Stalking Otis Redding…Again.

Her name is Karla, and her dad was Otis. Otis Redding. I’m praying she won’t recognize me — my hair was longer then; a few more grays in my beard. The whole “me camping outside their house thing” happened years ago. Surely they’d forgotten, right? I couldn’t have been the only slightly deranged fan to show up on their doorstep.

Stroll down Savannah’s picturesque Jones Street any morning around 10:30 and you’ll see a line beginning to form outside a gorgeous old home called Mrs. Wilkes’ Dining Room.

“Hi, this is Aric – I’m either unavailable, or I’m avoiding someone. Leave me a message, and if I don’t call back… it was you.”

“Hi, Aric – this is Paul, returning your call. Hope you’re not avoiding too many people. You might miss a few who are worth it. Call me back when you can.”

If I’m being honest — totally honest — I’ll admit to liking Savannah just a bit more than I liked Charleston. Less people, less fuss, less care, less… well, children. “People don’t discriminate by race here,” a new friend of mine said. “But they do by the square you live near.”

Everyone’s heard of Brer Rabbit. Everyone knows the song “Kumbaya.” And everyone has cooked a “one-pot meal” at some point in their life. So why do so few of us know about the Gullah – the people who gave us things like these? That’s the question many people with Gullah heritage — descendants of slaves brought from West Africa to the “Rice Coast” in the South Carolina and Georgia Lowcountry — are asking. Bill Green, the owner of Gullah Grub in Saint Helena Island, South Carolina, is one of them.

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After spending a day at Fields to Families — a Charleston charity that collects fresh produce from farmers and distributes it to the needy — volunteer coordinator Tina Arnold pulled me aside and said, “If you really want to meet someone doing good things, you should go to the soup kitchen here and ask to meet “The Librarian.” That’s all she said, but I could tell by the look on her face that everything would be explained to me once I got there.

Charleston in Black+White

Oh, how I wished for nine days to walk around with a camera. But what I got was about an hour. So what you get are a few quick snaps from my iPhone. They won’t blow you away, but hopefully they’ll add to your ongoing list of reasons to visit Charleston.  

You have to wonder what Paul and Tracy Wilkes did. Rob banks? Run a Ponzi scheme? They had to have done something terrible. Because no couple devotes so much of their time to doing good.

Come Fly With Me?

As stated in the video, while driving out of Charlotte, NC, I received a random message on Twitter to join an unknown person in his plane. This is how that went. [Apologies for the bumpy ride -- this was shot and edited on my iPhone.]

Greensboro’s for the Dogs

A finger, slightly dirty with chipped nail polish, pointed right at me. “How would you feel if you were chained up, your fur was covered in snow, and it was 3 degrees below zero outside?!” Kids say the darndest things. Except this happened to be more truth than darnd. The student was describing the winter walk that inspired her art teacher, Libby Scandale, to found Project Bark.

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There’s no real way of describing the magical mystery that can be found at 606 South Elm Street in Greensboro, NC. Some call Elsewhere a “collective,” others a “playground.” Operations curator Valerie Wiseman calls it a “living museum.” But what kind of museum allows you to touch, play, build, nap, and create — and has a “ghost room”?

Dear friends, I’d never heard of Lynchburg. Lynchburg Lemonades – sure, but never the town. On a tip from a reader, I pulled in for a cup of coffee. And ended up being two hours late to Greensboro because of it.

“You’re eavesdropping,” I said with a laugh, nodding at the handsome coed sitting next to me and my friend. He looked slightly embarrassed, then admitted to the charge. “I just felt the need to jump in and correct a few things” he said, his face going from slightly red to very serious. “You all don’t know the whole story.”

“I’m available after bus duty, around 8:15ish.” That couldn’t be right. This was the man who had been voted TED Talks’ “most influential speaker” in 2011. The documentary about him and his project has been shown all over the world. Both the Secretary of Defense and the United Nations have brought him in to talk. And Bill Gates just opened for him at a conference – opened for him. He’s everywhere. John Hunter. Creator of the World Peace Game. And he’s still on bus duty at the local elementary school where he teaches?

Day 1: The Big Yellow Border

My list of things to do today is massive. I’m about to take off from D.C. on a 4,000-mile road trip across America in search of good will. But all I’m worried about is what to wear. Call it shallow, superficial, silly – but it’s the truth. See, I’ve been called to The Office of The Magazine with The Big Yellow Border. It’s capitalized because this is about as big as it gets for someone like me.

The 10 Rules of Packing

When you’ve spent more than a decade on the road, you get asked some pretty interesting questions. The one query I get most, though, is about packing: what to take, what to leave, where to put it. I’ve taken scads of trips, but every time I get back, I know I could have gone even lighter. Let’s save you some trouble and start with the basics of my lessons learned. Here are my 10 Rules of Packing. (Follow Aric’s adventures on The Good Traveler blog, and on Twitter @GoodTraveler.)