I guess I should probably finish up posting about our trip so I can post about other things, so here goes!
We stayed in Wilmington for the night then got up early the next morning to make the three hour drive to Charlotte. We had a tour scheduled for around 1:30, and wanted to make sure we didn't get lost/had time to actually get lost like we did in Athens. When we got to the building we were supposed to be in, the people in charge of the tours recognized immediately that we weren't there for freshman orientation. Rather than having us sit through the 45 minute session about dorms, meal plans, and other freshman things, they told us that we could come back in like 30 minutes and they would take us to the starting point of the tour to meet up with the rest of the group. We used this time to talk to people in graduate admissions, and I actually got to talk to some girls that are in the counseling program. The tour was great, and we really really loved the campus. It was huge! It was actually a lot like Utah State (except bigger) in the fact that part of campus was old and historic, and then there was the newer part of campus that was super nice. We really liked all the things they offered to students, service wise and recreation wise.
At UNCC, the MBA program is actually held in downtown Charlotte, so off-campus. Our tour ended at 4:00, so we rushed to downtown so Brandon could talk to someone before 5:00. It was Friday, so no one would be there the next day. The part of Charlotte that the business program was in wasn't the nicest part of town, but I never felt scared. The only reason I felt nervous was because we parked in a lot that you are supposed to have a permit for. I stayed in the car so we wouldn't get a ticket, but the whole time I was nervous that a policeman was going to come and I was going to get in trouble.
After Brandon got done meeting with the MBA people, we drove through downtown Charlotte and made our way to Food Truck Friday. This is exactly what it sounds like. Every Friday night all the food trucks from in and around Charlotte go park in this empty lot and people go there and eat. It was so much fun! We had these deliciously huge burgers, and just sat around and enjoyed the atmosphere. It was warm though, that's for sure. Unlike what everyone assumed, Charlotte really wasn't that humid. We had some days in Logan this summer that I feel were just as humid as it was the few days we were in Charlotte. After Food Truck Friday, we decided to drive around the residential outer areas of Charlotte. One girl at UNCC said that Huntersville is a really nice place for families, so that's the first place we headed. To be honest, I was kind of disappointed with how the suburbs were laid out. Brandon and I were both hoping that Charlotte would be a lot like Boise with the downtown area and then a big residential area, but it wasn't at all like that. In the south, neighborhoods are super far apart. There will be like one or two neighborhoods next to each other, then you have to drive five to ten minutes to get to the next one. And to get to stores you have to drive at least 30 minutes. The closest WalMart we found was pretty far away from the houses, and once we got there we saw that it was literally the only store around for probably a good 10 miles.
I was pretty sad about the way that worked out. I had an idea of what Charlotte was supposed to be like in my head, and that wasn't how it turned out to be. Brandon, being the smart guy that he is, had the brilliant idea to find the nearest movie theater. We found one on the GPS and headed there, hoping we would find greatness, and we did! Along with the movie theater was a cute little shopping mall with stores and restaurants that are all outside. We're pretty sure the entire town was there eating and hanging out. They had a giant fountain in the middle of the shopping center for kids to play in, and they even had a live band the night we were there! That definitely helped to lift my spirits about Charlotte, and after that I was ready to take on another day.
The next morning we headed downtown immediately to pick up some information about tours and stuff for new residents. The nice people there gave us a 5 pound package with all sorts of booklets inside of it with information about Charlotte and the benefits of living there. There was some Japanese culture festival going on just across the street from the visitors center, so we went over there for a little bit to explore. We had a van tour scheduled for that morning, so after spending some time downtown we headed to the hotel where the van was set to pick us up. The tour was 2 hours long, but I'm really glad we did it! We learned some great stuff about the history of Charlotte, but we also got to see more of the areas of Charlotte I had been looking for. There are some huge houses in Charlotte, some super wealthy people. One guy had his own water pumped in from like 30 miles away just for a fountain in the front of his house. So ridiculous.
After the tour we headed to the Carolina Panthers Stadium (NFL team). They were having their first practice that day, and the place was crowded with so many fans. It was fun to go be a part of the local action. We left after a little while and went and walked all over downtown Charlotte. We had seen most of it during our van tour, but it was fun to walk down all the streets. Every single building in downtown Charlotte is connected by a Skywalk, so we took the opportunity to walk through every single building that way. It was kind of fun even though everything was closed, because we got to see the insides of all the buildings. They had a bunch of little shops and restaurants the were along the Skywalk, so that was cool. They built the Skywalks so all the business people could get from building to building more easily than going all the way down to the street and crossing the road then going all the way back up.
After we did that, we made our way to the EpiCenter, which is a little entertainment district in Charlotte. They have a movie theater, bowling, and tons of restaurants. We walked around there for a little bit, then weren't really sure what else to do, so we went back to the hotel and hung out by the pool for a little bit. It started to get too cool for the pool, so we decided to go back out and look at the residential areas again for a little bit. Around 6:00, we were completely beat, so we snagged some pizza and went back to the hotel and watched movies the rest of the night.
The next morning we slept in, and took our time to get ready for the day. We didn't really have much else on our list to do, so we decided to just leave and go drive around some more. We ended up out at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and drove all the way around the outside of the stadium. We even parked the car real quick and went all the way up to the fence so we could get a look of the inside! That was pretty fun, actually. Brandon loved it, and so that made me love it too. Brandon had also read online about this giant head, so we went and found that. It was really just this giant statue of a head just randomly in front of some business center. It was pretty cool though. Weird, but giant and cool. I wanted to go back downtown for a little while, because I wasn't quite ready to leave. Even though the first day was a little rough getting used to how different everything was, I had fallen in love with Charlotte in the short time we were there. We went back to the EpiCenter and had some lunch there, then watched a guy do a magic show in the middle of the EpiC. Then we drove some more. We put 1400 miles on our little car, and I'm pretty sure the majority of it was just in Charlotte.
We also decided to go back out to the University and drive around campus once more. We saw their brand new football stadium, and checked out the campus a little bit more since there was no one there. After that, we headed back to the hotel, but first stopped for an ice cream sundae. Our flight left at 8:00 the next morning, so we had to be up around 5:00 (Charlotte time, which meant 3:00 normal time), so we got back to the hotel and packed and went to bed.
I fell in the love with the Southeast so much more when we were on our trip. I already loved it before we went, but that trip just confirmed everything I already knew. I miss it on a daily basis. Mostly Southport. Brandon and I had the brilliant idea to move to Southport and open a little diner. It's going to be called Sophie's. So if anyone needs us after Deember, now you know where to find us.
Okay not really, but just wait. Someday it's going to happen.