The Traveling Steve's

Five nights in Roanoke, Virginia

Roanoke is nick-named the “Star City” as a 100 foot tall man-made star sits on
Mill Mountain overlooking the city. The star is illuminated in the evening.

While in the “Star City” of Roanoke, DOS and I stayed at the Courtyard Hotel by Marriott, located near the airport. My sister Jenni (from Maryland) joined us a day later, and stayed with us for four nights as well.

Jenni has Titanium status with Marriott, while DOS and I have mere Platinum status, so Jenni got a much nicer and larger room than ours. We used her room as a gathering place at the end of the day to recap the day’s progress and plan on what to do the next day. And of course have a nightcap of vino as well!

As I said in the previous post, we are working to clear out Mom and Dad’s house, divide up the possessions, and ultimately put the house on the market. It’s a bittersweet project, but one that unfortunately has to be done after our parent’s passing last year.

On previous visits to Roanoke we had donated much of the furniture and some of the clothes, and while there is still quite a bit left to donate, the hard part now is going thru the files an files of papers, pictures, photo albums, saved cards, jewelry, china, silverware, and personal mementos that made up our parents lives. Mom had discovered painting in her 60’s, and had quite a collection of paintings she did, which we split up among us kids. Likewise I had made quite a few canvas prints for my parents from photos I had taken over the years, and we chose our favorites and split these up as well.

Canvas print I made taken at the Roanoke Star on Mill Mountain with my parents and me on the left. On the right is one of several oil painting Mom had made over the years, starting when she was in her sixties.

My Dad was a retired Baptist minister, and Dad must have kept and filed every sermon, wedding, funeral and other cards and notes over his career.

Looking back at the many files of Dad’s sermons and notes, there are so many things I wished I could have asked him; perhaps a better interpretation of the scriptures, parables, or context of the time. But just going thru his notes brings me knowledge and though-provoking things I had not have thought about before. And as a bonus, Dad love jokes and riddles, and had files on jokes too, which was good for a laugh!

Mom also had a huge Christmas collection of Dicken’s Village pieces which we will split up between us three kids, as we gave her many of the pieces.

We were always close as a family, and going thru the mega-thousands of photos, slides, photo collages, and later digital photos is and will be a time-consuming act of love. I had made two memorial tributes for both my Dad (in March 2020) and my Mom (in August 2020) out of some of the many photos I came across as we made funeral arrangements for them both. Now as we go through the house more thoroughly there are so many more pictures and memories to save, and hopefully covert to digital format to keep them.

While Jenni, DOS, and I were there, we kept an upbeat attitude for the most part, and tried to focus on the fun moments we had growing up and throughout our parents lives as we discovered so many mementos of ours/their past.

When Dad started to get hard of hearing in his 80’s, DOS gave Mom a megaphone for Christmas as a joking way of getting Dad to hear her! Dad would never wear his hearing aides, and poor Mom was always asked by Dad to repeat everything several times. We found the megaphone cleaning up, and DOS put it to good use! LOL!

We had lunch each day on the outdoor terrace at Mom and Dad’s, and DOS would pick up a Chick Fila meal we would enjoy while taking a break from the cleanup.

There were many gifts we had given our parents over the years, from birthdays to Christmas, to cards and letters, and Mom had saved everyone one of them. In my early years of travel for work I sent a postcard from every city I went to, and she saved everyone one of them, which was a lot considering I traveled nearly every week back then. I also had several animated Christmas bears, or Valentine’s, Birthday things to go thru. In the end though, we couldn’t keep everything, so it became a decision on what to keep and what to donate.

All in all, it was a fun week, and I think my parents would be happy that we were all together recalling the happy memories we had as a family. My older brother, Andy, lives up the street, and while he was working during the week we did get together a couple times, including one nice dinner at the new Frankie Rowlands.

The new Frankie Rowlands is in nearby Salem, Virginia as opposed to the original location in downtown Roanoke, which is still there. DOS was the designated driver, so he drove us to Frankie’s with the help of his car GPS.

The new “Frankie’s” as we call it for short, will eventually feature a boutique hotel. After our dinner the restaurant manager gave us a sneak preview of the hotel, which is still under construction.

The new Frankie’s restaurant was very elegantly laid out, with a bar and seating area in the front entrance.

