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Pennsylvania, Camp, Virginia, Fourth of July

July 8, 2011

Hold on to your hat-because this post will encompass several states and several events all leading to an exciting cliff-hanger ending–ok–well maybe a sigh of relief that there are no more pictures-

This is how we started. At 6:00 AM on June 24th, 2011. We were going to get started earlier-but we were worried about our cat, Murray. He is Seventeen years old-and he has been going downhill fast. Not sick-just showing his age and not eating. We all said our good-byes to him because we were sure he would not make it. We were right-our daughter came to check on him and she found him peacefully laying in the sun by the window–the way he would have wanted to go-sleeping in the sun. We are forever grateful to our daughter for taking care of him for us-thank you Jordan.

Our first stop was our Son’s workplace. It is top secret inside-so we felt pretty privileged to have a tour. It is so secret-I can’t even tell you the name of the place-because actually, I can’t ever remember. It was a great tour-all the computers and robotics-fascinating.

We were able to attend Church with Dustin and Andrea-that helped to relieve a few butterflies for my two younger ones-they would be headed off to camp the next morning-and they were a bit nervous. This was to be their first time away. For 5 whole days! How were they going to survive? Adam was sure of everything-even if he wasn’t–and Catie was sure of nothing-and didn’t want to go-she climbed on the bus on Monday morning with this look of gloom-she was bound and determined to not like this whole excursion. She sat alone and looked at no-one. Andrea–super sister-in-law to the rescue–I think just her presence made the scary and dread run away. Adam got on the bus and started talking right away–and off they went.

This was the only picture I took of Andrea the whole trip–enjoy it–

Then it was just the two of us *cue music*–alone for 5 whole days since our honeymoon–no children–no laundry–no children–no work–no children–no pets–no children–no children–just a long beautiful drive down back roads to Virginia–

Our drive was amazing-through small towns and over countryside-listening to Fox News-talking-yelling at the radio-driving quietly-pure serenity. Suddenly-my peace was broken by signs announcing that NO EXPLOSIVES beyond this point–a bridge/tunnel ahead. I looked at our GPS and started to get a little suspicious. My GPS just showed water ahead. I was expecting a nice long bridge over the Chesapeake Bay from Delaware into Virginia. How could there be a tunnel? There were not any mountains to go through–just–just–water–I immediately started searching on my Ipad about the Chesapeake Bay Bridge/Tunnel I kept seeing signs for.

And there it was–if you look really close, you can see where the bridge disappears-yes it disappears-right under the water–for a mile–a mile. I do not like closed in spaces-especially underwater-submarines are the scariest thing in the world to me-

I asked if we could just turn around and go back the other way-the safer way–it was only about 120 miles around the peninsula–We are having such a nice drive–a few more hours would just add to the ambiance of our whole trip–somehow men have no sense of adventure in them–my Hero just wanted to get there–no nice drive back around–just straight through–it was too late to turn back-the tunnel was upon us-I took a deep breath in case the tunnel started leaking and spewing water and we were enveloped by the raging waters of the Chesapeake Bay–

About halfway through-I started to breathe-I didn’t see any leaks-but I did keep my eye out for them-**you should see me on a plane**–it seemed like any other tunnel. I expected wet pavement-dripping ceilings–

I am just thankful for the light at the end of the tunnel-and I am proud to say I made it through the next one without even screaming–

We arrived in Virginia Beach to breath taking views of the ocean. The boardwalk with all the hotels and restaurants were beautiful–everything was just like a postcard. It was a little ‘beachy’ for us–too many people–but the mornings and the evenings were amazing-we took off touring the more secluded areas on foot and our bikes during the days-

On one of our bike trips-we rode out 12 miles to see a lighthouse at Cape Henry. The lighthouse was on an active Airforce Base. We rode up to the gates to check in and the guard informed us that we could not ride our bikes on Government Property without a helmet. So-we walked the 3 miles back to the lighthouse. It was hot–really-hot–I am from the North and that Southern heat was debilitating. My only reprieve was these blackberry bushes we found walking our bikes to the lighthouse. We filled ourselves on these berries. They were the best I have ever eaten–they gave me enough energy to finish the walk to the lighthouse.

