Who: Lori & Jen P.
What: Road Trip Through America
Where: Wheeling, WV, Cleveland, OH, Louisville, KY, Santa Claus, IN, Huntingburg, IN, Evansville, IN, Henderson, KY, Nashville, TN, Tupelo, MS, Birmingham, AL, Savannah, GA, Charleston, SC, Wilmington, NC
When: July 5-13, 2017
Why: Because road trips rock. 
Sites Visited:
A Christmas Story
A League of their Own
Forrest Gump
The Notebook
Dawson's Creek
One Tree Hill
We're the Millers

Every year, since I have been blessed with a job that allows me 8 weeks of vacation in the summer to frolic like a school girl, I have posted a message on Facebook asking my hundreds of friends to frolic with me as we explore the great state of America. 

    "We can meet new people"
    "We can see all the sites!

Unfortunately, since people have slowly discovered that the great state of America, to me, means a building shown in 10 seconds of an 80s-sitcom and “to frolic” means to take photographs of me from every possible angle in front of said building, the majority of those in my life tend to ignore my requests. 

But sometimes, there’s a glutton for punishment. Enter Jen.

This June, several days after I had posted my Facebook request, Jen P., of her own free will and volition sent a text asking if I’d like to do another road trip. We had traveled the Midwest together two years before, through 12 states in 8 days and Jen had gotten very skilled in the art of iPhone photography as someone barks commands from 5 feet away. Was she sure she wanted to do it all over again? 

“We could go to states closer to home, maybe like West Virginia and Kentucky,” she said. 

“Oh, you mean like Ohio where they filmed A Christmas Story?”

“I know Michigan is pretty close too… ”

“Oh, so like Georgia where they filmed Forrest Gump and then South Carolina where they filmed The Notebook and North Carolina where they did Dawson’s Creek?”

Within three hours, I had a full route covering 7 states, which eventually led to 10 states, which eventually led to yet another detailed itinerary with yet another packet of movie screen shots and over 3,000 miles of driving. 

Because, you know… YOLO.

Our trip started in the early afternoon on a Wednesday. First stop: Wheeling, WV. Why Wheeling, WV, you ask? Because it was the closest city to Ohio that would still give me credit for having visited West Virginia. Plus, where else could you visit a completely deserted airport museum and then come within inches of running over a deer? 

“Oh look, it’s a deer and a baby deer!” I called out as I jauntily drove down a deserted road… quickly followed by, “Oh F&%#%@!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”  *brake-slamming* *screeching car* *instant heart-attack*

I’m not really sure why people are so into hunting in today’s day and age. Just drive down a quiet street in West Virginia and one will surely just jump in front of your car as you’re going 30-40 mph. Instant venison!

So Wheeling, was super fun, you guys…

(A Christmas Story house location)

The house from A Christmas Story!

For years, I had been trying to get someone to go with me to this house. It’s iconic! They do tours! It’s only 8 hours away! 

Nobody except this guy seemed to be into it:

I thought about his offer for awhile. But you know, first dates are always so awkward… 

So I went with Jen instead. 

20 minutes before it even opened, Jen and I were in front of the house of a movie I only really marginally enjoyed, ready to learn all about how a naval officer and devoted fan, Brian Jones bought the house on Ebay for $150,000, only to discover that all the other houses in the neighborhood were valued at about 30 grand. $250K more spent to restore it, the house was opened to the public in 2006 and a tourist trap was born.

Across the street from the house, tickets for the tour were purchased at quite possibly the largest gift shop in the universe devoted to one single movie. You want a $150 ceramic replica of Ralphie in his bunny costume? You got it. You want to only pay $1 for A Christmas Story tote bag? Sure. Leg lamps of every size and orientation? No problem. Figurines? Bobble heads? Every T-shirt you could ever need? This gift shop has you covered.  One day, I will be lucky enough to fall in love with a movie that has enough merch to require me to redecorate my entire living room, but until then, I settled for A Christmas Story magnet and kept it moving.

