I’m back from my Thanksgiving getaway to my In-Laws in New Jersey! I hear so many people talking about their bad relationships with their husbands family and I have to tell ya, I’m blessed in that department. My husband’s family makes my heart smile. You know that warm fuzzy hot cocoa, soft blanket & great book kind of warm and fuzzy. They feel like home 💗
They came in to town and our plans had us leaving the next day for New Jersey. Yep, 369 miles to get me, and that was just one way. We went to dinner at Cheeseburger In Paradise, one of my favorite places. And it’s all because of pickles! They have the best fried pickle chips ever and they are served with a delicious sauce! They put a new drink on the menu, Spiced Berry Sangria and I’m not much of a drinker, but this was seasonal and very very tasty. Nice for a family toast! I highly recommend this restaurant. It’s a beachy themed sports bar/restaurant atmosphere. The food is reasonably priced and service is always great.
This wasn’t a touristy trip at all. It was filled with family, great food, a fun event and a fabulous movie! We spend a lot of time in the car. My brother-in-law and sis-in-law and their kids live about a half hour to 45 minutes away from my In-Laws house and we went out that way twice. But the drives were nice. The weather was chilled but sunny for the most part and autumn was full bloom. Took some pictures from the car…
I love New Jersey. It’s rich in culture and heritage. Diner’s are still all the rage in Jersey and that is most excellent. The diner is to Jersey what a coffee shop is to Seattle. It’s where you go to eat a meal, have coffee or two, or three and just have conversation. Diners have regulars, so if you are one, you likely know many of the faces you see when you come in. It gives a community feel to the neighborhood. In a world where many neighbors don’t know your face, in Jersey diner patrons see each other and greet each other. Add to that, all the trees, the hilly terrain, brick houses and of course the hues of autumn were gorgeous with the blue sky and sunshine as the backdrop.
We went to see a movie that I feel like I’ve been waiting forever to see!! I’m a big Potterhead and was so excited that we were going to see Fantastic Beasts And Where To Find Them!! I’d been reading the reviews and some were mixed. I think it came down to people expecting it to be the same as the first in the series. But how could it be. It was a different time, different cast, different mood. The book itself is a different mood departure from the what the films were based on. This is by far my favorite of the series. And as my husband said, Newt Scamander is my spirit animal. If I went to Hogwarts, I am very Luna Lovegood. But closer even than that to my personality is Newt Scamander. He is the animal rights activist of the wizarding world. And Eddie Redmayne was brilliant in the role. The supporting cast was pretty darn awesome too. I love love loved this movie!!! After the movie we went out to dinner at Houlihan’s . Good dinner, wanted cappuccino’s but they were out, settled for coffee then some much needed sleeps, the next two days are a lot of driving and busy busy busy….
Thanksgiving Day began like usual. It was a tradition in my family and in Keith’s to watch the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. There’s something wonderful to be said for traditions in families. Traditions make life just a little warmer and memories that much more special. So in my fuzzy slippers and with a cup of coffee I sat and watched the parade surrounded by all the memories of days gone by in that cozy home where my hubby grew up. And although my hubby couldn’t be there because of work blah blah blah, this was the next best thing.
Then it was off to dinner!! It’s a tradition that my sis-in-law & bro-in-law do Thanksgiving. And I wouldn’t want it any other way. They have a feast of deliciousness. And Tori’s family joins us and so good food and good company is the blessing of the day! But, I have to admit I spent most of the day with our nephew and niece 💗 They kept stealing me away to play, which was by far the BEST part of the whole trip! They are at the age that the distance and time between us doesn’t make them forget bonds that were formed. Keith and I have lived away from all our nieces and nephews and it can be hard to form good bonds. It’s something we’ve learned that is a really important thing to focus on. If quantity of time is unrealistic, then quality of time must be foremost.
