To the beach!

Apr 19, 2007

Today was a travel day, but the distance to travel was not that ambitious, just from Shenandoah to Virginia Beach, about 250 miles. It was still cool and overcast, an occasional sprinkle, so we didn’t feel like we were missing too much by driving much of the day. Took our time getting ready in the morning, had one last breakfast at the lodge, then after we checked out we headed towards Big Meadows and the visitors center one last time, since last time there was no electricity you’ll recall. At the visitors center we got some postcards and such and went through the exhibit there, and then checked out the gift shop at Big Meadows (much smaller than the one at Skyland) and at the wayside store nextdoor, which is mostly food and supplies but has some souvenir stuff too, but didn’t end up buying anything. Gas was the same price there as outside the park, so I filled up the minivan and we were on our way. Never did make it to the last 40 miles or so of Skyland Drive, although there’s not as much going on down there, but it seemed more expedient to exit the park at route 33 and head east from there rather than driving all the way down to Warrensburg.

We were out of the park by 11 or so and heading towards Richmond, zagging onto I-64 at some point. We could eat lunch around lunchtime for once, but nothing special we just stopped at McDonalds before getting on the interstate. It was a straight shot down 64 from there, and we made it through Richmond and Williamsburg to Virginia Beach by around 3:30. went straight to our hotel, the Breakers, which is right on the ocean on Atlantic Avenue, and checked in. all the rooms in the hotel overlook the ocean, and the offseason rate was pretty reasonable, the only catch being you had to call and make reservations the old fashioned way, they didn’t do it online. It was sunny as we got closer to the shore, and starting to warm up a little bit, although still in the ‘50’s. after we unpacked we walked around a bit to check out the boardwalk and the shops along Atlantic until it was time for dinner. The boardwalk has no boards, it’s a big cement strip with a separate bike path running parallel to it. Unlike the boardwalks in new jersey, this one has the ocean on one side and all the hotels on the other, with a few restaurants and the occasional shop along the way, but it seems much more planned out than what we’ve seen in Atlantic City or Wildwood.

Both times that Beth and I were here in the ‘90’s we had eaten dinner at Captain George’s, the famous seafood buffet place that has several locations around the area and is a fixture in local restaurants, having spawned numerous imitators. I’d been looking forward to a repeat visit ever since, and I figured there was no reason to wait any longer, so we hopped back in the car and found our way to the nearest one on Laskin Road, quite a ways away from the shore. While the buffet is huge, the restaurant itself is equally huge, and can accommodate enormous amounts of people. By sheer coincidence, our weekend in Virginia Beach coincides with some sort of high school music festival taking place in Norfolk that the Marlborough band and orchestra were participating in. hordes of kids were converging on the area from all over, and most of them were staying in Virginia Beach, but fortunately not at our hotel (no indoor pool). So of course a huge group of 500 or so (not from Marlborough) showed up at Captain George’s at about the same time as we did. At any other restaurant, this would be a problem, but they could seat them all in two huge function rooms and the buffet line is broken up into several different stations so it was easy to work around people to get what you wanted. Unlike a recent visit back to the buffet at Chef Orient in Framingham while Mom was visiting after being away from it for at least a year, which was a huge disappointment as the quality had taken a nosedive, Captain George’s lived up to my expectations and served up all sorts of great fish and crab dishes, fried shellfish, oysters Rockefeller, crab legs, etc.,etc. I seemed to remember the price being around $18 back then, it’s now $26, but well worth it, the trick is just to pace yourself and not try to eat everything at once. Some people just go for the crab legs and don’t eat much else. There’s also a huge dessert buffet with about 15 different items, the kids were liking that, since they’re not much for seafood.

Back at the room we let them stay up late and watch tv for a while, since they finally had Disney channel again after several days without it.

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