Since I started flying, the end of the year is the one time all bets are off when it comes to the potential for a vacation or some little reprieve from the crazy. Some might think I’m crazy for nestling a long weekend away from home in between two six-days flight plans. However, this was a great opportunity to go on vacation without planning one. This time, I headed up to Virginia for some R&R in Doc’s Hometown!
After back-to-back trips loaded with 330AM wake up calls, airports packed with people, and a rather uncomfortable nap on a cramped regional jet, one of the best things was getting scooped by at the Newport News Williamsburg Airport by Doc. When the days blur into one another, there is no better comfort than coming to a complete standstill away from the melee. In countless movies, heartfelt and joyous reunions take place in the arrivals lobby, but for us it’s more like a fine-tuned, airport curbside extraction. One of my favorite parts of our routine is simply the drive home.
Something as simply as a scenic drive through the rural highways can be quite cleansing. I’ve been known to roll down the windows and crank up the volume, but post-flight, there is nothing more precious than the sound of silence. The flat and fast highways of Florida have always been home, but regardless of time of year the winding country roads up north have always felt more cinematic. They also remind me of driving along the mountains and rice fields of Tottori. (If you can’t tell by now, John Denver’s “Take Me Home, Country Roads,” is now playing through my mental montage.)
When I am not working, I take particular pleasure in not setting an alarm clock and having a nice lingering cup of coffee to start my mornings. For me, off-duty days are best with minimal, flexible plans or scrapping any semblance of an agenda. The best part about falling off the grid in a small town, there is the proper opportunity to get some rest. Although there was plenty to see and do, I took the same approach I do when I have a long layover in any city: the entire city is not going to vanish, so there is no point in killing myself to see everything. The point of visiting Virginia instead of coming home to an empty house between trips was not only a change of location, but to meet the rest of Doc’s great family!
We hopped in the car and headed over to the Historic Yorktown Riverfront and enjoyed lunch at Riverwalk Restaurant. The Heirloom Tomato Salad on paper sounded incredible, and it exceeded my expectations upon arrival at our table! However, I carelessly mis-read the menu when I added grilled salmon to my salad. I thought $11 for what sounded like a decadent and healthy feast of “Baby Arugula, Marinated Cucumbers, Red Onions, Fresh Blueberries & Warm Honey Dressing” with salmon was a steal! When the check arrived, I learned the hard truth that it was $11 on top of the $9 salad. Yes, I unknowingly ordered a $20 salad due to poor menu wording. It was deliciously fresh, but certainly not for the price tag during lunch time. Next time, I plan on getting proper clarification from the server prior to ordering to avoid such mishaps.
After our late lunch, we stretched our legs with a lovely walk along the riverfront area. Doc humored my need to play tourist as it was my first time, and it was great exploring with a leisurely stroll as The Twenty Dollar Salad digested. Living in Japan and traveling through Europe, I reveled in the pleasure of learning and immersing myself in the history of the world. In my love for languages and desire to traverse the world, I realized that I’ve unwittingly managed to turn a blind eye to all the history right under my nose here in my beloved country! Unlike Europe, where every national capital is overflowing with hundreds upon hundreds of years of history typically consolidated in small radii, the U.S.A. has it peppered throughout a large expanse of land. It wasn’t until I started flying, that I took opportunities to explore local history here in the US because suddenly everything became more accessible.
Growing up as a child of an airline employee and now working for a commercial airline myself, many may view my approach to travel as blessed, unique, and possibly a little spoiled. I studied in Rome, Italy for six weeks my senior year of undergrad. I dropped everything and moved to Japan at 24, and returned to The States in the months prior to my thirtieth birthday. Even after I moved back, I continually planned my next great adventure, and running turned my sights on the forty-nine states better known as my neighbors. I feel like I take my own country’s history for granted, so I am going to give it the same chutzpah I dedicate for my international adventures. We were gifted a couple of passes to Colonial Williamsburg, so I relished the opportunity to play tourist in my home country.
I was surprised by the throngs of people crowding the streets of Williamsburg. It was refreshing to see colonial explorers and families enjoying the sights and sounds of our local history. Holiday burnout has a sneaky way of quickly ruining my gumption to explore, so we ended up keeping our expedition into Colonial America short and sweet. We made sure to drop by Wythe Candy & Gourmet Shop and hauled back three pounds of fudge before we called it a night. If you ever drop by bring home some Dark Chocolate Sea Salt Caramel Fudge. You’ll thank me.
The craziest thing was my pal Laura over at Cupping Cakes and her awesome hubby were at CW at the exact same time as Doc & I! I love seeing all the photos of their road trips, and it turned out at we were milling about CW at the exact same time! I did my best to snap my photos quickly and stick to my social media diet by waiting until we were on the drive home. As we zipped along the Colonial National History Parkway on our way home from a lovely afternoon, I learned that they four of us were standing on opposite sides of the evening processional and we’d both stopped at DoG Street Pub within 45 minutes of one another! I applaud R+L for toughing it out and waiting for a space to sit. We ended up backing out and regrouping at Seasons a couple blocks south of the main drag.
Traveling in the winter can be taxing and stressful, but I truly feel that it can be a refreshing and positive experience with the proper mind set. I tend to stick with “prepare for the worst, but hope for the best,” as I have had my fair share of pseudo-travel disasters and I am fully aware that not everything goes according to the itinerary. Adopting a little bit of flexibility and acceptance can make a tremendous difference if you want to deflect holiday travel blues!