Pilgrimage to Saxapahaw; a walking journey; Nov. 30, 2015

Posted: December 8, 2015 in Walks

After posts of 95 bicycle rides, I am breaking The Rules (just once)  by writing about a walk.   If I do more walks, I guess I will have to start a different blog.

It is sixteen miles from my apartment on Rosemary Street in Chapel Hill to Jackie & John Ripley’s apartment on the third floor of the former textile mill in Saxapahaw.   I wanted to know what it is like to walk in America, if walking was your only means of transport.  What would an intercity walk be like?   Maybe I could feel like Tom Joad in The Grapes of Wrath, walking down a highway, putting a crease in my hat as I walked.   Unfortunately, my hypothesis was confirmed.  Intercity walking on country roads in America is likely both unpleasant and unsafe.  Hiking down Highway 54 can indeed be a drag.  I will never do this again.

Not yet having confirmed this, I set out from my home on a Monday morning without even arranging for my return; my only hope was that John would take pity on me and drive me home.  Tootie had agreed to come get me if all else failed.   I walked from my apartment in Chapel Hill and down Poplar Avenue in Carrboro where I had lived for twenty five years.

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I stopped off at my office in Carrboro for about an hour , then continued out of town.   With the miracles of smartphones, I could continue my Day Job even while dodging cars on Highway 54.

West Main Street in Carrboro is a street I have driven on many times. but had not examined quite so closely.  We always think now of Carrboro as this liberal place, but there is a diversity of opinion here.  “Where the Bible Stands”

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At least West Main Street had a sidewalk.

 

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After less than a mile, the sidewalk ends at the Carrboro Plaza Shopping Center.

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It is about ten miles down Highway 54 from here to the turnoff to Saxapahaw.   Highway 54 quickly settles in as a two lane road.   I had thought the wide shoulder would make walking against traffic somehow tolerable.   It was just not wide enough.  I normally only felt comfortable stepping into the grass each time a car went by.

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When walking and you get to something as innocuous as a gas station, it takes on a different meaning entirely, it becomes something to break up the journey.P1030314

There is street art out here in the country.

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There is livestock

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The is more religious diversity.

 

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About six miles out, this small bar sits by itself on the highway.  It has been there as long as I can remember, with several different names.  I have never been in there.    I do not know what it is like now, but John Soehner told me several years ago that he saw a guy in there get beaten with a pool cue.

 

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Walking along a highway, one sees all sorts of weird stuff that has been tossed out of car windows.

 

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Further out 54, I walked by this building.   Back in the day, when such things were Shocking, this building held the largest mail-order condom company in America.

 

 

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A little over ten miles out, I finally made the turn onto Saxapahaw-Bethlehem Church Road.  I still had something like four miles left to walk.  I had thought that this road would be more peaceful, and it is indeed picturesque.  However, it was so narrow that I had to jump into the weeds every time a car went by.

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The mill apartments in Saxapahaw are indeed populated by many artists and free thinking people but there is diversity of thought on the highway outside of town.

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Saxapahaw was a textile mill started in the nineteenth century alongside some rapids of the Haw River.   I had been closed for a long time when it was rehabbed about ten years ago as apartments.    I thought that it had no chance of succeeding, since it is really not close to any major city.   However, it has become a really cool place.    It has a general store, a performance space, a bar / restaurant, and a coffee house.  It also has a charcuterie,  where they make their own local ham, pate, and other pork products.

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John’s apartment is in the upper right, overlooking the river.

 

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He snapped my picture using my phone.

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Comments
  1. ydnic1 says:

    Very nice piece Paco. This is my route to work everyday and 54 is a very busy road.

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