Hikes: December 2015
December 5: Appalachian Trail from Va. 311 to McAfee Knob and back, 7.8 miles
The seeming ever-increasing popularity of hiking, and of this hike specifically, was again evident on this day, as we circled a time or two to wait for a parking spot. And enjoyed lunch within listening distance of a number of people that used to seem impossible, and is now routine, even in December. One highlight of the walk was crossing runner Joseph Teh, who continues his practice of running up to McAfee and back down several times on weekend days.
December 13: Urban walk from home to Tanglewood Mall and back, about 6 miles
The thing you have to do, convincing The Day Hiker to make this walk, is mention the magic word: "TJ's." I think the formula at TJMaxx is pretty simple; new junk, lots of registers, everything appearing to be 900 percent off (of the 1,800 percent markup). Also building the case for the walk, of course, is lunch somewhere along the way. On this day is was Taste of Asia along Franklin Road. Delicious.
December 20: Chestnut Ridge Loop Trail, 5.4 miles
This walk, looping around several Roanoke neighborhoods and mostly within the sound of cars, also offers a lunch spot, amid the long-closed federal campground, where you can sit at a weed-infused picnic table just down from a long-boarded building featuring signage from the 1960s, and talk yourself into the fantasy that you're in a "Planet of the Apes" movie or some other post-apocalypse situation where peril is about to come over that little hill over there. Of course, big bad Cookiedog would protect us from anything. Well, maybe not Mothra.
December 25: Two walks from home to downtown, about 10 miles
Wait, hikes on Christmas Day?! Well, at our house, the gatherings this year were, as usual, Christmas Eve and the day after Christmas, thus leaving all those grandkids to wake up for Santa at home and spend the day with other sides of the family. Leaving The Day Hiker and me to ourselves. So we set out for lunch at Nawab, and got there just in time to open the dining day for the downtown Indian restaurant, as others began streaming in as we dined. We were home by early afternoon, and set out again in late afternoon, this time headed back downtown to Blue 5, an old favorite we had long neglected and at which we were both immensely pleased with the new-menu items we tried. Good food, good walks, good day.