We've been back for a week, but here's a quick wrap-up of our recent vacation trip to Virginia. Just a few days before we were to hit the road to Williamsburg in our ol' minivan, we took it in to get some work done on the brakes and found that there was a lot more that needed to be repaired (shocks, struts, other crap). We weren't sure what it would cost at first and were already considering whether we needed to buy a new vehicle if the repair bill was too obscenely high. Ultimately, we ended up dropping some serious cash to fix it, but hopefully (fingers crossed) we can get at least another year out of it. That said, we decided to rent a car for the trip because we just didn't feel comfortable doing the 12-hour drive in our minivan. We rented a GMC Terrain, which is a smallish SUV, so we had to really cram all our stuff in it, and headed down to NJ on Thursday, 7/31 to stay the night at Deb's brother's house before making the drive to Williamsburg.
The rental car was okay, not great, but it had satellite radio, which was fun. We listened mainly to the 1st Wave channel, which featured mainly '80s alt-rock, but I also jumped around to some of the other channels ('90s alternative, college rock, classic hard rock, and even hair metal). The drive down wasn't bad. We hit some congestion around DC as we expected, but nothing too awful.
We got to Williamsburg before we could check into our condo, so we went to Colonial Williamsburg to check it out for a little while. We saw the courthouse and ammunition magazine and a few other things before we went to check in. It started raining after we got there, so the girls ended up swimming indoors that night. It ended up being a busy week. On Saturday we hit Colonial Williamsburg again for half a day, which was also rainy, so we decided to go to Water Country USA figuring there wouldn't be long lines. It worked out great; it wasn't raining while we there and we went on pretty much all the big water slides. I thought I lost my contacts on one of them, but it turned out they were just blasted up under my eyelids and slid back down a few minutes later.
Sunday morning, we went to a ropes course called Go Ape, which was a lot of fun. It had five different courses that included zip lines, rope swings, rope ladders and other stuff way fairly high up in the woods. We were all strapped in pretty good so even if we fell off one of the courses, we didn't have far to fall. Nobody fell, though, and the girls did great. We had to do some convincing to get Lily to go on the first "Tarzan Swing," which was a big rope swing into a vertical net that you grabbed onto and then climbed to get on a nearby platform. I have to admit I have a slight fear of heights, so it took a little mental coaxing to get myself to let myself just jump into the air for those zip lines and rope swings; tons of fun, though. I only had one time where I was a little stuck; you had to walk across by putting your feet into rings and I got one caught on my leg for a few minutes before I could extricate myself. But all in all, it was a blast.
On Monday, we hit Busch Gardens for the first time. We got there early on a cloudy day, so there were no or short lines for the first bunch of rides we went on. The rollercoasters there are enormous, with serious vertical drops and lots of loop-de-loops. Again, Lily was hesitant at first but we got her to go on a few and she got into it. Nobody got sick and nothing broke down, so it was a success. We stayed most of the day. Tuesday was a relaxing day; we drove to the William & Mary campus and checked it out for a little while and then just hung by the pool. Wednesday, we drove to Virginia Beach, which is about 90 minutes from Williamsburg. I went for a run on the concrete boardwalk and then we chilled at the beach until about noon, when a thunderstorm rolled in and the beach was cleared. We hung out instead of leaving and eventually the sun came back out and we were back on the beach. We hit some serious traffic on our way home around 7, but at least we had dinner before we left.
On our last day, we went to Busch Gardens again and rode the big coasters until around lunchtime. Then we went back to the resort and hung out by the pool. Friday's drive home was long and arduous; we missed the DC traffic but hit awful traffic all through New Jersey. Took us 13 hours in all to get home, but we made it in one piece.