Thursday, August 11, 2022

#tbt Virginia Trip Recap- Part 1

Well... I was trying to get these recaps posted last fall right after we took our road trip down to Virginia last September.  But I should have known things would get crazy with the holiday season approaching on our return.  However, I still wanted to post these, so now my Virginia Trip Recaps will just be Throwback Thursdays instead!

Our family trip to Virginia was just what the doctor ordered.  It was so nice to take a break away from our house, the businesses and our day to day lives.  Eliot and I had a ton of fun traveling with my parents, my brother Jeremy and my Nana.  This was our first big adventure since the pandemic started, and it was definitely one to remember!

Since we were gone on our road trip for 10 days, I figured it would be easier to split the trip into two posts.  Here's Part 1 of our vacation!  (Check back next week for Part 2!)

Friday, September 17th

Our trip started on Friday the 17th, with me, Jeremy, Mom, Dad and Nana driving south.  (As I mentioned before, Eliot was flying down on Monday so he didn't have to use as many vacation days.)  We got a later start than we planned, but it worked out!

Mom, Dad and Nana weren't even out of Ellsworth by 5:00 pm, so Eliot and I had plenty of time to finish working on orders.  Our goal was to get anything that needed to be shipped out while we were on vacation, finished before we left.  Eliot had a few loose ends he had to tie up after I left, but it wasn't anything he couldn't handle!  I felt so accomplished leaving the businesses in the state I did.

Other than working really hard, Eliot and I spent part of the day packing and doing laundry.  I was taking most of his clothes and his toiletries with me since there was no reason for him to fly anything unnecessary down.  While we were busy packing, Eliot discovered a doe and fawn in our backyard so we took a few minutes to watch them.  It was a nice break amid the chaos of packing and finishing orders!

Once everything was done, Eliot helped me pack the Jeep up and we headed into Biddeford.  Eliot hadn't planned on taking that day off, so he was still going to work even though it was late and everyone else would already be gone.  We went to Applebee's for dinner and arrived around 7:00 pm.  It was nice to have a few minutes together before I was heading out.  After that, we said goodbye and Eliot headed to work.  I hopped into the Jeep and headed towards Jeremy.  I was officially crossing the bridge from Maine into New Hampshire at 8:28 pm... and the adventure begins!

On the way, I made a quick pit stop at the Epping, NH Lowes.  I knew that Lowes was putting out their Christmas stuff and there was one more thing I wanted to grab before we were away for 10 days.  Thankfully, they had them; I bought them and planned to keep them at Jeremy's for the week we were gone.  I arrived at Jeremy's condo and helped him load his stuff into the car while he took my new decorations into his condo.

Meanwhile, Mom, Dad and Nana had been continuing on the road.  (It made more sense for them to do that than to stop to pick up me and Jeremy.)  We were meeting them in Marlborough, MA.  Jeremy and I pulled into a parking lot near the Solomon Pond Mall where they were waiting for us.  We didn't have a hotel booked, and they hadn't been able to get two rooms at the one Mom had planned to stay at.  After a few phone calls, I found us a hotel and we got back on the road.  We arrived at the Holiday Inn in Hudson, MA and I was shocked at how nice the room was.  (It was probably the nicest place we stayed the entire trip!)  We bid Mom, Dad and Nana goodnight and Jeremy and I went to bed as we had a long day of traveling ahead of us.

Saturday, September 18th 

Saturday was our big travel day.  The day started earlier than it should have, and both Jeremy and I were exhausted.  But, we got up, took turns showering and headed downstairs for breakfast.  Jeremy helped Dad pack up the cars and rearrange things so we were ready for our road trip.  Then, all five of us hopped into our transportation- with Jeremy and me in the car with Nana and Mom and Dad in their Jeep.  We drove next door to gas up and get Dunkin Donuts for Nana, and then we were on the road! 

We got on the road and traveled through Worcester on 290 and and over to 90.  We drove on that until we reached 80.  Before we knew it, we were leaving Massachusetts and crossing the border into Connecticut.  I drove the first leg of the trip.  We stopped every 2 to 2.5 hours so we could stretch and take bathroom breaks.  Along the way, we grabbed drinks, snacks or food if we were hungry.

