Leish and I weren’t sure if a few days in Williamsburg so soon after Christmas was such a good idea. But we just got back, and in spite of the traffic and tantrums and nearly-as-cold-as-PA weather, I’m glad we went. Dale and Brenda invited us to stay with them at their time-share. In exchange for the roof over our heads and most of our meals, they got some quality time with the grandkids and a few lessons on the Wii Fit.
On our drive down Sunday, I had the bright idea of visiting the National Museum of Natural History, which Delton seemed to enjoy so much a couple of years ago. This time Julia was old enough to take in the exhibits, and she especially liked the Hall of Mammals. It was really crowded, however, and we didn’t have the stamina to make it through every space (sorry, Hall of Geology), let alone move on to the Museum of American History as was my original plan. Guess DC deserves its own overnight trip at some point. What should have been a 2.5 hour trip from DC to Williamsburg turned into four hours on I-95. (I should make a point here to thank my lovely wife for giving up a bit of her sanity by doing most of the driving.)
We spent Monday morning just vegging before making a brief shopping trip to Barnes & Noble. Both kids took long naps in the afternoon, so we felt well-prepared for Busch Gardens Christmastown that evening. This was the last evening for this event, so attendance was light, which made for a much more enjoyable experience than BG on Memorial Day weekend. It’s interesting that I’ve only been to this park in weather that was below 40° and over 90°. (We found that poor Julia’s little toes were ice cold when we got back to the room.) I was impressed with all the lights and decorations, and the Sesame Street and O, Tannenbaum shows alone were probably worth the price of admission. Aleisha got her photos of the kids with the “real” Santa. Plus, being the last day, the candy shops had everything priced at 75% off. I was also happy to finally experience Curse of DarKastle without waiting an hour in line.
My favorite part of this evening—of all things—was the $5 I blew on six chances at the frog flipping game. I normally steer the kids away from carnival games since a) I never win and b) they cost too damn much. But, since we’d paid nothing for our tickets (thanks, Jane & Jim) and Delton had been (mostly) patient about our l-o-o-o-ng hike to the kiddie rides (seriously, Busch Gardens, your park layout sucks), I was happy to cave in this time. He got such a kick out of us all taking turns at this stupid game, it barely mattered that we didn’t win the Santa-hatted Scooby Doo. He looked so happy that the game operator even gave us an extra frog.
Speaking of frogs, on Tuesday we planned to see The Princess and the Frog. Julia was looking forward to it, but Delton convinced Ana and Pap-Pap to take him to see the new Chipmunks movie instead. I think this was probably for the best, since neither kid had the other to feed their fidgety energy to (parents of more than one preschooler know what I mean). In fact, Julia sat quietly the whole time, only occasionally flopping herself into some weird position in her booster seat (but always keeping her eyes on the screen). I sensed that she needed a break about half-way through, but a trip to get some popcorn was enough to get the ants out of her pants.
Being a Pixar guy myself, I was pleasantly surprised that the film had a well-written and well-executed story. And, while Randy Newman’s songs aren’t all that catchy, they were a perfect fit. This film has convinced me that Disney really needs to stop all its ridiculous, excessive marketing of its princess characters. It’s a shame that the character in this movie, Tiana, will get shoehorned in with the rest of the lot as the token black girl (much like Jasmine, Mulan and Pocahontas). All the princess crap out there seems to dumb these heroines down to their hair and skin color and costumes, making it all too easy to forget the stories and character traits that make them distinctive. In other words, looks trump actions—not a message I want my princess to absorb.
Tuesday night, Dale made us reservations for Shields Tavern in Colonial Williamsburg. I had the dumb idea of going a bit early, thinking there might be something to see or do while we waited. Well, what we saw was poorly lit (but nicely decorated) buildings, and what we did was freeze our asses off. Understandably, the kids were on the verge of a meltdown when our 7:15 reservation arrived. But, we persevered, and somehow enjoyed a lovely meal. The food was great, but the service was not what I expected. The waitress seemed put-off whenever we asked for something (coffee was, apparently, not part of our pre-paid meal), and the look on her face led me to believe that we would be thrown out should our kids step too far out of line.
All in all, a fun trip that gave us a new perspective on Williamsburg—a much colder one! See more photos on Facebook.