Tag Archives: christmas

Did you know….

 

There’s a school in Reykjavik, Iceland that teaches you how to spot elves?

I did, because….

 

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Yes, you can enroll  here  and start learning all there is to know about trolls, fairies, gnomes and other assorted mythical creatures.

 
Admit it.
You want to go.

Did you know...

The tongues of flamingos were a common delicacy at ancient Rome feasts?

 

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Apparently Nero thought so as well.

 

Did you know.

The word misteltoe derives from the Anglo-Saxon words mistel and tan?

Mistel means dung…. and tan means twig. So the next time you steal a kiss at Christmas? You’ll be doing it under a dung twig.

Can’t get much more romantic than that.

 

 

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Did you know….

The band Steely Dan got it’s name from a William Bourroughs book called Naked Lunch.

Steely Dan III was a strap on dildo.

 

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Which gives an entirely new meaning to this meme.

 

(Yes, all the above statements are true.

Knowledge is a wonderful thing!)

 

 

 

 

Day 15… Small bathrooms and antique store Hell, where River reexamines how much she really loves her husband.

 

I woke up on our last full day of vacation in Williamsburg, Virginia  (Yes, we’re finally there!)  cursing our second resort’s small bathrooms.

 

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I mean… come on.

For a girl with big hair this is a very small space to make the magic happen.

And the shower?

 

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One teeny tiny shelf!

I had to put the rest of my things on the floor.

 

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We started the day at the husband’s favorite breakfast spot where he was now greeted with ”The guy who wants two plates of chipped beef on toast is here”.

 

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And seeing that we’d had 2 full weeks of doing everything I wanted to do, I thought it prudent to throw the husband a bone and let him pick our last day’s activities.

 

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As expected, that bit me in the ass.

 

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He chose the Williamsburg Antique Mall… and let me tell you, that’s a whole lotta mall.

I have never in my life seen so much  useless crap  stuff  in one place. It went on forever, aisle after aisle after aisle. The husband was in heaven.

 

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Oh, there were some interesting things.

 

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And some seriously hideous things.

 

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It was hard, but I managed to pass on this quartz rooster head.

 

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And the Christmas tree in a shoe.

 

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But damn, at the one hour mark we’d only managed to cover a little corner of the place.

 

 

The building was so huge it had push button call stations for help because it was too damned long a walk back to the front to find a sales clerk.

 

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Two hours in there was a drunken Santa….

 

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And some of the money the husband used during the Vietnam War.

 

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Three hours in there was a pair of wolves on skis…

 

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The ice cube trays I cursed with every breath as a child….

 

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And some questionable artwork complete with psychedelic chickens.

 

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Four hours in there were Civil War era hats and a saleslady who gave me a piece of paper to write down the aisle number, the booth number, the case number and a description of each article we had questions about because no one ever remembers what was where. If you look in the upper left hand corner of the picture you’ll see my hand clutching it.

And no, I wasn’t going to give it to the husband …. I’m not stupid.

The husband?

Happier than the proverbial pig in shit.

 

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Rusty tools….

Rusty tools everywhere!

 

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I passed on more vintage chickens.

 

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And wondered who this wide eyed Santa was going to poke with that…. that….

Whatever the heck that was.

At the four and a half hour mark I had to use the rest room.

 

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Where I did indeed flush my hopes and dreams of ever leaving this place down the toilet.

 

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There was definitely something for everyone.

 

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Even if some of the price tags made you gasp.

Five hours in I told the husband I was too hungry to continue and we needed to go get some lunch.

 

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Yeah.

My worst nightmare came true….

They had a cafe.

 

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Where we had tiny overpriced sandwiches and frozen solid fruit to fortify us for more hours of antique shopping.

 

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It was at this point I knew we’d never leave.

I was doomed.

 

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Too late for that warning…. the husband has had it for years.

 

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He was bound and determined to see every last item in this store or die trying.

And by this time I was happily planning his demise.

 

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Yikes.

Paging Morticia Addams….

 

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And holy crap.

Who in their right mind wants that hanging on their wall?

