Why not keep my blog updated as much as my other social media crap, I say to myself? Good idea, I say back to myself, with no quotation marks to hinder the conversation. Why not do it today with that twisted Easter Bunny illustration you drew on your iPad in Procreate yesterday? Hey! Say I, that would be the perfect thing to put there for all me to enjoy, since I’m talking to myself, why not update a blog that only I read for myself as well??
Less than a mile from my house are the now-unused Norfolk-Southern railroad tracks that run for a while alongside the French Broad river as it makes its way through tiny Horse Shoe, NC. There has been some discussion in Henderson County about turning the abandoned and rusting away tracks into a useful all-purpose trail for runners, walkers, hikers, cyclists, etc to promote exercise and non-vehicle based travel to ease traffic congestion as the Rails To Trails program has done elsewhere. Of course, being this county is heavily populated by elderly retirees, sedentary obese people and proudly conservative residents who roll their eyes at any promotion of “fitness” or “environmental” as some kind of hippie, leftist, tree-hugger nonsense that people with common sense have no need for, the idea was not met with a groundswell of public support. The communist-like land sharing aspects of landowners next the current right of way of the tracks having to put up with endless parades of strangers engaging in this frivolity next to their property rubbed a lot the wrong way as well. Therefore, instead of waiting for the implementation of such a pipe dream as a county-wide greenway that would actually take people places they wanted or needed to go (or, horrors, an actual bike path) to spring up in such a setting, I set out to use the tracks myself for such purposes in the here and now.
For at least last year, I’ve been making a weekly run to the “downtown” Horse Shoe business district, under the premise of getting a new Mountain Xpress paper (that comes out each Wednesday) but really it’s just a way to ensure I make at least one attempt at exercise a week. Having a set appointment to do it really seems to work, and unfortunately, in many months it is the only exercise I get until the next Wednesday.
This works great when the weather is nice, but when it rains, I’m not so keen on doing it. When it is freezing cold and there is still 8 inches of snow on the ground, I am even less so. Still, I’ve kept it up, even if I had to layer myself like a wedding lasagna cake and brave through the even-less-shoulder-than usual-(which is none) road conditions to get to the tracks, which are not plowed either and therefore a whole new challenge. This time I took my camera with me and captured most of the trip there on the tracks and the trip back on the road. It would be nice to have an actual path, but it probably would not be passable in the winter either.
Hey, look! I can still add posts to this thing!
Click on the photo (or this type!) to see a new Action Figure Comic strip!
Yeah, that’s it.
I sat in the waiting room and read the only section of the paper I could find, the Local news. I read an article about the newest leg of Henderson County’s Greenway being Grand Opened/Dedicated on November 14th. Now it stretches from Jackson Park all the way to Patton Park. The article said future hopes would be to get it all the way down to Berkely Mills. That was not far from where I was sitting, dreading the time doing nothing and I decided to take a walk.
I headed up the huge embankment from Hunter, across a church parking lot and down another bank to the disused railroad tracks that I don’t think the Norfolk-Soutern train even runs on any more with all the plants closing. I crossed Berkley Road and followed the tracks that run parallel with it for a while until I saw Patton Park right next to the tracks.
I got off the RR tracks, and went around the chain link fence to follow the walking trails that oldsters and mommies pushing babies were making full use of. I found the offshoot of what I assumed to be the start of the connecting Greenway path from the walking path and headed down it. The new section starts right as you cross the railroad tracks and then cross North Main Street and you come to where the path deviates from it’s parallel course with the RR tracks and a wooden boardwalk begins beside the paved pathway.
I followed the paved path because the boardwalk said it was closed for construction and had a KEEP OUT sign on it. I went a ways and then turned a sharp corner and saw the end of the boardwalk with did NOT have a keep out sign on that end, hmmm. Then the path followed alongside the creek/river which I assumed was Mud Creek or the Oklawaha, hence the name of the Greenway as The Oklawaha Greenway.
I noticed a few signs marking trees of different varieties and even one that pointed out the “Poison Ivy” vines growing on one tree. As I approached the public housing known as Green Meadows, I finally ran into some other people. A guy walking with an iPod going and then what appeared to be a group of haggard vagrants mingling around the Seventh Avenue entrance. I didn’t have to wonder how to avoid their gaze long though, as a city parks dept. truck pulled right into the path for some reason just as I got there. I crossed the Seventh Avenue bridge and road and started on the way to the Jackson Park path I already knew well from riding my bike on at other times.
I stepped off the path to take some photos but sunk deep into the water and muck hidden under the tall weeds. Great, I was planning on running back and now I will have to do so with a squishy left sock and shoe. Finally reaching Jackson Park’s entrance, I crossed the road into the park and went to where the dog walkers were parking next to the nature trail. Sitting on a bench, I wrung out my sock and sat it in the sun a bit. I visited the Parks and Rec offices to use their rest room and they looked at me like I may actually be one of those homeless guys I was looking at the same way earlier. That’s what I get for going out in public without my winter beard properly grown in yet. There’s something about grey stubble that just screams vagrant! for some reason.
Starting back on my jog back to Hunter, I was able to run the whole way since I already took all the photos on the walking trip down. I was fortunate to have my cell phone camera with me, as the scenes were really quite beautiful in many places, but unfortunate in that it is a really crappy camera and did not take very good photos. As I was about two-thirds of the way back (this time I took the boardwalk, since it made the trip shorter and I could truthfully say there was no KEEP OUT sign when I got on at the other end, in case anyone asks, which no one did), I got a call on the cell phone that my car was ready, but they can’t find me. So I hurried even more. I think I spent about two hours total. I would hated to have been sitting in that waiting room all that time. This is supposedly a 1.1 mile addition to the greenway at present, but I don’t know how much extra it is to Hunter Chevrolet. If they get it to go all the way to Berkley Mills, it might make waiting for your car service a more enjoyable experience.
ADDENDUM: A week later, the Greenway was officially opened. Here are the photos from the Times News.
New cartoons since last entry:
MX has been diligent about putting them online of late, so I have neglected posting them here, but here’s a big batch of them if you don’t want to look on my site for them.
Cartoon created on 5.21.2008:
Cartoon created on 11/19/2008:
Lucky guesses? Coincidences? Nostradamus-like insight and clairvoyance? You decide.
New photos of caricatures I did at a corporate event for Sub Station II at the Renaissance Hotel in Asheville, NC. July 2009.
For good or bad, Mountain Xpress has now begun posting my cartoons online as well as publishing them in the print edition.
Therefore, I won’t need to post them here any longer, just link to them:
Yeah, the words were so small to fit in the limited space this week, that you may not be able to read them. Apologies to the person who sees this.