The first tour of the day started at the house at 10:15. Thirty or so people piled into the living room and a chipper blonde told us how all scenes featuring the windows and the front door were filmed at the house, and everything else was at a sound stage in Canada. Then she let us wander on our own. 

Now, before I go on, let me just say that what Brian Jones has done with this house is nothing short of phenomenal. He took an iconic movie landmark and opened it up to the public so they could enjoy it as much as he did. It’s noble and should be lauded forever and ever until the end of time.

However… the house replication… not really a house replication. Things are… different.

The refrigerator is supposed to be on the same wall as the stove.

The tree is supposed to be in front of the window.

The wallpaper is not the same.

Going through the house, I almost started to feel like the house was designed for casual fans and not obsessive-compulsive bloggers who had been up late the night before taking multiple screenshots from the film so she could compare and contrast. Could that be at all possible? Were people going there just to have a generally good time?

The tour then went outside where I went on a mission to find out why the sides of the house didn’t have a window by the stairs like it did in the movie. Was it a fake window in the movie? Did it get boarded up during restoration? Why wasn’t my tour guide more concerned about this glaring difference between the decades? Had this issue not caused protests in the past? Oh, no one cares? Okay... 

After that, we made our way across the street again to The Christmas Story Museum, complete with costumes and props, and letters written by cast members. Again, anything any Christmas Story fan could ever possibly want and/or need to see from this movie, it was there. No stone left un-turned. 

Brian Jones, if you’re not super busy, could you please purchase Sandra Bullock’s apartment from While You Were Sleeping next? There are probably about 1-2 people who would be really amped to see it. 

And with that, it was onto our next city, five hours away… 

Louisville, KY!

A state I had been to before, Kentucky hadn’t been high on my list of places to see. But since Jen had never been and at my core, I'm a giver... hello, bluegrass state! 

When researching this city, Jen and I learned that while Louisville is one extremely large place, there’s actually not that many attractions unrelated to sports. So on the day we arrived, we spent our time walking down the town’s Main St and taking pictures with a bat.

Outside of Carrie Underwood pop songs, my knowledge of Louisville Sluggers is at a zero, but I will say, the bat was quite impressive. 

As was this man's house that we visited right outside downtown:

Jerry's Junk as the locals call it, is the home of a man named Jerry Lotz who spends his days perusing through flea markets and then dumping what he finds inside his yard for all to see. And believe me, it's a sight to see. Also, Jerry, if you're out there, I would like to be your friend. 

The next morning, up with the sun we rose once again and made our way to Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby where rich people go with their fancy hats to throw all their money away at the ponies. Poor and hatless, Jen and I had no choice but to slum it with the commoners, so we paid $30 for a barn and backside tour to see how the other half lives. 

Turns out, the other half really loves their horsies. They live on the property with their horsies. They wake up at 3 in the morning to feed them. They’re running around the tracks with their horsies and trying to make them into Derby racers. It’s a whole other world in Kentucky. I had no idea.

For about an hour, Jen and I got to stand by the track and watch the horses go around in a circle while our tour guide made small talk with all the trainers. Then we got to go inside the museum and stand by plastic horses who, I’ve got to say, weren’t nearly as interesting. 

By 8:30, we had seen pretty much all we had needed to see, so back in the car once again we went for our journey towards the great adjacent state of… INDIANA!

As a very young adult, I had gone to Indiana with my parents and brother on a vacation, but my memory of the state consisted only of hightailing it out of there every morning to go to Chicago where the real action was. 

This time, however? Me + Indiana = Love.

Our first stop on the Indiana trail was a holly jolly town so filled with the Christmas spirit that they named it Santa Claus. That’s right, Santa Claus, IN, where Santas appear in every shopping center, amusement parks are holiday-themed, and even in the dead of summer, people wish you a merry Christmas. Here, I’m sure friends don’t make fun of other friends for rewatching the Hallmark Channel’s A Bride for Christmas on repeat in the middle of March. And I’m sure in Santa Claus, IN, you’re not judged for putting up your Christmas tree on Halloween. Or putting wrapping paper all over your desk. They’re respectful in Santa Claus. They’ve got your back. Not like those heathens on the east...

