The Duke University Lemur Center

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By Ed Arditti

(DURHAM, NC) – I used to be involved with the furniture industry, software developers and the Internet world. Accordingly, I have visited the Raleigh/Durham/High Point areas of North Carolina on several occasions in the past from a business perspective.

I can remember all of the construction that was being undertaken on Interstate 40 to expand the highway back then. Nothing like making it easier for commerce to take place unlike in this area whereas for the last decade we have made it virtually impossible for our area to become a logistics and distribution centre because of the farce known as DRIC.

Here is how Wikipedia describes the area and why their economy is booming. It is built on both research and industry:

“The Research Triangle, commonly referred to as simply “The Triangle”, is a region in the Piedmont of North Carolina in the United States, anchored by North Carolina State University, Duke University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the cities of Raleigh, Durham, the town of Cary and the town of Chapel Hill respectively…

The “Triangle” name was cemented in the public consciousness in the 1950s with the creation of Research Triangle Park, home to numerous high-tech companies and enterprises. Although the name is now used to refer to the geographic region, “The Triangle” originally referred to the universities, whose research facilities, and the educated workforce they provide, have historically served as a major attraction for businesses located in the region.”

I-40 was jammed, even in the early morning. Why? the Triad area is there too:

“The Piedmont Triad (or simply the Triad) is a north-central region of the U.S. state of North Carolina that consists of the area within and surrounding the three major cities of Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point… Long known as one of the primary manufacturing and transportation hubs of the southeastern United States, the Triad is also an important educational and cultural region and occupies a prominent place in the history of the American Civil Rights Movement. The Triad is not to be confused with the “Triangle” region (Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill), directly to the east.”

Frankly, it is something that Windsor/Detroit could have been and still could be if we can ever wake up.

As I told you at the outset of these series of travel articles on our Great Circle Tour, our purpose initially was to go to the Lemur Center and then head off to the beach for a bit of R&R. My daughter is a lemur-aholic and, she explained the reasons why, had always wanted to visit the Center. While I wanted to accommodate her, it seemed like a long drive just to do that.

Circumstances were such that were able to plan a trip to go there and then it fell apart in an instant at the very last minute. Changes were made, the Tour was created and the trip to the Lemur Center was back on! As I also said before, everything turned out better than we ever could have dreamed possible.

We stayed at the Staybridge Suites Chapel Hill-Durham, about a 10 minute drive from the Lemur Center. It is a different kind of accommodation compared with other places. It is really meant for people who are going to be in an area for whatever reason for more than a few days although it is perfect for someone staying overnight as well.

staybridge

It is much more of an apartment building than a normal hotel but with many hotel conveniences. Fortunately, we were able to use our Holiday Inn points to stay there because it is part of the IHG Group of hotels. As you will recall, we stayed at the wonderful Windsor Holiday Inn Downtown for a couple of weeks as our floors were being redone and were able to obtain frequent traveler points there.

We lucked out as well because the Staybridge upgraded us to a two-bedroom apartment so we had plenty of space, comfort and convenience. Let me merely repeat the Review I did about the hotel so that you will understand why I was so pleased with it:

“What else do you want when you are on a trip?

You don’t want to feel cramped in a room or suite, you want a great mattress and quiet so you can sleep well. And who wants to spend a fortune on breakfast!

Naturally, if one can be located within minutes of one’s destination, then that is the icing on the cake.

We got it all at the Staybridge Suites Durham-Chapel Hill along with pleasant staff who even printed out a map to get us to our destination.

Oh and I forgot to mention: great shopping nearby too

A great experience all round.”

One of the big changes in the hotel industry is the provision of meals for guests, especially at breakfast. While our Suite had a full kitchen, since we are only staying overnight, we chose to eat at their complimentary hot buffet instead. That probably saved us $10 per person. Moreover, by the end of the day, we were pretty tired and so enjoyed their complimentary dinner as well. Hey, when else will my family allow me to eat chicken wings!

Of course, being beside a Bed, Bath and Beyond and other stores allowed us to buy some needed utensils for our home.

It was a real treat to visit the Lemur Center and a pleasure to see how thrilled my daughter was. I threatened to bring along some Valium tablets if she could not control her excitement, not to help her but rather so that the lemurs would not be worked up! Fortunately, she behaved herself well.

My daughter has written a very thorough review of the Duke Lemur Center and why it is important. I don’t want to duplicate what she has already written so well but I did take my own movie of the lemurs painting. It really was a hoot to watch:

Our guide, Chris, was excellent and very knowledgeable. I think that he enjoyed the fact that my daughter was not just a “tourist” but also knew something about lemurs so they had a very good conversation between them as my wife and I walked behind listening.

It was a very hot and humid day with chances of rain when we visited the Lemur Center. I wondered if this is what Madagascar was like and if the Center created this kind of weather just for us so that we could pretend that we really were in the habitat of the lemurs. Notwithstanding the heat, we barely noticed it because we were so engrossed in what we were watching and to what we were listening.

I expect that the lemurs knew that they had a “special” visitor because the people there told us that the paintings made were about the best they had ever seen. We were able to take home several of them as souvenirs. I can just imagine our descendents going on the TV program on PBS, Antiques Roadshow, one day and asking what the value of these paintings were since they were created by an unknown artist named “Lemur.”

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One of the highlights of our visit is that we were able to see a mother lemur carrying one of her tiny babies that had just been born. We also were taken through the nocturnal section of the Centre to view the lemurs. It is amazing as well watching them leap with such ease at the distances they can within their enclosure.  I’m sure that you heard on the video that the staff have to wear gloves both for their protection and for that of the Lemurs.

As our tours ended, we saw that we were not the only people who wanted to find out more about lemurs. The Visitors parking lot was jammed with cars and a group of probably 20 people or so were heading off to enjoy their experience.  For more information, go here: http://lemur.duke.edu/

So there you have it. Another unexpected surprise on our Great Circle Tour. A family destination that everyone will enjoy especially after the IMAX Lemurs movie comes out.

The beauty of it is that one needs not travel thousands of miles to travel to Madagascar.

Next, America’s Castle!

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About the Author

Ian Shalapata
Ian Shalapata is the owner and publisher of Square Media Group. He covers politics, the police beat, community events, the arts, sports, and everything in between. His imagery and freelance contributions have appeared in select publications and for organizations in Canada and the United States. Contact Ian with story ideas.
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