Rainy Roanoke! It actually is a beautiful small city, even during an overcast October week — and the skies cleared up brightly my last day there.
What I loved most about the city during the daytime is how the surrounding mountain peaks ascended to be obscured by darkening alabaster clouds. It’s as though some celestial painter was coloring outside the lines, and brushed broad swathes of smoky white to cover the summits, and to turn the slopes the hues of deep, royal blue-gray and dimming charcoal.
This entire region in Southern Virginia rests along a broad valley encircled by mountains — the Blue Ridge Mountains to the east and the Allegheny Mountains to the west. (The Alleghenies are where you can find Iron Gate and Clifton Forge.) It is slightly disorienting for a first-time visitor to see mountains virtually everywhere on the horizon; I think it subtly affects one’s sense of direction. (Mill Mountain, home of the famed Roanoke Star, is within the city limits.)
There actually is a Long Island, Virginia along the Roanoke River, presumably where all the cool people live. Just northwest of that is Altavista, Virginia, with its notable cottage industry of obsolete Internet search engines.
My girlfriend calls Roanoke “The Snow Globe City,” and that makes sense when you view downtown from the highway. It is a quaint looking southern city, its streets are neatly lined with boxlike period buildings, and it has the appearance of a picturesque architectural huddle.
And there are churches everywhere within the city. It is indeed part of the Bible Belt.