Rachel Awtrey

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Destination: Roanoke, Virginia

This past weekend, Thomas and I got to spend time with my great uncle, Jim. A sweet soul that has now returned to where he was raised, Roanoke, Virginia, and now he wants to share it with us. 

I've grown up visiting Jim in Roanoke but we've gotten to a point where we've found our favorites and we always return to them any weekend we visit. However, this trip was special.

We drove up to Famous Anthony's on Saturday morning to start our races. A local breakfast place serving the best omelets and waffles is the ideal way to start a day full of shopping and fresh markets. We slurped down the last of our coffee and crammed the rest of the omelet into our stomach and hopped back into the car to drive to the heart of Roanoke. 

Crossing the historic train tracks and passing what use to be an old elementary school I can tell we're close. Then we pass wooden produce trucks plastered with farm logos and I can tell we're closer.

We park and walk onto Market Street for the fresh Saturday morning market. The thousands of shades of green and red and yellow tomatoes tell the stories of the sweat and labor the farmers, behind their tables selling produce, have to tell. The taste of samples of fresh peaches and cake slices match the fragrance of the large wildflower bouquets wrapped in kraft paper passing me on my left. 

The sound of rustic acoustic music coming from the corner of the street accompanies the chit chat of exchange between farmers and locals.

The other, chic side of the street compliments the eclectic feel of the side we stand on. So we cross the road. It's lovely, the chocolate shops, the antique shops and the boutiques could provide me with entertainment for the entire day. I compromise, remembering I'm accompanied by two men. 

We go into my favorite boutique in the area, 310 Rosemont. They carry Cupcakes and Cashmere, and Z Supply. Thomas and Jim sat on the leather couch waiting for me to try on my selections while they ate skittles from the coffee table. 

The next few stores over holds a "Shabby Chic" antique shop with reclaimed wood, antique tennis racquets and board games and chalk painted cabinetry. Right next door is a chocolate shop, Chocolate Paper selling truffles and chocolate bars and paper (cards, calendars, notebooks, etc.) A great combination for people like me that love to write while eating chocolate. And next to Chocolate Paper, a store with kitchen supplies, Ladles & Linens

Yes, it is a dream, downtown Roanoke. 

That evening we attended a Salem Red Sox baseball game. Just hot enough for the boys to enjoy a beer but with a breeze frequent enough to cool down the onion rings from the snack stand. It was a double header so with a ticket for one game, we go to see the last few innings of the other. We finished the late night out at Mac and Bobs with peach flavored beer and sandwiches. 

Sunday morning we ate a light breakfast to save room for the large lunch that was ahead at The Home Place, a quaint restored house in the farmland covered mountains in Catawba, Virginia. An item on the "Hokie Bucket List" for Virginia Tech students. We were served by our favorite server, Jeanie, who lives right up the road. She's been at The Home Place and has been serving my family ever since I was a tot.

I left with a family-styled meal of ham and fried chicken, corn, green beans, mashed potatoes and gravy, biscuits with apple butter, coleslaw and pinto beans filling my stomach. We took a few laps around the white house with a red roof to gaze at the white rocking chairs and hanging plants, gazebos full of families waiting to be sat and a brown wooden fence lining the property to look over the cattle and streams that hang out next door. It was all so beautiful and timeless. 

We finished off our visit with some wine and cheese back at Jim's cottage and updated him on our upcoming life of traveling and moving. With tight hugs, rolled down windows with tears filling my eyes, we left Roanoke and returned back to Clemson, South Carolina.