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Stuttering Shell: May 2008

Thursday, May 29, 2008

In the 'Roo...when???

In 109 days I will be at Babe's in Playa del Carmen, Mexico sipping on one of these fine blueberry margaritas....I cannot wait!!


800 miles, 2 days, 1 state

The title pretty much sums up how we spent a portion of Memorial Day weekend. We left our home on Sunday morning around 9am and, three tanks of gasoline later, we returned home on Monday night around 9pm. Whew.

So the game plan was to get up early on Sunday and drive to Fredericksburg to my parents house. Well, leaving early didn't happen, but we still managed to make good driving time inspite of the holiday weekend traffic. We exited off of I-95 around noontime and met my parents (and my cousin who was with her family from Connecticut) at the McDonald's that is around the corner from the house. The kids were happy -- Happy Meals and a playground! Adam and I were happy to have a bit of a break. Just about a half an hour later, we continued on towards Winchester and vowed to return in time to get ice cream with the family later on that evening.

Adam and I didn't arrive in Winchester until nearly 3pm. It is about an hour & a half drive from Fredericksburg. We were running late. Adam's sister, Krystal, has a pretty tight schedule. But, alas, we arrived in Winchester safe and sound. Much to our dismay, as soon as we arrived, Adam's sister was ready to go...she wanted to hop in the car and just drive. So, being the good family we are what did we do? We got back in the car and the nearest Target. What the hell, right? It gave us some time to spend together and it also gave me the opportunity to shop. I guess looking back you could call that a "win-win" situation. After Target , a coffee from The Daily Grind and a quick stroll along the streets of "Old Town" Winchester, Adam and I hop back in the car and head back to Fredericksburg -- this time investigating the route if we were to take I-81 to I-66 and then get back onto Route 17.

By 7pm we're back in the 'Burg...just in time for a few slices of Domino's pizza, a cold Yuengling and the Coca-Cola 600 on TV. The kids were happy and playing with their cousins and soon we all loaded into our vehicles and headed out for some ice cream at Bruster's...I'm still dreaming about the Almond Chocolate Coconut ice cream I had that evening. Mmmmm.

It would be an early night for everyone because the next morning we had reservations to eat at Mark's Duck House in Falls Church. Yum, yum...we love some dim sum!! It was the perfect way to start a Monday morning. We ate good food, drank hot tea and said our good-byes to everyone -- my parents were heading back home to Fredericksburg and my cousin and her family were headed back to Connecticut. As for us? Well, we were headed west on I-66 for another visit with Krystal in Winchester.

The kids were happy to see Krystal and they were also quite excited to learn that we would be taking them to a couple of fun places -- Dinosaur Land and Skyline Caverns.

Dinosaur Land was about 15 minutes south of Winchester off of I-81 in a small town called White Post. When we pulled up, I distinctly remember saying, "Oh, wow, it's at a gas station." Well, no, not really, but I think the family who owns the dino park does own the gas station, too. Bottom line is, we were there, the kids were amped and it was time to see some dinosaurs! After a nominal admissions fee for the family and a little bribing (I had to promise the kids something to get them out of the gift shop), we went out the door and stepped foot into Dinosaur Land. The kids had a blast running around and climbing into and onto the different fiberglass objects. There was a big shark, a giant octopus, King Kong and many, many prehistoric creatures. Signs were found at every animal giving the name, the pronunciation and a little blurb about when the dinosaur lived, what it ate, etc. It was a pretty popular place -- there were several families strolling through the park.

After Dinosaur Land, we got back on the road and headed down Route 522 into Front Royal. Our stopping point would be at Skyline Caverns which is just at the main entrance to the northernmost point along Skyline Drive...we were deep in the Shenandoah Valley and we were soaking up just how beautiful our state (er, Commonwealth) really is. Driving out to the western portion of the state makes you realize and appreciate just how diverse and wonderful living in Virginia really is.

Skyline Caverns was easy to find, very educational and a fine way to spend an hour with family. The kids were excited about the prospect of going into an "underground cave." Malia was interested in seeing how this cavern was different from Luray Caverns -- she made the trip to Luray last summer with my parents. Adam and I had both been to Luray and I have even been to Ruby Falls in Chattanooga, TN.

Our tour guide, Thomas, did a great job. He was knowledgable, entertaining and kept the tour group engaged. Aidan went to school on Tuesday talking all about Thomas and how he made the "underground cave do the disco" with the flashing colored lights. It was neat to see the kids' reactions to things like underground lakes and waterfalls and hearing the stories about the fish and the insects who live underground. It was amazing to see just how beautiful the earth is underneath all that we live on top of, too. To think that Skyline Caverns was discovered by a man who had a love and a passion for learning about what was below him was also fascinating.

After the tour, we had to scoot on back to Winchester to get Krystal back and also to begin our trip home. It was a long day and we still had about a four hour car ride back to Virginia Beach. After having a delicious dim sum breakfast, riding in a car, running through Dinosaur Land and strolling through Skyline Caverns, the kids were wiped out. Adam and I split the driving time and we arrived back at our front door a little after 9pm. The kids had a quick bath and talked about their weekend. Not long after that, it was light's out and everyone was sound asleep in their beds.