Our adventure this year began with a direct flight into Atlanta on Delta. The first time we had used Delta and the first time into Atlanta. An uneventful journey saw us arrive on time in the afternoon. Atlanta airport both impressed and disappointed. The disappointment was due to the massive wait for our luggage twice ! the first time waiting before customs and then after dropping it off again for delivery to baggage reclaim another huge wait for it to eventually re-appear. In between these waits the airport impressed with well organised spacious areas and an efficient underground automated train system to move you around.
Because of the long waiting times, we were driving out of the airport in our 12 seater minivan (for 7 of us – but we do take a lot of luggage !) over an hour later than I had planned. We had a short drive of 60-70 miles north east to our first overnight stop at Gainesville. Overconfidence caused my first mistake which was to glance at the map instead of looking at it properly to find Gainesville and tell my wife (navigator) to guide us to the 400 north. In fact the word Gainesville was printed in between two roads the 400 led to the northern one of these two when Gainesville actually sits on the southern one of the two and we should have followed the 85 out of Atlanta. Not a catastrophic mistake as we could cut across, but it did add some driving and it did mean that we approached the town from a different direction than planned which made the instructions we had for finding the hotel meaningless.
We ate that evening in a local restaurant and were asked where we were from because of our accents. We used to be asked that question a lot when we travelled out west in the early 1990’s but latterly have been rarely asked. On this trip we were asked often I don’t know if that’s because less UK people travel this area or if the people are just more curious. When we answered where we were from it shocked the waitress and she exclaimed ‘why on earth have you come to Gainesville then ?’
In fact we had only travelled to Gainesville because it got us out of Atlanta and shortened the following days drive. On the way back to the hotel we called in at a supermarket to get some beer for a nightcap in the room and found they did not sell it ! Mistake number 2 a failure to investigate beer availability before travelling.