Sunday, February 21, 2016

Road trip to Roanoke

Last weekend, which was brutally cold, we took a drive to Roanoke, VA. Our purpose was to go see Wilco in concert on their current tour. I had tried to get tickets for their DC show, but was having no luck. I scanned the concert dates and saw that they were going to be in Roanoke on the Saturday of a three day weekend and thought, why not?  I easily scored good seats. And I have to say, it's more fun to see music outside of DC. Of course we did see them in DC also, I was able to get tickets eventually, after the pre-sale frenzy was over.
This is my sketchbook record of the trip, scenes from 81.
But anyway, this is not about tickets, this is about Roanoke. The drive is about 4 hours down unexciting route 81. We griped about how we could be in NYC in the same amount of time or some other more exciting place. Neither of us had ever been to Roanoke and we had pretty low expectations. The only thing I could pull from my memory was that a friend had told me that someone had reproduced a miniature version of Graceland in their front yard and you could visit it.

This lion was in the window of an antique shop.
Once we arrived we started to think about dinner, we'd have to eat early, but the realization that it was Valentines weekend had us worried. We scanned menus online and were surprised to find so many interesting restaurants. I had been sure we would have to eat at an Applebee's or something. So we set off for downtown and found....a real downtown. Shops, restaurants, a marketplace, a museum, lots of people: it's a happening place.

One thing I have learned is that if you are ever in a situation where every restaurant is booked, your best bet is the sushi restaurant. And once again I was right. They told us we could have a table if we left before 7:00. No problem.
We ate dinner and  we saw the show, which was great, and just a short frigid walk from our hotel. Apparently Wilco had never played Roanoke before so the crowd was really fired up. The concert hall had amazing acoustics; we weren't expecting that either. The next morning we rejected the free hotel breakfast so that we could go back downtown and explore more. We had chicken and waffles at Thelma's, wandered into some shops and stopped in at the Taubman art museum.
The museum is easy to find because it has a Frank Gehry-like design. It is also free and has a very nice collection for such a small museum. They had an Audubon show, an exhibit about George Washington which was very nicely sourced, as well as a contemporary installation about tobacco farmers in Virginia. They also have a large selection of Judith Leiber handbags, which was different and interesting to see.
The glowing red restroom @Taubman

So, thumbs up to Roanoke; I would go back again. After all, we still have to visit mini Graceland.

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