Greetings! Over Memorial Day weekend, Faith and I decided to drive to Roanoke, VA to visit some friends, CJ and Christina. You might remember them from our Asheville Trip a couple years ago. CJ and I were roommates at App, and Christina and Faith have known each other their entire lives. This won’t be my usual full-fledged travel blog, but I thought I’d at least briefly share about our trip.
Friday after work, we drove up to Roanoke via Jefferson and the Mouth of Wilson. We’d originally planned to take the Parkway all the way up, but it was raining and we were short on time. Maybe another day…
Sharp Top // Peaks of Otter
Saturday, while Christina and Faith did their shopping/coffee thing, CJ and I drove north on the Parkway to the Peaks of Otter, where we hiked Sharp Top Mountain. It was a beautiful area, and surprisingly steep for the Virginia Blue Ridge. Thomas Jefferson once speculated this might be the highest point on the continent:
He was pretty close on the elevation; Flat Top at the Peaks of Otter is 4,001′. We’ll cut T.J. some 18th Century slack about his “in North America” conjecture.
Bedford Boys Tribute Center
After our hike, CJ and I drove to Bedford to visit the National D-Day Memorial. While driving through downtown Bedford (unsuccessfully attempting to visit their closed farmers’ market), we spotted an old corner drug store that had been converted into a museum. The center was dedicated to the memory of the “Bedford Boys”, a group of 20 soldiers who perished fighting on Omaha Beach, Normandy during Operation Overlord (D-Day). Bedford County had the highest casualty rate per capita on D-Day, so it was selected as the spot for the National D-Day Memorial.
We got a personal tour of the Tribute Center, and learned a great deal about the lives of the “Boys”, and saw a great deal of WWII memorabilia. It was an interesting stop, but might be worth skipping if you’d rather spend more time at the memorial.
The national D-Day Memorial
After visiting the tribute center and grabbing some lunch, CJ and I went to the Memorial. We took the ~1h walking tour in the rain, which I suppose added to the Normandy-esque ambiance. The tour largely focused on the events leading up to D-Day, including Operation Fortitude. There are over 400 plaques describing the events of the day and the roles of various people and entities, making for some interesting reading.
Roanoke College // Salem
Sunday afternoon, after church/lunch, the four of us drove to nearby Salem, VA to visit the beautiful campus of Roanoke College. We also walked around downtown Salem for a while, and saw their 9-11 Memorial, made from beams from the 33rd and 36th floors of the north tower.
Mill Mountain Star
On the south side of Roanoke, Mill Mountain provides a north-looking panoramic view of the city. Shortly before sunset, we drove to the top to enjoy a view of the city, before descending to seek out some dinner. Originally, there was an incline railway up the mountain, but it was dismantled, and only a road and walking/biking trails remain.
On Monday, we got drinks from Sweet Donkey Coffee, and enjoyed them as we walked through some of South Roanoke’s historic neighborhoods. Then, we drove a couple miles to downtown Roanoke, popping into a few stores and enjoying the architecture.
Beale's - Bedford, VA
While in Bedford for the Memorial, CJ and I ate at Beale’s, a barbecue joint/brewery. They had excellent brisket and good pulled pork, but mediocre mac & cheese and wanting portions. After we ate, we spent a bit of time in a neat salvage store next door as we waited for the rain to subside.
Saturday night, we headed to downtown Roanoke to try Leonore Restaurant, a combo Venezuelan/Italian joint. While a bit of a strange menu combination, the food was good. I got an pabellon arepa (cornmeal pita stuffed with pulled beef, beans, and cheese, Faith got a personal supreme pizza, CJ got chicken marsala, and Christina got a Venezuelan street dog, which was a hot dog with mustard, ketchup, slaw, and potato sticks.
Scratch Biscuit Company
After church on Sunday, we ate lunch at Scratch Biscuit Company. Faith and I split a cajun catfish biscuit and the “Cowboy Crippler”: a giant biscuit with brisket, pulled pork, a country-fried sausage patty (yes, you read that correctly), a hash brown cake and cheese. We also tried their grits.
On Friday night when we first arrived, we all got gyros from a delicious local Greek place just down the road. Our other edible endeavors included much coffee, a bag of frozen tater tots from Kroger, bacon/eggs/toast, and some sandwiches.
That wraps up the weekend. It was great to see CJ and Christina, and we really enjoyed getting to explore Roanoke and the surrounding area.
Monday afternoon, we drove back to Boone via Galax and Independence, once again opting to skip the Parkway because of crowds. Plus, a 15+mi section of the Parkway near Roanoke is closed because of a road failure caused by heavy rains.
We capped off our Memorial Day with a fire in Boone with some of Faith’s family.