You Can Visit the Railroad Trestle from REM’s Murmur Album in Athens, GA

While you pay a visit to Weaver D’s Delicious Fine Foods in Athens, GA, you can also visit another REM landmark. Their first album was 1983’s Murmur featured such classics as Radio Free Europe, Talk About the Passion and Catapult. This was the beginnings of the American indie rock movement and showed what REM would become.

If you look at the back of the album, you’ll see a broken down wooden railroad. Thanks to the people of Athens, the trestle was deemed an historic landmark and choose to preserve it. It dates back to 1833 it connected Athens to Augusta.

You can actually walk to Dudley Park from Weaver D’s (about 11-minute-walk), but if you want to just visit it, there’s a parking lot nearby.

For your GPS, put in “R.E.M. Murmur Railroad Trestle, 220-270 S Poplar St, Athens, GA 30601” and it will guide you to it. It’s actually a rather pleasant area to walk around, far from an technology or any buildings. It’s a nice little tranquil space.

While it’s a little difficult to get the exact angle of the photo, you can walk underneath and around it.

Last year, the trestly made the news rounds as some trails might be built around it. From AthensOnline:

The fate of the trestle, the remains of which stand in the edge of Dudley Park a short distance off Oconee Street in the eastern edge of downtown Athens, has become tied in some public discourse to plans for a rail-trail project, a multiple-use paved path following an old railroad bed, paid with local special-purpose local option sales tax dollars.


The Why Am I Not There? Holiday Gift Guide for Travelers 2017

Time to get out those credit cards because were spending some cheddar this holiday. I believe it was the great philosopher Madonna of Michigan that proclaimed, “Holiday … it can be so nice.”

These gifts will be practical to the intrepid traveler or will inspire their wanderlust. Even better, they are below $100. So no $295 travel size of room spray or $150 lip palm made from alpaca saliva.

Passport Wallet — These things are essential  for business and leisure travelers.  Now that some airports will need more than a driver’s licence to prove that you’re not a terrorist, you’ll need something to hold your most valuable documents. There are slots where I keep my frequent flyer cards, GlobalEntry and foreign currency. Pro Tip — never put your extra money if your carry-on, always have it on you.

The counter argument is that they are bulky. I say that’s a good thing because you always know that it’s on your person.

I always gift these passport wallets from Fossil because they have a bit of retro flare while having handsome colors of leather for both sexes.

$42 – 90:

Travel Cord Roll — This is a neat little way to keep your tech cords in one place so that everything is in order. It can cause panic with the amount of cords that ones needs to keep you charged up and on the go. Just for myself, I have to brings cords for the laptop, phone charger, Ipod charger (yes, I still have one), camera chargers and charging brick.

This fun roll-up from Uncommon Goods is made from leather and felt. It has plenty of room for your cords, a pouch for wall charger or international converters and a string to tie is all together.


Mini-Travel Charger — There are so many different sizes and capacity of travel chargers to choose from. There are high-end one that can power your laptop for a few days to one that are the size of a lipstick that can charger your phone on the go.

On my last trip, I brought a mid-sized Anker charger that I could get three charges from my phone. I then paired with a triple-speed wall charger so it was no sweat to get it at full capacity overnight.

This one from Anker (PowerCore+ Mini 3350)  is the about the size of a roll of Lifesavers and fits in your jacket pocket. You can even put it in your front pocket so that people can use the line “Is that a roll of quarters in your pocket or are you happy to see me?” In any event, this can recharge your phone fully for a whole day if that’s all you need.

$15 —

Japanese Notebooks — Many travelers like myself still carry a small notebook or notepad and pen in my carry-on. Either just to write down reminders or just to have a sketchbook to pass time.

I have a few goofy ones, but I love these vintage-style ones made by the Japanese stationary company, Apica. They come with different colors, have a fun calligraphy font, different page counts and choices of hard or soft covers.

You can find cheap ones from ebay that come from U.S. sellers. The funkier ones come from Japan and might take a while to arrive.