(A League of their Own stadium location)


As an 11-year old soon to be 7th grader, I saw A League of their Own at the movie theater with my good friend, Kim Bieder and since then I have seen the movie approximately 587 times. I’ve got the 20th anniversary DVD. I’ve listened to the audio commentary. I’ll never truly know if Dottie purposely let go of that ball in the end, but I’ll always know the way in which she did it.

And on this day, in 2017, I stood in that EXACT SAME STADIUM. With Rockford Peaches signs and advertisements still lining the walls. ME. Just like I was Tom Hanks and Geena Davis all rolled into one.

League Stadium, the current home of the Dubois County Bombers, a minor league baseball team, is completely closed off to the public on non-game days, but short of hopping the fence and including a Huntingburg prison on my places-to-see list, I was willing to do just about anything to get myself onto that field.

Thankfully, all I had to do was contact the Parks Department, and Parks Director, Larry, my 90s childhood savior, told me to come on down! 

Bless you, Larry. Bless you and all that you stand for in the midst of these Indiana parks and recreational activities. 

Larry met us at the stadium 30 seconds after we arrived and then let us through the gate and into the promised land. First, to the section under the bleachers that housed props from the movie…

And then to the field itself. 

Minus, the plastic seats replacing the wooden ones, and some new advertisements lining the field, League Stadium was the home of the Rockford Peaches, just like it was back in 1992, which was just like it was back in the 40s. 

Larry walked us around the stands and showed us the dugout where Tom Hanks screamed about crying in baseball, and then because he’s the best person in the whole wide world,he left us alone to run around the stadium and take every photo from every angle of every part of the field.

Tom Hanks was here!

So was Geena Davis!

And this extra!

It was on this field where Jen, after many failed attempts over the years to capture the exact photos I needed at any given moment, really earned her keep as my iPhone photographer. 

Originally, because I had no faith in Jen or my iPhone’s camera, I thought there was no way I could stand far away in the dirt where Rosie stood and get the ads in the background. They’d be too small. You wouldn’t be able to see anything. I made her take this photo instead:

But No! Jen told me. I can do it! 

And what do you know… she could.

It was like I had turned into Henry Higgins and after months of painstaking practice sessions and never-ending screams, my little Eliza learned all about the rain in Spain. By George, she GOT IT.

Once we had gone through every inch of the stadium and I felt confident I wouldn’t be on my way out of the parking lot and scream, OH SHIT, I FORGOT ABOUT ____!!!!!! I gave Larry my most heartfelt expressions of gratitude and squealed my way out of the stadium. Little 11-year old Lori would have never believed this day was possible. 

But with Larry, dreams do come true.

The dream to see the house from Roseanne.

The 80s into 90s sitcom that still airs all day long on LOGO and all day long on Oxygen and all day long on TV Land, and that I find myself still watching all day long on LOGO and all day long on Oxygen and all day long on TV Land was the timeless tale of a working class family called the Conners and the trials and tribulations that came with raising a family during harsh economic times. 

Every time I’ve been in Chicago I have tried to make a visit to this house a possibility. Could never make it happen. Too far away. Couldn’t justify the travel. The house, which I’d been seeing on screen since I was 7 years old would have wait until the right moment.

Hello, right moment? It’s about time we met.

(Roseanne house location)

Still the same yellow color. Still the same lamppost in the middle of the lawn. Still the same trees. The house was just sitting there waiting for the cast to come back and do a 21st century reunion show.

When we pulled up, two teenageish boys were coming through the front door, so we waited like creepy ninjas for them to get in their car and leave before we trounced around in front of their property. 

