On our way back up to Atlanta, we were again hoping to explore a little of the "native" food. Our GPS was repeatedly leading us to clusters of fast food chains, so we decided to try a different approach, and just pick a city and head for the downtown area. Success! We stopped in Forsyth, about 20 minutes from the famous Whistle Stop Cafe, and happened upon "The Grits Cafe". While we were in search of a late breakfast, this was an upscale bistro-type of place, but we were starving and the prices weren't too bad, so in we went. We were pretty interested in tasting some down-home grits. This is what we got:
OK, maybe ordering a "grits martini" isn't the way to experience down-home grits, since it is really the shrimp, bacon, cream, and mushrooms that you taste, but DANG it was yummy. When we wondered aloud what real grits actually taste like (as opposed to the instant stuff Mark & I ate at the Academy thinking it was Cream of Wheat), the waitress obligingly brought out a little sample--delicious! Reminded me of risotto. Is that normal? Mark also had a BLT with fried green tomatos. Interesting, but kind of pickled-tasting--not our favorite.
After lunch, we ventured out east of Atlanta to Stone Mountain, a large granite dome that Mark identified as "the largest exposed granite face in the world". Turns out, this wasn't quite true, but it WAS a very large rock, and if you know Mark, you know that HE LIKES ROCKS. We did take the walk up to the top, just a mile in, 825 ft of vertical gain, but towering over the Atlanta skyline, and everything else as far as the eye could see. In the visitor center, we learned that Stone Mountain is a "monadnock", which is a rocky hill in otherwise flat land, so named for Mount Monadnock in New Hampshire. Just a point of interest for my NH compadres.
As it turns out, this place had some other surprises. I'm snagging a couple of pictures from Wikipedia here. According to Wikipedia, this is the largest bas-relief carving in the world. It was started by the guy who went on to do Mt Rushmore, although his work on Stone Mountain was later blasted away by a second artist.
It is a carving of three Confederate heros: Jefferson Davis, Robert E. Lee, and Stonewall Jackson. Apparently, this place was quite a rallying point for the Old South.
It was also the birthplace of the 1915 revival of the KKK. Hmmm...we didn't read about THAT in the visitor center! Apparently, Martin Luther King Jr even referenced Stone Mountain in his "I have a dream" speech. (thanks, Wikipedia)
I would have to say...as a visitor, I didn't know what to expect along those lines in Georgia. Would there still be a lot of bigotry and hostility? OR am I the one who is stereotyping and backward for even wondering this? But I have to say...EVERYONE who we ran across in Georgia was open and friendly. Which was quite a relief for my delicate California sensibilities.
So...this concludes my Georgia story. We flew home. The end.