The Traveling Steve's

March weekend in the Star City

We spend a nice Spring weekend in Roanoke, Virginia, visiting my parents and brother and his partner.  My parents are 84 years old, and recently moved into a new home up the street from my brother Andy.  We wanted to help them this trip with cleaning out and moving things from their old house, located on the other side of town.  While we knew it would be a quick visit, we wanted to help out a bit, knowing we would need to come back and they would need to get some professional help to finish the job, before they can put the house up for sale.

We flew up from Tampa where I had been working all week to Charlotte on American Airlines.   Here we are waiting for our flight, admiring the Gaspirila Ship bar in the Tampa Airport boarding area.

We had a good flight up, but unfortunately as Murphy’s Law would have it, our Roanoke flight was cancelled.  While it first it was delayed (surprise, surprise!) it was canceled by the time we landed in Charlotte.  We had been monitoring it via the inflight internet, and kept seeing the departure time changing.

Once in Charlotte, we went to the Admiral’s Club and started the delayed flight negotiation dialogue. We had previously called the Executive Platinum desk, and while they are usually helpful, today must not have been the day for good help, as they couldn’t get us to Roanoke until Saturday night; thus missing most of the weekend.  

I started making rental car reservation changes so we could drive up to Roanoke, (instead of picking the car up there). Charlotte to Roanoke is about a four hour drive from Charlotte, which we’ve done before due to delays and/or canceled flights.  While it’s not something we wanted to do (not to mention the time, the one-way rental car charge is much more expensive and you pay er mile @ around 200 miles because it’s one way) we didn’t think we would get to Roanoke on Friday if we didn’t drive from Charlotte to Roanoke.  Fortunately we got a good and sympathetic Concierge in the Admiral’s Club, who re-routed us thru Lynchburg, which was only an hours drive from Roanoke, and still got in at a reasonable time.

We went to the gate for our evening flight to Lynchburg, and by chance the later sold-out Roanoke flight was leaving at the next gate over.  As luck would have it for us (but not for others stranded in an upstate NY snowstorm) we were able to get on the sold-out Roanoke flight after all!  This was really a stroke of luck, and we got to Roanoke in time for our 8pm dinner at Frankie Rolland’s Steakhouse.  We stopped by my brother Andy and his partner Art’s house briefly to drop off our luggage, shower, and change, and we the four of us were soon off to Frankie’s. Here Steve (DOS), my brother Andy, and I are at the entrance while waiting for Art to park the car.

Frankie’s is our favorite Roanoke area restaurant, and Andy’s partner Art was nice enough to drive us there and be the designated driver, so we could indulge in some good wine and drinks.  We started the evening with pre-dinner drinks at the bar, sitting in our favorite lounging seats by the window.

And oh what good food and drink we did have!  After our Martinis we were seated in the elegant main dining room for dinner.  We each had our own appetizers, with everyone but me getting Oyster’s Rockefeller, while I opted for the Shrimp Cocktail.  While we were waiting on our appetizers, we shared a toast with the Chaulk Hill Chardonnay.

As the evening progressed, we each shared a salad, and moved upwards to a very nice red wine – BV Cabernet Sauvignon.  Steve (DOS) had lamb chops for his main, while the other 3 of us had delicious steaks, perfectly prepared to a medium rare.  I opted for raw horseradish on the side in lieu of any other fancy sauces.

We finished up the wonderful night of dining with a yummy chocolate dessert, before heading out.

On Saturday, we spent much of the day with my parents at their ‘old’ house across town in the Heatherstone neighborhood just outside of Roanoke.  It was a beautiful day, and we told the Blue Ridge Parkway most of the way to their home.

While they have moved the major pieces of furniture and things to their new home, there is still quite a bit to be boxed up and either moved, donated, or discarded.  We spent most of the afternoon going thru things, and took some of the items with us, especially the sentimental ones such as dozens of VHS tapes of Mom and Dad’s vacation trips over the years, and some sentimental like this card my niece Nikki had made years ago for their anniversary. Priceless!

Somethings such as this, and the countless photos we found boxed up are lifetime keepers!  

When we got back to Andy and Art’s house, Art had a sumptuous feast waiting for us!

Of course the house puppy Barnabas wanted some of the pizza too, but we gave him some of his puppy food, and soon he was relaxing for a bit by his day bed by the fireplace.  He’s so adorable and cuddly!

On Sunday we took Mom and Day to Andy’s church for services, followed by lunch at Abeulo’s Mexican Restaurant.


After lunch we took Mom and Dad home, and then DOS and I went drove back to their old house to retrieve a few more belongings.  We again took the Blue Ridge Parkway to their house, but this time made a brief stop at the Mill Mountain Star along the way.  The Mill Mountain Star is a nostalgic piece of Roanoke’s past, and a city-wide landmark seen all over the Roanoke Valley.  Built in 1949, it graces the top of Mill Mountain and lit up at night can be seen all across the city. I hadn’t been up there in years, but it’s always a nice place to stop when you’re driving along the parkway, and the views from the overlook are outstanding. You can clearly see downtown Roanoke in the foreground, and even the airport in the far distance, as well as the 90 foot tall star, which is illuminated at night.

Later back at Andy and Art’s house, we had a fun evening at home while Art prepared fresh homemade pizza! And I mean fresh – from scratch dough and he customized it for what we wanted. While I wanted just meat lovers, DOS, Andy, and Art wanted veggies as well, so he split the pizzas up to accommodate us all.


Once cooked, the pizza was OUTSTANDING!  I’m watching my carbs and bread intake, but couldn’t resist the hot and tasty pizza!  Thanks Art!

We enjoyed our homemade pizza and enjoyed the rest of the Sunday night as the quick but fun weekend was drawing to a close.

On Monday afternoon DOS and I said by to Art and Barnabas as Andy was off at work.


We checked in for our afternoon flight on American Airlines, and I had time for a couple pics of the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains and DOS before boarding our Dash-8 turbo-prop plane.

We then flew from Roanoke to Charlotte, and then connecting back to Tampa, where I’m working for the week. 

After a quick layover in Charlotte at the Admiral’s Club, we were off on our final leg to Tampa.  We arrived around 6:30pm to heavy showers in the area.  DOS went back to his home in Sarasota, while I rented a bright red Nissan Rouge from National Car Rental and drove to my hotel for the week – the Hilton Garden Inn at Ybor City.  

‘Twas a wonderful weekend in Roanoke visiting family!


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