So, I discovered an old travel journal I wrote when I was eleven in 1993. Here is the last section of a three part series I’ve been archiving. The first two thirds of the story is about me getting down to Florida and exploring with my grandparents. The last portion, this post, is all about meeting up with my family and spending time in Virginia before we headed home to Wisconsin. It’s a snapshot in time of what I like to think of as an All-American family spending time together, traveling and seeing US sites in the early 1990s.
If you missed either of my previous posts, here are the quick links to those so you can catch up: Flying to Florida alone when I was eleven and Exploring the Everglades and Disney World with my grandparents in 1993
To keep the format similar, you’ll see I’ve included my actual journal entries in quotes with the dates above each entry. Again, I’ve only edited for some punctuation.
My comments and reflections follow each journal entry. Okay, lets continue!
Virginia Beach and the Marine Museum
First full day in Virginia 4/5/1993
“Today we went to see the Marine Museum. We saw lots of fish and creatures that live in the sea. I got to touch horseshoe crabs and other fascinating creatures. We took a walk on a boardwalk to see marsh. I learned about the differences of salt water, fresh water, and brackish water. I liked looking at the big fish through the glass.”
I don’t really remember this particular museum or aquarium. But my Dad always found places like this for us to go to on many of our road trips. I’m not sure if I was writing this journal for school or just wanted to remember everything. Either way, I do think it’s obvious I was always learning something and soaking in details no matter what I was doing here. I seem to have spent quite a deal of time on my picture too!
James Town and Williamsburg, Virginia 1993
Second day in Virginia 4/6/1993
“Today we went to James Town an hour away from Virginia Beach where we’re staying. It was really neat. They had a replica of an Indian town, a museum, three ships called Godspeed, Discovery and the Susan Constant. They also had a village you could walk through that looks like houses that the early settlers lived in. Most of the buildings were just replicas but it was still very interesting. Later, after we went through James Town we went to Williamsburg about six miles away from James Town. We bought a four day pass and walked around for about three and a half hours. Tomorrow we’re going back to Williamsburg.”
I love how I have memorized some facts to record like the names of the three ships. It’s like I’m doing a little report. Also, I find it amusing how I tracked how far away things were, and how long it took to get there. It’s like I’m writing to inform someone of what to expect if they go. Perhaps, if I am to connect some dots here, it’s actually super similar to how I prefer to write my “Annie’s Adventure” emails. Are you on my list? It’s a bi-weekly newsletter I send out with a link to my latest blog post and my songwriting updates. Go to Join Annie’s Adventure to learn more about that, or sign up of course. But the gist of it is, I like to write like I’m on an adventure with someone and take them along for the ride. It’s been interesting re-reading all this to see hints of where my writing style I currently use may have some roots.
Third day in Virginia 4/7/1993
“Today we finished looking through Williamsburg. We saw the palace where Thomas Jefferson lived when he was governor of Virginia. We went through trade shops like the shoe maker, the silver shop, the millinery shop, and the bakery. We could buy stuff in the shops if we wanted to. When we went into the millinery shop, or you might call it the fabric or clothes shop, the lady said it took her 40 hours to make one colonial dress. But a few days before she and three other girls made a dress in 12 hours. We also went in the capitol. We saw the court room and rooms where they had meetings and other special events. I had a really fun time at Williamsburg. Later that night Jenny and I slept over at my cousin’s house.”
I wonder if it really was called a “palace”? That word stuck out at me. I’m sure compared to everything else it was quite a “palace.” Perhaps I heard it compared to one from someone that worked there. Not sure. I do think it would be a cool place to revisit for sure. I wonder how much of it is still set up the same. Obviously, it was quite a highlight for me on this particular trip.
Hermit crabs, McDonald’s and a birthday party!
Fourth day in Virginia 4/8/1993
“Today would be our last full day in Virginia. We went down to the beach today but it was so cold that Jenny, Sarah, my cousin and I just came back and played a card game by the pool. Later Sarah, my cousin and I went and picked up McDonald’s food for lunch. Then for the rest of the afternoon we all went shopping. My cousin got two hermit crabs. Then we went straight over to her house and had a birthday party for my Grandpa.”
The two things that stand out in this entry to me are: playing the card games, and getting McDonald’s. Now, those just capture this point in time for me. And of course having a party for my Grandpa and spending so much time all together makes me feel a little nostalgic. It really shows how much we valued family growing up. I don’t remember these details other than from what I’ve read, but I do feel like this journal reveals a lot and gives insight into how I grew up, and even why I am the way I am.
A stop at the Waffle House and Cracker Barrel first
On our way home 4/9/1993
“Today we packed our bags and were off towards home. We drove for about nine hours and stayed at a Ramada Inn in Lexington, Kentucky. I went out to eat with Jenny at the Waffle House while Dad, Mom, Sarah, Grandma and Grandpa ate at the Cracker Barrel. After we were all back at the hotel Sarah and I went swimming. Tomorrow would be our last day of driving and we would be home.”
This one got me laughing a bit. I love breakfast food! Guess I always have. The fact that I somehow got to venture off with my older sister to eat waffles is hilarious. I actually do remember loving The Cracker Barrel too. My sister Jenny actually worked at one for a short time. Maybe that’s why she didn’t wanna go there? They always had the cool wooden rocking chairs on a front porch that you could try. Their gift shop was always the best too! But perhaps after Williamsburg I had my fill of those kind of souvenirs. I’ll have to ask my sister if she remembers our little date.
Back in Wisconsin and dinner at the Country Kitchen
Last day of driving back home 4/10/1993
“Today we ate breakfast at the hotel restaurant. Then we packed up and were on our way. We drove for ten hours and were back in Wisconsin. But before we got home, or you could say an hour and a half before we got home, we stopped at a Country Kitchen and ate dinner. Then, we thanked and said goodbye to my grandparents and drove off. When we got home we all unpacked and went to bed because we were so tired from the long day. What a great trip!”
This entry sorta makes me sad. It’s the end of one of the most exciting trips I had growing up. I had finally had my chance to go on a trip with my grandparents alone to Florida. I got to go back to Disney World! This was something I had wanted to do again since the first time I went when I was only six. Here’s that story: The Christmas I unwrapped Mickey Mouse But, saying thank you and heading our separate ways is like closing the last chapter of a great adventure book. I wish I could re-read it again and again because I’m sure I didn’t want it to end. Sharing a meal together seems like a picture perfect thing to end the story. I’m sure it wasn’t perfect. But written here in my journal, it somehow is. An all-American family eating together at Country Kitchen in the early 1990s finishing a road trip filled with US history and family time.
If I were to make a movie out of this one, the sun would be setting and I’d see our maroon station wagon just passing the “Welcome to Wisconsin” sign. Then, something like the Hollies would be playing in the background. I’d see myself close my travel notebook as I look out the back window.
Do you have a favorite family vacation you took as a child? Where did you go?
I’d love to hear your story. Leave a comment below.