Getting Here from There


It is eerily quiet–a gift and an oppression on an early Tuesday morning. Our daughter from South Dakota popped in suddenly upon finding “cheap” tickets our way. And now as suddenly, she is gone.

For the first time, we used the Greensboro airport to make connections. It won’t be the last time for that, as ROA may or may not be available in the future for the flights we need to make, few and far between as they are. Like many small airports, there is the threat it will be closed or drastically reduced in flight availability.

Thankfully, the trip to Greensboro, while it takes 2 hours instead of the 45 minutes to the Roanoke terminal, is a very tame trip–at least in summer. The dive off the Blue Ridge plateau down Route 8 towards Stuart is not one I’d be happy about were this an early January morning and I’d just sent my wife and daughter off in the cold, ice-stormy dark.

But beyond Stuart, and hour from home, is another hour of low-stress driving through rolling tobacco fields, old barns, modest homes and the absolute freedom of the ugliness you might steel yourself against on other routes. The Greensboro airport, thankfully, is on the western edge of the city, so we stay in the country all the way, avoiding urban defensive driving.

There are lots of ways to get to and from. However, my daughter’s Yahoo maps (printed when she was planning to rent a car for the trip to Goose Creek) made some really bad choices and even had her turning the wrong way down our road. So let the buyer beware.

I chose the following route for the few of you who might know the country or care, and this is the map Ann will have to navigate to get home today–a greater feat for her as she is one of those people who abhor maps, as we were talking about a week or so ago.

Goose Creek to Floyd, Route 8 to Stuart. South from Stuart on Rt 8 10 miles to 704, east 10 miles to 770, east another 10 miles to 220, then 68 south to the airport. Two hours, 100 miles.

If you have other route options you can recommend, even though I’d be happy if I never got on a plane again myself, I’m sure there will be times ahead to check them out.

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Fred First holds masters degrees in Vertebrate Zoology and physical therapy, and has been a biology teacher and physical therapist by profession. He moved to southwest Virginia in 1975 and to Floyd County in 1997. He maintains a daily photo-blog, broadcasts essays on the Roanoke NPR station, and contributes regular columns for the Floyd Press and Roanoke's Star Sentinel. His two non-fiction books, Slow Road Home and his recent What We Hold in Our Hands, celebrate the riches that we possess in our families and communities, our natural bounty, social capital and Appalachian cultures old and new. He has served on the Jacksonville Center Board of Directors and is newly active in the Sustain Floyd organization. He lives in northeastern Floyd County on the headwaters of the Roanoke River.

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  1. We flew into Greensboro last May and loved the ease of the drive so much we will do it again in October. Your directions are perfect. We hate going through Atlanta to Roanoke and then fighting the traffic after we land. The extra time driving is worth ever minute and by the time we arrive in Floyd we are totally relaxed.

  2. Fred…that is the tried and true route. Bouncing between Chapel Hill and Floyd in the late 80’s we found this route and stuck to it ever since.

    When we have bands flying in to Greensboro for FloydFest…that is the route we give our drivers.