The Coronavirus Diaries, Part Ten: Cary NC and the burbs, April 17, 2020

This was another bike ride where I touched nothing and neither talked to or allowed myself to be near anyone.  Although I could have started biking directly from my apartment I chose to drive the first few miles and then leave the car at a mall parking lot.


You may remember that a week or two ago I parked at the largest mall in Raleigh.   This time I parked in front of the other giant mall of the Raleigh/Durham area:  Southpoint Mall, on the freeway between Chapel Hill, Durham, and the airport.  The mall is a ten or fifteen minute drive from our apartment and was pretty much totally shut down.  There was plenty of parking.


My mission on this ride was to see as much of Cary NC as possible.   Cary’s original downtown is nine miles from downtown Raleigh, halfway from Raleigh to the airport.   For many years it was just a tiny town.  In 1930 the population of Cary was 909; in 1970 the population 7,700.   The current population is 170,000.   Huge subdivisions, many of them upscale, have been built in the past thirty years.  There is a substantial population of well-to-do Asians as well as many professionals who have relocated here from everywhere on the planet other than North Carolina.

The American Tobacco Trail is a twenty-three mile long rail trail that runs right by the mall.   I biked from the parking lot and then turned down the trail.


With the trail I could reach the western fringes of Cary in about six or eight miles.  Cary is difficult to bicycle through because most neighborhoods are deliberately designed with dead end cul de sac streets.   My plan was to just get lost in Cary residential neighborhoods and see what happened.   I got off the trail at O’Kelly Chapel Road.






I bicycled a quarter mile down the country road to the first Cary subdivision.


These houses were built in the past ten years by the company Del Webb.   It is called “Carolina Preserve at Amberly.”




The next subdivision which is also part of the faux-ville Amberly tries to look like Georgetown.



Right down the street were apartments that resemble many being built all over America right now.  Here I could see the detail on how this low cost building is done;.  They first build a wood frame, then cover it with styrofoam and then cover that with thin stone siding.




I biked across the major highways 540 and 55, and then came upon the”town” of Carpenter NC.  When I used to drive through here in about 1989 Carpenter was only this tiny collection of buildings surrounded by tobacco fields and woods.


Now a quarter mile away Carpenter gives the developer a name for his new subdivision;  “The Estates at Olde Carpenter.”   I bicycled through the gates.

The latticework of streets led to other subdivisions with the Carpenter name.   There are some big houses around here.



I crossed over Morrisville Parkway to the next big neighborhood called Preston.   The NCDOT has built giant roads like this all over North Carolina.   There is nothing intimate or picturesque about this street.  Cary is a collection of major state funded streets like this that connect pods of dead end residential streets.


Preston is a real estate development started in 1993 by the man who also started the very successful software company SAS.  It has mushroomed into a large set of neighborhoods, some centered on a golf course, each neighborhood with its own name.   As far as I can tell the name Preston was just some word they made up.

On a sunny weekday during a pandemic there were lots of golfers out.   It does seem logical to let golfers play, if they keep distance and each golfer takes a separate cart.



Biking through the Preston area it became clear that I could play a name game.   Sort of like bird watching, I could “score” each time I photographed a neighborhood entrance sign with the Preston name. (How do they think all this stuff up?)  I scored big.






























































I stopped for lunch at a pond likely reserved for Preston residents.  There was a bench and no one around.   I sat and ate the lunch I had brought;  avocado, sun-dried tomato, and leftover asparagus sandwich.

Here was the sandwich in my kitchen four or five hours earlier.

After lunch I noodled by bicycle around more Cary neighborhoods.   Not all houses were this big but the big ones are more interesting photographs.


I eventually started meandering around back in the direction from which I came; I got back on the American Tobacco Trail.   Here is the total ride, a little more than forty miles total.

5 responses to “The Coronavirus Diaries, Part Ten: Cary NC and the burbs, April 17, 2020”

  1. Paco, You had too much fun with the Preston name game. Like how many ways can you make a shrimp dish a la Forrest Gump. The only thing they left out of naming that subdivision “ Olde Carpenter” was “Ye Olde Carpenter”. Somehow using old English spelling invokes something quaint and historic to old white ass developers. Antebellum? What do Asians know?
    Keep on trucking!

  2. Holy Cow. Who the hell *is* Preston anyway?

  3. I notice you parked in the only shady parking space in this mall’s parking lot.

    Press on in Pres ton!

    Your sandwich is on a crusty section of baguette. It looks delicious. I’m going to try making. A bit different from my usual almond nut butter, sunflower seed butter, goat milk chèvre, with either fruit or veggies on a whole wheat taco shell.

    For large homes they do not appear to be on large lots.

    Are you certain your map is not a doodle as you were watching a press conference?

  4. Bruce Burnette Avatar
    Bruce Burnette

    My sister and her first husband moved to Cary in the 70’s. I got familar with that area, they would get kicked out of their rental after the landlords found out my sister kept dogs inside. Helped them move at least 5 times, until I refused later. And I remember Garner , also.

    It breaks my heart seeing open countryside turned into surburbia, never to be reverted back again.

    All those McMansions in the subdivision photos you took, shared one feature..,they have no soul.
    Give me a well kept up cottage or bungalow on big land anyday.

    Enjoy your rides, you should eat more besides that paltry sandwich, carry some Boost or Chocolate Milk !

  5. I spent years learning and then using SAS-it was considered an almighty statistical program in public health. SAS is still used extensively, but the program is somewhat behind the times, and my students are also learning “R”, which is internet based and free. SAS still is both expensive and old-school difficult, requiring a lot of syntax and specific language. We will see if it makes it into the future. I knew Cary was related to the rise of RTP, but I did not realize it was tied so directly to SAS.

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