We checked out of our hotel in Charleston, South Carolina on Friday morning, and next headed to Charlotte, North Carolina, where we stayed for one night. Our ultimate destination on this 3 week trip is to stay in Roanoke, Virginia for a few days, although on this trip after being fully COVID vaccinated, we took a more leisurely drive getting there.
Useless amusements to us along our travels was this sign at a gas station in South Carolina, which was adjacent to a mini-mart type store with a small restaurant inside. (No thank you to the restaurant, we just stopped for gas.). One would have to wonder how clueless you would have to be to park at the gas pump itself and then go dining in the restaurant, but I digress.
Moving along, another moment of memory was stopping in the South Carolina rest area at mile marker 152. I remember that only as the mile marker was right in front of me in the parking lot, as I called 9-1-1 to report a fire in the grass area there! The fire must have just started, but quickly spread due to the dry grasses next to the parking lot. I’m assuming as I told the dispatcher, someone had thrown a cigarette out the window from the adjacent freeway. We didn’t stay very long as we wanted to miss the rush hour traffic in Charlotte, but by the time we left the rest area, there were several people on their cell phones also calling 9-1-1. We headed on towards Charlotte, at least having done our duty to report the fire, although we never saw any fire trucks coming from the opposite direction along our way.
Charlotte is right on the border of North and South Carolina, and when we were teenagers used to go as a family to Carowinds, an amusement park (still there) which literally has a line down the property showing the border of North and South Carolina. While I can never get a good photo of Carowinds Amusement Park while driving by on the freeway, I would always try to spot it from the air when flying in and out of Charlotte; a huge hub for American Airlines. Here’s a not so great photo of downtown Charlotte in the distance as we are driving along towards our hotel.
I’ve been to Charlotte many times over the years on business, and was there in fact on September 11th way back in 2001; one of those “you remember where you were” moments. On this trip however, both DOS and I are now retired, and Charlotte was one short hotel night closer to our destination in Roanoke. We stayed overnight at the Hampton Inn in Huntersville, North Carolina, which was just north of Charlotte.
As it was six pm or so when we arrived, it was a quick overnight stop for us, with no sightseeing or touring here. One of these trips I would like to stop and see the Billy Graham museum in Charlotte, but will have to plan more time to visit there. We checked in the Hampton Inn, and had a nice studio suite. Hampton Inn’s that are called Hampton Inn and Suites, usually offer a step up in accommodations, and the studio and one bedroom suites are quite comfortable.
We were a bit tired from the drive and being on the go for the last couple weeks, so we had a quiet night at the hotel, except for heading next door to Rocky’s Pizza where we had dinner.
DOS and I both got our own individual pizza, not realizing how big they were! I got the meat lovers pizza, while DOS got a veggie pizza.
In the morning, we checked out of the Hampton, and drove the remaining three and a half hours from Charlotte to Roanoke, Virginia. Of all the days of our trip so far, this was the first day we had rain and stormy weather all day.
Fortunately the rain eased up a bit and we take a short break at the Virginia Rest area, where true to the decades old motto “Virginia is for Lovers!”
While the rain continued on and off, we got to Roanoke before the major storms rolled thru. As we drove thru the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains toward Roanoke, the Spring colors came into view with the beautiful flowers along the freeway, even if they were upstaged for the day by the rain weather.
Upon arrival in Roanoke, we checked into the Marriott Courtyard Hotel near Valley View Mall for the next five nights.
My sister Jenni would join us the next day (Sunday) from Maryland for a four night stay as well. We were in Roanoke once again to assist with cleaning out my parent’s house and preparing it for sale. Although my parents died last year in March and August, (Dad and Mom respectively) they were still fresh on our minds and hearts as we went thru their belongings. We have been up to Roanoke on many trips in the last couple of years, and have previously donated most of the large pieces of furniture, clothing, etc, but we still had much to do while there.
I’ll detail more of our Roanoke trip in the next post, but for the first night, it was just DOS and me, so we had a nice dinner at The Coach and Four Restaurant in Roanoke. I always get the prime rib, while DOS likes the duck. It’s a family-owned restaurant in a former large house, and is reminiscent of some of the supper club restaurants we’ve been to up in the Wisconsin area. Here is a photo of DOS and my sister Jenni taken a few days later when we returned to Coach and Four for dinner, this time bringing Jenni with us.
For now, on our first day to Roanoke, and as it was Saturday night, the Coach and Four was quite busy. Fortunately we had reservations fo 8pm so we didn’t have a wait to get seated. We had a great meal and good service, and yes I had the prime rib medium rare, while DOS had the duck. We also had a nice Virginia wine, a Cabernet Franc from Prince Michel winery.
More to come on our Roanoke trip, which is my hometown. Welcome Home Steve and Jenni!