All posts by Rivergirl

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For a Living Museum, it sure had a lot of dead things…..

 

Making our way inside, I was surprised by the number of dead things at the Virginia Living Museum.

And to be honest?

They didn’t look too happy about the fact either.

 

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Look at the stink eye on this owl.

Clearly he’s not pleased with that skeleton placement.

 

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The woodchuck has a piece of wood.

A bit too on point…. no?

 

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And Bambi?

Well, he looks like he’s ready to bite off a curator’s finger…. or two.

 

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Even the turtle you climb into wasn’t immune from the specter of death.

 

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But what really took the cake?

The Christmas tree….

 

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Complete with a fish skull angel topper.

 

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If that doesn’t give junior screaming holiday nightmares… nothing will.

 

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Thankfully there were live creatures as well.

 

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Though little people had to be talked into petting them.

 

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Horseshoe crabs used to wash up on the Jersey shore by the dozens when I was a kid and they always fascinated me.

 

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A more prehistoric sea creature you’re not apt to find.

 

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There were interestingly set up exhibits on multiple levels.

 

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Where the husband practiced his fish whispering again.

 

 

 

Various tanks contained the beautiful…

 

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And the bizarre.

 

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I couldn’t quite figure out this crab.

 

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Was he picking his nose… or giving me the finger?

Tough call.

 

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I was pleased to see my favorite Lionfish again….

 

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Spiky venomous fins and all.

 

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Gracie fell totally in love with a puffer and sang songs to it…..

 

 

 

Though she got yelled at by a volunteer for being a little too physical with the tank.

 

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I’m not sure why disco colored lights ruled in the jellyfish area.

 

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But we enjoyed the aquarium and it’s funky residents.

 

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There was an odd cave like area….

 

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That was very dark and next to impossible to take pictures in… so I can’t share the bats and snakes and reptiles we saw.

But I did manage a shot of the sign for my husband’s spirit animal.

 

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Yup… change the shiny objects part to rusty crap? And they’re his people.

Gracie enjoyed the interactive children’s section where all the other kids were making plates of plastic food for their parents.

My contribution to the meal she was making for her mother?

 

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What can I say?

You just can’t beat a nicely roasted rat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dead things, live things and lots of things in between.

 

After we settled into resort #2, we tried to pick a day’s activity that we could all enjoy… because yours truly was not visiting another theme park, no matter how much I loved that child.

 

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Hence the Virginia Living Museum in Newport News. Part zoo, part aquarium and lots of interactive children’s exhibits.

 

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Because who doesn’t love a velociraptor Santa Claus?

 

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An extensive boardwalk wraps around the wildlife enclosure where little people can run to their heart’s content.

 

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And the old folks can enjoy the beauty of a red fox…..

 

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And a bobcat.

 

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Who even though a wild cat, still enjoyed a cardboard box.

 

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                                          Insert required cute group photo here.

 

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There was a plastic dinosaur section…..

 

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Where little hands could get filthy excavating some plastic bones.

 

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Injured vultures…..

 

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And bald eagles were next… this one with a clearly broken wing. And if you’ve ever wondered how large an eagle’s nest is?

 

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Yeah. They’re pretty damned large.

 

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More boardwalks, more running.

 

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And some shore birds…

 

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Whose antics I could easily have stood and watched all day.

 

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Did she see anything?

No, but she had fun trying.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 9…. the Manor House and a goose free resort change.

 

Sunday dawned bright and sunny and our visitors wanted to check out the Manor House at the Historic Powhatan Resort.

 

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The smallest of our group thoroughly enjoyed it.

 

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Especially when she found a pint sized door just her size.

 

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Shame it wouldn’t open.

 

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But the game room was a good second choice.

 

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I had occasion to use the rest room this trip….

 

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And immediately fell in love with a sink.

Is that wrong?

 

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Sadly, it was Sunday….. and that meant it was time to change resorts.

