Our good friends Ryan and Viviana live in Atlanta, so just one week into our travels we took a break from vanlife and enjoyed staying in their beautiful apartment in Midtown for the weekend. On the way there, however, we had a little accident.
Back at Devil’s Den, Kyle accidentally ran over a loose tow strap and damaged our cargo rack pretty badly. After some Macgyver’ing, we were back on the road, but only until a particularly treacherous set of railroad tracks in Valdosta decided otherwise. The rack broke completely and dragged behind us until we could get to the nearest pull off. We had to scramble in a busy parking lot sweating it out in 95 degree heat to get our rear set up (tool box, gas can, generator, & generator box) dismantled and put back into the van in pieces.
Once in Atlanta, we took a trip to Northern Tool and got the repair process underway. Installing the platform required some slight modifications, which ended up taking a couple hours to figure out and implement. Luckily, the people there were nice enough to let us make a mess in their parking lot and get the job done right. If you’re considering being a vanlifer or are just planning a long road trip, we highly suggest packing some basic tools. Having the resources to make repairs on the go will save you time and money.
After that fiasco, we finally made it to enjoy a weekend satiating ourselves with good friends. The first couple days, we enjoyed bike rides through Piedmont Park, which is a beautiful gigantic park 1-mile from Downtown and only a block from Ryan and Viv’s place. From there, we went eating and drinking our way down The Atlanta BeltLine, which is a redevelopment project that, when complete, will connect 45 neighborhoods via a 22-mile loop of multi-use trails and parks – all based on old, out of commission railroads.
*A quick rant: We’ve found our way into a lot of gentrified areas (much like the BeltLine) on our trip so far and we both have very mixed feelings about it. While hip shops/restaurants and a quaint landscape are always great to happen upon, it often comes at the cost of people being pushed out of their homes due to rising property values.
Testimony to this is the creator of the BeltLine, Ryan Gravel, resigning from the organization that helps raise funds for the project citing concerns over affordability and equity along the growing trail. This is something many cities seem to be struggling with. We even watched it happen in our own city, Orlando, with the redevelopment of the west downtown area.
So, to boil it down, while enjoying $11 cocktails in a repurposed barber shop, we’re likely to wonder what happened to the original owners of the barber shop and the people that worked there. Which leads to debates on capitalism and free market economics. Which leads to us enjoying $11 cocktails. Because there are no easy answers. End rant.*
Despite the rant, we did have a great time there…
As our Atlanta excursion continued, we were lucky enough to see our friends from Orlando on tour with their band Slumberjack. We caught their show at Smiths Olde Bar, which reminded us of Will’s Pub in Orlando (only Will’s is way better ;)). They always put on a great performance, so if they’re ever playing in your city, be sure to check them out. We also hit up Little Five Points that day for a couple of drinks, which is an interesting little area with bars, restaurants, and all sorts of shopping opportunities from vintage shops to head shops.
The next day, we decided to skip on out of the city for a day trip to hike Panther Creek Falls Trail. This 7-mile round trip hike weaved through beautiful forests, cut over the river a couple of times, and brought us to the rushing cascades that are Panther Creek Falls. We went swimming in the cool cool water and stood under the falls, well Kyle kinda evaded them because he’s a wimp. If you ever find yourself at this trail know that there are tons of snakes, so be careful where you step.
Coming from the flatlands of Florida this terrain was a really nice change of pace and got us pretty amped up for all the hikes to come. After this tiring trek, we treated ourselves to the most amazing Indian food either of us had ever had at Tabla. We can vouch for the Veggie Samosa, Lassoni Cauliflower, Vindaloo, Butter Chicken, and Tandoori. If you’re in Atlanta and you like Indian food, go to there!
Atlanta was dope and our beautiful friends Ryan and Viviana took such good care of us, it was so hard to get back in the van and move on. But as always, we must travel onward.
Next stop, Chattanoga TN.