Thanks to meeting up with Lyndon and his twelve-year old son Sullivan, my legs got a much-needed afternoon off. They were particularly drained coping with the throngs of traffic for hours after Charlotte, constantly forced to sprint to driveways or side roads to pull off before 18-wheelers coming up from behind me could overtake me and blow me off the road, having little room to pass. My thighs felt the burn for the first time in 2,000 miles since I set out from Memphis a month ago.
The traffic was nearly non-stop, bumper-to-bumper from both directions for miles and miles. The lone salvation was no rumble strips and a shoulder that generally gave me a little breathing room. The din and intensity of traffic was comparable to California. This part of North Carolina was reaching a population density beyond reason. Where could all these people possibly be going and whatever happened to everyone staying at home to work?
I was hoping I wasn’t too shell-shocked to enjoy Lyndon’s company, a long-time linchpin of the Telluride Film Festival who’s everyone’s favorite uncle involved with the festival, from Ken Burns to the most anonymous ticket-checker. He goes back over thirty years with the festival, slightly longer than me. It was always a privilege when I was assigned to the same condo as he was during our month in Telluride. As King of the Free Box, he was everybody’s best buddy, as he would constantly return from The Box with an item one would ask him to keep at eye out for and find items that one never knew they needed. He lives to please. His southern sensibilities charm all, and was just what I needed.
We met up in Hickory, where I broke a string of three Carnegies on college campuses. Hickory’s was vacant and was a mere facsimile of a Carnegie with recessed columns and none of the grandeur that grace most Carnegies. Still it conveyed that unmistakable Carnegie dignity and was a pleasure to behold. Never once have I felt even a hint of disappointment after biking miles and miles for a Carnegie.
It was post rush-hour but the traffic hadn’t relented. I had thought I was going to be out on the sticks beyond Davidson, but the development continued. There was such a labor shortage, a McDonald’s was offering a $500 signing bonus.