(Roseanne house location)

Hello, Lanford IL!!!

In the middle of my freak out, another youngish man started to come out of the house and as soon as he saw me, ran back inside. 

“I’m sorry!” I called out. “Big fan of the show!”

“People come here all the time!” he said. “No problem! I’ll get out of your shot!”

Bless this man and his TV-house reverence. Did he sit at home and scream “I’M INSIDE THAT HOUSE RIGHT NOW!” every time Roseanne came across the screen? Did he sit on the porch every night and wait for Darlene to come home? Or would that just be me if I lived there? 

We took about 50 photos and then left the Conner house to make the completely necessary 8-minute drive to the corner of Delaware St and Third Ave.... because as any upstanding Roseanne fan knows… that’s where the Conner family lived. 

A tad disappointed to see that Delaware is now on top of Third Ave in the street sign continuum, but after 20 years, I guess you have to learn to live with change...

(A League of their Own boarding house location)

Hello, Henderson, KY boarding house!!!

(A League of their Own boarding house location)

I have no idea if this is a house where people currently live or if it’s some office institution or a school. I just know that Tommy Hanks stood where I was standing and that was more than enough for me.

After that, my movie/TV stalking was over for a little bit and it was back in the car for a two-hour drive to good 'ole Nashville, TN!
For several years, friends of mine have been visiting Nashville and returning home with infinite tales of music mayhem and the fun they had partying down with friendly Southerners, all the while I rolled my eyes, and nodded along with my own tales of how I don't like country music and how the best partying happens at home. I wasn't going to Nashville because I was expecting to love it; I was going because I was going to love telling my friends how it sucked. 

Well, TV-Travelers,  sometimes I don't know what I'm talking about. Nashville is BOOMING. It's fun-filled. It's lively. The live music is everywhere and it's fantastic. Two minutes in the city and I was ready to put on my cowboy boots and boogie woogie down the street.

At 7:30, Jen and I took a 90-minute tour around the city which not only allowed for photo-ops at fake Greece: 

And the pedestrian bridge:

It also allowed me to note all the things I needed to see the next day when I wasn’t stuck on a bus.
 Like the high school that Oprah attended!

(American Pickers store location)
And the Nashville store location of the guys from American Pickers

It wasn't their main Iowa location, so according to my brother, who's an asshole, it doesn't count. 

 But there was a line halfway down the block to get into the place and a $250 Jesus statue inside that had probably been found hidden in the shed of an 80-year old man. So it counts

We also took a tour of the Grand Ole Opry, which country fan or no country fan, is a just a grand ole time. Videos of singers getting inducted into it made me tear up. The dressing rooms were themed and we got to go inside them. There were stories and backstage insight and on-stage photos. And there was nothing left to want after leaving. Good job, Opry! You are grand. 
(Nashville film location)

I've never seen an episode of Nashville. I'm not even particularly sure what it's about outside of country singers singing. But friends said the Bluebird Cafe is a staple of the show. So to the middle of a shopping complex, right next to a deli I went, to stand in a spot where maybe Connie Britton stood. Or a crew member on his way to getting a sandwich. I'm not particularly sure.

I did my best, you guys. 

Next up, Tupelo, MS!
Neither of us, Elvis fans, there was absolutely no reason on earth for us to go to Tupelo, MS, the birthplace of the King. It was out of the way, there was nothing to do there, and we'd spend the majority of our time at the hotel.

But neither of us had ever been to that state, so... 

Hey there, Mr. Presley!!!
The sun was in the middle of setting when we arrived, but determined to make the most of our Mississippi checklist, we snapped a few pictures at the closed-for-the-day Elvis trail and hightailed it out of there. 

The next morning, 7 hours of driving awaited us, so bright and early, Jen and I were in the car making our way to Savannah, GA with just one quick stop in Birmingham, AL so Jen could get suckered into giving $1 to a homeless man she at first thought worked at the Civil Rights Memorial park.

