The Traveling Steve's

Mom’s Birthday weekend in Roanoke – part 1

My Friday started out in the Holiday Inn Laguardia Airport, where I had stayed last night due to a flight cancelation at Islip Airport on Long Island. IMG_1597IMG_1619

I had a quick but decent one night’s stay there, and it was nice not having to fly out until 9:50am vs my original 7:05am flight out of Islip.  As a plus, it was also a nonstop flight back to Orlando vs connecting in Philadelphia. The hotel is close to both Laguardia Airport and the nearby Citi Field Stadium, which the latter is walking distance from the hotel.


I took the hotel shuttle to Laguardia and this time of morning the traffic was much lighter getting into the terminal than last night.  IMG_1596 (1)

I checked in via the kiosk as I was carrying my luggage on the plane. I was glad to get upgraded on this flight, as when there are flight cancelations and changes, you normally don’t get your upgrade back.  I had an hour or so before boarding, so enjoyed a few quiet moments in the Admiral’s Club at Laguardia.  You could see the skyscrapers of Manhattan in the distance from the club.IMG_1628 IMG_1626  I had not been in this Admiral’s Club before, as the other one was a US Airways Club and is in a different terminal.  I had my coffee, and took a few photos before heading for the 737 jet, out of gate D-6.

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I had an outstanding NY based flight crew for the 2 1/2 hour flight to Orlando.  I had an aisle seat in First (5E) and was served a nice lunch on the flight down to Florida.  IMG_8935Upon arrival to Orlando Airport, DOS was waiting for me, and I switched suitcases for the weekend trip; dropping off my bag from the NY work-week, to the weekend bag for our trip to Roanoke.  We left the luggage in his car which was parked by the Hyatt Orlando Airport, as we will be staying there when we return from Roanoke Sunday, since we both have flights on Monday morning.  Talk about a lot of travel!

Since our flight didn’t leave for quite a while, I finished up some work at the hotel, and we had a late lunch/early dinner at McCoy’s in the Hyatt airport, where we frequently have our Sunday night dinner’s.  Although not past security, McCoy’s is a great place for a meal if you have a long layover, or lots of time before your flight.  It’s very reasonably priced, and offers full meals rather than burgers and wings, and it’s a much more relaxed area than by the gates.  After finishing our meal, we went thru security and took the tram to the American gates.


We flew up to Charlotte around 5:15pm on an American Airbus 321; First Class seats 3D and F.  I was a bit tired from the week so napped much of the flight, while DOS enjoyed the snacks and used the wifi aboard the flight.

Our connecting flight to Roanoke was running a bit late, (surprise, surprise – it NEVER runs on time) so we had a couple hours in the Charlotte Airport, where we went to the C-consourse Admiral’s Club.

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We are flying to Roanoke this weekend to see may family, and it’s Mom’s 84th birthday as well.  Here’s a couple gate pics in Charlotte and one once aboard as well of our small Dash-8 turbo prop from Charlotte to Roanoke.

IMG_1652 IMG_1650 IMG_1654We got to Roanoke around 9:30pm, and got a rental car at National Car Rental, and drove to my brother Andy’s house where we were staying for the weekend.


Andy and his partner Art had fixed appetizers for us of Shrimp Cocktail, smoke Salmon, cheese bread, and had sliced some wonderful cheese that paired wonderfully with the red wine they served.  We had a fun, if not late night catching up with each other before heading to bed around midnight.IMG_1661 IMG_1660 IMG_1659 IMG_1658

On Saturday after sleeping in a bit, we met my parents for Lunch at Red Lobster where we had a big lunch.  The wild Sockeye Salmon was delicious!  While walking thru the parking lot Mom noticed a van that had markings on the side identifying it as ‘Pensacola Christian College’.  Mom said she listens to their music every Sunday night, and wondered if they were on tour thru the area.IMG_1666 IMG_1672

While we were seated and enjoying our lunch, I walked back to the back of the restaurant where I was told the small group was sitting and introduced myself, telling them I was up from Florida and celebrating my Mom’s 84th birthday, and how much she enjoyed their singing.  I asked if it wasn’t too much trouble for them to stop by and say hi on their way out.

Not only did they stop by, but they were gracious enough to sing ‘Happy Birthday’ to Mom!  That made her, mine, and I’m sure their day as well!  Thank you Pensacola Christian College singers, and enjoy your tour!

After lunch, we drove to the nearby Hilton Garden, and checked my parents into a suite we had reserved for them for Saturday night. This Hilton Garden Inn is only a mile from Andy and Art’s house, so they wouldn’t have to be driving across town while we were here, especially at night.

