I meticulously planned this vacation to avoid as many humoungous bridges as possible. The East Coast is frighteningly plentiful with them. On the way, we did have to cross the Mississippi River, so while we drove over it I held my breath (and anxiously enjoyed the view). But that was it. No more big bridges! While vacation planning I did consider wavering my staunch resistance to crossing the formidable terrors as I considered working in Chincoteague and Virginia Beach into our travel plans. As a family we made a priority list of where we wanted to spend our time. Whew! Due to lack of time we couldn't fit in Chincoteague or Virginia Beach so that meant NO big bridges. (I really, really do want to visit Chincoteague and Virginia Beach someday. It's just a shame that a bridge/tunnel has to come between us!) After all to get to Virginia Beach we would need to take one fearsome bridge and tunnel. To get to Chincoteague we'd to first cross the previous bridge and tunnel and then the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. This is the largest bridge-tunnel complex in the world. That's a record setting bridge I have no problem bypassing! I mean, how can anyone in their right mind take a bridge that suddenly disappears into the depths of the water? Logically, I know that is the tunnel portion, but it has a way of doing a number on my mind. Nevertheless, I did want to see the ocean in the worst way! I decided that the night we arrived in Williamsburg, we'd check into our motel, get our tickets at Colonial Williamsburg, and then go find dinner on the water at Hampton Roads, where the York River, James River, Chesepeake Bay and Atlantic Ocean all converge. Surely there would be a lovely seafood restaurant overlooking all of this water. I could only imagine how wonderful the seafood would taste and how beautiful the view would be! I did a lot of research on line, but didn't come up with too many leads. Some friends assured me of a few good places, but encouraged me to go for the bridge/tunnel to Virginia Beach. As long as we didn't drive through during rush hour, I should be fine emotionally. It didn't help my nerves when she told me that rush hour is so slow that the locals joke that the tourists are checking for leaks! Ahem.
With great anticipation we arrived in Williamsburg, checked-in, then drove to Hampton Roads. We drove by Langley AFB. Hmmmmm, job possibilities for dh???? I kept warning dh not to drive too fast or he'd miss the last exit to Hampton Roads. (He has a way of missing exits.) He kept teasing me as the signs warned us that the bridge/tunnel was coming up by pretending to gun the accelerator. Thankfully we made it to Hampton and not the bridge/tunnel (although we couldn't find any waterfront dining). =(
Why this fear of bridges? I used to love them as a kid. Actually, I have taken many of those bridges back in 1989 while driving from Washington DC to upstate New York via New York City. The high bridges were scary! However the tunnels didn't bother me too much becuase I couldn't see much when the tunnels came up and didn't have time to think about it....until afterwards. And then I watched Indiana Jones movies with my dh. Well, I can only imagine what could happen, so now my safetynet doesn't feel secure.
My preference is for the more sedate and low to the ground bridge. If there's a problem, I can jump off and not drown! Now, doesn't this rustic bridge in Colonial Williamsburg look like fun? I would love to have a backyard like this!
With the bridge fears behind me, we prepared to leave Williamsburg, when ds realized his bag of souvenirs was gone! It was in a Colonial Williamsburg gift bag from the print shop in CW. He had used money from his grandparents to buy a quill pen, ink well, ink, paper, sealing wax and a stamp with his initial. He also had a watercolor painting he did at the Geddy house and a few other things. Gone! We looked high and low and my goodness, the only explanation we could come up with was that the maid threw it away by mistake. I went to the management and they felt awful but they never recovered it. They did give my son a little portion of cash to help replace the loss. We drove back to Colonial Williamsburg to the print shop for ds to replace his lost items. We paid the balance of the bill from what the motel management gave to him.
Afterwards we drove to a hotel 3 miles from Mount Vernon. We were all very sad that we were leaving Colonial Williamsburg. Mentally it was difficult for us to leave the 4mph society and re-enter the 21st century. Our motel had been very close to CW so we had not dealt too much with the current times for a few days. (Now that's a vacation!)
In a few hours we got to our hotel. It was about 2pm. We had time to find the George Washington Memorial Parkway and drive to Arlington National Cemetary. We had discovered this beautiful roadway in 2004 by accident. It hugs the coastline of the Potomac into Washington DC. That was how I wanted us to drive in, to avoid the traffic of Alexandria on hectic hwy 1 (where our hotel was located). We drove by Mount Vernon but we couldn't find the GWMP! The road we were on finally brought us back to hwy 1. The kids and I could see the water and I knew we needed to be near the water so we told him to make a right turn. Do you realize what happens when you do that????? You end up on the Woodrow Wilson Drawbridge that crosses the Potomac River from Virginia into Maryland!!!!! Eeek!!! The link shows a photo of the drawbridge up. Looking at that picture makes me very nervous. (I can ride in a car at the top of the Colorado Rockies at 14,000+ feet but these bridges are not fun!) The kids were delighted. As I desperately prayed that we wouldn't get stuck on the bridge (there was a lot of traffic), we could see thunderstorms building (See the anvil shaped t-head in the photo?) , and hopefully the drawbridge would not be needed (thankfully it wasn't). I did have enough presence of mind to take this picture. Can you see the Washington Monument (left) and Capitol (far right behind other white buildings but you can see the dome)?
Well, so much for meticulous planning. After more twists and turns, we finally found the GWMP. And it does cut off a lot of traffic and time in travel between Mount Vernon and Washington DC. The drive is beautiful and there are roadside parks to pull in to. You just have to be able to find it! You'd think that something we found by accident four years ago would be easy to find again on purpose! (Pssst, drive INTO the road with the Mount Vernon entrance sign, you'll go around a circle and come out into the GWMP. I may need to refer back to this blog entry someday for directions if we get to go back!