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Apr.3rd : Departure and Flight
At this time, our aircraft was operated by Delta because our destination, Atlanta is a one of the base city for this airline company. Usually, the flight is from terminal #1 at the Narita Intl' Airport when we take U.S. Air Companies. But Delta is from #2, so that it made me interested in the facilities because I was not used to fly from the terminal #2.
Fortunately, I could succeed in booking an aisle sheet. It was quite important point if the flight time is so long and I purchased a bottle of water for the preparation of the flight. The aircraft of Delta was comfortable because it has a personal video monitor facility. Most of the cheap-ticket-flights to the West Coast will be operated by NWA and their craft doesn't have other than upper business class and sometimes it's hard to watch the movie in the craft.
The flight time was around 12 hours was as same as the flight to New York (JFK), one of the longest flight to the U.S.A. The craft went along with the Chishima Islands and the Aleutian Islands and then went along the western Canada. On the U.S.A, the aircraft went from Washinton State and went across the Rocky Mountains and on the great wide area in the southern area and finally went into Georgia state.
Apr. 3rd : Arrival
We arrived at the Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport on time. After we passed the immigration and customs, actually, a little bit worried because of the critical situation from the 911, we could smoothly passed them, the Airport train took us to the main terminal. Usually, the arrival/departure terminal for the international flights are at the terminal E. We need to re-check in the baggage after we get off the train and go upstairs. There, the security check is performed and after passed, we can get to the final baggage claim. This complicated process is because the airport is too large.
We spent about an hour for those process and finally succeeded to meet my sister's husband and I enjoyed smoking outside. The time difference is 13 hours in the summer and it is almost same as flight time then, arrival time is almost same as departed time.
Apr. 3rd : Atlanta to Columbus
Atlanta is located on the west-middle of Georgia. We need to drive for about one and half our to get to Columbus. The vehicle took 85 interstates freeway toward south. This was my first visit to the South and the sight form the car windows was interesting for me because it seemed to me quited different from that of West Coast nor Upper Eastern. I enjoyed the sight watching from the window for a while but soon was tired because the sight never changed for a long time and it impressed me about the width of the area. We went with 85 and then 185, which is the sub line for 85 and will end at Columbus.
Apr. 3rd : Columbus
Our destination, in other words, my sister's home is located on the Macon Rd and I found the exit plate with the name of the road and I was recognized that this long trip finalized. Macon Rd is called because simply, the road is toward Macon City. The vehicle turned right and soon we arrived at a home with brick where my sister's family has been living. It looked very confortable and with the Japanese taste. We were all pleased to meet again and had a happy dinner at that night. Three children and a cat welcomed us and it seemed to me my sister has been enjoying her life here.
Apr. 4th : Historic District
It was Sunday and we went to some shopping place at that day. Historic District is the central downtown area of Columbus and located just along with Chattahoochee river with several hundred meters long.The Historic District is inbetween Front Ave. and Veterans Pkwy, 4th St. and 9th St. There we can see "Spencer House", Columbus Convention & Trade Center, Coca Cola Spece Science Center, Historic Columbus Foundation Headquarters and the Heritage Park where all buildings have a kind of old fashioned style and we can see the historical background of the city.
Apr. 4th : Suburban Area
In the city, suburban area also have two typicall faces. One is the big shopping malls and the other is a upscale residential area. Tha land is very stable, rare earthquaking area allows a lot of old fashioned brick houses. The city has about 200,000 population and central function of the shopping shifted toward those suburban shopping malls. It is so easy to find those malls especially near the interstates or the national highway. The malls offer everything to purchace so no one need to go driving to downtown and shops in the downtown area therefore required to offer more value to compete with those suburban malls.
Apr. 5th : Riverwalk
The Riverwal is one of the "Icon" of the Columbus City. The park located along with Chattahoochee river and close to the Historic Distorict. We can enjoy fishing, walking, river watching and so on. In the summer season, the fireworks on the river make you exciting. We drove to the park near the Eagle Phenix Dam and started walking with whole family including young boys. The sight from the park was quite nice and enjoyable, the bridge across the river told us about the historyy of the city. The Chattahoochee River begins as sparkling teardrops weeping out of the rocks on the southern edge of the Blue Ridge mountains, just below Brasstown Bald, Georgiafs highest point at 4,784 feet. The river flows into the Mexico Bay at Apalachicola City changing its name into "Apalachicola River". Now Atlanta, the town in the upper side of the river and Columbus are on court against the rights of the river. In the park, we can see the old rails and I wondered whether the railroad is still working ot not. Young boys are fond of trains, so if the train will go along on the rails, it would be so nice to watch !
