Things have been getting progressively more difficult for us. The rural midwest and the southern states have proven to be incredibly difficult to cycle through, and the deeper into the south we get the more hostile the culture is towards us. One exception to this is Louisiana, everything that follows really doesn’t apply there. Louisiana has a very unique culture and doesn’t seem to fit the patterns of the south or rural midwest.
I realize that our life is relatively unique, but if a place is hostile towards us it is likely hostile towards others. The way these areas are set up are going to deter people from moving to them and bringing in economic opportunities.
Part of this bike ride is figuring out where we want to move next. If a city doesn’t even have sidewalks, much less bike lanes, then they are disqualified. I know that not many people view bike lanes as important (though, commuting by bicycle is becoming increasingly common), but if a city doesn’t have sidewalks and their infrastructure doesn’t allow for people in wheelchairs it is going to prevent certain people from moving there. Also, places that don’t invest in infrastructure that encourages outdoor activities will likely see higher rates of obesity and other health problems.
Culture is also important and, unfortunately, much of the culture we have encountered is openly hostile to progress in all forms. There seems to be a vein of conservatism down here that values being contrarian over an actual belief that conservative values are valuable for society. There is a “if it is new it must be bad” victimhood mentality. Having solar panels, being vegan, travelling by bicycle, and working part-time are all seen as attacking the conservative way of life. There is no analysis about what is actually better for an individual, it is all simply seen as bad because it is different than how our grandparents live.
The conservatism down here feels like an old cornered bear. It is lashing out violently at everything, even shadows, because it realizes it is dying. I can partly understand the reaction, but that doesn’t mean it is the right reaction. It is the reaction of an animal, not a thinking person. And the reaction is only going to speed the destruction (revolution?) of the south.
We have stayed with many people our age throughout this region and they universally want to get out. They want to take their money, their entrepreneurship, and families, and go somewhere where they won’t feel hated. I don’t know what the south can do to save itself, it seems to be a dying culture that resists change simply because it is change.
I want to visit more of this region, but the we can’t. The environment is too dangerous. We need to pass through as quickly as possible.