Tag Archives: Virginia

Day 17 – Rockville MD to Santee SC

E: I miss the houses. I miss all the houses.

L: I miss all the houses, too, buddy.

E: I feel sad.

L: I feel sad, too. It’s okay to be sad.

My conversation with Elliot yesterday morning sums up how I feel about being on the tail end of a wonderful vacation. Clearly, he misses the people who live in the houses. Who he can’t keep straight because he is three and there were so so many loved ones we visited with over the past two and a half weeks.

As we drove home, I just wanted to be home already. If we couldn’t be en route to a loved one’s abode, then I just wanted the trip to be over. Especially when we were stopped in traffic in Maryland and Virginia and the we were all achingly sad with leaving our final friends’s house. We all dealt with our feelings in different but typical ways. Henry kept scratching his brother. Elliot threw things around the vehicle. Then Henry would throw things back. I anxiously tried to ignore everything, but did a terrible job because of the confined space. Keith stayed level-headed until all the other mess happening in the car got to him and he exploded once.

These bad behaviors occurred so briefly on our vacation that they stand out in memory as exceptions to the overall awesomeness. Don’t get me wrong, they often occurred when we rode in the car for an extended period of time. But then laughter would fill the air as Henry decided to make Elliot laugh instead of hurt him because that was more fun. Or we’d all listen to an audiobook waiting to hear how things would end for “The Fantastic Mr. Fox” or “Ugly Cat and Pablo.” Or a kid would fall asleep mid-sentence bringing the car to a peaceable silence. I couldn’t ask for better travel companions. I love them all the most.

We stopped at Santee State Park on the edge of Lake Marion before checking into our hotel for the night. A last-minute decision, its beauty at sunset filled the sky with warmth. We stood near the docks enjoying the cool breezes the end of the day brings, and then raced to the playground for the kids to burn off their sitting-all-day energy. We’ll have to return another day to conquer its several hiking trails. On our way out of the park as darkness surrounded us, we discovered 7 deer alongside the road including a fawn. The boys found them especially delightful. I forget how rare it is for suburban kids to see wild animals outside a zoo. I think I’m going to work on finding the wonder in the ordinary and see what happens.

Day 4 – Alexandria VA to Spencerport NY

Four years ago, the Hen and I were flying together to see his Tía Nesa in DC for his first visit to the Capitol. So it’s fitting that we said goodbye to the Brownes this morning as we head north on our adventure. El was inconsolable at Vanesa leaving for work; he may have thought he was going to work with her to be a Boss Baby and that we were staying longer. Next time, little one.

Boss Baby!

Continuing the day of seeing Godparents and Godchildren, we briefly stopped by the Costa’s house on our way out of DC, even though we’ll be seeing them again in a week and a half. Totally worth it for the hugs and the kids to see/play with each other.

We got back on the road and drove until lunchtime where we stopped at Kidsgrove Park (247 W Sassafras St) in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. A wooden fortress of a playground, it had ladder tires, a wooden train, tunnels, turrets, and swings! Sadly, we didn’t have all day to play or else I think the boys would have tried. We ate lunch at the adjacent Major Anthony Selins Park (241 W Sassafras St), which had a small colorful playground and a shaded pavilion. Keith took a walk in it’s tree museum, kidnapping the Doritos and having a peaceful time up in a tree.

Several hours later, we made it to the Meyer’s house and it’s just so wonderful! Too fantastic to remember to take pictures. I’ll be sure to take plenty in the next few days while we’re here.

Miles driven today = 397 Miles

Day 3 – Washington DC and Alexandria VA

We moved by bus, metro rail, and our own two feet today as we navigated the DC transportation system through construction sights to the National Mall. Elliot’s first time in the Nation’s Capitol was a smash! He recognized the Capitol Building from our USA cartoon placemat map, so he’s clearly a genius. Despite the incredibly hot weather (because July), we made it to three Smithsonian Museums today.

First up (and the one we spent most of our time at) was the National Museum of the American Indian. There’s a fun children’s discovery area called ImagiNATIONS, where kids can learn about different tribes from around the globe. The boys weaved a basket and paper, built an igloo, skateboarded, cooked fish and tried other hands on activities. Their favorite included stamping their passport with stamps representing various tribes. We ate lunch in the cafeteria and enjoyed a plethora of Native American foods. We highly recommend the food and the museum!

We saw there was no line for the Air and Space Museum (there was a long one first thing this morning), and it’s the 50th anniversary of the moon landing so we headed inside. It was packed! So much so that we looked at a few rockets and a lunar module and then split.

We metroed to the National Portrait Gallery and prioritized because nap time approached and the kids were cranky and energetic (as only tired kids can be). The main portraits I wanted to view were the Obamas – and we saw them in their full glory! President Obama was in office for both boys’ births, and he’s been the only president elected by me since I became voter eligible in 2000. Hopefully, my vote will change things in 2020 and I’ll once again elect an excellent president into the White House. Their portraits were so vibrant and lovely! I also enjoyed seeing President Kennedy’s portraits and the four female Supreme Court Justices.