Jeremy took over somewhere in New York.  I didn't want to drive over the Governor Mario M. Cuomo Bridge (formerly the Tappan Zee Bridge).  I have done it in the past, but it kind of freaks me out.  Instead, I sat back and tried to focus on the scenery all around us.  I spotted New York City and Manhattan off in the distance.  Then, I took some cool architectural photos of the bridge.

Jeremy and I passed the time by talking and joking around.  There was a lot of laughter.  Nana told us a few stories here and there.  Papa lived in Connecticut when he was younger, so she told us about that.  Mom kept calling us when we were passing certain landmarks- like the rest stop she accidentally left Nana and Papa at.

We stopped again at a rest stop in New Jersey.  We've stopped there a bunch of times in the past and I remembered it.  Mom, Dad and Jeremy went inside to get food while Nana and I sat out in the car.  We hadn't traveled too far south, but you could already feel the heat just sitting in the car.  (Yay for AC!)  Once they got back, we got back on the road with Jeremy driving again.

The afternoon got interesting as Dad almost missed an exit we were supposed to take; a few minutes later, he turned onto a street that he wasn't supposed to.  Jeremy got a little frustrated, and it was time for us to take another break.  Thankfully, we found a McDonald's nearby.  I went inside to use the bathroom, and then I ordered a Happy Meal since I was hungry.  I haven't had a Happy Meal in forever so I took a picture with it and the Walt Disney World poster outside!  And I got a WDW 50th toy!

Later in the day, we arrived in Delaware.  We stopped at the Biden Welcome Center rest stop to check the maps and use the bathrooms.  We weren't able to stay in our first choice of location, Christiana, DE because none of the hotels in the area had rooms.  We drove to three different hotels and called a few others.  There was nothing available.  Finally, I called a Days Inn down in Dover and they had rooms.  It was another hour away, but we pushed through.

Once we arrived, Dad went in to the office get our rooms.  Jeremy and I connected my cell phone to the car via Bluetooth.  We could listen to my music!  We settled into our room for a few minutes before Dad and him were going to get dinner.  Unfortunately, the Friendly's next door had already closed.  They went to McDonald's, but since I'd already eaten there earlier in the day, I ate my leftovers from Applebee's instead.  After calling Eliot to say goodnight, I crashed and promptly fell asleep.

Sunday, September 19th

Sunday was the last leg of our journey.  I had checked how far away Virginia Beach was, and my phone said about 4 hours.  Jeremy and I got up and showered, then packed everything back into the car.  Mom, Dad and Nana also got ready and we got back on the road.  Little did Jeremy and I know, but the road our hotel was on was actually the road we needed to travel down to get to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.

This was an easy drive.  We were on Route 13, a country road with pockets of shops every once in a while.  It was a two lane split highway, so it was nice compared to highway driving.  I drove most of the way towards the bridge.  (I made an agreement with Jeremy that he would drive over the bridge.)  We passed corn fields, farms, silos, shopping centers, Walmarts, fast food and other restaurants.  Before I knew it, I had driven through the rest of Delaware and we entered Maryland.

We stopped for a break when we reached the rest stop and Virginia Welcome Center in New Church.  We got out to stretch and use the bathrooms.  While inside, Jeremy, Dad and I looked over the brochures in the Welcome Center.  I came out with a stack of them to read over.  Then, I walked to the sign at the entrance and took a few photos of the "Welcome to Virginia" sign. 

I got back into the driver's seat and we continued on.  We passed more farms, both the Tyson and Perdue chicken facilities, and more shopping centers.  As the miles on Jeremy's GPS ticked by, I started to get more paranoid about the bridge.  Mom and Dad were driving "by memory" and not by GPS so they didn't know how far away the bridge was.  Jeremy finally called them to tell them to pull over at the gas station that was coming up so I could get into the passenger seat.  After using the restroom and grabbing some snacks, we were on our way.

