Travel Blog: Roanoke, VA
The clock struck 4:30am again on a weekend with back to back travels occurring. This time going from Atlanta for Ingress to Roanoke for Thanksgiving and leaving out of the PIE airport instead of TPA, which is always a difference experience than I'm used to.
Expecting a good deal of travel on Thanksgiving itself and surprised to experience that the airport was quite empty. There was no line for security or entering the airport - this could be have also been a by-product of us arriving 2 hours early. This time a budget airline of Allegiant was being used because they offered a direct flight from PIE to ROA, which is always preferred when I'm traveling.
Each time I fly Allegiant I realize how the ultra low-cost airlines make that promise.
The largest difference is the lack of boarding via a cat walk. This time we go onto the tarmac and board directly from the ground onto the plane. Once that is done you can instantly feel how cheaper the seat and experience is once you are on the flight. Throughout the flight you are reminded that nothing is free - if you want drink or food that is a tiny charge. You are reminded once again prior to landing with spoken advertisements to sign up for a credit card.
Once landed it was Thanksgiving Day and I was one of the roughly hundred people traveling to their final destination out of this tiny airport. Surprised to find a gas station that resembled that of Wawa in Florida - this time it was Sheetz. The interactive kiosk allowed me to build a custom chicken sandwich which was the prefect meal at 9am to hold me over till the official Thanksgiving meal.
I was now in Roanoke, but the final destination was 30 minutes north in a town that looked like built for farmers by farmers. The sister's place was basically a farm house on 20 acres of land with farm animals, a barn and more. When we wanted to get groceries, run an errand or hit a bar - it was a 15-30 minute drive to civilization. That may be the perfect life/vision for some, but I need a bit more modern civilization nearby.
The best way to explain this might be the color of the base Google Map between these cities. In Tampa we have a white base layer which basically means urban/suburban - however Roanoke is green base layer for rural and that is no joke. This can be further explored by looking at the parcel map of the area.
These property/parcel lines zoomed in may look small, but they range from 700 to 10 acres of land. This is the ultra rural area - towns of under 200 people and emergency services, food and more always a solid drive away. Oddly though, amazing Internet connection and 5G service in all the areas I was at, so perhaps its a bit easier to develop an infrastructure when there isn't so much stuff and legal process in the way.
Rural or not though - visiting puppies is a fun experience. An army of 6 little poodles awaited who were getting experience with the colder degree weather.
They have bursts of energy, sleep, eat and repeat. The personalities are already developing among them and some are growing faster than others. A few more weeks and these little pups will be on their way to a new home.
One day towards night we jumped into a car and drove ~30 minutes south into downtown Roanoke to visit a bar. This now resembled a city structure I would recognize with street parking, people walking around and bars on every corner. It seems the style of converting a warehouse into a bar reigns supreme here with the few places we visited both resembling a converted warehouse into a bar/brewery.
As the temperature dropped further our plans of exploring more and more of Virginia collapsed. We are Florida folks at the end of the day and temperatures hovering around freezing makes it quite a challenge to go hike a mountain, explore a park or visit a winery. We did push through though and visited a local winery just up the road.
Speaking with the owners - just two more weeks and they close down for the winter until February. So for sure it seemed the visitors at this time of the year was us and some locals who just wanted to sit around a fire and sip on some wine.
When a bunch of family and friends meet up though - it never fails that someone falls ill and this trip was no exception. Thankfully thus far on the last day of the trip I remain in the clear with no signs of illness even if others have fallen to some sort of bug.
With the airport trip near though we went back into downtown in the search of food and shops prior to be dropped off the airport. This kept us closer to airport for a quick exit when our exploration was done.
A recommendation led us to Billy's which was way more fancier than myself dressed in athletic shorts and airplane attire. Thankfully even though the sign said "neat dress required" I was not turned away and got the burger you see above. A few gin and tonics and we were off to the airport.
This airport was empty again with no line for security, which in comparison to Tampa is tough to believe. You walk into the airport right through all of the lines directly into security without a single person in front of you. This time though my "swimsuit area" was flagged during the body scan and I had to wait for a pat down after many verbal confirmations of what was about to occur.
Once the pat down was done the trip was almost over. Just a quick easy flight to St. Pete and we were there. Allegiant is doing one thing right and that is having direct flights to those most random areas. Tampa International is closer, but they have no directs to at least two places that PIE has filled.
We boarded the shuttle back to the overflow lot and surprisingly ran into the same person who we saw on the shuttle into PIE 4 days earlier at 5am. So that is a small world to board the same shuttle to/from the airport, which suggests and confirmed we went to the same city and left on the same day. It may be raining here in Florida, but the travel weekend is over and so is this blog.