Okay, so if you follow me on social media you know that I’ve yammerd away about going on our ultimate vacation this week to a bunch of great spots around the state of Virginia. I had so much planned for the family to do this week while hubby was on vacation. Things like:
- Natural Bridge VA – Natural Bridge Zoo Park, Caverns, Park, Wax Museum and Foamhenge
- Richmond Metro Zoo (we were there in 2011 on a class field trip, but they’ve added so much I wanted to go again)
- Virginia Beach Boardwalk and Mount Trashmore Skate Park
- Smithsonian National Zoo
- Wintergreen Resort – Lake Monocan, The Plunge Tubing Park, and The Zip
- Nauticus Aquarium and Museum
- Virginia Safari Park
There was something to do each day, and the kids and I were super excited to (a) get out of the house and (b) visit some attractions and places we have never been before. (I have to give a shout out to all the great local moms at RichmondMom.com Junkies Facebook Group – I asked for some suggestions and they came up with all of these absolutely wonderful ideas!)
Well, per our track record with this household, nothing ever goes according to plan. Hubby tells me on Sunday that we’ll only be able to do one of those items – go to Virginia Beach. Tre and I could check out the boardwalk while Jonathan and he fished. I was absolutely livid, to put it mildly, but that’s another story for another day. So the “plan” was to leave Monday morning and spend the day down there.
We planned to leave Monday, but this and that happened and before we knew it time had flown by and it was almost 4pm so we decided to leave Tuesday. Hubby wanted to take Mollyanna with – our little Jack Russell/Chihuahua mix – but after making a call to the fishing pier and confirming that dogs are not allowed on the pier, and then checking the local beach rules and finding out that dogs are not allowed on the beaches between the hours of 9AM and 7PM during peak tourist season, we knew we would have to leave her at home. That meant finding a sitter for her – someone who could come by and check on her every 2-3 hours and make sure she was okay and walked.
Tuesday rolled around, we all woke up around 10AM, and hubby began the hunt for a sitter. He finally found someone willing to watch our little Mollyanna, so the trip was on and it was a mad dash to get my bag of boredom stoppers packed. I knew that Tre and I would only be able to handle so much boardwalk walking before we got bored, so the PS Vita was packed for him, books and magazines for me, along with my trusty DayTimer system so I could get some scheduling work completed while we were cooling our heels. Snacks and lunches packed, we were ready to go.
Tre was disappointed that we wouldn’t be heading to Mount Trashmore Skate Park (but to do so that requires a skateboard regulation helmet, something that they do not have at the moment. I would be happy to do a review if anyone would like to offer one or two for us to test out) and I was still in livid mode so I really didn’t give a crap what hubby and the teenager did. Yes, I was sulking and in a snit.
Naturally, we had to stop at the local tackle shop and stock up on squid and bloodworms. Ugh. Then we were finally on the road headed to our destination.
Accidents, Traffic Jams, and Detours
We traveled about 30 minutes before the traffic jam began, which was actually unusual. We usually don’t hit any major traffic until we near the Colonial Williamsburg/Yorktown/Busch Gardens area further down Interstate 64. All traffic was diverted off I-64E due to a multiple vehicle traffic accident onto Route 60. We later found out about the accident from our local station, WTVR-6, and some photos that were sent in.
Thankfully (and miraculously) there were no serious injuries or fatalities. Several people were taken to the emergency room in this six car pile up, but they are all expected to recover from their injuries. The angels were working overtime.
We Have Finally Arrived!
Finally we reached the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel, our landmark to let us know that our destination was not far away!
I love seeing all the ships in the Hampton Roads/Newport News area when we travel there. They look so tiny in the distance till you get closer. The sheer massive size of these ships astonishes us every time on just how something that big can stay afloat.
So we travel through town, and as we get on Route 13 to get to the pier, hubby makes a sharp right into a parking lot all of a sudden and scared the bejesus out of me. I thought something was wrong with the car or with him. No, the testosterone levels in the car just went through the roof when they spied Chix Custom Cycles.
Once the testosterone levels in the vehicle returned to normal and their brains calmed down and the drooling ceased, we were back on our way and pulling into the pier parking lot.
