Random – This year I took the family on a road trip to Williamsburg, VA; with a quick stop by Pittsburgh and Washington D.C. during the long drive down. While this isn't really gaming related I did gain some inspiration for some future terrain pieces while we were on the trip.
Day One: We left in the evening with plans to drive through the night until I was exhausted and get a room on the way down. As my wife is 8.5 months pregnant and my son is just under two years old I wasn't sure how often we'd have to stop so making an accurate plan of how far we could get on day one wasn't happening. As it turns out we made good time and stopped every 2 hours to stretch our legs and refuel. Was lucky enough to find a decent "truck-stop" hotel that was clean and cheap around 3 am.
Day Two: The plan was to drive into D.C. on our way to Williamsburg; however construction and traffic during the daylight hours was so miserable we just drove through so we could get to our resort and unpack. Once we arrived and picked up groceries for our stay we all crashed hard and got some sleep.
Day Three: We got up early and headed off to the pool; which due to some renovations at our site was at another location down the street. The pool was really nice and had a splash pad and waterside built in. The kids had a blast and we headed back to the room for lunch and to make plans for the rest of the day.
After picking up a boatload of brochures we settled on visiting Ripley's Believe it or Not and doing a ghost tour of Historic Williamsburg. The Ripley's Museum was a bit smaller than others I've been to but there were some cool exhibits as well as some games the kids really enjoyed.
Once my son went to bed I took the girls (my wife isn't a big fan of scary stuff) out for late night ghost tour of Williamsburg. The guide was really good and told some interesting stories, he recommended a few books from the local bookstore that the ghost stories were pulled from and then had to cut the tour a little short as a nasty thunderstorm rolled in. During the damp walk home the girls proceeded to freak themselves out and some weird wind noises sent them running back to the resort. Overall a fun time
Day Four: My wife and I woke up early with Oliver and decided to let the girls sleep in. We took the opportunity to walk around the Historic District and see the sites. I have quite a few new ideas for my Malifaux boards when I get back to working on them as the architecture and layout of the town is really interesting. We decided against paying for the passes to go into the buildings as Oliver was more than happy to just tromp up and down the steps and look at the outside and the 13 year olds didn't have much interest in it.
Once we got back to the room we woke up the girls and packed the car to visit Virginia Beach. The drive from Williamsburg was about and hour and took us through a large tunnel as well as over some interesting bridges. The beach reminded me of Daytona Beach in Florida, hotels on every inch or waterfront property with beach shops selling the same iron on t-shirts on the opposite side. The girls of course thought this was the best thing ever and had a blast looking at all the cheesy shop stuff. The beach itself was really nice and fairly clean. Oliver really liked the ocean and we had fun digging tunnels in the sand for him to drive his 1:43 scale Ice Cream Truck through (Note: I should have bought one for myself as it would be perfect for my near future board).
Day Five: Busch Gardens. We broke down and decided to go to the amusement park. It's close to the same cost as Cedar Point with more family friendly atmosphere. They have a pretty nice Sesame Street Area (which unfortunately oliver was to small to ride most of the stuff), some decent shows, a nice zoo area and a few really fun rides. It was nice as the lines were really short and for some of the attractions we could get on and off immediately. This year is also the 35th anniversary of the Loch Ness Monster (pretty fun corkscrew-type coaster with a decent theme in the waiting area) so I got a cool souvenir cup which was only a buck to refill all day long. If you're a big fan of roller coasters they have a few that are worth riding Verbolten, Griffin, Alpinegeist, Loch Ness Monster, Apollo's Chariot, as well as some other types of thirll rides: Mach Tower and Darkastle.
Day Six: We packed up and headed north to Washington D.C., the drive was much better then it was coming down and we made pretty good time. D.C. is a pain-in-the-ass to navigate but we eventually found the National Zoo and a place to park (Note: the zoo is free, parking is not figure $30 for the day at least). After eating lunch we busted out the stroller and began our walk along the the 163-acre park.
The National Zoo has many animals that you don't see any where else (like Pandas) as well as a very robust research center that you can peak into in some of the exhibits. During our visit they had a CODE: Green which was a drill in case one of the Orangutans (that can freely traverse the zoo on high wire lines) decides to make a break for it. The elephant house was also very cool and the kids were excited since they haven't seen any up close since the Detroit Zoo had to ship theirs away.
After the zoo we attempted to drive by the National Mall and White House (Note: you can't drive by the White House and there are military style check points when you get close). After a quick drive by we began the trek home staying in a really cool (circa 1977) Comfort Inn outside of Pittsburgh.
Day Seven: Waking to a complementary "hot" breakfast we ate our fill and headed into Pittsburgh. We drove by the stadiums and over several of the bridges and tunnels that crisscross the city. Eventually we made our way to the incline and road the tram up and down the mountain. The view was pretty amazing and well worth checking out. I gave up on finding the original Primanti Brothers and headed north towards home.
As luck would have it Primanti Brothers recently became a chain of restaurant and we were able to eat at one of the suburban locations. (check off another of the 1000 places to see before you die) The sandwiches were interesting and pretty tasty. Essentially it's a deli sandwich with provolone cheese, french fries and a sweet mayonnaise free slaw on two thick slices of italian bread. I went with the traditional corn beef.
The rest of the drive home was fairly uneventful. Overall I'm happy with the way the trip turned out and what we were able to accomplish in the time we spent in the area. I'm not sure that I'd want to go back to the same resort anytime soon, but I think as an option I'd consider it.
I also added a few more pins to the "Vacation Dad Hat" that has since become a little tradition for me. Goofy stuff like this your kids will remember and up until they become uppty teenagers it creates something to look for while on vacation. (photo to come)