We survived our first leg of the Victory Lap! Dana and Allison are fast asleep, and I’m writing this in the dark hotel room. It’s late and I’ve got a belly full of steak, but after writing the post about Gunny’s retirement ceremony this morning and nearly missing check out time in the Navy hotel, I made a new Road Rule: Always write the blog post at night.
Here is the route we drove today. We took three brief breaks and made the trip in just under five hours.
Here are some highlights from Day One:
Allison enjoyed watching her iPad, napping, snacking and asking “When are we going to be there?” no less than five times. She also informed us “I’m bored of this car.” Oh, little Allie-gator, you’re in for a looonnnng month.
In between Richmond and the North Carolina border lies a town called Dinwiddie. Which is a funny name. What is awesome is that the rest stop just north of Dinwiddie has a magical vending machine. I put two dollar bills in it to purchase a bag of plain M&Ms for $1.75. Not one, not two, but FOUR bags of M&Ms cascaded down in a glorious cornucopia of candy-coated chocolate (we shared some of the bounty with fellow travelers). It gets better. After the M&Ms we still had 2 dollars of credit in the machine! So we got more snacks.
When we arrived at the hotel in Raleigh we rested for about an hour and then headed out to Angus Barn to meet our dear friends Sara Nicholson and Wendy Willis. We had a great time catching up, gossiping, and laughing. Wendy had alerted the restaurant that we were celebrating Dana’s retirement from the Marine Corps and let me tell you, they made a FUSS over him. Several staff members came over to shake Dana’s hand and thank him for his service.
They even presented Dana with a bottle of wine.
And they invited Allison back to the kitchen to make her own sundae.
I ate this. Well, most of it. Gunny finished off the filet mignon for me. But I had a piece of pecan pie in lieu of finishing my fries.
After the meal Sara showed us her new Jeep. Dana tried to talk her into swapping it for the Victory Mobile, but Sara was not eager to do that deal. Then Wendy and Sara pretty much smothered us in an avalanche of gifts. Cookies for the trip and Easter baskets for all of us and art supplies, toys, candy and nearly an entire bakery’s worth of kid-sized kitchen gadgets for Allison. It was literally an embarrassment of riches. I even got a Great and Powerful Trixie My Little Pony figure and a devil Sailor Trixie figure. All that stuff I mentioned barely scratches the surface. I don’t know what inspired this outpouring of generosity, but DAMN. Thank you!
Dana says his favorite part of the day was “My first full day of just being Dad.”
My favorite part is these awesome legwarmers that Wendy had made for me. They’re modeled after the socks Lexy Cooper is wearing on the cover of my book I Saw Lexy Kissing Santa. (Also check out the Hipster Belle Funko in the background)
Allie’s favorite part? “Auntie Wendy.”