Allatoona Pass


From Allatoona Pass

When I think about the best that hiking in Georgia has to offer, I think of two primary things: the natural beauty and the rich American History, About 25 miles northeast of Atlanta, about a mile off I75 near Cartersville lies a place that wears both items well, but with a little extra emphasis on the history. I am talking about spending a portion of the day at Allatoona pass.

If you look at it merely as a hike, you are going to enjoy the nice walk by Lake Allatoona, an Army Corp of Engineers made lake very popular with the boating set. The walk through the pass will impress because of magnitude of human will it must have took to build such a pass for the railroads. And there is a couple of short uphill climbs to get the heart pumping. You could actually take a dip in the lake if you come prepared. And there's a pretty amazing bamboo forest near the trailhead. That would be great in and of itself, but you would be missing the point.

The key to this location is the History. This is where the Battle of Allatoona Pass was fought. Just accross from the parking lot stands the Mooney house (now a bed and breakfast) which served as a hospital at different times for both the Union and Confederacy. The Climb up to Star Fort takes you to a pretty well preserved fortification used by the Union to hold off the Confederates.

The Battle of Allatoona occurred in October of 1864, The Confederates attacked trying to sever the Western Atlantic Railline, which would hinder the Union Supply lines to the Troops already further South at Kennesaw. About four thousand men were involved in the battle, with Major General Samuel French leading the Confederates and Brigadier General John M. Corse for the Union. The Union won the battle as they were able to hold their position long enough for French's troops to sense the arrival of more troops. Actually, the message came from General Sherman, which gave us the American saying "Hold the Fort." The battle saw about 700 dead for the North and another 800 for the South.

There is also the Tomb of the Unknown Hero, and Monuments for the state forces involved in the battle (the biggest ones are for Missouri and Texas, both confederate states). If the North is more your cup of tea, you can read an interesting letter from an Illinois Soldier who fought in the battle, Jefferson Moses.

This is a nice day out for the casual hiker. A little research can really help you enjoy the rich history. If you think its a little short, you can visit nearby Etowah Mounds or Red Top Mountain State Park.

Trail Essentials
Approximate Time: 1.5 to 2 hours
Approximate Distance: 3.4 miles
Trail Surface: Compact Soil, Rocks, Paved Portions, Stairs, Sand
Features: Lakeside Views, Civil War History

Overall Rating: B

Scenic Quality: A
Athleticism: C+
Solitude: C
Value: B+

Parking: Free
Hours of Operation: Open Year Round, Sunlight Hours
Facilities: None
Maps: Posted at Trailhead Or Here
County: Bartow
Directions: I-75 Exit 283 (Emerson/Allatoona Road) in Bartow County, Ga., go east on Old Allatoona Road, In .5 miles the road curves left and crosses railroad tracks. Continue on for 0.1 miles (a total of 0.6 miles. Parking lot is on the left beneath the levee that creates Lake Allatoona.

Stone Mountain Songman


There's always these polls going on in Creative Loafing or whatever asking what's the best Atlanta's got to offer. One of the more peculiar categories is best street character. Baton Bob usually wins. Bicycle Pants Man of Ponce gets some play. But what about us OTP folks? What do we have to offer?

Well, we got a public citizen who is just as interesting, doesn't get the press, and is a bit more subdued, a more OTP kind of crazy. He's the Guy playing Guitar while walking up and down the Giant Block of Granite, the Stone Mountain Songman, His name is either Roy or Tony (I usually get it wrong) and he has two passions in life: Walking up Stone Mountain, and playing guitar. So, a couple of years ago, he decided to combine the two. So now, if your timings right, you can walk up the beautiful mountain to sounds of "One" by U2, or you can see the sunset to the sounds of "House of the Rising Sun" by the Animals (Two of my faves by the Stone Mountain Songman).

I tried to tip him once and he refused, He said he's not there to make money, though he's glad to hear that the music is appreciated.

