In August of 2017, the members of Team Steve joined forces with honoray Team Steve member Shazbazzar from Techno Retro Dads to embark on a journey across north Georgia to find the magical places where Netflix’s hit television series Stranger Things was filmed. The three men struck off in search of pictures, experiences, and fun…what they eventually found was something that nobody would have expected… This is the Geek Out Loud Stranger Things Expedition…
This trip was the culmination of the work of one man – Steve Bennett. I met Steve for the first time at a Rebel Force Radio meetup in Orlando. The RFR listeners were all gathered at Disney Hollywood Studios to check out the new Hangar Bay store and attraction and ride Star Tours together. When the afternoon rains came (as they often do in the south) many RFR listeners, park goers, and even the hosts of RFR Jason and Jimmy Mac left the park. Not so for Riley Blanton of the Star War Report, Scott Ryfun of My Star Wars Story, and others including me (Steve Glosson) and newly met Steve Bennett – a man who upon riding Star Tours six or seven times in a row with me would unite with me to form (along with other Steve’s I’ve met and known from Star Wars events and the podcasting community – I’m looking at you Steves Mitchell and Schoenborn) TEAM STEVE! Steve Bennett does geekdom right. He celebrates what he loves, he shares it with his kids, and he makes memories that last a lifetime while enjoying all the things we geeks enjoy.
So it was that I was really stoked when Steve reached out to me with the suggestion of visiting some of the filming locations of Stranger Things. I love Stranger Things, and I liked the idea of putting around and snapping shots of places that I would recognize from the television screen. This is one of the first places I would find that my expectations were completely different from the machinations of Steve Bennett. While I expected a nice drive around north Georgia, Steve Bennett had something completely different up his sleeve. He worked on an itinerary that would take us from the hills of Rome, GA as far south as Jackson, GA, around the mighty Stone Mountain, into restricted areas, through secluded neighborhoods, and out onto the country roads where my rear end would touch a bicycle seat for the first time in almost 20 years. (Fortunately, we did not have to have the bike surgically removed…but I’m getting ahead of myself).
In preparation for this journey Steve and I discussed the idea of a third member to the party. Who would be informed enough, enthusiastic enough, and willing enough to meet us in Rome, and hop in a car and just go? One man’s name stood out in my mind….Shazbazzar. (That’s a hard name not to stick out). Shazbazzar is another friend I have that was met through our mutual love of all things Jason Swank, Jimmy Mac, and Star Wars. Over the past year or so Shaz and I have become good friends, and I am jealous of his format of Techno Retro Dads, a podcast he does with his good buddy a mile high in the sky Jedi Shua. The Techno Retro Dads discuss all things pop culture from the 70’s and 80’s (Maybe a touch of 90’s get thrown in there), their love of breakfast cereal, and they have a great time doing it. It’s everything I wanted Geek Out Loud to be, but was just too lazy and shortsighted to do it as well as those guys. With Steve Bennett’s permission I threw up the Shaz signal and the Geek Out Loud Stranger Things Expedition team was assembled.
Steve had provided us all with an outline of our itinerary, and procured transportation for us. After a quick trip to the graveside of a plush Bunny Rabbit called “Human Bunny” Steve was ready to meet up with Shaz and myself and hit the road in search of adventure and pictures of filming locations.
We struck out from Rome, GA at around 10:30 am on August 14th, 2017 and made our way southward to Douglasville where we would find the Hawkins Police Department.
What you see in the first picture is a screenshot from the show. I had never really paid much attention, but I guess I assumed the police cars and Hopper’s truck were parked in a parking lot. They aren’t. They are right on the street. The building itself is an unused building in the downtown area of Douglasville near some municipal buildings. In fact, this building looks like it may very well have once been used a municipal, or city government building of some sort. There are several things that are a bit different as the building now exists from how it looks in the show itself. For example the trees/bushes on the outside have grown substantially since that first season filming. Below are some comparison shots of the Hawkins PD.
Click on the screenshot above to see just above the “Police” sing there is a worn arch where the awning normally hangs. And while there’s no brown ORV (The eighties name for SUV – see THE GOONIES) There is a Shaz and a Glosson standing in front of the Hawkins PD. The sun was warm that day, and this expedition was just beginning. I have to admit as the most out of shape and shall we say portly member of the expedition the discomfort I was feeling was just beginning as the day would continue to include a part of the expedition that I never considered. Check out some other pictures from the Hawkins Police Department building and click on all of the pictures to enlarge them to see some of the details mentioned in the descriptions.
The next picture to see is detail of discoloration where Seal and “City of Hawkins Indiana” lettering were mounted. You can still make out “City” pretty well.
The seal on the side of the building hung over an area where a fixture was previously attached. The discolored circle matches damage appearing on this 2013 Google Street View shot.
And speaking of being able to see where things were affixed to the walls of the building for shooting, There picture of what seems to be just a wall with nothing growing on it is actually the scene of one of the first stupid things I said on this expedition. (Many stupid things will be well documented on the upcoming Episode of GOL with the complete audio journey of the expedition.)
Basically, what happened was this. Steve and I were looking at this wall and notices the marks and discoloration where things had been attached to the wall. In some instances holes were spackled up and in others we could clearly make out the letters that once hung there. Steve said something to the effect of “You can see the ‘c’ from the police dept sign.” In my vast wisdom I replied rather quickly, “That’s odd there’s no ‘c’ in Hawkins Police….” the word police came out my mouth, and as I said it I spelled it in my head and immediately shut up, turned around and went to lay down in the street.
For some context The four windows in the front are those seen in the main office. And While we couldn’t get any really good pictures due to the glare
of the glass door we could look inside and see the reception area where Joyce comes in frantically looking for Jonathan after his alleyway fight scene.
At this point you may be thinking…”Is this it? Is this all the series is going to consist of a few pictures of buildings with screenshots from the show to match?” Nay nay friend. Understand this is just the first stop of many. The three of us were still figuring out just how we were going to do this thing. Little did I know that Steve Bennett had a plan, Shaz would get on board with that plan, and I would be deprived of food at some point. There were still many miles to walk, many places to trespass, and many adventures to be had. In our next post we will go a little out of order and show you a couple of the filming locales from some season 2 scenes we’ve seen in the first trailer. Then we head to a cemetery, two schools, creep through a couple of neighborhoods, break the rules at Stone Mountain, cross over a barrier to place we shouldn’t be, have a great burger, hang out downtown in a little town in North/Middle Georgia, and when it’s all said and done, we stumble into something we never imagined. Keep checking back for the photo recap of our Stranger Things Expedition when in Chapter 2 we answer the question…what would it look like if Steve climbed on a bicycle?”