Monday, 8 August 2011

Roanoke, Virginia

I made it Roanoke, Virginia (not to be mistaken for Roanoke Colony on Roanoke Island in present-day North Carolina) at 1 a.m. on Saturday, August 6th.

Roanoke became known as The Star City of the South because of a man-made star that officials erected on Mill Mountain in 1949 to showcase the city's progressive spirit.  (Other nicknames are Magic City, Big Lick, and Capital of the Blue Ridge.)

Roanoke Star.

At 88 1/2 feet tall (and 10,000 pounds worth of steel), this is the world's largest man-made star.  It is illuminated every day from nightfall until midnight.  

Roanoke Star inscription.

From the base of the Roanoke Star, there are great views of the Blue Ridge Mountains and downtown Roanoke.  Like this:

View of Blue Ridge Mountains and Roanoke, Virginia from the base of the Roanoke Star.

Roanoke has a population of 97,000.  Roanoke + metropolitan area has a population of 250,000 (about the population of Saint Paul, Minnesota).  As a City Girl, it feels small.  (The downtown area is a bit larger than Tacoma, Washington.)  But I think that smallness will be conducive to writing...and the road and mountain bike opportunities are unbeatable.  I'm excited to hike the Appalachian Trail (which runs through Roanoke County) and explore The Wine Trail of Botetourt County (nearby American Viticultural Area).  And Roanoke is within 300 miles of:

Greensboro, North Carolina:  98.9 miles
Charlottesville, Virginia:  121 miles
Richmond, Virginia:  161 miles
Washington D.C:  240 miles
Virginia Beach, Virginia:  270 miles
Baltimore, Maryland:  278 miles
Wilmington, North Carolina:  290 miles
Myrtle Beach, South Carolina:  301 miles

Sunset in the woods of Mill Mountain.

Historic Grandin Village, a neighborhood of Roanoke.

Coffee shops galore.

Culturally the city seems like a mix between New England and The Deep South. The many brick buildings, narrow streets, and presence of Dunkin' Donuts remind me of Alexandria, Virginia, the suburbs of Boston and other cities of New England.  The city also lies in the transition between Humid subtropical climate zone and Humid continent climate zone, meaning it has four distinct seasons like the rest of New England.

Yet, people speak with a southern drawl, I could imagine drinking sweet tea on my front porch, and there is a lazy southern feel.

 The Deep South:  Perfect for sweet tea drinking.


New England:  brick buildings, and narrow/tree-lined streets.

Seeing (and living) in another part of America is a pleasure.

Especially one so scenic...

I'm excited to start the next chapter of my life.  In the meantime, I'm unpacking my car, buying groceries and attempting to secure part-time employment.

I'll update Random Road Revelations as I visit other cities and geographical areas near Roanoke, Virginia.


  1. I'm headed to Roanoke in a couple months to start the mfa at Hollins. I've been enjoying your blog. Thanks!


    Jason H.

  2. So happy to hear that, Jason. You're going to love it. Excited to meet you in August/September.