Friday, January 30, 2015

360 Degree Downtown Atlanta Birthday

I was going round and round and round about how to celebrate my birthday this year. And then decided to do exactly that! The evening of the celebration—at least the first day of celebrating—started with a ride on SkyView Atlanta, followed by dinner at The Sun Dial, and then dessert and bubbly at Polaris. It was a spectacular evening, with best friends.


Travis's 360 Degree Birthday
Travis's 360 Degree Birthday

Probably my favorite birthday gift this year was my best friends offering a Vulcan salute! Anyone who has known me for any length of time knows that I love Star Trek as much as I love being a tourist...which is a LOT! How fun of my friends to indulge me.

Left to right, that's Scott, Barry and Perry, and in this photo we were mid-celebration at The Sun Dial Restaurant, Bar & View, in one of the View's overlook pods.


Travis's 360 Degree Birthday
Travis's 360 Degree Birthday

The evening started with a ride on SkyView Atlanta, in the VIP Gondola! My first ride on SkyView had been just a month before, on Christmas Day, with Perry and Scott. This birthday ride was with Barry, and it was his first ride, making it extra fun!

The above photo I made after our vertical 360 degree tour of downtown Atlanta. Be sure to listen to the audio tour in your gondola, which we didn't hear Christmas Day, until the very end of our ride. On this particular ride, we listened to it for several revolutions and then turned down the volume and just took in the spectacular view.


Travis's 360 Degree Birthday
Travis's 360 Degree Birthday

Since I was a small child, I've loved skylines, especially architecturally interesting ones. It's been quite exciting watching Atlanta's skyline change over the years and I think SkyView Atlanta is a magnificent addition, especially to our nighttime skyline.

I didn't realize when I booked the ride that we'd be riding as the sun was setting. When we got on, it was still daylight. By time our 30-minute VIP ride was finished, the sun had set, and SkyView was illuminated with quite the glowing rainbow of colors!



Travis's 360 Degree Birthday
Travis's 360 Degree Birthday


I've now done both the standard ride and the VIP Gondola ride on SkyView Atlanta. Both are super fun. But, I have to admit that the extra money for the VIP Gondola ride is totally worth it. 

We were greeted by our new SkyView Atlanta friend, Wisdom. He treated us like real VIPs.

When we arrived, we were immediately escorted to the comfy VIP Lounge where a photographer met us and made photos of us. Wisdom took a drink order and promptly brought that to us to enjoy on the ride. Soda and bottled water are complimentary with the VIP Gondola ticket and beer and wine are available at a reasonable cost. We enjoyed some wine on our ride.

Thank you, Wisdom, for the awesome treatment!


Travis's 360 Degree Birthday
Travis's 360 Degree Birthday

As much as I love to write and talk, it's challenging to express how amazing a 360 Atlanta sunset can be. And it was fantastic to see our next destination from SkyView—The Sun Dial Restaurant atop of the Westin Peachtree Plaza Hotel.

Before heading to The Sun Dial, Barry and I met Perry and Scott at their penthouse in Museum Tower, overlooking Centennial Olympic Park, for a celebratory libation and another fantastic view of the Atlanta skyline! "Versailles in the Sky" is what we've started calling their beautiful home. And not only are they dear friends, they're wonderfully gracious hosts!


Travis's 360 Degree Birthday
Travis's 360 Degree Birthday

Dinner and drinks at The Sun Dial Restaurant, a revolving restaurant, was great! We all had steak. When I saw that a blackberry reduction accompanied the dish, I was all-in. Blackberries are my favorite food, so that selection was an obvious choice for me. That it came with Blue Cheese Mac & Cheese was a total bonus!

I've been going to The Sun Dial since the late 80s. A lot of locals see it as a tourist attraction, and that it is, but it's so much more to me. It was one of my earliest experiences when I first moved to Atlanta, so it's special to me. And it has an awesome 360 view of a beautiful city!


Travis's 360 Degree Birthday
Travis's 360 Degree Birthday

We enjoyed a pre-dinner cocktail and had a nice bottle of Mendoza Malbec with dinner. Having vacationed in Argentina, the Malbec too brought back great memories. 

I love this photo...dear friends, great dinner, and One Ninety One Peachtree Tower in the background—how could you not have a great time!


Travis's 360 Degree Birthday
Travis's 360 Degree Birthday

I'd admired Polaris for the first 15 years I lived in Atlanta, but unbelievably never visited. It closed when I lived in DC and reopened last year, in 2014. Being something of a sci-fi fan(atic), I love that Polaris looks like a flying saucer (I hope that doesn't offend the establishment. It's meant with great fondness).

Visiting Polaris for my birthday dessert and bubbly was my first visit, but it will not be my last! 

Polaris has its own elevator and the elevator hostess was delightful. And she had amazing shoes! There was an event going on so she wasn't sure she would be able to get us up right away...but she did. I'm grateful for her kindness and for accommodating our excitement to experience Polaris.