So we all at well and enjoyed the day. I was missing my hubby and missing Ippo (our dog that passed away in September) and of course our kitties. But being around family makes the missing pieces feel not as distant.
The next day we headed back out that way again for Hugs For Brady Holiday Light Show at DeVry University. It was their first year and it was for a good cause! They had a lot of activities that kept the kids happy and having fun. It felt like a carnival without the rides. But they had a bounce house/slide and face painting along with other activities that kept them amused and us entertained watching them have fun. The lights were beautiful once the sun set. And at the end there was a light show we sat down for. That, they have some kinks to work out. It was a great way to spend my last evening in town though. Surrounded by family and enjoying an event that helps kids.
I’m sad my hubby had to work but it was nice having his family all to myself for once. Living too far away for frequent long trips back to our hometowns and families we have to take advantage of all the moments we can. And usually I let my hubby monopolize his families time because he doesn’t get to see them as often as he’d like, but this time they were all mine. And to them….
Many of you know my plans to meet up with friends in Myrtle Beach was cancelled due to Hurricane Matthew and the destruction in the area our resort was in. Very sad all the loss of life and so much destruction in Matthews path. It’s left a burden on communities like those in Myrtle Beach and even worse in Haiti and parts of the Caribbean where there were many fatalities and some areas were completely destroyed. Relief still accessing damages, giving aide and starting to clean up and re-build.
Thankful we were ok. We were not in harms way. We needed to celebrate the fact that we were unharmed while remembering many were harmed and lives destroyed.
My friends ended up just coming here for vacation and we spent a week just enjoying each others company and taking in whatever small stuff was happening here in Virginia Beach. We were somber at the reason why we ended up vacationing my backyard. But so thankful we could. We had thought about just doing nothing and then meeting up when our Myrtle Beach trip was rescheduled but decided we really wanted to celebrate life, friendship and family BECAUSE of all that happened to cancel our plans.
Day one we took in the beachfront (Boardwalk Beach). Just enjoying the waves, the sun, the sand and the warmth of the day. Autumn does come to our area slowly but surely. Most of our autumn and winter months is spent lingering between autumn temps and that cold that resides just before snow should be starting. It seldom snows here near the beach and when it does, it lasts a day then the remaining warmth of the sun melts the fluffy white away leaving us with a chill in the air.
But for now the sun was still shining brightly and we still had 80 degree temps! The ocean was beautiful today, very blue and just a little choppy. Some nice waves for beginning surfers. And swimmers who like their swim a little wild.
Naval Aviation Monument Park
“The monument represents the culmination of an eight-year undertaking by NAF’s Hampton Roads Squadron, supported by the City of Virginia Beach. View the six larger-than-life bronze sculptures with action-oriented presentations depicting three historic eras in naval aviation. The Monument graces a plaza encompassing 16,000 square feet at the intersection of 25th Street and Atlantic Avenue, adjacent to the Norwegian Lady monument, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean.”
Day two we spent the day just visiting and relaxing. My friends did a 9 hour drive here from Ohio and they needed a sleep in day. Plus being at the beach, playing in the waves and all that sun makes for great sleep!! Later in the day we went to the Virginia Museum Of Contemporary Art for MOCA Nights. It’s a easy going evening filled with cocktails, food trucks, open mic night and free admission to the museum. It’s a beautiful introduction for newcomers into art museums. So we listened to a little poetry, some music filled the air and then took in the sights of the museum. It was a beautiful evening with all the time in the world to explore the art within the museum!!
Day three was back to the beach but this time we went to Sandbridge (my favorite beach in the area)!!! The ocean, the waves, the sand, the sunshine and the mist off the ocean is meditative to me. Whenever I am near the ocean I feel a sense of “home”. It’s always so peaceful yet invigorating. After a day at the beach I feel renewed. The waves were calmer but the suns reflection on the water and sand made for breathtaking views!!
And the wildlife came near to play with us….