Now, if you get a chance, he'll converse for a bit. Not for long, he'd rather be picking and singing. But he's an interesting guy, and actually one of the inspirations for this website. He said that he walks up and down the mountain about two hundred times a year. He challenged me to try to do it 100 times: that random challenge was the start on me getting out and about more. He said that his best time up and down is about 20 minutes (that's of course without the guitar). [as of July 19, 2007: I've been up the Mountain 44 times this year and my best time is 40:06, before you laugh you try it].

He's a bit of a philospher, and has told me, "Nothing bad ever happens up here, all the bad is down there" and that the "Secret to long life is living life more vertically." (I am paraphrasing but he would agree with the sentiments, I'm sure.)

Now, if you've ever been up the mountain you should be impressed by the fact that the Guitarman can sing while he does it. Remember its a little over a mile up, and you get an elevation gain over Six Hundred feet.

If you see him, thank him for the music. And if you get a chance to vote for him somewhere, do it.

Concord Covered Bridge

From Concord Cover...

There are 16 covered bridges left in the State of Georgia. All but two of them are within about two and a half hours of Atlanta. The only one in Atlanta that is still in use today is the Concord Covered Bridge (Alternately known as the Nickajack Creek Bridge) in Smyrna (Cobb County).

You can if you so choose drive your car across it. It has only one lane, being built in 1872, when cars were barely even thought of. It stands 131 feet long and 16 feet wide spanning the Nickajack Creek on Concord Road.

Now, I do plan on photographing all twelve Georgia Covered Bridges. But the reason I trekked to this one was because of what I read in Weird Georgia . Apparently, some people claim that its haunted.

The story goes something like this. If you park your car on the bridge, turn off your lights, and place a Snickers Bar on your roof, you will hear the scurrying of feet and hands on your car roof, and the Snickers bar will be gone because Snickers really satisfies the dead. It is supposedly the ghosts of some children, who drowned (or were drowned) in the creek below. Well that’s the story.

First problem, if you get your car onto the bridge at night, and turn off your lights, the road is busy enough that you will be either crashed into, or honked at to move before the ghostly kids can do their thing. Second Problem is that the Snickers bar will melt in the Atlanta heat on your car roof making a mess that even living children wouldn’t touch. I brought Snickers bar and the only thing it attracted was ants. If someone sees it differently let me know.

But, it is an interesting piece of Americana, with a Historic Marker sign. It is also very near the Historic Ruff’s Mill (where a civil war battle was fought), the Heritage Park Trail with great mill ruins, and the Silver Comet Trail for Biking enthusiasts.

Yellow River Park [Bicycling]

From YellowRiverPark

I have said before that I am really impressed with Gwinnett County Parks. Yellow River Park is in the Southeast Corner of the County at 3232 Juhan Road in Lithonia. And yes, I am once again impressed by another of Gwinnett County’s Parks.

I first went here to hike the trails, but since the Park has only been open a year and a half, the trails are incomplete. There was, however, a very nice horse trail, and, quite possibly, the finest mountain biking trail I’ve encountered anywhere near the city.

The Bike trail, at this point, runs in two parts. The first, the river loop, runs a little less than four miles, and is an easier ride. Second, the Creek Loop, which is longer, more strenuous, more dangerous (there are some breakneck inclines) and heaps more fun. You can access the trail map here.

If you park in the first parking lot, you are nearer to the easier paths and the paved multiuse path. If you park in the second parking lot, you start smack dab in the heart of a mountain bikers heaven. And for even more challenge, you could try the horse paths, or hiker’s paths (just don’t get caught). The maps are available at the second lot’s trail head or you can download it here

Yellow River Park is a work in progress. It is going to be a better hiking park before its done, but right now its simply the place to go in Gwinnett for Mountain Biking. The future of the park looks bright, and you can see it here. The Present is a great day of Biking.

DIRECTIONS: From Atlanta, take Highway 78 East past Stone Mountain to the West Park Place exit. Turn right and go approximately 3.5 miles to Juhan Road. Turn right on Juhan Road. The parking lot is 1.5 miles on the left.


Why call yourself the Urban Baboon?

