I drove the Honda towards Down East, into that vast coastal plain of eastern North Carolina. Pretty much at random I parked the car at a CVS just outside of Farmville. Yes, just last week I was in Farmville, Virginia (population 8,500), and for some reason this week I ended up in Farmville, North Carolina (population 4,500).
Right across from the CVS was this modernist motel. I fear that these kind of places will be torn down soon; I think nobody appreciates them but me.
Farmville has a nice downtown, except that it has the problem that other towns like this have; what to do with these buildings in 2016?
Farmville even has an art-deco movie house, although apparently only used occasionally.
I biked out of Farmville across the coastal plain. Many North Carolinians do not live in towns, they live out: out of town, out along highways; in houses, manufactured housing, and what we used to call trailers.
Greenville is isolated (85 miles east of Raleigh, 120 miles southwest of Norfolk, 110 miles north of Wilmington, 80 miles or more to any beach), but arriving by bicycle from the east, Greenville (population 89,000) feels like The Big City. It is the home of East Carolina University (28,000 students) that includes a teaching hospital and a medical school. I often remind my readers that while much of America looks decaying, five institutions in America usually appear over-funded: rich residential neighborhoods, the military, the court system, universities, and health care. After bicycling past miles of people living in trailers, suddenly I am thrust upon the buildings of the ECU medical complex, which fits into two of those over-funded categories. Many or most of the buildings look quite new. In some ways Greenville looks like a boomtown.
Downtown, near the central campus, there were lots of new tall buildings.
I am sure that Greenville can be a really pleasant place to live, but it is not a great place to look at. Some of the blame can come from the NCDOT, who over the past sixty years have built bypass upon bypass. Wide four lane roads with fast cars prevail. I had a decent lunch downtown before heading back towards Farmville.
I had already eaten lunch two hours earlier when I got back to Farmville. Still, there were two barbecue places in Farmville that bear remembering for next time. Both appeared open and functioning.
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