from the south to the east

from my friends in north carolina, i did a one-way car rental to a city with a train station to get to philly with bike in tact. as i pulled out of the rental car place, i stopped at a local brewery to get my bearings and have a snack. i hadn’t exactly decided which way to get to charlotte, or where to stay when i got there. at the brewery i sat outside with a view of a creek, and in the distance i could see what i found out later, a huge community garden. this little town has much to offer.

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as i sat there looking, thinking, and planning the woman next to me struck up a conversation. i’m not sure how it started, but she said she had recently decided to “go vegan” and this place has some great options. soon the conversation switched to community and how conservative the next town over is. her “boy friend” joined in for a little while. he is a health educator in the school district and the conversation got detoured a little. yet, we got a little deeper into the perception people out side of the south have about the people who live in the south and just how wrong that is, and it is true and troubling.

i think this falls into my idea of political false sense of security, and the pacific northwest, and all liberally identified towns/cities are guilty of this. it is part of what the denial has led to the flourishing of fascists hate crimes in places that refused for so long to believe it could happen here. anway, it was a good way to get sent off and out of the south, but first charlotte.

well first, cherokee north carolina.

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i should have taken more time here, like a day, and gone to the cherokee nation museum run by the reservation. i should have. instead i drove through the town. through the gross tourism businesses with awful names and mascots and symbols. i did stop by the park by the river and watched the families swim and cool off even while it rained. it wasn’t hard to imagine this relatively flat open area of the river being popular as a gathering place for various families and “tribes” of the cherokee pre trail of tears and genocide. i walked the banks until the rain got too heavy for a comfortable drive.

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the short time in charlotte was fairly uneventful. i didn’t ever really feel comfortable in this town. i got into town and found the amtrak station, then where i would return the rental car, the searched for a cheap place to stay that was an easy logistical equation to solve…that included a place to consume good food.

it was quickly apparent where infrastructure money went with just a short drive from the train station through downtown. one side had pot holes that would eat a car, the other smooth paved roads, light rail lines, and bike lanes. i had to find a way to navigate both. i checked into a cheap hotel, dropped off the car, walked to an interesting place for dinner….a brewery (are you really surprised). this space was actually pretty unique. it is in an older wherehouse type district, but all the buildings look more like airplane hangers. where i pulled up a stool is actually shared by 3 breweries, and is huge. there is so much space inside. outside had all kinds of “lawn” games, fire rings, and picnic tables all being well utilized. inside had t.v.s (so many t.v.s in in american pubs i.e. public spaces). they also have a video game lounge with fancy gaming devices and big screens. seems like a neat idea to merge breweries into a space to share resources (including a pretty good menu) but with different style beers.

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i must confess, though the walk was only going to be 20 minutes to the hotel, i took a lift ride. i was so tired, and the sun had just set, and i had to be up around 5 am to check out and make my way to the train station.

the morning was gorgeous. it was still so hot, but the sunrise and moonset created so many amazing colors in the sky. i ended up taking the light rail as far as i could through downtown, and then biked some residential backroads i found to avoid as many road craters as possible in the dark. got to the station early only to find out we would be leaving at least an hour late…and the train adventures began.

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i ended up 5 hours or so late into philly. thank goodness for friends you like the night life, and taught me the first rules of philly, break all rules.

when she picked me up at the train station, she just pulled over in this odd little nook, we threw my bike and bags in the car. she then explained that people in philly do what they need to do, to accomplish what they need to accomplish, especially parking.

as we entered west philly (baby) she pointed out some points of history and places i may have heard of, the world cafe (npr), osage street (the one time america bombed itself. you may have heard of the MOVE 9)…my tired eyes tried to take it all in while watching the lights and cyclists bike the city, as i relaxed into being back in the presence of this person who has known me for so long.

naturally we double parked to pick up the food she ordered earlier. as she jumped out of the car she quickly turned back and said, “don’t talk to strangers!” what? laughing, that is kind of what i do!

philly is going to be fun! stay tuned (i listed to a lot of whyy)

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