Tag Archives: driving

Some Random Roadtripping in Atlanta Thoughts.

Driving through, around and from A to B in any big city can be challenging. Atlanta is no different, offering the driver its own unique challenges. Spending a lot of time driving and observing in the ATL, these random thoughts about being out on the open road immediately came to mind.

Where are you? I’m on Peachtree! The city alone has 71 streets that contain the word Peachtree, countless others in suburbia. Avenues, boulevards, drives, lanes, streets, you name it, you will probably be on a Peachtree something at some point. Peachtree Street, the main street of Atlanta, confuses people all by itself. Giving the answer of “I’m on Peachtree!” will definitely mask where you are at.

Peachtree St. in the heart of Midtown, Atlanta, Georgia

Peachtree Street in the heart of Midtown.

Peachtree Industrial Blvd, Gwinnett County, Georgia

Peachtree Industrial Blvd in suburban Gwinnett County.

Where is the skyline? Atlanta is known, especially on the north side, for lots of hills and greenery. While driving in parts of Georgia’s state capital you’ll think you are in the middle of a forest or the woods versus a big city. You are very close to the Midtown skyline, but you just don’t know it. Then wallah it is right in front of you!

Once it does come into view, the skyline might look foreign even if you have visited before. If you’re in town say once a year, you will notice buildings that were not there before or new ones going up. The skyline from just a decade ago is nothing like what it is today. Atlantic Station, a modern neighborhood with lots of shopping and entertainment options and various tall buildings, popped up out of nowhere in the 2000’s.

Atlanta Midtown & Atlantic Station skylines from The Sun Dial Restaurant Bar & View

Atlantic Station & Midtown skylines from up-top The Sun Dial Restaurant Bar & View.

You will hear “the Perimeter” phrase frequently. When stopping to ask for directions there is a good chance the answer will include something in relation to “the Perimeter”. “The Perimeter” refers to I-285 an interstate which circles the city. You’ll hear place x is just inside the perimeter, it’s 20 miles northeast of the perimeter, etc.

Are there really speed limits? People do seem to drive faster on average around the ATL. At the top end of “the Perimeter”, where most of the heavy traffic is, the speed limit is posted at 55 m.p.h. Really? It seems like you’ll get run off the road if you aren’t doing at least 70-75.

How high in the air can I get while driving?! When driving into Spaghetti Junction where the east end of the “The Perimeter” and I-85 meet you will find five decks/levels of ramps, the highest being 90 feet tall. I guess that is one spot to get nervous at during rush hour and gridlock. On the bright side you might as well get the camera out to capture the views up-top. 🙂

What direction am I going in? Once off the interstate, with all the hills and trees you’d be hard pressed to find a long, straight stretch of road. One minute the road your on is going north, then east, then you have no idea. Better have that GPS or compass handy.

Sixteen Lanes of Madness. Your driving on I-75 or I-85 on the far outskirts of town and the interstate is four lanes, then it becomes six, then eight and that is still manageable. Then all of a sudden it becomes a sixteen lane free for all around Midtown and Downtown, known as the Downtown Connector. I wonder if that stretch of real estate is part of local drivers education driving? That would be the ultimate test.

The Atlanta Downtown Connector from the 17th Street Bridge.

The Downtown Connector from the 17th Street Bridge.

Atlanta Downtown Connector from The Varsity

The Downtown Connector from The Varsity.

The Atlanta Downtown Connector from the 17th Street Bridge.

The Downtown Connector from the 17th Street Bridge.

Atlanta Downtown Connector from up-top The Sun Dial Restaurant Bar & View.

The Downtown Connector from The Sun Dial Restaurant Bar & View

What state am I in? Between all the northern transplants and everyone else passing through, if you just woke up and got on the road, you could have no idea what state you are in. You’ll see a lot less Georgia license plates then you might think while driving.

Is Waffle House the only dining option? You might think that if your on the interstate in suburbia. There seems to be one at every exit. Up until not to long ago there was one on each side of I-85 in Suwanee. One can only experience so much loaded hash browns! 🙂

Road tripping in the ATL, like any big city, can be an adventure. Checkout my previous post, Atlanta: Driving Through the Heart, on what a city interstate drive is like.

What unique characteristics or random thoughts come to mind in the city you live in or drive around frequently? Any additional Atlanta tidbits?

Atlanta: Driving Through the Heart.

Almost always being the driver when going through Atlanta on the interstate I don’t have many chances to capture the city from out on the open road. That changed last month when I was a passenger. I had my camera in hand. All the shots are from the Downtown Connector (officially named James Wendell George Parkway), where I-75 and I-85 come together through the heart of the ATL.

Heading south you first come across Atlantic Station. It’s a live-work-play neighborhood, built-in 2005, and has a unique skyline of its own. There are lot’s of shopping and entertainment options. Gotta get some signage in the shots too. 🙂

Atlanta -

Straight ahead now is Midtown and its skyline to the left and the Downtown skyline is further back to the right. You can’t tell from this angle, but there are 20-lanes of traffic that go through here. Thank goodness it’s not rush hour.

Atlanta - Midtown, Downtown

Cruising along in the carpool lane. 🙂

Atlanta - Midtown, carpool lane

The Bank of America Plaza building stands out in Midtown. It’s the tallest building in Atlanta, Georgia and the South and the tallest in the United States outside of New York and Chicago. You’ll also notice the Olympic Games memorial tower. The actual Olympic flame from the 1996 Olympics sits near Turner Field today.