Travis's 360 Degree Birthday
Travis's 360 Degree Birthday

Polaris, at the Hyatt Regency Atlanta, was once a restaurant, one that also revolves 360 degrees. And it was the tallest building in Atlanta when it was built in 1967. Today it's a sophisticated, tourist beacon, must-experience lounge, with brilliant libation offerings, seasonal small plates and marvelous sweet treats! And the decor is stunning.

Its resurrection last year was met with great fanfare and it's already on numerous Top 10 lists. All for good reason...the place is magnificent! 


Travis's 360 Degree Birthday
Travis's 360 Degree Birthday

I enjoyed the Warm Roasted Banana Cake with toasted pecans and creme fraiche—it was amazing, and my friends all enjoyed the Graham Cracker Cheese Cake with marshmallow meringue—I had a bite and OMG, it enraptures the taste buds!

All of this fantastic round-and-round totally fun Downtown Atlanta experience was last Saturday, January 24. My actual birthday is January 27, but I had to work that day. Our Annual Meeting was that evening and went until 9:00 p.m., not leaving a lot of time for a day-of celebration. BUT, I won one of the company's highest awards (for innovation), so it was an evening of another kind of celebration...I'm also grateful for that.

Here it is nearly a week later and I'm still celebrating. Yes, I'm one of those. I love celebrating life and will continue to do so—most enjoyably as a tourist—for all of my days, and nights.

Please feel free to borrow from my "360 Degree Birthday" theme and visit SkyView Atlanta, The Sun Dial Restaurant & View, and Polaris.

I'd like to offer a special "Thank you" to my friends, Barry, Perry and Scott, for making my birthday celebration a special experience. I had the most wonderful wanderlusting Atlanta birthday!

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Read All About It...Newsies Makes Headlines!

NEWSIES delivers the best synchronized dancing I've seen since A Chorus Line. Worthy of its 2012 Tony Award for best choreography, NEWSIES is a high-energy, well-performed story of young paperboys' defiance of exploitation by big business...This is based on a true story! 

Now at The Fox Theatre through Sunday, January 25, NEWSIES On Tour garnered the grandest, most heartfelt standing ovation I've seen on an opening night in ages!


Newsies on Tour (Photo: Deen Van Meer)
Newsies on Tour (Photo: Deen Van Meer)

A 1992 movie of the same title didn't do so well, but Disnesy's NEWSIES stage performance has taken command of audiences, bringing adults to their feet and smiles to children's faces...and putting Newsboy Caps on their heads. 

Is NEWSIES responsible for the resurgence of this 1900s fashion? I don't know, but I wouldn't be surprised. Even Nordstrom sells them! And there were quite a few in the audience opening night. I love seeing that kind of support for such a magnificent show.


Newsies on Tour (Photo: Deen Van Meer)
Newsies on Tour (Photo: Deen Van Meer)

Looking back through modern history, there have been many newsboys strikes, but this show is the story of one strike in particular. A newsboys strike that took place in New York City in 1899. And it has a few familiar names...Pulitzer, Hearst and Roosevelt, to name a few.

This musical changed the name of the lead character--the leader of an emerging newsboy union--to Jack Kelly, brilliantly performed by Dan DeLuca. This young man has not only mastered dancing and acting, he puts on a rather convincing turn-of-the-century New York City accent.

The entire cast is brilliant. It truly has been a while since I've seen a cast work so incredibly well together. Either their each and every one 1,000 percent dedicated to their art or they're all best of friends offstage. Perhaps they're both. The performance is flawless!


Newsies on Tour (Photo: Deen Van Meer)
Newsies on Tour (Photo: Deen Van Meer)

The cast truly is brilliant...they're ALL amazing! The "is-it-for-real?" developing love story between Jack Kelly (Dan DeLuca) and Kathrine (Stephanie Styles) was delightful in humor, as well as romance. You can't help but root for shy Davey (Jacob Kemp)--I was a very shy kid, so I identified with this character--and Crutchie (Zachary Sayle) is a personal favorite--his resolve and determination are heroic...my kind of character.

The dancing and acting are joined by superb singing. It's as if their voices were made for each other. Their voices harmonized perfectly, just as their dance steps. I think the only thing I didn't like about this show is that it was over in two hours...I'd have stayed as long as they'd have kept dancing! 

The first thing that caught my attention--and kept it throughout--was the set(s). Tony-nominee (for Newsies) Tobin Ost did a magnificent job. 

Check out this Broadway.com video interview with Ost, when he discusses how the sets were inspired by the printing press used in the show.

AND...there's tap dancing! Exceptional tap dancing. It thrills me to no end to see so many young people who obviously have an amazing grasp on this delightful style of dancing. It's been a favorite of mine since I was a kid--although I never learned myself--I so love to see a spectacular tap performance. 