$5-$15 — Ebay

Izola Tote Bags — I refuse to use a backpack while traveling. I don’t care how stylish they come, I still prefer a cross body, messenger-style bag or a shoulder bag.

These somewhat unisex travel bags from Izola have fun saying on them (Keep It Together, Off the Grid) and are perfect for a weekender, a carry-on or the beach.

$75 —

“I Sleep With Strangers” Eye Mask — If you need a stocking stuffer from a travel companion, these are good for a good chuckle.

Flight 001 also makes one that says “Wake Me for Champagne” for those who roll in Upper Class.

$8 —

Monogram Luggage Tags — You can never have too many luggage tags. It’s a sure fire way that some idiot doesn’t accidental take your bag on the luggage carousel. Please don’t wrap your luggage in color masking tape or put an X on it in duct tape, which is a TSA red flag.

Myself, I have a recycled denim tag, a puffy one in the shape of a hamburger, a few disposal paper ones with vintage travel ads as on them and a few leather ones. I put a few one of my luggage so I an quickly pick them on among the other black or red suitcases.

Pottern Barn makes ones that you can splurge a bit and have some initials monogrammed on them.


The Wayfarer’s Handbook: A Field Guide for the Independent Traveler — I thought this was a neat read and a good spin on the “How To Travel” guide. Author Evan Rice included info-graphics and charts. It’s not condescending or faux-inspiration, so it relies on a witty ideas and advice. Even if you’re a know-it-all, some of his opinions and stories had me chuckling.



Asheville’s Smaller Breweries — Lexington Avenue Brewery, One World, Ginger’s Revenge and Twin Leaf

The final post about Asheville … until the next trip.

I’m just going to plow through some of the smaller breweries in the area that might not be well-know beyond the town or state. During my final night, I was trying to get as many flights in that time and my tolerance would allow.

The Lexington Avenue Brewery is on, ummm, Lexington Avenue. Also known as LAB, the spacious  brewpub has a more modern, industrial space that overlooks one of Asheville’s popular streets downtown. They were about to close an hour early then I showed up, and the bartender was about to give me the stink eye until I asked fun questions about the beer to gain trust. Next thing I knew, she was giving me samples of everything and saying, “You need to try this … and this … ohhh this is new, let’s try this together.”

What I had:

Thumper Belgian Triple
1st Gear Cream Ale
The Knuckle Oatmeal Stout
Eleanor’s Rye
White Pony White IPA
Far Out Session IPA

One World Brewing was cool in a dorky way. Its a subterranean brewery, located in the basement of the Farm Burger eatery. Just follow the signs to the alley, follow the hippie music and head downstairs. Since it’s below street level, it’s actually a bit cooler and comfortable.

I had to roll my eyes at the gray-haired, pony-tailed tie dye cover band playing “Spirit in the Sky” and “Give Peace a Chance,” but ultimately, you just have to roll with it.

As part of their peace and love theme, they had a hemp beer, called Hempin’ Ain’t Easy. I couldn’t tell that it had hemp in it.

Chocolate Truffle Stout
Czech Yourself Before You Brett Yourself Saison
Hempin’ Ain’t Easy
Patcha Mama Coconut Porter
Citra Bomb IPA
Ashevegas Pale Ale

Ginger’s Revenge exclusively brews alcoholic ginger beer, but not a single redhead in the place. What gives? They had just had their grand opening when I was in town.

Basically, they have their base ginger beer, then there are added flavors. I found it delightful and enough ginger spice kick. This one to keep an eye on when they start canning.

Lime Agave
Orange Mint
Honey Chamomile

Finally, Twin Leaf is in the middle of all the action south of the city center. Within eye shot is the Funkatorium, Green Man, Burial and Catawba. By the end of the night, I was using the bathroom every 30 minutes and all the beer was tasting the same. In any event, the milk stout was damn good.

Dark Matter Oatmeal Stout
Udderly Amazing Milk Stout
Luminosity Belgian Tripel
Hibiscus Wit
All You Feel Is Sound Saison
Elevensies English Bitter
Brett’s Last Batch Saison

For Family Fun in Asheville, Try the Asheville Pinball Museum

There’s plenty to do in Asheville if you get tired of breweries, barbecue and fresh mountain air. I’m a sucker for pinball. It reminds me of 80s arcades — the same you see in season two of Stranger Things.

