The Road to Dragon Con 2021, Part 7 of 8: The Atlanta Outtakes

Atlanta light pollution!

New adventures in Atlanta light pollution.

Last time in Atlanta we allowed a full-length vacation for the opportunity to explore its major institutions, roadside attractions, and grade-A restaurants. The encore presentation was scheduled on a much more compressed timeline for the sake of saving money and conserving our vacation days. That meant seeing less of the city outside our Dragon Con experience, but we caught new glimpses here and there.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

In 2019 my wife Anne and I attended our very first Dragon Con in downtown Atlanta, even went so far as to make it the centerpiece of our annual road trip. We were so blown away that we executed an encore presentation in 2021, which was a similarly amazing experience even with strongly enforced pandemic precautions in place. It likely won’t be our last time in town.

We regret we’ll be opting out of D*C 2022 for a variety of reasons despite numerous temptations, but we’re trying to content ourselves with sharing the previously untold tales of our two-day drive down to Georgia and the sights we caught along the way. It’s perfectly okay to make a prequel nobody asked for…

city traffic!

Early Thursday evening, every downtown street and interstate was crowded as usual. Barely pictured: thousands of Dragon Con attendees likewise swarming the sidewalks. Trust me, the were everywhere else.

Roll Up Your Sleeve!

The love child of Jeff Goldblum and Rosie the Riveter reminds you the pandemic isn’t over yet.

We arrived that evening at the same hotel we’d stayed at in 2019, the Renaissance Inn a few blocks south of all the Dragon Con action. It was a hair cheaper, not by much, but we appreciated any meager savings we could find. The Nick Fury cosplayer who welcomed us at the front desk in 2019 wasn’t there this time, no doubt off gallivanting with fellow heroes. The folks on duty seemed more battle-hardened, no doubt soured by society’s degradation over the two years hence. We opened the door to our room and were greeted by an “ozone generator”, which I Googled on the spot because we’d never seen one before. Behind the euphemism, it’s a hefty, ugly, grouchy-sounding deodorizing machine. This one was plugged in, growling, and sucking up whatever stenches the previous tenants had left behind. Housekeeping came and fetched it later, as they had other rooms to fumigate.

We were sad to see the Quiznos in their lobby hadn’t survived the quarantining era and was now a hollow husk. We were even more disappointed to learn Atlanta’s loudest, most macho street racers still super-loved cruising and revving and zooming up and down the streets outside our window in the middle of the night with their radios loud enough to broadcast every enunciated lyric and buried bass line to the heavens and beyond in volume-37 digital clarity.

DAY ONE: Friday, September 3rd.

Since we didn’t need to be anywhere ridiculously early, we slept in a little and fetched breakfast south of the hotel at Highland Bakery, within the downtown campus of Georgia State University. We’d liked our previous experience and had no major qualms about this one.

Cowboy Benedict!

For me, the Cowboy Benedict: two quesadillas with white cheddar, poached eggs, hollandaise and corn relish.

Rustic Italian!

For Anne, the Rustic Italian: two eggs on rosemary garlic bread with spinach, mushrooms, mozzarella, white cheddar, and so on.

Other sights along our path throughout Friday:

Westin Atlanta!

We out-of-towners can’t help staring at the 73-story-tall Westin Peachtree Plaza every time we walk by.

bookshelf bellhop bottlenose dolphin!

Dolphin statues dot the area, but somehow last time we missed this bookshelf bellhop bottlenose dolphin.

mounted police!

Atlanta mounties number among the pervasive police presence up and down the streets all weekend.

Aviva awards!

I’ve already covered our Friday lunch at the amazing colossal Aviva by Kameel, but as an encore please enjoy their collection of awards and kudos.

Marriott Atlanta elevator shaft!

At the Marriott Marquis Atlanta, one of D*C’s major hotels, most attendees can’t help staring at their unique carpeting. Or they can look up the elevator shaft and feel a different kind of nausea.

DAY TWO: Saturday, September 4th.

For the sake of budgeting and simplicity, we’d decided to kick off our day with the hotel’s own free breakfast, which was scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. We came in at 7:40 to find two ladies struggling to do what they could with limited hands and resources available to them and most likely a late start time. Rather than add to their strife, we retreated and went to the Dunkin Donuts across the street instead, which had a long line going out the door and roughly half of those folks wearing masks inside the cramped, furniture-free lobby. As we’ve already covered in regard to our 2021 road trip, the restaurant biz sucked all around that year. We hated to see it as former restaurant workers ourselves. Some are still fighting to survive and maintain today.

Hyatt elevator shaft!

As a companion shot, here’s the elevator shaft in the Marriott’s next-door neighbor, the Hyatt Regency Atlanta Downtown.

Yami Yami!

Lunch was at Yami Yami, the popular all-you-can-eat Asian place inside The Mall at Peachtree Center, same place as Aviva. Full disclosure: I like Yami Yami more than Anne does.

A few restaurant experiences have been omitted from our write-ups and memories — not because of staffing issues, but because they were basic unremarkable mall grub. We didn’t plan for fancier meals this time as we had in 2019. At this point this is also the end of our Atlanta 2019 photos altogether unless I dive back in to our hundreds of D*C cosplay parade pics and pluck out any last remaining mediocre shots. I’d prefer not to, as I’d rather devote the remaining space to reiterating that, pandemic precautions and fears aside. Dragon Con 2021 was once again an exhilarating experience, and best of all, the coronavirus missed us altogether. Here’s hoping the same holds true for this year’s attendees.

For those just joining us, please enjoy these links to the twelve chapters that covered our Dragon Con 2021 adventures in general and the cosplay parade in extreme depth:

  1. Our usual round-up of famous-people pics, featuring one SF author and the casts of Battlestar Galactica and Buck Rogers
  2. A Cosplay Sampler
  3. Some Cosplay Parade
  4. More Cosplay Parade
  5. Still More Cosplay Parade
  6. Cosplay Parade Stumpers
  7. More Cosplay Parade Stumpers
  8. Last Call for Parade Cosplay
  9. Winding Down the Parade
  10. Our first round of pics from Thursday, Day Zero, as we joined those teeming Dragon Con masses
  11. Friday, Day One, featuring the exhibit hall and panels on Land of the Lost and The Crown, among other geek incidentals
  12. Saturday. Day Two, the grand finale with panels starring Galactica, Shazam!, Justice Society comics fans, and the aforementioned, eminently entertaining SF author
Battlestar Galactica Jazz Hands!

Remember that time I met the Galactica cast and the mandatory Plexiglas screen made it look like I was a teacher at jazz-hands college? That was awesome.

To be concluded! Other chapters in this very special MCC miniseries:

Part 1: Firefight Club
Part 2: Sweets for Your Sweet
Part 3: The Ohio River Runs Through It
Part 4: Louisville Sluggish
Part 5: The Stones River Runs Through It
Part 6: A Taste of Tennessee
Part 8: The Welcomes Back

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