We arrived in Savannah around 4ish, and ready to see what I had been told is the most beautiful city in all of the South, we hit the streets almost immediately. There are gorgeous old mansions everywhere! my mom had said. Trees and aristocratic Southern folk!! I heard from others. This was going to be fantastic!!

And then it was...just about anything but. 
There were trees, that's for sure; I saw them. And the houses, they were certainly old. And they had water too! And that was... blue. For several hours, Jen and I walked around the city trying to find that knockout Southern charm everyone promised us, and came up empty-handed. 

(Forrest Gump film location)

Over the years, I have visited many a Forrest Gump location. The Washington Memorial where Tommy H. jumped into a pool of water. The Santa Monica Pier where a bearded T-man ran over a bridge.

But, at the end of the day, it’s all about the bench.
The actual bench, where Hanksy mused about stupidity and candy, may have been long gone (and graced by my ass over at Paramount Studios in LA and by a few thousand others at a Savannah museum), but the backside of British soldier James Oglethorpe’s statue seen in the background throughout the movie remained, and with a little bit of strategic camera work, it was 1994 all over again.

You just have to pretty much stand directly in front of the statue.
(Forrest Gump film location)

And then make your friend stand in the middle of the street with oncoming traffic, while you try to pretend that a bench is behind you and not a very short wall. 
For the record, Jen was very happy to potentially put her life in danger for this photo, as she had been displeased with previous comments on this site about her terrible photography skills, and wanted to make things right. Congratulations, Jen! You have finally succumbed to my corruption. 
And so that was Savannah…

On more than one occasion, when we have hung out, I have witnessed my strapping chauvinistic brother go on a tirade in front of rooms full of people about how The Notebook is the greatest love story ever told.

"He wrote her those LETTERS."
   "He built her a HOUSE."

I’m not completely certain I went to Charleston for any reason other than to taunt him.

I even wrote a letter to the owners of the house that Gosling built, the house he took a photo in front of to lead Rachel McAdams back to him, the house that is on a private plantation and almost completely inaccessible. “Please let me stand in front of your lovely home," I wrote, "and let me fulfill the fantasies of a 32-year old man who is also a 13-year old girl. I will be quiet and respectful and you’ll never even know I was there.”

When that letter was promptly ignored, I went here:

(The Notebook film location)

The Boone Hall Plantation, dubbed the #1 plantation in the Charleston area, the former home of some dude named John Boone where a lot of stuff happened in the 1600s that people gave me the info on but I never retained, because in 2004, Ryan Gosling stood here:

Also, here:

(The Notebook film location)

The Boone family home, for all legitimate intents and purposes is a lovely historical home that many people take a lot of pleasure from touring. But for my intents and purposes, it is the summer home of the Hamilton family before Ryan Gosling tried to take Rachel McAdams’ virginity and she broke up with him, causing him to look longingly through a fence onto an abandoned property filled only with a film crew behind him.  

Because very quickly after we arrived, the skies of Charleston decided to open up and release every bucket of liquid it had been accumulating, for what I assume to be months, Jen and I went inside the home for the tour of the three rooms available for viewing while I did a lot of inquisitive nodding in front of the tour guide and tried to gage when the hell this overflow of hydration would be over. 

When my prediction of 20 minutes was beyond wrong, I made Jen stand on the porch of the house with me while I tried to figure out what the hell kind of angle this movie shot was taken from:

Was a column added? Was I in the wrong spot? Was Charleston going through a drought before this afternoon?

For over 40 minutes we watched the rain come down, and then when the universe was done getting in the way of my stalking, Jen and I went on a hike throughout the plantation looking for this spot: 

I have absolutely no idea if this scene was actually filmed on the Boone Plantation. It’s not written anywhere and no one has ever said it. But those are the same type of trees hovering over every acre of this place, and why in the world would location scouts make these big-shot movie stars go to some other forest-like location when they were already here?

Look, these are the TREES!
So we went for a walk…

All we needed to do was find a curve in the road. 

