless to say, people were really unhappy when someone came out and announced that everything would not open until 1 PM. 

It was bitter cold, the wind was blowing, and it was continuing to rain intermittently; so I decided to get as close as possible and just take a few pictures. While I was leaning against the fence trying to take pictures, a security guard came by to see what I was doing. I explained that I was from Las Vegas and could not wait until 1 PM, so I asked him if he would let me into the nearest viewing area to take a few pictures. He did not give me permission to enter, but he did respond that the gate was not locked. So, when he walked away I opened the gate and walked inside. When other people saw me open the gate and walk inside, they just followed. The security guard was a short distance away, but did not try to stop anyone. After a few quick pictures, we left and drove to Centennial Olympic Park in downtown Atlanta.   

The 22-acre Centennial Olympic Park is a remnant of the 1996 Summer Olympic Games held in Atlanta, Georgia. The park contains numerous statues, reflecting pools, water features, and monuments commemorating the 1996 Olympic Games.   

Directly west of Olympic Park is the College Football Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame was founded in 1951 to recognize the best players and coaches of college football. Notre Dame has the most inducted players at 48.

Located north of Olympic Park is Pemberton Place, which is named after John Pemberton who invented Coco-Cola. Located in Pemberton Place are the World of Coco-Cola, Georgia Aquarium, and Center for Civil and Human Rights. 

Located east of Olympic Park are office buildings and the Skyview Atlanta Wheel. It was fun to ride the Wheel and look down at Olympic Park and the surrounding neighborhood. Then, it was off to the airport to catch our flight home.

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