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My parents really enjoyed the room, and had a great view of the Roanoke Valley and Blue Ridge Mountains from their 4th floor room, as the hotel sits high up in the Roanoke Valley hills. IMG_1674They stayed there last year as well when we celebrated their 60th anniversary weekend, shortly after the grand opening of the hotel. 

My sister Jenni and her husband Lawrence, and daughter Nikki were also coming down from Maryland for Mom’s birthday weekend, and they arrived at Andy’s around 4:30pm.  DOS picked my parents up at the hotel and brought them over around 5pm,  and we had a fabulous dinner and birthday party at Andy and Art’s house.  Art had planned a special ‘Make your own pizza and taco’ night dinner, and had all the fixings lined up on the countertop.  As it turns out, it was going to be a celebration of Mom’s, Lawrence, mine, and Steve (DOS’s) birthday, even though Mom’s was the upcoming weekend, followed by Lawrence, mine in August, and DOS’s not until October.   Mom of course was the ‘star’, but as we were all together, it was a good reason to celebrate all the birthdays together.  My family is full of surprises!

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But first, my brother Andy had a little treasure hunt game he wanted us to play.  He had made a paper jigsaw puzzle, and we all helped align the pieces together on the kitchen table.  IMG_1693 (1)

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The puzzle turned out to be a Pokemon puzzle drawing, but this was only part 1 of the fun!  Andy gathered the pieces and taped them together, taking them on to part 2, which involved a treasure-hunt field trip of sorts.

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Taking his iPhone, the eight of us (minus Art who is busy prepping the food)  went outside and followed Andy along on our journey.   Like the Pokemon virtual reality/interactive game that is so popular, Andy leads us down the quiet street, and stops several homes away for a break.IMG_1702 (1) IMG_1700 (1)  We stopped at a driveway along the way (in the hot summer 95 degree heat!) trying to get some shade, (while we are all wondering what the heck we are doing outside with this game), and Andy informs us we are almost at the next stop.

IMG_1752 (1)Another house or two away, there is a ‘For Sale’ sign, ‘Under Contract’ and we walk up to the door and are greeted by a barking dog.  Andy then turns the original Pokemon puzzle over and hands it to Mom.

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The puzzle says 5425 and the street name we are on, and it just happens to be the house we arrived at with the barking dog.  Mom then informs us that they just bought this ‘under contract’ house and would be moving in a couple months!  Wow – Wow – Wow!  Talk about surprises!

IMG_1719 IMG_1715IMG_1706 (1)We went inside and met the current owners who had lived there 16 years when it was built, but are moving to the city to downsize and be closer to their daughter; similar to what my parents are doing – moving to downsize and be closer to their son.  We absolutely loved the one level floor plan – it has an upstairs room and storage space, but they won’t use that due to the stairs.  We’ve been concerned about Mom and Dad as they both turned 84 this year, and while still in good health, we all feel more comfortable with them living right up the street from Andy and having a smaller home with less maintenance, all on a single level.  And what a nice floor plan it is, with a terrace in the back yard, and garden.


IMG_1739We stayed for half an hour or so chatting with the current owners and I took a few pics.

IMG_1723 (1) IMG_1721 (1) IMG_1730 We then walked back to Andy and Art’s and had the yummy pizza and taco bar they had setup for us.

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After dinner, we shared the birthday cake, with Mom, Lawrence, Steve, and DOS’s name on it.


We then settled in the living room, and exchanged birthday gifts. While we were only expecting this for Mom, we had also brought everyone gifts from our recent Easter Island trip, as well as a couple things we had bought in February from Vietnam/Cambodia, but had forgotten to bring up on our last visit over Mother’s Day.IMG_1879 (1)


We had such a fun night opening our birthday gifts, reliving old memories, and planning for trips ahead.  IMG_1794 IMG_1792 IMG_1817 (1)IMG_1850 IMG_1913

I drove Mom and Dad back to their hotel around 9:30pm, and Andy and Art, Dos and me stayed up for a bit when I returned.  Art was busy making pastries for the St. James celebration at their church tomorrow.  Art really knows how to cook, and seems like he’s always whipping something up when we’re home.IMG_1917

We’re so excited Mom and Dad are moving up the street from Andy, and I will try to arrange some of my work trips to ‘weekend’ over in Roanoke to assist with their moving preparations.  It’s weekends like this that you really appreciate the love of the family, shortness of life, and to enjoy every moment.  What a wonderful Saturday we had in Roanoke!  Happy Birthday Mom!  You’re the best – we love you!


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