Wilson and Rocky Mount NC are similar cities twenty miles apart. Rocky Mount initially was based on textile manufacturing and Wilson on raw and bulk tobacco.
I parked the Prius in a Walmart parking lot two or three miles from downtown Wilson.
I bicycled through the more prosperous and woody residential neighborhoods on the east side of Wilson. This house is NOT typical but I do like its style.
Closer to downtown the neighborhood was less upscale. Does this count as Modernist?
I had no idea that this day, Saturday November 3rd, was the day of the Whirligig Festival! A folk artist named Vollis Simpson lived near Wilson and had compulsively been creating whirligigs for years. When he died in 2013 the city of Wilson appropriated an abandoned piece of downtown as a park for his whirligigs. I had visited here about three years ago and the “park” did not look like much, a few whirligigs on barren dirt surrounded by vacant buildings. It has really improved, with even a restaurant now facing the whirligigs. While downtown Wilson is still largely vacant, this park is actually becoming a place. There were crowds and live music this sunny Saturday.
I eventually got back on the bicycle and rode the twenty miles to Rocky Mount, across flat open fields, often lined by pine trees, with the occasional abandoned farm building.
I had visited downtown Rocky Mount two weeks earlier and it appeared even more abandoned than downtown Wilson. I had not noticed The Prime Smokehouse, which sat on an otherwise unoccupied downtown street. An African-American run restaurant, it has a much more varied menu than the traditional North Carolina barbecue place. I got shredded beef sandwich and green beans.
After lunch I pedaled through the south side of Rocky Mount, and then back to Wilson.