Thursday, August 18, 2022

#tbt Virginia Trip Recap- Part 2

Hi friends!  Today, I'm back with Part 2 of my Throwback Thursday installment of our fall 2021 Virginia road trip adventure.  (Read Part 1 here.)  So let's dive right back in!

Thursday, September 23rd

Thursday was an early morning since we had to pack and check out of the hotel.  After getting up, I opened the curtain to the porch overlooking the beach and discovered that the weather matched my mood.  It was overcast and rainy.  I wasn't looking forward to leaving Virginia Beach, even though we had a few more fun days planned.

Eliot, Jeremy and I took turns showering while those not in the bathroom packed up our stuff.  The guys helped Dad take everything down to the cars while I tidied up the hotel room and made sure we hadn't left anything.  Once we were in good shape, Eliot and I went out onto the porch for a bit and sat there enjoying the view while we could.

Before leaving the porch, Eliot and I took a few more photos of our little section of beach.  We also made sure to take a few pictures of the donkeys out in one of the porch chairs enjoying their relaxing view of the beach and ocean.

Meanwhile, Mom and Dad were packing all of their stuff in the room next to us while they let Nana sleep in a bit.  By the time we were almost ready to check out of the hotel around 10:30, the sun had come back out and was taunting us.

While Mom and Dad were getting Nana ready to leave the hotel, Eliot and I walked across the street to one of the giant Sunsations souvenir and beach shops.  (Virginia Beach is so big that they have like three of them!)  We bought a few small things like magnets, and we also got shirts and I got a baseball hat.  I also found a wine glass and a little dolphin statue that said Virginia Beach that I plan to put on my desk.  We also bought a picture frame to put our photo from the King Neptune statue!

After paying, we walked back across the street to join the rest of the family.  We all bid goodbye to Virginia Beach and headed out of town the opposite way we had come in.

In the craziness of getting packed and checked out, we hadn't had time for any of us to eat anything for breakfast.  Instead, we went back to the IHOP for another late brunch.

We knew that the weather was going to be hit or miss the entire day, so we'd saved an indoor activity for our last day in Virginia Beach.  Eliot and I went online to buy our tickets for the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center and we selected the 1:30 entry time.  (They were still doing staggered entry due to COVID.)  We got there right on time, scanned our tickets in and went into the aquarium.

Before we went too far, we were stopped to take a photo by the aquarium staff.

When we entered the first exhibit room, I had another flashback and I remembered the waterfalls and indoor stream from when I was a kid.  It's weird that's what I recalled from the trip when I was younger, but I suppose that I've always loved waterfalls.

We slowly made our way through all of the exhibits.  One of my favorites was when you walk through the domed aquarium and all of the fish, stingrays and sharks are swimming above you and all around you.  It's so cool to watch them!

We found Nemo.  (And Dory but she didn't wanna cooperate with me for photos!)

Eliot and I took photos of our donkeys in front of the giant fish tank.

Another cool room was the Chesapeake Bay Bride-Tunnel exhibit.  It showed how the pilings and tunnel islands helped provide habitats for some of the ocean life.

Before leaving the aquarium, we stopped at the gift shop.  Eliot and I got a few more small items since they didn't really have much with their name on it.  Then, we went to get the car to pick Nana up at the entrance so she wouldn't get wet.  

I don't even remember why now, but for some reason we were waiting on my Dad to come out to the cars.  While we waited, we were parked under the trees where I remembered looking at my Aladdin dolls all those years ago when I was a kid.  It was a sweet full circle moment and a really special memory.  Eventually, Dad got out to the car and we left the aquarium parking lot around 3:30.

Next, we made a quick stop at the Lynnhaven Mall to go back into the sports jersey store.  Nana and Mom sat out in the car while Dad, the guys and I went inside.  Jeremy and Eliot were both considering buying a jersey, but they decided to wait.  Still, I'm glad we were at least able to show them to Dad!  After that, we said our final goodbye to Virginia Beach as we got onto the highway to start our journey north.

The first leg of our trip was a short one though, as we had also planned to spend a few days in Williamsburg.  The drive from the mall to Williamsburg was only about an hour and a half, and we arrived at our hotel around 6:45 pm.

We spent the rest of the night relaxing at the hotel.  Mom, Dad, Eliot and I went down to the pool to go swimming.  Then, we all headed to bed.

