Chapel Hill, NC Felix Wong

Today we spent much of the day in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, which along with Raleigh and Durham makes up the “Research Triangle”. This area is called that due to the high number of universities (Duke, University of North Carolina, North Carolina State, several others) and the highest number of people with Ph.D’s per capita in the United States. Unfortunately, unlike yesterday which was a beautiful day, today was raining the entire day and quite cold (high of 45 and a low of 32).

Regardless, it was a fun day. Chapel Hill is supposed to be more upscale than either Raleigh and Durham, though superficially it did not look vastly different to me. I love the style of homes out here–unlike the homes out in the west, where the prominent exterior feature is usually an ugly garage sticking out in front, the homes here look more traditional and homely, even the new ones. They also are a bit more spread apart.

Politically, the Research Triangle seems about as liberal as the San Francisco Bay Area! Check out these photos. Admittedly, however, this impression might have been skewed a little bit by hanging out with Dan. E.g., in the morning one of the first things he did was call Senator Libby Dole’s office to voice his displeasure to her support of the “nuclear option” (he also was trying to get me to call Senator Feinstein but no staffers were available for the call; oh darn.) Then when we went to MetroSport to play racquetball, he gave the woman behind the counter a flier that asked her not “to let Bush ‘go nuclear’ on the Supreme Court”. The woman, one of the many very friendly people here, was keen to listen and even sympathetic to Dan’s cause.

We then went to Fosters’ for lunch in Chapel Hill and Tupelos in Hillsborogh. So far every place we have eaten at has been really excellent, with super friendly people and great food with reasonable prices (esp. with Dan’s Entertainment card). There seemed to be lots of beautiful, smiling people here everywhere we went.

One last thing–in my two days here, I have not met a single person with a southern accent. I no longer even think of the Research Triangle as part of “the South” anymore.

Tomorrow is off to Asheville, where it will be snowing. I hope the drive isn’t too bad as it’s about 250 miles from here. I will be returning to the Research Triangle at the end of next week so maybe I will have additional impressions then.

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Both Durham and Chapel Hill, despite having 187,000 and 49,000 people respectively, are both very wooded and spread out.  Unfortunately today was raining; yesterday was really beautiful out here.This is a representative multi-story home in Chapel Hill.Performance Bicycle Shop, the bicycle shop I frequent most in Fremont, is headquartered in Chapel Hill!  However, it is about 15 miles away from the one we went to.The Research Triangle is very liberal, although admittedly I might have gotten that impression by hanging around with Dan a lot.  Here he is with a "No War" flag.A variation of the ubiquitous yellow ribbons: "Support Our Troops: BRING THEM HOME!"F for President (an allusion to the "W for president" stickers).Another allusion to "W".This was dedication: a runner runs through the University of North Carolina campus in driving rain and 40 degree temps.Old water well at UNC.Another variation of the ribbon, this time for... breastmilk.A sign posted at UNC to "beat hunger".Another one for "Workers' Rights Day".One to "protect civil rights" and the existing 1st Amendment.A view of downtown Chapel Hill, which is mainly a few blocks along Franklin Street near UNC.Another view, this time on the other side of Franklin Street.Mass transit for all Chapel Hill residents is free due to limited parking downtown. Nevertheless, I never had a serious problem finding parking downtown.I happened to be downtown when UNC just beat Michigan State to make it into the Final Four in the NCAA mens basketball tournament, and hence this hearse in the UNC colors was cruising through.  UNC would later win the championship.As with Raleigh and Durham, there is a bit of history for Chapel Hill.  This sign notes that UNC was the first state university to open its doors in the U.S. (1795).Two miles north of downtown were large classic homes in the woods.There were also newer homes like this one.Elsewhere, there were track homes like this one.

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2 comments on “Chapel Hill, NC

  1. Comment by Jon

    Being from that area, I have a few corrections:

    1. “Research Triangle” is not the R-D-CH area. You are referring to an area called Research Triangle Park, which is a gathering of businesses in Durham. It is the home of IBM and has major plants for many other companies.

    2. This area is a very conservative area, you were just smack in the middle of a college town, Chapel Hill. Anywhere outside of that, youd find it to be very liberal.

    3. In the cities, it is mostly northern people who have moved down because of a job opporitunity. If you look hard enough, Raleigh and surrounding cities are very much part of the south. Even Chapel Hill has a lot of southern qualities.

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