To market, to market, to buy a fat pig,
Home again, home again, jiggety-jig.
Anyway, we are home from vacation. Absolutely nothing went as planned, but we actually ended up having a really great time. We left home Thursday, so here is a brief rundown of our trip:
LONGEST DRIVE EVER to Hershey, Pennsylvania. It took us 10.5 hours to get there. I have no idea how I ended up booking the hotel that I did (I booked it several months ago), but when we got there, it was clear that I hadn't read the Trip Advisor reviews. It smelled very musty, and it needed a good, deep cleaning (and updating). The first room we were in had mold growing on the air vent, so we asked to be switched. The second room was just as bad, except no mold. Thankfully, we were only staying there one night! (I'd paid in advance, otherwise we would have tried to go somewhere else).
We dropped off our bags, and then headed to Hershey's Chocolate World right away because it was already 5:30 pm. The kids wanted to do the "Create Your Own Candy Bar" event, so we chose to do that and the free tour. Jerry and I decided to create each other's candy bar without looking until it was being made, just to see how well we know each other.
For the Create Your Own Candy Bar, you use a digital screen to choose the type of chocolate you want, the things to mix in, and then whether you want sprinkles on top. Then, while it's being made (you watch it go down the conveyor), you use another screen to design the label for your bar. Jerry and I designed each other's label as well.
|Designing their candy bars|
|My candy bar on the conveyor|
For Jerry, I chose white chocolate with pretzels, cookie bits, and toffee bits, topped with milk chocolate and sprinkles. We started watching it go down the conveyor belt, so we could see what each other had picked. Jerry chose the EXACT same combo for me, only with milk chocolate instead of white chocolate! We thought it was hilarious, because we are way too much alike.
Create Your Own Candy Bar was more fun than I expected it to be. After that, we looked around the shop for a little bit (SO much candy!), and then we took the free tour (you ride on a little cart, which I think is supposed to represent a cacao bean) and see the chocolate making process. They gave us a little fun size Hershey bar when we were finished.
After that, we went to get some dinner, and then went back to the hotel. Thankfully, it was nearly time to sleep, so we didn't have to hang out at the hotel much at all! ;)
We got up early so that we could be on the road by 6:00 am. The drive from Hershey to Virginia Beach took longer than anticipated, because there were three accidents that held up traffic for a long time. We ended up getting there at around 1:00, and we checked into our hotel. Thankfully, the hotel was very nice and clean! (We stayed at the Holiday Inn North Beach). We had a great balcony overlooking the ocean and pool.
There was a lot of talk about a tropical storm coming, so we headed down to the beach right away, to hopefully get to walk the boardwalk before the storm came. It was overcast and a little breezy, but I love that weather, so I thought it was great. We walked the boardwalk, and then turned around and walked back along the edge of the water. Eli was trying to catch little sand crabs (and he actually did catch a few). Jerry and I were watching these little birds run along the water, trying to catching bugs or crabs from the sand. They reminded us of a recent Pixar short called "Piper" (from the Finding Dory movie).
Then we went back to the hotel and the kids went swimming in the pools (there were three--two outdoor, one indoor). Even though it wasn't ideal "beachy" type weather, I enjoyed a margarita while the kids played. (I brought several sundresses, but I didn't get to wear any of them! I wore my "comfy long-car-ride" clothes.)
They swam for a long time, and then we went to the hotel restaurant for dinner. After dinner, Jerry took the kids to the beach again while I met up with Jen and Angela, the producers of the From Fat to Finish Line documentary. I hadn't seen them since the Ragnar in 2013! It was fun to catch up. And sadly, I didn't think to take a photo. I actually didn't take very many photos at all throughout the weekend.
Friday night, the storm got really bad. It was CRAZY windy! The power at the hotel went out, but thankfully it came right back on.
Saturday morning was the worst of the storm. We were amazed at the size of the waves in the ocean, and just how windy it was, so we decided to venture out to the boardwalk to get the full experience. We didn't stay out there long, but we walked a little of the boardwalk and briefly went down by the water to take a quick photo. We had to link arms when walking so that we didn't blow over--that's how strong the winds were!
|Notice the palm tree that is knocked over|
The outdoor pools were closed at the hotel, and there were SO many people in the indoor pool because of that. We decided to head to the aquarium. I was a little nervous about driving anywhere, because of the winds being so strong, but it was pretty interesting to see the effect of the storm. There were actually several porta potties on the streets (probably for the race) that were tipped over by the wind!
We spent a couple of hours at the aquarium. Eli was like our own personal guide, telling us the names of all the fish ;)
Then we went out for lunch before going back to the hotel. The kids went swimming in the indoor pool, but after that, we really weren't sure what to do. All of our plans had involved the beach! I asked Jerry if he might want to leave early, but the drive was so long getting there that I really didn't want to cut the trip short.
My friend Bonnie, from my Sole Mates Ragnar team, lives on the western side of Virginia. She had been hoping to drive to Virginia Beach for the weekend as well, but the weather wasn't exactly appealing. She'd been asking us to visit for a long time; so, I asked her if she might want some last minute company, and she was thrilled at the idea. We made plans to leave Virginia Beach on Sunday morning, and go to Bonnie's and stay there Sunday night. The kids really liked that idea, too, because Bonnie has a lot of pets and a river by her house where they could fish.
Saturday night, we went to the beach house where Jen and Angela were staying so that we could watch the documentary with them, and anyone else from the FFTFL community that wanted to. Rik and his wife, Cynthia, were there, as well as a few community members. They ordered pizza for everyone, and we chatted for a while, then watched the film. It was fun watching it with everyone, especially Jen and Rik, because they were part of the Ragnar team. We talked about a lot of the "behind the scenes" stuff and had some good laughs.
We got up early again on Sunday, and were on the road by 6:00 to go to Bonnie's. Her house was a 5.5 hour drive from Virginia Beach, and 8.5 hours from my house, so it worked out really well. If we'd stayed in VB another night, we'd have a 13+ hour drive home on Monday; this way, we only had an 8.5 hour drive for Monday.
It was so exciting to see Bonnie! The last time I saw her was at our Sole Mates reunion in Indy in 2015. She was thrilled to have us there, and I finally got to meet her husband, Tim. Bonnie made us a fantastic lunch, and then we went to the river to go fishing. The boys fished while Bonnie and I caught up, and thankfully, Eli caught a fish! I knew it would make his whole weekend if he could catch one. (While I was yelling to Jerry to take a picture of Eli with his fish, Eli dropped it back in the water, so there is no picture.)
We spent the evening at Bonnie's, where Tim cooked amazing steaks on the grill for dinner. My kids loved playing with Bonnie's pets (she has two dogs and nine cats!). I wish we could have stayed longer, but the kids started school today (Tuesday), so we had to leave on Monday morning.
Another LONG car ride home. We got home at around 5:15, and I was exhausted. There is something about riding in a car that is so tiring, which makes no sense. My mom made us dinner, which was so nice! The last thing I wanted to do was cook. We had the kids get their stuff ready for school, and then headed to bed on the early side.
Even with the hotel in Hershey, the long car rides, and the tropical storm, we actually had a fantastic weekend! We spent some quality time together as a family, and I'm so happy I got to see Bonnie. Today starts the back-to-school routine, though, and I'm looking forward to it :)