Friday, September 24th

Friday was our day to go to Busch Gardens.  This was the part of the trip that Eliot had been looking forward to the most.  He had never been there before and he was really excited about all of the rollercoasters.  Originally, all of us were supposed to go, but everyone else decided to hang out at the hotel since none of us are big thrill ride fans.

Eliot and I were still going so we showered and got ready.  Before heading over to the park, we stopped at the Rite Aid to pick up shoe laces for Eliot.  (He was wearing magnetic ones and was afraid he'd lose his shoes on the rides.)  While there, I looked over the Halloween stuff.  We fell in love with three little Snoopy keychains dressed up so they came home with us.  We also bought a few other Halloween decorations!

After leaving, Eliot and I headed in the direction of Busch Gardens.  He was my GPS navigator while I drove.  Thankfully, it was a pretty easy ride and not too far from our hotel.  Eliot was so excited as we parked the car and made our way to the tram to get to the park.  This was the first time we'd visited an amusement park since COVID and we were both excited and a little nervous.

Once we got inside, Eliot wasted no time starting with his rollercoasters.  I was pretty much lost in the park all day, but he had done his research and knew where to go.  We had a strict timeline... not only because we had plans afterwards, but we also had no desire to be there when Howl-O-Scream started.  (The giant fake spiders and bloodied body parts were enough for me during the day... I didn't need to be there at night.)  But there were a few things for me to do.  I enjoyed visiting the horses in the stable.

Honestly, the thing I was most looking forward to was visiting the Sesame Street Forest of Fun section of the park.  (We all know that I'm 30 something going on 5.)  Eliot and I had so much fun at the Sesame Street section of Sea World back in December of 2019 so of course I really wanted to see this.  Unfortunately, that section of the park wasn't that big and the shop was a bit of a let down, but I still enjoyed visiting it.  

The highlight of the experience was the adorable Halloween show.  Yes, we were there without kids and yes people looked at us weird.  But it was totally worth it to see how adorable Cookie Monster, Elmo and their friends were dressed up in their costumes!

Another fun experience was taking the gondolas to get to other side of park.  It was a great way to conserve energy and to see the park from above!

At this point in the day, I was pretty much famished so Eliot got me an ice cream bar.

I sat on a bench with the donkeys enjoying my treat while he went on a ride.

We popped around to a few other parts of the parks so he could get on the rides he wanted to try.  There wasn't time to do everything, but he had his plan of attack.  I followed his lead- finding a spot in the shade while Eliot went on each roller coaster.

Late in the afternoon, Eliot had finished everything he wanted to.  It was perfect timing too because we had just about enough time to make our way to the exit and visit the souvenir shop before Howl-O-Scream was starting.  We checked out the main gift shop near the front of the park, and each bought a shirt before exiting.  We made our way over to the trams with a few other people getting out of the parks for the evening.  

On the way out of the parking lot, Eliot and I both noticed that the line to pay for parking wound around the corner.  Apparently a lot of people like Howl-O-Scream!

After leaving Busch Gardens, Eliot and I made our way south to meet up with some friends for dinner.  Bill was Eliot's roommate in college, and he was also in our wedding party.  He moved down to Virginia where he now lives with his wife Sam and their two boys.  Bill had suggested a burger place for dinner so we met them there.  We hadn't seen Bill in a few years and we'd never met his wife and kids.  We had a great time catching up with him.  Plus, the food was really good too!

After dinner, Eliot and I said goodbye in the parking lot and promised to let them know if we were down in the area again.  We drove a few exits back north to our hotel where we met back up with my family and told them about our day.  Then, Mom, Dad, Eliot and I took another relaxing swim before heading to bed.

Saturday, September 25th

Saturday was the activity that I was really looking forward to.  Ever since I was little, I have loved Colonial Williamsburg.  We went when I was younger... probably around 9 or 10.  It was right around the time I was reading the American Girl books and Felicity was my favorite.  I loved visiting the buildings and the town that she lived in.

After showering and packing the cars back up, we checked out of the hotel and made our way over to the colonial section of Williamsburg.  Thankfully, it wasn't too far!  We got parked in the Visitor Center parking lot around 11:30.