Apr. 6th : Trip to St. George Island
Today, we were gonna go to Florida, that was one of the highlight of this trip. Georgia state is located on the east of Alabama, North of Florida, so it was not so difficult to approch there especially around the north-west Florida. The way to Frorida was based not on the interstate freeway because the 185 ends at Columbus. We went into Phenix City (please notice, not Phenix in Arizona !!) and took the left onto the 431 U.S. National Highway. The road is running very close to the state edge between Alabama and Georgia.
The first highlight is Eufaula, where was about an hours driving from Columbus and a small city lied beside the Lake Eufaula. The Lake Eufaula is a kind of reservoir of the Chattahoochee river and also has a different name from Georgia side, Lake Walter F. George Reservoir. The downtown atomosphere was very nice and it seemed to me a kind of typical southern city in America.
We can see a wide, tremendously wide ranch along with this highway. It was quite, incredibly wide for me and the farmar's house made me imaging the country life in Alabama. I remember that the country band named Alabama ! The area is just next to Tennessee, the mecca of the country music.
The 431 U.S. Natinal Highway will be switched into 231 HWY at Dothan, Alabama which has over 50,000 population at the east-southern edge of the Alabama State and one of the big city in the state. We took a short rest at the gas stattion, then got on the round circle of the bi-pass road and smoothly changed onto the 231 National Highway. The road went along with "Atlanta and St. Andrews Bay Railroad". the scenery will change from "Farming" to "Resort" during the driving on this highway and when we got to Panama City, we can feel a ocean ! The 231 is combined with the 98 national highway in the middle of Panama City. We turned left and soon went across the bridge at Long Point. From here to Port St. Joe, we can enjoy the driving along the beach and was quite nice to have a Florida taste. I saw a lot of "Villa"s built just on the shore with colorful wall and tall pillars that is avoiding the high wave. We can enjoy about half an hour driving with the shore line and then the road turns left to shortcut the cape.
Apalachicola is located on the mouth of Apalachicola River that changes its name from Chattahoochee. The city is completely the "Resort Town" and many visitors to this wonderful area enjoy shopping and dining at the city. Downtown area would be the highlight of this small city, populated with about 2,500 people. It seems to me the facilities around downtown was quite good and I wondered the City is focusing on the sightseeing business.
The bridge to St. George Island
We need to go across the oversea bridge twice to the island. The first one was more than 4 miles long and was amazing. On the left, the mouth of Apalachicola was quite exciting and on the right, we can see the horizon and long, long Florida beach line. When we passed the second bridge, finally we got to the island, where is a natural corroded island.
In the central island, there located some motels for the visitors and villas are built to enjoy this great shore. In the east of the island, the State Park prohibit to reside to keep the beautiful scenery. (I could not access to the western edge but it seems to me no roads there and therefore the nature also kept for a long while. At first, we tried to check in the motel called Buccaneer Inn but so many people made a line to check in, so gave up to check in first then decided to enjoy beach first.
The white sanded beach was located just in front of the motel, only several seconds to go from the room. Even though it was early April, the temperature was around 80 degree in Fahrenheit (27 degree in the centigrade) ! So, when I looked at the beach, I could see a lot of people already enjoyed swimming. It was a kind of surprize for me because it is impossible to enjoy swimming at a beach in April. The sand was white and rarely found the trash around the beach. At this point, it seems to me the United States is going far ahead of Japan. It is quite difficult to enjoy this kind of clear, trashless beach around Japan.
The Buccaneer Inn
After we enjoyed the beach, we could check in the motel. It was a timing for the spring holidays for the students so all rooms booked and many visitors stayed at the motel. The name is from the pirates and the motel also offers the conference facilities. The room fee is from $75 to $145, quite reasonable price for us. The room has a kitchen facility so we can cook by ourselves. A small swimming pool is also avairable and we can enjoy swimming and watching seagull to drink waters around the pool.
Apr. 7th : Trip to St. George Island
Next morning, we woke up early to watch the sunrise on the beach. It was around 7:30 in the morning, we could see a beautiful red colored sky and ocean. Some visitors also came down to the beach to watch it and we shared this wonderful scnene together.
The State Park
After cheked out the Buccaneer Inn, we, first went to the State Park, located on the east on this island. In the park, everything is protected to keep this beautiful nature. On the beach side, of course the beach in front of the inn was beautiful, but the beach in the park was fully prohibited to swim or a kind of human activity and no one leave trash here, so the sand was quite clean and white, and shells were left without artificial process.
