Well, I'm running behind a bit on this post so not only is it late but it will probably be a little short. Near the end of January Lisa and I traveled down to Atlanta for the NHL All-Star game and skills competition. We left on the Thursday before the weekend began because we mistakenly thought we would be able to go to some of the special events surrounding the weekend such as a concert on both Thursday and Friday night. Even though we couldn't attend the concerts we still found plenty to do to fill the time and, in the end, to have a wonderful trip.
We arrived in Atlanta near rush hour on Thursday and made a mad dash for the hotel that you had to go to in order to get your tickets. We were in a rush because we thought we could go to the nights concert. Lisa begged and pleaded to get the tickets from the office (it was closed by the time we go there) and her pleas worked! Once we had the tickets though we were informed that they didn't include tickets to the concerts. So, that night we walked around a bit, found our hotel, and then went to Ted's Montana Grill which was a pretty cool restaurant that featured a bunch of different Buffalo meat entrees. The coolest part of the joint to me was their insistence on being "green". For instance the table-cloth was a big sheet of recycled brown paper and the straws were paper coated in wax. We actually arrived pretty late so the restaurant was fairly empty so service was really speedy and the food was pretty good too!
On Friday we went downtown again and walked around a bunch. We went to the Centennial Olympic Park and then the World of Coca Cola. At the park we checked out a bunch of the engraved bricks and even found one from Huntington, WV. At the Coke place we did everything; watched a 3-D movie, toured a mini bottling plant, watched a ton of commercials, saw a bunch of old collectibles, and tasted around 70 different soda flavors from around the world. We drank a little bit too much soda but we still had a good time.
In the afternoon we headed up to the Lenox Mall near the Buckhead portion of town for lunch and shopping. We ate at the California Pizza Kitchen which we have seen a bunch of times before but had never eat at. It was good (I had a spicy chicken pizza). I also bought a nice coat while we were there, a badger hair shaving brush and Lisa got a pair of boots and some neat Lush products (soap, bath salts, and stuff). Eventually we left the mall (when it was closing) and headed back to the hotel and then a casual dinner at Gorden Biersch (a brewpub restaurant).
Saturday and Sunday were dedicated to the All Star events. We headed up to Phillips Arena for the Skills Competition on Saturday but we arrived pretty early and took part, sort of, in the card-trading/memorabilia show (we just walked around and checked things out) and then we took a tour of the CNN headquarters (not worth the money) which is attached to the Phillips Arena. Eventually we got into the Arena and had a great time watching the Skills Competition. Our Seats were AMAZING - we are on the blue line about 10 rows behind the players. It was great. We are also surrounded by a lot of people who all seemed to know each other - and a bunch of them all kept stopping by to talk to the guy sitting behind us. We were intrigued.
As the night wore on the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corp.) stopped by to interview the guy behind me. So I looked behind me and saw that he was short and kind of old but he was wearing a huge Carolina Hurricanes championship ring. It turns out the guy is Jim Rutherford the GM and part owner of the Hurricanes. He is also an ex-NHL goalie who played most of his career with the Red Wings. We spoke with him and his wife (they were both really nice) and another couple they were with (from Cleveland and loved ribbing me about the Bruins).
On Sunday we didn't really do anything special before the game except go back to the memorabilia show. While we were there we got Patrick Kane's autograph (#1 draft pick last year), and Todd McFarlane's autograph (creator of a bunch of figurines and comic book artist) on a figurine of Marian Hossa. I also bought an old fact book for the Red Wings from 1976 that had a full page spread on none other than Jim Rutherford.
The All Star game was really cool. It had a bunch of extra stuff around it like a performance by The Hives before hand and Ne-Yo during an intermission. I also managed to get Jim's autograph on his page of the Fact Book and I had my photo taken with him. They four of them kept giving me a hard time about the Bruins, especially when Tim Thomas was in goal because he let up a bunch. However I had the last laugh because ex-Atlanta Thrasher and current Bruin Marc Savard scored the game winning goal. A neat bit of trivia I gleaned from Jim was that he actually coached Tim Thomas when Tim was a kid and came to Jim's goalie camp. Needless to say I ribbed Jim a little after Tim gave up his 3rd goal and the group kept harassing me - they only had Jim to blame for Tim's skills. Overall it was a lot of fun and the end of the game actually gave Lisa the highlight of her night when she finally recognized a guy sitting in the section next to us.
Lisa used to watch a lot of Soap Operas, especially when we had the Soap Opera channel and it turns out the guy in the section near us is a Soap Opera star named Thorston Kaye. He has been a doctor on General Hospital and, once his character was killed, he came back as his dead characters brother on a spin off show called Port Charles. It turns out Lisa is a big fan of this guy (basically she thinks he is hot) and so she wanted me to take his photo. I did but some friend of his spotted me acting like a paparazzi and pointed it out to Thorston. Now, Thorston isn't some weak little actor boy - instead he is about my height but has been a collegiate decathalete and a professional rugby player. So I smiled at him and asked if it would be cool for Lisa to have her picture taken with him (I still didn't know who he was, I thought maybe he was an ex Penguins player she knew). He agreed and was really cool about it. He waded through the departing crowd, gave her a big hug, and then gave the camera a real smoky gaze. It was hilarious and Lisa loved it.