Chapel Hill, NC

This week, $WORK has sent me to North Carolina for a week's worth of training. The campus is on the edge (though not within) Research Triangle Park, and as such it's right in the middle of Durham, Raleigh and Chapel Hill. It's interesting around here.

When I first looked at the map, I figured I might walk from my hotel to the campus; sure, it'd be an hour, but it's all beautiful forest. Nope: it's forest, but it's highway here; there are no sidewalks to speak of, no walking paths; everyone I've told this fantasy to has kind of cocked their heads at me a little, like I've just earnestly explained how I was really looking forward to seeing the talking penguins of North Carolina. "Everyone drives here," said one woman. "I mean, I like hiking, but I drive 40 minutes to get to the park."

Oh well, there's still lots to see. Like the signs that say you're not allowed to carry a concealed weapon:

Or the beautiful lake, just 30 seconds walk away from the cafeteria:

The campus is weird this way; it's a strange mix of Office Space and a beautiful setting that reminds me of UBC. There's a company souvenir store right next to a sand park where you can play volleyball right next to a big parking lot right next to some beautiful landscaping right next to squirrels. I get the bends just turning my head.

Because there's nowhere to walk, the last couple of nights I've taken a cab out to Chapel Hill, a university town (they're all university towns) just down the road. I've had a chance to walk around a bit, grab supper and a beer, and get a sense of what it's like. And it's nice. There are trees everywhere; you can see the stars even from downtown (try that in Los Angeles); there are lots of bars and restaurants, but not so many that it doesn't feel like you could take your kids there; the architecture is beautiful, and the beer is good (even if it is from those jerks at Duke).