Misty had taken all of her vacation for their wedding and Honeymoon. Even though they were honeymooning for two full weeks their trip to Sandals Resort in Saint Lucia, Jamaica wouldn’t begin until June seventh when they’d hop on a charter flight from Atlanta’s Hartsfield Airport for their fun filled week long frolic. That gave them four and a half days to enjoy time together and get Joe acclimated to the move from central Connecticut to Hotlanta. Their apartment complex was large and spread out and contained a pool that was usually busy at night but during the early part of the day was frequently empty.
“You should see how packed it gets on the weekend!” Misty had said to Joe. “Every beach chair is claimed and there’s a whole lot of pheromones in the air. Boys and girls on the prowl! Your buddy Sulu is right in the thick of it!”
“I’m sorry?” Joe responded.
“Sulu? Greg Valentine? The Asian guy with the hottie we were talking to last night?”
“No, I know who Greg is, I didn’t know that you knew who Sulu was.”
“Ha, ha. School finishes early down here and the couple times I’ve driven home from work on my lunch break I couldn’t believe how many kids were at the pool! I didn’t know we had so many teenagers in the whole complex!”
“Oh!” Joe said, “Greg was telling me about a noon bike ride he thought we’d like. It’s down in Buckhead? Wherever that is! He said there’s a bike store, Challenge Cyclery? –and that they have a couple locations but that the Buckhead store does a noon ride. He said he thought it’d be fun and the ride leader, Pete somebody or other, was a good guy. Want to try it?”
“Maybe. How fast?”
“Who cares?! We’ll be on the tandem, they’ll have a hard time keeping up with us!”
“Don’t count on it! Some of these guys are ferocious. Did you know we have a velodrome?”
“No kidding? Wow! How cool is that! We should go watch!”
“Not this weekend, sweetie cakes we’ll be basking on the white Jamaican beaches!”
“Yes we will. Can’t wait. What do you think? Check out the bike ride?”
“I thought we were going to Stone Mountain?”
“Sure, sure! We have three more days before we leave.”
“Okay. Sure. On the tandem, right? I don’t want to get dropped or have you whining because you couldn’t go hard because I can’t go fast enough.”
“I don’t whine. And to quote Melanie, ‘I don’t go very fast but I go pretty far.’”
“’And I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates and you’ve got a brand new key.’ Let’s load up and head to Stone Mountain, okay?”
The park was huge and Misty took an unguided driving tour around its perimeter. The road was hilly and signs along the route that said, ‘CAUTION: RACE IN PROGRESS’ and they saw a lot of runners circling the course. At one point they spied a large timer with two foot high numbers that read 6:42:15 as they passed it. “I wonder what that’s for.” Misty asked. “It’s a timer but what takes over six hours?”
“There’s a lot of runners. It must be a race clock. What takes six plus hours to finish?”
“No way, not if they’re running. You can walk twenty six miles in six and a half hours. It must be some kind of crazy ultra-endurance thing.”
They circled the park and Misty backed into a parking space near the visitors’ center. Stone Mountain was beautiful, hilly and a bit shocking to Joe. “They really take their Confederacy seriously around here, don’t they?” he asked pointing to the dedication sign at the park’s entrance. “Do they know the Civil War ended over a hundred and twenty years ago?”
“That is a bit much, isn’t it? It’s like the KKK is alive and doing fine based on that dedication and the carving. Did you know the KKK was rededicated here just before World War One? Crazy place The South.”
“Doesn’t seem to bother the visitors. I mean, half the folks here are black,” Joe replied.
“African American, Joe. You need to take that sensitivity training I was telling you about.”
“I’m sensitive! I cry at movies.”
“Ha, ha. Speaking of insensitive, wait till someone asks you where you’re from and then tells you, ‘Well now you live someplace gooood,’ in that redneck drawl.”
The park had nature trails and a Mountain Top Skyride chairlift that transported the less fit or unadventurous to the park’s peak. Misty said, “Chair lift? We don’t need no stinking chair lift!” and the couple began their ascent to the top.
“Sign said, what? –one point three miles?” Joe responded. “We should be up in twenty, twenty five minutes, right?” Forty five minutes later they reached the summit.
“Whew!” Misty said at the top. “Twenty five minutes, huh? And I wasn’t the one holding us back either!”
“Wow! I love that trail! I bet going down will be even rougher than climbing up!”
The view from the top was magnificent, the day was pleasantly hot and Joe and Misty had each other. Life was good for the newlyweds and they were positive it would only get better.