A curve surrounded by trees… 

Just one curve… with trees. That’s it. 


Not this one either. 

And thus concluded our 20-minute trip to absolutely nowhere. 

Right after that, we waited 45-minutes for a shuttle to tour us around the property, which was canceled for rain at exactly the time we were supposed to get on it, and that was the end of our Boone Plantation experience.

No worries, Mr. Gosling, I already got my money’s worth.

We then went to our hotel, checked in, and immediately took a shuttle downtown so we could check out the hot spots of South Carolina. And by hot spots, I mean other places where they filmed The Notebook.

At least that was the main objective. Then during our walk, we managed to pass this:

For anyone unable to understand what this is, let me explain. This is the greatest business establishment to ever grace the United States. 

This is… a cat café.

That’s right, a CAT CAFÉ. A café….filled with cats.

A big thing in Japan, because Asians love getting cat hair in their coffee, they’ve been popping up slowly in the US, but I had never been able to see one with my own eyes. 

And then, just like that, BOOM, there it was.

I don’t particularly get enjoyment out of luxury and I tend to live without a lot of extravagance. But if you want to charge me to sit in a room filled with cats for an hour, I will give you all the money out of my pockets, and maybe steal a few dollars from someone else if you need me to. 

Because again… it’s a café… filled with CATS.

For an hour, I brushed tiny kittens against my face and crawled along the floor like I was Mister Mistoffelees and I didn’t even know what city I was in, let alone what my purpose for being there was. Because let me explain this one more time… CAT CAFE.

Then our time was up, and I had to let go of my feline friends and get back to reality, because…

(The Notebook film location)

This is the movie theater Ryan and Rachel went to! He ambushed her for a date there, but then she was all about it, and that’s when the love started. 

(The Notebook film location)

As a homeless person was propping himself up against the ticket booth during this time, any close-up photos of the actual theater were out of the question, but the homeless person across the street was more than happy to allow us to stand on his corner. FYI, there are a ton of homeless people hanging out in Charleston. 

(The Notebook film location)

A block down the street was the corner where Ryan and Rachel danced and lied down in the middle of the street, reveling in the glory of not a lot a lot of cars existing in the 30s to run them over. In 2017, I didn’t really have that luxury, so…


This is the street, you guys! 

The next morning, I got to try and see what it’s like to sit on a beach and do nothing for a little bit.

Turns out I’m not great at it. 

Then, we hit the streets!

On this street, Ryan Gosling tried to get Rachel McAdams to go out with him:

(The Notebook film location)

And on this side of the same street, Ryan continued trying to get Rachel to go out with him:

(The Notebook film location)

And that was pretty much it with the streets!

We had a quick Southern lunch after that, said goodbye to the homeless and the antique shops, and then made our 3+ hour drive to our final destination…


The home of One Tree Hill, which damn it, I never watched, Sleepy Hollow, Under the Dome, and thousands of other film and TV projects, but most importantly, because I was a teenager in the late 90s, Dawson’s Creek, Wilmington, NC, is for all intents and purposes, the greatest city on earth. I’ve lived in New York City all my life – screw it. I’ve been to Los Angeles multiple times now – whatever. I want all Wilmington, all the time. Someone get me a creek and a rowboat, I’m sailing my way to a new life.

I’m not even going to talk about the fact that I’ve wanted to visit Wilmington ever since I was a 16-year old junior in high school taping every episode of Dawson’s Creek onto ridiculously organized VHS tapes. I’m not going to say that Dawson Leery was my ultimate stud muffin back in the day and that I would’ve given anything to even be in the same state as the ladder outside his bedroom. That’s all child’s play. The dreams of an innocent teenager.

All I’m going to say now is that Wilmington, on its own outside the shadow of Dawson’s Capeside, MA, is a clean, beautiful city, filled with the friendliest of people and the loveliest of gift shops -- and every inch of every street has been featured in some type of movie or film. It’s also the temperature of what I imagine it’s like 3-feet from the sun, but ignore that. Entertainment is happening here. EVERYWHERE.

