Greetings all! Welcome to a weekend edition of the blog.
This time, we’re taking another three-day trip to Atlanta to catch a baseball game and watch some Mountaineer football at Georgia State. Oh, and by “we”, I mean Cody, Alex (Payne), Trevor, and me. Three of us took this same trip in 2019, complete with an unexpected stop at Cowpens National Battlefield.
Travel // Lunch
Friday morning, Trevor and I left Granite Falls and drove to Shelby to pick up Payne, and Cody, who was coming from east of Charlotte. I didn’t really want to deal with I-85 traffic, so I decided to route us west through the mountains and then turn south, sacrificing a bit of travel time for better views and less crowded roads.
On the way down, we stopped at HenDough in Hendersonville for a quick bite to eat. We got a variety of sandwiches: I got a fried chicken sandwich with caramelized onions, bacon, and maple glaze; Payne got a fried chicken BLT; Trevor got a buffalo chicken sandwich; Cody got “Eggs in a Basket”, which is a breakfast dish with eggs, bacon, fried chicken, and a donut. I also had a side of hash brown tots and a pumpkin white chocolate donut. The food was good, but not phenomenal. It was worth trying once, but I would visit somewhere else the next time I come to town.
Table Rock STate Park
Leaving Hendersonville, we drove south through Flat Rock down US-25, crossed the border into South Carolina, and then turned west onto SC-11. Eventually, we came to Table Rock State Park, just NW of Pumpkintown, SC. The park has two beautiful lakes, and a view of Table Rock Mountain (not the one in Linville Gorge). We stopped at a couple overlooks to enjoy the scenery, and then headed on our merry way. Had we more time, we probably would’ve done one of the many hiking trails in the area.
From Table Rock, we took US-123 towards Toccoa Falls College in Toccoa Georgia, and stopped to see the falls. After paying a small entrance fee at the gift shop, it’s a short, flat walk to a 186′ waterfall. It’s taller than Niagara Falls, and in a beautiful cove. We stayed for a while, but time was of the essence, so we got back in the car and took US-23 to 85, sat in traffic on 85 and 285 for way too long, and finally arrived at our VRBO in Marietta.
The Battery // Truist Park
We arrived at our parking lot near Truist Park around 17:15, and walked the footbridge across I-75 to Truist Park. It was still a while before the start of the game, so we decided to walk around The Battery (a collection of restaurants, shops, and activities near the stadium) for a while, and then find some food. For dinner, we got some incredible burgers and shakes at H&F Burger at the stadium, and then found our seats.
I’ll give the description straight from H&F’s website: “Griddled double cheeseburger, topped with red onion and house-made pickles, served on a freshly baked pan de mie bun with from-scratch ketchup, and mustard on the side. The buns, sized with ideal bun-to-burger ratio in mind, are butter-toasted on the griddle for crispy golden edges. This burger is a direct descendant of the original that debuted at the 1904 St. Louis World’s Fair.” What more could you ask for?
Once inside the stadium, we explored the Monument Garden inside the park behind home plate. There are some interesting exhibits featuring Braves history and players. Several artifacts from past games are on display.
Atlanta Braves vs New York Mets
First pitch was at 19:20. The Braves had clenched the NL East title the night before, and with it a playoff spot, so this game didn’t really matter. They rested many of their star players, including Swanson, Freeman, and D’Arnaud. Riley and Albies started. Swanson and D’Arnaud pinch-hit later in the game, but it wasn’t enough to rally the home team to victory; the Braves lost to the Mets, 4-3. At least the game was exciting to watch…
Friday Night Fireworks
As per Friday tradition, there were fireworks after the game. It was late and we were tired, but we still stayed to watch the show. Plus, we were only staying a couple miles away from the stadium, so it’s not like we could’ve slept through the noise.
College Football Hall of Fame
Saturday Morning, after stopping for some petrol, we drove to downtown Atlanta to visit the College Football Hall of Fame. We only had a couple hours before we needed to head to the football game, but it was nonetheless a great experience. The App State Alumni Association had tickets available for $10 instead of the usual $25, so it was definitely worth the visit, even though abbreviated.
It was a fascinating museum, with exhibits covering the history of tailgating, uniforms, rules, equipment, coaching, rivalries, championships, and much more. We enjoyed reading about 2/3 of App’s inductees, Jerry Moore and Dexter Coakley. I don’t count Mack Brown. There were interactive exhibits, and as we left, we attempted a field goal and a 25yd pass (both were tough when not loose). I’d highly recommend this to anyone visiting Atlanta, and would like to go back one day.
For lunch, we drove to The Varsity, just off of Georgia Tech’s campus. We got the traditional chili dogs, onion rings, peach pies, and milkshakes. They also serve a “frosted orange”, which is essentially a milkshake made with orange soda flavor. As expected, it was a fantastic lunch – especially the onion rings!
The Varsity gets a star because it’s such an iconic spot in Atlanta. Everyone needs to go at least once in their lifetime. “What’ll ya have?!”
App State at Georgia State
From The Varsity, we drove south to the old Turner Field (now Center Parc Credit Union Stadium) to watch App play football against the Georgia State Panthers. After a slow start in the first half, the Mountaineers pulled it together and thumped the Panthers 45-16, mainly thanks to some big defensive plays.
Ponce City Market // Minero
After the game, we ventured to the NE corner of downtown to Ponce City Market in search of food. The market is an old Sears catalogue building that’s been converted into mixed-use property. Two floors of the building have a food hall and shopping, making it a popular place. It took us forever to find a parking spot, but we managed to get inside, add our name to the waiting list of a Mexican restaurant, and then explore the market while we waited for a text saying our table was ready.
We ate dinner at Minero, a Mexican restaurant. Payne, Cody, and I each got a catfish, charcoal chicken, and steak taco plate, and Trevor got a steak quesadilla. We also split a sampler of chips and salsas. The food was excellent, and we all agreed it was the best meal we’d had that weekend so far.
Minero offered some exceptional, well-thought-out tacos. They had a little bit of everything. Portion sizes weren’t the best, but the quality of the food made up for it. Plus, its setting inside Ponce City Market makes it a unique location to visit.
Marietta Square Market
Seeking some dessert, we drove northeast to Marietta Square Market, a smaller food hall a block off of downtown Marietta. We got some ice cream at Four Fat Cows, after waiting in an unnecessarily long line. I got huckleberry cobbler and a double chocolate swirl ice cream. The huckleberry wasn’t nearly as good as what we’d had in Montana, but it was good nonetheless.
After an early start Sunday morning (mostly thanks to the stupid smart light in my room waking me up at 05:20), we arrived back in Shelby around 10:30. Trevor and I got back to Granite shortly thereafter. It was a great weekend, and I look forward to more [football] road trips in the future!
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Our next trip is TBD, but keep a sharp eye and I’ll send out an email when it’s about to happen.
– Isaac, Trevor, Alex, and Cody