Thanksgiving in Sharpsburg and Reed Bingham State Park

Thanksgiving in Sharpsburg and Reed Bingham State Park

When originally planning our route south earlier this year, we anticipated entering Florida sometime in early November. The three-week delay in my hometown altered our plans a bit, so when we realized we’d be passing through Georgia in November we couldn’t help but wonder where we might be for Thanksgiving. While at the pizza shop over the past three years, we closed the restaurant for the day of Thanksgiving and remained open the day before and the day after. Ashley and I chose to stay in Delaware and celebrate on our own for the holiday rather than travel those years, so this first major holiday while traveling in the RV was going to be interesting whether we spent it with people we knew, or just the two of us in a state park somewhere. We were fortunate this year to be invited to Sharpsburg GA for the holiday, courtesy of Ashley’s long-time family friend, who gave us the option of arriving earlier in the month or during the holiday to celebrate with them. After some consideration, we obviously chose to structure our route through Sharpsburg for Thanksgiving and join in the festivities.

The week turned out to be more than we could have anticipated, with a birthday celebration in addition to Thanksgiving, not to mention various outings to Peachtree City and Atlanta – all while surrounded by a small pack of rescued golden retrievers and friends both new and old. The food was, of course, delicious and abundant, prepared by many helpful hands in the kitchen while sharing stories, telling jokes, sipping cocktails, and maybe even playing a round of Jeopardy! through Alexa, the always accommodating Amazon speaker. From the homemade seafood feast complete with lobster bisque, crab cakes, and oysters on the half-shell, to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner with roast turkey and all the sides, we were certainly fed well and often. By the end of the week I could still fit into my pants, which was fortunate for Ashley since she requires me to wear pants at all times while driving the RV. She’s such a stickler for rules and propriety.

Lots of help in the kitchen
Hard at work shucking oysters, while sustaining only minimal injury
Shelling pecans harvested from the front yard
Ashley teaching crochet

In between eating, our hosts took us to see some of the sights around town including a farmer’s market on Saturday morning in nearby Peachtree City. I didn’t capture any decent photos while there, but the market was filled with a variety of vendors offering fresh produce, handmade items, delicious coffee, various treats like crepes and baked goods, as well as locally raised mushrooms, honey, and even goat cheese. Definitely an excellent market to visit if you’re in or around Peachtree City. Open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 9AM to 1PM, but I don’t know how long the season lasts so check the website for more details.

No trip to a major metropolitan center is complete without stopping to check out the local breweries. We visited two during our short trip into Atlanta, Monday Night Brewing (the Garage location) and Arches Brewing. Just this year, Georgia changed brewery regulations now allowing breweries to sell beer directly to customers for consumption on premises. In the recent past, Georgia breweries offered paid tours which included beer samples, but they weren’t allowed to sell fresh draft beer in pints to visitors. Now you can walk into a brewery in Georgia and do just that – buy a draft beer of your choice and leisurely sip away while hanging out, playing games, visiting with friends, or doing whatever you choose.

Monday Night Brewing‘s Garage location is beautiful, after you find it that is. Tucked away in what appeared to be a mostly-defunct commercial warehouse area, the Garage is an oasis of outdoor garden seating, a deck stretching the length of the brewery, an area to toss beanbags in a rousing round of Cornhole, and a huge indoor seating area. The beer was great and the brewery is designed to encourage visitors to hang around and enjoy their surroundings along with a freshly poured pint. Bicyclists stopped in frequently during the time we visited, arriving from the road and what looked like a nearby trail. We didn’t ride our bikes in Atlanta, nor do I have any info to share on the cycling situation in the city, but it might be worth researching if you’ll be biking around town. This is a unique and impressive brewery, simply because of the transformation from the old warehouse into an inviting, clean, and welcoming space.

 

Arches Brewing was the second stop during our Atlanta excursion. Slightly smaller than Monday Night Brewing, Arches still features ample indoor seating as well as an expansive outdoor lounge area in the rear of the brewery. People could gather around fire pits or hang out in the game area to throw the ever-present bean bags or test their nerves with over-sized Jenga. The beer here was also remarkable, with the Southern Bel’ being my surprise favorite. It’s a Belgian-style pale ale featuring strong coconut and vanilla flavor and aroma thanks to a special type of Peruvian wood used in aging the beer. The bartender handed me a small sample to taste, which prompted me to order one for myself and convince the rest of the group to give it a try. Very good and highly recommended should you find yourself at the brewery or spot cans of it somewhere in the wild.

