Sunday, October 20, 2013

Family Fall Trip

We returned home this afternoon from a great few days in Williamsburg, VA, and Busch Gardens for our annual Freed Family Fall getaway.  The Maryland State Teacher's Association gifts us with a beautiful mid-October Friday each year by having their convention and giving kids the day off from school, which gives our family the opportunity to enjoy Hall-O-Scream, Busch Gardens' annual Halloween scariness.  This year we had a beautiful 70 degree day of low-humidity and spectacular sunshine, as well as an almost-full moon.

Melody and I joined my sister, Angie (Aunt G), my brother, Darren (Uncle D), his fiancee Erica, her daughters, Brittany and Caitlyn, and my parents in Williamsburg beginning Thursday afternoon.  We arrived in town at around 6 p.m., and we ate dinner at one of our favorite eateries, Jungle Jim's.  The food is almost always great, but it didn't seem as plentiful as we've come to expect, and it seemed odd that the restaurant was completely empty when we finished our meal at 7:30, even for a Thursday.

We found our Quality Inn on Bypass Road, and checked in.  We were fairly tired, so we turned in pretty early.  Angie and Melody shared one room, so I had a room to myself, which was nice.  I actually got to watch something other than the Disney Channel.  But I was soon asleep, excited in anticipation of a fun day at the park on Friday.

We were all up and eating breakfast at 8, then we headed to Busch Gardens.  We arrived just as the park opened, and when we entered through the gate, we saw the transformation of the park from it's usual "imitation" Europe to a turn-of-the-century English village with pumpkins, body parts, and Jack The Ripper posters hanging everywhere, and actors wearing costumes from the era.  It was pretty cool!  There also was a headless woman walking around, gathering a crowd everywhere she went, and spooking many of the younger kids.  We were off to a pretty good start.

We had received texts from Darren and his family that they were about an hour or so away, so we rushed over to one of our favorite roller coasters, the Loch Ness Monster, and with almost no one in line, we boarded right away.  The first ride of the day always establishes that rush of adrenaline that sets the tone, and this is a great ride.  We rode it twice!  Since Darren & Co. were about to arrive, we went back to the entrance to wait for them, and get our annual "family portrait" done by the park's picture-takers.  But they didn't arrive when expected.  We waited and waited.  We texted them and found out that all of the women/girls were waiting just outside the gate, but my brother reportedly decided to completely change his clothes, for some unspecified reason, and was still in their van.  So we waited, and waited, for another 45 minutes.  Then he was ready and they entered the park.  Thus began a trend that impacted our entire day at the park.

After getting the niceties out of the way, and getting our picture done, we headed into the park.  We took the Skyride over to "France" and rode one of the unique coasters at BG, the Griffon.  I should mention that over the past few years, I've had difficulties riding roller coasters.  This was tragic news for me, as I LOVE coasters, and I felt terrible that perhaps my body was starting to give out and not allowing me to do something I love to do.  I seemed to get very nauseous after riding a few coasters, and I would have to give it up for the remainder of the day.  I did some research to find a solution to this problem, and found out that there were many possible remedies.  One is ginger gum.  It tastes just a bit like ginger ale, though the flavor only lasts about 5 minutes and you have to spit it out.  But it seemed to help eliminate the nausea if I took it just as I started to feel the symptoms.  Another remedy is specially-made wristbands that put pressure in a specific spot on the underside of the wrist, and this also seems to help alleviate and prevent the symptoms.  This was a Godsend to me, and seemed to work for me the past few years.

I wore the wristbands when we rode Loch Ness earlier in the day, and I had no issues.  Later, when we rode the Griffon, I again had no problems, and, in fact, I felt so good after the ride ended that I commented to everyone that I was feeling really good.

It was lunch time and we wanted to see the Halloween show at the Fest Haus over in "Germany", so we rushed over to see it and eat.  I had the pizza (as did Melody), and I made the mistake of trying a slice of pumpkin cheesecake for dessert.  As a type 2 diabetic, I really need to be careful about what I eat, but I figured it would be okay as long as I took it easy with my diet for the rest of the day.  The dessert didn't sit well with me, and I sat out the next few rides hoping to feel better.  In the meantime, Darren was running the show and determined which rides we should go on next, and at one point, after he and his girls went to ride Alpengheist multiple times, we ended up having to wait around for an extended amount of time, and we decided to go find something else to do.  This frustrated my brother, who had already announced to us what we were going to do next, but we had changed the plan and didn't wait for him.  We (Melody, me, and my parents) already determined we were going to another part of the park.

Anyway, we continued to enjoy ourselves, and we reunited over in "Italy" and rode a few more rides.  I was doing fine, though I hadn't been on a roller coaster in a while.  We returned to Germany's Oktoberfest, though, and decided to ride the newest coaster, Verbolten.  It's a fun ride, one my daughter really likes, and we enjoyed it, but as the ride ended, that sick feeling in the pit of my stomach hit me, and after getting off the coaster, I sat down on a bench.  I felt AWFUL.  I just sat there for at least 15 minutes very quietly while the rest of the family roamed around that area.  I finally decided I needed to go back to the car and crash for a little bit, which allowed me to assess what might be wrong, and that's what I did.  I laid down and, still feeling terrible, fell asleep for a couple of hours.  It was dark and close to 7 p.m. when I awoke.  I texted the family to find out where they were, and Dad replied they were in Ireland eating dinner.  I was feeling much better, though still a bit shaky, and I joined them.  I needed to put something on my stomach, so I ate a little bit of Irish stew.  It actually tasted very good, and after eating a little bit of it, we decided to check out some of the haunted houses.  It was a lot of fun, but, again, my brother kept wandering off and disappearing, keeping the rest of us waiting for him.  At 10, the park was closing, so we headed back to the entrance and headed back to the hotel.

After getting to sleep very late, we awoke early for a fine breakfast at the Colonial Pancake House.  My brother and his family headed home afterward, and my parents and me and Melody did some wandering around Williamsburg.  It was fun, especially the Christmas Shop.  After lunch at Zpizza and dessert at Sweet Frog, Melody and I headed home.  It was a long drive home, but we arrived safely at around 7.  It was good to be home, but we had a blast.  It was a great trip.

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