Thursday, 3 April 2014

Our Family Vacation - Virginia Beach

    Myrtle Beach, South Carolina was "The original Lindsay's" vacation destination.  Christopher's parents had purchased a time share and would escape to the beauty of the South Carolina ocean twice a year.  I say the "Original Lindsay's" meaning Christopher's nuclear family unit from childhood.  It was a rite of passage into the family to be invited to accompany the family to Myrtle Beach.  All of us in-laws received this initiation process.  For me Myrtle Beach signaled being welcomed into to the Lindsay family.
    We continued that family tradition after we had kids.  Our last trip to Myrtle Beach was when Christopher's Dad was loosing his strength.  It is a bitter-sweet memory.  Those were some of the last days that I saw that strong man who looked after his family, who helped all of the neighbourhood seniors and widows  when he was mobile.  It was not long after that trip that the ALS really began to claim him.  I have memories of the three older kids running back and forth along the carpeted hallway to visit Grandma and Grandpa's condo unit.  They loved having that closeness that the miles normally separate.  Christopher and I have not taken the kids back since.  Elly has never seen Myrtle Beach.

    Every two years our family takes a big vacation.  This year we discussed for many hours where and when we should go.  I really felt like we should be going on the March Break.  I don't have a big problem pulling the kids out of school for a few days, but I really didn't want to take them out for a week.  Christopher conceded to my wisdom (or he realized that it may be just easier).  We discussed Myrtle Beach.  It was familiar, it was comfortable.  We wanted an escape from the cold snap that we had suffered through this winter.  It has been the coldest, longest, snowiest winter that I can remember.  I wanted warmth and I wanted the ocean.  Myrtle Beach is about a 15 hour drive for us.  Did we want to travel that far?  In the end we decided on Virginia Beach, Virginia.  It was closer than Myrtle Beach, it was warmer than home.  We knew it would not be shorts and sandals weather that awaited us, but we also knew that it would not be -20 which was the weather we were being subjected to.  We had never been to Virginia Beach and that was part of the adventure.

    Once we had made our decision on Virginia Beach, I began to investigate.  I discovered that their average temperature for that time of year that we would be there was 70 degrees (21 degrees).  I love spring weather, I was sold.  

    We arrived to Virginia Beach in a storm.  It was windy, it was raining, but there was no snow!  Over our vacation, the weather became more beautiful.  We began our vacation wearing our spring jackets and ended it in t-shirts (they had me at no snow).  We loved Virginia Beach, and I know that we have barely even scratched the surface of everything that there is to do.

    There is this beautiful board walk that travels along the beach, it's miles of boardwalk.  Every morning people took full advantage of the board walk, either biking, walking or jogging.  It was always in use.

   One of the days we rented a "family bike" to travel the boardwalk.  Like Myrtle Beach, there are coupon booklets around Virginia Beach.  There are some really great coupons to be had.  We found one that allowed us to rent a family bike for two hours for $20.00.  In my head I envisioned us cycling the path, our heads thrown back laughing not unlike a Disney Channel family.  Oh in my fantasy the kids were squealing with laugher and thanking their father and I for allowing them this amazing experience.  The reality was kind of different.
    The reality of our bike adventure began with the kids all fighting (what's new).  The family bike had this adorable little basket on the front for toddlers and four sets of peddles.  The kids all wanted to push the peddles, but only two at a time could.  There were tears and raised voices, and that was just from me.  In the end we put Elly in the front basket, and shockingly she was happy with that.  The other three we told them would each get a turn to pedal the bike.  There were whines of "He's not letting me peddle", and "I'm being squished".  I made my usual threats of "If we weren't in public you would all be sorry" through gritted teeth.  It was returned with "What did I do?" from all of them.  I almost had a nervous breakdown right then and there on the boardwalk!  For some reason someone in their infinite wisdom decided that it would be a hilarious idea to put "two" steering wheels in the front of the bike, but only have one of them actually steered.  Christopher would get distracted and be turned around to talk to one of the kids, all the while our golf cart sized bike would be headed for a bench, curb, fellow cyclist, oh put any number of objects here.  I looked like a crazed idiot, frantically grabbing my childlike toy of a steering wheel and trying to avoid the oncoming objects.  It was like when you see little toddlers in the front of those adorable shopping carts with the steering wheels, they actually think they are driving.  You might think that an intelligent person would realize after the first time that her steering wheel was there for either decoration or put there by the devil himself, but oh no.  Every single stinking time I would yank on that stupid child's plaything.
    Did I mention that the "family bike" was the size and I would guess weight of a golf cart?  Did I mention that I have zero physical fitness?  Did I mention that for optimal effectiveness everyone should pedal at the same time?  Christopher was just a cranking it out like he though he was in the Tour de France.  The pedals would smack me in the shins as my feet flew off.  From the back the kids would shout up "Why are we going so slow?  Is Mom slowing us down?"  Eventually we got a rhythm.  I stopped gleefully picturing murdering my entire family with the pedals of the bike that I had torn off in a fit of Incredible Hulk like rage.  By the time we finally found our rhythm, and the kids were sufficiently frightened enough of their lunatic mother, it was time to return the bike.  Two hours go by quickly when you are plotting the murder of your entire family.

    Had you asked me if I enjoyed the bike at the time, you would still be looking for your teeth.  Now I look back and smile a little.  It was not funny at the time, but in retrospect it was pretty funny.  It's the funny story that you tell to everyone who asks about your vacation.  It also allowed us to cover more ground than we would have walking.

    The boardwalk in and of itself is quite amazing, but every few hotels there are sculptural works of art.  It was a fun adventure to see what would come next.  There were giant fish, crabs, dolphins, any number of creatures from the sea.  The best sculpture of all was King Neptune.  It dwarfed the kids.

    Virginia Beach may very well become our "Myrtle Beach".  It was small enough to not be overwhelming, but large enough to be captivating.  We went at the exact right time.  It was quiet and lovely when we went.  I think Virginia Beach may very well become our "Myrtle Beach".