I was leaving the pristine mountains of the Pisgah National Forest after 3 exhilarating mountain bike rides. After a perfect weekend with friends I stayed in Asheville one more day in order to get a few more miles of crazy exciting trails and to say Thank You to nature and her wonder.

As I left Bent Creek and headed for the interstate taking me back into Asheville, I was struck by the number of State Trooper vehicles speeding past me in both directions. I counted 17. Then, the colors and the banners and the lawn chairs and the people in ball caps and camouflage pants and shirts started to appear. American flags and confederate flags and MAGA hats were everywhere. With each mile there were more and more and more. It was like the lining of the boulevard for a parade. I was reminded that is was the first day of the RNC and perhaps POTUS was going to have a motorcade detour to this wonderful region of North Carolina. I prayed for an exit.

The crowds grew thicker by the mile. Folks with smiles and some with scowls waving their posters and banners. It looked like the 4th of July, but had more the feel of a Slender Man convention.

I had to stop for gas. I slowed and pulled in to a station along Brevard Highway, my 3 bikes loaded on my orange Subaru filled with bags and wine coolers, a guitar, and all manner of what is required to sustain life in the woods or with nutty friends at an Airbnb.

I had no sooner opened my driver-side door when a friendly-enough guy walked up and reached out to hand me a bumper sticker and a pamphlet. The organization: The Silent Majority. He wore jeans and work boots. His hands leathery and dirty from what I am certain is an honest job and one that adds value. His voice gritty from the combination of a lifetime of smoking and a couple of hours yelling at orange Subarus.

This is a close transcript of the conversation that ensued between me (ME) and the Silent Majority Guy (TSMGUY).

ME:
Hi. I’ll take the pamphlet, but keep the number sticker for someone else.

TSMGUY:
Why don’t you want the sticker? You’re not one of those Obama-loving socialists, are you?

ME:
Well, I am not a socialist and I was and am a fan of President Obama.

TSMGUY:
Well, seems to us that if you liked that muslim guy then you must be a socialist.

ME:
Another two-parter here. First of all, President Obama is not a muslim, although that would not change my support of him in the least as a man or as a politician. And, once again, I am not a socialist; I am a capitalist with a conscience.

And once again, my new friend, I am not a socialist; I am a capitalist with a conscience.

Roadside chat Me and TSMGUY

TSMGUY:
What the hell does that mean? Capitalist…communist…same thing.

ME (looking very confused):
Do you have any idea what you just said?

TSMGUY (walking away to next target):
You have a good day, man. Make America Great Again.

ME:
You do the same. Truer words never spoken. But not with this guy.

I offered a peace sign as he slowly jogged away. He returned a hand gesture of his own, minus one finger.

All I could do was invoke the southern phrase that is usually mixed with a touch of well-intended concern and disingenuous affection, “Bless his heart.”

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