It does seem like every city as a combo retro arcade and craft beer bar. In the Northeast, the inventor of the concept, Barcade, has six locations in New York, Jersey, Philly and Connecticut. They plan on expanding to Detriot and Los Angeles in the next two years.

If you want a family friendly throwback with the booze, the Asheville Pinball Museum focuses on retro pinball and new age pinball machines that shoot lasers and have fancy video graphics.

With dozen of machines at your disposal, you have plenty of opportunities to fail. You pay by the hour or for an all-day pass if you don’t want to see daylight.

The drawback is that with all that noise, you can’t hear all the sound effects from games like Ghostbusters, Metallica, The Walking Dead, Star Wars or Sopranos. They didn’t have my favorites, Indiana Jones or Twilight Zone, which I played on college for endless hours. In any event, they got a few retro games in the back room in case you want to get some Dig Dug into your time there.

If you need a little advice to rule your pinball game, here’s some quick video with tips from an expert:


Automatic for the People Turns 25, And You Can Still Visit Weaver D’s in Athens, GA

The iconic REM album, Automatic for the People, was released 25 years ago this year (Oct. 8th). It features some of their best songs — “Man on the Moon,” “The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonite” and “Nightswimming.” I’m leaving out ‘Everybody Hurts” because it’s almost comically corny now.

If you find yourself in the band’s hometown of Athens, GA, you can visit the soul food restaurant that inspired the album’s title. Weaver D’s Delicious Fine Foods on 1016 E Broad S is not too far out of the way for you just to drive by or get out and take a picture. It’s actually across the street from one of those upscale multi-use apartment complexes with random businesses on the ground floor.

At one point it was going to close, but local outcry and support made sure it stayed open and operating.

When I paid a visit, I just poked my head inside to see what was up. You can get fried chicken and gravy, pork chops, collared greens, mac n’ cheese, fried fish and sweet potato pie to name a few items from the menu.

Despite Being Sold to Big Beer, A Visit to Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium is a Must

A month before I arrived in Asheville, local legends Wicked Weed announced that they sold to Anheuser-Busch InBev. The move was so controversial that other brewers backed out of the company’s annual sour beer festival in protest, while local bars refused to stock them anymore.

That’s just silly. It’s their company, they can do what they want. I remember when indie bands like R.E.M. and Death Can for Cutie signed to major labels, fans were offended.

My response is that there are 4,800 other breweries that Anheuser-Busch InBev hasn’t bought yet, so go to them. In the meantime, let’s drink some Wicked Weed.

Since W.W. isn’t distributed up north, this was first trying the local favorite. The main location is a vast restaurant, tap room and bottle shop. Their line-up is just way too extensive to sample everything, so I made myself a mix-n-match pack to try later.

The real draw is the nearby Funkatorium, which specializes is barrel-aged sour beers. You’re in for a rare treat because a good portion of the beers never make it outside of the bar. Grab yourself a small flight and savor some funky beers.

The taproom, as you’d expect, is filled with dark woods and barrels that lead to the warehouse. The bottle shop is dangerous because of all the funky and rare beers, but it ain’t cheap. Some out-of-production bottles can run you up to $30. I opted for Arcanic, a Belgian Strong Ale that clocks in at 12.1% ABV.

With my little flight, it helpful to drink some barrel-aged water to cleanse your pallet. Also be aware of the fruit flies buzzing all around. As for what to get, pick your favorite fruit or style and they’ll something that fits that your flavor profile.

Here’s what I had:

  • Watermelon Saison
  • Medora Blackberry Blonde Sour aged in red wine barrels
  • Plainsdealer — Bourbon barrel-aged sour fermented with lemon zest
  • Khatta Masala — Barrel aged American Sour Ale fermented with mango and spices
  • Silencio — Bourbon Barrel-Aged Black Sour Ale with Coffee and Vanilla