Time for some down time, in my childhood hometown!
I took a bit of a long way to Atlanta, via the Cherohala Skyway. More stunning mountain views, and somehow even greener down here. I missed a turn off early on, with a dramatic view of the early morning fog still wrapping around the mountainsides, alas, but it felt so good to be riding I just didn’t want to stop.
Even Rt 68 south into Atlanta was a lovely ride – easy winding road and low hills, all surrounded by lush green. My first stop was actually in Marrietta, where Micahel (whom I met at WD3) and my childhood friend, Wai, were waiting for me at the Vespa dealer. Part of the reason I had rushed back was because I made a service appointment before Memorial Day, and they were kind enough to make an exception for me.
With service out of the way, it was time to rest.
Atlanta was my childhood hometown, but I haven’t spent any time here in 20 years. This means a lot of fragmented memories going through town as an adult. After meeting up with some Terminal Scooter people at Park Grounds for Sunday brunch, Michael lead One Of The Dereks and I on a tour of Atlanta. Many of the street names were comfortingly familiar, but I would have no idea where they lead. Every so often, our scooter tour would pass by an intersection or plaza I recognized, and I’d excitedly shout through my lifted visor, “I used to take Chinese dance lessons there every Friday!” or, “That’s my optometrist’s place!” or (importantly) “This plaza is full of good Chinese food!” I hope it was an amusing tour for Mike and Derek.
For those who know me, and how much I’m totally a dancer (nope), here’s a little backstory to ease the confusion. Most things kids do things because their parents put them there, and for me it meant things like piano lessons, the kids table, and Chinese dance. I tended more towards being a tomboy as a kid, but I stuck with these Friday afternoon classes in particular because once, I saw the instructor perform a Taichi sword routine. I quietly hoped that if I did well, someday I’d graduate to the swordplay part of class (never came to pass before my family moved away). It hadn’t occured to me I could just ask someone to teach me the sword. I did eventually find my inner martial artist, and now enjoy swinging around bladed and blunt weaponry whenever it’s available.
Long ago, my mother wrote a review for this restaurant which appeared in a paper that’s was too unimportant for my childhood memory bank to retain. She praised the authenticity, quality, and value. The owners, in discovering this, foisted at least hundreds of pounds of free foods upon my family every visit. Obviously, we ate here almost every week, grew extra stomachs, and brought all of our friends. The restaurant boomed, and this palace pictured above is its third location – a far cry from the hole in the wall where my family first ate, but still just as tasty. Sidenote: notice how the love of carbs has been instilled at a young age.
One of the meals I requested while staying in Atlanta was something homecooked, and my hosts – practically an aunt and uncle to me – put on an amazing spread. It was as if I was a kid again, sleeping over at their house (I suppose I sort of still am, just bigger and with wheels). I cannot tell you how happy I was at this table.
Wai says she travels with her stomach (sounds familiar) and apparently in the last 10 years the food scene in Atlanta has taken off. Long past are my memories of eating out dominated by Chinese restaurants, Wendy’s, and Church’s Fried Chicken or Ryan’s if my sister and I were good. Now, Atlanta is a cornucupia of diverse food options. One of Wai’s picks was an authentic izakaya – a windowless drinking hole with an extensive menu of small plates, where she practically feels like she’s back in Japan teaching English. I’m floored that the izakaya has landed in Atlanta. And it’s good. Raise a pitcher of cassis soda!
On the scootaround we passed a Drive-In theater, and I knew I wanted to take the scoot. Michael joined me with his Chetak for a late night watching Spiderman 2 (meh) and Captain America (better!). I hope the Terminal Scooter Club makes it sometime, it’s a marvelous way to spend a summer evening with friends. My helmet was full of bad singing along and cool 2am breeze on the ride home. Alas, it wasn’t to last…
Remember that low tire from after The Snake? It was low again when I got to Atlanta, and then Wednesday morning I discovered it flat. A tiny, tiny puncture was discovered at Twist n Scoot (after stopping at 3 QuikTrips for air en route). I thought there was at least 800-1000 more miles left on the tire, so a plug was put in and I rode away happily…but it somehow fell out/in on the ride to the Terminal’s regular Wednesday night meetups.
I ruined a plug trying to fix the flat myself so I put the call out to Wai, and this happened:
“Uncle Joseph has a trailer!” With that, the unstoppable machinations of Chinese uncles were set in motion.
I’d like to point out, the man in the scrubs, Uncle Joseph, is a long time family friend and my dentist as a kid. Not sure how this reflects his practice, but in spite of my wide-eyed doubtfulenss, I have all my teeth and the scooter made it to the Siak driveway without damage. Chinese community comes through, thank you!
Thanks to the depth of generosity of Michael (again!), he went far out of his way to pick me up so I could still meet the remaining Terminal Scooterists at Midway, including Vintagemetal on ADV and Joe from other rallies. And he trailered the GTS to Marrietta, where John fitted a new tire (I should have watched btw…anyone out there willing to teach me how to change the front, in another 6-8k?). The least I could do was buy the guy a lunch at Darwin’s Burger and Blues next door. Admittedly, I was feeling bummed for relying so heavily on others, but also for the cost of the replacement tire. I knew I’d need a new tire eventually, I just hoped it would be farther down the line. I suppose if a flat happened anywhere, Atlanta was the best place for it…and I couldn’t feel too bad listening to a blues duo, Hanna and Carly, performing live over some pub grub with Michael.
With one extra night in Atlanta, the Siaks had a Korean place in mind for dinner.
Seafood Korean tofu is one of my favorite dishes ever, om nom nom. Feeling plenty restored now!