Bill and I had the rare opportunity to attend this year’s Super Bowl in Houston, Texas. The total adventure included so many experiences that it will take multiple blogs to share everything – that’s not a bad thing! We were gone a week, with extension adventures on each end, the first of which was a day spent in Atlanta.
We had planned to venture the 2 hours south to Atlanta at some point this winter so we decided to spend the day on Thursday, February 2, before our early Friday flight to Houston. Our first stop was Waffle House, just over the state line into Georgia. Have you ever been to a Waffle House? Everyone is greeted upon entry and then it is amazing to watch the servers and cooks in action. We sat at the counter in order to get a bird’s eye view of the amazing process. Bill and I both ordered eggs and bacon, but couldn’t pass up some of their famous hash browns. There are about six ways to order them but Bill requested his “covered” (with fried onions) and I went for the “covered and smothered” (cheese in addition to the onions!) Oh, and did I mention we shared a waffle too? What is so cool is that the servers, after taking your order, shout it out to the cooks who immediately add your order to the multiple meals they are already creating! It truly is a sight to see….and taste!
With our bellies full we continued to Atlanta, our first destination being the College Football Hall of Fame. What an amazing place! When you enter the Hall, you are asked what college football team you would like to associate with for today. A radio chip in your visitor pass connects with that school and your experience is automatically customized. On the wall there is a football helmet from every college and university that has a football team – 768 to be exact – and when identified, your helmet lights up for the length of your visit. Bill selected his alma mater, Westchester University in Pennsylvania, and I, not realizing at that point that Lebanon Valley College would be on the wall, chose Clemson, our seasonal neighbor this winter!
There are three floors in the Hall of Fame and we tackled them all (no pun intended!). One floor was full of history, highlighting every player and coach inducted into the Hall, all 1100 of them. You could spend hours here using tech screens to browse through the enshrinee profiles. Little did I know that two coaches from my alma mater, Lebanon Valley, are enshrined – who knew! The Hall is a trivia paradise as well – did you know that William Perry, “The Refrigerator,” weighed 200 pounds at the age of 11?
The entire Hall of Fame is totally interactive, so even the non-fan can enjoy it. For example, the third floor is a total fan experience. You can paint your face, sing your team’s fight song, try your hand at broadcasting, experience a virtual trip to major college stadiums, and master your vertical leap and forty-yard dash! In addition, you can listen to your favorite college coaches, work at designing plays and view the evolution of football equipment and uniforms! Between the history floor and the interactive fan experience, we spent a quality three hours at the College Football Hall of Fame. On the first floor, there is a field where you can run, pass, and kick, but we just watched the school kids enjoy that
We highly recommend that if you are ever in Atlanta, you must plan a stop at the College Football Hall of Fame for a look at football like you have never experienced!
Within walking distance from the College Football Hall of Fame is the Georgia Aquarium, the largest aquarium in the Western Hemisphere with 10 million gallons of water and tens of thousands of animals. We arrived there after 3p.m. but the Aquarium is open until 9p.m. most days, so we were able to take our time and enjoy all of it. By the late afternoon, most of the animal feedings and specialty shows are over, but we did get to see the “Pier 225” sea lion presentation, which was amazing. Bet you didn’t know that sea lions can hold their breath for 10 minutes and that they can swim 25 mph. The interaction between these animals and their trainers was so interesting to witness, and sea lions are quite amusing to boot! These rescued animals from California can wave, dance, and bend their noses all the way back to their tails – what’s not to love!
The “River Scout” exhibit was also very interesting, especially the river otters, who appear almost human as they play with toys and with each other in the water. “Cold Water Quest” was an awe-inspiring exhibit as you become witness to the great beluga whales – who, by the way, are born grey and gradually turn to pure white – talk about a beautiful animal! In this section, visitors also view sea dragons, giant pacific octopi, and the huge Japanese spider crab.
Perhaps the most captivating exhibit was “Ocean Voyager” where you can walk through an enormous acrylic tunnel and feel as though you are under the ocean with all of the creatures. You’ll see rays of varying kinds, fish like you’ve never seen before and two of the most enormous whale sharks that dominate the environment. You can also view this in front of a gigantic acrylic viewing window. Bill and I paused here, actually sat down, and became mesmerized by all of the fish calmly co-existing in the same environment. Of course the classical music playing contributed to the overall serenity of the scene, but we couldn’t help but comment on how all of the very different fish living in peace together under the sea could truly teach humans a valuable lesson – especially today.
Atlanta is very fortunate to possess such a magnificent aquarium and we encourage all visitors to put this on the “must see” list! Part One of our Super Bowl adventure was complete after the aquarium. We headed toward the Airport Sheraton, where we stayed the night before our early flight to Houston on Friday, February 3.
Part Two is coming soon! Stay in touch – you don’t want to miss Super Bowl weekend!