Growing up, my family didn’t take many vacations. Our vacations typically entailed moving from one city to another, visiting relatives along the way. We did take 2 real vacations though. The first was when I was about 7 years old. All 10 of us drove across the California desert in our VW van (Bessie), from Arizona to San Diego, CA to stay with my Uncle Roger and his family for a week. We visited Tijuana and Disneyland, and I treasured my Snow White souvenir for years. The second trip was when I was 13 and we spent a week in Berchtesgarden, Germany. On that trip we hiked, played tennis, ate German food, spied on our parents in the beer tent each night, and enjoyed the German Alps.
So it was quite a surprise 2 years ago when someone suggested we rent a big house at the beach for a week. There is a reason I live in Colorado. First, we are just about the whitest people in the world and don’t spend much time in the sun, and second, I hate to sweat, and I hate the feel of sand on my feet. It was quite a surprise that by all accounts, that it was one of the best weeks of our lives. So this year, my father announced that he wanted to treat us all, or as he put it, “spend your inheritance” for another week. As always happens with these gatherings, a few people couldn’t attend, but we are a large crowd even with half of the family.
In April my youngest sister Jenny announced that the Easter Bunny brought her something shiny…an engagement ring! Her boyfriend Carsten Berndt proposed on Easter Day, and they planned to wed on the first day of our beach trip. The family would attend the wedding in Hampton, VA, and make our way down to Nags Head, NC for the rest of the week.
So Day One of our vacation found us boarding a plane from Denver to DC, then renting a car to drive to Hampton, VA. We had planned to drive a couple of hours, pull over and sleep, then drive the extra hour or so to the wedding the next morning. Having been away from DC for a spell, we totally underestimated traffic on a Friday in the summer, and our commute stretched to 6 hours in driving rain before we finally decided we couldn’t drive one more mile. We found ourselves in the booming metropolis of West Point, VA. population 3,300. There was a motel in town, and a vacancy at the Washington Burgess Inn. Shocker.
Let me tell you something about my husband, Bobby. He grew up in an affluent family, has traveled quite a bit, and has stayed in some fine hotels. Call it cheap, or reverse snobbery (if that’s a word), or trying to relive his imagined hippy days, (and I do mean “imagined”. Playing guitar, walking around barefoot, growing your hair long and smoking pot does not a hippy make..but I digress) but to him, the seedier the motel, yes that’s right, with an “M”, the better. If he had his way our vacations would be drinking a 2010 Chateau Mouton Rothschild in a pricey restaurant, but sleeping in a motel that charges by the hour.
The Washington Burgess is a motor lodge. You park your car right outside your room. It’s the kind of place you see on tv shows where the fugitives hide out, sneaking out to the gas station for watered down coffee and sandwiches. But it was surprisingly clean and decorated okay.
We made a quick trip to the 7-11 for a bottle of wine and some snacks, and were just grateful to be safe and dry, and out of the I-95 traffic. Okay Bobby, you win this time but our next stay is The Four Seasons.
An ominus beginning to our vacation. Will someone at the wedding speak up when the preacher says “Speak now or forever hold your peace?” Will Hurricane Bertha beat us to Nags Head? Stay tuned for the rest of this series. Up next….THE WEDDING!