The Traveling Steve's

May 2022 Travels thru Virginia and Maryland!

Steve (DOS) and I are on the road again; this time for three weeks via car, on several short trips through Virginia and Maryland. The main reason for this trip is to finish going thru a storage bin in Roanoke, which contains a few of the remaining items of my parent’s estate that we haven’t had time to go thru since we (three children) sold their house late last year.

DOS and I took our time driving up to Roanoke, VA (my hometown), leaving Orlando on the last Saturday in April. The weekend traffic was busy, (with various high school and college graduations taking place among other things) so we only drove four hours or so each day, stopping overnight along the way which was much more relaxing.

We wanted to take the Amtrak Auto-Train up to the Washington D.C. area, but it was completely sold out (at least for sleeper accommodations) for the northbound route, most likely due to the snow-bird retirees heading back to their homes in the north after wintering in Florida. We are taking the Auto Train on our return home on May 20th, which we had booked quite a while ago when there was good availability.

We stayed at the Hyatt Place In Roanoke for three nights and started the tedious work of clearing out the storage unit there. It was bitter sweet going thru the remaining items from my parents house that had been stored there; mostly boxes and crates of papers, china, Christmas ornaments, office files from Dad, and a huge collection of Dicken’s Christmas Village, that Mom had collected over the years.

DOS and I got quite a bit done over the three days we were in Roanoke, and we met by brother Andy and partner Art for dinner each night we were there after sorting thru the bin in the daytime. We had already been thru most of the estate items from the house prior to the sale, and had donated much of the furniture, clothes and other items.

On this trip we did have some nice dinners in the evening, including a couple of our favorites, Billy’s in downtown Roanoke, The Coach and Four, and a Mexican restaurant which was new to us. We went to Billy’s Restaurant the first night we were in town, and later stopped by the nearby Hotel Roanoke for a nightcap, before Uber’ing back to our hotel near the airport.

After dinner at Billy’s, we walked over to the Hotel Roanoke where we had a drink at the newly remodeled Pine Room Bar. The Hotel Roanoke is an iconic and historic hotel that originally dates back to 1882, with numerous enhancements and remodels over the years.

The next couple days in Roanoke we worked on the storage bin by day, and had dinners with Andy and Art in the evening. As I always post when I’m back “home” in Roanoke, I love seeing the Blue Ridge Mountains, as we don’t get to see them in flat and level Florida. Here we are driving past Mill Mountain with the large star overlooking the Roanoke Valley, and downtown Roanoke.

As the storage bin was close to Andy and Art’s house, we also got to spend some time with their adorable dog, Barnabas, who is now five and still cute as ever!

Below are some more pics from a couple other dinners we had in Roanoke; one night at a nearby Mexican Restaurant,

and the last night at one of DOS’s favorite Roanoke restaurants, The Coach and Four, where like Billy’s, prime rib is one of their signature items.

After 3 days in Roanoke, we were not finished cleaning out the storage unit, but scheduled time to come back for four days later in the month, as we wanted to visit my sister, Jenni and family, in Maryland. Jenni is having outpatient surgery next week so we wanted to see her prior to that, and later stay a few days in Virginia Beach and Charlottesville before going back to Roanoke. We loaded up DOS’s car with some items from the storage bin to bring to Jenni as we headed up to Maryland.

It was a 4 hour drive from Roanoke to Jenni’s home in Maryland, and on this trip we took the scenic route via Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia, for the last hour or so, thus by-passing the busy 495 beltway in the Washington D.C. area. DOS and I stayed at the nearby Fairfield Inn Hotel in Germantown, MD for three nights while we visited Jenni and her family,

Jenni, always being the good sport, made us a yummy Cinco De Mayo dinner the first night at their house! DOS and I wore our colorful Mexican shirts, (we forgot our sombreros ?) and had a fun night, as well as the next couple days were were there. We had a such a fine time catching up I neglected to take our fun photos inside and on their deck while we were there, only taking photos of the deck and their adorable dog, Addie! Sorry Jenni, I’ll get you in some pics a bit further down!

We took Jenni out to a late lunch the next day at (appropriately named) The Barking Mad Cafe, a trendy cafe/bar located not far from their house. It was nice getting out for a while and taking a break from our chores of sorting thru the silverware and China.

My sister, Jenni. A photo at last, from the Barking Mad Cafe.

We had a fun time sorting thru the silverware and China we had brought up from Roanoke on the first couple days, and the last day going thru the Christmas ornaments. .The silverware and china sorting was actually quite a chore as there were several different patterns, and none of us knew anything about the value of their china, only that it was really old! We are planning on splitting the silverware between Jenni and my brother Andy in Roanoke, and what we don’t want or need donating to charity. We looked up some of the brand names on the web, as we cataloged what was what. Jenni looked adorable with her recent 55th birthday magnifying glass “gag gift”, but it actually helped with reading the minuscule pattern names on the back of the china!

