Next up was Charlotte. Charlotte’s a cool town. I always feel I like it for a day or 2. I don’t think id be able to do it for longer than that. (But the tip of the Smokey Mountains with the greatest concentration of Black Bears in the entire range is only 3 hours away…) I do however, love the Evening Muse! Such a cool place.
My set was a total blast! A great crowd was there and enjoyed what I did. Which is always a very nice feeling. Lots of singing along that night too! The Meadow seemed to stick in a few heads that night.
I got to stay with my friends in Charlotte who have a sort of “Rock and Roll Motel.” They are a wonderful family! On my way there, they stopped at this new 24 hour donut shoppe. A 24 hour donut shoppe is in itself unique, but the donuts were seriously the size of an average persons head. Huge!!
On my way out of town, they took me to Manifest, which is this amazing independent record shop. It’s massive!! How could I not go to a record shop called “Manifest?” How could I not love it? I was able to pick up a few cool CDs of Indian chants/hymns. If you live anywhere around Charlotte, please support this place! I wish we had something like it in Ohio.
After passing out of North Carolina, I made my way back through Atlanta on my way west toward San Diego. I had wanted to stop at the Martin Luther King, Jr Center for Social Change and Nonviolence. It’s kind of a little Mecca for me, being hugely influence by the work and words or both Dr. King and Gandhi (who also has a prominent wing and statue at the center). The day was mild and overcast. Storm clouds were on their way in. The center is located directly across the street from the original Ebenezer Baptist Church. Standing on the street staring at this old brick building, a subtle power emanates from it. If you listened hard enough, and if the wind was blowing just right, you’d swear you could hear like whispers Dr. King giving a sermon from the other side of the stained glass.
As I walked up the stairs, they had a long memorial fountain with the tomb of Dr. King and Corretta Scott King, as well as an eternal flame. That alone was beautiful and moving. The clouds were throwing intense colours and shades on the entire scene, adding to the emotional impact. After walking around some, I crossed over to the other side of the street where the new Ebenezer church stands and where there are some rose gardens for peace and murals, etc. Around the rose garden were plaques of little poems written by Atlanta-based children ranging from 2nd grade to high school. All of the poems were wonderful, though a few of the really young children had written some pretty deep and remarkable lines, especially for their ages.
By Ella Hurworth (Grade4)
We have eyes;
Open them and look for peace.
We have mouths;
Open them and sing for peace.
We have minds;
Open them and make peace.
We have hearts;
Open them and receive peace.
Or Sofia Sarmiento’s (Grade 3) “Peace:”
Peace is the ocean waves crashing on the sand.
Peace is families walking hand in hand.
Peace is helping a friend when he is hurt.
Peace is a puppy digging in the dirt.
Peace is when your heart does not shatter.
Peace is different people
Uniting for what matters.
Near the garden was a huge wall mural depicting large events in Dr. King’s life, and across from that a wonderful Gandhi statue. I spent a good hour and a half there, and Im quite sure I could have spent much longer on those wonderful grounds. Next time I am near Atlanta, I am going back.
Standing on those grounds, it really hit me how absent in our time such a strong figure of leadership with the courage to be wholly non-violent is. Especially as we have entered into a time where violence has o’ertaken much of our society. Why must our enemies always be people? We have the power to change our own reality. Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi, and Dr. King all showed the world it is best to love the person doing evil deeds, while hating the act that person is doing. It is truly only through this behavior that we will break the true bonds we have enslaved ourselves in and be free the tyranny of fear and violence.
With our own nation so divided and pushed to such troubling violent words and actions, a leader is needed now as much as ever.
The rain came as I left Atlanta, making the rolling hills of the Alabama scenery actually quite beautiful with rainbows and sunsets peeking through the clouds.
My goal of making it to Texas that first night got benched when on more than one occasion after dark a highway patrol car would follow me for several miles. They had a great way of being not welcoming and making sure that those who didn’t belong there kept moving along. I made it to Louisiana though before I had to give in to exhaustion.
That drive marked the first time I’ve been to Mississippi. AND I got to cross the Mississippi in Mississippi, which I got a lot of pleasure out of.
However; I had been mostly dreading the drive through Texas. My route was taking me the entire breadth of Texas. I crossed the boarder and got gas and peanuts at a big travel plaza, where the lady behind the counter was super nice and obviously entirely loved her job! A pretty good start to the state I thought.
12 hours later… I still had a good 18 hours to go… to get out of Texas! It was about as bad a drive as I had anticipated. Ugh. I did get to drive through a dust storm which was a first and very interesting. Being covered in a cloud of red dust on the freeway. Storms in the West and southwest are quite unbelievable. You get to see them peak above the horizon and continue watching them for miles upon miles. Lightning cracks unobstructed.
After passing flat lands and oil fields, I finally got to El Passo. I was intrigued by this area because you could see Mexico. And having never been, it was cool to at least look over the dessert and mountains and be able to say, that is Mexico. The traffic picked up considerably here. As I pulled over for gas and stood filling my tank, a man pulls up next to me and asks if I lived there. Despite the fact that I 1) have Ohio plates, and 2) was not wearing a cowboy hat, jeans, OR boots… Sadly I could not help him with his directional question.
Finally into New Mexico the drive turned around. (I actually cheered as I crossed the border into New Mexico!) It was still desserty, but some mountains had popped up, and the scenery was relatively interesting. White Sands National Monument was next on the list. Truly one of the cooler places I saw in the southwest. Huge dune fields of pure sparkly white gypsum! Plus, I got to be there when a storm was blowing by, so the cloud coloration was incredible. And it did rain for all of 3 or 4 minutes which is very rare there. It really is a sort of alien landscape. Neil and I were talking the other day about how the landscape of the East, Midwest, and even the Southeast to some extent are all very similar. Many places in this region remind us of a section of Ohio. But as you pass the Mississippi, and definitely after passing the Missouri or Rio Grande, the landscape is altogether foreign. White Sands is so different from the Midwest it’s hard to describe it, really. You start off entering a dessert, except with white sand. The early area of the park still has some grasses and plants, which gradually diminish the further in you go. A trail juts out into the sand early on where you walk around some small trees and plants. And where you see a small bush that looks like an aspen tree, and it is. The top of the tree. Yes. The rest of the tree has been buried by the sand over the days. But it can survive. And you realize how much sand is really beneath you. As you get into the true white sand dunes, you can walk around, though the only guides back to your vehicle are your own footprints. Every year several people get lost wondering around back there. A terrible place to lose your way. 1) it’s a dessert – super hot, no water. 2) it borders an air force missile testing base. Not a place you want to wander into.
I stopped into a small town on my way back from the White Sands to the freeway. A sign pointed out that a post office was there. In need of mailing a few postcards, I followed the signs around the block to a house. Yes, the post office was in a house.
You can tell what is troubling an area by the billboards along the highway. In Texas it was the Heath care plan that hasn’t even been implemented yet and abortion. In New Mexico, it was meth and drunk driving – quite a bad combo. But it made you much more aware and cautious of the other people on the road.
Compared to the never ending drive through Texas, I was out of New Mexico in a flash, and on my way to Saguaro National Park by Tucson.
I bet you can’t wait for Part 3?! I know I cant!