At the entrance to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, Mom and Dad paid for our toll since they were right in front of us.  Jeremy was a champ and drove across the bridge with ease.  It's not a high bridge, but it's really, really long.  The bridge spans across the bay, and it's 17.6 miles long.  While driving over it, you go through two tunnels.

I tried to keep myself busy instead of overthinking it.  (I don't like feeling "trapped" on it for so long.)  I noticed how most of the light poles had sea gulls sitting on them.  I pointed out the nine Navy ships off in the distance to Nana.  I took a bunch of photos and two videos of us traveling over the bridge.  We had planned to stop at the gift shop after the second tunnel, but it was closed due to construction.  (Dad thinks they're building a second tunnel to separate the bridges.  Thus, the gift shop was now a construction zone.)  We were disappointed, but I was happy to get off the bridge faster.

Thankfully, we made it back to land and the last little part of our road trip!  Jeremy drove the rest of the way down the coastline to Virginia Beach.  I really enjoyed this part of the trip.  I even remembered some of it from our previous trips when I was younger.  I recognized the state park that we drove though.  I also saw the turn off for the lighthouses we went to when we were kids.  Eventually, we made it to the main section of Virginia Beach where the hotels were everywhere.

We made it to our hotel with ease.  Actually, Jeremy, Nana and I got there before Mom and Dad because our GPS guided us right there.  Dad checked in and we started to unload the cars.  We were on the 4th floor (just as Eliot and I had requested when booking online) in rooms 45 and 46- right next door to each other.  It took us a few minutes to unload the cars and take our stuff up to the rooms, but it wasn't a far walk.

At this point, I was completely exhausted.  I think the relief of getting to our hotel was overwhelming my body and I totally crashed.  Jeremy and I relaxed in our room.  I sat out on the porch overlooking the beach.  I took a nap.  Jeremy went with Dad to get Wendy's for dinner at some point.  After eating that, I chilled out some more.

Later in the evening, I walked across the street to get Ben & Jerry's with Mom and Dad.  (Our hotel was literally across the street from it!)  I tried the new Tonight Show ice cream and added hot fudge and rainbow sprinkles.  It was so good!  Plus, I saved some of the sprinkles for the rest of the week!  We sat outside on a table enjoying the nice weather.  Even at 10:00 at night, it was still warm enough to be in a t-shirt.  After enjoying our ice creams, we returned to the hotel and went to bed.

Monday, September 20th

Monday was Eliot's and my ninth Wedding Anniversary.  I woke up and immediately checked my phone for Eliot's text message.  He had taken off from Portland and had landed safely in Baltimore.  Then, a few hours later, he texted that he was on his plane down to Virginia.  The plan for the day was to shower and get ready to head over to Norfolk to pick him up at the airport.

Dad and Jeremy went to get breakfast.  Then, upon their return to our hotel, Dad, Jeremy and I all loaded into the Jeep to get Eliot.  The ride over to the Norfolk airport wasn't too long, maybe 20-30 minutes tops.  Eliot's plane was landing around noon and we arrived a little bit early.  We found the parking and then walked inside.

Once we got inside of the airport, I texted Eliot to let him know we were there.  Then, I sat in the luggage carousel area while Dad and Jeremy wandered around.  After all of the driving Dad had done the past few days, he wanted to walk around a little.  And let's be real, they both also wanted to go get snacks.

After a little bit of a wait, Eliot finally sent me a text that he had landed.  A few minutes later, I saw the luggage from his plane arriving on carousel #1, right next to where I was sitting.  I grabbed his San Jose Sharks bag when I saw it slide by; and a few minutes later he was gliding down the escalator.  I ran over and gave him a big hug and we made our way to the car.

I pointed out landmarks on the ride back to to hotel.  Eliot had never been to Virginia Beach before, so I wanted to show him everything that I remembered.  After arriving at the hotel, we dropped off his bags and went next door to visit with everyone for a little bit.  Then, Eliot, Jeremy and I made our way back over to our room so Eliot could take a nap.  (His flight from Portland left at 6 am and he hadn't slept at all the night before.) 

