We’re flying U.S. Airways to Charlotte. Dear reader, we’ve bagged enough on the state of air travel of late, so we’ll spare you. Okay, there were moments of unpleasantness, and inappropriate hubris by Airways staff at the gate. But we’ll leave it at that. We left hot sunshine and disembarked to a steady rain at Charlotte International Airport. Southern wetness feels good.
There’s no gas in Charlotte. We learn this at the airport in line at the Hertz counter. It seems like a joke at first. “Hope you brought your own gas!” says the jovial guy behind the counter. He must be kidding, right? Oh, no. The Ike-inspired gas shortage is causing some mild chaos. They give us our minivan with 5/8 of a tank, the amount left over by the last rental driver. He left 5/8 of a tank and some smoky smells covered over with the toxic perfumed air “freshener” applied by the Hertz people. Hertz? Yes, it does. The KIA mini-van is silvery gray and kind, with an innovative rear seat system that lets you make the seats disappear. Watch out, Ford and GM. You’re going to be in trouble some day if these Asian carmakers keep coming up with cool stuff like this.
The gas shortage is covering the southern states like kudzu. We see long lines of cars at every Charlotte gas station, except for the stations that are shut down. We hear that that the pipeline from Houston is drained dry, and that gas is on the way, at 3 miles per hour through the evacuated pipe. Does this mean that all gas, no matter the brand name, is from one source? We return to play at the friendly and hip Evening Muse in Charlotte. Joe, the sound man and all around good guy, hooks us up with all the gear we need. A snare drum even makes it to the stage as we are about to start. The lovely Bowman sisters kick things off with their songs of intimate personal experiences. It’s raining outside. Some Charlotte folks tell us it’s badly needed. This region is out of water and out of gas.
We do a semi-mellow electric show to a small but very enthusiastic crowd. Paul L is very happy with the club’s Fender Champ. (Click here for a good recording of the concert, thanks to ace tapir Brian Hadella) The Carolinas are always kind to us Hawks. We pack up, chat with folks, drive off in the rain. A freight train is sitting on the tracks, and we sit on the road. That’s all right. It’s nice to be in the Carolina rain.