The Southeast

Trip Start Mar 04, 2007
Trip End Jun 16, 2007

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Where I stayed

Flag of United States  , North Carolina
Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Okay - this is a long one . . .

Random notes compiled from scraps of paper:

Floridan drivers - SCARY - old and oblivious. I have never seen so many near misses during lane changes from the old farts not looking before they blithely move to the next lane. Not to mention, the running of red lights. YIKES! I now know why they all drive tanks.

Tailgating - it's not just a California problem. Of course, with my little car and a mid-engine, tailgating makes me nervous. However, I have found that if I stick my arm out the window and "wave" people off my butt, they comply. Again, I don't think people are aware that they are tailgating - oblivious.

I am currently sitting in a hostel with a guy singing "Special Ed" and looks it too. The hostel - Not-So Hostel in Charleston resembles a flop house of the 60's. When I walked in this morning, people were sleeping everywhere, couches, hammocks, and bunk beds. It's more respectable now that everyone's gone.

I'm turning into an old fart too - I wake up early to drive somewhere and start to "see-do." I walk for hours. My later afternoon, I'm bushed. I haven't hit the early bird specials yet, but I can see that's not far off. I've been in bed by 9 am the last couple nights. Probably safer that way anyway. I make it through happy hour and that's it!

From wall of restaurant in Mississippi - "one measure of a man's ignorance is his arrogance." It occurs to me, I've met a few of these men.

Driving up the coast of Eastern Florida - what an eye opener. If there is a more superlative word for obscenely rich - it applies to this part of the world. It was grotesque. Now, I'm no socialist but this kind of wealth and show of wealth made me ill. Mansion on top of mansion for miles and miles. And, I'm not talking about the California type McMansion, I'm talking real mansions - huge and opulent. I don't get that kind of spending - of course, coming from the woman that shops at Goodwill, that's no surprise. I wonder if FL has the largest number of billionaires per capita? It didn't get more real until after Vero Beach, though Vero Beach seemed more on the sane side. From Vero Beach up you got a better mixture of the classes. However, it is becoming more evident on this trip that the middle class is disappearing and what is left is the "loaded" and those just getting by.

Views on Savannah:
Absolutely beautiful. Gentrification at 90 % in the historic area of Savannah. 40- years ago, it was a city in decay. In the 80's you could by a huge house for 80K. Now, you couldn't touch that house for less than 5 million. The real estate prices are insane. If you can believe it, they are more expensive than California (SD and SF). A "condo" in a restored colonial or Victorian home is WELL over a million. There are poor people, but they live in the projects surrounding the historic area.

The town is extremely touristy, much like St. Augustine. While being a large growing port, you don't see that from the historic area. Also, the Savannah College or Art and Design is everywhere. Since the 1970's with 700 students, it now comprises 90 buildings scattered throughout the historic areas and has 7000 students.

The town seems a bit insular - tolerant of the tourists but not friendly.

I can't see any reason to live in the city beside it's beautiful. I can understand why people live in the burbs here.

Views of Charleston:

Bigger than Savannah but equally historic. It's not quite as expensive though is getting there as more restoration work is being done. I'd say the historic area is "done" with large parts being pretty run down - naturally, the parts I was staying in. The NotSo Hostel I mentioned earlier in my musings - It's now a couple days later and I'm in Nags Head, NC having stayed a night in Wilmington, NC between here and Charleston. My original flop house impression fits. While the staff was nice, they were very unorganized and the place was not clean. A shame - the place is made up of three buildings in the historic district which makes it convenient and could be really cool if run better. I liked the more real aspects of Charleston - not ALL prettified. However, the racial issues are pretty obvious - it is after all South Carolina - and they aren't just one sided. I'm trying to be politically correct here as this is going on the blog.

Wilmington, NC on the other hand was great. Nice people regardless of race. It's another port city with a "tourist" district but very minor compared to Savannah or Charleston. It's a good sized town too with lots of nice neighborhoods and colonial houses. It reminded me a bit of Roanoke - more mixed housing with a fair amount of middle class - I found where they've been hiding.
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