Day 120

I think it’s safe to say I finally found spring weather; turns out it was hiding in Charlotte the whole time. After months of snowstorms, heavy winds and bitter cold temperatures, the sunny days have finally arrived. In fact, if all goes as planned, I don’t think I’ll see another snowflake for the remainder of the project.

Be honest, could you feel me smile as I wrote that?

I’ve been to Charlotte a handful of times, because my brother used to live nearby when he was the Director of Marketing at Carowinds Amusement Park. However, this is my first time visiting the city itself. So, while I am familiar with Charlotte as a whole, the uptown area is going to be a new experience for me. I did spend a majority of my Sunday exploring the area and here are five things I learned:

A Map of Charlotte

  1. Downtown Charlotte is actually referred to as “Uptown” Charlotte
  2. Most places in the city are closed on Sunday
  3. This city is extremely hard to navigate without a car or bicycle
  4. A majority of the city’s shops and restaurants are located in the suburbs
  5. Charlotte, itself, is divided into both districts and wards

As you might have guessed by #3 on that list, this month also begins what I like to call the “Great Transportation Conundrum”. Unlike the cities I’ve already visited, Charlotte doesn’t have a subway system, nor is it regulated to a dense downtown area. So, I’m eager to find out how city-life differs in an place such as this. My ultimate goal is to regulate my commutes to walking and bike riding, but we’ll see how well that goes. I may end up rethinking my plan before too long. After all, it did take me two hours to reach the nearest Target by foot. One day at a time though; one day at a time. 

As for now, I just plan on enjoying the beautiful weather and exploring every nook and cranny of this wonderful city. 

-Steve-

From the Rails

A view from the tracks

I'm posting this blog from somewhere between Salisbury and Charlotte, NC. 

Whenever I discuss The Great Agency Adventure with someone new, I’m always asked, “Why take a train when you could fly?” There are times when even I forget, but then as I board the rails once again, it all comes rushing back to me.

When you’re high in the sky, you don’t have a chance to experience what this great country of ours has to offer. You see the world, as if you’re a child staring into an ant farm. You see movement below, but you can’t quite make sense of what is going on. However, when you ride a train, you see all sides of our society—up front and in person. I’ve passed colleges teaming with students, baseball stadiums ablaze with lights and cheers, and city squares filled with happy families. I’ve seen burned out buildings, abandoned cars and fields as far as the eye can see. All in all, it never ceases to amaze me just how much the landscape can change in a few short minutes.

The things I see are not always full of gumdrops, rainbows and sunshine. Yet, in even the most downtrodden of areas, there is always a glimmer of hope shining through—whether it’s a newly constructed building, a community garden sprouting its spring roots or a freshly painted mural. These not only put the world in perspective, but they also remind us that the spaces between our cities demand recognition in their own right. That’s why I felt compelled to write this blog today. I know it’s not much, but with all the raw beauty I see on my train ride to Charlotte, I can’t help but take a moment to say, “thank you,” to all the people out there working hard—day in and day out. You may sit at a desk in the city or on a tractor in a small farm; it doesn’t matter as long as you’re out there doing what you love.

Being able to see these things and understand the depth of what our country has to offer. That’s why I ride the train.

-Steve-