All of Wilmington was pretty much Dawson’s stage, but right in the middle of town, I had my first Capeside freak out: The waterside street where Pacey and Andie had their first kiss in Season 2. 

The Pacey/Joey saga may have become what drove the entire show in later years, and believe me, I fell for that too, but as a 17-year old girl watching Pacey fall for the quick-witted bantering blonde who was actually 30 in real life, there was nothing else I needed in this world.

Pacey after being caught with another girl at the homecoming dance, meets Andie on the street and tries to figure out why she likes him as much as she does. Rewind the VHS tape, I watched this scene so many times I’m not sure how I didn’t destroy my VCR. 

(Dawson's Creek film location)

And now I was standing on the EXACT SAME STREET. Dawson freak out in 3, 2, 1…

The lights were gone and the puddles there to reflect the lights were gone as well, but Pacey Witter definitely stood there in the dark with his new awesome girlfriend as Jessica Simpson played in the background. If at this point something happened, and we had to leave Wilmington, never seeing another location, I would have been okay, just from seeing this spot. Pacey + Andie 4Ever.

Thankfully, a meteorite did not hit the earth and there was plenty of time to see other locations. 

Like this street! :

                                                                                                   (Dawson's Creek film location)

And Joey's wall!: 

(Dawson's Creek film location)

The one that Pacey bought for her because he wanted her to paint and because he loved her a whole helluva lot! 

The wall, which, I guess the town of Wilmington decided against declaring a historical landmark is currently covered up by stairs to outdoor seating for a restaurant that no one ever seemed to be dining in. But through the poles and the silhouette of a cowboy, it’s the wall

And you know it’s the wall, because oh look, there’s the same building behind Joey when she’s looking at the wall!

We would have the entire day tomorrow to walk around downtown so after I had sufficiently screamed DAWSON’S CREEK! enough times to Jen while walking down the sidewalks, we hopped back into the car so I could have another freak out….

4716 Alderman Drive, Wilmington, NC
(Dawson's Creek Capeside High location)


Actually located at the University of North Carolina, I was concerned that Alderman Hall which covered as the high school would be behind some sort of gate where IDs and student papers would be a requirement to get around, but nope. The entire campus, all out on the open.

And I got to stand in the same place as Katie Holmes.

It was a day later, after we were long gone from campus that I learned the bench by the door had a plaque commemorating all the times the building was featured on Dawson’s Creek, and that I missed it due to squealing like a pig in heat. But here’s a photo that a complete stranger took of it:

The next morning, bright and early, Jen and I left our hotel room to go spend some time at the beach. Because everyone loves to relax on the beach!!!

(in front of Oceanic Restaurant)
(Dawson's Creek opening credits pier)

And I love to act like I’m Michelle Williams filming the opening credits to Dawson’s Creek. 
For three years, the opening credits to this series featured the cast having a grand ole time prancing around in front of the ocean and swinging off this prominent pier. For weeks, I psyched myself up for this location. I was going to the PIER! 

And then I found out they’d changed the poles. In 1997, a few diagonal support beams. In 2017, an entire row of them. It was like Wilmington was more concerned about the safety of their structure and its visitors than my need for DC reenactments.


(in front of Oceanic Restaurant)
(Dawson's Creek opening credits pier)

With sand stuck to our feet and Paula Cole in our heads, we then left the beach after a half hour of “Wait… I think Katie was standing here!!!!” and went to visit….

Michael Jordan’s high school.

I’m as big a fan of Michael Jordan as the next guy who knows absolutely nothing about sports,  but my brother is basically in love with him. So, because I’m an incredible sister, I went the 15 minutes out of my way, and I said, “Hey brother, let me Facetime you while I’m here so you too can experience the greatness of MJ’s childhood.”

