I have traveled quite a bit in the last year. By car. Unlike a lot of people, I actually enjoy traveling by car several days with all of my kids, including two young boys cross country. No, really...I do! It is such a fun adventure! Nothing ever goes as planned, and it always makes a great blog post! Like last year's train trip TO Virginia, but not home FROM Virginia. You can check last summer's posts if you are interested in that.
If you are considering some Road Trip Fun this summer, I think it is only fair to warn you that road tripping is not for the faint of heart. You need to be flexible, polite...and...well....quite brave!
Yesterday, we left Williamsburg and headed to Norfolk where Cy was flying out of. We stopped at a hotel to book a room and were surprised to find that the hotel had NONE. This had never happened to us before. When we asked if the hotel could recommend another place, they said anywhere NOT in Virginia Beach or Norfolk, as the Navy was deploying and everyone and their brother had rented every single room in every single hotel for miles around. We sat in our car for the next half hour trying to find a hotel. We finally got one. Clear back in Newport News, near Williamsburg. We went all the way up there, had dinner, and then I took Cy all the way back to Norfolk before driving all the way back to the hotel.
Travel Rule #1: Be flexible....and make sure you book in advance.
Last night before I took Cy to the airport, we all went to a restaurant for dinner. The hotel manager suggested Taco Bell. When we asked if there was anything else, he told us if we were looking for "fine dining" we should try Luigi's. We weren't looking for a fine dining experience, since that is virtually impossible to enjoy with 5 and 7 year old boys who have been cooped up in a car all day and really just want to go swimming in the hotel pool (because the one in Williamsburg was being repaired)...but our only other option was "Chinese Food". That was the actual name of the restaurant....Chinese Food. We were almost willing to ignore the complete lack of creativity in the name of the restaurant, but the description made us think twice. Philippino (Filippino), Chinese and Thai. Since my husband and children are Chinese, one thing I know is, not all Asians are the same. Stick with one food and do it well...don't try to appeal to the masses. So, given the choices, we opted for Luigi's Fine Dining.
The first thing I noticed when I walked into Luigi's is that one of the owners of the establishment looked a lot like my Great Aunt. That is a good thing. My Great Aunt Mary was an amazing cook! The second detail that caught my attention was the overwhelming aroma of mothballs. Ugh. Everything about the restaurant smelled like it had been sitting in an attic somewhere for decades, but what are you going to do when you skipped lunch and everyone is starving? Our waitress, Helen (not her real name), greeted us and was quite knowledgeable about what we would and would not like. Such as her determination that we would NOT enjoy the Greek Salad, because it was "boring" and that instead we would want an Antipasto Salad. Helen, our 5' 10" blond waitress then proceeded to educate me, the Sicilian, as to what Antipasto was! I mentioned that since we were having a lot of the same meat on our pizza as was in the Antipasto, we probably were good with the Greek salad. She insisted this was a waste of her time to make and of our taste buds. We got the Antipasto. Once Helen settled what kind of salad we would be having, we asked her what the "Sicilian Special" pizza was. She answered with a burly, "You don't want that." Really? How did she know that? She then explained that it takes 45 minutes to make the Sicilian Special because, "they have to make the dough". Hmmmmm....what were they using for the regular pizza we were ordering? I decided not to ask, as Helen had already made up her mind what was best for our family and how much would be required. Once we polished off our salad and pizza, Helen continued to remark on "how much" we ate! She told tales to us of every patron who came in and had to take boxes of food home because they couldn't finish all the food provided. Now, I ask you, WHY was she surprised that we ate it all? SHE is the one who told us how much to get to feed our family. There was no choice involved. She wrote it on the order pad and TOLD us what we were getting! She went on and on about our ability to do what no one else could and I began to weigh the pro's and con's of Weight Watchers, Jenny Craig and Nutri-System. Surely she was saying I needed to be doing one of them!! She remarked about "all the kids" I had, and was surprised to hear we had one more. She asked about her, and as I started to tell her that our other daughter was our oldest she just walked off. Clearly, there was no love connection between our family and Helen, which is why I was totally caught off guard when she brought us our check with a pouty lip about how sad she was that we were not coming back. Pretty sure she was just trying to boost her tip.
Travel Rule #2: Be polite to the locals. And never bet against a Sicilian in a food war!
And that brings us to today, where our ride was completely uneventful and easy. No problems or challenges. And then we got to the hotel.
Our hotel tonight was wonderful! Two queen beds that are actually QUEEN size beds and not doubles. A lovely vanilla smell. Comfy quarters and Little House on the Prairie playing on a continuous loop.
So....imagine my surprise, when late at night after all my kids have bathed and gotten into bed, I pull out the nightstand to search for an outlet for my phone charger and find a MOUSE TRAP instead!!!! WHAT?! It was a glue trap, not the conventional snap-o-the-neck kind. I could see little droppings! YIKES! I refused to look inside the torture device. Of course I called down to the desk to see if there was any way I could move to a room that did not have a mouse issue. OF COURSE, every room is booked! REALLY??? Is the Navy deploying from Kentucky, too???? I hung up the phone and the kids and I flipped every mattress and checked every single square inch of the room looking for more signs of rodents. At this point, I find it necessary to tell you that we have been listening to Redwall with the boys on this drive and Sam thought it was quite sad that there might be a chivalrous mouse stuck inside a rodent tent trap. The girls and I worried more about Cluny the Scourge being on the prowl. The kind desk gal did tell me that they would discount my room....DISCOUNT? It better be FREE! I am stuck in a strange, small town in Kentucky for goodness sakes! Too late to go anywhere else!! Discount???
I called back down to the desk and asked them to send someone up to at least take the trap out of the room. The girl at the desk kindly offered to come get it herself since she was "not afraid of it". I am not afraid of it either...I just don't think I should have to deal with it! Gross. Once she came upstairs, she removed the trap and looked inside and pleasantly said, "See? Nothing inside." Ummmm....is that supposed to comfort me? Because it doesn't. Doesn't that mean there is still a mouse on the loose???? I have nowhere to go and it is too late to pack the car and head for who knows where. I mean...it is Kentucky! The place that as we crossed the state line, inspired my seven year old to say, "Welcome to Hellburg!" because "that's what it looks like!" It isn't like there are a lot of choices close by! Ugh!
So....here I sit. Unable to sleep. Listening for the pitter patter of tiny feet. Which brings us to....
Travel Rule #3: Challenges on the road grow your character and your courage and make GREAT blog posts!