I’ve talked about Stone Mountain, our local giant hunk of exposed granite, before, when we went on a field trip there for Ari’s Georgia history class. But this trip was completely different, because we actually went up on top of the mountain.
We planned to also do a bunch of other stuff there, like the ropes course thing and the big indoor playground and the train. But, as we found out only after we got there (from another disappointed visitor in the parking lot), all that stuff was closed the day we went. Turns out Stone Mountain operates on a limited schedule in between the winter season and spring break time. Unfortunately, they only tell you about this in a small, unobtrusive kind of way on the website when you’re buying expensive tickets. I went back and checked to see how we’d managed to miss it, and it was really easy. There’s a small line of type when you put in the date you want tickets that’s all, “oh, don’t buy tickets for this day. Everything’s closed.” But if you happen not to notice this, the website just goes ahead and sells you tickets anyway.
Then, when you get to Stone Mountain with your disappointed children, you have to go talk to a couple of different people to find the right ones to give you a refund. The refund givers are very annoyed with the website people, by the way. “I’ve been doing nothing but giving out refunds for three weeks,” one guy told us.
So we got our refund and some free sky tram tickets for our trouble (because, as Amy told the ticket guy, she came all the way from California to see Stone Mountain) and set about seeing the sights that were still available. Which was mostly the mountain itself. The nice part is that the mountain itself is free (except for the $10 parking fee), which makes for a much less expensive outing than when you get to do the ropes course and whatnot.
The tram that goes up the mountain was running, so we took that to start with. This was very brave of us, because things that go up high are SCARY. The tram driver told us all that the cable never snaps, but I think he was probably just trying to keep the kids from getting scared. I strongly suspect that the truth is that the tram crashes onto the granite, killing everyone aboard, at least once a week:
There’s this plaque hanging up, with all kinds of information about the tram:
Honestly? I would rather not know that there IS a “track rope breaking strength.”
But we all courageously climbed aboard and didn’t even die:
When we got to the top, Gus was utterly and completely delighted to see this:
See, one time, YEARS ago, Ari and Milo went to a birthday party that Gus wasn’t invited to at a restaurant with a Coca-cola Freestyle machine. The idea is there are a million different flavors and you can push buttons and mix them up to make your own custom soda. Missing out on that Coca-cola Freestyle experience has been the single most disappointing experience of Gus’ life thus far. Who knew all we had to do was go to the top of Stone Mountain to find a machine?
After the AMAZING Coca-cola Freestyle experience, we all went outside and walked around on granite.
And then everyone except Nana and Ari opted to take the hiking trail instead of the tram back down. It turns out this was even scarier than the tram! The beginning of the trail (or the end, if you’re walking up, which I’m glad we didn’t do) is really steep. And, you know, all smooth rock. In addition to my fear of heights, I’m terrified of falling. Maybe because I DO fall far too often and sprain my ankle. I seriously considered sitting down and sliding down the steep part on my butt. But my fear of looking utterly ridiculous was even stronger than my fear of falling. The kids, of course, all ran down the steep parts at top speed.
I was very glad that Dave was there to carry Abe.
The view back up the steep part. The first steep part.
After the first part, it levels out into a reasonable walk, though. The whole trail is 1.3 miles, so not bad at all (downhill, anyway):
Here is Gus’ summation of his Stone Mountain experience:
“Even though everything was completely closed, I still had an awesome time, because I got to have a Coca-cola Freestyle and walk down an awesome mountain.”