Weekend Trip to Virginia, May 2014

Back in the winter we had an airline credit we had to use up, and we didn't yet know what our summer plans would be. The safest thing to do seemed to be to use it for a fun long weekend trip--Memorial Day weekend, going down Friday evening and returning Monday evening so no one would need to miss school or work, seemed to fit the bill. Norfolk, Virginia, then, it was! We flew down on Friday afternoon and picked up our rental car (above--the kids clowning around in the trunk with Robert) and drove straight to Doumar's, home of the first-ever ice-cream-cone-making machine, from the 1904 World's Fair.

Samantha loved her ice cream and cone, but I was disappointed with the ice cream (butter pecan basically had no buttery or pecan flavor at all) and Robert with the sandwiches (four kinds of pork sandwiches--Taylor pork, minced pork with slaw, baked ham, and fried ham--and he couldn't find one he liked!). We continued driving north to Williamsburg, with two sleeping kids by the time we checked into the hotel.

On Saturday morning we had breakfast in our hotel (waffles and oatmeal were the stand-outs) and went straight to the historic area, first watching the orientation movie ("the longest continually-running movie in motion picture history," according to a sign) and then taking the shuttle bus over to the Governor's Palace and starting to walk around.

Marcus liked the re-enactors who stood around on the green and discussed things, and then led us in a march on the palace gates, but he loved the looms (both at the farmers' market near Merchants Square and in one of the historic houses) and it was hard to tear him away from them. He wove a fairly large purple stripe, actually, into what one of the women said was likely going to be a dish towel.

Samantha got to help water a garden, and Marcus got to ask 50+ questions of a blacksmith and a baker, and we all went to lunch at the King's Arms Tavern, where Robert ordered "a dish of beef" and a musician came and played the guitar and talked about how guitars were tuned in colonial times vs. today. Marcus ate this up, of course. Robert said it oddly felt like we were in Disneyworld, eating at a themed restaurant.

Both kids liked playing the colonial games and running around with hoops; Marcus got to try out a quill pen and write his name with it, and of course he tried on a three-cornered hat. After lunch we watched the big re-enactment, an hour-and-a-half long show that moved up and down the street with dialogues, musical performances, musical participation (sitting on a bench with a sleeping Marcus on his back, Robert rolled his eyes, but did not flee), and a scene from a colonial play.

We left around 5:00, very happy and full of history. Next time in costume!

Dinner was Pierce's Pitt BBQ in Williamsburg, but outside the historic area, where Robert had a sampler platter with some shanks as well as pulled pork and pulled chicken, and Marcus and I had pulled chicken sandwiches. Samantha ate ribs. Both kids got to run around on the grass and roll down a small hill and then we packed everyone up in the car and drove back down to Norfolk and then up the Chesapeake bridge and tunnels to Chincoteague Island, once again arriving at the hotel with two sleeping kids.

Sunday morning in Chincoteague at the Days Inn (nice place, right by the water, with a playground and a pool) we had another nice breakfast at the hotel and then went for a walk on the Chincoteague Nature Trail over on the western side of the island.

We took the Assateague Explorer boat ride at 10:30 over toward Assateague, listening to a lot of information about the wild ponies and the annual pony swim. We weren't super close to the ponies, but we did get a nice view of them from the marshy side of the island, and boat rides are always a hit.

Then we had lunch at Captain Zach's in town, enjoying their bean bag toss and other games outside before eating at a picnic table and enjoying our cream of crab soup (Marcus devoured it), clam fritters, little ball-shaped deep-fried crab cakes (Samantha loved these), and a softshelled crab sandwich. A stop at Mister Whippy for ice cream--a slushy ice cream "thunderball" for Marcus, chocolate in a cup for Samantha, a peanut-butter dipped cone for me--and we drove over to Assateague island itself for the afternoon.

We went out to Tom's Beach, and the kids had great fun flying a kite and playing in the sand while I napped on our make-shift beach blanket.

We pulled over a few times in the nature preserve to watch the ponies from the side of the road. Samantha loved them so much she basically didn't want to turn her head toward the camera for a picture.

We stopped at the visitors' center next, enjoying their bathrooms and cold water fountains and nice rocking chairs, and then took another short mini-hike/nature walk along one of the marshy trails, using our (bi)noculars and trying to spot birds, turtles, and river otters along the way.

We left the park around 5:30 and drove back to town, just squeaking into the cheaper day-rate mini golf, and played a competitive round on a very twisty and sloped course with a neat water hazard where the ball automatically returns onto the green if "accidentally" hit into the water.

Dinner was at Steamer's in town, though they had no blue crabs and we had to wait for a table. It was still absolutely worth it--great paper on the tables and low-key atmosphere with another cup of island crab soup for Marcus, a crab-stuffed broiled flounder for me (Marcus ate at least half my fish), and a fisherman's platter of fried diversified delights for Robert. We had sweet potato biscuits which were heavenly, sweet potato tater tots which Robert detested, and more hush puppies, the third batch we'd had, at different places, so far this weekend: if you'd asked me six days ago what I thought of hush puppies, I would have said they were okay, but kind of dry and tasteless, and I really didn't know what people saw in them. Apparently, you have to eat hush puppies in the south, because I was blown away by all the ones we had this weekend.

More clowning around in the car, and we drove back down to Norfolk, once again arriving with two sleeping kids. Breakfast on Monday was not in the hotel--we met a babywearing friend of mine, Janet, and her three-year-old Jane at a little Filipino place in a strip mall in Virginia Beach. We had purple rice, brown mochi with coconut, rice with sweet pork, red-cooked hot dogs, a fried fish, some corned beef hash, eggs, and some braised veggies with fish, for a great breakfast.

We said goodbye to Janet and Jane and drove across town to see the 40-foot tall rubber ducky at the Chrysler Museum of Art. Depending on the angle and how much you stared at it, it ranged from adorable to diabolical in nature.

Our last stop before heading back to the airport was a playground, and then we gassed up and returned the car and flew back home; we were happy to get a Shake Shack at JFK en route.

Lovely weekend! Happy beginning of summer!


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Created: 5/28/14. Last Modified: 5/28/14.