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On to Virginia Beach

After hitting the Embassy Suites’ breakfast buffet (which is pretty good for something included with the room), we loaded up the vehicles with our crap and gas, and headed out for Virginia Beach.

The LOVE  signThe 2-hour drive took longer than necessary because of Lani’s desire to stop at Visitor Centers for free maps. This one had a lot of information, though, and we got some coupons and other things for Virginia Beach.  It was a good stop.  They even had a picture opportunity:

Upon arriving at our hotel, The Cavalier, my brother-in-law, Jim, & I unloaded my van while the females were making their way there.  We checked in and took a load of stuff to our rooms.

Our rooms. *sigh*

Upon each of us entering our own rooms, we dropped the luggage and walked back out and looked at each other.  There was a queen bed with not much room beyond it.  We each had 4 people.  We went back to the desk.  When Jim gave them the ol’ what-for, we got an upgrade, but we were going to be paying for it. I guess it is going to be offset by the hotel gift card and gas card we are getting.

Our roomBoth rooms were not ready right then, so we put all of our luggage in the other family’s room. Everyone else got ready for some beach time and left while I waited for our room to be ready. When I got the call that it was ready, I moved all of luggage to our room and then proceeded to the beach.

The hotel is gorgeous.  I definitely recommend it if you like them from the 1920′s & 30′s. Nice, manicured lawns, good food, and a nice staff are the norm here.

Lobby of the Cavalier

I am not a big fan of travelling far away to sit somewhere and do nothing. I can (and do) do that at home much more easily and comfortably. Oh well. I will get more say in next year’s trip. To mitigate this, I took my iPhone to the beach. I messed around on it a little bit and as is my habit, I put it away in my left pocket.  What is unfortunate, is I had on my swimsuit. They shouldn’t have pockets on those things. Anyway, I went out to play with the kids in the ocean.

Electronics do not like salt water apparently. I had a few problems after this unholy mating. It would act like there was always a headset plugged in and give me a pop up stating that the device wasn’t compatible with the iPhone.  There was no device connected. Twenty-four hours later, I regained use of the earpiece.  By the time we were back in Cincinnati, the pop-ups were pretty much gone. Whew!

There was another family of four that Jim & Annette know from Cincinnati we were meeting there.  They arrived during that afternoon and we made plans for dinner. They come to Virginia Beach fairly often, so they knew where was good to eat, so we went with their recommendation:  Rudee’s on the Inlet.

The food there is excellent…except for the crabcakes. Order anything BUT those.  I had the crabcakes. Everyone else’s dinners were great.  Those were crap.

Lani & Annette on the swingAfterwards, we had dessert & drinks at their little place across from the parking lot with swinging  tables & benches. I don’t think I could eat a whole meal at those and keep all of the food down, but dessert & drinks were fine.

It was then time for bed, so we headed back to the hotel.

Civil War & Soccer in Richmond, VA

Today was a full day in Richmond, VA.  We woke up did our morning ablutions and then got the kids up.  We then broke up into two groups.  Parker & I had put our foot feet down and said we were not going to King’s Dominion, an amusement park. We figured what was the point when don’t really ride the rides.  So…we went on our own adventures while the others went to the park.  I dare say we had more fun.

We had come up with a game plan that you will find as we go through this post.

We wanted to see some Civil War stuff.  First was the White House of the Confederacy.  After following Parker’s questionable map skills for awhile, we arrived.  It was closed.

We were off to a great start.

I knew the American Civil War Museum opened at 9am, so we headed there.  This place was great.  We learned a lot.  There were actually to places: a Civil War Museum encompassing the whole of the Civil War and an old iron factory (Tredegar) where they made the Confederacy’s cannons. The latter was actually a National Park. This was cool.  I have been to National Parks before, but I didn’t know about the passport program. This is where you go to National Parks and collect cancellation stamps, etc.  I bought four of them for the family.  When the park’s ranger(?) asked if I wanted them all stamped, I said, “No. Just two of them. The others aren’t here.”

They also had something for kids where they got a free booklet that led them through the exhibits by doing different activities.  Parker ripped through those and earned himself a badge for his efforts. After this was over, we had to get to our next activity.

Before leaving Kansas City, I had checked all of the soccer schedules for various teams and leagues to see what I was going to be able to watch and what I had to try to record. With Parker’s and my defection from King’s Dominion, we were going to  be able to watch the US Women’s National Team play in the Women’s World Cup Final. Before, when the US Men played in KC, I had joined the American Outlaws, a US Soccer supporters group.  I used my connections there and got on Twitter to contact the chapter in Richmond and arranged to join their watch party at Gus’.

This was fun and at times fairly wild.

Even though the women lost in penalty kicks, we had a great time eating, celebrating, bemoaning, and generally having fun. There were points in the celebrating that people were throwing water (I was worried for a bit that I was going to bring Parker back smelling like beer). The end result of our time at Gus’? A fantastic time with some really good people. If you are there, stop by and catch a game or just meet them.