He was completely out, so when it came time for dinner, Jeremy and I went with Mom and Dad to get food.  Nana was eating some food we already had at the hotel.  Mom felt bad that Eliot and I weren't able to enjoy a meal together on our anniversary, but I knew sleep was more important if we were going to enjoy the trip.

After walking a few blocks down the road, we stumbled across a place called Bella Gina's Pizza.  We decided to eat there and I'm so glad we did because the food was delicious.  Mom and I ordered pasta, while Dad and Jeremy each got a pizza.  Mom and I both tried a piece of Dad's pizza and it was so good.  My ravioli was really good, but the pizza was amazing!  We had a great dinner together as a family.  There was a lot of laughter and smiles as we sat in our booth. 

Once we returned to the hotel, we all decided it was time for an early bedtime since we were all still exhausted from our travels.  We bid everyone goodnight and went to bed.

Tuesday, September 21st 

Tuesday, I woke up around 8:30 am and everyone else was sound asleep.  I played on my phone for a bit before trying to fall back asleep.  Around 9:30, I finally got out of bed and went out on the porch to look out over the beach and the ocean.  It was a pretty chill morning.  Eliot and I sat out on the porch together for a while.  It was nice to just sit there and be.  Eventually, we got moving and took turns showering.  

We decided to get a late breakfast at the IHOP down the road.  On the way, we drove by the aquarium and I had a memory flashback of when I was there as a kid.  My parents had bought me Aladdin and Jasmine dolls at the mall, and I was looking at them while we were in the parking lot.  I don't remember much, but I remember sitting in the car under the trees and Mom telling me not to open them.  (She was worried that I'd lose some of the small pieces while traveling.)  They were those color change dolls where their clothes changed in the sun and I remember being so excited when I put my doll in the sun and Jasmine's jewel changed from purple to pink!

I told Eliot and Nana about my memory after we drove by and I remembered it.  A few minutes later, we were pulling into IHOP behind Mom, Dad and Jeremy.  It was a little after 1:00 pm when we finally arrived so the restaurant wasn't very busy. 

We had a delicious breakfast at IHOP before heading back to the hotel.  Dad needed to get some work done on his laptop so the three of us kids were going to use the afternoon to go shopping.  After getting Mom, Dad and Nana settled at the hotel, we jumped into the car and drove over to the toy store Jeremy wanted to check out.

The toy store actually ended up being inside of a larger antique store.  Eliot and I don't usually go to antique stores, but I'm really glad we went.  We found so many treasures!

The toy store part was upstairs and it basically took up the entire upper level.  While the guys were checking things out, I was exploring myself.  I happened across tons of Disney items.  We found old Disney McDonald's toys and I saw some Barbie stuff that I had as a kid.  It was definitely a trip down memory lane!

While Eliot was in the Funko pop aisles, I discovered some Disney prints that would look good at our house.  We eventually found our way down to the check out where Eliot and I bought some of the prints and I got a little Cookie Monster bag.

After that, I drove us over to the Lynnhaven Mall.  I wanted to check out the BoxLunch store there.  On the way to the BoxLunch, we came across a jersey shop in the mall called All Star Elite.  We went in there for quite a while checking out all of the different designs.  We saw Sesame Street and Darkwing Duck basketball jerseys.  They had a small supply of hockey jerseys since they weren't quite in season yet.  Jeremy and Eliot were both completely entranced.  The guys at the store were really nice and they gave us their card so we could check out more of the jerseys online.

We eventually made it to the BoxLunch where Eliot and I found a few things we wanted to get including the McDonald's shirt I had been looking for.  Then, we made a quick stop at the bookstore and Build-A-Bear before we left the mall to go back to our hotel.

We had told Eliot how good the pizza was the night before, so we decided to get a to-go order from Bella Gina's Pizza for dinner.  Eliot, Jeremy and I walked down the street to order it and bring it back to the hotel.  Then, we gave Mom, Dad and Nana their food before returning to our room to eat our pizza.  It was so good!

