There is a place that I like to go to at the end of Highway 70 where time is frozen. It is a town once build by the Swiss, named for their beloved homeland, bearing its shield, and revealing its artistry in rooftops.
An old church surrounded by dogwood blossoms and Spanish moss remembers the times George Washington visited its doors.
Gravestones in its yard tell stories of valiant men, women, and children who died in a period of illness that swept the town.
Across from this, an old soda shop remembers when Pepsi Cola got invented there, and it still makes you floats with local ice cream and Pepsi at its bar.
Commercialization creeps in–that’s to be expected. There are Pepsi company products at the soda shop, tours of the old church, and dozens of shops along the streets. But none of this bothers me. I am just excited to see downtown New Bern, NC alive and thriving.
Take a drive a little further down these downtown streets, and you’ll reach the inlet. Anxiously moving cars rush across criss-crossing bridges over water.
Sailboats are often docked at fancy hotels along the water. A simple open park gives a patch of grass for paused reflection. A walkway around the grass leads to odd concrete steps into the water.
Walk in and get your toes wet. Feel the water lap around your ankles. Feed bread crumbs to the gulls circling around you. But don’t jump in for a swim. Though the waterway is wide open for wading and one could easily jump into the deeper water from there, you can’t trust the current–or anything living in the water–from there.
It isn’t hard to love the culture of downtown New Bern. Whether for water, history, or shopping, there’s something in this little spot for everyone. Enjoy!