Today my family and I flew to Raleigh, North Carolina. We're down here for a visit to see two colleges and see a museum that has a strong connection with my wife's family. This is the second time in nine months that I've travelled en famille and it is so much different than the usual business trip. For example, I know the airline security drill by rote, but I had to coach my family through the various details of how to get our stuff through onto the gate side of Logan Airport, so that we could get on our way.
Logan does have one pleasant feature that betrays a New England flavor. There are white rocking chairs situated in a spot which looks out onto the airfield and the far edges of East Boston beyond it; my family enjoyed a few minutes of rocking before we moved over into the regular gate area.
After a short delay, we got onto our regional jet. It's pretty tight for space, so we needed to check our biggest bags at the end of the jetway before getting on the the plane. The flight was uneventful, but we didn't get to our rental car until about 2:15 in the afternoon. We were all tired and ready for lunch by then, so we drove west on Route 40 in search of a diner that was recommended in our travel guide.
We got off at the recommended exit and drove about a bit, but the directions were not too clear. So we pulled into the next shopping plaza, drove up to a restaurant called Fuddruckers and declared victory. It was the first time any of us had been there, but they served burgers and other food with a minimum of fuss and bother and we were all generally pleased with the quality of what we got and we now ready to continue our journey.
The car came with the Hertz Never Lost GPS system, so it was time to check that out. Without too much effort, I figured out how to punch in our destination in Roanoke Virginia and we were informed that we had 155 miles and about 3 hours on the trip ahead of us.
I drove the first half hour and then my oldest son relieved me. The traffic levels weren't too bad, but we found Greensboro to be fairly busy for a Saturday and it took us a while to make our way through this sprawling city cum exurb and head up Rt 220 to Roanoke.
About 40 miles later, Rt 220 crossed over into Virginia and the terrain started to undulate. In the distance, we got our first glimpse of the Blue Ridge mountains. As we continued to drive North, the views got more spectacular and we particularly enjoyed the sunset, where banks of clouds rose up above the mountains, pink underlacing the gray puff above and the panorama near took our breath away. Rt 220 winds all over the place and soon it was time for my wife to take the wheel. She drove the rest of the way, but the hills got steeper and we had to be very careful coming down the backside of mountain roads as they twisted in turned in several directions.
At last we found ourselves driving through Roanoke and got a preview of the town that we'd be seeing the next day. I'd done a bit of research in our AAA guide and convinced the family we had to try our a place called the New Yorker Delicatessen and Restaurant. It turned out we didn't even need to get back on the highway. Our GPS took us to Williamson street, which is lined with both restaurants and the occasional bail bonds and check cashing places. About a mile down the road, we got to an old style place that looked very much like the deli restaurants we knew from the New York area.
The menu was old school in all respects. The food was classic New York: Pastrami, Reubens, Nova, and all kinds of suitable side dishes. We all placed our orders. Soon, plates stacked with food arrived at the table. I dug into my Reuben and was very pleased with the lean and very tasty pastrami. Other food we ordered like a Bagel with Nova, fresh brown beans, a turkey sandwich and a concoction of Bratwurst and sauerkraut called the Germantown special, all proved to up to very high standards and priced at bargain levels we had not seen in many years. The boys topped off the meal with desserts of cheesecake and strawberry ice cream and we all walked out full. The trip is off to an auspicious start.