What a nice day I had on Friday!

5 minute read

March 26, 2005, 11:26 AM

I went OUT on Friday! I went down and did that Lynchburg-to-Roanoke-and-back circuit, and it seems to work for me. I got a late start, but it still worked. The weather, unfortunately, did not cooperate, which was a shame. I wanted clear skies so I could do a Photography set on downtown Lynchburg. That did not happen. So I skipped it. Downtown Lynchburg, at a glance, looks like a downtown with an older charm to it, but not too old of an older charm. The most prominent building on the skyline is the Bank of the James Building, which was built in 1972. Downtown Lynchburg is going to be fun to do when I get a good-weather day.

In going through Lynchburg, I take US 29. That one has a few different names in Lynchburg. It starts out as Memorial Drive, then changes to Fort Avenue, and then to Wards Road. On Wards Road, I stopped at River Ridge Mall, where I found an interesting sight – a train! I stopped to look, needless to say. I also got a few photos…

River Ridge Express  River Ridge Express

And this is where the railfan in me came out. I found out exactly how that puppy worked. I wondered whether the train carried a battery or was powered externally. It turned out that the train was powered externally, specifically by the center rail on the tracks that you can see in the photos. The center rail is the “third rail” in this system – the one that carries the juice.

After a little run through River Ridge, and some unexpected railfanning (if you consider that to be railfanning), I went down to Wally World on Wards Road. I went down there to say hello to Steve, who’s the co-manager over there. Steve was our boss on the front end in Waynesboro before he was promoted. That was fun.

And then just beyond Wal-Mart in Lynchburg, that’s where I make that BIG RIGHT TURN and catch US 460 towards Roanoke. US 460 is a nice ride. You go past an oil refinery of some sort in Botetourt County (that or Bedford County), and a few small towns. Then you get to Roanoke County, and into Bonsack, which is basically the western edge of the Roanoke metropolitan area. In Roanoke, my main goal was to get some star time. As in the Roanoke Star, that is.

So up I went. It’s so neat who you meet up there, too. The “pick up line” to start a conversation was determining the identity of a strange flashing blue light just below the Civic Center and a little to the right. If you’re ever up at the Roanoke Star at night, look out, and you’ll see it. What is it? No clue. A few speculated that it was a police car, but considering that I’d first seen that light in the same place since 2003, it was easy to rule out a police car, because that would be one heck of a traffic stop to last more than two years. With one couple I spoke with, the lady was so intrigued with it that she wanted to go find it.

I also helped a number of groups up there get some group photos. It always helps to be there when people want their photos taken in front of the star. I don’t know how many photos I’ve taken of people in front of the star over the course of however long I’ve been visiting the star.

I also spoke with two girls who went to Mary Washington College (now the University of Mary Washington) in Fredericksburg. Once they said that, I was like, oh, why does that name carry a significance with me? and then I realized it. You know who I know who works at Mary Washington? None other than the infamous Mecca Marsh. And they knew Mecca! We shared some Mecca stories, and I told them to tell Mecca that I said hello.

And while I was up at the star, the weather finally let loose. It started to sprinkle a little. Then it stopped. Then it started again. And then it really started pouring up there. It was weird, though. Due to the clouds, the view was hazy to start out, but most of the cloudiness was above the star. So the mountains were not visible. Then with the rain and such, the clouds started closing in. First the airport disappeared. Then downtown disappeared. Finally, the Walnut Avenue bridge, which you cross to access the star, disappeared, and we were fogged in. It was quite a sight, though, seeing the city essentially vanish like that. Seriously, in the span of about 30 minutes, the view of the city went from Mill Mountain Park Revisited to Lights in the Foggy Night. Quite a striking change! The fogging in caused most people to leave, which left an eerie quiet up there. Weird.

And then after the Roanoke Star, I went to Hooters. And I only buy it to read the articles. Seriously. I came in there with a newspaper – a freshly pressed copy of The Roanoke Times, which my mind proceeded to devour while the rest of my body devoured the food. I came in there because I liked the food, and not to gawk at girls in tank tops and short shorts.

I had Cierra for a server, who is memorable because she always writes her name on a napkin with a Sharpie right off the bat. See?

Cierra's signed napkin

I’d had her before, the last time I went there back in late July. So that was interesting. And you know how the Hooters girls come sit down and talk with you sometimes? Instead of my just bantering on about something, I actually had some intellectual topics to talk about. It’s got to be better than trying to make conversation with drunks on a Friday night. They actually found soft tissue from a Tyrannosaurus Rex out west, and Explore Park got a very one-sided lease – the most one-sided contract some people had ever seen, they said – that went in favor of Explore Park.

And that was it! From there, I gassed up the van again, and went back to Stuarts Draft via I-81. Why I-81? Because by the time I’m done in Roanoke, it’s late, and so I’m not interested in doing it like a road trip like I do the other places. Just get me home as fast as you can get me there.

And now today, off to work.

Categories: Lynchburg, Retail, Roanoke, Weather