I was dog-tired when we arrived-but I was glad we made the trek–

Until I found out there were 191 stairs to the lighthouse–191 stairs after biking, walking, blackberries, and more walking–191 stairs–

I said, “Beautiful lighthouse-lets go to the giftshop.” My hero says–“no-no-no–we rode and walked all the way here-we are climbing those 191 stairs up into the lighthouse.” Did I say he was my Hero?

The view was spectacular! I read a plaque at the top that said a new lighthouse had been constructed after the one we were in became unstable–I was at the top of an unstable lighthouse–This is an image I snapped at the top-we were surrounded by huge glass windows reflecting all that sunshine and 95 degree heat right on us–my Hero says, “Beautiful lighthouse, let’s go see the gift shop.” My Hero.

Our day ended in pure exhaustion-but content. We ate lobster on the boardwalk and walked until dark.

This is the lighthouse on the boardwalk-not in operation- I discovered the ‘bluehour’ here in Virginia. I had always heard about that hour right before the darkness takes over the day–that hour the sky and everything it touches turns an amazing sapphire blue. The white of the lighthouse was stunning against the blue sky.

Our last morning-we woke before the sunrise-to enjoy the last remnants of the beach. I love the sunrise-the color just invites the day to begin. Then we made the drive back to civilization-back to Pennsylvania–back to our kids–back the safe way–

Through–Washington, D.C.–this is the closest we got to the White House and the Lincoln Memorial–It made me want to return–I have never been to Washington, D.C.–next trip. We arrived back to tired kids and tired Dustin and Andrea. They had an amazing time and were already talking about going back next year–so much for missing Mom and Dad– We were able to spend the afternoon and evening with them before we headed back home. It was not enough time–I hope they are prepared for another visit yet this summer.

Our Fourth of July started at 8:30 AM–Adam ran and I walked the Fairhaven 5K–I forgot my camera in all of the hustle to get home--here are some shots from last year–this year was even better–next year, I won’t forget my camera.

We then spent the evening of food, family and fireworks at Madison Lake with my brother and sister in law and Charlie and Robin. We had a wonderful time. It was good to see family that we have not seen in a while–plus they brought fireworks–to Michigan–fireworks–to Michigan.

The night was perfect. It was beautiful–the lake–a fire–fireworks–nothing better for Fourth of July.

I didn’t capture what I wanted to capture here-but the whole yard was filled with lightning bugs–or fireflies–I grew up calling them lighting bugs–anyway–the yellow glows are the flashes–with low light, it was hard to really tell how many of them there were–and of course, they don’t all flash at the same time.

And thus ended the excursion of our summer–I had high hopes of capturing great fireworks photos-but I forgot my tripod–the night ended with the ‘Big Momma’– fireworks brought all the way from Tennessee to Michigan where it is illegal to shoot off anything except sparklers–it was the battle of the fireworks on the lake–obviously, everyone brought fireworks from Tennessee–but I do believe our Tennessee fireworks were the clear winner. You may take a breath now-or sigh-or just be happy it is finally over.

Sorry–one last photo–just in case you were wanting for more.

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. July 9, 2011 4:36 pm

    Sounds like a great trip! Great pics, too.

  2. July 9, 2011 10:26 pm

    Just wanted to let you know that I enjoyed every single one of your photos. And that bridge under water…that is amazing!! And way to go for climbing those lighthouse stairs, I need your Hero to motivate me to exercise, lol 🙂 Looking forward to the signing class tomorrow!

  3. July 16, 2011 3:00 am

    I love, loved this post! You’re a great story teller and you were right, I did want more photos!!

    I have never been to Pennsylvania, but recently found out that Mendenhall, PA was named after my family – how cool is that?! And so now, I can’t wait to go and yesterday isn’t fast enough!! haha

    • July 20, 2011 9:41 pm

      I will be going to PA a lot more soon! My son and daughter are having a baby in February!
      I’ll have to look up Mendenhall…very cool.

  4. TRACIE permalink
    August 5, 2011 9:13 pm

    great pict vonda , cant wait to call you GRANNY !!!!!

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