When we time share travel and I’ve never been to the area? I usually choose 2 different resorts for our 2 week stays in case one of them is a dud. Of course we adored this first place and hated to leave….especially when Gracie found this under the bed when we were packing up.

 

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Proof positive there were no dust bunnies.

But, ever onward.

I was slightly appeased when we drove across town, found the road that led to the new resort and saw this on the corner.

 

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Ample tequila in walking distance is never a bad thing.

The Wyndham Kingsgate actually got higher reviews than the Powhatan we’d just left, so I was expecting something special.

On first glance?

 

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It looked like a school.

 

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And their pond was totally goose-less.

Strike one.

 

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The closest thing they had to a Manor House was the activities center which consisted of a few pools, a gym, and numerous video game machines.

Strike two.

 

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The buildings were much closer together with more units per building and though it was empty in this picture…. the parking lots were filled to capacity the whole time we were there and didn’t have reserved spots. We circled and hunted for a place every damned night.

Strike three and we hadn’t even been inside yet.

 

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Thankfully the 2 bedroom/2 bath unit was pleasant…… albeit smaller than the first resort.

 

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But the furniture was nice quality….

 

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The kitchen well stocked….

 

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And though the balcony was the bare minimum….

 

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The king sized beds were comfortable.

 

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I did take issue with the fact the master bathroom was smaller was than the guest…..

 

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And while the shower was attractive it only had that one tiny shelf which barely fit a bar of soap. What’s a girl supposed to do with her shampoo, conditioner, bath gel, loofah, razor etc.?

Piss poor planning if you ask me.

 

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And while the guest bath was also attractive, there wasn’t a heck of a lot more room to move around.

 

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See?

There isn’t even an entire horse in the picture…. that’s small.

But we did get the second floor that my husband always has to have. Which Destiny was actively cursing when she offered to drag my suitcase up to it.

 

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I believe her grimace is in direct proportion to it’s weight.

 

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The girls relaxed while we put the food away…. and Gracie drew me something to put on the refrigerator.

 

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I was thinking something like this would be more appropriate….

 

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But yeah, whatever.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hell…. continued.

 

It was finally dark enough to check out the lights we’d paid a small fortune to see at Busch Gardens.

 

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Have you ever stood in a freezing cold circle of strangers and stared at a tree?

We did.

And I felt like a Who.

 

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Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas as much as the next person.

But Christmas in Busch Gardens? Loud and crowded, filled with screaming, unruly, sugared up children as well as their rude, cell phone addicted parents…. and utterly devoid of the old world charm they were attempting to replicate?

No.

 

 

But we smiled… and enjoyed the company of those we love.

 

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If not the techno extravaganza.

 

 

I read there were 10 million lights in Christmas Town…. and I believe it.

If it stood still? They lit it.

 

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Admittedly there were some pretty spots.

 

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But the crowds pushed you along at a pace not conducive to enjoying them.

 

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There were numerous theaters you could enter and view a show…. for a large price.

But we did stumble on this extremely blue one for free.

 

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Naturally there was no place left to sit…

 

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So we stood off to the side and listened for a while.

 

 

Until our teeth were chattering again.

 

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Thank God for the warm up stations.

At least they got that right.

 

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This was an impressive section of lights.

 

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Although I was constantly getting bumped into when I stopped and attempted to focus a shot.

 

 

That tree at the end?

 

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Shone like the sun.

It was so damn bright….. I think my retinas actually screamed.

 

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In case I forgot to mention it….. trying to stay together and find your way around this place in the dark amidst the crowds of screaming children and oblivious parents? A total nightmare. We had no idea where we were half the time and by the time we decided to head back to the parking lot?

 

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We couldn’t find a map, no less the exit. And I think they plan it that way. We even went into the stores and asked the staff how to get out …. but they looked at us like the proverbial deer in headlights.

Maybe they never get out…

I don’t know.

