Jumping over the lazy dog

or, taking the bull by the horns.

Roallywood?

No tour of Roanoke is complete without a visit to the Star...

No tour of Roanoke is complete without a visit to the Star...

In an effort to slowly whittle away at the enormous Travel Bug nibbling on my back à la Land of the Lost, I took a mini-trip to a local landmark: The Roanoke Star.

When my family first moved to Roanoke (well, technically to Salem), I was seven years old.  For the next five years, I remember enduring endless trips to the Star with every new wave of visiting relatives.  So many trips, in fact, that I refused to visit the Star any more.  This pilgrimage marks my first trip to Mill Mountain in nine years.  I thought I’d make a day of it, so I invited a friend along for a short tour of Mill Mountain Zoo followed by an even shorter hike to the Star.

If I’m honest, this trip was as much a desire to visit these local spots one last time as it was a desire to find subjects to photograph.  And there was no shortage of interesting subjects even in this small zoo! This shoot reminded me how much I love photographing animals and children, because the challenges of capturing a moment are well worth the rewards: glimpses into the psyche of beings that communicate with their eyes rather than their tongues.

A couple of facts about the Star, for those not natives of this valley:

  • It is the largest free-standing illuminated man-made star in the world, soaring above the valley, 100 feet tall and 10,000 lbs heavy!
  • Built in 1949 to kick off the Christmas season, the Star was intended as a permanent structure, though engineers weren’t sure if they could keep it lit after the season ended – turns out, they could!
  • Normally illuminated in red, white and blue, the Star had been used to signal a traffic fatality or drunk driving accident in the Roanoke Valley when it glowed red.  In April 2007, the Star glowed white to mark the April 16th Virginia Tech Massacre.
  • For those interested in the views from the Star look-out point, you can follow the Star Cam: it’s mounted directly on the Star and refreshes every 15-seconds for your viewing pleasure.

So here are a couple of photographs from our expedition, from a hornbill that liked to ham it up, to the ever-elusive Amrita, caught…surfboarding on a bench?

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