We left home at around 2PM, trying to get an early start toward Eureka Springs and the rest of the trip. After fighting though the Hwy 301 traffic in southern Maryland, Frederickburg rush hour, and the overall Northern Virginia end-of-the-workday brouhaha, we finally popped out on the other side of Charlottesville and followed I-81 to Roanoke.
We took the scenic byways around Charlottesville, and saw some truly beautiful horse farms. There's a lot of OLD MONEY in Charlottesville, which is apparent from the architecture and wooden or stone fencing that goes on for miles. Most of the more picturesque places were along US 15 between Culpepper and Charlottesville.
On the other side of Charlottesville, the Blue Ridge mountains are beautiful this time of year, with trees in full bloom. The cold, clear weather allowed for an almost unlimited view of the skyline, and the drive to Roanoke was pleasant overall.
We stopped in downtown Roanoke just as the sun was going down. The downtown area is quite picturesque, but like most small cities it's pretty much vacant after 5PM, with exception of a few bars that remain open. After nightfall, we drove up to the Roanoke Star, a beautiful lighted star on a mountainside at the edge of the city. The star is situated at the end of a winding mountain road, and is co-located with a well-maintained public park and zoo. While the park and zoo are closed at night, the Star itself is open to the public, and there's a large boardwalk patio that gives a breathtaking view of the city at night.