One of the things that I love about this pier is that there is a restaurant and outdoor café right there on the pier for you to enjoy. We unpacked the car, hauled everything out on the pier, and that’s when it dawned on me. The boardwalk was nowhere in sight. We were about 15-20 miles from the Virginia Beach Boardwalk – definitely too far to walk along the beach. So Tre and I resigned ourselves to watching Jonathan and Dad fish and playing on the beach.
Always Remember the Suits and the Soda
Naturally, once we arrived and carted all of our possessions out to the end of the pier, hubby decided he wanted some Pepsi and wasn’t paying the high cost at the pier store for them – so Tre and I were off on a mission to find a store. The first two we went to only had Coke, and hubby wasn’t having that. We finally found a 7-Eleven and snagged a deal – two 12-packs for $6.80 (just one was $5.87). Tre bought himself a drink as did I (with plenty of ice – it was 99 degrees on Tuesday!) and as we arrived back at the pier it dawned on me that we needed some extra hands. So I handed Tre the car keys, straws, and our two drinks, and I struggled to get the two 12-packs in my arms in a comfortable place so I could carry them ALL the way to the end of the pier. (Did you ever notice that piers seem 100x longer than they are when you are carrying something heavy?) After we made it without dropping anything, and I had a chance to catch my breath, Tre and I headed to the beach.
Tre was having a ball letting the water wash over his feet and sink him deep into the sand. In our rush to leave, nobody thought about bringing their bathing suits! I wasn’t planning on getting into the water (I had a run in with some jellyfish in Myrtle Beach one year who were not very welcoming so I don’t swim in the ocean any longer) just getting my feet wet, but didn’t even think about Tre wanting to swim.
This little guy came over to where I was sitting after he finished checking Tre out and just stood there squawking back and forth with me for a few minutes. I love chatting with the seagulls – if you get the chance to catch the eye of one next time you’re at the beach, have a chat with him! They are very animated and very vocal!
Pretty soon our little seagull flew off to join his friends further down the beach, and I turned my attention back to Tre. He was gleefully making himself a little pond in the sand.
He loves the water and the beach almost as much as I do. I know that when he is grown and on his own, Tre will either be living at the beach or will live close enough to drive there when the urge hits him. Watching him enjoy himself so thoroughly just makes my heart smile.
Then came the question that I knew would come. “Mom, can I get wet?” I told him to go ahead, his jean shorts would dry by the time we were ready to leave for home. I told him to just take his shirt off and leave it with me. A few “Are you sure?” questions and that was it. In he went!
So while my youngest is splashing around like the little fish that he is … I get a phone call from Dad out at the end of the pier. “Where are you?” he asks. I put my hand up and wave and tell him to look to his right on the beach. “Oh okay I see you! Where’s Tre?” I point to the water and the splashing. “Jonathan just said he thought he saw a shark, but it was a pod of dolphins swimming by. Can you see them off to the left?” They were too far out for me to see them, unfortunately. He also told me that the skates (aka stingrays) were biting hot and heavy and the fish had all but disappeared. So I yelled out to Tre and told him to stay close to the shoreline and keep an eye out for them. I’ve never been stung by a stingray, but I’m sure they’re much worse than the jellyfish stings that I suffered through for several days!
I envy the people who live in these homes. Prime place on the beach front, next to the pier, walk out your back door and the ocean is at your feet. What a beautiful sight that must be to see each morning. I hope the residents appreciate the beauty that greets them each morning!
Electronics Do Not Like Salt Water
About this time, Tre comes walking out of the ocean and onto the beach – and stops dead in his tracks and begins to cry. I ran over to him, thinking something had happened to him. His little face was crumpled in fear as he pulled the car keys out of his pocket and he cried harder. We have an electronic key fob for our Chrysler … a valet key to unlock the door, but the ignition part is all-electric.
I went out to the parking lot with Tre and we gave it a shot. Nothing. Just buzzed a lot as water dripped out of every opening. Sigh. Tre cried harder and I did my best to comfort him and tell him it was okay, it was an accident, but he was terrified his dad was going to just be furious with him for being irresponsible. I told him it would be fine, accidents happen, and I should have remembered to get the keys from him before telling him he could jump in the ocean. We both had forgotten he had him, and accidents happen. We’d be okay.