The oyster farm
Very close to the beach area, and the opposite side of the island, we could see the oyster farm. When we approced the shore edge, we would be recognized that the shore was filled with oyster shell. The are's clear water can be said that sustained by those oyseters.
On the very east-edge of the park, we could see a "snowy hills", no !, it was not snow but sands. It was very white as we will easily mistook it as "snow". The sand broughted by Apalachicola river and the wind from the Mexico Bay formed this curious, beautiful scene.
A lot of Seagulls are living in the island, at the parking lot in the park, they know that human kind feed the foods, so once you have a cracker or something on the hand, they will fly down to your hand and pick the cracker up by their beak. That was so curious because the park was completeley kept unartificial but the birds were so friendly behaving...
The way back to home
We drove back to Columbus exactly in the reverse way, 98 U.S. Highway to Panama City and 231 to Dothan, then 431 to Phenix City. The atmosphere was quite different between Florida and Alabama. Once we went into Alabama, we could easily see the wide, quite wide ranches everywhere and I could imagine that the Country music might come from this kind of scenery...
Apr. 8th : Flat Rock Park
In Columbus, so many market malls are in suburban area. We visited one of those market to purchace vegitables and the price seemed to me so confortable, I mean not expensive. After that, we went to the natural park called "Flat Rock Park", located in North-East of Columbus, on the Warm Springs Rd. The park is surrounded by East and West Flat Rock Rd and Southern Railroad. In the park, a big flat rock is in the middle and we can see many natural scenary everywhere. No artificial flower garden or something, only natural made scenary looks so nice to enjoy walking or camping. The creek and the lake (pond) is an another good place and you can see the birds, animals around the water on the edge of the lake. Of course the fishing is avairable there.
Apr. 9th : The Florence Marina, State Park
Another highlight of this trip was to go to the Florence Marina, near the Eufaula, Alabama. The park is located on the 39 State Road, offering camping base, lodging, boating and fishing. The area is along Chattahoochee river and a lot of creek flows into the river and they consist of reservoirs. The area was quite natural, I mean no human being can live around the area so woods, rivers, creeks are all natural and those kind of the "Nature" can be never seen in Japan. We asked to rent a boat but had some time to start, then we went to the another park called Rood Creek Park, about 5 miles southern from the marina. We walked into the wood to see deers, but unfortunately we could only see a foot stamps. Anyway, the wood was quiet and already surrounded by "Green Color". Of course the campers can enjoy fishing at Chattahoochee river.
After that we were again at the marina and start boating into the river. The boat allows only 3 passengers, I mean a really small boat with motor engine. Our main purpose was to see arigators at the shore so started finding this exciting animal. Soon, we could see three arigators about 100 meter ahead, so we stopped engine because they are so nurvus and engine exhaust will let him go under the water. We watched them carefully, and could capture into my video camera. This was not a zoo nor artificial arigator park. They were natural arigators !! What a exciting !! We enjoyed arigator watching until a motor boat went trough and let them dive into the river. We went south and watched many birds on the shore. Some of the birds were really first for me to see and I imagined that I were in Amazon !! Another arigator aimed the baby of Canadian Goose, the mother Goose quacked and quacked to let arigator go to protect her baby but the arigator was so patient and he didn't move at all. We watched the battle for a while. Goose didn't stop quacking in a loud, arigator, on the other hand, didn't move. I mean, it seemed to me the battle will continue forever and I felt that "This is the nature!". Conclusion was made by human being again, a motorboat went through a bit near the arigator and the wave from the boat let him go under the water....
The Providence Canyon
The Canyon, so called, "The Little Grand Canyon" is located close to the marina.It formed from 1800's by the poor farming procedure and 150 years let the area be a canyon. When I looked at the history description, I was so surprised at this short period, I guessed that over thousands of years required !! The park is also one of the state park of Georgea provides 4 hours roundtrip walking to the bottom of the valley but we quited because so tired. If possible, I would like to have a chance to walk here in the near future. At this time, I will show you the view from the entrance of the park but you can imagine why the area has been called as the "Litte Grand Canyon".
Apr. 10th : Back to Japan
I could have only for a week in this beautiful area, so I had to go back to Japan. The shuttle is avairable between Atlanta and Columbus and will take about one and half hour to get to Atlanta Airport. At the present, as you know, 911 impact the security check at the entrance and I was afraid that it would take too long time. Fortunately, everything went well and my aircraft departed and arrived on time. Anyway, this great trip ended when I stepped down from the craft at Narita International Airport with the mind to let me come back there again !