We spent a few minutes at the Visitor Center.  We wanted to get a wheelchair for Mom to rent since it was going to be too much walking for her.  (That had worked really well at the aquarium.)  After picking it up, we made our way to the bus depot and we were ready to head over to downtown Colonial Williamsburg!

We got dropped off at the Capitol bus stop and made our way up to visit the Capitol building.  I vaguely remembered looking through the gate at it years ago when I was a kid.  The hill was a little bit interesting with the wheelchairs since it was mostly dirt (aka mud) but the guys got Mom and Nana up it successfully.

We slowly made our way down Nicholson Street taking in all of the colonial houses and buildings.  Some of the buildings had signs in front of them describing what they were used for or who used to live there.  We passed some sheep fenced in by one of the houses.  There was the carpenters yard that was filled with the tools they would have used back then.  Horse drawn buggies and carriages passed by us in the street.

It wasn't incredibly hot out, but we were starting to get a little bit thirty.  On that back street, it was pretty quiet and it's not like Disney where there are carts and vendors everywhere.  We did find some signs pointing to drinks, and we were surprised to find that there were vending machines hidden away inside of some of the buildings!  They didn't want to interrupt the overall colonial atmosphere, so modern things like vending machines and restrooms were tucked away into the existing colonial buildings!

Eventually, we made it to the main section near the Palace Green park.  It's a giant park in the middle two of the roads leading up to the Governor's Palace.  We walked down to the end of the road where we sat down and took a break for a few minutes.  I found a bench in the shade of a tree and sat there enjoying the view of the Governor's Palace and people touring it.  It was a beautiful day and there were plenty of people exploring Colonial Williamsburg just like we were!

After our short break, we continued our walk down the other side of the park.  I love this section because everywhere you look there are buildings and you're completely immersed in it.  They were really beautiful with the trees too.  I got some great photos!

At the end of the Palace Green, we turned left at the Bruton Parish Church to walk down Duke of Gloucester Street.  This is the main street with all of the shops that I remembered walking down as a kid.  (And imagining that I was Felicity.)

As we continued exploring, we stopped at a few of the shops.  Some of them are open as stores today and they sell merchandise that would have been sold back then.  I really liked one shop that had canned goods and food, but it also had colonial style wooden toys.  Dad, Eliot and I really enjoyed checking them out.

One of the coolest parts of Colonial Williamsburg is that they hire people to "act" as if they're from that time.  These artisans actually use the tools and show you what life would have been like back then.  We didn't pay for the tickets to enter those buildings this time, but I'd love to go back and do it another time!  (We weren't staying there long enough and we weren't sure if all of those buildings were handicap accessible.)

We passed by Market Square and the Magazine Yard.  I remembered going into that as a kid and seeing all of the cannon balls stacked up.

We continued down the street, looking at all of the Colonial Williamsburg buildings.  I took so many photos... I just love all of the historical architecture!  We also passed by a few taverns that are still popular places to go visit for a drink!

The last place we checked out was the dress shop.  I'm so glad we went inside.  Dad and I spent quite a few minutes exploring it.  Due to COVID, the dressing rooms were closed.  Instead, they had mannequins on display wearing colonial outfits.  There was also a "family" of mannequins wearing historical garments so you could see what the typical attire was back in those times.  They had actual dresses and outfits that you could buy, and they also sold replica fabric of colonial patterns.  It's safe to say that I was in heaven... and I'd really love to buy one of those beautiful dresses someday!!!

After that, we made our way over to the bus stop.  We had planned our exploration perfectly so we'd end our journey at the Tavern bus stop.  I was sad to leave, but I'm so glad we went.  I had forgotten a lot about it since I was so young when we visited before.  Eliot and I both really enjoyed it and we'd love to go back someday though!

We got another bus back to the Visitor Center.  I enjoyed riding through the modern part of town and seeing parts I hadn't seen.  Back at the Visitor Center, Dad, Jeremy, Eliot and I went to the gift shop.  Eliot and I enjoyed this one because it was huge.  We found a few things that we liked and we left with t-shirts, a baseball hat, more small things like magnets, and Eliot even got a few Lego sets!  We all used the bathrooms and took a few family photos under the sign before leaving the Visitor Center.

By the time we got back into the cars, it was about 3:00 in the afternoon.  We were getting a later start than we had planned, but we had all really enjoyed our time in Colonial Williamsburg.  We grabbed something quick to eat before getting on the highway and starting our road trip back north to Maine.

