It’s Tuesday evening, and we’re sitting in the Roanoke Airport waiting for our 6pm flight to Charlotte, connecting onward to Orlando. We checked in our six pieces of luggage on American Airlines, and fortunately due to both our Executive Platinum status, we weren’t charged for luggage – a huge savings.
The airport is quite peaceful and calm at this hour and the sun will soon be setting over the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains. Living in flat Florida, it’s always wonderful coming back to Virginia and admiring the awesome majesty of the mountains, as well as flying over them.
Fortunately today the weather is clear and a balmy 65 degrees here, and the heavy fog of yesterday is gone. We exchanged our rental car yesterday as I had several free nights left from National Car Rental, but you could only use three on one rental, and I had to split it up to two rentals. We returned the car by our 2pm pickup time, and then walked around the nearby shopping area to kill a couple hours time, so we would only have to use one more rental day, picking up the second car after 4pm.
We went in several shops, and fortunately were ‘car-less’ for these couple hours, so we couldn’t buy any after Christmas sale items, as we would have a long walk back to the airport and our new car rental. We had lunch at a new fast-food type restaurant called ‘Cookout’ my parents had told us about; and it was outstanding both in food quality and price.
The food is made to order and you pick it up and find a seat in the huge locally themed dining room, with outdoor seating for warm days. I had the burger special for $4.50 which included 2 sides (I picked fries and onion rings) as well as a drink! I ‘upgraded’ to add bacon, cheese, and tomato, but it was still just over $6 with tax and all. The owner’s are a Christian family, and the cups have a subtle notation listed, on my cup simply Proverbs 7:1. The place is clean and stylish, and the workers are very friends; we were truly impressed with the overall quality of the restaurant, and I hope they grow into many more locations; judging by how busy they were at 3pm, I’m sure they will.
After our late lunch we walked back towards the airport, stopping at Lowe’s for an outdoor timer for my parent’s. We ended up buying some more Christmas lights as they were marked down even more (it was advertised as 50%, but it was actually 75%). I got 10 boxes of the white incandescent light for his ‘white tree’, as they look better than the white LED ones, and soon you probably won’t be able to by the incandescent lights.
Monday evening DOS and I took my brother Andy and his partner Art out to dinner at Frankie Rolland’s in downtown Roanoke. Frankie’s is our favorite restaurant in town, and serves high quality steaks and meals in an intimate setting. Art doesn’t drink wine; rather a single glass of Champagne, so he was the designated driver, while the other three of us ‘wined’ up a bit on Chardonnay and Cabernet. We had a fine night of dining, and even ran into a couple of my old co-worker friends and boss from over 25 years ago! (More on that in a minute, but first the meal!)
We did split a Cesar Salad so we would have more room for the entree. DOS had rack of lamb, while Andy and Art each had a Filet and Lobster tail, while I had the 26 ounce Cowboy bone-in Ribeye, perfectly cooked medium-rare (with a side of horse radish.)
Shortly before our entrees arrived, I took a quick glance at my phone and Facebook, and noticed two ladies I used to work with were dining nearby as well. Cathy and Martha were both my co-workers, friends, and bosses at one point when I worked for a phone company back in the late 1980’s/early 90’s – wow over 25 years ago. I replied back to their post, and they stopped by Frankie’s to see me, and meet the others! Wow – talk about the power of social media! We caught up for awhile before our main course came, at which time they headed up to the bar area. I was surprised they were still there after we finished our leisurely meal and dessert, but we visited again for quite a while basically being the last customers to leave.
It was so fun catching up with Cathy and Martha, and they both looked wonderful and hadn’t changed (in a good way!) after all these years. Here we are pictured with a grey hair and mustached me. It was so fun catching up about our old travel days; and noted the irony of the travels. To you younger readers of this blog – yes there was a time in the not to distant past where there was no such thing as a cell phone, internet, GPS, Map Quest etc, and you really had to plan your trips more carefully with regard to directions, flights and accommodations. Quite frankly, looking back it’s surprising we did so well with our travels! We take it for granted now you simply go to a web site to check weather in a foreign city, check or modify your itinerary, book a flight/hotel/car, and use a GPS and Cell Phone when you get there! Wow – technology has changed ‘gradually’ so fast it’s really mind boggling when you thing about it. This was only the mid to late 1980’s – roughly 30 years ago! And that doesn’t even include the smart phone generation eliminating pagers and cameras, as they are all built in now! Traveling – a trip down memory lane. Thank you Cathy and Martha for the good times and memories!
On Sunday, we went to my brother Andy’s church, where he plays the organ and leads the choir. Art was assisting with Communion, and here Art and Andy are shown dressed in their church gown attire.
My Mom was able to go, and it was the first time she’s been out of the house since returning home last week from the Rehab Center due to a fractured hip, where she was for six weeks. It was so nice to be together as a family for the Christmas Day service.
After church, we went home to Andy and Art’s house, where we had a wonderful Christmas feast. Art is quite the cook, and while we asked him to keep it simple and cater something from the grocery store, he as always went all the way out, offering us a good old-fashioned Christmas-country meal.
We later opened Christmas presents, making a mess of the living room in the process. The guys put on our Christmas gear; i.e. Christmas sweatpants and Santa T-shirt and hat, so we were comfortable and in the Christmas mood. This year, Andy and Art had a new addition to the house, which is an adorable puppy they named Barnabas. All of three pounds, he is the mostly cuddly dog we’ve ever met! I love dogs, but as we travel so much we can’t have one, but it’s always nice to pet other dogs either the neighbors back home or now my brother’s or sister’s in Maryland.
After opening gifts we had dessert, followed by the opening of the ‘Crackers’, a British tradition we celebrate each year. Each person holds their ‘cracker’ up and on the count of three pulls the ‘cracker’ apart and enclosed in the paper/cardboard cracker is a small prize, page with a couple corny riddles and trivia, and a paper ‘crown’. It’s a lot of fun going around the table trying to answer each other’s riddles and comparing their prizes.
Now, it’s Wednesday night and I’m finishing this post up from home in Orlando. We had a good trip back, although it was a late night as we didn’t get home until after 1am. We had a three hour layover in Charlotte and went to Phillips Seafood Restaurant for dinner. Our connecting flight left at 10:15pm, and was on a wide-body Airbus 330-200 series jet. The A330 is used mostly for international service and the First Class section (Business they call it, since there are only two classes) has 20 sleeper suites; quite awesome for sleeping. While this was a short hour and fifteen minute flight, we have flown this aircraft several times previously to Europe, always requesting the window seat on this plane as it is a single seat with both aisle access and window seating, and feels more private than the two center seats. Arranged in a 1 x 2 x 1 seating however, everyone has aisle access from where ever they are seated in First Class.