It took me longer than I expected to get changed and dressed for the day. Since it was October and kind of cool I put on brown and yellow pattern leggings, dark brown riding boots and a large flowing yellow top. When I got back up to the hotel lobby a group of girls were just about to leave for the Atlanta Aquarium. They invited me but I said I was waiting for Kimberly to finish getting dressed and that we would try to catch up to them. When Kimberly made it up she was happy to catch a cab with me to meet them there. The cab ride was kind of expensive but we were able to meet up with the other girls before they really started exploring the aquarium.
I'm not much of an fan of aquariums but this one has the largest salt water tank in the world and was pretty impressive. We took a lot of photos of each other when we could without disturbing other patrons and got a little silly with some of the poses. After seeing the dolphin show and the rest of the exhibits it was time to leave. Kimberly and I decided to take the Marta train back since the station appeared to be close by and it would save us about $20 in cab fare.
Feeling confident about our navigation abilities we took some time to take a few pictures in the garden outside the aquarium and started walking in the direction of the train station. I was wearing boots and Kimberly was wearing wedges. Both of us had chosen sensible footwear for exploring the aquarium but not so great for trecking across Atlanta. The station ended up being much further than we expected and UPHILL from where we were and we passed up several good photo ops as we trudged on. Our mood was lifted enough when we finally reached the station to take some more fun pictures.
The train ride was pleasantly uneventful since we were starting down town and a rougher looking crowd often can be found on public transportation in areas like that. However we miscalculated our route and wound up getting off at the wrong stop. It wasn't such a big deal since we were still only a half mile from the hotel (instead of a couple hundred yards) and we would just have to walk down the street and through the mall to reach our hotel but the odyssey ("Odyssey" what a great word for playing Hangman) was starting to wear on us. Unfortunately, we were a little disoriented getting off the train and looked at a map kiosk (another great hangman word!) but a gentleman came to our rescue and assisted us in finding our way from the train station to the mall. As we approached the mall, a man sitting on a bench commented on how lovely the two of us looked. I'm sure he "read" us but as long as people are polite I don't really mind and kind of expect it.
Finally we reached the mall but our adventure was still not over. We estimated which exit would lead us to our hotel but when we looked confused at exiting into a parking garage a policeman directed us to a far exit on the other side of the mall. We took his advice but he had misunderstood which hotel we were asking about and had to walk all the way back to where we had been. By now our feet were really hurting. So much so that we passed by several stores with cute dresses without trying any on. After walking through the parking garage and coming out across the street from our hotel, we, somewhat unlady-like, scurried across the busy street and through a hedge to reach our hotel.
It was a long trip back from the aquarium but one of my best memories from the trip. Kimberly and I had some silly fun and also some more serious conversations. It was such a pleasure to be able to share our lives and experiences and become better friends.
Jamie and I had talked about trying to attend some country line dance lessons in the evening at a local gay bar. We figured it might be fun and at worst we would just be spending an hour or so there before going back to Johnny's Hideaway. Dinner plans started to be floated about and a few people thought it would be fun to go to a nearby restaurant. I dressed in a green long sleeve cotton dress, high heeled brown boots, a brown infinity scarf and my longer brown wig. A few more people wanted to come and pretty soon the reservation had grown to 25 people. Luckily the restaurant was close enough that the hotel shuttle could bring us there. We arrived in groups of 10 and I'm sure our final count was at least 30. The restaurant staff was completely overwhelmed. It was partly our fault for having so many people and we were doing more mingling than sitting down to have our orders taken. Eventually they assigned more waiters to our group and also moved us to a little wing of the restaurant to keep us all together. Although some of our group were wondering if they just didnt want such a big group of guys in pantyhose and dresses front and center of their establishment.
I wound up getting seated next to a GG friend of Tina and really enjoyed talking with her. She has attended several events with Tina and gets into it by giving herself a new name, dressing up, and shopping more....kind of doing the same things all of us cross-dressers were doing and she treated it like a party the same way we all did. I also sat across from a GG who works as a make-over artist and femm coach for transgendered individuals and enjoyed learning about her.
Overall, it was an enjoyable time despite the extremely slow service and the delay meant that we missed the line dance lessons. That was fine. Many of us were fine to go back to Johnny's again. Before going I changed into boot-cut jeans, ankle boots, a loose brown empire-waist top, and my shorter brown wig. Learning from women I've seen at clubs, I didn't bring a purse and just put money and my ID in my jean pockets. That way I could dance unencumbered by the purse and not having to worry about it if I were to leave it at our table. This time at the club there were not guys hitting on us so fiercely but several GG's were kind of interested in dancing with us from time to time. One even said she was a professional photographer and thought we were beautiful and offered to give us a free photo-shoot. The music was good but this time we "only" stayed until about 2am.
Atlanta Soiree Day 2
A week or so before going to Atlanta I had agreed with a girl named Mari to go walking in the morning on one of the days so we agreed to meet about 7am in the lobby. I had shopped for a new exercise outfit and wore my new blue leggings and black-and-white tank top up to the lobby choosing my long blond wig to wear. Part of the fun of these trips is the shopping the weeks and months ahead of time trying to find the perfect outfits to meet all of the different situations and contexts that I hope and expect to find myself in.
I waited among all of the business people that were gathering to start their day, took a couple of selfies while waiting and then soon Mari showed up. She realized she had forgotten something and went back to her room. While waiting I looked at the selfies and decided I'd rather wear the shorter, brown wig so I went and changed.
We didnt really know the area so we just decided to walk around the block a couple of times. Almost immediately after starting out a couple of men came running toward us in the opposite direction. I could see one of them looking at us with a very puzzled expression on his face.
On the second lap of the block we took a few pictures and then decided to pop into a small grocery store to pick up a few supplies before heading back to the hotel. I bought some diet coke and peanuts. I could survive a trip to Mordor if I had enough diet coke and peanuts. Mari was great about being brave enough to ask the store associates where things were located. I still need to work on that even though I know people are usually not too concerned about a guy in women's clothing.
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