Atlanta Area Map

Atlanta Area Map

This is officially the first post of the trip.

So, as a voluntary minimalist with no digital devices, I’m not sure exactly how I’m going to do this, but along the lines of once I find a computer I’ll relate all the things I can remember since the last update. I guess this will be a timeline detailing the accessibility or not of the Internet from the Appalachian Trail.

What’s happened since the farewell barbecue? Well a lot of cleaning: the unit is so clean I almost wanted to stay a couple more days to mess it up and give it a more humane edge. By 11.30 pm I was packed, fed and clean so I decided to walk to the Darwin airport for my flight to Sydney.

It was fairly humid; in fact it was really humid so I ended up walking topless and sweated nonstop. By the time I got to the airport, my feet were killing me and somehow I managed to get a carbuncle-like rash on the inside of my knee, I’m guessing where my shorts were rubbing. Once I got onto the plane I collapsed into fitful sleep and slept with my legs in a weird position. Once I’d got off the plane I was hobbling and exhausted.

Atlanta Area Map Photo Gallery

‘Great,’ I thought. ‘Walked 5 k with a pack and I’m already broken.’

Luckily there was a Formula One Motel near the airport and all I could think, when I got my bags, was to crash. I slept for three hours, woke, then went back to sleep for another four hours.

After waking up the second time, I felt a lot more human and after a stretch, felt like maybe I would be able to do this walk. I opened the window to see a ‘Krispy Kreme Donut’ shop across the road which felt like America was reaching out to me.

Genes Bypass: Planning Lumbering logistics

There are things that I’m good at: going bush, tackling people in field hockey, and guessing the time from the sun. All of which are important life skills. Unfortunately logistics is not in that list and by logistics I mean planning and organising. Why this is so, I’m not sure, as the rest of my family are very good at logistics but I guess I am a bit of a black sheep and the organizing gene just bypassed me.

The lack of logistics is the reason I found myself in Atlanta, after a year or so of knowing that I wanted to do this trail, bereft of any maps, blogings for shuttles or hotels and just a general idea that the A.T. was to the north and that I had to get there somehow.

Oh well, I like to call myself a reactionary traveller. As a reactionary traveller I make do with my lack of logistical skill by immersing myself in whatever place I find myself and then trying to find my way to where I want to be, generally via the cheapest and least painful method.

This usually involves walking around aimlessly asking for directions until I get there.

How did I get to Atlanta in the first place with my poor logistics? That’s a good question. Mainly by prodding from Terry, the manager at the pool where I work as a lifesaver, who forced me to blog my plane tickets; then by my mate’s wife Dawn (see, I finally mentioned you) who bloged the tickets; and with gentle overseeing from my family who kept enquiring if I had bloged and if I had insurance and wanted to know the details (which I finally sent today) as proof.

So despite my logistic failings, I managed to board Delta Airlines enroute to the land of supersize it! The plane flight was agreeable. I chatted to the two ladies I sandwiched inbetween and then spent most of the flight watching movies. Due to the temporal distortion that is time zones, we actually arrived in Los Angeles before we left Sydney and I got to watch the sun rise a second time whilst we were stuck on the tarmac. We were stuck for an hour after landing due to a problem with the plane terminal where we were supposed to dock. This meant it was a rush to catch the transfer to Atlanta. This wasn’t helped by the fact that I got knocked back by Customs as I put my projected address as Backpackers.

“Backpackers isn’t an address, where are you going to stay when you’re in America?”

“I’m going to be walking the Appalachian Trail, so I’ll only be staying one night in Atlanta and I was going to stay in a backpacker hostel.”

“Well put the address on the form.”

“I haven’t bloged one. I was just going into town to find one.”

“Put the address on the form Next.”

So I went to the back of the queue and put YH.A. on the form as I reasoned there had to be a youth hostel in Atlanta. This got rejected as well so I upgraded my address to the Hilton Hotel and it was third time lucky. Take note all you reactionary travellers out there who haven’t bloged ahead, there’s always a Hilton Hotel.

I slept most of the connecting flight to Atlanta, landed, grabbed my kit and found the information booth confident that I could find my longed-for backpackers.

“Backpackers? What’s that?” said the distracted booth attendant whom I’d made work, by rudely interrupting her texting.

“It’s like a cheap hostel where backpackers stay,” I tried to explain.

“A hotel?”

“No, a hostel. Like Y.H.A.”

“We have motels,” she said, “Now where are you staying?”

I’d seen a sign for a shuttle into the city so I said, “Don’t worry about it I’ll just catch a shuttle.”

Much to her relief.

I caught the shuttle with a large Afro American lady with a strong southern accent and a Japanese guy.

“Where you heading?” The shuttle driver asked.

“The Hilton,” the other two passengers chimed and I squirmed wondering if that customs official in L.A. was behind all this. Nevertheless, I continued on my fruitless crusade to find a backpackers about which the shuttle driver had no idea but the lady found on her smart phone in seconds.

In the end, I finished up in a cheap motel in downtown Atlanta which was walking distance to the Hilton.

Highlights of Atlanta.

• Spotted my first ‘homeboys’ or at least spotted two groups that looked like they were wearing colours. Escaped without getting mugged.

• Found no Internet cafes despite numerous enquiries. I did manage to get on a library computer for half an hour, all of which I spent trying to work out how to get onto the trail (successfully!).

• Saw police and ‘Information Officials’ scooting around on people movers.

My impressions of Atlanta (which incorporates all of a few hours wandering around and waiting at the bus station) were of a pretty tough town. I saw a lot of police patrolling and I felt people were either in the rich skyscraper crowd or the poor street one. The skyscrapers even had enclosed bridges connecting themselves, some travelling for up to a block.

Anyway, the city was not my destination so I headed off to the bus station to continue my journey to the trail.

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