Thursday, July 01, 2010

Day 4 and Morning of Day 5: Virginia Beach

This is pretty much where I quit taking notes, other than recording our mileage each time we bought gas, so my memory starts to fade.  I could possibly check our Garmin Nuvi (this gps was absolutely an incredible asset on our trip, and we said so many many times--I bought it for Mitch for his birthday) to see our trip log, but that would take more time and energy than I feel like putting into this tonight.  So you'll get the pictures with less data.  ;)

We packed our our camp at Greenbelt National Park sometime on Monday morning, took down our tent, grabbed some donuts, and hit the road.  The drive was expected to take around 4 hours.  I think we left around 8:45ish a.m.  We only hit one brief spot of construction traffic, which I didn't think was so bad considering how close we were to our nation's capital on a Monday morning.  We pretty much pulled into First Landing State Park right at 1 pm, just as planned.  We booked our reservations months ago, so we got ourselves signed in and we were good to go.  This park, according to the folks at the entrance gate, is the most visited park in Virginia.  It sits right on the Chesapeake Bay, just around the corner from the Atlantic Ocean.  We pulled into our campsite, which was just over a small dune from the beach.  Sweet.  The only bad thing about our spot was poor communication when we booked it months before--the agency that handles reservations isn't actually on location, so they don't always have the right information.  We were told that all the campsites were flooded and we could only reserve a gravel (intended for an RV) site.  When we got there there were plenty of standard campsites NOT flooded, however they had all been reserved.  So we took our spacious, unshaded, gravel site and were satisfied.  It really was for the best--we were very close to the shower house, and not far from the beach access (boardwalk).


We set up our camp right away, and I waited breathlessly for my sister to arrive. I hadn't seen her since Malachi was a baby and I had never met my little nephew, Angel. Carrie lives and works near Chesapeake, VA, and that drove our decision to head to VA Beach. The kids were also rip-roaring ready to hit the water as the temperatures were already perfectly hot. We were dripping sweat as we set up the tent. Carrie arrived, we had hugs all around, and after what seemed like an eternity (seriously, getting our brood ready to go anywhere takes an insane amount of time), we finally were marching on toward the beach.

I couldn't wait to see their expressions the first time they saw it. What would they think of all the sand? What would they say when they got their first mouth-full of salt water? Who would be afraid of the waves? Who would go too far out and scare me?

There was no way I was going to take my D80 down to the beach with me. I knew that I couldn't leave it in the sand while I swam, and I was definitely going to swim. So I took my old Powershot A630. At one point someone touched the lens and left a nasty smear, and I am sorry to say that many good pictures are just plain ruined. To make matters worse, I'm going to post some of them. So forgive me--I was sad, but I just can't miss the moment. The sand didn't ruin that poor little camera, and I'm amazed.

When we got to the bottom of the boardwalk stairs, we stepped out into the sand.  The water was ahead, still a ways out, but we didn't go 15 feet before the kids dropped and started digging through the sand for shells.  I just about had to push them on.  "Go, Run, Run to the water!"  I yelled.  :)  Finally they took off.

{Josh and Chi were in the lead!}

We ran, we dove into the water. All of us--even me. I loved it. This was perfect for me. It was warm. The waves were quite gentle, which seemed to be perfect for my younger children. Here are some more pictures:

{My Angel-baby}

{Tirzah and Angel}

They are not sure what to think. I think both of them were a little overwhelmed with everything and everyone to look at.


{I look GREAT! Ok, well at least Angel does. :) I love the beach and I honestly didn't care HOW I looked. Now, I would put up a picture of Carrie, but then she would disown me and never read my blog again, so I won't. I only regret that I don't have one of us both together.}

After we played for a little while (maybe an hour), Carrie needed to leave. It was much too short, but I'm so thankful for the time we had together. :'( At that point my older boys (Mitch and Patrick mainly) started dreaming of bigger waves over on the Atlantic shore, so we decided to head over there. Upon getting out of the water, Eden's wrist started to sting a little. We soon noticed a red area forming. We asked in the park gift shop if it was a jellyfish sting--it sure was. That was something new for me. Thankfully it got better later that evening without putting anything on it. Carrie pointed us in the right direction and we loaded up. On our way we stopped at a 7-eleven to buy bread for--you guessed it--peanut butter sandwiches. We got to the beach again around 4 pm.