Further back is the main dining room, with two separate glass panel wine display rooms, where the many bottles of wine are kept at optimum temperatures.

After having a Cosmo, the five of us (Andy, his partner Art, Jenni, DOS , and myself) were shown to the private dining room for dinner, which was quite classy and reminiscent of the wine room on Celebrity Cruises were we had dined several times.

We had a nice and leisurely evening out of dining, and we were happy to see they had added AHI Tuna as an appetizer, which we shared with the table, among the other appetizers ordered.

We then leisurely moved onto to a Cesar Salad (with bacon per our request), and ultimately our entree.

DOS and I shared a huge cowboy ribeye, which our server sliced up for us table-side. She also assisted the others removing their lobster from the shell.

Although I didn’t plan it that way, as they had such an extensive wine list, we decided to get three bottles of medium-priced wines, instead of a couple expensive selections, and created our own wine tasting with dinner. I chose (all full body reds): a French Bordeaux, a Stag’s Lead Petit Verdot, and a premium Mendoza Argentina Malbec. (We had visited the Malbec winery a couple times in Mendoza, which is called Eminigro). The impromptu wine tasting was a hit, and we actually had wine left to take back to the hotel with us.

As always, dining at Frankie’s was a special occasion, and it was so nice to reunite with my brother and sister in a more fun and social setting, in the midst of our house-cleanup project in Roanoke.

The next day after Frankie’s, Jenni, DOS, and I continued with our clean up at Mom and Dad’s house. We took some more donations by the local Goodwill in Roanoke, and packed up some of the things we wanted to keep. After we had made our donations at the drop-off location, we went went in the donation intake facility in hopes of finding some of Mom’s clothes that had inadvertently been donated. While the Goodwill staff was very helpful, due to the volume of donations there, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack in the huge warehouse there. Jenni had already been by there once a week ago and didn’t find anything, but the Goodwill staff said it could take up to a week to appear on the sale-room floor.

Jenni had done such an outstanding job sorting thru Mom and Dad’s clothes over the months, and while most of the everyday clothes had previously been donated, some of the nicer suits and formal wear we were planning to donate to the Rescue Mission or perhaps make a quilt of some of them.

Unfortunately most of Mom’s formal clothes had been inadvertently donated a couple weeks ago (when we weren’t there) when the furniture donation drivers came by the house, and also picked up Mom’s clothes and a few other things we hadn’t intended to donate yet. We were looking to get some of the clothes back from Goodwill, even if we had to buy them back.

Unfortunately we didn’t see any of Mom’s clothes either in the back room or in the store itself. We did however, see this 8 x 10 photo frame with a man who at first glance, looked like Dad! I did another look and picked up the frame, and seeing that it obviously wasn’t Dad, showed it to Jenni who laughed hysterically!

Jenni is laughing under her COVID mask, while also trying on some new and cheap sunglasses, as I show her the used photo frame with free photo!

I guess someone had donated a photo frame with their Dad, husband, uncle, whoever and obviously didn’t want (or forgot to take it out) the photo it contained. Anyone looking for this man? It can be yours for only 99 cents at Goodwill! LOL!

Jenni, always full of fun, surprised us our last day with a “Christmas in May” celebration at Mom and Dad’s! She had setup a mini-Christmas trip Mom had made at Elk’s Home when she lived there and put some small gift packages around it.

This was either an early Christmas present or late Christmas present, depending on how you view it. Actually Jenni said they were late Christmas presents she had intended to give us, but we didn’t see her then. She had customized a few things for us, including some wine-themed place mats, and an apron each for DOS and myself.

She also gave us a bottle of wine from a local vineyard in Maryland we had all been to, and had decorated it with a customized mini-sweater wine cover, labeled UNO and DOS. It was a nice surprise and lots of fun!

For our last dinner in Roanoke, we took Jenni to The Coach and Four Restaurant. As Prime Rib is their specialty, it made for an easy decision for us!

While there’s still quite a bit to do as far as the clean-up goes in Roanoke, we made a lot of progress this trip. We have donated most of the major furniture pieces as well as many other items. We are off to Charlottesville, VA next, where we are staying for four days, and then finally taking the Auto Train back to Florida. We will be back to Roanoke at some point in the near future; either late May or early June.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *