We also got to catch brunch with BJ and Vanja Thompson. BJ co-founded Build a Better Us and was in our BBU small group until they moved to Atlanta a couple of years ago. They spoke wisdom into our marriage and shared visions for the BBU network. We realized how much we missed having them around, but we appreciate the work that they continue to do.
Jenny’s sister, Trina, and her fiancé, Trace, live only two hours from Atlanta in Seneca, SC, so we took a day trip over to see them. We also visited with my Aunt Carol, Cousin David, his wife, Rachel, and their three kiddos in Greenville. It was a quick trip with short visits but encouraging to share hugs with some family that we rarely see.
Gospel Rap has blessed and challenged Jenny and me for a decade. Trip Lee has always been one of my favorites for his profound theology and unique sound. A few years back, we attended the last stop of a Reach Records‘ Unashamed Tour slated to be Trip’s last performance. He continues to rap, but his primary focus is now preaching at Cornerstone Church in Atlanta.
Trip was walking down the sidewalk towards the building as we parallel parked. It was all we could do to suppress our fandom. After finding our seats, he sat four rows in front of us. During the extended “greet those around you” time, he introduced himself to us.
I hate the celebrity/fan relationship. It is weird, and I suspect uncomfortable for both parties. How do you curb your excitement when you are talking to a perceived super-human? Trip is a humble, regular dude who has worked hard to hone his talents to reach people for the Kingdom. It is difficult to appreciate the art and the artist without idolizing the artist.
His Christmas Eve sermon, “An Unexpected Savior,” ironically challenged the selection and perception of my heroes—ultimately my Savior Hero.
American Civil Rights Movement Landmarks
We had the opportunity to re-visit a couple of stops I had seen on the Civil Rights Bus Tour five years ago. The King Center occupies a historical site featuring Dr. King’s birth home, Ebenezer Baptist Church (formerly pastored by three generations of the King family), and the Kings’ burial site. There is also a U.S. National Parks museum documenting Dr. King’s role in the American Civil Rights Movement. It provides valuable content but is in need of some TLC. The Memphis National Civil Rights Museum is far better, but I am biased.
On our way home, we took a walk around Kelly Ingram Park and 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham. It was a sobering experience reflecting on the great injustices that occurred there.
Other Atlanta Tourism
We visited the Georgia Aquarium on Christmas Day, as it was one of the only attractions open. We hoped for smaller crowds, but everybody else had the same idea. The otters, penguins, and manta rays were my favorite to watch. We arrived at the dolphin show too late to escape the splash zone, but it was worth the icy shower to see the animals perform.
The World of Coca-Cola is an impressive marketing effort to get millions to pay for the privilege of consuming brand advertising. I am amazed at the marketing geniuses behind a product portfolio as simple as beverages. The tasting floor was worth the price of admission, though. If you can get past sticky shoes and hoards of children, the unlimited samples from soda dispensers of worldwide flavors were superb. Everything from the American relic “Surge” to the Peruvian “Inca Kola” was on tap to try. They even had a seasonal dark chocolate Cherry Coke which was not all that great.
On Christmas Day, we meandered about Garden Lights at the Atlanta Botanical Gardens. The icy wind held off, and we enjoyed the diversity of displays that were present. The only thing that would have made it better was snow, but we missed that by a couple weeks.
Ponce City Market is a kind of sister-site to Memphis’s new Crosstown Concourse. They occupy old Sears, Roebuck & Co. distribution buildings that were renovated into retail and commercial space. Ponce City has more options for food and shopping, but it lacks the awe of the grand atriums at Crosstown. It is fantastic to see these old buildings come to life again.
Our dining adventures, list style:
- Huddle House – Few options exist between Memphis and Birmingham, and we had never been. So, we huddled.
- Kafenio – Greek fast casual
- Hyatt Place – Daily hotel breakfast
- Le Petit Marché – A black-owned French bistro
- Las Meras Tortas – A late night find in Greenville
- Fred’s Meat & Bread – Phenomenal cheesesteaks and specialty fries
- Makimono – Jenny said her build-your-own sushi roll was on point.
- Jeni’s Splendid Creams – One of our favorite dessert spots. Calling it “Ice Cream” does not do it justice.
- Trader Joe’s – We took a hot Friday night date to TJ’s. Memphis’s keeps getting delayed… We also adventured around its neighboring Richard’s Variety Store.
- The Varsity – A classic drive-in where ordering a “double cheeseburger” means two burgers—each with double patties?
- Chrome Yellow Trading Co. – One of those hipster coffee shops near The King Center. Good coffee, but overpriced.
- Botiwalla – Fantastic Indian street food
- Batter Cookie Dough – Raw cookie dough served ice cream shop style
- The Melting Pot – Fondue for Christmas Dinner was a blast.
We missed out on two of our vacation traditions, HGTV (the hotel did not have it!) and miniature golf (it was a bit cold). Next time.
We returned to Memphis having overspent by only 1.6% of our YNAB trip budget. Yay! for not needing to experience that sour overspent aftertaste.
I am refreshed and excited for 2018.
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