Friday, January 17, 2014

Midnight Train to Georgia

My youngest son, a high school Junior, continues to explore potential college choices. 

young man with college brochure

Our latest family adventure involved a train ride to Atlanta, Georgia to visit Emory University. We boarded the train in Culpeper, Virginia around 8pm for a twelve hour journey.  We rode clickety clack through Charlottesville, Lynchburg, and Danville in Virginia, on to Charlotte, North Carolina and Clemson, South Carolina.  Through the night we traveled, trying to catch a few hours of sleep with our travel pillows and fleece blankets. The way toward a destination is exciting and filled with anticipation – and we arrived in Atlanta with high spirits.

Emory University

Everything went our way. The folks at the Emory Hotel and Conference Center permitted us entrance to our room early in the morning. We enjoyed a delicious and filling breakfast buffet at the hotel, and then ventured to the city to take in the sites.  We toured the World of Coca-Cola,

Coca-cola factory

took a spin on the Skyview ferris wheel for a beautiful view of the city scape,

Skyview Ferris Wheel

and hiked the path to the home of the president of Emory University at Lullwater

young man on bridge

winter trees against the sky

As always, our favorite activity involved strolling along city streets, taking pictures and making new friends.  Atlanta is a very friendly city and we were treated with kindness at every turn. 

Atlanta Photo Walk

We feasted on a meal from Fresh to Order and happily returned to comfortable beds for extra sleep.

Fresh to Order

Atlanta skyline at night

The next morning, rainy and gray, we set out for the college tour.

Starbucks and rainy morning

We listened intently to the admission representative - nodding at all the right times and asking all the right questions.  At every college, we hear the details of SATs and admission criteria – how to get in.  We learn about financial assistance – how to pay for college. We tour the college with a bright and engaging student guide who highlights student life on campus – how to make college feel like home. And then we hit the college bookstore and try to get a feel for the campus. 

As we sat in Starbucks, studying brochures, we enjoyed the casual banter that every parent lives for.

mother and son lookng at college brochure

 Father still roots for son to choose William & Mary, our alma mater and where we fell in love.

William & Mary hat

Mother just keeps reassuring the son that we love him for who he is and not what he does – or where
he goes to college. Son laughs it all off as the antics of parents who love him no matter what.

heart on sidewalk

These are the conversations when the child dreams out loud, when everything not only seems possible but actually is possible, and when we are near the edge of something big but not so close as to be too frightened. 

path to Lullwater

The train ride home was hilarious. Every seat was occupied. A mother and her grown son sat across from us.  They were bickering and drunk. A young lady who had recently had her wisdom teeth removed sat behind us to the left.  She needed ice for her face and lots of it.  She was not happy when the Club Car closed and there was no ice to be found. Rumpled college students roamed the aisle wearing their pajamas and not looking at all ready to return to the University of Anywhere.  A very animated gentleman sat directly behind us. He talked on the phone for an hour and a half and laughed like a hyena. We were glad to return home.

I'm linking up with Kim Klassen today and my Friday Find is a series of pictures that tell a story filled with promise and hope.


  1. Hello Donna.... this post is beautiful.... it brought tears to my eyes.....
    especially this line.....
    'Mother just keeps reassuring the son that we love him for who he is and not what he does – or where
    he goes to college. Son laughs it all off as the antics of parents who love him no matter what.'

    thank you for this.... sending love....

    xo, Kim

  2. "we enjoyed the casual banter that every parent lives for."......

    so true.
    Sadly, never enough.

    Hopes he ends up where he will be happy.
    Loved the post.

  3. Ahhh, my heart pitter-patters with this one... my two are on the cusps of leaving our home. Thanks for sharing this piece of the story of your life. And that silhouette, beautiful. Visiting from Friday Finds!

  4. Lovely photos and story, Donna, thanks for sharing !
    Nice weekend,

  5. Your son is living my dream, too. I never got to look at colleges or read brochures or even dream about going to school. I loved every step of this journey, illustrated as only you can show us. The trees against the sky, the road going toward possibility, bottles of Coke headed for stores everywhere, the cap that goes wherever your husband goes, but best of all, the light in the faces. Hope, excitement, and not a trace of fatigue (I've been on trains all night). I know it's his choice, but oh, let's hope he doesn't go too far . . .


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