Rear entrance to Arches Brewing

Thanks to the abundance of homemade food available throughout the week, we didn’t visit many restaurants around town. But as we hopped between the two breweries, our hosts insisted we stop by The Varsity for a quick snack. The Varsity has been an Atlanta institution since 1928, serving chili dogs, burgers, fries, real onion rings, and milkshakes in rapid succession to the hungry masses. Billed as the World’s Largest Drive-In Restaurant, the Varsity is a hopping place with a quickly moving line and many registers to handle the crowd. It was busy during our visit despite nearby Georgia Tech and Georgia State being on Thanksgiving break, I can’t imagine how crowded it gets when school is in session on a football game weekend. If you’re looking for some quick food in a vintage drive-in, check out the Varsity in Atlanta (or one of the other six total locations) and you won’t be disappointed. I’m writing this at 9AM and I could eat one (or two) of those chili dogs right now.

“What’ll ya have?”
Just a couple of the many tall buildings in Atlanta

As the week drew to a close and the many out of town guests started to return home, we too planned our next few stops on the next leg of our journey. Our first Thanksgiving with the RV was certainly memorable thanks to the kindness and hospitality of our hosts, as well as their families and friends. We even managed to leave without acquiring a hairy mascot for the RV, despite their best efforts to convince us we needed a dog along on our travels.

Yes, that’s a dog wearing a turkey hat.

Reed Bingham State Park, located outside of Adel GA, provides a convenient location to take a break from driving before entering Florida. We stopped for only two nights, so this review won’t be as exhaustive as it could be, but we did get a fair impression of the park during our visit. The campground features two loops, one with full hookups and the other with water and electric. The layouts of both seemed similar, a mix of pull-through and back-in sites with some shaded and others in full sun. The sites were are decently spaced, some separated with vegetation, but most on the inside of the loops open on all sides. We chose a shaded pull-through site on the outside of the loop and enjoyed two quiet nights as we recovered from our Thanksgiving week festivities.

Reed Bingham Loop 1
Reed Bingham Loop 2

The park features a lake, as well as camping on an island reachable by boat only, in addition to miles of hiking and biking trails. On our single whole day in the park, I wandered every trail while Ashley remained at our site diligently working on some of her projects. The trails are well-maintained making for effortless walking and lots of opportunities to spot wildlife. Biking would be fairly easy too, with the exception of a few stretches of trails that are sandy or covered in tree roots. Definitely not challenging mountain bike trails, but certainly more difficult than a paved rail trail or something similar. The lake and creek stretch the length of the park, both providing canoeing and kayaking opportunities as well as an official kayak “trail” on the creek. As I explored the trails, I came across a section of the creek choked with lilypads which looked like it might make travel by kayak difficult if not impossible. A couple of fellow hikers informed me that they visited in the summer, and this area was cleared of lilypads. So I assume it depends on the time of year you visit, or if the park staff is clearing the creek to make paddling easier.

Waterway choked with vegetation
Tall pines along the trail
Boardwalk through the swamp
Keeping an eye out for gators

Expressing thanks around the holidays is easy to do, as people grow reflective of the past year or recount more distant memories. We’re certainly thankful for our supportive families who didn’t think we were crazy when we shared the news that we’d be moving into an RV and traveling for the foreseeable future, actually encouraging us to explore “while you’re still young”. We’re obviously grateful to be in a position to travel as we do, thanks again to our early lives and opportunities made available to us that many others might never get the chance to take advantage of – from a loving home life, to the possibility of attending college, or even simply finding a stable, steady job and a reasonable place to live. Having friends and family welcome us into their homes as we wander around the country is yet another blessing, making our chosen life on the road more comfortable and less uncertain. As Thanksgiving has passed and Christmas rapidly approaches, we often think of our families and friends who we won’t see this holiday season but look forward to visiting with once again in the future. So thank you again to Howard and Andrea for opening their home to us for Thanksgiving, and for everyone else sharing their time with us during this recent visit. We’re looking forward to exploring many new places and meeting new people in the future, but even more so visiting with family and friends in familiar places in various homes across the country, celebrating connections made not only on this journey but throughout our shared life together.

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