That evening, Eliot and I joined Mom and Dad for a swim in the pool at our hotel.  The water was warm and it was nice and relaxing.  Then, we got dressed long enough to walk across the street to Ben & Jerry's.  We had some delicious ice cream for dessert before calling it a night and heading to bed!

Wednesday, September 22nd

We slept in and had a lazy day on Wednesday.  Eliot and I sat out on our porch for a while watching the dolphins swimming by.  That was one of my favorite parts of Virginia Beach as a kid... dolphins are often spotted swimming right off the beach!  Eventually, we dragged ourselves away to take showers and get ready for the day.

Our big plan of the day was to walk down the boardwalk.  If you've never been to Virginia Beach, you should know that there's a really long paved boardwalk down the entire length of the beach.  Beside that, they also have a bike path.  (Riding along the paved bike path was one of my most vivid memories from when I was a kid!)  It's a really nice place to walk and bike.

Our hotel was a few blocks away from the giant King Neptune statue that sits in the middle of the boardwalk.  It was going to be quite a walk for Mom- who was a year out from heart surgery and still recovering.  But she was determined to do it even if we had to stop a lot along the way.  The entire family started the trek around 1:45 pm and we arrived at the King Neptune statue around 2:10.

We spent about 15 minutes at the statue taking it in.  I vaguely remembered the statue from my childhood, but I'd forgotten all of the details on it.  Neptune is surrounded by tons of sea creatures: a sea turtle, octopus, fish, dolphins and a lobster!

While there, we took a few pictures: of the entire family, of Eliot and me, and of our little donkey friends sitting on the octopus.

Then we started the walk back to our hotel.  Along the way, Eliot and I wandered down one of the pathways to the beach to check it out and take a few pictures.

We made it back to our hotel around 3:00 pm.  Eliot and I took a few minutes to get settled and organized before we headed out on our next adventure.  (We had seen a few mini golf courses nearby, and we had decided we wanted to go check them out!)

First was King Neptune's Mini Golf... 3D Blacklight Mini Golf a few blocks away.  The 10 hole miniature golf course was inside of a building and had glowing decorations and displays everywhere.  I really loved this.  The murals on the wall were very cool.  

They gave you 3D glasses to make the effect more intense.  The course itself wasn't very hard since it was built in a large room, but that made it more fun.  Plus, it was easy to get distracted by everything around you.  And the 3D glasses made it more interesting.  I almost tripped over myself a few times.

Eliot and I had so much fun.  We giggled through the entire course.  We only spent about 30 minutes there, but it was totally worth it and I'd definitely go there again!

Our next stop was the Jungle Golf miniature golf course a few more blocks away that we'd spotted near the Wendy's.  This was more of the traditional style of mini golf that we are used to... except on this course, they had these spinning wheels with other things you had to do.  That made it really interesting.  Depending on what you landed on, you had to do things like switch ball locations with your opponent, or stand on the course in their way, or use only your foot to hit the ball.

The tasks on the wheels added another whole level of silliness and competition.  Eliot and I took it in stride and spent most of this course laughing at ourselves too.  This course took us about 45 minutes to go through.  It was pretty warm at this one since we were outside.  Before leaving, Eliot and I grabbed some drinks to cool off and I sat and watched the koi fish for a few minutes.  Then, we walked back to our hotel.

Later that evening, my family decided to go over to the Golden Corral for dinner.  We love going there because everyone can get whatever they want.  I wasn't starving so I took it easy on myself.  I had a salad as my first course.  Then, I got ham, macaroni and cheese, green beans and broccoli for my second plate.  I ended the evening with a small assortment of desserts opting to try small pieces of a few things instead of indulging in only one.  It was the perfect amount!

After that, we drove back to our hotel completely stuffed and ready to enjoy our last night on the beach since we were leaving for Williamsburg the following day.

As you can see, our Virginia vacation started out with a lot of relaxing along with a bit of fun!  Stay tuned for Part 2 of my Virginia Trip Recap next Thursday!  °o° 

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