Monday, July 18, 2011

Destination Williamsburg

            If you’re a regular reader, you may be asking yourself, “Where have you been Vickie?” Rest assured, all is well in my little world. My family took a much-needed vacation to Williamsburg, VA. I had every intention of keeping up my blog from the road. But, frankly, I was having too much fun with my family to spend much time on the computer. I checked e-mail and facebook a grand total of three times while we were away. I put so much effort this summer trying to get my kids to unplug, I finally took my own medicine.
            We set out at 3:00 AM Monday morning. The timing worked out beautifully—too early for morning rush hour traffic in NYC and too early for afternoon rush hour in Baltimore and DC. The kids slept on and off until we stopped for breakfast midway down the New Jersey Turnpike. I had packed them both bags filled with books, Mad Libs, notebooks, markers and their handheld electronic games. We were about 2 hours outside our destination before I needed to fire up the portable DVD player. 

Owen's Artwork
            We were in very heavy traffic just past Richmond, VA when the car lost power. Dan limped the van over to the right hand shoulder. The temperature was well into the 90s, we were eleven hours from home and our car was dead. A very nice man stopped and jumped our car. It started but as soon as we disconnected the jumper cables the engine cut out again. Fortunately a AAA tow truck arrived eventually and took us to a local garage. I have to shout out to Jack AKA The Car Doctor of Williamsburg in Tuano, Virginia who thought this was a lousy way to start a vacation. He had already finished his work for the day but went out of his way to pick up the part we needed (an alternator) and got us back on the road within an hour and a half. He even let us into a curio shop he owns so we could get out of the heat. The kids were restless by then (understandably so!) but my husband came up with the brilliant suggestion of playing “I Spy” while we waited. The shop was full of ceramic statues, figures and pictures. It kept us occupied until Jack had finished the work. An hour later we were on our way.
            We arranged to stay in a two-bedroom condo called Greensprings Vacation Resort. I was sure the pictures we had seen online were too good to be true. Could the pool be as lovely as the photos on Expedia? Had they been taken at just the right angle so the rooms would appear more spacious? I’m happy to say my cynicism was unjustified. The facility was beautiful. The resort has and indoor and outdoor pools, a number of playgrounds, and plenty of planned activities. Our condo had recently been renovated and we had two bedrooms, two full bathrooms—both with Jacuzzi tubs, fully equipped kitchen, washer and dryer, dining room, living room and terrace. We got a really good rate through a friend who owns timeshare points through the group. But the price of $250 listed on the various websites I checked would have been worth it. We’ve found staying in a condo or apartment set up works out much better for us than a hotel or motel. It’s nice to be able to put the boys to bed in their own room for the night and I love the flexibility of being able to prepare a few meals myself. Even with a lot of restaurants now offering healthier options on children’s menus these days, I can’t escape the fear that my kids are going to wake up one morning with a crispy breaded coating from eating out so much.
            Tuesday morning we went to Colonial Williamsburg, which was less than twenty minutes from our condo. We started off with a guided tour with an interpreter who told us about the restoration of Williamsburg. She was very interesting, but the boys were getting antsy. Fortunately, it wasn’t long before they were drawing water from a well:

and playing the games colonial children played:

and learning how to prime, load and fire a musket:

And learning their lesson...


       Pretty soon we were hot and exhausted so we stopped to have lunch at The Shield’s Tavern. There were menu choices from both the 18th and the 21st centuries—I had an authentic colonial Rueben. Okay, okay, the only one of us who got into the 18th century spirit for lunch was my husband Dan—he ordered bangers and mash. The kids of course had their daily dose of chicken fingers and hot dogs (big surprise!).

       After we took a break from the Virginia summer sun it was time to have some more adventures. The Military encampment was probably the boys’ favorite part of the day. They got to throw tomahawks (fortunately the heads were leather rather than iron or stone):

and learned how to fire a cannon:

But it wasn’t all weaponry. We visited the Powell House where the boys helped in the garden and kitchen and even learned to make a needle book to take home.

Now if I can only get them to do this at home!

Owen confided to me that Williamsburg was much more fun than he expected it to be. I think he suspected this would be an “educational” trip and was wary of it. But getting his hands dirty in history turned out to be a blast. And that was just the first day of our trip. More to come!