 

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Six hours in I found a bug collection….

 

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Some chicken humor…

 

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And part of the line to check out.

These people took a number…. and have probably been waiting since June 13, 1976.

 

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But the husband was still going strong.

 

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And if I told you how many rusty old pesticide sprayers we have in the barn already? You’d fear for my safety.

 

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Here’s proof positive there’s a magazine for everything.

 

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And a painting that contains fish bones.

You’re welcome.

 

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SEVEN HOURS  in and we weren’t even 2/3’s of the way through.

 

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I knew he wasn’t going to leave without buying something, but by then I’d reached my limit of  utterly useless crap  antique shopping.

I was on board with the old phone. It could have been fun in the barn…. when he builds that bar he keeps talking about.

You know, the bar he can’t build because he has too much utterly useless crap  stuff in the way.

 

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Eight hours in?

I was silently screaming FFS….just pick something and let’s go!

Or maybe I said it out loud, I can’t remember.

 

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So there it is, the result of 8 hours of antique mall shopping.

A giant glass water bottle to add to the other 20 or so giant glass water bottles he currently has collecting cobwebs.

 

 

I love him.

I do.

And as long as I keep telling myself that I’ll be fine.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Colonial Williamsburg museums…. Folk Art tree, vintage weapons, furniture and an 18th Century catwalk.

 

There are two distinct collections in what used to be the lunatic asylum building… The Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum and the DeWitt Wallace Decorative Arts Museum.

It’s a bit fluid when you enter…

 

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And since it was the Christmas season I wasn’t surprised to see one of these.

Please note there’s a chicken instead of an angel on the top. I’m not sure what that means, other than there might be a secret cult of barnyard fowl practicing nearby. Which lead me to Google image search ‘religious chicken’ and then I was off….

 

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Yes….

 

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I’m easily distracted… but you have to admit,

 

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This architect had a sense of humor.

And now back to your regularly scheduled program:

 

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The story behind it was interesting.

 

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Me like.

 

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Though I doubt I’ll be making my own or buying the book.

 

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And opposite the festive tree?

 

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Implements of death….

 

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Because nothing says holiday cheer like various ways to kill each another.

 

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But even I have to admit they were beautiful specimens.

 

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And if you look closely, you can see the scowling face on the bottom of the grip.

I read the DeWitt has the largest collection of southern furniture in the world…

 

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And I believe it.

 

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There were rows and rows of unique examples.

 

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There were also some fabulous fashions of the day.

 

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And yes…

 

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Shoes!

 

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And if that wasn’t wonderful enough… there was 300 year old fabric.

 

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And a vintage runway.

 

 

 

Those little harlots.

Did you see how much ankle she was showing?

Shameless!

Day 12…. otherwise known as Christmas.

 

So we got up bright and early to make the almost 5 hour drive down to North Carolina.

 

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                                                         Required Christmas selfie.

 

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And as we were walking down the sidewalk of our resort it struck me…..

 

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I might not be the only one who cursed my husband’s choice of the behemoth rental car.

It was an uneventful trip.

 

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But we saw lots of cotton.

 

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Really, a whole lot of cotton.

 

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And absolutely nothing else. Nothing for miles and miles… except cotton… and I was starting to sweat the steadily dropping level of gasoline.

Behemoths be thirsty.

I also took issue with Apple maps when the GPS put us in the middle of a National Forest and told us to turn around.

 

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WTF?

When the rental beast was pretty much running on fumes, we finally found a service station to fill it…. and us, since we skipped breakfast. The only choice was Subway, where I ordered a rotisserie chicken wrap and managed to leak half of the sauce on my blouse resulting in a large greasy stain.

My first words upon arrival in N.C. weren’t “Merry Christmas!”  but….. “Let me raid your closet.”

 

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My second words were “What you would like to drink?”  as I unpacked my carton of holiday cheer.

Destiny chose a bottle to match her sweater, because coordination is everything.

 

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We gave them our gifts…. and Gracie liked the books.

 

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Though I think she liked the pig a little bit more.

