Saturday, August 13, 2011

Ye Old Dominion

Here are some of my first impressions of east-coast living in Virginia:

Flying in to Roanoke I saw that there were just rolling hills everywhere - the towns and cities were only located in the valleys.  The hilss were 100% covered by trees and forests.  No sagebrush, no desert.  I expected to be overcome with the humid heat - but it was only about 90* and it wasn't too bad.  I found out a few days ago that I missed the heat wave in July that had the 100*+ weather.  I'm sure that would have been bad.  As it turns out Blacksburg is up in the foothills (as they say "mountains) of the Blue Ridges and Appalachians.  So it's always about 10* cooler than the rest of the state/east coast, but I was told it also gets really windy up here.  I started to stress out a little bit that I was flying in permanently to move to a place I'd never seen.  The guy I was sitting next to tried to calm me down by telling me how much I'd love it here.

I walked out of the airport and it wasn't so bad.  In the rental car I got lost on the highway system a few times on the way to the hotel.  I was NOT happy to be here or away from my family.  After I got some dinner I started to feel better.  My first impression of Blacksburg is that it reminds me of a mix of Iowa and Portland.  Iowa is filled with rolling hills, just like here.  But in Iowa you have a little bit of forest nearby with mostly farmland and corn fields.  In Portland you feel like you get off a main road and you are IN the forest.  There is not one inch of developed land out here that didn't have to be cleared of forest.  That leaves a lot of surrounding forest - and it leaves interesting grass for yards.  Their yards feel like forest ground - pretty much you don't wanna go out without shoes.  No sprinkler systems.  I think they just occasionally mow.  You can just barely peek over the horizon and see a line of rolling hills with a line of hills peeking over the edge of those ones.  As a result there is not ONE inch of road that is straight - if it's not up and down on the hills we are curving back and forth.  It feels a bit claustrophobic.   And DON'T get me started on the freeways.  I-81 N/S actually goes east and west.  And I-460 W/S actually goes north and south.  Each on and offramp has multiple exits and they place the signs in locations that are after the turnoff - so you can find out you missed your turn only AFTER it's too late.  There is about 200 feet of road where cars getting on and cars getting off share a little road - so even if you KNOW which exit you want, there's no guarantee you'll make it - especially if a semi's involved.  On the 81 there's frequently blasting in the hills to widen the road so there are frequently rockslides on the road that close the freeway for random hours on end.   Other than our hate for the Virginia Department of Transportation, I think we're good.

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