Monday, July 15, 2019

A busy July 4th week

With Nick home from his June underway, it was great to be able to hang out with him again.  One night, we met him and a group of his friends in downtown Norfolk for a free concert at the Waterside District.

It was a beautiful, warm evening – a perfect night to sit out along the river and listen to live music by Michael Ray (country).

We had a pretty good view ourselves!

Hey, Tom and I fit right in with this young crowd!  We’re right down there in the front row!

It was a fun evening, and we were glad that the “young folks” let us hang out with them!

Nothing makes me happier than being surrounded by my kids, and now that they are older and in relationships, that includes the girls in their lives, too. 

Nicolas’s ship had tossed around the idea of having a “Family Day” cruise over the July 4th holiday, so Bryce and Hannah made plans to come to Virginia for the week so that they could go with us.  Unfortunately, the cruise dis not get approved, but they already had their vacation plans in place, so they came to Virginia anyway.

We had a very full week – a wonderful, busy week!

They arrived in the late afternoon on Saturday, and we just hung out at the camper – I made dinner for everybody, and then Nicolas had a fire down at his camper.  On Sunday, he took Bryce and Hannah to the ship for a tour,

They enjoyed their tour and were amazed by the massive ship that Nicolas calls his “home away from home”!  During the week, Nicolas tried to get home as early as he could, and we spent time at the beach at the campground, had a couple of dinners out – including a delicious dinner at the Taste of Smithfield, and we watched movies or played cards in the evenings.

Nicolas got an extra day off, so we planned a day at the beach in the Outer Banks.  It takes about 2 hours to get all the way to the beach at Corolla, so we got an early start.  After a quick stop at 7 Eleven for ice, we were on the road.

Now, Nicolas has always liked going to the beach at Corolla because you can drive on the beach (17 miles of beach, all the way up to the Virginia State line!) and it’s FREE . . . or it was last year!  We got there and found out that now they require permits if you are going to PARK on the beach – you can drive for free, but if you want to stop and picnic, you need a permit.  $50 for a 7-day permit!!  Nicolas was so mad!  That’s not a bad price for people who are vacationing there for a week, but for a day trip, it’s kindof outrageous – especially when you have two vehicles! We bought a permit for the truck, since we were going to have an easy-up and grill set up in it, but we figured we could keep the Jeep moving enough to not need a 2nd permit.

While Nicolas went to get the permit at the Visitor Center, the rest of us picked up breakfast . . .

Duck Donuts – an Outer Banks institution!

They were hot, delicious, and incredibly messy!

Everyone was hungry, so rather than taking them to the beach with us, we dug in right there in the parking lot on the tailgate of Nicolas’ truck!

Oh yeah, they were good . . .

We aired down all the tires then, and Nicolas set up his flags, and we were off!

Soon we were on the sand, and making our way down the beach to the area where we could set up for the day.

We found a good spot, and got set up.  Stephanie pondered, “How many Gimmarro’s does it take to set up an Easy Up?”

All set up and ready to enjoy a day at the beach!

It was a hot day, and we spent a lot of time in the water – it felt great!  They even got Hannah to swim out to a sand bar.  She just had to keep telling herself, “There’s no sharks out here, there’s no sharks out here!”

They all made – there, and back!

We took turns taking the Jeep for a drive on the sand,

and spotted a few wild horses (but for the most part, they were keeping themselves pretty scarce).

Bryce thought about bringing his hammock with him, but I reminded him that there were no trees at the beach.  He said he could hang it between the Jeep and the truck . . . and what do we see down the beach from us??!!


While Tom and I were out driving, the kids grilled up our dinner, and packed up the Easy Up because the wind had really started to pick up.  We got back just in time to eat, and afterwards the 4 of them took off in the truck to do a little playing in the sand!

Had to get it un-buried first!  No problem!

The beach was starting to empty out as people packed up and headed home,

We took one more swim, and we could really tell that the waves had increased in size and frequency since our earlier swims!

It was such a beautiful day!

Before long, the kids came back and we headed out after a few photo ops.

The couples – Nick & Stephanie

Bryce & Hannah

My silly boys . . .

and the two couples together.

The sun was getting lower in the sky as we said good-bye to the beach,

and after a quick stop to air up the tires and get an ice cream cone, we watch the sun sink into the horizon as we made our way back to Virginia.

It was a long day, but lots of fun and family togetherness!

Nicolas had duty on July 4th, so Tom & I took Bryce and Hannah down to Virginia Beach to check out the Boardwalk . . . and the crowds!

That’s definitely a different atmosphere than we had on our day at the beach!  Parking the Jeep was an adventure, too . . . Tom first tried pulling into a private lot – $80 for the day!!  No thanks!  We continued on, and snagged a metered spot on the street for $6 for 3 hours – that was plenty of time!

We walked along the Boardwalk, visited a few shops, had lunch at Subway and ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s, and all managed to home home a little redder than we started!  It was a really HOT day!

We got back to the campground in time for the July 4th potluck, and were planning to watch the fireworks on the beach.  We were playing cards while we waited for dusk, when we heard the rain start . . . and continue all evening!  No fireworks!

Nicolas said he was able to see a few fireworks from the flight deck before the rain started, but then he went inside.  Well, that was a bummer!

After his duty day on the 4th,  Nicolas was off the rest of the weekend.  He did some cleaning at his camper when he got home from work, and then he, Bryce and Hannah picked up Stephanie and the 4 of them went shopping at the Outlet Mall in Norfolk.  They met us back in Suffolk for dinner, and then the 4 of them went out to a club in Virginia Beach for Bryce & Hannah’s last evening.

Tom and I stayed at the campground for the re-scheduled fireworks on the beach.

It was a beautiful night, and they put on a good show!

I love the way the fireworks reflected on the water!

It was a really nice Independence Day celebration!

Saturday arrived, and it was time for Bryce and Hannah to head back to Michigan.  We were sad to have them leave us, but we’ll be following them in a few days and will see them again soon.  We loved having them vacation with us again!

The campground had a beach party that night, so Tom & I and Nick & Stephanie joined in the fun.  There was a DJ, and games on the beach, and it was so warm out, lots of kids were swimming in the lake all evening.

Tom got in on the cornhole game first . . . with Brian, Janetta, and Alan . . . I think they’re debating the rules!


Then Nick & Stephanie got in on the action,

while Tom played with his new friend!

It was a nice evening – we really enjoy the family-like atmosphere of this campground and the people there.  It’s a good place for Nicolas, and makes us feel good to know he’s got that community in addition to his friends at work.

That wrapped up our busy vacation week . . . but I loved it and wouldn’t trade that time with the kids for anything!