Tag Archives: american history


Larnie’s BBQ, Selma. Massive portion of food in front of me—ribs, fried okra and sweet tea. I’m awed, though concerned about how I might continue cycling after filling my stomach so. The two pieces of white bread with the ribs so that I might make a sandwich are a nice touch.

I did the 90km from Montgomery in about three and a half hours. I am excited, partly because I’m eating delicious BBQ, but also because I will likely be able to put in another twenty or so miles today. I should arrive at Dale and Amanda’s in Gainesville tomorrow evening.
Selma has a rough history, as many southern towns have. I’m referring of course to racial discrimination and Jim Crow law, but Selma has a particularly storied past when it comes to the south and the civil rights movement.

Throughout the early twentieth century, before, during, and after both world wars Selma, as well as many southern cities and towns, enforced Jim Crow laws ruthlessly, and with violence if necessary. During the period after World War II there was a movement towards equal freedoms and rights for blacks (largely because it was due, but also because many fought in the war, so to come back after fighting for one’s country only to be treated as lesser than another because of one’s skin color was a slap in the face and a punch in the gut, and that’s putting it lightly) that only strengthened as the years went by and nothing was done. Essentially, among a number of smaller, though no less important, protests and acts of defiance by blacks across the south, this led to the the Selma to Montgomery marches, led in part by Martin Luther King Jr., and which are most well remembered for, aside from the successful march on the third attempt, the police brutality events of “Bloody Sunday” (the first attempt at the marches when local and county police accosted the marches at the Edmund Pettus Bridge, beating many of them with billy clubs, and throwing tear gas), and the killing of a white minister by members of the KKK the night after the second symbolic “march.” The third and final successful attempt at the march would eventually lead to the passing of the Selma Voting Rights Act of 1965, and laws that would give the same freedoms that whites enjoyed to blacks.



“When you come to Savannah you going to have a good time,” sings the man in the park, as he folds his palm fronds, on a bench, beneath a tree.

I have concluded that he is correct.

Spent the day strolling around rather aimlessly. As perfect a day as there could be for it: sunny, cloudless sky, warm, dry, a bit windy, though pleasantly so for walking. I stop to read a sign in the square where the man is singing and folding his palm fronds. It is a plaque to commemorate the life of Tomo Chi-Chi, a member of the Creek Indian Nation. According to the sign post, he helped the English in the founding and settlement of Georgia, and was an “indispensable friend” to them. In return he received a thirty foot tall burial marker and an historical signpost recognizing this “indispensable friendship.” Since then, the Natives have been massacred, had their land stolen from them, and been pushed onto reservations. To borrow a well used cliché, he would be rolling over in his grave if he knew the atrocities committed against his people since his death.

I’m sitting on the cathedral steps writing these words and thinking of the atrocities the church has committed in its time—from The Crusades, to the KKK, and to certain discriminatory legislative measures passed in some states very recently. I’m thinking of the atrocities that continue around the world in the name of whatever religion, or by whatever government. The whole past of humanity is steeped in violence and bloodshed. Thousands of years of it, and thousands more to come, unless we blow ourselves to ashes before then.

Just now a couple walks up the steps and the husband curses reading the sign, “NO TOURING. WORSHIP IN PROGRESS.” Yes, you ignorant halfwit, the cathedral, while being quite old, is still a cathedral, which means that services may still be held there despite its status as historical landmark. It is something more than just a name to cross off your list of “Things To Do In Savannah.” It has a life of its own. There is a community that circulates in and around and through it, like blood beating in a heart, surging through vein and artery. Just because you are not a part of it, that you are a particle foreign to the stream of bodies regular to it, does not mean that it does not exist, or not take place. Come back tomorrow, or don’t come back at all. The cathedral will still stand, indifferent, unyielding, its people still coming and going, and, likely, other tourists coming and going as well, AT THE ASSIGNED TIMES. But, the cathedral, the cathedral sees you and laughs. A knowing chuckle.

Cycling back to Alex’s, I stop at Forsyth Park to stretch out in the grass, read a bit, watch the people there—some tanning, some napping, some reading, most conversing in groups, some playing frisbee, one girl playing with a bubble wand, many sitting on benches, many more in the grass, and the consistent traversal of so many more along the central artery that bisects the park and connects Gaston Street and Park Avenue at either end. A jovial scene, with the sun shining, the grass green, the temperature fine. A fitting way to end the day’s wanders, by not wandering at all, but just sitting still, reveling in the atmosphere around me. Peace can be easy to find, when you stop looking.


Currently sitting in a comfortable coffee shop in Beaufort, South Carolina on a fine, rather blustery afternoon. As anticipated I arrived early; earlier even than I expected, thanks to a 31 kph average over the first hour-plus.

Having left Jacksonboro not long ago, I came to a cute little pie shack off the side of the highway near where I was to make the turn eastward, where I would then be crushed and swallowed up a bit by the winds gusting relentlessly westward. The shack was one of those slightly kitschy little places one must stop, where the provender is assumed to be delicious and of local supply. I bought a mini pecan pie and a chocolate chip cookie. They were good—not the best I’ve had, but not the worst either. Everything in the store was tempting. The cider was tempting. The jellies were tempting. The chocolates were tempting. The other snacks and baked goods were tempting. Ultimately, I thought the pie and cookie more than enough, as I am attempting, and failing, to stick to a nebulous budget, and so I left with only them.

Prior to this, as I was pedaling along Highway 17, a splash and a heavy flapping of wings I abruptly and suddenly heard. I looked up in time to see an enormous, grey bird glide swiftly and fluidly off into the forest, weaving between the gaps in the trees with the precision of a hawk or any other bird that would exemplify the gracefulness and nimbleness of flight, rather than the sure-footed, keen-eyed, stately patience of a bird known for wading on long, stilted legs. It was a bit like watching an aerobatics pilot weave his way through an obstacle course in a narrow canyon, or the speeder bike chase in Return of the Jedi. The weaving of a weft in the warp. Of the mind coming to an understanding. The whole experience was mesmerizing; the perfection of symbiosis along the edge of disparate worlds.


Leaving Beaufort, and to enter Bluffton it was necessary again to pedal eastward—not something to be looked forward to. And what did I do it for? A picture of a tree. Not just any tree, of course, but the tree that is known as the Secession Oak. Robert Barnwell Rhett gave the first speech encouraging South Carolina’s separation from the Union on July 31, 1844 under this tree, which is estimated to be 350-400 years old, and it looks every bit of it. Ancient, glorious, majestic, colossal. It’s branches create a serpentine labyrinth when gazed upward at from beneath—the sky a bluish-white lightbox against which the twisting, turning limbs of the great tree are silhouetted. The Spanish moss hangs in wide curtains. Broad branches carpeted in resurrection ferns. It’s only unfortunate that this tree is in someone’s yard, down a long private drive—something I didn’t know when I went to take a look. One would naturally think an icon of such historical importance would be on city-owned property to be made more available for public consumption, but, alas.

The day ended with a double flat, and swarming gnats, but as I was on my way to find an appropriate site to setup camp it wasn’t too bothersome when I looked to my right after repairing the punctured tube to see a nicely tucked away spot down a slope just off the highway. It was on the grounds of a funeral home, but I’m not one to quibble over details like that when the evening is getting on and the day had been as long as it was. In actuality I couldn’t have asked for a more convenient spot to catch a flat.