Showing posts with label Roanoke. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Roanoke. Show all posts

Monday, October 24, 2016

The Colors Aren't Bigly

Yesterday we, along with most of Roanoke and several people from Florida who probably thought we do not really have the Autumn colors here like they see on travel brochures, took a drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway.

We went south to Mabry Mill.

Maybe we were late. Maybe we were early. We seldom manage to catch the colors at their peak, except for those around the house.

Mostly we were disappointed. The colors were blah and practically non-existent. There were great views, of course, but no mighty array of colors to astonish the mind and please the eye. Have a look for yourself:

The Parkway outside of Blue Ridge, where we entered.
 
A tad more color further north, but not much.
 
This looks better than the reality, thanks to computer magic.
 
Roanoke from the Parkway. Computer magic, again.
 
Haze kept this photo from coming out well. That's Roanoke with the Wells Fargo Tower in the middle.
 
Computer magic, again. But even so, meh.
 
Looking back toward Roanoke.
 
A little more color, but nothing to brag about.
 
Lovely view, looking toward North Carolina (I think). But not much color.
 
Mabry Mill was slammed. No place to park. I took this from the car as we drove by.
 

Also taken from the car while we sat at the stop sign. To prove we were really here, you know.
The people are more colorful than the leaves!
The colors around here haven't changed over, either. I'm beginning to think they are going to simply turn brown and drop off.

We haven't had a lovely Autumn in quite a long time. I remember vibrant, vivid colors 10 years ago, but it has been awhile since we've seen those.

(The photos in my header, by the way, are from years past, not this year.)

Monday, September 15, 2014

Author's Talk: Beth Macy on Factory Man

Saturday my husband and I went to Barnes and Noble, Tanglewood, in Roanoke, to hear Beth Macy talk about her book, Factory Man.

Beth and I attended Hollins College at the same time, though she was in the master's program while I was an undergraduate. We had several courses together, though.
 
Beth went on to become the star reporter for The Roanoke Times. She's had an inspirational career and her writing has won her awards, acclaim, and fame.
 

 
Author Beth Macy
 
 
 
My husband is the man in black. He hung out at the rear of the crowd.
 
 
Beth reading from her work.
 
 
Gesturing during discussion.
 
 
At some point I became entranced by the number of post-its Beth had placed in her book.
 
 
For some reason, I think this picture, cropped though it is, is splendid. It is the perfect example of reading and writing.
 
 
 
Beth's autograph and note to me. The Write!!! came from my husband, who suggested she should add it to the page.
 
 

This is the book. It's nonfiction ostensibly about a man who built furniture in a little town called Bassett, which is just down the road a piece. It is, I think, much more than that. It is, instead, a commentary on the way the powers that be pay no attention to how their actions impact those upon whose backs they stand.
 
I'll let you know more about that when I've actually read it.
 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

The View From Mill Mountain

Mostly what you can see from the overlooks at Mill Mountain is The City of Roanoke.
 
Roanoke, formerly known as Big Lick, became the Town of Roanoke in 1882 and then a city two years later. The railroad brought the area its fortune in the 20th century and for many years it was known as a "railroad town."
 
The Roanoke River bisects the city, as does the train tracks. The city has a population of over 97,000 people, making it the largest metropolitan area west of Richmond and the commercial hub of Southwestern Virginia.
 
I am not a city girl and I do not venture into Roanoke very often. I remember the downtown of my youth as a vibrant and alive place, with various shops and movie theaters. The city now has a market area which offers shops and restaurants.
 
 
The city to the south of its center.
 
 
Roanoke is surrounded by mountains, and this billboard at The Roanoke Star names them.
 
 
 
This is the heart of Roanoke. The tallest structure is the Wells Fargo building (the one with the copper roof). It was originally called the Dominion Tower. It was built by a bank and has changed hands as the banks have rolled over.
 
 
This is a shot of Tinker Mountain, which is about 12 miles from Roanoke. We live on the other side of Tinker Mountain.
 
 
Another shot of downtown. The road snaking through is an interstate.
 
 
More of the city to the south of downtown.
 
 
The upper right shows the Catholic Church. It is currently undergoing renovation.
 
 
It's rather sobering to see all of those house tucked among the trees down there, isn't it.
 
 
It takes a lot of space to house nearly 100,000 people.
 
 
This was my favorite shot that I took last week when I was on Mill Mountain.
 
 

 
 
Haze frequently hides the mountains.
 
 
A closer look at the Wells Fargo building. To the right and a little to the rear, before you get to the Catholic Church, is Hotel Roanoke.
 
