A list of my top 1,000 things to do would not include driving through Atlanta. If at all possible, I avoid getting anywhere near the mecca of Peachtree streets. But since it is very inconvenient to get from south of Atlanta to north of it without passing through, some times you just have to take the plunge.
And so it was on Friday, Dec. 22 when son Kevin and I were returning from Lake Lure, NC to Montgomery. We figured our best bet would be to try some time between 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. As I normally do, I bypassed the 285 bypass and headed down I-85 toward the heart of town
About one mile inside 285 we saw one of those traffic signs telling us it was 35 minutes to midtown. This was no surprise as we were already going from zero to 15 mph and then repeating. Since Kevin was with me, we qualified to ride along in the HOV lane. It was no faster, but at least I didn’t have to worry about someone on my left side since I was in the extreme left lane. Off to my right stretched about 40 lanes also creeping along.
Now I am not a patient person. Except when I realize the deck is totally stacked against me and getting exasperated is pointless. So I crept and crept and crept. But somewhere south of the Varsity and before midtown there was an exit for Williams Street right there beckoning for wayward travelers in the HOV lane to escape.
I had no idea where Williams Street went. Nor did I care. I just knew I would be free of I 85-75 and off I sped.
Basically, this street heads straight into the heart of downtown in a north-south direction. That was all I cared about. Soon a sign said I had to go left or right because Williams suddenly became one-lane. And not in the direction I was going. So we hung a right and within two blocks were looking dead at Centennial Park. A left here and a giant Ferris wheel appeared. Then the gleaming new Mercedes-Benz stadium where Auburn plays in the Peach Bowl Jan. 1.
There was little traffic and my tried and true sense of direction told me Montgomery was somewhere over the distant horizon. I have no clue what street we were on. And didn’t care. We were moving faster than 15 mph and that was all that mattered. We passed Fort McPherson and soon were in College Park.
We knew we were near the airport because planes kept zooming across the road. Kevin spied a sign showing the way to I-85 and we followed its instructions. Kevin said to look at the cars on the interstate and see if I recognized any of them from the parking lot we left miles earlier. He thought it was funny. I did not laugh.
But we survived. Did we actually save any time? I have no way of knowing. But I have now seen parts of Atlanta I’d never seen before and I would rather drive 40 mph and stop for red lights than drive 15 mph and stop every time the tail lights in front of me get brighter.
Here’s hoping Santa did make it to your house earlier today. But in case he did not, you might look for him somewhere on the interstate in Atlanta.