29 July 2012

Postcards from Roanoke, VA

I'm still going through all my photos from our trip to the US and Canada recently and wanted to share with you some of these images from our week in Roanoke, Virginia where Mr Bondville grew up.

Roanoke is a small city of 100,000 people in south-west Virginia, in the middle of the Roanoke Valley between Maryland and Tennessee and surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains and Allegheny Mountains. Hikers and scenic buffs know Roanoke as a pitstop along both the Appalachian Trail and the Blue Ridge Parkway. It is famous for it's big illumuninated star on Mill Mountain (Star City!) and is home to the Texas Tavern (serving chile, cheesy westerns and hotdogs since 1930). The larger Roanoke Metropolitan Statistical Area has a population of close to 300,000 and includes Roanoke and Salem (remember the rodeo scene from the Borat movie?), Botetourt County, Craig County, Roanoke County and Franklin County (the moonshine capital of the US). Are you starting to get the picture?

One of my favourite places in Roanoke County is The Homeplace in Catawba, VA. Set in rural farmland, the homestead is packed every night with hungry hikers (from the nearby Appalachian Trail) and folk from Roanoke who have driven 20 minutes out of town for good southern cooking. The menu is set - country ham (or barbeque pulled pork on Thursdays), fried chicken or roast beef and sides (green beans, mashed potatoes, coleslaw, pinto beans, buttermilk biscuits, gravy, spiced apple) and fruit cobbler for dessert. Make sure you have the iced tea to go with it, and if you want more, you just ask for it - this is family style.

On this trip, we took the little ones to the Dixie Caverns in Salem to see the stalactites and stalagmites; the caves were a nice respite from the humid almost-40 degree day.

We also took a picnic up to the Blue Ridge Parkway to see Mabry Mill and some of the old rural Appalachian ways of life.

How about the views of the Roanoke Valley from the Blue Ridge Parkway. Spectacular.

Back in the city we also tried out the barbeque at The Blues BBQ Company - goo-od.

A little cooking at home - helping Mimi make preztels.

We also met Speedy the little apricot hedgehog two houses up from Mimi and PopPop's house. How cute is he! He's the world champion, didn't you know.

We also spotted bunnies, chipmunks, squirrels, caridinals and blue jays and a deer and fawn that decided to snack on PopPop's flowers.

There were also trips to the mall, the athletic club and my new favourite - Deb's Frozen Lemonade, and daily post-dinner strolls in the balmy evenings. That was until our last night when a huge dorecho storm came through and we lost power. Luckily the airport was open the next morning, but not so lucky for 20,000 Roanoke residents who were without power for six days! See you next time, Roanoke.

Images: Steph Bond-Hutkin | Bondville

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