I was driving the car with Eliot as my front seat passenger while Nana was in the back seat behind him.  Jeremy rode in the Jeep with Mom and Dad.  Eliot and I were quite entertained with Nana because she kept throwing money at us whenever she saw a sign for tolls.  (She did the same thing with Jeremy and me on the drive down.)  Eliot and I had to keep telling her that it was only for the carpool lane, but she insisted.

On the trip, we passed right by the exit for King's Dominion which is an amusement park that Eliot went to on his road trip from CA to MA for college.  He watched the map on his phone as I drove and pointed out that and other landmarks along the way.

We stopped at a few rest stops to use the restrooms and stretch.  We weren't 100% sure where we wanted to land for the night, but we kept driving.  We had planned to stop at Hershey's Chocolate World the next day, but other than that we didn't have any concrete plans.  As time wore on, it got later than we had planned on being on the road.  At some point along the way, we decided it made the most sense to stop in Hershey, PA.  Eliot and I took over leading the way (Mom and Dad were in front of us all day) and together we navigated us through the countryside to our destination.

When we finally arrived in Hershey, we were exhausted but I still made sure to take everything in.  It was a cute little town and I enjoyed driving through it.  It was also Saturday night so the nightlife was alive and well.  We eventually got settled into our hotel rooms.  Dad was exhausted from driving, so Eliot and Jeremy volunteered to drive over to Texas Roadhouse to pick up our dinner.  After eating, we crashed.

Photo Source

Sunday, September 26th

Sunday was going to be the bulk of our drive home.  We had no destination in mind, but we wanted to get as far north as possible.  But before starting on our trek north, we wanted to squeeze one more adventure in!

After leaving the hotel, Eliot used his GPS to have me lead the way over to Dunkin Donuts for breakfast.  Along the way, we passed corn fields and a ton of Hershey's Chocolate buildings.  I guess I never realized how much of a tourist destination it was, but it was really cool to see everything.

We pulled into the Hershey's Chocolate World parking lot around 11:30 am.  Mom and Nana were staying in the cars, and Jeremy decided he was going to stay with them as well.  So Eliot, Dad and I walked the pathway to the store and theme park entrance.  

(Side Note: Eliot and I have this ongoing joke that he's been to Hershey's Chocolate World store multiple times, but he's never been in the theme park.  This was his 2nd time there, as his first was when he was on a business trip with a co-worker.  He has always wanted to go to the amusement park... someday I guess!)

When we got inside the store, I was really overwhelmed.  Eliot and I have been to the Hershey store in New York City, but this was so much more.  They have an actual theme park style ride (similar to Haunted Mansion or Spaceship Earth) where you ride through the process of how they make a chocolate bar.  There are also a few movie experiences you can do and more.

Right near the front of the store, they had a display of Lego sets.  Eliot immediately went over to that.  Dad and I also got distracted and we all split up to shop.  Dad bought a few chocolate treats for him, Mom and Nana, as well as some new Reese's Peanut Butter Cup pajama pants for himself.  Eliot and I each got a Hershey World sweatshirt, a few shirts, a Christmas ornament, a Halloween plush and other small stuff.  I also made sure to check out the food court area where you could buy treats!

Before leaving, I asked Dad to take a few photos of me and Eliot under the Hershey World sign.  Then, we took turns using the restroom since we weren't sure when we'd be stopping again.  We made our way back out to the parking lot where we showed Mom, Nana and Jeremy our treasures.  Then, we plugged our information into the GPS and it guided us back to the highway so we could start driving north again.

I drove most of the day with Eliot in the passenger seat.  Miles faded by as we headed north.  Thankfully, this ride was a lot less stressful than the one south.  We were more out in the country and less in the city this time around.  Other than all of the big trucks on the route, it was pretty chill.  Eliot even said that he could probably handle driving part of it.  (He's not a big fan of driving out of state.)

Mom and Dad lead the way.  When we were a little bit outside of Scranton, PA, we decided that we needed to take another break.  We all needed gas and to get out and stretch.  Eliot popped onto the GPS and picked out an exit with a gas station and a Friendly's.  It was one exit off of our route home, and Dad was hesitant to take it, but we all assured him it would be fine.  (The benefits of using GPS to guide you versus driving only "by memory".)  We filled both the cars with gas and then arrived at the Dunmore Friendly's around 3:00 in the afternoon.

