Once per year, I’m allowed to go on a work trip to attend a conference about the software program I use on a daily basis. This year, the destination was Atlanta, Georgia. I have a cousin in Athens, so I flew out on a Friday night to catch a short weekend with family.

After an unsuccessful red-eye to Atlanta, I arrived at 5:30am and ate a leisurely breakfast in the airport. I went to pick up my rental car, but unfortunately Expedia had reserved the car at another branch of Enterprise, not the airport location. The woman at the desk was very nice and transferred the reservation. Since I was now paying more than I expected from the online deal, she upgraded me for free. They allowed me to pick any car in row C. I walked down the row: Elantra, Fusion, Elantra….

Then I saw this gigantic truck in the aisle! This had to be wrong. I double checked with the guy and he said, yes, I was allowed to get the truck! I’ve driven a couple of small pick-ups before, but this was a beast! Soon, on the freeway, I found myself sucking in as other cars passed me. I’m used to a compact car, not something that takes up the whole lane. I knew I was in trouble when the only thing I passed that wasn’t bigger than me were semi-trucks! After about 30 minutes on the road, the lack of sleep caught up with me, and I pulled over in a strip mall to catch a nap.

I continued driving to Athens and arrived at my cousin’s house. We spent a nice weekend carving pumpkins, looking for Halloween costumes and even attending a Halloween dog parade! On Monday morning, I woke up and headed out to Atlanta for my conference. I turned in the truck, since I’d be spending most of the time in the hotel.

The conference was educational and since it’s my third year, I recognized several faces from previous years. This year, I had a presentation, which could’ve gone better if I hadn’t been so nervous. On the third day, the conference ended midday, so I had an afternoon to explore Atlanta before leaving. Everyone had told me to go to the Coca-cola museum or the Aquarium. But I had other ideas.I went to the Center for National and Civil Rights, which was a very beautiful museum with a well-done exhibit on the civil rights movement. They had a very moving piece that re-enacted the sit-ins at local cafes. A facade diner counter top was available for a few people to sit at, and they asked you to put your hands on the counter and close your eyes. At the same time, you listened through earphones to what civil rights activists had to endure – name-calling, shouting, and even kicks to your chair.  It was very interactive and highly emotional. I felt this was one of the best civil rights museums I have been to.

Upstairs, the museum had an exhibit dedicated to human rights around the world. It called out past and current oppressors, past and current heroes that fight for women’s rights, civil rights, gay rights, and all other equal rights. It brought this historical exhibit into a conversation about today. I bought a shirt and left, feeling drained.

Then I went to the Jimmy Carter Presidential Library. I’ve been to 4 other Presidential Libraries (Truman in MO, Reagan and Nixon in CA, and JFK in Boston, MA). Growing up post-Carter era, I didn’t know much about his Presidency, so I was pleased to learn about what a noble and humble man he was, and all the great things he has done since his Presidency which earned him a Nobel Peace Prize.

And so ended my quick trip to Atlanta, I had just enough time to grab my bags from the hotel and head to the airport for a quick bite before my flight home!