18/05/26-29 Not Enough Garden Gnomes in Roanoke, VA

Day 1: Wait, What Day Is It?

One thing you’d know about me if you’ve ever worked with me is that time has no meaning to me. It’s yet another reason in the “She’s probably an alien list,” time travels differently in space. And in my brain. So I decided to take a weekend trip to Roanoke, Virginia a couple weeks ago during this three-day weekend. Sadly, I had to work on the first day of the three-day weekend, but only for 4 hours, so the 2-hour drive to Roanoke was totally doable after work. So I did it. I didn’t leave immediately after work, taking pity on my sweet cat boy and spending a bit of time cleaning up the apartment a bit before I left (I’d gone to Kennedy Space Center the weekend previous, but was only gone for two days). Once in Roanoke, I checked in to the hotel (thanks dad!) and set out on foot for downtown to get dinner at a Lebanese restaurant, which was delicious. The hotel staff at the desk expressed some concern about the weather, but sure I would be fine, I had a waterproof backpack and a water resistant jacket in my backpack. And I was fine. That night……

After dinner, I walked back to the hotel to plan my weekend, which turned out to be a good idea because the museum I wanted to see the most doesn’t open on Sundays or Mondays, which were the only two days I was planning on being in Roanoke. Luckily, dad could extend my stay by another day and I didn’t have to be to work until 4 on Tuesday, which meant a trip to the museum on the horizon.

Day 2: Rain Rain Rain

So one of the problems with starting a trip on a Sunday in the southern United States is… things are closed. Or they don’t open until late. And they still close at 5. So I had plenty of time to get breakfast and tool around Roanoke waiting for the art museum to open up so I could visit it while waiting for the transportation museum to open. I visited the wire man who stands on the third floor of the art museum and keeps watch over the city, before heading to the transportation museum to check out the trains and old cars. The museum was pretty neat, but neither art museums nor transportation museums are “my thing,” but they were enjoyable all the same. Of course, when I left the transportation museum to walk the 20min back to the hotel, the sky opened up and… well, it turns out my jacket isn’t as water resistant as I’d like and my backpack, while still way more waterproof than other backpacks, not 100% waterproof. More like 80%.

I took a similar photo with my #analog #yashica365 and then I had to count out my photos again to make sure I didn’t accidentally double-expose it. “I took one inside and then 1-2-3 up here so I should be on frame 5 ok good” at Taubman Museum of Art

After hanging everything to dry and having a nice mug of tea, I went on a hunt to buy dry socks and rain boots (ended up with kids boots a size too big, but they’re better than completely wet leather Doc Martens!) before heading to the antique mall, which wasn’t as impressive as I was hoping. There was a lot of fine china and Star Trek books (which seemed weird to me. Did Roanoke have it bad for Star Trek more than other places I’ve been to? I’ll never know), but not a lot of old cameras and definitely no light meters, which is what I was looking for. So I decided to head to Black Dog Salvage to check it out in the, oh, 30min I had before it closed. That was a very cool visit, I was much more impressed with their goods than the antique mall. Sadly, they only had one garden gnome in all their concrete statuary. I love garden gnomes…

After a quick stop at the hotel to drop some stuff off, I headed to a burger and beer place for dinner on recommendation from the desk guy (who kindly lent me his umbrella as I was leaving to go shopping), which is a weird choice for me as I don’t eat red meat or drink beer. But I figured “why not, I’ll eat a cheeseburger.” The cheeseburger wasn’t amazing, I didn’t realize there weren’t any veggies on the burger, and the drink was bottled, but there was a regular standing near where I was sitting working towards 1,000 total beers (the place is like a motorcycle gang or the Girl Scouts, for every 100 beers you get a patch to put on your custom shirt and at 1,000, you get your own day and you can add a burger of your own creation). He was at about 890, which is a lot of beer. I ended up sitting and chatting with him, a couple of people who came in to eat, and the waiter for a while and it was really good company. I left a bit earlier than I otherwise might have because the plan for the next morning was to leave around 7:30am to go to the Green Bank Observatory.

Day 3: She’ll Be Going Up the Mountain When She Goes

After a very groggy re-check-in and a mediocre (but free) hotel breakfast, I started off towards the Green Bank Observatory in the Monongahela National Forest. I was a little worried about the drive, which was about 3hr and went through the National Radio Quiet Zone. Luckily, my GPS saved the anticipated directions because I had downloaded the map to my phone the night before, so I didn’t need to worry. I even had a “friend” driving behind me for 1.5-2 hr of the long trip. It was fun to see my “Truck Friend” behind me during the journey.

Once I got up to the Observatory, I was surprised at how not-busy it was. I figured it was a holiday weekend and that there would be more people, but there were maybe 10 people on the tour. It was an interesting trip and I’m glad I decided to go as part of the Roanoke trip, making the drive 3hr instead of the 5 it would have been from home, but by that point in the weekend, I was tired and kind of wanted to go home. If you’re interested in space science, the Green Bank Observatory has many very cool, very historic telescopes, and is worth a visit, but maybe not an all day one.

After driving back down the mountain, I ordered a pizza and watched Star Trek in the hotel room. I had one more stop to go before I could call my Roanoke trip complete and it was the reason I extended my stay by a day:
O. Winston Link Museum.

Day 4: Flash Photography

As a vintage camera person, the main reason I came to Roanoke was its relatively convenient location and the O. Winston Link Museum.

Link and George Thom with Link’s Flash equipment, 1956 20 x 16 inch gelatin silver print

I started my morning at the O. Winston Link Museum and was the only person in the museum. Seeing the equipment and the black and white photography was amazing. My favorite photo was the photo above that had been blown up to be larger-than-full size, where O. Winston Link and his assistant were surrounded by their equipment. It’s amazing how many flash pieces it took to take the photos.

After my time in the museum, I drove home in time to freshen up before heading to work! Long-weekend trip, complete! Overall, I had a nice time, but I was very happy to be home.

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