Dinner. Sort of.
Urban walk from home in Southwest Roanoke to Franklin Road business strip into South Roanoke and back home. About 6 miles.
With a weekend full of good commitments (Virginia Tech's amazin' football win, lots of home fixes and clean-ups and a trip to the roller rink with a grandson about to turn seven and two buddies), we settled for a Sunday-evening long walk to dinner. Which raises the question: Do you earn eating all those chips at a Mexican place if you're going to walk three and a half miles after you finish 'em?
A walk through neighborhoods is not all that much of a change for The Day Hiker, whose passion for wildflowers in the woods is matched by one for pretty landscaping around the houses she passes; the pauses to look are nearly as frequent in the residential areas of Southwest and South Roanoke as they are in the woods.
Our route also took us through several retail sectors that, in the context of a walk, reveal much more than they do on a ride-by. Ukrop's, closed on Sundays and with the announcement that it will close for good in October, provides a moment of sadness as you go by its huge, tan, rectangular building and its completely empty lot. That corner of Franklin and Wonju, a sort of wasteland for many years and then recast as Ivy Market, has sort of never escaped IV support, as Ukrop's cited the non-opening of the companion Walgreens for years as a factor to its underperformance. And then at long last, Walgreens finally opens just weeks before Ukrop's surrenders.
We also walked with interest along part of Franklin Road's Auto Row, making our way through lots full of new Chrysler, Toyota and Cadillac products – a far far cry from the likes of hemlocks, rhododendron and mountain laurel, but also possessing their own sort of taxonomic background and interest: The Jeeps and minivans have always seemed like they ought to get Chrysler through the auto-blight, but apparently not; in the manner of the best fruit being picked, the Toyota lot was full of Camrys and Corollas, but as far as we could see only one new Prius; and the Caddy lot had the least number and biggest-sized product of the three.
On the way back from too-many-chips, it occurred to us that the other-grandson-about-to-turn-seven was due to get picked up from a grandmom pretty soon after we got home. He's a good and willing walker, so we detoured into lower South Roanoke to see if he wanted to walk too, and if so, if he could commit to keeping up with the demanding pace of The Day Hiker (aka Gigi when grandkids talk to her) for the two-mile-plus walk. He responded with no hesitation that he did and he would.
And keep up he did, albeit with a pattern of fall-a-bit-behind and then run up through the gathering darkness to try to startle The Day Hiker, whose rendition of "Me And My Shadow" helped train The Little Hiker to wait for the streetlight to be on the proper side of things before he began another stealthy rush to the front.
September 20, 2009