After leaving Chapel Hill bright and early, we drove through heavy rain all the way to Wilmington. Our entire reason for visiting Wilmington… the One Tree Hill Studio tour of course! (they also filmed Dawson’s Creek there) We found the studio with no problems and headed inside, while waiting for the tour to start I noticed a framed newspaper clipping listing some popular One Tree Hill locations, so quickly jotted them down to visit later. We were unsurprised that the tour group was mostly made up of girls around our age, although there were a surprising number of men there too. Unfortunately, photography was banned, with the sanction being that they would delete your photos and escort you off the property. The briefing at the beginning of the tour was hilarious, the range of things that they have to tell you not to do clearly shows what lengths some crazy fans will go to… “Don’t dig through the trash cans for half eaten sandwiches, don’t steal things from the set, or the tape from the floor”. The tour took us around a number of the permanent sets used on the show; the downstairs of Nathan and Haley’s house (complete with working pool), Red Bedroom Records and Brooke’s house. It was really strange to be somewhere that I have seen so often on TV, and the attention to detail was incredible, from the framed photos and the books on the shelves right down to the whiteboard on the fridge, as well as a full working pool on one of the sets. We were under strict instructions not to move ANYTHING since they would be back filming on Monday and we could be responsible for continuity errors… I was kind of tempted to move something anyway, but we were too closely watched. The tour ended with a screening of various dailies shot at the Studio, from TV and from film and a lengthy discussion about continuity errors. Our next stop was Wilmington itself in search of some well known Tree Hill locations, so after a quick lunch in the car it was off into the rain again. A long walk in the rain later, we had still not found the River Court and were somewhat disappointed that Karen’s Cafe/Clothes over Bros was not the one actually used for filming, but just a random empty building that had been decorated to look like it. Walking back along Water Street, we finally discovered what we thought might be the River Court, across the river… but how to get there? Back to the car and a short drive later, we finally discovered the River Court! Success! It was pouring with rain, but we still posed for pictures by the bleachers and Liz pretended to play basketball (for photos of course). It was smaller than it seems on TV and the goal posts have no hoops attached, it is also covered in graffiti from One Tree Hill fans… I wonder how they hide that when they are filming? Several photos later, content that we had found the River Court we got back in the car and headed through the rain towards Charleston. The drive to Charleston was rainy but uneventful, until we arrived at the campsite. The website had told us that late night registration was ok, but it turns out that you had to be in an RV for that, so we gave up and headed for another campsite. Unfortunately we came across the same problem there, so given that it was dark and pissing with rain, we gave up and rang several of the closest motels (thank you Sat Nav for having locations and phone numbers!) to find the cheapest price for the night. Red Roof Inn it was! So we headed back towards the highway, but pulling out of the campsite involved crossing two lanes of traffic and then joining the fast lane on the other side. This is where the car crash comes in… it was minor and no one was hurt but it was still scary. (We thought there were three lanes and that someone had slowed to let us in, but it turns out it was a turning lane and another car came up in my blind spot as I was joining the main carriageway.) A deputy sheriff pulled up to ask if everyone was ok and since we didn’t know what we were doing offered to stay to sort everything out. So we all pulled into a nearby petrol station while she filed a report. Not long after another sheriff arrived and she started asking us why we hadn’t done a separate test to prove that we were competent driving on the right hand side. We explained that we had never heard of this and had been told that we were fine to drive in the US on our UK licenses. She still seemed a bit suspicious until she found out that we had studied at St Andrews, at which point she launched into talking about Prince William and his wedding, and was really friendly after that. Not long later, green form in hand, we were sent on our way and told that we needed to inform the rental company in the morning. By this point it was about 9pm so we headed to the Red Roof Inn and settled in for a late dinner and a good night’s sleep.

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