 
 
Hullabaloo was rampant when Dominion Bank built this structure. Nothing in Roanoke is accomplished without lots of complaining and doomsday talking.
 

 
 
This is the Taubman Museum. It was also controversial, and I tend to come down on the side of the folks who don't like it. I think it looks like a spaceship landed in the middle of the city. It is a lovely structure but it was put in the wrong place.


Friday, August 15, 2014

The Mill Mountain Star

Wednesday my husband had physical therapy in Roanoke, and I decided to drive up to the big star on the mountain while I was killing time.
 
This is now called The Roanoke Star, but I have always known it as the Mill Mountain Star. Mill Mountain is the name of the mountain upon which it sits, after all.
 
Roanoke sometimes is called The Star City, and this big neon structure is why. This the largest man-made star in the world.
 

 
The star was built long before I was born, so it has always been a beacon. When I was a child and we were coming home from vacations, seeing the star meant we were home.
 
 
 
For a while, the star glowed red at night when someone died in a traffic accident. That was a very long time ago, when I was a child. Sometimes it is a patriotic red, white, and blue. Mostly I think it glows white, though.
 
 
 
I had not been up to the star in many years. I was the only person there Wednesday morning. It was a bit chilly and I gloried in the silence and the natural surroundings.
 
 
 
This is the back side of the star. I thought I'd take a picture of that because most people don't.
 
 
 
There was debris hanging in the metal.
 
At the base of the star is an overlook where you can take photos of Roanoke. Of course I did that and will share those soon.
 
There is a "star cam" where you can see people on the overlook. You can access it online at the link. I suppose if anyone were looking at it Wednesday morning, they would have seen me out there.

Friday, June 13, 2014

The Fret Mill


The Fret Mill is a music store located in downtown Roanoke. It was the only reason a friend and I were in downtown a while back; we wanted to pick up guitar strings.

I hadn't been in the store in years (because I really don't like downtown Roanoke, not that I am repeating myself). But a very long time ago, like about 25 years or so, I took guitar lessons there. I went on my lunch hour when I worked at one of the area's biggest law firms.

The fellow who taught me guitar died young but he was a legend in the finger-picking circles during his time. He won all kinds of awards. His name was Buster Jones. I only took lessons from him for a single summer; he was an interesting guy. And he could make that guitar sing, let me tell you. But I don't think he really had the patience to teach.

The Fret Mill I went into recently was a shadow of its former self. The store was about half the size it once was, and it was carrying name-brand guitars that I did not recognize. I have a great little classical Takamine guitar that I bought there so long ago.

I suppose as computers take over, and kids think Guitar Hero is how one plays a guitar, the music stores will go the way of book stores eventually. You'll buy your instrument over the Internet and hope it sounds good when UPS drops it off. That is if anyone still plays at all.

You can't get the feel of an instrument until you hold it your hands. I would hate to see the stores go away.

The Fret Mill still offered a nice selection of books, strings, and other music essentials. It was nice to revisit the store, in spite of the changes.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

The Roanoke City Market Building

In late May, I went downtown for a brief visit. I don't like downtown Roanoke and go there infrequently. This was my first trip to the city's center in years.

My friend and I went to the City Market Building to eat lunch. The building was renovated in 2011 at a cost of $7.9 million.

Somebody needs to ask for their money back.


This exterior sidewalk art was the nicest and coolest thing about the redesign.


Inside, the open space was, well, big. It was also depressing, uninspiring, and dark. The City Market Building back in the late 1980s (and I suppose up until the renovation) was a strange-looking place, with lots of neon signs, but it at least had character and visual interest.


This has no character. This is like a big warehouse with eateries in it.


It is not a place I would want to spend much time. Actually, I doubt I ever go back in there again if I can help it.


What a shame the city spent so much money to accomplish so little. As I understand it, the firm that renovated the building was not from the area; I hope they aren't using this building as one of their prize projects in their portfolio.

The Roanoke City Market district area is the oldest continuous farmer's market in Virginia. It began in 1882 and this building played a big role in that history.

While I am glad they didn't tear down the historic structure, I think the city residents got a raw deal in this redesign. The whole thing was poorly done from the get-go, what with the building being closed for a long time so that the small restaurants that had been there for years had to close or relocate.

We were down there at mid-day and the place should have been so crowded you could hardly walk, but as the pictures show that was not the case.

Except for the interesting exterior sidewalk art, I give this project a big fail.

Dan Smith over on his blog posted about the Market Building's kiosk in May 2012, which was removed. He called the newly designed Market Building "a building without life" and I have to agree. Somebody please go in there and save this space!