Newsies on Tour (Photo: Deen Van Meer)
Newsies on Tour (Photo: Deen Van Meer)

One of the more profound lines in the show is delivered by then Governor of New York Teddy Roosevelt, "Each generation must, at the height of its power, step aside and invite the young to share the day." The youngsters in Disney's NEWSIES on Tour...not only share the day, they've seize the day, to the enjoyment of Atlanta and I'm certain every city on its national tour.

Get you tickets to NEWSIES right away...it'll be in the headlines for quite some time, but only on stage in Atlanta through Sunday.

A huge wanderlust ATLANTA "Thank you" to Broadway in Atlanta and BRAVE PR for inviting me to the show. I hope you will make the time to see it as well.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Emory Cinematheque: Movies Made in Georgia

"Movies Made in Georgia" is a 14-film series of just that...movies made right here in Georgia. I attended the first screening last Wednesday, which was the 1989 Oscar-winning Driving Miss Daisy, and can hardly wait to return for more movies on the big screen!

Hosted by Emory Cinematheque, these films will be shown on Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m. in White Hall on the Emory University campus.

Eddy Von Mueller, PhD, Senior Lecturer in Film and Media Studies at Emory University and the series curator said in a press release, "Extraordinary movies have been made here, by extraordinary filmmakers, and it's incredible to have the opportunity to showcase some of them at a Georgia university, and as part of a program dedicated to presenting films as closely as possible to the way they were meant to be seen."


The following are dates and trailers of all films in the series. The title above each movie trailer links to that film's IMDB listing. I hope to see you there! (NOTE: Please be aware of film ratings—some are "Rated R"—before viewing trailers/films.)



Wednesday, January 14, 2015: Driving Miss Daisy (1989)




Wednesday, January 21, 2015Smokey and the Bandit (1977)




Wednesday, January 28, 2015Cockfighter (1974)




Wednesday, February 4, 2015Zombieland (2009)




Wednesday, February 11, 2015Glory (1990)




Wednesday, February 18, 2015The Visitor (1979)




Wednesday, February 25, 201542 (2013)




Wednesday, March 4, 2015The Longest Yard (1974)




Wednesday, March 18, 2015Sherman’s March (1985)




Wednesday, March 25, 2015Manhunter (1986)




Wednesday, April 1, 2015Drumline (2002)




Wednesday, April 8, 2015Diary of a Mad Black Woman (2005)




Wednesday, April 15, 2015Get Low (2009)




Wednesday, April 22, 2015Deliverance (1972)




Quite the lineup, yes? 

If your wanderlust escapades on the campus of Emory University have taken you only to the wondrous Michael C. Carlos Museum, know that there's more. 

Please take a little time to explore Emory Arts...there's an abundance of cultural and fun events, performances, art, music...you'll be amazed at what you find!

Friday, January 16, 2015

Valentine's in Atlanta - 10 Romantic Outings

"Love is in the air..." Oh wait, that was a 70s television show. But it's true all the same, especially this time of year. There are infinite possibilities for Valentine's experiences to be shared in Atlanta.

Whether you're celebrating the heart-shaped holiday with your sweetheart, boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife, or perhaps you're sharing a special outing with your best friend or a beloved family member, Atlanta rolls out the red carpet for Valentine's.

I'd like to share with you a few of those "infinite possibilities", for consideration in your planning time with your special someone. Some of these are romantic traditions and some are likely not on your radar at all. Personally, I like to bestow (or enjoy) the occasional unexpected pleasant surprise.


Romeo et Juliette, Atlanta Ballet, Photo - Charlie McCullers
Romeo et Juliette, Atlanta Ballet, Photo - Charlie McCullers

1. Romeo & Juliette (Atlanta Ballet

Romeo et Juliette, presented by the Atlanta Ballet, with the Atlanta Ballet Orchestra, will be playing at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre Friday, February 6, 2015 through Saturday, February 14, 2015—Valentine's Day. I'm going Opening Night!

You can add an extra splash of romance with an optional Champagne and Chocolate Covered Strawberries experience, to be enjoyed pre-show or during intermission. Tickets


2. Valentines in the Garden (Atlanta Botanical Garden)

This annual tradition is set in Atlanta's "Oasis in the City", the beautiful Atlanta Botanical Garden. Enjoy cocktails, dancing, live music, photo ops, and you can even design your own fragrance—for him and/or her! Tickets

The Garden gift shop is one of the more brilliant in Atlanta, should you also want to pick up a unique gift. 


3. Sips Under the Sea (Georgia Aquarium)

Sometimes we're not able to make things happen on the exact day of a holiday. Fortunately this year, it's on a Saturday, which opens up a greater range of opportunity, BUT...if you're not free on February 14, consider celebrating a little early at Sips Under the Sea at Georgia Aquarium on Friday, January 23.


