Paul and I recently returned from a trip to Virginia to visit my family for Thanksgiving. His parents live here in Buffalo (just a mile and a half away from our new house), so we’ll spend Christmas with them.
We stayed with my sister Elissa and her family (son and fiancé) in Virginia Beach. In an attempt to save money, we decided to drive this time instead of fly (there are no direct flights from Buffalo to the Norfolk or Richmond airports). Flying would have cost $750-800 for the two of us and the price of gas was around $130 – a noticeable difference.
The only downside was the time it took to drive. This was our longest road trip together by far. Being together is great, but after seven hours or so we were both ready to get out of the car. The drive to Virginia last Wednesday took 13 hours (!!). It should have only taken 10.5 hours (which is how long our return took the following Monday), but we decided to take a longer route that entirely bypassed interstate 95. I drove on that road many times during the seven years I lived in DC…holiday traffic is pure hell. Plus it was snowing most of the way, so visibility was limited and people were driving slower than usual.
A few months ago, Elissa and her fiancé bought a beautiful house near the bay in Virginia Beach so this was our first time visiting them at their new place. It was a little strange not being in Richmond – I lived there for eight years (1997-2005) and it’s where I’ve returned for family visits ever since – but Elissa’s house is the hub for these types of occasions and it was no different this year.
(Elissa gravitates toward being the host because she’s so darn good at it. Seriously, I would be freaking out if I was hosting a large gathering at my house, but she’s been doing it for years. If she sweats, I never see it.)
(Elissa with her carrots – one strange, one normal.)
What did we eat? Elissa detailed the menu in advance. The only thing we didn’t have was the baked Camembert (we completely forgot about it until after the Thanksgiving meal was over).
We were at Elissa’s for four days and five nights. It was wonderful spending so much time with her (those 1-2 hour phone calls every few weeks just aren’t the same as seeing her in person). My mom stayed overnight one of those nights too, so it was great to have some extended time with her as well.
I’ve lived in Buffalo for a year and a half now, and this visit really made me realize that I only see certain family members for a few hours a year. I knew before I moved that the hardest part about leaving would be seeing my family less often. When I lived in DC, I’d usually drive down for a visit at least every 4-6 weeks. Last week I saw my younger sister Angela, her two boys, and my two younger brothers for our Thanksgiving meal, but only for the afternoon. This year Paul and I went back to Virginia in May and November, and twice-a-year visits will likely remain the norm. It’s unfortunate — but it’s what a lot of people do.
(Me and my ultra long-haired sister, Angela.)
On a brighter note, the weather was gorgeous on Sunday (mid 60s). We took advantage of the warmth and went out on our hosts’ boat. They bought the boat after they purchased the house – they’re not far from the bay and a series of canals snake through their neighborhood, allowing access for them to motor out to the bay whenever they want.
Due to my tendency for motion sickness I don’t get on boats often, but I popped a pill and the water of the bay was flat, so all was okay. Here I am looking at the passing scenery as my sister grins beside me:
This is my husband sitting with Elissa as we wait for the boat to get gassed-up:
Later that afternoon we went to Nauticus in Norfolk, which is a cool naval museum and battleship. That was super fun. Definitely worth the trip.
(Battleship Wisconsin at sunset)
My friends Chris and Teresa came by for a few hours during our visit as well. I’ve known them for more than 15 years! Here’s me and Chris:
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving!