Our trip to North Carolina was a bit of a whirlwind! We flew all day Wednesday and arrived just in time for dinner with Jean, Trent and my parents. Jean had booked us at a vacation rental nearby, a pretty house that is part of a co-housing farm development. The chickens down by the compost are named after female heads of state to give you a general sense of it. Aside from the waterbed, it really was lovely.
On Thursday, Mom and I got up early to get out to Replacements in time for the very first warehouse tour of the day! We got a behind the scenes look at the 8 football fields of china, silver, glass and crystal kept onsite. I stocked up on antique shower gifts from the showroom including an arts & craft ceramic baby plate and Norwegian silver baby spoon.
Back to Carrboro in time for lunch together with Trent's parents at a nearby cafe. We split up to run errands in the afternoon and get manicures. Dinner all together at Panzanella, a community-owned restaurant next to the organic grocery store (Oh, Carrboro!). Our friends Jackie & Pierre arrived from Atlanta late that night.
On Friday, we left Jean at home to prepare her defense. Jackie, Pierre, Rob and I went to explore Chapel Hill. First stop: Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen for a huge fried chicken biscuit breakfast.
We wanted to get a little history and saw that Chapel Hill's only historic home open to the public, the Horace Williams house, was nearby. A surprised volunteer welcomed us in and Jackie admired the drapes. For a city with so much history (and so many grand homes) it's surprising that this is the only one you can visit.
We hit up the UNC campus next, where a nice student guide at the visitor's center gave us the lay of the land. Quick visit to the NASA training exhibits at the planetarium and then over to see the famous UNC well, which was WAY bigger in our imaginations. Cutely full of graduates doing family photoshoots in advance of Saturday's events.
After campus, the four of us walked down Franklin Street, visiting little galleries and getting a snack of fried pickle chips at Top of the Hill. We ordered flowers for Jean from a little local shop and went to the Sutton Drug Store to work on signs and enjoy a milkshake.
Jean's PhD defense at 3:00 went smoothly. She kept a crowd of about 50 science students and non-scientist relatives engaged through her hour-long presentation about E2F1 transcription factors in the cell cycles of fruit flies. The new doctor stayed behind for the question portion with her committee while the rest of us peeled off to set up a reception at her lab. Students and instructors from her program came out to celebrate with her and see the tradition of popping a champagne cork into the ceiling and signing the indentation.
Celebratory dinner that evening at Provence, a delicious french bistro in Carrboro. Despite being exhausted, Jean convinced us to go dancing at The Station after the parents peeled off. Strange, fun place!
Saturday morning, we had breakfast and then dressed for Trent's graduation from the Masters of Public Health program.
The school held a nice luncheon for the graduates and their families after the ceremony. Back at Jean and Trent's house, we went in to party prep mode. I'll share more photos and details of the event tomorrow. It was a grand southern backyard affair!
We turned in to bed at midnight and woke up again before 4:00 am for our flight home. Brutal day of flying and trying to sleep as we made our way back to California. Home in time for lunch, we spent the rest of the day being very lazy.