I wanted to find a name that was easy to remember, fun to say, and summed up what I wanted to do with the website.
I turned 38 on March 4th, 2007 (which is the ceremonial birthdate of the website), and realized that I was becoming all the things I hated about my 30 something friends. I worked, I went home, I watched TV, and was in a real rut. I felt that I lived in a really great city to live in, but I wasn't very good at living there. I wanted to dare myself to explore my surroundings, and report back to the world, because, I believe, that there are probably a few other folks out there, who feel about the same as I did. And I wanted to provide some sort of guidance to them. I am really sort of a city idiot. My Friend Dan Turro and me bounced a few ideas back and forth and after a few drinks we decided that Urbanbaboon was a good Idea. Who doesn't like monkeys?

Why are you qualified to tell us about Atlanta?

Actually, I am not. I have a few areas of expertise, investments, greek philosophy, Catholicism, Fantasy Football and Baseball. But I wasn't even born here. I moved here in 2001, shortly after my divorce. But that's exactly the point, because I am a novice, I am going to provide a guide for the novice Atlantan, the newbie, the uninspired, the unmotivated. If I can get just one butt out of the house and moving about this great city of ours my works is worthwhile.

Why don't you post daily or at least on a set schedule?

My Goal is six posts a month without a set time frame. The website has helped jumpstart my life so a portion of the time is spent living. Another portion is spent working and sleeping; And the occasional laundry. So six a month is a good goal. Furthermore, the content of most of the posts will not be so time specific that it won't be meaningful. I want to stress the things that are available for us everyday. So even if you click a March post in September, it still might get you out of the house. Additionally, a single post is significantly more work than just my daily thoughts.

Where does the history fit in to the general purpose?

I have two godsons who live in Atlanta, one just starting high school and one in middle school. I am often frustrated at there choices for research projects. It seems that all they want to learn about is entertainers. I suggested a few local stories to them and there interest was piqued at least a little. So a secondary purpose of the website is to be a topical resource for people who are interested in learning about the area. The posts will not answer everything, they are meant to be a jumping off point.

Why don't you check out ...?

For the most part, I would be glad to. Just email me the details: Click To Send E-mail .

I. M. Pei in Atlanta

Map 1...Map 2


I've never claimed to be an Architect, or to know that much about the subject. But am aware of that buildings can be more than just a place to store our things. They can be artistically aligned to complement the surroundings. One of the Greatest Modern architects has significant works here in the Atlanta Area.

I. M. Pei has been called the last great modernist architect. He studied under and is considered by some a student of Walter Gropius, one of the founders of the Bauhaus Movement. The Student in some ways surpassed the teacher because of his use of geometric angles and glass, his breath of work from churches to schools to titans of industry, and the length of career approaching 60 years. But as I said, I am not the one to discuss architecture from a position of authority. I. M. Pei also designed the Pyramide du Louvre, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and the East Wing of the National Gallery in DC among many others.

We, in Atlanta, are fortunate to have three of his buildings (There is possible fourth in the works apparently on the corner of Piedmont and Peachtree replacing the Rooms To Go building). And amazingly enough we have his first building, the Gulf Oil Building, located at 131 Ponce, which was built in 1949.

According to several sources, this building is in danger of being torn down in the name of progress. I was alerted to this issue by ATLmalcontent via Ponce De Leon. An AJC article is located here. I don't think tearing down history to put up new Atlantic Station type multiuse building that average Atlantans couldn't afford to live in is the interest of Atlanta, the community, or the world. We should embrace the fact that we have such an Icon of Architectural Brilliance and make it a focal point in the area. Hell, just a block away, they are refurbishing the Peters house. Why can't we do the same?

I go to many area musuems and am startled by all that has come and gone in this city. Could it be that since Sherman burned the town, we've never allowed ourselves to become too attached to our surroundings? This is one we should fight for. Maybe we could save it by have some concerned and successful local company lease it out?

