There is little mention of triathlon in this post. In fact, it’s somewhat about breakfast and airline travel and authenticity. It’s not that breakfast is terribly exciting or noteworthy. The real purpose of this post is to share an experience I recently had which could inspire others to enjoy the richness of life beyond the comfort zone.
Have you ever been to Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport? It is big. It is busy. And it is no place to spend the better part of a day.
Actually, no airport is a good hang out place. Of course, many travelers do hang out there for hours at a time, eating crappy food and listening to flight announcements. But you and your friends don’t sit around the house saying, “What should we do today?” and hear the reply, “Let’s go to the airport and hang out.” Therefore, I am offering you a cure for the long layover.
Sky Harbor Airport. Phoenix, Arizona
I came face to face with a five hour layover two weeks ago in Phoenix. Life is too short to waste it in an airport so thirty minutes after landing I was behind the wheel of a cheap rental car and on my way to the “Town of” Gilbert, Arizona. The Henhouse Cafe was the destination because that’s where they say, “The Rooster May Crow But The Hen Delivers.” And boy… do they deliver! Amazing pancakes. Huge too.
After laying flowers at family gravestones and reminiscing at the starting line of IRONMAN Arizona, I returned the car and slipped back through airport security in plenty of time to catch the connecting flight.
Hartsfield-Jackson Airport. Atlanta, Georgia
As for this current layover, the long walk through the underground corridor from concourse C could have been avoided because the airport provides train service between the concourses and the terminal. But I am a triathlete. Can I really go a whole day without claiming a workout? Besides, sitting on an airplane for long periods charges the batteries of the leg muscles . That’s why you see people walking so fast in airports (just my hypothesis, don’t quote me on that).
There’s no need to rent a car at this airport, because Atlanta’s light rail system has a station next to baggage claim and one station away is the community of College Park. Earlier in the week I found an online review of a restaurant called The Real Milk and Honey in that town and the description was enough to catch my interest.
Let’s spare the details of how I arrived at The Real Milk and Honey, because the train ride from the airport and the walk through downtown to the restaurant were very short.
One thing that seems clear in our modern economy is that some eating establishments try to be something they are not. They design their atmospheres to make you believe you are somewhere else like a cattle station in the Australian Outback or a quaint country store hidden deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains. And the reality is that you are eating a meal in a corporate business model located along side Interstate Highway 40 in a town with a name you can’t remember.
On the other hand, the decor of The Real Milk and Honey felt like an organic extension of the owners and their community. Instead of feeling like a customer, I felt like a guest at someone’s kitchen. The blueberry waffle with a side of bacon was good, but if we focus on the food, then we are missing the point of this adventure. It was the whole experience in that environment that was so delicious and memorable.
There’s nothing inherently wrong with that corporate model of designing an experience, but it does lack authenticity.
There is a passage in Robert Pirsig’s novel, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, where Pirsig describes visiting a national park. He mentions that all the signs pointing to the natural features and attractions take away from the experience of their visit. It is a suggestion that being told what is authentic is not nearly as desirable as finding authenticity on your own.
To attempt a definition of authenticity would require an entire blog post. Instead, let’s assume we all know what it is. Finding that which is authentic requires a bit of adventure. It requires you to explore beyond the comfort zone.
Until next time…
Stay to the right, pass on the left and keep on smiling