Goin’ to the Chapel… Hill, That Is.

Just got back to Mondoville with Mrs. M and the Spawn an hour or two ago, after a trip north to visit the U of North Carolina’s flagship campus at Chapel Hill. The Spawn’s academic interests have led her to the idea of postgrad work in library science — in particular, in archival work or special collections. While she doesn’t graduate until 2019, we thought it might be good to look at some programs, and UNC’s programs are highly rated.

We made the trip up on Thursday afternoon — or at least that was the plan. We left Mondoville around 1:15 for what Mapquest told us was a 4-hour trip. And then we hit the traffic jam in Charlotte and the enormous stretch of road destruction construction on I-85, northeast of Charlotte. So we stopped for dinner and got on the road again in time to catch weather delays and further road congestion. All told, with one thing and another, our 4-hour drive took about 7 hours.

Fortunately, the hotel was worth the trip. We use an online travel service to book our trips, and while we were booking this one, Mrs. M saw a “mystery promotion”, offering us a room at an unidentified 3.5-star hotel for what we usually pay when we stay someplace of Ramada quality or less. Figuring “what the heck”, we took a shot, and found we were booked at the Carolina Inn, a hotel that is actually on the UNC campus. It’s seriously posh — our room normally books for about four times what we paid. The Spawn was swivel-necked, looking at the elegant surroundings — she’s been in nice places before (our hotel in Philly last year, for instance), but this was better than Clan Mondo is used to. Things like turn-down service and mints on the pillow were bits of elegance none of us are used to… but we could learn.

The hotel (as one might expect) emphasizes its connection to the University. The hallways are decorated with portraits of famous UNC alumni in a variety of fields — one lounge area was decorated with assorted actors with UNC connections. Mrs. M was particularly fond of a drawing of John Forsythe, the star of a prime-time soap from our youth, while I got a kick out of a portrait of Andy Griffith (Class of 1949). Our room also had plaques honoring alumni in the fields of medicine and public health.

We set up our base camp, and then headed out into the gloaming to walk around a small part of the campus. We took about half an hour, admiring buildings and wandering into one of the library buildings. By then, the heat and humidity, combined with the hours in the car, had us wilting. So we headed back to the room and called it a night.

The next morning, after breakfast in the hotel restaurant (I highly recommend the buffet — the scrambled eggs are amazing), we parted ways. The Spawn went on a guided tour of the campus, and Mrs. M and I took a look at the University’s graduate apartments. Compared to the cinder-block palaces where we lived in my grad school days at Kentucky and Ball State, the accommodations in Chapel Hill are sybaritic. Air conditioning? A dishwasher? Washer and dryer hookups? Elevators? Covered parking? Where are the roaches? Where is the nubby, mud-colored carpeting? Where is the sagging convertible sofa? Get off my lawn!

After that, we elderly types did a bit of shopping, or at least Mrs. M did while I loitered at a bookstore. While we were doing that, the Spawn fell in love:

UNC rare books

This is the Rare Book room at one of the University’s libraries.

Eventually, we met up again at the hotel, and then it was time for the Spawn to have a get acquainted meeting with one of the Library Science department’s professors. She said the meeting was friendly and informative, and it only furthered her interest in the program. When the meeting was done, the Spawn texted us and we came to pick her up and get dinner.

Dinner was at the Spawn’s favorite chain restaurant, and we enjoyed dinner in the company of a high school friend of mine, along with her husband and son, all of whom live nearby in Raleigh. The conversation was lively, but again, it had been a long day, so Clan Mondo retreated to the Carolina Inn. I was out cold by about ten.

We woke up this morning (da DAH da DAH dum) and got breakfast at a Bob Evans while Mrs. M scoped out a nearby thrift store. We then set out for home, and after a couple of minor traffic delays and a side trip to claim the Hound of the Basketballs from her lodgings, we made it home about five this evening.

The Spawn’s take? “The campus is beautiful, and I like the vibe.” She’s definitely interested, although she thought it was funny that tour guides and the like kept referring to Chapel Hill as a “small town” — it has six times the population of Mondoville. More accurately, it feels very much like what I think a college/university town should be. And of course, there’s a part of me that gets a little envious of settings like that one. But there’s also something to be said for getting back to one’s own home and hearth.

See you soon!

About profmondo

Dad, husband, mostly free individual, medievalist, writer, and drummer. "Gladly wolde he lerne and gladly teche."
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