Atlanta - Midtown skyline, Olympic torch

Quickly glancing off to the left, you see The Varsity. A historical and touristy 1950’s style burger joint. Look for the red V!

Atlanta - Midtown, The Varsity

After passing through Midtown, you have the Downtown skyline right in front of you that you’ll about to weave through. The tallest building in Downtown is SunTrust Plaza.

Atlanta - Downtown skyline

Captured a couple of shots coming into the city and Downtown area traveling northbound.

Atlanta - Downtown from the south

Atlanta - Downtown from the south

The aforementioned Turner Field you’ll pass along to your right. It’s home of to the Atlanta Braves baseball team and was originally the Olympic stadium during the 1996 games.

Atlanta - Turner Field

It was great being a passenger on this day going through the ATL, well any skyline for that matter. Hope to do it again soon. I’ll have my camera ready!

Have you ever captured any city skylines as a car passenger or wished you could as you were driving through?

Ten Travel Tips for a Day Road Trip.

It’s the night before your going to hit the open road on another day road trip.

Day Road Trip - Ohio, Michigan state line in the country

Have you done any planning? Though I believe the best trips are spontaneous and unplanned, there are some things that should be considered before and during your day on the road. Some tips of things I have found helpful:

1. Check the weather. The days leading up to or the night before your thinking of traveling, go to a website like The Weather Channel and check the forecast. Hmmm let’s see… if I decide to drive to Philly tomorrow a lunchtime arrival seems ideal.

Day Road Trip - Checking the weather

Also, while you’re traveling if it’s looking dicey outside follow the weather on your smart phone. You’ll increase the chances of not running into a blizzard, high winds or getting caught up in a deluge of rain. You might alter your plans accordingly. Well than again, that might add to the adventure haha!

2. Speaking of the night before, try to get a good night sleep. A day road trip could sometimes last a full day or more. 24 hours? I look at it this way. The longer you make the day, the further you can travel away from home and get back and the more you can see. You gotta love the longer days in the warmer months. If the sleep thing doesn’t work out then your going to need…

3. …fuel, I mean coffee is what you need! Whether it be from home, at a travel center or truck stop or Starbucks (if they open early), there’s nothing like starting off with a great cup of java. As the day goes on make sure to refuel at unique, mom and pop coffeehouses along the way. At least that’s my philosophy.

Grabbed a peanut butter mocha from The Wormhole Coffee in the Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago. The fuel needed after a drive before starting to explore the city.

Day Road Trip - The Wormhole Coffee, Wicker Park neighborhood of Chicago

4. Charge, charge, charge. It’s not just you that needs to be fully charged. Make sure your smart phone, camera, tripod, etc. is ready to go. You’ll wanna have enough juice to take those pictures, Foursquare check-in, Tweet, post to Facebook, etc. Have spare batteries and bring your chargers so you can recharge whenever you have a chance. Gotta get that cigarette lighter fixed in the vehicle!

5. While getting all your gizmos and gadgets charged you should also check the inventory in your vehicle. Make sure you have a blanket, bottled water, wind-shield washer fluid, flashlight, jumper cables, spare tire, snack food, etc. Also consider getting an oil change and all your fluids checked.

Vehicle supplies from a Day Road Trip

6. Have navigation help. Lot’s of people have Gladys (GPS) directing them now days. Others use their smartphones to guide. At times they’re helpful, but using them constantly takes all the fun and mystery out of a trip. When I do seek help I’m still a little old-fashioned, carrying around my atlas and travel maps. I guess it traces back to being the navigator with all my maps on family trips. In general some form of navigation can be helpful in case you get lost.

Day Road Trip - Atlas, Travel Guides and State Maps

7. Bring cash including change. You never know when you’ll need it for tolls, parking meters, to buy a local newspaper (yeah I still do that too). When you call for help to fix a flat tire or for road-side assistance, a lot of the time cash is the only payment option.

8. Hit the road on an empty stomach. You can snack and have your coffee, but be hungry and ready to eat so you can try some local cuisine. It’s not a day for fast food stops. A Primanti Brothers sandwich in Pittsburgh, now we’re talking!

Day Road Trip - Primanti Brothers sandwich, Pittsburgh

9. Wear comfortable clothes and walking shoes. Hopefully there will be lots of getting out of the vehicle to explore. Some jogging and photo-running could also be in order. I traveled fifteen miles on foot on my last day trip to Chicago. With the cost of parking in the big city it’s better to centrally park and get to everything on foot.

Day Road Trip - Maumee Bay State Park, Ohio

10. Even with planning as described in the tips above make sure to have semi-plans. In other words be out there on the open road with an open mind. Things will never go as planned. Be willing to get sidetracked with new discoveries. The unexpected can be the most thrilling.

Going on a day’s worth of travel and discovery is unbelievable. Who knows what you’ll start seeing and discovering as soon as you leave your local area. I hope I’ve given some tips that will help make your next day road trip fun and a success.

Day Road Trip - New Zealand, South Island near Lake Tekapo

What other tips and advice do you have for those looking to go on a day road trip? For any kind of road trip? I hope to see you out on the open road.