Although our holiday vacation time seems shorter this year, we had a wonderful Christmas followed by a few days in Williamsburg with Dale and Brenda. This year, Dale had an extra room, and we were able to invite the Smiths, a family that attends our church. We drove down Monday (kids thoroughly enjoying the Chip and Dale Rescue Rangers DVD I got on Netflix) and everyone gathered in our three-bedroom suite that evening for a dinner of shepherd’s pie, salad and pizza. Delton, Julia, Ellie and Grayson roped us all in to playing hide and seek, which was surprisingly fun and challenging in a seemingly small space.
Tuesday, we decided to take advantage of our membership at the Virginia Living Museum. When we arrived at 11:15 a.m., a small sign on the door noted that they had postponed their normal 10 a.m. opening to 11 a.m. due to the inclement weather conditions. We hearty Pennsylvanians chuckled to ourselves, as this was the umpteenth indication that these Tidewater Virginians were woefully under-prepared to deal with 8 inches of snow. Parking lots and sidewalks everywhere were covered with slush that was continually compacted into slick ice by feet and tires alike. Busch Gardens shut down their Christmastown attraction Tuesday evening to deal with snow removal (48 hours after the last snow had fallen) and the Smiths noted that K-mart announced an early closing on Monday night.
The VLM was great, but I was disappointed to see the dinosaurs were gone. The planetarium show was actually a really lame cartoon with an incomprehensible plot (or perhaps it just seemed that way because I fell asleep). The kids were barely interested, although Julia exclaimed, “It’s beautiful!” during several of the scenes (she was right about that). I did not expect the boardwalk to be open, and indeed, a crew was busily clearing the snow. The Smiths treated us to lunch in the café.
Upon discovering that our friend Amy was celebrating her 40th birthday, we picked up a cake and balloon to take over to the Smiths’ room Tuesday evening. Julia and I constructed a card and envelope from the art kit she received for Christmas. When we went over after dinner, their son Grayson was sick, so Ed, Aleisha and I took the rest of the kids to the property’s game room. Against our better judgment, we allowed Delton and Julia to partake of a few too many shooter-style games (including a Star Trek Voyager Borg-killing one) before heading back for Amy’s impromptu celebration.
On Wednesday, we said goodbye to the Smiths and then split up ourselves. Dale escorted the women on a shopping trip to replace a duplicate Christmas present for Julia. After careful deliberation, she ended up with three smaller gifts—Rapunzel and Snow White figures and a Moon Dough set. I took Delton to the Ripley’s Believe It or Not attraction. He was mighty impressed with the large array of “artifacts” and only mildly frightened. My favorite part was the disorienting, spinning tunnel that made us dizzy by simply walking through it. Upon reaching the end, Delton insisted we go back through to take pictures of every single exhibit case.
That evening we went to Christmastown and, save for the Sesame Street show, had a different experience than last year. After a relatively short wait for the skyride, we then walked to Ireland, where Julia wasn’t quite tall enough to go on Europe in the Air. She wanted me to wait with her, and we enjoyed a few minutes to ourselves watching an Irish trio on an outdoor platform while resting beneath a heating station. As soon as Delton exited the ride with the others, he was so excited to ride it again that I couldn’t say no. We later ate some supper in Grogan’s Pub (which only serves alchohol…Aleisha and Dale had to bring the food over from the nearby Grogan’s Grill), which was much cozier than Germany’s gargantuan Das Festhaus.
We cajoled the kids into sitting through another show, this one title Rejoice and located just across from the pub. The show featured sparkly velvet-clad monks chanting traditional Christmas hymns one minute and belting out contemporary secular tunes (complete with electric guitar solo) the next. I nearly busted a gut, but Delton and Julia were impressed enough to sit (mostly, but not completely) still for 20 minutes.
Now after their bedtime, we managed to make our way to New France, which featured a polar animal exhibit that included penguins and a snowy owl. When this was done, even Delton recognized that we did not have nearly enough steam to soldier on to the North Pole, Germany and Italy. We gladly boarded the next train for the main gate and made it to the van just before frostbite set in.
This morning we were able to spend an hour or so visiting Duke of Gloucester Street in Colonial Williamsburg, where we met up with an old preschool friend of Delton’s whose Mom also happened to be Julia’s toddler room teacher. We then said goodbye to them and our family (I would be remiss in mentioning that Dane and Tamara had joined us mid-trip, and it was fun getting to hang out with them for a bit more than usual). That is until our battery died at Target (I stupidly turned the car off while the kids continued to watch a DVD as we waited for Aleisha). After a recharge from Dale and Brenda’s van, we were finally on our way home.