 

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Asking the plastic polar bears seemed like a waste of time.

 

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So we kept walking.

 

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Took a right past the ice castle…. then a left…. then a right… and another left…. and backed up… and crossed a bridge…. and turned around….. and found ourselves back at the damned ice castle.

 

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We walked and walked.

And shivered and chattered and froze.

 

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We also blessed the day man discovered fire.

But then we finally saw something familiar.

 

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And I was never so happy to see a fake European village square in my life.

 

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Joy to the World my *ss.

 

 

I was only joyful when we found the exit, waited on yet another long line for the shuttle, rode the sardine can to the parking lot with 50 tired, cranky children and worn out adults and got into our car.

Christmas Town at Busch Gardens Williamsburg?

Bah humbug.

Overpriced and over rated.

 

 

 

Busch Gardens Virginia….or as I like to call it, Hell.

 

I think we’ve established we are not theme park people.

So spending 6 hours at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg while on Christmas vacation?

 

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It’s billed as the prettiest theme park in the country.

 

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And while I doubt that’s a very high bar…..

 

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It’s plastic fantastic fake European villages failed to impress….. seeing they were less village and more overpriced stores filled with gimmicky tourist merchandise.

It was enough to make me drink.

 

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Warm Apple Pie Cocktail in hand… we continued.

(You knew it was coming, don’t look so surprised.  If ever I was in dire need of alcohol? It was then.)

 

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So we paid a fortune, had drinks in hand and a 7 year old who wanted to go on some rides. Problem was… most of them weren’t operational for Christmas.

This did not go over well with the little person in our midst.

 

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She couldn’t drink, and she didn’t care about fake Europe… she just wanted some rides!

 

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We found a few animals to distract her.

 

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But it was cold and she was growing more bored with each step. Every ride we passed? Locked up tight.

And then viola!

 

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I spotted a gondola.

 

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3 adults and a midget. We’re in!

So we get on line.

A long line.

A very long line that took us almost 40 minutes to reach the end.

We boarded, anticipating a leisurely ride over the park.

 

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And I kid you not, after taking this picture….

And this video….

 

 

Which lasted 40 seconds, we were done.

One second of ride for each minute we waited on line. Totally worth it!

Not.

 

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We landed in “France”.

And you know what? I’ve been to France…. this wasn’t even close.

Still not finding a working ride, I spotted Hogwarts and the child’s eyes lit up.

Yay me!

 

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Boo Busch Gardens…. it was blocked off and locked up tight.

I was beginning to hate this place.

 

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Psychedelic camera toting bear aside.

Did I mention it was cold?

 

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I mean down right freezing for southerners and even quite brisk for us Yankees after a few hours of walking.

 

 

At least this made her laugh.

If we had known all the fun kid stuff would be closed? We wouldn’t have gone in the afternoon but just waited until after dark for the lights.

 

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Even the scooter brigade looked disappointed.

 

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We did mange to find an old time carousel.

 

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Where we waited on line for another 30 minutes to ride for 30 seconds. You could seriously get whiplash from how quickly these things end.

 

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Magic dragons were climbed on….

 

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Towers were explored….

 

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More alcohol was needed….

Okay, maybe that was just me.

 

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Rope bridges were crossed….

 

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Even by the husband if you can believe it.

 

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Another warm up station later, it was starting to get dark enough to see some lights.

And yes, as cold and miserable as I was….. I was going to wait until dark for the lights we paid almost $300 to see.

A preview…

 

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Day 8…. A goose traffic jam, southern food, an overpriced theme park, and the family you choose for yourself.

 

Before I regale you with yet another day of our vacation adventures….. a little personal history.

In case you hadn’t guessed? The husband and I don’t have any children. It was a lifestyle choice we made years ago and haven’t had cause to regret it. But back in the early 90’s we took a neighbor’s child under our wing when her single mother was having trouble. She lived with us for a time, and we came to love her like our own.

