i don’t wanna wait – wilmington, north carolina
Today I woke up at the crack of dawn. Amendment: before the crack of dawn, at 3:30am. I’d been packed for days, so I hurriedly showered, got dressed, and punched my brother until he woke up to drive me to the airport. A half hour and one freezing car ride later, I stumbled into the Portland jetport, checked in, and survived security (after making them hand-check my video camera, Polaroid camera, and Polaroid film). I spent my first flight crunched in next to a cologne-drenched businessman, but had a seat to myself on the connecting flight.
Around 11:30 I touched down in Wilmington, one of my absolute favorite places, and met up with my college roommate Tessie. We used to live together and now see each other twice a year – so why not see each other someplace fun (and warm)? We gathered our belongings and waited for our hotel shuttle – which never arrived. (At least it was nice outside, a far cry from the arctic Maine temperatures I’d left behind a few hours ago.) Instead we snagged one of the many waiting taxis and asked to be taken to the Country Inn & Suites. Our elderly taxi driver, Bill, was an odd combination of cracked-out and asleep at the wheel – surviving the $12 ride to the hotel was a feat, let me tell you. But we did survive, and were greeted by a very cute hotel. It’s brand new, and is a nice mix of chain hotel familiarity and cozy homey feeling. There was a breakfast room, a sitting area with a fire place and a Read It and Return It library, and a check-in desk with gooey chocolate cookies and bright hard candies.
Our room was on the first floor, just a few steps from the pool, jacuzzi, fitness center, and business center – score. It was brand new and nice, with two queen beds, decent-sized bathroom, and flat-screen HDTV. This was definitely not a hotel you’d see popping up on Dateline’s bed bugs exposes – it felt like no one else had ever stayed there. But nice as it was, we weren’t going to spend our first day inside. We ditched our suitcases and called a cab – which, again, took forever to get there (we must have pissed off the transportation gods) – enjoying the sunshine while we waited. I mentioned to our cabbie that I was thinking about moving to Wilmington, so he helpfully/terrifyingly pointed out the bad areas, letting me know where I “would not want to end up after dark”. Good to know, dude.
The weather was even better downtown. Bright sunshine, cool breeze – perfection. We started by checking out Cape Fear Community College, where high school scenes from One Tree Hill are filmed, and from there cris-crossed our way across the downtown area, checking out filming locations, cute shops, and the gorgeous Riverfront Park. We got dinner at the Reel Cafe, which is Wilmington’s version of Hard Rock, boasting film and television memorabilia, including a lot of stuff that was filmed in Wilmington (like Dawson’s Creek and One Tree Hill). We got to sit under the Creek poster, which made me happy. Actually, I think it was the exact table Alex and I sat at three years ago, when we visited Wilmington.
Following dinner, we made our way back to Kilwin’s, an ice cream & candy store on Market St., where we bought treats to bring back to the hotel and ice cream that we devoured on a bench outside the store while waiting – once again – for our cab. Back at the hotel, it was time to take a dip in the indoor heated pool and soak for a while in the bubbly jacuzzi. A great end to the first day.