 

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We spent time with our daughter of the heart’s step children, John being home on leave from the Army.

 

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As you can see they aren’t young enough to be hers…. because like me, she married an older man. Which her mother thinks I’m responsible for and never lets me forget, but hey.

It worked for me.

 

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An old Marine Corps buddy of the husband’s came with us….  and it was a laid back country Christmas with lots of love and laughter.

A few highlights:

 

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My bartending skills were highly rated.

 

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And strange toys were questioned.

Does a llama really need to shake her booty?

But more importantly, why was this horror voted toy of the year in Australia?

Watch  the bizarre commercial that looks like a Saturday Night Live skit  and decide for yourself.

 

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Numerous pictures were taken.

 

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Some with prominently placed bows. (These may have been alcohol induced)

 

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Rick posed with his namesake shirt.

 

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Dogs with serious underbites begged for treats from a wonderful brown sugar glazed  ham dinner I completely devoured and forgot to photograph.

Sorry Martin.

Blame the carton of alcohol, not me.

 

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Animated discussions of politics took place….. (Which might also have been alcohol induced)

 

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But my husband smiled wider and laughed more than he has in a while, and that made my heart full.

 

Then before we were ready, it was time to say goodbye.

Hugs and tears….

 

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And we were back on the road.

For the longest almost 5 hour trip ever.

 

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The only bright spot?

 

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This house…

 

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That gave new meaning to the term holiday decorating.

 

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Truly an extravaganza.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Day 11….love notes, breakfast, a liquor store and last minute Christmas shopping in Colonial Williamsburg.

 

The eleventh day of our vacation started at our timeshare resort condo…

 

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Where I found this:

 

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A note from the grandchild of our hearts.

Sorry… but there’s no way better way to start the day than that.

 

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Although biscuits and gravy with home fries comes close.

We had a full day of Christmas gift shopping ahead of us and needed hearty sustenance. And in the south?

 

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That includes the options of scrapple, fried catfish, grits or bologna and eggs.

The husband’s utterly favorite breakfast is chipped beef on toast and he rarely finds it in Maine… so when we stumbled on the Southern Pancake and Waffle House in Williamsburg?

 

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He wanted to go every morning…. which we pretty much did from then on.

 

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But hey, there were chickens in every window so how could we lose?

Our first stop that day was a liquor store in anticipation of our upcoming Christmas Day in North Carolina.

For future reference…. the first way to tell you’re in a liquor store in the south?

 

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There’s a still.

 

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Still searching for that silly wine filter, I thought we could try Merchant’s Square…. which is the shopping section of Colonial Williamsburg I couldn’t get the husband to check out the previous week.

 

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As with all areas there, it was lovely.

 

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Filled with interesting high end shops… like this interior design place.

 

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Giant double diamond ring light fixture anyone…?

 

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We happily strolled aroiund, ducking in and out of the stores with all the other desperate  Holy crap it’s Christmas Eve and I don’t have a gift!   shoppers.

Naturally I had to buy a souvenir tee shirt –

 

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Truer words were ne’er spoke.

 

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And towards late afternoon when my stomach started grumbling?

This happened.

 

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Someone saw the husband’s Marine Corps hat, said Semper Fi, and they were off….

 

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On a 38 minute long conversation about who was stationed where, when and with whom.

Yes. I timed it….

 

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While he talked?

 

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I walked.

 

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Agreed wholeheartedly with a sign.

 

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And explored a little more…

 

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Of the colonial town.

 

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And hey, if you’re going to dress up in period costume and stand on the sidewalk?

 

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Don’t give me the stink eye when I take your picture.

Turning back around hoping the other half had finished talking…

 

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I saw snow.

 

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Granted it wasn’t very much, but it surprised me to see any at all.

 

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The ice skating rink surprised me as well.

 

 

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In Maine we wait for ponds to freeze over.

 

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In Virginia they just build one… and how they keep it frozen in 60 degree temperatures is a mystery to me.

 

 

Tail end of the Yorktown driving tour, some fluffy butts, an elusive Christmas gift…. and late night food.