 

Des & Fred, ironing

 

She was the child we never had….

 

Des & a few lobsters

 

We helped raise her…..

 

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And since she had no contact with her real father, my husband took over the role.

 

Attitude adjustment!!

 

Attitude adjustments et al.

 

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She wasn’t ours biologically…..

 

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But she will always be the child of our hearts.

 

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We’ve watched her grow into a beautiful young woman…

 

Me, Fred & Des

 

And now she’s happily married…..

 

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With a child of her own….

 

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And we feel like we have a grandchild as well. They still live in North Carolina so whenever we’re near…. we get together. She loves that we have a timeshare and enjoys staying with us at the various resorts. On Day 8 of this trip? She and her daughter joined us for the weekend before Christmas.

When they arrived?

A goose traffic jam…

 

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I love me some goosers… so pardon the ridiculous tone of voice I use in the video.

As well as me cursing out the idiot who was honking their horn at those sweet little waddlers.

 

 

After their 4 1/2 hour trip, Destiny and Gracie were hungry so we took them to that great seafood place we’d found… Fat Tuna.

 

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We stuffed ourselves silly with hushpuppies, cornbread and shrimp and grits….

 

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While the husband opted for a seafood pasta.

 

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This was in anticipation of where we would be spending the afternoon and evening… because when you have a 7 year old? Sitting around chatting with a cocktail isn’t going to cut it.

So the husband and I did what we never… ever!… do.

We went to a theme park.

And it was just as awful as we knew it would be.

 

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We stood in a long line to board the shuttle.

 

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We crammed onto the shuttle like sardines.

 

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We waited on long lines to buy overpriced tickets…. and not even a funny spare tire cover could make up for what we were about to experience.

 

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(I hope he was talking about the jeep and not his wife.

I really do.)

But yes…. the husband and I shelled out $240 frickin’ dollars to visit Christmas Town at Busch Gardens.

 

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No senior discount, no military discount, no under 12 discount.

Suck it Santa!

Did I mention it was also $20 to leave our car in the north 40  somewhere south of bumblef*ck Egypt   parking lot?

 

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$260 just to walk in.

Kill me now.

 

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But we were there with people we loved…

 

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And my husband… who never wants to pose for photographs?

 

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Was posing all over the place…. and smiling.

Now that’s a true Christmas miracle!

Yorktown, the Riverwalk, cocktails and finally…. some food.

 

After our long day at Historic Jamestown, it was time for some refreshment. Liquid and otherwise.

 

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So we headed to Yorktown…

 

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And their popular Riverwalk Landing.

 

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I had planned to leisurely stroll around, check out the cute little shops…..

 

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And walk the waterfront.

Until a stiff wind blew in and made it feel like -10 degrees.

 

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New plan?

Drinks and dinner.

 

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This place looked promising from the outside….

 

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From the inside? Not so much.

 

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And while the cocktail list was interesting…..

 

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And the Mulberry Muddler quite tasty, it was basically a loud sports pub with a menu that didn’t satisfy the husband’s cravings.

 

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So one extremely large soft pretzel later, we left…. and went next door.

 

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And were very glad we did.

 

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Ah, much better.

 

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It was a lovely place, and practically deserted off season.

 

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Cocktail?

Well, if you insist.

 

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While I’m generally not a wine drinker, I do occasionally like Sangria…. and this one had apple brandy. Scrumptious.

 

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We relaxed. We watched the sun set. We drank….

 

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And yes, food picture screamers… we ate.

 

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The menu was intriguing….

 

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The food marvelous and artfully prepared.

Husband had the catch of the day…..

 

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While I opted for the lamp chops.

Were they good?

 

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I picked them up and gnawed the bones…. so in a word, yes.

 

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Full, but never too full for dessert… we split this, which almost put me in a chocolate coma.

Day 7, done.

Only 8 more days to go!

 

 

If that helps?

Sure, be my guest.