This genuinely unique cocktail party, at the world's largest aquarium, will feature cocktails, tapas and live music...and no kids. Tickets


4. Valentine's with a View (SkyView Atlanta)

I love a great view...and SkyView Atlanta offers a most unique view—and experience—of Atlanta. I rode for the first time this past Christmas Day...loved it!


May I recommend, especially for Valentine's Day, reserving the VIP Gondola for you and your sweetheart. You get to skip the lines and the concierge can arrange for you to enjoy a libation (beer or wine) during your flight! 

On a double-date? No problem. The VIP Gondola can fit up to five guests. The other more than 40 gondolas seat up to six guests. All are climate controlled, too! You have the opportunity to have photos made by SkyView staff, but bring your own camera/camera phone to make photos from more than 20 stories above Atlanta! Tickets


5. Medieval Valentines (Medieval Times, Atlanta Castle)

What better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than by treating your sweetheart like a prince or princess! Medieval Times Dinner & Tournament is an exhilarating experience...there's jousting, sword fights, and romance. Arrive early for the pre-tournament festivities, then enjoy a two-hour tournament and a generous meal! And there's full bar service before, during and post-show. 

I've had the great pleasure of experiencing Medieval Times a number of times now. My most recent visits were a great fun!

There are three performances on Valentine's Day! Tickets


6. An Elegant Valentine's (Mandarin Oriental Hotel)

Thinking luxury? May I suggest cocktails and light fare at the Mandarin Oriental in Buckhead before your night on the town. Or enjoy dinner and stay the night! I've personally dined at the Mandarin Oriental in Washington, D.C., and in Miami...both superb experiences! Dinner Reservations

If you're visiting from out of town, or live here and want to stay in the city Valentine's Night, the Mandarin is offering a "Romeo et Juliette Romance" package, which sounds amazing!


7. Elevating Valentine's (Sun Dial Restaurant & View)

My very first date in Atlanta was at Sun Dial Restaurant & View, more than 70 stories above Atlanta, and it's one of only two revolving restaurants in Atlanta. Even today I enjoy dining there for special occasions, and sometime just for a happy hour libation. 

Their Valentine's Weekend Celebration menu looks delectable! Lobster or Filet Mignon, anyone? Reservations


8. Valentine's Day Love Songs (Michael C. Carlos Museum)

Another unexpected sweet experience option...the day before Valentine's, enjoy a noon "Valentine's Day Love Songs" concert at the Michael C. Carlos Museum at Emory University. It's budget-friendly (read: free) and it's at Emory, so you know it's going to be world-class!

The concert is presented by Music at Emory and performed by Emory Chamber Music Society of Atlanta. Information


9. Dinner and Stargazing (The Farmhouse at Serenbe)

Emory's Michael C. Carlos Museum and The Farmhouse at Serenbe are partnering for a wonderfully unique Valentine's experience...Dinner and Stargazing

Your casual yet elegant dinner will be prepared by Chef Thaddeus Barton. Then, with hot drinks in hand, you and your sweetheart get to enjoy stargazing with astrophysicist Erin Bonning, director of the Emory Planetarium, with telescopes provided by the Atlanta Astronomy Club. Sounds like a delightful evening, right? Reservations


10. Cupid at the Castle (Rhodes Hall)

If you want a Valentine's Day wedding anniversary, this is a grand opportunity. Cupid at the Castle is your chance to get married, have your commitment ceremony or renew your vows at The Castle on Peachtree

Magnificent Rhodes Hall is one of my favorite historic homes in Atlanta and it's one of only a few remaining mansions on Atlanta's Peachtree Street, once lined with mansions! It doesn't get any more romantic than getting married in a castle! Your Wedding


Whatever your fantasy for a romantic Valentine's Day, or leading up to it in celebration, have a magnificent time. Enjoy any of the wonderful destinations and experiences that Atlanta has to offer. 

Happy Valentine's!

Monday, January 12, 2015

Discovering Shutze

Have you ever "accidentally" discovered an exhibit...that you forgot you knew was coming? Long after reading about it? Such a circumstance can make for an exciting discovery! That was my experience last month at the Atlanta History Center.

I was touring the Swan House over the holidays and overheard other visitors talking about "downstairs". It started jarring my memory, and off I went exploring. I was beyond impressed with the first gallery I came upon, but the exhibit kept on going...and going...and going...


Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center
Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center

Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life features a significant portion of Swan House architect Philip Trammell Shutze's personal collection, one that started in the late 1940s with the "desire to acquire a full dinner setting of blue and white Canton china." 

Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center
Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center

What started as a modest endeavor was "escalating to furious activity by the 1950s." Shutze bequeathed his collection to the Atlanta History Center--he passed away in 1982--with the stipulation that it be exhibited in the 1928 Swan House, what he considered his architectural masterpiece, as do many Atlantans. 



Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center
Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center

The collection on display includes more than 350 artifacts from Shutze's collection of books, furniture, textiles and ceramics. Specifically in this new permanent exhibition are English and Continental pottery and porcelain, Chinese Export porcelain, and American and English period furniture. 


Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center
Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center

I never knew there was so much room in the basement-turned-gallery of the Swan House. But I shouldn't have been surprised, knowing that the never-used, original 1936 Magic Chef stove--now in the kitchen--had been stored down there, to be discovered when the Atlanta History Center acquired the historic home.


Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center
Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center

It was an exceptional revelation to discover this part of Shutze's life. I've long known that Shutze was a fascinating person, but evidently I have many more layers of his life to explore. 


As fascinating as the individual items in this collection are, the one piece that I found most captivating is an 1850 Chinese lacquer sewing table, pictured above. At first I thought it was a gaming table, but I can't say I was disappointed. I learned how to sew from my mother, and have some experience from my Navy days--you had to be able to repair your uniform at a moment's notice--and I know zero Chinese board games. It's a beautiful piece of furniture, either way.


Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center
Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center

Now, I'm not suggesting that you eavesdrop on other tourists, but if you happen to hear something, and they seem approachable, ask them about an exhibit they're talking about, or ask a museum staff member. Or, with today's technology, it's quite likely that the museum or attraction you're visiting has an app that you can search on your phone!

Then again, you can do what I did and just go see for yourself. I'm so glad I did. I would also suggest, even if you're a longtime member, that you check the website, subscribe (bottom of page) to their newsletter, follow Social Media, or pick up a map at the welcome desk and ask the attendant, "What's new that I should see?"


Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center
Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center

There are artifacts from Shutze's collection around every corner and in every corner...there are many pleasant surprises, I should say. 



Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center
Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center

When you visit, I highly recommend that you allow ample time to explore. Give yourself time to soak in the significant amount of detail this exhibition offers. "As a collector, Shutze's first concern was the scholarly pursuit of the object based on careful study--as an expression of taste, respect for the past, and a way of living." That discernment makes itself obvious in this collection.


Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center
Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center

Half of Shutze's ceramics collection is comprised of Chinese Export. Much of that you'll get to see, and there's so much more. In fact, this permanent exhibition showcases 70% more than the previous Atlanta History Center exhibition, Philip Trammell Shutze: Atlanta Classicist, Connoisseur, and Collector, of which there's a catalog available in the gift shop!


Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center
Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, Atlanta History Center

As I noted, I have a lot more to learn about Philip Shutze. Fortunate for me, and other Atlanta tourists, there are magnificent places to visit--and learn from--like the Atlanta History Center. And may I recommend an "Open House Experience", when you can meet "living history characters" who share what life was like in the house.

Of course, venture down to see Mandarin Shutze: A Chinese Export Life, a remarkable collection of history from a remarkable architect's life.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Where the Wild Things Are

There's room to run, crafts to make, and Wild Things to become at The Breman Museum!” shares the The Breman of its Where the Wild Things Are: Maurice Sendak in His Own Words and Pictures exhibition...AND you can slide into a bowl of "Chicken Soup with Rice"!

Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum
Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum

I first learned of the Wild Things exhibition when The Breman entered "scarecrows" in Scarecrows in the Garden at the Atlanta Botanical Garden...I was so excited!

I didn't grow up with parents who read to me. I gained a passion for reading later. I think as an escape to other worlds, to other possibilities. I believe that's one of the things that attracted me to Sendak's work, specifically Where the Wild Things Are. Bottom line...developing a passion for reading changed my life, definitely for the better.


Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum
Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum

If by chance you're never read, or it has been a while, there's a huge copy of Where the Wild Things Are, and other Sendak books, for visitors to read at their leisure. Do enjoy reading it to your children. 

Of my greatest admiration for how this exhibition is put together is the importance it stresses on reading to one's children. It offers tips for how to most effectively read to kids. I myself do not have kids, but I can imagine that reading to them would have been something that I'd have very much enjoyed. 

But I can say that I've been guilty as "that uncle" who gifts books to his nieces and nephews. Perhaps not as exciting as Grand Theft Auto or Halo 2, but I hope the books I've shared with friends and kin have been enjoyed, to some extent.


Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum
Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum

I love sailing and being on the water, but never had quite the experience that Max did in Where the Wild Things Are. But thanks to The Breman, and a bit of imagination, you and I—not breaking line in front of any of the kids, of course—have just that opportunity. Isn't imagination a wonderful thing?!


Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum
Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum

Kids are going to love this exhibition! They can even dress up like "Wild Things" and play in the "Wild Forest". They can go on a voyage in Max's boat. They can perform on a stage. They can "cook" in a kitchen and so much more! But most importantly...they get to read.


Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum
Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum

Around every corner is a new adventure. I think that perhaps that was Sendak's imagination in a single thought. His childhood was not an easy one. Realizing the morbid loss of so much of his family when he was just a child took its toll on him. It's even said that he remembers the kidnapping of the Lindbergh baby, the outcome of which weighed heavy on his childhood heart. 