Mom, Dad and I went inside to order.  I wanted an ice cream and I was really excited about it.  At this point, I was completely exhausted from all the driving I had done.  It wasn't a lot of work; it was just tiring.  We decided it was time to switch so Jeremy took over driving the car while Eliot rode with Mom and Dad in the backseat of the Jeep.  (I figured both Eliot and I could nap since Jeremy had already been taking a few.)

We continued north through the mountains and over bridges.  It's kind of a blur to me because I dozed on and off.  We got stopped in traffic trying to get into New York.  I was asleep for part of it, but I remember seeing the 'I Love NY' sign.  At some point, we stopped at a rest stop and I was very excited to get out and stretch.

Jeremy continued driving and I'm really glad he did because things got interesting once we got into Connecticut.  I was still asleep on and off, but I remember waking up at one point in a lane between two giant 18-wheeler trucks and freaking out a little.  I could tell that Jeremy was also a bit on edge, but we tried to keep it cool for Nana.  

Eventually, we pulled over in a quiet rest stop and made our plan of where to stop for dinner.  There was a Texas Roadhouse a few exits north, so Eliot was going to guide Mom and Dad there.  We all arrived and found parking spots.  Dad, Eliot, Jeremy and I ordered the food to go.  Then, we all ate in the cars.  It was nice to take a break for an hour or so before getting back on the road to head north.

At this point, we really didn't have a destination for the night, but the closer we got to Massachusetts, the more determined Jeremy was to get home to New Hampshire.  I was completely dead exhausted at this point, but he kept pushing ahead.  Eliot helped Mom and Dad navigate when they got off course; they kept pushing forward too.  How Dad made it driving all day... I'll never know.  

Eventually, we made it to Jeremy's exit and the hotel we had called ahead.  There was a little bit of drama when Eliot and Dad went to check us in since they didn't realize we needed a handicapped accessible room for Nana, but they eventually found a room on the first floor for her, Mom and Dad to stay in.  Jeremy stayed long enough to get us settled before driving over to his condo.  And Eliot and I hauled our stuff up the stairs to our room where we completely crashed.

Monday, September 27th

We got up the next morning, showered, packed and checked out of the hotel.  Eliot, Jeremy and I helped Dad pack up the cars again.  At this point, were were going to be splitting up for the rest of the ride home, so it was time to move everything around in the vehicles.  Eliot and I were taking Mom and Dad's Jeep home with us while they were moving back into the car with Nana to drive home to Trenton.

It took us a bit of time to completely move our luggage from one car to the other, but we got it done.  Then, we got Mom and Nana situated in the car.  There's a Dunkin Donuts around the corner, so we all drove over there for breakfast.  

It was in that parking lot that we said goodbye to Mom, Dad and Nana.  It was a pretty awkward (and depressing) way to end the family portion of our road trip, but what are you gonna do?  Eliot and I watched as they drove off, then we got into the Jeep and headed over to Jeremy's condo to pick up my Mickey and Minnie snowmen that I'd left there.  He brought them out to us.  We talked with him for a few minutes before we said goodbye, got back in the Jeep and drove north ourselves.

Eliot and I decided to stop at a few places along the way home to take a little bit of the sting away.  We went to the BoxLunch store at the Manchester Mall.  Then, Eliot went into the Barnes and Noble for a few minutes while I sat out in the car.  Before leaving Manchester, we made a stop in the TJ Maxx to look for Halloween goodies.

I had told Eliot about my little shopping trip to the Epping Lowes on the ride down, and he wanted to see everything for himself.  We made one more stop there on the way home.  They had put out a few new things since I'd visited, so we checked all of those out.  Then, we got back in the car to drive the rest of the way home.

Eliot and I arrived safely in our driveway about an hour and a half later... at which point our road trip vacation to Virginia Beach was officially over.

As you can see, the entire family had a wonderful time on our road trip down to Virginia Beach and back!  Eliot and I usually fly due to time constraints with his work, but I enjoyed driving.  We used to drive everywhere when I was a kid.  (Jeremy and I both never flew until we were going overseas on our high school trips to Europe.)  Eliot and I had a great time though... so maybe we'll do more road trips in the future!  Plus, we'd love to go back down to Virginia Beach and Williamsburg again!!!  °o° 

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