U.S. Travel

THE CAROLINAS: WHAT EXACTLY IS “THE TRIANGLE?”

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Following a two-night stay in the wonderful city of Charlotte, the next destination was just 150 miles northeast to explore the area of Raleigh/Durham/Chapel Hill, aka “Research Triangle” or simply “The Triangle.”  How did the area become so-named? The name is based on the geography of the three universities in the area (Duke, University of North Carolina/Chapel Hill and NC State) whose research facilities are an enormous draw to the area.   The medical facilities at Duke alone are simply staggering.  I might be looking at a visit to the famous Duke Diet & Fitness Center after indulging on all the recent travel!

Chapel at Duke

Of course for a couple of college basketball junkies, Duke and UNC are at the pinnacle.  We included visits to both arenas, unfortunately closed at the present time for obvious reasons.  Duke is a magnificent campus, enormous at 8,600 acres for just 15,000 students.  It’s a very hefty price tag to attend (all in more than $80k per year) with lots of famous names adorning buildings around the campus.  I hope the students prove worthy of this fine institution and education.

Honoring the legendary Coack K
Cameron Indoor Stadium

UNC in nearby Chapel Hill is a lovely campus as well, albeit the difference between a state school and a private school is fairly obvious.  There’s also a significant medical center and the same type of rolling hills as Duke.

Dean E. Smith Center at UNC
Courtesy of UNC legend and new NBA retiree, Vince Carter

As for NC State, we saw the football and basketball venues.  For their basketball games, they share PNC Arena with the NHL Carolina Hurricanes, across from the football stadium.  Particularly in this part of the country, sports plays an enormous role.  Who could forget the Durham Bulls immortalized in the wonderful 1988(!) film Bull Durham.  They have a new and gorgeous stadium, but it was at the original property used for the film where we actually got to see some baseball being played.  These are college kids from as far away as Atlanta (according to one grandfather we spoke to) just trying to get playing time.  The families watched from the surrounding sidewalks or in their cars due to the heat.  Only the players were allowed inside the stadium.  That’s what you do for your kids.

Durham Bulls new stadium

One of the best food finds in all the travel was at Jujube in Chapel Hill.  The dinner was absolutely sensational — in particular their Thai Yellow Gazpacho.  Fortunately for me, the hubby disdains cold soups so no sharing was required.  I highly recommend a visit if you’re coming to the area.

Dinner at Jujube: Vegetable wraps, calamari and that gazpacho!

We visited Bennett Place State Historic Site, where the largest surrender of the American Civil War occurred in April 1865 ten days after Lee surrendered to Grant. Coincidentally, a connection was made with the volunteer/docent who admired the hubby’s cap and our masks with Dodger logos.  He is a recent transplant from Ventura (near Los Angeles), who relocated to the area as a huge college hoops fan.  He retired from teaching and coaching, cashed out on his home and bought in the area with enough left over to live very well.  There’s something to be said for that.  He knew his history; he and the hubby had a lengthy discussion about the War and the Bennett family.

History buffs.
Bennett House

If a city visited happens to be a state capitol, we always try to do at least a drive through.  Raleigh is the most historic and older looking of the three areas.  There was a fairly strong police presence.  A large statue honoring Confederate lives lost was still standing when we visited, although nearly covered in graffiti.  Clearly this part of The Triangle was just reopening as lots of windows were yet boarded up.  We’ll hold good thoughts that the area remains peaceful as people express themselves.

The North Carolina part of this trip ended in Wilmington along the Riverfront.  From there, on to South Carolina … to be continued.

Duke Pond