After returning back to the Brownes, they planned a little Lutheran Campus Ministry get-together with the McKenzie-Harwells (Leanna and Drew) and the Bells (Brad, Erica, and Samuel). Catching up in person seems to rarely happen these days so I’m happy Vanesa facilitated it. Henry said the best part of his day was hanging out and playing with this new friend, Samuel. He relished being the big kid amongst the little ones.

We told Vanesa and Scott that we would be staying and moving in with them – that’s how much we love them. Not actually doing this, but how awesome would it be to live nearby all the people we love most in the world? I don’t think we could contain our joy.

Day 2 – Walterboro SC to Alexandria VA

Last night when Keith asked what time the hotel pool opened in the morning the clerk responded with a grin, “Do whatever you want to do. I don’t care.”

Challenge accepted.

We didn’t swim because we had a busy day of driving through three states, but we are doing what we like because we’re living that vacation life.

We had planned to stop to play at a park in Dunn, North Carolina, but Elliot was asleep so we continued north to Rocky Mount for lunch and park time.

Sunset Park (1550 River Drive) was an awesome detour. We rode an antique 1920 carousel and a 1952 Model G-16 Miniature Train around the park including through a tunnel. For train aficionados, it had a 20 horsepower Wisconsin gasoline engine and is a scale model one fifth the size of the train it depicts (F7 General Motors Diesel Locomotive). There were actual seats for 36 people (unlike the Largo Central Park trains) and it went FAST (well, faster than I thought it would, topping out at 8 mph).

The kids’ favorite part was the spray ground, where they ran (until Elliot wiped out) and then walked and chopped their way through the water making friends. For $5 a person (E was free) I definitely recommend it!

Getting out of the car for a bathroom break in Virginia, Henry said to me, “Thanks for planning such a great trip, Mommy. I’m having a great time.” I asked Keith if he prompted the Hen to say this, and he came up with it all on his own. No, I didn’t cry, but my heart soared.

We made it to the lovely Casa Browne in Alexandria just before dinner and we are so thankful to spend some time with Vanesa and Scott. Complete with a champagne welcome, presents for the kids, and a home-cooked meal we feel so welcomed and loved. An evening passeggiata to the playground (actually 4!) combined with races and climbing fun rounded out our evening.

E now has his very own Marlon Bundo!

H loves Minecraft and Legos so this is amazing!

Miles driven today = 504 miles

Epic Walbolt Road-Trip Vacation

Tomorrow we leave for a 17-day great American road trip as a family. That’s right, we’re taking our 3 and 6 year olds with us in our Toyota Corolla up the East Coast from Florida to Maine and back. You’re probably thinking we may be crazy, and as I pack, clean, and do last minute preparations, I’m thinking you may be right.

Just kidding, we’ve got this.

I’m mostly sure.

Our idea for this trip was planted when we realized how many people we loved lived from the mid-Atlantic to New England and we missed them so much we knew we needed to schedule a visit. Flying four people anywhere costs a fortune, and then we’d have to rent a car anyway once we arrived. So we drive!

Each kid has a tote bag of car distractions that include a whole lot of Melissa and Doug, coloring books, games, and building toys like Legos and Tegu magnetic blocks. I also have another tote with school-type stuff for Henry – reading and math workbooks as well as books to read aloud so he can get to Home Base for Reading with the Rays (and fill my only official summer learning requirement of reading 30 minutes a day). He’s going to try to read “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” which will be incredibly challenging so wish him luck and persistence. Finally, we have iPads for each kid to watch movies and play games when the time on the road becomes too intense.

H’s Car Distractions
E’s Car Gear (don’t worry, I have more things for him for later in the trip)

The kids expectations regarding our trip are mixed at best.

Henry thinks it will take 3 hours to get there, and that time frame is entirely too long. “Why aren’t we flying?” is the main question he’s been asking. Such a privileged kid, mostly flying everywhere since he’s been alive. He’s most excited to visit Vermont, for reasons involving a horse and ice cream.

Elliot thinks we are visiting Spain and chose it as his top state on this trip because it’s like church. I wish we could drive to Spain, buddy. He has also asked when and how we are seeing Marlon Bundo while we are in DC…Tia Nesa is somehow making that difficult request happen.

I’m excited to see friends and family who we don’t get to see as often as we’d like. So is Keith. Overnight stops include:

• Walterboro, South Carolina

• Alexandria, Virginia

• Spencerport, New York

• Bristol, Vermont

• Wolfeboro, New Hampshire

• Jamestown, Rhode Island

• Rockville, Maryland

• Yemassee, South Carolina

We’ll be stopping at least every three hours so the kids can run around at parks and playgrounds along the way. Hopefully, that will break up the monotony of interstate travel and let them get their energy out. And nap. So no one goes crazy.