So we headed back out to where the guys were fishing.
I told hubby what had happened and yes, he was visibly upset, but he patted Tre on the shoulder and told him not to worry, it would dry out and everything would be okay.
Catching A Few Stingrays
He asked Tre if he wanted to do some fishing too, and he said yes, so hubby baited the third pole up for him and all three of them had a pole in the water. Jonathan had just caught two skates, and they were on the deck while John was waiting for them to calm down after having removed the hooks so that he could pick them up and throw them back in the ocean.
Have you ever seen these things up close? They are freaky looking! Look at those eyes staring at you!
Dude man here was NOT happy to be caught and kept swishing his tail at us. All together, we caught 11 stingrays in the span of an hour – and no fish. Finally they must have decided to move out to deeper waters or just got wise and understood that bit of food dangling in the water was a trap and they stopped biting. Not before Tre landed his first ever skate though!
As the sun began to set though, the skates started to leave. Then it was time to just sit and wait for the fish to come back.
They didn’t, naturally, so around 9:45PM we started packing everything up and headed a little farther closer to the beach to see how everyone else was doing. They were not having any luck either (except for the folks who were out crabbing – they had coolers full of crabs!) so we decided to call it a night and head home. Everyone was tired, it had been a long, hot day, so off to the car we trudged.
Heading Home … Maybe
Hubby took the key from his pocket and hit the trunk button. Nothing. Hit the key lock to unlock the doors. Nothing. We were stranded in Virginia Beach with our spare key sitting at home on the armoire (which naturally was my fault since it was my key and I ‘should’ have remembered to bring it along) and no way to get home. I gently reminded hubby that he could pull the valet key out of the key fob and we could at least get inside the car and pack the trunk up. If worse came to worse, we could spend the night in the car if we had to. Thankfully; however, he keeps a battery-charger miniature air compressor in the trunk that can be used for inflating a tire or blowing up beach balls and rafts and a myriad of other uses. After taking the key fob apart and cleaning the battery (which was already corroded from the salt water) hubby took the air compressor and blew out the key fob, dislodging all the sand and drying the computer bits that were soaked with salt water.
After about 15 minutes, hubby put the key fob back together and we all held our breath as he attempted to start the car again.
It worked! The car started up, and we all breathed a sigh of relief. Just to be on the safe side though, he cut the car off and then attempted to start it again. Vroom! We were on our way after futzing around with the car and trying to figure out how we were going to get home for an hour. By the time we left, it was after 11PM.
We got about 10 miles down the road and the tire air pressure sensor on the dashboard started blinking, indicating (or so we thought at that time) that one of the tires was low in pressure and needed to be filled. Hubby (ever the worry wart) pulled off the side of the road immediately and we spent another 20 minutes waiting while he checked all the tire pressures. They all seemed to be registering fine. So we pulled off in search of a gas station or convenience store that was open and well-lit so we could see what we were doing.
We found a gas station open about 2 exits down the road so hubby pulled in and cut the car off. He got out the air compressor and went to start the car again so that the compressor would run and … NOTHING. The key fob was inoperable once again.
A collective groan from all four of us simultaneously at the thought of being stranded, at a gas station, sleeping in the car all night long until the Chrysler dealership opened in the morning and we could get some help.
Hubby checked the tires (again) and all the pressure levels were consistent and even. We discussed and came to the conclusion that it had to be something to do with the sensor in the key fob that had taken a dip in the ocean with Tre, as the reason the dashboard air pressure light was messing up. We blew out the key fob with the air compressor again for another 10 to 15 minutes and thankfully the car started once more. This time, we didn’t cut it off again until we arrived at home at 2AM in the morning – finally!
All Is Well That Ends Well
So, as I have told myself a million times – never plan anything in advance. If you live spur of the moment, fate cannot conspire against you and throw a monkey wrench in your plans. All things considered, we had a great time and enjoyed spending time together as a family, which is what vacations are all about, right?
One of these weekends before school begins, however, I am waking the kids up at 6AM and we are heading to Washington, D.C. to the National Zoo. Mom wants to see her panda bears, damn it.