The Great Southern Road Trip: Day Nine

For our fifth wedding anniversary this year, we decided to take a road trip to race Ironman Chattanooga and cross a whole bunch of states off my list. This is the story of that trip.

Day Nine: 9.27

I had an errand or two to run before we started the fun part of our day, so after we woke up and checked out, we grabbed coffee, hit up a Target, and then went to Waffle House for breakfast. I don’t know what it is about traveling through the south, but the Waffle Houses taste better.

Stop one was the Georgia Aquarium.

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Brandon had gone years ago and loved it; I love aquatic life, so obviously I was all for it.

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There were a couple points where you walked underneath the fish.

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Sarcastic Fringehead. Best. Name. Ever.

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Another fish tunnel.

I enjoyed the aquarium, but out of the two we visited, I would honestly have to give the edge to the Tennessee Aquarium. Even Brandon thought that Georgia’s was a little disappointing. Either that, or aquariums have just gone way downhill since I was a kid …

Our next stop was across the plaza at the World of Coke.

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Coke memorabilia.

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I approved once they came out with Sprite.

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The story behind the bottle was REALLY cool, especially if you know anything about marketing/advertising …

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Coke rumors.

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… highly doubt the *actual* recipe is in here …

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Coca-Cola company products. Some of these took me way back …

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Coke art.

The niftiest part of the whole thing (in my opinion) was the tasting room. We get a lot of flavors of Coca-Cola here in the states, but around the world? There are a lot of different sodas …

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North America.

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North America.

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Brandon trying Surge for the first time in years.

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Central/South America.

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Coke core.

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North America. I forgot how good fruit punch Powerade was …

After the World of Coke, it was off to lunch and out of town.

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Oh hey look, Olympic torch from 1996.

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Lunch was at the Varsity. I’d heard many things about it, and since I was being a tourist … that was lunch.

From Atlanta, it was off to North Carolina for the night. The original plan (back when I sketched this trip out almost a year prior) was to head to Charlotte, but the more we thought about it, the more we decided we didn’t want to go with Charlotte. Well, that, and the political unrest going on didn’t make it a prudent decision. So, we decided on Asheville, so off to Asheville we went.

On a plus, it meant that I hit a few more states, too, thanks to traversing through South Carolina.

We rolled into Asheville late afternoon, got a free dinner at the hotel, and checked out a local brewery.

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Wicked Weed, Asheville, N.C.

I had wine, but Brandon had some seasonal pumpkin something that he really enjoyed.

After a drink, we wandered around, enjoying window shopping as not much else was open. However, we got just enough of a taste to know that we’d like to return someday.

States Hit: 3 (GA, SC, NC)
New States Hit: 2 (SC, NC)

On The Neon Boneyard Park

One thing that I read about when researching Las Vegas was the Neon Boneyard Park (also found as the Neon Museum). I love the aesthetics of neon and own a neon light myself (custom made Avs logo – 16th birthday present) so when I found out about this place, I decided we had to go.

They do both day and night tours, but unfortunately, our schedule didn’t allow for a night tour. Pity; just means we’ll have to come back and do the tour again at night. And again during the day for better lighting. Tours are $18/adult during the day, and $25 at night. You can also do a package bundle with the Mob Museum (something Brandon wants to go see, so for next time) as long as you visit the two places within a week of each other.

You see the signs only via a guided tour. The tour lasts about an hour long and is awesome in that you not only learn about the signs, but about Las Vegas history, too. For the history nerd in both of us, that alone made the tour worth it.

Obviously I took photos – over 70 of them – and narrowed it down to the 18 you see here. Enjoy, and decide to go next time you’re in Las Vegas (place is located on Las Vegas Blvd., north of the strip by a few miles).

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City Center Motel. Sign designed by the same woman who did the Welcome to Las Vegas sign (Betty Willis).

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Neon cactus!

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Pieces of the Desert Rose sign. This is their next restoration project.

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Brandon under one of the Binion’s horseshoes.

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Visitor Center – the lobby of the old La Concha.

Stranahan’s Colorado Whiskey Tour

So Coloradans like their booze. If you come here and go to a liquor store, you will see a lot of homegrown alcohol. Sure, we’re famous for our beer (Coors! New Belgium! Breckenridge! So┬ámany more!), but we also have wine, mead, vodka, whiskey, tequila …

One of the more famous whiskeys we have here is Stranahan’s. They start the distilling process like a bourbon, but finish it like a whiskey (or something like that) so it’s a Colorado straight whiskey, something completely unique.

The brainchild of a Woody Creek man and a volunteer firefighter, Stranahan’s is located in the old Heavenly Daze brewery on Kalamath St. and visible off I-25. The stuff is popular (most liquor stores can’t keep it on the shelves) and yet the whole operation is small enough that you can do tours and, if you can win their lottery, help bottle it yourself.

I’m not a big whiskey drinker (I’ve shot it, but I don’t like it), but Brandon is. So, on Labor Day, he signed us up for a tour and we went with our friends Genevieve and Jeremy. Since I don’t particularly care about the booze, I took pictures.

I will say, however, that the tour was highly informative and they got deep into the science of making whiskey, which was really cool. Totally didn’t dumb it down at all. Plus the smells weren’t as bad as they are in breweries (I. Hate. Hops.), so that was a plus.

Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey Tour
Brandon in the bar before the tour.

Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey Tour

Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey Tour

Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey Tour
Barrel room.

Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey Tour

Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey Tour

Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey Tour
Tasting glass.

Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey Tour
Riding the barrel.

Stranahan's Colorado Whiskey Tour
Whiskey still life.

(Thought the sepia filter worked out awesome for these.)