In return, he gave us so many wonderful dreams. How wonderful for us that he turned to creativity.


Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum
Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum

Tucked into a far corner is a brilliant "Creativity Classroom"...I love it! There were so many delightful trips down childhood memory lane in this exhibition.  

There are a number of events associated with Wild Things, including Family Sundays and speaker events. This is one exhibition that I think you'll want to visit more than once.


Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum
Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum

Have a kid who dreams of being on stage one day? Here's a fantastic opportunity!

Where the Wild Things Are is open now through Sunday, July 5, 2015. Plenty of time for adventure after adventure after adventure. And do check out the Museum's other events and exhibitions.


Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum
Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum

Some of Sendak's work was not without controversy. Then again, how many great artists escape controversy? In the Night Kitchen was one of those works. It had even been banned. I've not personally read it, but based on the exhibit, it seems perfectly delightful and playful.

I must say again that I'm quite impressed with The Breman Museum's presentation of Sendak's work. The exhibits, interactive activities and learning opportunities are brilliant!


Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum
Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum

I've really enjoyed researching Maurice Sendak. Even though I know this, the fact that you can "know" someone all of your life and not really know them still amazes me. Especially in this day and age. Seriously...what can't you Google? 

Maurice Sendak was born in Brooklyn, New York, to Polish Jewish immigrants. Most of his extended family were killed during the Holocaust. His father and older brother were also authors of children's books. He knew that he wanted to be an illustrator when he was 12. He illustrated 80 books before he published his first. He won numerous awards. He lived with his life partner for 50 years. And today, the Rosenbach Museum & Library in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is home to a substantial amount of his work, a collection of nearly 10,000 works of art, manuscripts, books and memorabilia.

In my research I found this quote, one that I can almost hear Maurice speaking: "I'm totally crazy, I know that. I don't say that to be a smartass, but I know that that's the very essence of what makes my work good. And I know my work is good. Not everybody likes it, that's fine. I don't do it for everybody. Or anybody. I do it because I can't not do it." 


Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum
Where the Wild Things Are, Breman Museum


The Breman Museum's three main objectives for Where the Wild Things Are, aside from fun for kids of all ages, include:
  • appreciation for the art and words of Maurice Sendak;
  • literacy and language development within children; and
  • art and how it can be used as a tool for coping with difficult situations.
I for one think they splendidly hit the mark on all three. This exhibition, important to literacy and to Atlanta, is a must-see. Go read. Go on an adventure!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

wanderlust ATLANTA's 2014 Photo Review

I love this time of year, not because the weather is cooler (read: not a fan of cold!), not because because the evenings are longer (read: give me sunshine until 9pm any day!), and not because it's time to hibernate (read: I'm always on the go, go, go!). 

I love this time of year because it's when I get to reflect on all the fantastic wanderlusting I've done in the last twelve months. In previous years around this time, I start thinking of how little I did during the year...then that myth is put to rest as soon as I start looking through my photos. 

What I'd like to share with you today, this New Year's Eve, are some of my favorite 2014 photos, which include some of my favorite outings and experiences, but not all of them. Remember, photos aren't allowed at all tourist destinations and events, so those won't be represented here, but I invite you to explore wanderlust ATLANTA at your leisure...I think you'll enjoy what you discover.

Here we go, and in no particular order...


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

I start with this view of Atlanta's Midtown skyline because it's the photo that I chose for my current business cards. I made the photo earlier this year at the Red Bull Illume exhibition in Piedmont Park, one of the few stops it made when traveling the world.



Okay, I absolutely must include this one video (click above to watch). One of my most incredible experiences this year was Journey With Gentle Giants...Barry, my best friend, and I went swimming with the Whale Sharks and Manta Ray at Georgia Aquarium. (Our experience begins at the 1:37 mark, but the preceding video is beautiful.) 

I can only compare that experience to the exhilaration of skydiving or the out-of-this-world experience of viewing a live satellite launch at the Baikonur Cosmodrome. I've done some pretty amazing things in my life, and this counts as one of them!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

I love this photo for so many reasons! One...it's just cool. But the coolest is that it won a contest! Where Atlanta magazine awarded me four tickets to The Lion King at The Fox Theatre, four tickets to Zoo Atlanta, and a gift certificate to Hard Rock Cafe..."Thank you, Where Atlanta!" That turned into five outing with various friends.


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

This photo is one of the most precious to me. It was my first Atlanta Movie Tours tour—their Margaret Mitchell's Gone With the Wind Tour—which I did twice this year, AND it was the day I met Sally Smith.

Later, Sally—who portrays Margaret Mitchell on the tour—granted me an interview. We dined at the Georgian Terrace Hotel, where Margaret has a history. The hotel and Livingston staff were wonderful to us and treated us with the utmost hospitality during our 3.5 hour visit! "Thank you, Ashley!" I've been back many, many times since.


