Did you miss me?!  Ha – probably didn’t even notice I was gone.  Another wonderful trip to the Northern Neck in Virginia is in the books!  It’s funny how the first few days kind of slow to a snails pace, and then all of a sudden it’s time to leave!

We made a couple mistakes.  First mistake?  Leaving at 5:15 at rush hour, in the rain, on Friday night.  Fudge crackers it was a long drive getting there.  Our route was also really messed up – it had us coming almost directly north of our destination before making the final last leg to Tappahannock.  Because it was like literally driving through a car wash THE WHOLE WAY and because the traffic was so slow getting through Chicago, we drove with just a couple pee breaks and gas break and by 1:30 when we finally found a hotel that had a room available after an hour and a half of trying, we still were not even half way!

I had no idea that getting a hotel room on the spur of a moment would be so impossible.  Around midnight I would see a sign for the next town, call a few hotels only to find out that they were all booked.  These went on for 90 minutes until finally Hannah called a Days Inn and they had one room with two double beds available – sold!  We literally were on the phone with reservations, and ten minutes later were in their lobby, when the guy behind the front desk pulled up our reservation and said “Oh, I am sorry, the room you booked isn’t available – but we do have one room left – a king size bed with a jacuzzi.” 

Two things you need to know about me and Hannah.  We can be total and complete bitches if we are overly tired or overly hungry.  It was like the perfect storm – I started saying that we shouldn’t have to pay for a King room because we booked a double, Hannah was demanding a huge discount, and Jacob?  Well, we kind of freaked him out just a teeny tiny bit and he thought it best to just stand by the door and be quiet!

We basically didn’t have a choice.  None of us wanted to drive any longer that night, so when we walked into the room, I basically went into the bathroom, got my jammies on, took out my contacts, put on my contacts and said “Hannah, you can sleep in the middle.”  And I said it was time to go to bed.  Jacob had planned on maybe watching some Netflix, which he didn’t tell me until the next day – he said he just didn’t want to make me mad since I declared it bed time!  We all laughed about that.  I also told him that in the future he could tell all his friends that one time he slept with his mother-in-law and wife in the same bed while on vacation!

PicMonkey Collage - jacuzzi

For the record – no one used the Jacuzzi!  And my brother texted me that map of all the rain, basically where we were driving through the whole trip to let us know we would have no relief to the rain.  I am glad though that at least it rained when we were driving and the weather last week was amazing!

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All in all it took us nearly 19 hours to drive there because of the rain, Friday night delay and our weird directions.  For the record, we made it back home in 13 1/2 hours!  We arrived just in time for dinner Saturday night – my Aunt made steaks, salad and rice.

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That night was the small group before the rest of my cousins got there.  In all, there were 20 of us!  While my Aunt’s house has 5 bedrooms, it would have been really cramped, so as luck would have it – her neighbor only rents out their house, they don’t live in it, so we were able to rent that house so we could spread out.  It worked out amazingly well.  The rental house had a gorgeous screened porch that was as long as the house and it had my dream kitchen.  The kitchen in the rental house is about 4 times the size of my kitchen at home!

PicMonkey Collage - rental unit kitchen

Guys – that island?!  It’s me dream island!  It was huge!  You could fit six chairs on the opposite side and the drawers had so much storage space.  In total, I think I made 10 – 12 batches of my biscuits?!

Sunday we were able to hang out in the river.  Long time readers will know that my Aunt and Uncle had a lake house in Roanoke – and the water is so deep and very still.  My Uncle made it back to the lake right before he died – three years ago last week, and after he passed away, my Aunt knew that the property was just too big to keep up by herself.  So she bought a river house closer to her main house and this was our maiden vacation at the new place.  Big difference between lake water and river water.  The river water is actually really shallow – most days you could stand up and the water would be up to your waist or chest at the most.  And it’s brackish – slightly salty tasting and very murky – you can’t really see your hand right under the water – where as at the lake, it was pretty clear that you could still see your feet when floating.

The way we do these family vacations is that one family is usually responsible for dinner one night – and everyone is on their own for breakfast and lunch.  Lunch was usually leftovers each day.  Sunday night was my brother’s family night and they made a potato bar!  Giant baked potatoes with lots of fixings – it was very filling!

PicMonkey Collage - potato bar

One thing that is unusual about this house is that the previous owners bought a place a mile away, but their dog Pike comes to visit almost every day.  He’ll bark to be let in and makes himself at home on the side patio.

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I also got to spend a lot of time with my brother Charlie, which makes me very happy.  It works at Apple Headquarters in Austin, and before this vacation I think he said he’d only had two days off since February. It was nice to see him relax, eat good food and have some beers and wine!

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And did I mention the scenery was basically amazeballs?

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This photo below gets credited to my niece Sarah – she has an amazing eye for photography and I am just a tad bit jealous that I didn’t “see” this picture and taken it myself.

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I have to say that one reason I enjoyed this vacation so much is that I didn’t have any worries.  Tony never wanted to go to my family vacations because he thought it was too many people and the thought of being “trapped” in one location with everyone was too much for him.  In fact, my Aunt Martha and Uncle Dave were the only relatives on my Mom’s side to ever meet Tony in the nearly 14 years we were married.  I tried to tell him that it was relaxing, etc., but he he wouldn’t buy it.  So while I was off having fun, I couldn’t help but feel guilty that I deserted him, even though he had no problems about me going.  One night I dreamed that I had such a great time on vacation, only to come home and find Tony in his recliner and he asked “why didn’t you call me while you were gone for so long?!”  It was weird not to have to call him when I woke up to talk, or text him pictures throughout the day, or spend 20 minutes or so at night talking about our days and saying goodnight.  Another first – first family vacation without him.

So guess how many pictures I took?  590!  I won’t be sharing all of them, but I will be sharing some every day this week.  Tomorrow I am going to recap my blogger lunch with long time blog friends Robin Sue of Big Red Kitchen and Errign from A Tablespoon of Life!    It was so nice to meet them in person!!

We ended up driving straight through Saturday night (I didn’t drive – Hannah and Jacob took shifts!) so it was relaxing for me – read a book I had on my Kindle, napped – it was really nice though to have yesterday to unpack, do laundry, grocery shop, etc. to get prepared for the work week.  Um, pretty sure I need to win the lottery so I don’t have to be somewhere every day at 8:45 Monday through Friday!

Hope that you all had a nice 4th of July weekend – let’s make it a great week!