Just before we set off Mr.C declares that I should drive in the cities as he will be better at navigating. I concur and take the drivers seat. I do not drive automatic and I haven’t driven in America for several years so it is all new to me. He is navigating though so there will be no drama, just clear directions, phew.
We aren’t even out of the airport car park and he utters the word, ” I don’t know where we are going any more than you.” This does not go down well.
We make it onto the I-66 and are on route to the Shenandoah national park. Its a smooth drive and once I realise that the slow lane is not the left lane but the right, people stop beeping all the time. We make it to the Shenandoah national park entrance only to be told it is too dangerous and we need to enter higher up. So we drive on further.
We are the next car in line to enter, $20 ready and super excited. I have been praying to see a bear jump out the whole journey. We have just handed our money over when this woman is all concerned and says to the park ranger, ” oh I just want to let you know there’s a baby brown bear, about a mile back.” Mr.C can see my thoughts written all over my face, but I know we have just paid to get in and there are cars behind us. There’s no choice. We cannot turn the car around and search for the bear, we must just persevere and hope another one gets hungry and comes out.
As it turns out the baby bear’s mother was killed a week previous by a hit and run. My heart is breaking when I hear this and I curse Mr.C for not letting me go and kidnap the baby bear.
This drive though is something else!! It is truly stunning, as I drive higher my ears pop slightly. We stop sporadically along Skyline Drive, just to take a deep breath and marvel at the world and it’s splendour. After about 45 minutes driving and a toilet experience. Consisting of weeing into a deep man made hole (neither of us were prepared for the back splash), but we reach our hike point, ‘Dark Hollow’.
Going down is always much easier than going up. We descend through snow coated leaves, listening to the trickle of water growing louder as we wind down the trail. We when reach the bottom, the waterfall is glorious, fresh and you really get the opportunity to appreciate the elements that were hidden from the passer by. Found by someone one day who was just fooling around in the trees. The scene makes the walk worth it and was a good chance to stretch our legs before our next drive. However going up seems to take us forever and we both curse our love of food, vowing to start hiking more when we return to London.
But we make it back to the car and head to Roanoke.
We enter Roanoke and it already feels completely different to Washington. There is an almost 1960’s vibe about it. I am about to lose my patience the fifth time of passing the same H & C sign. Mr.C reluctantly directs me and I moan, I am desperate to get out the car. We have been driving for 3 hours now and my attention spam is waning. Then we get to where he was taking us. The Roanoke star. It is beautiful. Well its just a giant star but the view of the town, the lights, the humming glow of what’s to come later that night. It is romantic. We smile and laugh about my impatience and take several minutes to enjoy this moment we have together, appreciating that neither of us would ever want to be in this spot with anyone else. The cold then sets in and we hustle to the car to get warm.
We find a cheap motel, The Comfort Inn, I barter the price with the young kid behind the desk resulting in a cheaper rate. I must say it was insanely good value and the bed, well, we debate if it is perhaps better than the one we just had in Washington. It is wider for sure.
We order a taxi into the town. It is only a 5 minute journey. The town is beautiful, it reminds me of stars hollow from the Gilmore Girls. We head straight to a bar and are immediately welcomed by the locals. The wine and beer are cheap and everyone is super friendly. The owner tells us some good places to go and we head off. The next bar we enter is full. It has a jovial sign on entry that gives you the sense that no ‘heirs and graces’ will be found in here. All the patrons are in sports jerseys and a live band are playing on the stage. They only serve bottled beer and boxed wine. It is all suitably back street America, and we love it. Keen to get some food we leave after a few drinks and stumble into Jack Brown’s. There is a disco ball with bra’s hanging from it on the ceiling, and the table tops are made from beer bottle caps. The smell is superb. Pure meat being cooked smell. We order ‘The Cowboy’ and try some local beer. The burger is amazing. So good Mr.C orders another while i indulge on a giant gherkin (pickle).
Full of meat and sweet potatoes, me having had my fill of beer we move on to the busiest bar in the old market town. This place is heaving for a Thursday night. The music is loud and the wine is cheap at $3 a glass. We get very intoxicated and make friends with the couple to our left and the bar tender. We dance until Mr.C tells me my dancing has got too much. Its 1 am and we both are ready for chocolate and bed. There are no shops open or taxi’s in this small town, but the bar tender rings his friend to give us a lift back to the motel. That sounds weird and to be honest it was, but the driver stops at the garage where we stock up on several flavours of m&m’s. The driver is grateful for the fare and I am now so excited as it is full on snowing!!
Mr.C goes into the room and watches me out the window as I dance in the snow till I can’t stand the cold anymore. I really like Roanoke. If you are ever passing through please stop here and enjoy this cute, fun filled town.