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

Many of you know that I'm a docent and volunteer at the Atlanta Botanical Garden and I'm a member and I've been a visitor since 1987. It's one of my favorite places in the city. So to say that I've been more than a few times this year would be an understatement. The occasions: Atlanta Blooms, Orchid Daze, Imaginary Worlds, Cocktails in the Garden, Garden Lights...the list goes on and on! 

A special "Thank you" to Josh, Koya and Jason for making my volunteer experience at the Garden so great.

The above photo was made during Atlanta Blooms! It's one of the Cherry Trees in front of Mershon Hall. I love all the flowers that are part of Atlanta Blooms, but the Cheery Trees remind me of the Cherry Blossom Festival on the Tidal Basin in Washington, DC.


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

Being a space and aerospace enthusiast—which is putting it mildly—I was super excited about the renovation and reopening of the Delta Flight Museum this year. They did an awesome job, and the photos ops are awesome, too!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

I discovered Gibbs Gardens last year, but this year was the first time I'd been to their Daffodil Festival. Have you ever seen 20 million flowers of any kind? There were 20 million daffodils. Yes...I said 20 MILLION!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

One of the most popular exhibitions in Atlanta this year was Dream Cars. The High Museum of Art did it right, too! I think I saw the exhibition at least five times...it was that amazing, and I still feel like there was so much more to see and learn about the AMAZING automobiles on exhibit!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

One of the wonderful things about Atlanta is that it's the heart of the South, which means there are a LOT of day trips and weekend trips just a drive away. This year I went back to New Orleans with my best friend Barry and we had an incredible, whirlwind visit, that included Emerald Mound near Natchez, Mississippi. And I love the serendipity, and total luck I had, when making this photo.


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

Some of you know that I'm, oftentimes, just a big kid. I think that's maybe why I have so much fun at Medieval Times. On the particular visit of this photo, I happened to be sitting next to the young lady who would be crowned the Tournament Princess! How much fun is that!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

I can't imagine going a year without a few excursions to Cartersville, Georgia. This year, after a number of plan changes, Tellus Science Museum made the agenda as one of Barry's birthday outings. He was a geology minor in college, and he'd not been to Tellus since they were in a tiny building, so we had a magnificent time playing with the gems and minerals, dinosaurs and spaceships...an awesome day!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

I was also a sailor in the U.S. Navy, so I'm particularly fond of the chronicling of President Jimmy Carter's Navy days at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum. Atlantans and visitors who miss this attraction are missing out on quite a lot!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

I'm also a foodie, so when I happened upon this Presidential China exhibit at the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library & Museum, which was on its last day, I still posted about it just to show that it pays to explore...you never know what you're going to find!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

Speaking of exploring, I usually go to the Georgia World Congress Center a few times a year, either for work or play, and I always try to make time for a walk through Georgia International Plaza, where The Flare is located. Again, serendipity was my friend as I happened upon The Flare to make this photo at sunset. Atlanta has some amazing sunsets!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

It seems so long ago already, but this summer the Atlanta Botanical Garden hosted Four Seasons, an awesome exhibition of four 15' tall sculptures based on Renaissance paintings. "Winter" was my favorite! Not season, but sculpture.


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

I told you I can be a big kid, right? Well, you can imagine how excited I was to meet Miss Piggy, Kermit, and characters from "Pigs in Space!" Thank you Daniel and Center for Puppetry Arts for that and many other wonderful experiences!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

I also had the pleasure of a number of cultural experiences, including a visit to Frogtown Cellars where I made a new friend, Jacky. She's awesome! She was our sommelier when we went for a tasting, but we became quick friends and have been in touch ever since. But I don't make it to Dahlonegha very often, but every time I have it's been a blast!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

There were monsters this year, too! Sea Monsters, in particular. This exhibition at Georgia Aquarium, the world's largest Aquarium, is more than awesome...there aren't words. It's a must-see! Sea Monsters and the entirety of the Aquarium! 


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

Speaking of monsters, Atlanta is full of zombies! FULL...of,,,ZOMBIES! And it's so much fun. As I was writing this, I had a "The Walking Dead" (filmed in Atlanta) marathon running in the background.

I discovered this year the JoeLanta Toy Convention, which is very close to where I live and where I photographed this flaming zombie. 

I mentioned Atlanta Movie Tours earlier. They host two zombie tours: The Big Zombie Tour: Part I, and The Big Zombie Tour: Part II. I went on Part I not too long ago, so look for that post to be published soon. 

But most importantly, I made new friends...Patti and Carrie, the totally awesome owners to Atlanta Movie Tours. Seriously...they're AWESOME!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

Not exactly monsters, Extreme Dinosaurs is a brilliant exhibition at Atlantic Station. Imagine, 17 life-size dinosaurs...colorfully lit, in natural settings, and many of them animatronic! Stegosaurus has been my favorite dinosaur since I was a kid, so this was fantastic to see.


