Saturday, October 27, 2007

we're here!

We drove (by which I mean Petra drove and I doted on her) eleven hours straight today, leaving Knoxville at 6:30 am and arriving at the Hands On New Orleans building at 5:30 pm. Because we took great care of them, Petra's hands are doing fine. The drive went surprisingly quickly, thanks to a rather amazingly engrossing murder mystery book-on-tape my brother had loaned us. (Thanks, Reede! You saved the day!) We drove through half of Tennessee, a corner of Georgia, plus diagonally across Alabama and Mississippi and a snip of Louisianna. A little more than 600 miles today, making a grand total of 1,896 miles from Boston to here. Yes, mothers, we will change the oil now.

About 80 miles from the coast, we started noticing the wind damage. Trees stripped of limbs, mostly, and the bare skeletons of gas station signs. Then there was a weird mile of rolling fields full of thousands of brand new white gleaming trailers, unoccupied, locked up in chain-link enclosures. We assume this was FEMA's work. The closer we came to the city, the more bizzare mountains of rubble and abandoned bulidings and general damage there was. The neighborhood we're in is pretty posh--we're one block from Magazine Street in the Garden District--and seems pretty completely recovered, from what we can tell from a quick turn around the block. This building is chock full of volunteers, energy and laughter.

More tomorrow!

mountains and a revolutionary farm

Gorgeous drive yesterday out west all across North Carolina, up over the Great Smoky Mountains, and eventually down through Knoxville to Powell, Tennessee to our friend Elandria's house.

We stopped along the way in the mountains to drive up a random dirt road that came off the highway and discovered a lovely picnicing spot, a gorgeous river, an interesting hydroelectric water plant, and the Appalachian Trail. Despite our best efforts, we were unable to find a safe route from the road down into the river that was calling out to us, "Swim in me! Swim in me!" We're planning to come back to this place when we have more time. The Smoky Mountain foliage is truely beautiful, as are the mountains themselves.

Elandria took us to visit her place of employ, the Highlander Center, which was extremely exciting for me, since I'd heard about this place for years. It was amazing. Highlander is a revolutionary organizing center that supports progressive movements in the south. It's also on top of a mountain with one of the best views we've seen on the trip, complete with a herd of sweetly lowing calves artistically lit by the god-like rays of a pink sunset followed by a huge orange harvest moon. We could see for 100 miles across receeding ranges living up to their smoky reputation. Unfortunately, we discovered upon arrival that Erika had actually forgotten her camera at Elandria's! Oh bitter irony! We met a couple of Elandria's co-workers, who were kind, smart, funny, inspirational, and chill. And chili: we ate it on mangos. Yum. I'd be happy to have these people by my side come the revolution. :)

Then into downtown Knoxville for drinks and dinner. If you're ever in Knoxville, we recommend the Tomato Head for delicious local all-natural food that isn't too "out there." Our pizzas were awesome.

Overall, gorgeous scenery, fun people, and good food. We're definately coming back.