Atlanta is the most vivid city of the southeast. I first set foot here in 1970 and the changes have been extraordinary as in other cities in the South but in a greater scale. Nothing is the same, not even the Varsity, it has been modernized, and the skyline, it was not there before, not to mention the airport...the busiest one in the nation as they claim! The most impressive location for me was the Aquarium, it the best of the one I have visited and the tunnel across the major tank was impressive. It is a place to just look and not photograph but I did it anyway…with not great results due to the reflections of the glass walls. The porpoise show was different, it was all indoors as in a theater seating.
Would there be an Atlanta without Coca Cola? John Pemberton formulated it in the 1880s and the original formula included morphine and was marketed as a medicine. He was a physician and a pharmacist and rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel fighting for the South during the Civil War. Later on during prohibition the formula was changed to remove the alcohol content, the current formula is treated as a trade secret. The Coca part of the name was derived from cocaine and the Cola from the use of caffeine extracted from the kola nut. Below is a statue of Mr. Pemberton in front of the Coca Cola museum in Atlanta; he died poor. I recall seeing another museum with a large bottle of Coke in front in LasVegas but do not know if that museum still stands. I prefer Pepsi but Coke will do.
Driving across the south, one finds a Barbeque places in all towns who claims that they are the most famous, the ones with the original recipe and the best barbeque sandwiches. I just stopped in the one below in the city of Sumter, South Carolina who claimed all of the above. Was it? Well it was good. But the building is the most elaborate I have seen and the interior decoration was also great; from that point of view, Maurice Piggy Park is the most luxurious I have visited. Another item that I have never seen in a Barbeque Place was a buffet line…and there were some customers pigging out. I tried their mustard barbeque sauce that was very good; it can be found in supermarkets. The chain has about 14 locations mostly in South Carolina.
Next I visited Huntington State Park, a place I had visited regularly since the early seventies and the most rewarding place to photograph birds, even better than Sanibel Island. This is a smaller park and the birds are accustomed to people so they are easier to approach. In this occasion I captured a roseate spoonbill taking a bite of a snowy egret. The spoonbill was doing his feeding business of moving the bill underwater right and left and suddenly the egret landed in front of it. It appears that latter did not like the former to mess with its meal. It seems that the wood storks and an anhinga found the occasion funny and were laughing about it. The shaken snow egret was not pleased.
There are not only birds but the other most common species are people. But they may not be too appetizing to alligators. The wannabe Rembrandt seemed annoyed by the paparazzo that was targeting his landscape painting. But I did capture the gentleman who has recently entered the South Carolina Beard’s Club 2014 beard, moustache and facial hair competition.
Driving south from Huntington State Park, Hobcaw Barony is found before crossing the bridge into Georgetown. This property was purchased by Bernard Baruch, originally from South Carolina who was an entrepreneur and political figure during the first half of the 20th century. He entertained famous people such as Winston Churchill and advisor to presidents Woodrow Wilson and t President Roosevelt during the First and Second World Wars. The property of approximately 16,000 acres is located in the Waccacamau peninsula, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and Wynjah Bay to the west, and came into the property of his daughter Belle who upon her death, deeded it to a foundation. There various structures in the property and at one time, rice were the major agricultural crop back in the 19th century that was tended by slaves. Some of the structures such as the Hobcaw house and the Bellefield house can be visited with prior arrangements. There are also guided nature tours, I choose to take the one of the beach which is part nature reserve and borders a new development to the north; these houses are subjected to beach erosion as is the situation along the majority of the length of the Atlantic coast. Erosion is very obvious inside the preserve as can be seen from the base of the dead tree, farther inland the palmetto, the state tree of South Carolina is abundant. Plan your trip there before going.