With the season's first genuinely cold day upon us, we had plans to hike to an Appalachian Trail shelter (likely Lambert's Meadow) and build a fire for lunch. But with a relatively dry forest and winds steadily strong and gusting to more than 30 miles an hour, we decided against that and set out instead on an urban walk, beginning in downtown Roanoke in front of the venerable Hotel Roanoke.
The Lick Run Greenway, completed in 2006, begins through Gainsboro, passing between the Roanoke Civic Center on one side and the Roanoke Catholic school/church complex on the other. Urban gives way to park-like once you cross Orange Avenue and ascend into Washington Park. From there, the paved greenway snakes its way beside little Lick Run through lightly wooded land for the most part, before it climbs the hill near the southern end of the Valley View shopping area and crosses above I-581 to deliver you back into an urban context.
Our destination, instead of the usual mid-hike lunch stop, was the Valley View Grande movie complex, and a two-hour pause to watch "Cadillac Records" – the musically-huge-fun history of Chess Records. (Beyonce Knowles playing/singing Etta James alone is worth the price of admission.)
The walk back was into the gathering twilight, one highlight of which was the view from the high point in Washington Park, from where the Roanoke Star, the holiday-decorated Wachovia Tower and the lighted spires of St. Andrews Catholic Church rose out of the hidden floor of the city to create dramatic, late-light, seldom-seen views of these landmarks-in-tandem. We got back to the hotel just as the last light drained out of the sky, having completed a brisk and new-views walk through a part of our city too often neglected in the on-foot context.
December 7, 2008