 

The driving tour of the Yorktown, Virginia battlefield was a strange one and meandered all over the place.

 

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Through the woods.

 

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And past open fields with miles of split rail fencing.

Seriously, it went on forever.

 

 

 

There were creeks and swamps.

 

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And every now and then, a sign.

 

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We saw plenty of fluffy white butts.

 

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And they roamed at will.

 

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We even made friends with a few.

 

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This little beauty had no fear and sidled right up next to my window.

 

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Up our way that would be dangerous.

But this was protected land and they knew it.

 

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Near the end of the tour we saw something a bit odd.

 

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A buck with a funky horn.

 

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And while I can’t say I’ve ever had to tote a rack around  (on my head anyway)  this did look a little strange.

 

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So this was December 23rd and the husband had spent the last 48 hours trying to talk me into driving down to North Carolina for Christmas Day. When we’re on a trip for the holidays? We usually let it pass without much fanfare. No exchange of gifts, maybe just a special meal. But since our daughter of the heart came to visit with us those few days… he was bound and determined we would celebrate with her this time.

While I normally would have agreed, she had a slew of family members staying the night in a one bathroom house and I didn’t want to stress her anymore than necessary. We checked a few hotels in the area but all of them were full. Husband wanted to go for the day…. but it was a 4+ hour ride down and a 4+ hour ride back. Almost 9 hours on the road is not my idea of a fun Christmas… but he wore me down. Which meant we had to spend the rest of that day (and night) shopping for gifts because I wouldn’t go empty handed.

And leave it to me to decide on the one gift that was utterly unfindable on the 23rd of December. And believe me we tried.

Yup.

I had to give her this.

 

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Because she loves wine…. but can no longer drink it because it gives her headaches.

I was going to give her the gift of wine back! Or die trying.

Which we nearly did.

We tried every single freakin’ store for 150 miles. Large malls and small gift shops. Specialty stores and wine outlets. Big chains and obscure holes in the hall. We walked, we searched, we cursed.  (Okay, maybe that was just me.)  We shopped until we almost dropped. Everyone had heard of it… very few carried it. And if they did carry it? They were sold out by the time we got there.

Do you know how aggravating it is to look for something for 7 hours straight and then be told by a laughing salesclerk, “Oh, we just sold the last one 10 minutes ago. You should have been quicker.”  That woman is lucky she still has her tongue…. because if I could have reached the butcher knife on the other side of the counter? She’d be laughing with a bloody stump right now.

And if that isn’t bad enough?

I didn’t find the perfect gift, but I did find this:

 

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No.

No

Noooo!

This is wrong on so many levels … I can’t even. What twisted soul thought, “How can I take a perfectly good candy and ruin it beyond all measure? I know… I’ll add Kale!”

All over the world children are weeping. I hope you’re satisfied Archie.

At 9:30 that night the husband was screaming Uncle…. and grumbling about food. We were both too exhausted to care at that point and stopped at the first place on the way back to the resort. An Outback Steakhouse.

I’m not a lover of chain restaurants and hadn’t been to one of these in 20 years.

 

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But $5 Boozy Cherry Limeades sounded pretty good….

And for that price? I had 3.

 

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Their Blue Cheese Wedge salad left a lot to be desired…. and the husband’s French Onion soup was only fair.

 

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But his filet was blood rare and he made short work of it.

 

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My grilled filet and shrimp skewer combo was filling…. and I’ll leave it at that.

There’s a reason we’re not chain restaurant fans, and if we don’t go back for another 20 years?

I’m okay with that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 many 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 a hard time.

 

Des & Fred, ironing

 

She was the child we never had….

 

Des & a few lobsters

 

We helped raise her…..

 

Fred & Des..Forestry

 

 

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

 

Attitude adjustment!!

 

Attitude adjustments et al.

 

nice Xmas shot

 

She wasn’t ours biologically…..

 

Me, Fred & Des, Lakewood

 

But she will always be the child of our hearts.

 

Fred & Des - graduation

 

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 I 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!