My brother, my only brother, my bestest comrade, responded, “If you’re not going to go inside the gym, this is pointless,” and basically hung up the phone. Because when he’s not crying over Nicholas Sparks films, my brother can be a bit of a dick. 

And thus concluded my sisterly kindness.

In case anyone else is curious, Laney High School is quite a large educational system with from what I was able to gage from their practice outside on the field, a very competent football team.

(A Walk to Remember house location)

Unprepared for this venture, Jen found some screen shots on Google, and we prayed no one was home while we peeked over their bushes to stand where gone-and-totally-forgotten Shane (where are you, Shane??) West once stood. 

(A Walk to Remember house location)

On the porch, a plaque lauding the historical significance of the house built in 1912 for the president of a lumber company was hung, but there was no mention of it also being the house where in 2002 a pop star broke out into the film industry. Like anyone really cares about the lumber, Historic Wilmington Foundation, Inc….  

Since we still had a few hours to kill before we took a guided tour through Wilmington, we stopped by the Cape Fear Museum where we paid $8 to bypass 95% of its contents and see movie props from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

And you know, Creek stuff…

That took all of 15 minutes, so after a quick bite to eat and 2 minutes finding parking that cost $1.25 an hour --Wilmington, I LOVE YOU – we went back to the middle of town to prepare for the greatest walking tour I’ve ever had in my life.

Here’s the website where you can purchase tickets. They’re $13 but also priceless. 

In addition to having the best tour guide in the history of tour guides, whose name I don’t know, but who looks like this:

I learned that Wilmington, NC has the third largest film studio after LA and New York, and that in addition to the standard Dawson’s Creek haunts that I had been stalking all morning, there were other things to freak out over.

Like this court house that Andy Griffith stood in front of in Matlock!

And this corner where Sophia Bush stood in One Tree Hill!

(A Walk to Remember alley location)

And this alley that Mandy Moore ran down after telling Shane West she was dying!

(We're the Millers film location)

(We're the Millers film location)

(We're the Millers film location)

And We’re the Millers! We’re the Millers filmed in Wilmington and I didn’t even know it!!!

The tour was 90 minutes and we walked maybe 5 blocks… because in Wilmington, every step you take is a step that someone who appears in US Weekly has taken. 

I also drove to the fanciest of fancy neighborhoods to stand in front of Sophia Bush/Brooke Davis’ house. 

(Brooke Davis One Tree Hill film location)

Apparently, she was a big character. I think this house was featured a lot. I am going to start watching the show immediately after writing this so I can figure it all out and scream, “I was there and I didn’t even know enough to care about it!!!” 1000x times in front of my television set.

Then, because Jen sometimes needs to eat while not sitting in a car going 70mph, we went to the fantastic Hell’s Kitchen where Joey Potter worked during Season 6 of Dawson’s Creek. Built specifically for the show and then kept around as a shrine/legitimate business establishment, it has some really great cheeseburgers and the waitresses are all cool with getting out of the way while you take a photo from the complete opposite direction of where most scenes were filmed.

(Dawson's Creek film location)

But it’s all cool, Wilmington. Don’t worry about it. I’m studying up and I’m coming back next year and I’m seeing the Dawson bench plaque and every corner where Chad Michael Murray stood, and I’m going to fall even more madly in love with your city.  

Because it’s the greatest city. The bestest city. It’s Hollywood’s city.

And maybe by the time I come back, the owner of Dawson Leery’s house will have responded to my letter of months’ past and let me onto their yard to see the creek without the threat of gun shots. I’m keeping the faith…

The next morning, after 8 days of iconic TV and movie location meet and greets, it was back in the car for the 9 and a half hour drive ahead of us, to go home to New York City, the place of our births, and back to our regular everyday lives. We had accomplished a lot on our trip, more film locations than I'd actually thought possible, and now it was all over until we found the time once again to venture away from NYC. 

Because, really, who ever films in Manhattan?

Thanks for the mem'ries, America!