{King Neptune near the Hilton. The Hilton Hotel has public parking available, FYI.}

It wasn't very far past King Neptune that Josh doubled over and threw up. Guess what happened? He drank too much saltwater! I expected a reaction, but that was NOT what I expected!! I figured they would have one taste and quickly learn to spit the water back out. Apparently Josh did not. I soon found out later that his buddy Zeke was in a similar situation. Each of them continued to take turns vomiting on the beach later--poor boys!


The waves were definitely bigger here--I estimated about 4 ft waves, and the water was colder.  Or maybe it was my imagination.  But the sun was going down, and the air was cooling off a little (a little), so maybe that had something to do with it.

{Malachi and Josh}

{Josh seems oblivious to the nice big wave curling behind him.}

{All of us bigger kids loved riding the waves in.  Here you can see Mitch, Eden, Caleb, Patrick, and Zeke all hunting for the next good wave.}

We each took turns sitting on the shore with Tirzah and the younger kids so everyone had a chance to ride.  Everyone did a pretty good job of not going out too far, but of course the waves and current do eventually move you up the shore, so I kept reminding the kids to check themselves.  There were lifeguards on duty here, unlike at First Landing, but I noticed that the lifeguard nearest us was quite distracted by the boy lifeguard chatting with her.  

{I chased Tirzah around trying hard to freeze forever those adorable little footprints in the sand.}

{She tried on someone else's footprint for size.}


{We buried Mitch in the sand, and as I was starting to take the picture, someone ran up to me and offered to take it for me so I could be in it.  Her hands were dripping wet and covered with sand but I figured--why not?  LOL}

{Micah Man}

The sun slipped over the horizon before we packed up our things and left.  It was after 8 pm.  Their experiences at the beach had been SO memorable and some of them, so unexpected.  Micah, Eden, Caleb, and Zeke all loved it.  Josh eventually tired of the waves pushing him down and of swallowing saltwater (and subsequently throwing it up).  At some point Malachi suddenly became terrified of the waves.  Admittedly, they were much bigger here than they were at the park we were at first.  He refused to let the water touch him again after that, and he stopped chasing waves.  So Josh, Malachi, and Tirzah were content to sit on the shore and play in the sand.  Oh how they loved the sand!  We didn't bring any toys with us (wasn't worth hauling them all that way for just one afternoon), but we found new friends who shared.   Eden's jellyfish sting got better much faster than I expected.  We went out to eat (though we were cold and wet in our swimsuits) and got our first not peanut butter-not chicken nuggets or hamburgers-meal since we left home.   It was a good day.

We fell into bed exhausted, again, and it must have again been after 10 pm.  But as we went to sleep I said that I would love to get up in time to see the sunrise on the beach, and go down with my D80 for some good pictures.  In spite of my weariness, I did wake up and slipped out of the tent *almost* unnoticed.  Malachi heard me and came with me to see the beach one last time.   



{Still not letting the water touch him.}

By the time we made our way back, everyone in the tent was awake and letting the air out of air mattresses.  We took down the tent (though it was a little damp), ate some breakfast and tried to get on the road as soon as we could.  We had an 8.5 hour drive (not counting stops) ahead of us and I wanted to get to my Dad & Dianne's.

{What's the problem guys? Another breakfast outside? More cereal and donuts? Mitch's smile looks quite fake, and I'm not sure WHAT Patrick and Zeke are doing, LOL.  Come on, guys, enjoy yourselves a little!}

Well, I guess even without notes I wrote quite a bit, huh?  Next up, I'll introduce you to my family!


  1. Steph, reading about your trip sounds absoultey AWESOME! You and your whole family are such joyful spirits! Thank you for sharing this wonderful trip!

  2. Okay sister, I hope your 'freshwater' swimmers are glad to be back home, and remember the times they had on the road. I miss each and every one of you all, and was so glad that you got to enjoy what VA Beach has to offer. I love it out there, but now you can see why it is safer to go to the Chesapeake Bay. I'm glad you had such good pictures. I haven't looked at mine due to the move. I wouldn't have stopped looking at the blog!!