We had a wonderful vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia. We went last year and had such a good time, that we decided to go again this year. We did mostly the same things, but a few different, and we stayed a different place to mix it up a little (and this year’s accommodations were even nicer and more luxurious, which was awesome.) One big difference was our first travel day. Instead of taking the dreaded I-95 south we traveled down to Cape May (just in case your NJ geography is not uppermost in your mind, this is the southern tip of New Jersey) and took the Cape May-Lewes ferry to Lewes, Delaware. This ferry trip was a huge hit with the kids. They were so excited about our car being on a boat, and us being on a boat, and exploring, and they just loved every bit.
My experience with ferries is that I used to live on Martha’s Vineyard and often took the ferry off island. This ferry was about a zillion times nicer than the MV one. After we arrived in Delaware we mosied on down through it and Virginia’s Eastern Shore. This was scenic, not trafficky, and felt wonderfully exotic. In Delaware we stopped to photograph someone’s spectacular birdhouse making workshop and wound up at a farm stand for fantastic homemade fresh ice cream.
Would that happen on the highway? No, it would not. And then once we were in Virginia it felt very southern-signs for fireworks and cigarettes all over the place. We had another unexpected stop at the Blue Crab Bay Company to stock up on a delicious snack that I became acquainted with through a colleague in Virginia. Honestly, the whole day was just filled with unexpected and spontaneous fun. Finally we made it to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, and it was just spectacular. It really is an engineering marvel and I can’t even get my ahead around how someone thought to make this.
And then, do you ever experience what I think of as a “perfect moment”-a moment in time when most of your senses are pleasantly engaged and it all combines to make a moment of perfect happiness? Well, there we were on the bridge, and everyone was happy, and I looked out and the late afternoon sun came through the clouds and was all bright and sparkly on the water (the water! hooray!) and one of my very favorite songs came on the radio and sure it’s hokey and old, but who could help but to smile and sing along with “Sister Golden Hair”??
And then we got to enjoy a not perfect moment shortly after arriving on the other side and deciding that the kids had to eat before we made it to the hotel and getting turned around and lost and the kids were being nosy and Paul was tense and we were stopped on the little striped triangle on an exit that people stop on when they don’t know whether or not to get off a highway, but even that mayhem was such a stereotypical family vacation thing that it made me laugh. And then we ate at a Joe’s Crab Shack where the waitresses did the Macarena and Tabby loved it and started doing it, too. I swear I don’t know whose child she is because you’d never catch me or Paul doing it. And finally we made it to our place and checked in and basked in the excitement of a great first day.
Wow, I promise not to write so much about each day. We did a lot of different types of things and really had a good time. Last year Clark had his toe injured at Busch Gardens and this year Paul had an awful sickness that required almost a day of doctor visits, so perhaps we invite a little bad luck along with us on our trips! But on the upside, newly potty trained Tabby did great with the car trips and no one got sunburned! Here’s where we went:
Virginia Living Museum-this was a favorite last year, and just as great this year. A great blend of aquarium, zoo, and nature center. We loved seeing the busy beavers! And this year Clark was really into the touching/learning discovery centers throughout. Tabby was really into identifying every clownfish as Nemo.
Virginia Aquarium-a nice aquarium with a great new exhibit with plate tectonics stuff. And we saw a cuttlefish!
Sandy Bottom Nature Park-one of our spontaneous outings-saw the sign and followed the directions to a charming park and lake. The kids enjoyed the nature center, though I had to leave as it was filled with SNAKES. Literally. Cages of snakes everywhere.
Colonial Williamsburg-We went last year and enjoyed ourselves, but this year decided that we would would not pay and go into the places, but instead just walk around. This was a great plan for us. We still got to see the old buildings AND, even better, we arrived quite late in the day so it wasn’t crowded and we just happened to arrive in time to see a reenactment complete with General Washington and firing of cannons and guns! The kids were thrilled by their encounter with some friendly pirates outside one of the restaurants. (They were really great in character, but not frightening to the kids plus they gave them “gold coins” which I believe Clark actually thinks are real.) So we did get to soak in the atmosphere and get nice colonial souvenirs and had a just-the-right-amount-of-time experience.
Virginia Beach-We had a great time playing on the beach, digging, sifting sand, and so on. Just very relaxing. Tabitha found a big sand crab that she carried around and played with until it was good and dead. We finished by going to a restaurant that one of the moms at the beach playground recommendedWaterman’s. It was right on the ocean, beautiful, and had fantastic seafood. It was my favorite meal of the trip!
Busch Gardens-just as great as last year (maybe even better because Clark didn’t lose a toenail this time!) Tabby could ride some rides, the weather was lovely, and we had lots of fun.
On our way home we drove to Washington, D.C. and spent the whole afternoon there before returning home. We hit the Air and Space Museum and the Museum of Natural History, with a little time in the Sculpture Garden across the street from the Hirshhorn. Clark’s excitement over seeing the dinosaur fossils was contagious and he ran through the hall calling out everything he saw. My favorite moments were when he kissed the glass case containing a T. Rex head, and when he looked at painting of prehistoric seas which showed an ichthyosaur as black and white and commented “ichthyosaurs were the orcas of dinosaur times.”
It was a great trip!!