(note: there are too many great photos to choose from, please view my flickr for all photos! see sidebar)
Well, we are finally back from our 720+ miles road trip. And what an amazing trip! We were thinking that we were either stupid crazy for even thinking and planning this road trip with Keira or that we were super explorers ready to take on the gps. I am so glad we did it because it was awesome!
We split the travelling into 2 days each way (going there and coming back). Otherwise, it's way too long for a kid to sit in a car with nothing to do but look out the window (or watch a dvd, or read a book, or sing along to Hannah Montana and Taylor Swift or eat rainbow coloured fish crackers, or...). You get the drift. We made great time going on the first day making pit stops along the way to refresh, eat lunch and stretch our legs. With the help of our handy GPS, we found a really nice hotel off in New Jersey about 8 hours in.
Passing rural America, you can see where the economy hit hardest. Parts of New Jersey and Delaware were sad. But when we crossed the Chesapeake Bay and that amazing bridge, what a sight for sore eyes! The ocean for miles and miles, long sandy beaches.. beautiful!
keira goes to virginia beach!
Our first stop was to the beach. I had downloaded the parking brochure off the web and we knew where to park for cheaps and close to the beach. The heat and humidity hit us like a tidal wave getting out of our air-conditioned car! But after weeks and weeks of rain at home, it felt like heaven!
We stayed at the Crowne Plaza not too far from the beach. Actually, it was better for us as it was situated closer to all the other activities we wanted (and did) do.
We spent 2 days just at the beach. That GPS was a real time saver as we could just hit the POI (points of interest) button and see where everything was at; restaurants in the area, gas stations, public parking, grocery stores etc. We didn't bring alot of stuff on this trip but did bring our mini-cooler and bought stuff at the local Farm Fresh grocery. Good thing too. Who wants to leave the beach just to buy something to eat?
There was one night of continual lightning (awesome to watch from indoors!) and one day of rainstorm. We took that day to visit the Virginia Aquarium. We went all out and splurged on the triple features: the aquarium, the Imax and the Creek Cruise. The Imax was great! We watched Under the Sea 3D at Imax that we all got a kick out of. But if you decide to go, the Creek Cruise is a total dud. There's not much to see and much of the wildlife is similar to what you see on our shores here.
The rest of our trip was hot, humid and sunny! The big highlight of Virginia Beach was heading out to Williamsburg to.....BUSCH GARDENS! This place is the cleanest amusement park I've seen to date. I think even cleaner and nicer than Disneyland.
We only wished that kids would be priced by height rather than age as most of the rides are limiting for them. The only place we ended up at was the Sesame Street area. Keira LOVED it there and did all the rides at least 2 or 3 times. We never realized how gung-ho she is for those rides! She even went on the roller coaster ride. She did all the rides with her Papa as I get super nauseous.
I don't know about you but... I'm not a big fan of american food. There are some good places in NYC and parts of California but the rest...I don't know. You have to ask the locals for their favourite places. Otherwise, you get caught in tourist traps where the prices are astronomical and the food is horrible. One thing that is similar across the board is the portion of the food. It's humungous! And without you asking the servers, your drink is continually refilled throughout the meal. I pretty much shared a meal with Keira most of the time. Have you seen their kids meal portions? I kept asking for a tiny bowl everywhere but I don't think they even keep those in stock. I have also never seen so many obese kids in my life. Not overweight, not slightly chubby but obese. I've even seen kids under 2 who could barely walk they were so fat. I don't mean baby fat fat. It really broke my heart to see these kids like that. If you want a good meal in the States, fresh, good and healthy, you have to pay the price for it. It's expensive. But I was surprised at how much even junk food costs!
But the places that we did enjoy at Virginia Beach was PF Chang (their house sauce is so yummy! but only looks spicy which was disappointing for me), the Cheesecake Factory (portions are way out of control here) but the dessert was amazingly good (no kidding, all sugar & fat), Boston Market (which is like their version of our St Hubert) and the best value price+healthier food (just stay away from their gravy and meatloaf).
Of course, after a few days it was time for us to leave. It was really sad to leave that beach area. We would definately bring Keira back there. It was worth it.
keira goes to washington!
keira goes to washington!
We decided to make a detour before heading out to Lake George, NY and go to Washington, DC. The traffic heading out of Virginia Beach and into DC was horrible! There was so much traffic and clog.
You really can't spend only an afternoon or day in Washington. I wish we could've stayed much longer and gotten to know the city. We made a point of going to the Smithsonian where all the museum entrance fees are free! It is an incredible array of buildings and museums. Bring your comfortable shoes and your own water which we forgot in our cooler. In the car. Back at the parking lot. It was an incredibly hot and humid day and we had no choice but to pay almost 2$ for a bottle of water! The thieves!
Keira absolutely loved dipping her feet in the World War II Memorial and checking out the planes at the Smithsonian's Air and Space museum. She thought she saw Big Jet from Little Einsteins! lol.
Then it was back on the road and on our way to meet up with my sister and her family.
keira visits lake george, ny!
We made a pit stop somewhere in New Jersey and after a night's rest, back on the road. We were headed to the Lake George region to meet up with my sister and her family. I love the idea of spending some vacation time where Keira can spend time with her cousins. It started off raining the first day but was hot and sunny for the rest of our stay. Our hotel was awesome! We stayed at the Holiday Inn Resort where we stayed for free (using our points). It had great amenities and lots of activities for kids. The indoor pool was heated and nice and Keira loved it. So much so, we'd even be in the pool til 10pm.
The big highlight of this part of our trip was... The Great Escape's Wiggles World! Oof, it looked more like a rundown LaRonde but for kids, it was a great big fun day. Keira wanted to do the bigger rides but couldn't (there are height and age restrictions. and for good reason!). The kids loved all the walking characters meeting Scooby Doo, Bugs and gang and for Keira....Dorothy the Dinosaur! But she took one closer look to the Cap'n Feathersword and declared, "hey! das not him!! he's not real". lol. We should have stayed longer (although 10am-5pm was a long day!) because Keira wanted to do even more rides.
We had a great time all together! I loved it.
I used to think that a great vacation started at the airport and landing somewhere sunny but not anymore. This road trip was so awesome, I'm ready to do it again! I can't ask for a better hubby and kid to chillax with. Keira really is the most enjoyable kid to have! I so wish I could stay home permanently to be with her. Hopefully we won't have to wait until next summer for another road trip. A small one somewhere else would be nice too. I can't wait!