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

Ice Cream! Not only did I attend the Atlanta Ice Cream Festival for the first time, in Piedmont Park, it was also the first occasion that I experienced a Human Hamster Ball! It was a sad, and not so subtle, reminder that I need to get to the gym more often! But what incredible fun! And we met some totally awesome young couples!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

After years and years of visiting the World of Coca-Cola—seriously, I've been a fan since they were located adjacent to the Georgia State Capitol Building—I finally had my photo made with the Coca-Cola Polar Bear...twice this year! I have no idea who's under that this white fur and festive red scarf, but they're brilliant!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

Zoo Atlanta is a great zoo and it's about to get totally awesome! This year, courtesy of the Where Atlanta contest I mentioned earlier, I got to go to Zoo Atlanta twice with Mary Jo and the guys, two pretty amazing teenagers whom I've known since they were babies. They're so grown up! And my friendship with Mary Jo is one of the longest and strongest of my entire life. 


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

I've mentioned that I'm a foodie and you already know I'm a tourist, so it's no surprise that The Sundial Restaurant & View is a destination I frequent. On the particular visit of this photo, I was treating a friend to a birthday brunch, which was wonderful, but sometimes I'll pop in for a little after-work relaxation and libation. I don't know why more locals don't go here! Seriously...it's spectacular!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

I've been a fan of Fernbank Museum of Natural History since they opened! Yes, I remember its 1992 opening quite well and I've seen every recent exhibition—they have awesome exhibitions—and quite a few of their IMAX films. 

But this year, I finally got to meet, "in-person", Giggy A. Dinosaur! "Thank you, Deanna!" I was so excited! And to prove this is indeed a small world, that's Rachel in the photo with Giggy. I'd met her not too long before at Georgia Aquarium and again later at Dragon Con...three Rachel sightings in one year!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

If you've been following me for any length of time, you know that I've written about EVERY Museum of Design Atlanta (MODA) exhibition since the last one they had in their downtown location, just before they moved to Midtown, across the street from the High. I became a member on my first visit and have been ever since. 

A special "Thank you" to Laura, Katie, Barbara, Jennifer, Clare, Carrie, Neil and Sam (and the other awesome museum team that I'm forgetting!) for making me feel like part of the MODA family...you're all amazing!

The photo above is from their current exhibition, Inspiring Beauty: 50 Years of Ebony Fashion Fair, but you have to hurry if you're going to see it, and you totally should, it moves to the next city in early January.


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

Dragon Con! Dragon Con! Yes...everyone who knows me knows that I'm a sci-fi fan. Since I was six years old, which is as far back as I can remember. I enjoy most science fiction, but Star Trek is my absolute favorite. Not only because I've been watching it since I can remember, but also because I met Leonard Nimoy in 2002, which set me on an insatiable celebrity-spotting hobby. Dragon Con is a fantastic event for celebrity-spotting...I even met a "Spock Monkey" this year!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

I can't claim to be a foodie and not share a food experience with you. This particular dish wasn't mine, but I had the great fortune to have a most incredibly delicious bite. Barry, my best friend, and I were visiting Montaluce Vineyard and were treated to lunch at Le Vigne Restaurant, where Chef Austin was the executive chef at the time. He's now in Atlanta, but I'm certain the food is still amazing. Our visit to Montaluce was way beyond my expectations...we were there for more than five hours, just for a tour and lunch! I'm ready to go back!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

Scarecrows in the Garden has graced Atlanta for more than a decade! It's one of the mastermind exhibitions that President & CEO Mary Pat Matheson brought to the Atlanta Botanical Garden. She will be remembered as one of Atlanta's true visionaries, and even today is revered by many, many Atlantans as such, including me!


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

This was my second year of Gibbs Gardens' Japanese Maple Tree Festival, one of the most spectacular near-Atlanta excursions I could possibly recommend. Imagine...221 acres of display gardens. The Japanese Garden alone is more than 40 acres and has more than 70 species of Japanese Maple tree, and so much more! Treat yourself.


A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review
A wanderlust ATLANTA 2014 Photo Review

One of the highlights of the end of 2014 for me was experiencing Candlelight Nights at the Atlanta History Center. I've done so much there this year...because they have so much to offer. You already know I'm a trekkie, so you can imagine my excitement when Santa gave me the gift of a photo with him of us both offering a Vulcan Salute! "Thank you, Santa" and "Thank you, Atlanta History Center" (especially Hillary and Martha) for an amazing year!

So, there you go...just a few highlights of my 2014 explorations of Atlanta. That's a lot, but I feel like it just scratches the surface.

Now, go wanderlusting in Atlanta...wanderlust ATLANTA!