Well several of you have asked if I am going to blog on this trip so I will try to give you an update on what we have done so far.
We left Oswego about 3:00 Wednesday, October 8 and headed to Brett & Renae's (East of Columbus) to pick up Brett and the kids (Dacy 12 & Tucker 11). We were able to cram all of our luggage in to the back of the van and off we headed to Joplin. We were picking Renae up at work.
Our drive there was pretty uneventful and we soon had Renae on board and headed down I44 towards St. Louis and on to Mt. Vernon, IL. We stopped in Springfield at McAlister's Deli for dinner. Not too bad. Dacy wasn't thrilled with her sandwich and Renae agreed it wasn't very good. We took off again made one more stop before we arrived at Mt. Vernon a little before midnight. We decided we would get on the road at 7:30 the next morning after having breakfast at the hotel. It was slightly later before we took off but not too bad.
From Mt. Vernon we drove about 4 hours to Lexington, KY. Here we spent a great day at the Kentucky Horse Park. The weather was perfect. Overcast, but comfortable for being outdoors. We first visited the Hall of Champions where 3-4 horses were brought out into a small arena. Prior to the horses entering the arena we watched clips from their winning races. The trainer then brought the horse out for us to view and take pictures. I took pictures of a few. One of the horses was " ". I took a picture of her before she was in the arena with Dean standing by her stable.
We watched dressage where several horses and their riders completed special patterns which is similar to English riding - but different.
We toured several horse barns where the large draft horses were located; the mounted police horses; small Shetland horses and a variety of other horses throughout he park. It was a beautiful park with many statutes of horses scattered around the park. We visited their horse museum dedicated to the history of all horses and impact on human civilization. It's hard to describe everything that we saw and participated in. If you love horses you should take the time to stop and visit.
We ate lunch at the farmhouse café. Our food was delicious.
One fun thing that occurred. After we ate, Renae, the kids and I walked to the Altec Arena. We were trying to find our way to the large arena area. A gentleman came by and we asked him if he could help us find the right area. He directed us to the elevator and rode up with us. He explained he owned and had showed horses at the arena and now he was the announcer of the events. Kind of a neat experience. Very nice guy.
We spent the night in Lexington. We checked TripAdvisor to check out our dinner plans for the evening. We chose Bourbon n' Toulouse, a Cajun restaurant. We decided we would give it a 3. Brett and I had red beans, sausage and rice which was very good but the chicken ettoufee was a bit bland. I didn't care for it and neither did any of the others. It was edible but that was all. Tucker had BBQ and said it was pretty good. We decided that we would leave by 8:00 a.m. on Friday. The next morning we were on the road pretty close to our planned time. Here is where the scenery really changed. Entering eastern Kentucky and leaving we saw numerous horse farms. HUGE horse farms. Just gorgeous properties.
As we reached the far eastern part of the state and moved into West Virginia we began to experience really beautiful fall foliage. It was again overcast and we drove in a light to medium rain most of the day. This created heavy fog in the mountain areas and it was just beautiful. My pictures really do not do it justice. Unfortunately it was raining too much and it was so foggy that we did not take the time to stop at any of the noted scenic locations but we hope to do that on the way home. We decided to stop for a late lunch in Lewisburg, WV at Stardust Café. We HIGHLY recommend this cafe. They were having a special event in their community called TOOT - Taste of our Town. We had to wait at least 30 minutes to be seated - and then was moved to a table from the bar shortly before our meal was delivered to our table. People continued to come in even after we were served our food. You could tell the cafe had a great reputation.
We arrived in Williamsburg, VA about 7pm. We were a bunch of tired travelers. After we got all of our luggage unloaded we unwound a bit and then all headed to bed.