We had a fun time going thru everything, especially as we guys (DOS and me) had no clue about wedding and other china patterns and how they are named. The same with the silver bowls, platters, and utensils. Here we are doing a selfie, with DOS, Jenni, and her husband, Lawrence, standing behind me a I search the web for some pattern we are looking up. Maybe that would be the name and gimmick for a great band: The Four Platters!?. Actually I googled it and they were a former band from the 1950’s. They’ve all since passed away. Too bad! So sad! Somehow I don’t think they wore these platters on their heads though! LOL!

For dinner, DOS and I ordered and brought home food from Buca di Beppo for the last two nights of our stay in Maryland. It was actually supposed to be for only one night, but as we ordered so much food we had enough leftovers for the second night too. Note to self: The portion sizes are huge and service “family style” at Buca, so order accordingly! Jenni set up a buffet style meal on the kitchen island with the food, although she served us bread and salad at the table. DOS and I brought some nice wines as well to complement the meal.

The last night we were in Germantown, we went thru one of the large boxes of family Christmas decorations. We played some Christmas music, and created new memories from the old memories of the decorations; some handmade, others from trips long ago, and others we had each given my parents over the years. By the end of the night a couple people and pet were sleepy, so we headed back to our hotel?promising to visit again soon, and hugs, prayers, and sending much love for Jenni’s surgery next week.❤️?

The next day, Mother’s Day Sunday, DOS and I drove four hours down to Virginia Beach. The traffic was not too bad, although the weather was turning quite rainy, colder and yucky as we approached Norfolk and the tunnels leading towards the Virginia Beach area.

We arrived around 2pm, and had a short wait for our 12th floor suite to become available. It’s a dog friendly hotel as we observed from the lobby while we waited for our room, noting happy the happy previous guests, and even complimentary doggie treats for them!

Once we got to our room, we were very pleased with the accommodations, here at the Hyatt House Virginia Beach Oceanfront, where we are staying for five nights.

I’m now writing this half-way thru our trip so far, with this being a “relaxing” week at Virginia Beach. It’s very “relaxing” as unlike Roanoke and Maryland, it’s too cold and windy to go outside to even walk along the nice Virginia Beach Boardwalk! I say “relaxing”, but I probably should say “lazy” as we are mostly staying inside due to the very strong winds (30 mph with gusts up to gale-force!) that have been here for the last couple days, which make the mid 50’s temperatures feel much colder than it really is. I described the sea as looking “angry”, and with no one out on the beach or boardwalk, the mood is understandable. No one is outside walking around, and the white objects on the breach are trash cans, not people.

Compared to the mid 80’s temperatures in Florida, it feels “freezing”, here in Virginia Beach as well as quite dismal, but fortunately we did bring a coat and sweat jacket. We have a nice and large corner view suite on the 12th floor here at the Hyatt House Hotel, which has a living room, dining room, separate large bedroom with balcony, and one bath. The suite spans the width of the hotel, so we get ocean views from the bedroom, side views out the corner, and kitchen views on the other side facing the town of Virginia Beach, with occasional helicopters and fighter jets roaring above from the nearby Military base. It’s really too cold and windy to even sit on the balcony, although we have managed to take a couple photos from the balcony and even walk a couple blocks to dinner in the evening.

While it would be nice to have better weather, it really is a nice lazy getaway before we head back to Roanoke in a few days to complete our work closing out the storage unit and ultimately taking the Auto Train home. We can hear the roar of the ocean as we sleep, and by day we can occasionally see and hear the Navy Jets and helicopters flying overhead from the nearby Military base.

In a strange way it feels like we’re on a Trans-Atlantic cruise with the raging seas and stormy-looking skies, and while we can see land, it’s not practical to go “touring” on it. Here are a couple views out our kitchen window facing one street away from the ocean. The first photo is when we checked in, where you can see part of the awning on the “King of Sea” restaurant in the far bottom left of the photo below. If I had know it would have blown off during our stay I would have taken a better photo!

Flash-forward a couple days later, and you can see rest of the awning literally in the process of being blown off!

Don’t think they will have outdoor seating anytime soon! Awning be-gone, as these workers later haul it off to the junkyard!

I’m ending this post now, and signing off for lunch. Fortunately we had leftover pizza from last night’s dinner at Chichos, and have a full size kitchen and convection/microwave oven to reheat it. I must say, Chicho’s was impressive and only a couple blocks from the hotel which was very convenient. It was started by a couple lifeguards back in the late 1960’s, and today there are several locations in the area. And boy, do they make a huge extra large meat lovers pizza! Chichos is a fun place for a brewski and some awesome pizza in a sports bar like, but family friendly setting, offering take out orders as well.

Back at the hotel, we had lunch overlooking the awning being blown off across the street. Fortunately DOS had gone out to the grocery store the first day of our stay to stock our room for the essentials; i.e. Coke Zero, chips, beer, ice cream bread, water, yogurt, blueberries etc! Bye for now!

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