Day 4 we decided to take in some more seasonal type entertainment. Halloween was, is right around the corner and most of the scarier haunted type venues were not open yet. But we found something to do that was a fun family scare! Ghost Train at Northwest River Park is where we started the night’s hauntings!
A wagon ride through a dark forest with a few howls, bumps in the night and eerie lighting. With some stops with story telling and a bit of haunted history of the area.
It was family friendly for the most part during the wagon ride. Smaller kids would get a scare I’m sure simply because, well, it’s a wagon ride in the darkly lit forest with some scary sounds and a few noises to catch you off guard. But I would say 13 and up would be ok with this. It was a cool night so it was actually a nice ride through the forest!
After the wagon ride they had a haunted house you could go through. I’m not good with small spaces so i opted out lol. But my friends braved the walk through the “house” and were scared by “the people behind the walls” and bat wielding, chainsaw carrying creepy people in masks. Good scary fun if you like being scared!
After the haunted ghost ride we decided the night was still early and we still had not had dinner. Here in Virginia Beach we have a dinner and a movie type theater, well a couple of them. But we opted for Cinema Cafe and the opening night of Tyler Perry’s, BOO, A Madea Halloween. I LOVE Cinema Cafe! You sit in cozy chairs and can eat dinner, snacks, desert and watch your movie!! It’s kind of the new “drive-in theater” type experience.
It was typical Tyler Perry. It was funny with a lesson attached for the kids to all learn about being good human beings.
And dinner was of course delicious, if not necessarily good for you. Not the type of food you should eat often!
Day 5 we just decided to have an easy going family type day with a little early holiday shopping and venturing to the farmers markets for some tasty fresh local foods. We picked up some produce and a few other items for cooking a healthy dinner since we ate junky the night before. The sun was yet again shining bright and there was a crispness starting in the air telling me that autumn was upon us here in Virginia Beach.
Something special was planned for Day 6. I wanted to go somewhere I had yet to go in the 8 years we’ve lived here in Virginia Beach. Already so much of the area has been explored and enjoyed. And after all, I was the one in the bunch who actually was not going away for vacation. So, across the water we went, over to Hampton Virginia, well actually it’s known as Fort Monroe,Virginia. Fort Monroe was designed by the French military engineer Brigadier General Simon Bernard, Fort Monroe (sometimes called Fortress Monroe) was conceived as an element of the Third System of coastal defenses outlined by Congress in the aftermath of the War of 1812. The old Army fortress is filled with history and rich in storytelling because it’s been around for so long. And to top it off we were going for their annual Ghost Walk Tour!
Fort Monroe’s grounds are gorgeous! Surrounded on three sides by either ocean or bay and the structures made of brick and stone set surrounded by green trees and blue skies made for a picturesque walk in crisp autumn breezes.
They converted the structures into rental units. There is a long waiting list because they are museum quality structures in a beautiful setting. But we are now looking into it!
The grounds are lush and green and well maintained. You can tell that since the military left this site, it’s been well loved by the community and taken care of as a landmark but also as a place of beauty despite also being a place of war.
The actual Ghost Walk was rich with the history of the Fort along with actual ghost stories from past residents and those who lived and worked within the walls of this old place. It was a little spooky, but not really scary. But that was ok because the storytelling was superb and the tour and stories were being told by actual residents and former residents which just added to the experience. We could tell the love these people had for the history of this gorgeous place. They hold it near and dear to them. We will venture back to this area again one day when we have more daylight hours and more time to walk through the Casemat and museum. It is a gem and a huge part of the military heritage of this area.
We ended this day with dinner at T.G.I. Fridays and some great conversation. We knew the trip was winding down and that Day 7 would be spent mostly with packing, a good breakfast and my friends getting on the road back to Ohio with dreams of our next adventure and readying for the reschedule of our Myrtle Beach trip. As always I will miss these crazy loves. But more adventures will be had and for now we had had to say farewell. Now to recover from vacation