Last August, I blogged about taking a trip to the city of Wilmington, NC, a location that has been very inspirational for my work in progress. As I mentioned in that post, I had been to Wilmington five times in my life. Today, I want to share with you my very first visit to Wilmington in 2007.
The Year It All Began
If you’ve been following me on social media or reading my blogs, you’ll probably recognize the year 2007. That’s the year my journey as an author truly started. It’s when I became inspired for the series I’m currently working on and when I finally decided to “put pen to paper” and make my writing dream happen.
I’ve mentioned that one of my muses, the one that has had the most influence on my writing, is the TV series One Tree Hill, which was filmed in Wilmington, NC, hence my reason for desiring to visit this city.
To give you an idea of the timeline, I first began actually writing in the fall of 2007. I visited Wilmington for the first time in the spring of 2007. I visited my muse before I ever even knew it was my muse.
Wow, thinking about that seems almost crazy to me. Thinking about a time before this story ever transpired is wild. This story has been in my brain for so long that it feels like a part of me, like it’s always been there.
How I Came To Travel To Wilmington
I grew up in Connecticut. In 2007, I was 19 years old and taking a gap year. I have 3 younger siblings and during their spring break in 2007, we took a family vacation to Myrtle Beach, SC.
This vacation was probably one of my favorite family vacations, and not just because we visited Wilmington. We rented a beach house and basically spent the entire week hanging out on the beach and just relaxing. It was amazing.
Anyway, I was a huge fan of One Tree Hill then. At that time, the fourth season was airing. Since we were so close to Wilmington, at least as close as we might ever be, we decided to drive over one day to check out some of the sights!
Fun fact, I actually looked into being an extra on the show while we were down there. However, by the time we were there, filming was no longer in progress, so we missed out. But how cool would that have been!?
The Sights We Visited In 2007
When I visited Wilmington in 2007, it was the only time I ever visited the city while the show was still on the air. One Tree Hill aired from 2003-2011. I went for the first time in 2007 but didn’t return until 2014. So what was really special about our trip in 2007 was that we were able to see what these places looked like
The location of Karen’s Cafe wasn’t on a set. It was a real-live place, right in the heart of downtown Wilmington!
While there were papers over the door, we were able to peek inside a little bit. It was still set up exactly as it was when the show was filmed. If you’re a fan of the show, you know that this setting changed from season 4 to season 5, so I made it just in time to see it in all its original glory!
Now, this location is home to an outdoor store. I’ve been inside to check it out and it’s so much different. You’d never know this is where Karen’s Cafe was just by looking at it.
The One Tree Hill Bridge
This bridge is an iconic spot. In the opening credits of the show, we see Lucas running across this bridge dribbling a basketball. It’s definitely a must-see spot when visiting Wilmington!
I think I’ve visited this spot on every return trip to Wilmington, but this was the only time I got out of the car to snap a picture. In the seven years between my first and second visits, the surrounding area of this location has gotten a little… sketchy.
On that second trip, we drove through towards the bridge and witnessed at least 2 drug deals as well as received some questionable looks. So, we didn’t get out of the car. We snapped a few pics from inside the car and moved on. No big deal! At least we saw it!
When I visited in 2017, I actually got to see a different side of the bridge I never experienced before. (Thanks to my husband and his incredible skills of seeking out great shots for pics).
This was a really cool perspective to see because they show this view in the opening credits!
Sadly, the Rivercourt has been demolished. I can’t remember exactly when they did it, but it wasn’t too long after the show ended, because it wasn’t there in 2014 when I went. But thankfully, I was able to experience this iconic spot in all of its glory in 2007!
This was definitely my favorite spot we explored in 2007. It was surreal to be standing on the court where the actors of my favorite show stood. It was an incredible feeling. But my favorite thing about this spot was getting a sneak peek of what was to come.
As I said before, at the time I visited, filming for season 4 was wrapped up, but the season was still airing on TV. In the picture below, you’ll see the character’s names spray-painted on the court. At the time I was there, this part of the show hadn’t aired yet.
I learned later that the spray painting was done by the cast in the final episode of season 4. I can’t even explain how awesome it felt to watch that episode and have been at the spot and knew beforehand that it would be there. For a superfan like me, this was everything. I still tell this story to people because it’s so cool (at least to me, that is).
A Memorable Trip
That trip will always be so memorable for me. It’s not often that we can visit a place we have been inspired by. I’m so glad I was able to visit this city. I was in love with it then and I continue to be in love with it now. Every trip following this one has been even more amazing (as if that were possible, but it is).
One day, I will move to this city with my husband and our family and we’ll get to call this city home. By the time we move there, my WIP series will likely (hopefully) be complete. But I look forward to becoming inspired for more novels to come.