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All Coked Up

August 8, 2012

After a couple of very serious days, it was nice to have a day that was purely fun. We learned very little today, and we had a fantastic time.

We started the day with a guided tour of Turner Coca-Cola Delta Coca-Cola Field Presented by Coca-Cola And Did We Mention Coca-Cola, the home of the Atlanta Braves. As ballpark tours go (and I’ve been on eight or 10 by now), it was just OK. There were very few stories about the ballpark’s history and although we did get to see the clubhouse it was from behind a velvet rope. But we did get to sit in the giant Coca-Cola chairs and see the Coca-Cola Party Deck and the giant Coca-Cola cannons and the even giant-er Coca-Cola fireworks launcher.

Corporate synergy aside, touring a Major League ballpark is never a bad way to spend a morning.

You’ll never guess what we did next. That’s right, we went to World of Coke! Two years ago Sam did a research report for school about Dr. Pemberton, the dude who invented Coke, so he was really excited for this. He was not disappointed. During a two-hour indoctrination tour, we saw lots of old Coke memorabilia, learned about the bottling process, and watched a 4D movie about how awesome Coke is and how we are the secret ingredient that makes it special. But the coolest parts were the last two things we did there. Because Coke is such a major sponsor of the Olympics, they got to keep the torch that was used in the U.S. leg of the Olympic torch relay, and visitors to World of Coke get to hold and pose with the torch, which is a pretty awesome opportunity if you’re into the Olympics at all, which we definitely are.

Even better was the tasting room, where you get a cup and free reign to gulp down Coke products that are sold in other parts of the world. A few were pretty disgusting but most were pretty good. Among other surprises, we noticed that Coke makes a lot of apple-flavored sodas for other countries, and we got to drink flavors made specifically for Thailand (delicious), Italy (horrible, like Robitussin), and Djibouti (just OK-tasting, but it’s fun to say “Djibouti”).

For lunch we headed to Atlanta’s best and most interesting kosher restaurant, a South American place called Fuego Mundo. I had beef skewers with beans and fired plantains, which were the best I’ve had. And the Hamster must have been feeling adventurous, because he ordered something called the Wild Colombian Hot Dog, which was a hot dog on a crusty bun, split open and topped with diced grilled chicken, french fried onions, shredded lettuce, and what tasted roughly like apple sauce and tartar sauce. It sounds crazy but he loved it. We left the place wishing we were staying longer in Atlanta just so we could eat there again.

Originally Hamster and I wanted to take the CNN studio tour but last night as I checked us into our lousy motel I noticed a brochure for Legoland. Sam loves Legos and I knew Legoland would be great for him but we didn’t have any free time in which to fit it in. So we ditched CNN and went to Legoland instead. Great call. The phony factory tour they forced us to sit through right when we walked in was awful but then we were free to roam. We spent some time in a miniature Lego version of downtown Atlanta complete with baseball and football stadiums, state capitol, CNN building, and other landmarks.

Then Sam spent almost an hour building vehicles that he could race on a very short downhill track. We coud have stayed there all day but Chattanooga beckoned.

Specifically, the Chattanooga Lookouts, a minor-league affiliate of the Dodgers. We got caught in some heavy rush-hour traffic on our way out of Atlanta but thanks in part to wolfing down a sub-par dinner in the car (good thing we had a great lunch) we managed to make it to the game just in time for first pitch. Not only did the Lookouts win 3-1 thanks to a late-inning home run, but Sam once again got two balls tossed to him by players during the game.

And he wasn’t done there: between innings the team mascot threw soft mini-balls into the crowd and of course Sam ended up with one of those, too. And upon further inspection it is not merely a ball but, according to the printing on the ball, also a coupon for a free queso at some local place called Abuelo’s. We’re only going there if they serve Wild Colombian Hot Dogs.

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