After their heart-breaking loss, we headed out from the bar. I had a charging cord for my iPhone that was breaking, so I found an Apple Store and got a new one and Parker got a new case for his iPod Touch.  We headed back to our hotel to chill after filling up the Cosgroves’ car. We were driving that so they could use the van since they had 6 people.

Shortly after getting back, we started thinking about dinner and ended up ordering pizza since the others had quit the park early.  I would tell you about their day, but I don’t know about it.  Rides, I guess.  Dinner, showers for the kids, beer, tv, and bed were what was left for the day.

This post was longer, but more had happened.  If any of them feel like contributing their activities I may update.

July 14-16, 2011

I have been remiss in blogging our travels over the last week as I have been wont to do over the last few years.  I guess I am going to try to get something put up.  We are watching 127 hours right now & it is starting to get creepy, so this is the perfect time.

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Our trip is consisting of Cincinnati, Ricmond, VA, & Virginia Beach.  After a restless night, Lani & I decided to just get up and leave.  We woke the kids up, finished packing the van, and headed out at about 3:30am.  It usually takes about 10 hours to get to Cincinnati, and that’s with stops.  This time, it took just a little over 11 hours.  We were tired and traded drivers just a little more often than normal.

We arrived at Lani’s sister’s house in time for dinner.  The kids got to play with their cousins for the rest of the day and the next.  The others packed on Friday, and we headed out for Richmond on Saturday at about 6:30am.

Self-sufficient McDonalds

It was a two car caravan:  their Camry and our Sienna.  We traded drivers fairly often.  More people (especially little kids) more stops to pee are needed.  No one took me up on the suggestion of using the bottles of Gatorade & water they keep chugging down.  I thought it would be fitting.

We arrived at Embassy Suites in Richmond pretty easily. Happy hour, dinner at a Dave’s BBQ that was next to the hotel, and then some tv was the plan for the rest of the evening.

We decided to save some money and put all eight of us in one room.  Not too difficult considering their rooms are pretty big.  Between that, my brother-in-law, Jim’s,  discount, and the pretty good free breakfast each morning, we came out pretty good.  They all like staying there for the free booze during happy hour if you’re a guest.

Not a long post, but I am going to try to keep them from just being one super long one and fairly cohesive.

A nice view on the drive.

China Roundup

Well, we’re unwillingly back to school today. We have the Festival Concert on Wednesday with both HS Bands, the MS Band, the HS choirs, & SWECC’s band. Friday is State Large Group Contest.

No rest.

I just wanted to post some final observations.  All of the posts from China will be updated during the week as I am able to post pictures here. My phone seemed unwilling to cooperate in that department while we were there.

Our Guides

Our guides, handlers, caretakers, and I think we all hope that after awhile, friends, were absolutely fantastic.

FANTASTIC!

Bus 1 (my bus) had Zhudan, who went by the “American” name of Jessica. Bus 2 (Martz’s) had Mr. Le and Chatty Kathy.

All were well-versed in the English language and used it to give us every tidbit of information about the history and culture of every place we visited.

Simply put, they were amazing.

Drinks/Beverages/Water

Water from the tap is a no-no there…including for them. Their filtration/treatment facilities have not kept pace with the waste being produced from increased manufacturing. This means bottled water at all times.

As for meals, you were given one tiny juice glass of beverage as well as hot tea. A refill would cost you 5 Yuan (about $0.75). I started taking my own drink into the restaurants.

Food

Good. Plentiful. Not much really strange except for the one night with the entire chicken (head, feet, and everything else) cooked and on a plate. Do I need to go to a Chinese restaurant anytime soon?

No. And I mean that sincerely.

Every meal was served on a “lazy susan”. Well, every meal except for breakfast, which was buffet style.

The food got better as we went along. The worst meal, and by that I mean the only one that was less than good in my opinion, was the lunch on the first day. It was a buffet of questionable quality. I believe I referred to it as their version of a Hometown Buffet. I don’t think I was too far off the mark with that.

Hotels

The hotels were of high quality, although everyone preferred the newly built Grand Noble in Xi’an of the SuperHouse International in Beijing. The basic consensus was to take the showers in Beijing and put them in the Grand Noble’s building and rooms.

I concur wholeheartedly.

Whatever the preference, they were great places to stay…well, mainly crash into unconsciousness. We were two to a room where we would normally be four. Wake up calls were already established, hotel workers were helpful, and the buffet breakfasts were good to great.

Buses/Traffic

Crazy. The buses were your typical charter style buses. We weren’t ever on them for more than an hour. Those hours were interesting, though. From the  information being fed to us by our guides to the time spent watching the buses, cars, scooters, and bikes navigate the streets of Beijing and Xi’an, we were never left for entertainment.


Again, posts will be updated with pics as the week goes along.  If I think of more, I will update each post. You will know by the [Updated: Date] at the beginning of the section.

Until next time…

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