The lack of logistics is the reason why I found myself in Atlanta after a year or so of knowing that I wanted to do this trail bereft of any bookings for shuttles, hotels or maps and just a general idea that the AT (Appalachian Trail) was to the north and that I had to get there somehow.
Oh well, I like to call myself a reactionary traveler, and as a reactionary traveler I make do with my lack of logistical skill by immersing myself in whatever place I find myself and trying to find my way to the next place I want to be generally in the cheapest and least painful method.
This usually involves walking around aimlessly asking for directions until I get there.
So how did I get to Atlanta in the first place with my poor logistics? That’s a good question. Mainly by prodding from Terry (cup of tea Terry) at the pool who forced me to book my plane tickets, then by Dawn (see.. I finally mentioned you 6 years too late) who booked the tickets with gentle overseering from my family who kept enquiring if I’d booked, if I had insurance covered and asking for the details (which I finally sent today) as proof.
So despite my logistics 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 in between and then spent most of the flight watching movies.. Due to the temporal distortion that is time zones we actually arrived in LA 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 on the tarmac for an hour after landing as there was a problem with the plane in the terminal where we supposed to dock into which meant it was a bit of 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?”
“Well 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 booked one, I was just going to go into town and find one”
“Put the address on the form, Next”
So I went to the back of the queue and put YHA on the form as I reasoned there had to be one 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 travelers out there who haven’t booked 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 who I’d rudely made work interrupting her texting.
“It’s like a cheap hostel where backpackers stay” I tried to explain.
“No a hostel.. like YHA”
“We have motels” she said, “Now where are you staying?”
I was a bit annoyed with her as she had an extremely indolent demeanor and 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 LA was behind all this. Nethertheless I continued on my fruitless crusade to find a backpackers of which the shuttle driver had no idea but the lady found on her smartphone in seconds. In the end I finished up in cheap motel downtown Atlanta which was walking distance to the Hilton so I think my universe balanced itself nicely on that one.
Highlights of Atlanta..
- Spotted a skyscraper with roman style arches on the roof that would have made Dan Brown suspicious so I went in to ask the front desk about them. The building interior was amazingly ostentatious with oak and gold trim everywhere and even a gilded shoeshine seat. The front desk couldn’t tell me much about the arches saying that the architect had gone for some pseudo greek design.
- 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 despites numerous enquiries. I did manage to get on a library one for half an hour 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. Really it’s all just down to feeling but I saw a lot of police patrolling and it just felt like you 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.