The 131 Ponce Building is simple and by today's standards unassuming. To see where Pei's vision went, you just need to take a short drive up I-75 to the Wildwood Plaza offices. Located at 3200 Windy Hill Road just inside Atlanta, and built some 42 years later, this office is certainly a work of art. It is all the things Pei is known for: Incredible angles and glass use and a real harmony with the surroundings. This is why I. M. Pei is considered a genius. Additionally there is a pyramidal entryway that bears close resemblemce to the Pyramide du Louvre. (No word from Dan Brown as to if anyone important is buried underneath).

Pei has a third building at 46 Broad Street, that I haven't been able to photograph yet. It was built shortly after the 131 Ponce building. You can access Pei's Firm's website here

Well, there's a little bit of Architectural History right outside our front door. Let's not loose sight of where we have come from and what we have. We all like what progress brings us but we have to ask ourselves at what expense. I think the more that know about what we have, the more we'll care. I hope this little post leaves all who read it a little better informed.

McDaniel Farm Park

From McDaniel Farm...

In my little mulberry park post, I mentioned that it was not my favorite park. So people have asked what is your favorite?

There is a little park tucked right smack dab in the center of the hustle and bustle of Gwinnett Place Mall area Duluth, which has stands in dramatic contrast to its surroundings, which exudes peace among the chaos that we all live. All the while echoing with a rich history of frontier Gwinnett. If you've been there, you know that I am talking about McDaniel Farm Park. If you haven't been there you ought to go.

This Gwinnett County Park is an 134 acre oasis just moments from the Gwinnett Place Mall, nestled snuggly behind the Land Rover Dealership. There are 2.5 miles of paved path that can be used for a pleasant lunch walk or a friendly weekend bike ride. There are ample places to picnic, both privately and in larger groups. The multiuse path crosses a stream in two places, has gently grades, and takes you through some very nice trees, fields, and flowers. And they are expanding the trails and streams last time I was there.

But there is an additional uniqueness to the park: it is built on land granted to the county by Archie McDaniel. Archie McDaniel and his family lived and farmed this land for generations. It has been kept up as a working subsistence farm and you can stroll among the farm houses, blacksmiths, tenent farmers, and several other buildings. It has an awesome collection of farming equipment. If you guide yourself along the way, there is absolutely no cost. They offer a guided tour for $3 a person Tuesdays through Saturdays. Kids and Adults will enjoy their time here.

The three things that impress me the most about this park are: (1) The dramatic difference between the park and the world two minutes outside of it, (2) the nature of the typical Gwinnett Farmer being small and subsistent, rather than the stereotypical Georgia Plantation, and (3) the astonishing fact that the McDaniel Family was farming this piece of land as recently as 1999.

This is the perfect getaway for when there really is no time to get away in Gwinnett. Go there once, you'll see what I mean.

Atlanta Braves Baseball

From Braves

I shouldn't have to tell you about Braves Baseball . And in the spirit of full disclosure, I am a Cub fan first and a Brave Fan second. But our Braves need a little love. There are Atlantans who can legally drink who couldn't remember the last time the Braves didn't win the division. Its the lean times that proves your merit as a fan. It the lean times that build character. And the Braves ain't exactly lean. They are one of the top teams in the National League.

Plus, you got some great vets, like Smoltz and the Jones Boys. For my money, I think Smoltz is the most money pitcher of this generation (check out his post season numbers). Ahead of Clemens, Maddux, Randy Johnson, you name it. And you got some up and coming stars like Brian McCann, Troy Hudson, and Edgar Renteria. And you got some kick ass rookies like Escobar, Saltalamacchia, Harris, and Johnson. A couple of good turns from the back end of the rotation and this team could go all the way.

Furthermore, the stadium is beautiful. And the cheaper seats are better than the expensive ones . Why would you want to pay a bunch to sit with the snobs in the corporate boxes. The fans, the true fans, who love the game sit in the cheap seats. Sit there, save money, and be proud.

Additionally, Baseball is America's game. Its the best sport to watch and the only place where its good to buy a five dollar beer without naked dancing women.

It's a little pricey, but still the best game in town.


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...