The next morning we found a great place for breakfast - The Smoky Griddle. Again a great restaurant. Pancakes were really good. Following that we decided to drive down to Norfolk to the Naval Base. Norfolk is home to the largest navy fleet and we were fortunate that a number of ships were in port while we were there. Because Brett is active military we were able to get on base and walked the wharf looking at the various ships. Renae and I were getting ready to take pictures of a submarine when a soldier came out and told us we could not take pictures of it. Brett asked him if there was any ships we could get closer to. When he discovered Brett was military he said we could tour the submarine. WOW! This was so cool. First of all it was an active ship. We were taken on the tour by navy personnel who were assigned to this ship. Many sailors were still on the ship during our tour. It was an amazing experience. We got to visit with the "chef" who does all of the cooking for the entire crew, that was 60+. Unfortunately I have no pictures of the USS Norfolk tour or the ship.
The sailors indicated since Brett was active military we could most likely go onboard any of the ships. The Navy Hopsital Ship - the USS Comfort was also in dock. We went down to see if we could tour it. Unfortunately tours for this ship must be pre-scheduled. Adjacent to the hospital ship was the USS Bainbridge. Several sailors were standing on the deck so Brett went up to see if we could tour it and they ushered us aboard. Again I say WOW! Do any of you remember hearing about the USS Bainbridge that assisted a ship that was taken over by pirates several years ago - that event later became the basis for a well known major movie known as "Captain Phillips" starring my favorite actor Tom Hanks.
Upon leaving the pier we headed to the Naval Museum. It was very interesting but nothing could compare to seeing all of the various ships in port and our tours of the Norfolk and Bainbridge.
As we were leaving the Museum we asked one of the employees for a suggestion for dinner. He recommend the Freemason Abby - located in a former church about .3 of a mile from the museum. It was a wonderful day and evening. About 70 degrees and overcast. We decided to just walk as parking is not always available. The meal was fabulous. Everyone was very pleased.
We arrived back at the resort. Renae and Tucker headed to the resort activity center to watch the new "Godzilla" movie. Brett, Dean and I stayed in our condo to watch the Royals win over the Orioles in the 2nd game of their play-off division. Woo-hoo. Dacy stayed around so she could use our "Jacuzzi". After the game was over Dacy and Brett went over to catch the end of the movie. Dean and I knew we had a full day tomorrow so we went to bed.
This morning Dean and I went to the resort sales area to listen to the spill on their timeshare program. We knew we were not interested but it got us reduced priced tickets for Colonial Williamsburg for all of us. We arrived shortly before 8:30 and left a little before 10:00. Renae, Brett and the kids ran to Wal-Mart while we were gone to get some breakfast food for the next few days.
After our return from the sales presentation, we all loaded up and headed to Colonial Willamsburg to exchange our tickets we received from the presentation for actual badges that we could use at Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown and Yorktown. Because it was so late in the day we decided to visit Jamestown today. This consisted of Historic Jamestown - the site of America's first permanent English settlement. It included archaeological finds at James Fort and a tour of the historic ruins. It was pretty amazing to see the ruins of a church; barracks; foundations of numerous houses and fencing for the perimeter of the fort.
We then visited the Glasshouse where glassblowers were demonstrating their trade. Glassblowing was one of America's first industries. Jamestown is located on the bank of the James River.
Our next stop was the Jamestown Settlement where a living-history museum of 17th century Virginia that provided an opportunity for the kids to learn about how to build a dugout canoe, experience wearing of armor, etc. We toured replicas of three ships that traveled from England to Virginia in 1606. Amazing the small amount of room available for the 60 people who traveled on it.
It was an interesting day seeing what our forefather's dealt with in order to provide this new country for us to live the way we do today. They gave up much for us. It was an extremely tiring day as our feet were worn out. Tomorrow Colonial Williamsburg and Tues/Wed 2 days of Washington D.C. We will need foot massages after all of this walking! HAHA
Tonight Renae cooked for us. She made garlic chicken with spinach and penne pasta and parmesean cheese. It was delicious. Served with garlic bread. Yum, yum.
Well, I am really tired and we have another busy day tomorrow. Hope you enjoy.