Road trip: Family, friends and celebrations

Traveling through Virginia

I was so excited when the month of May finally arrived this year.  Two of my very favorite people would be graduating and, of course, we wanted to be there to help them celebrate.  But these two happy events also created a dilemma.

Kristine’s boyfriend, Brian would be graduating from Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia at the beginning of the month and our granddaughter Fiona would be graduating from Randolph School in Huntsville, Alabama at the end of May.  Therein was our dilemma.

Now, we could just drive up to Virginia then return home and then two weeks later drive up to Alabama and return home. After some conversation we decided to spend those two weeks taking a road trip to visit family and friends up north before looping back and heading to Alabama; dilemma solved.

In the end this decision would put us on a road trip that found us visiting family and friends in six states and covering 2,828 miles.  What a great trip!

Geri and Randy collaborated on preparing dinner.

Newspaper stopped and car packed we pointed our car in the direction of I95 and headed for our first stop on this fun trip.  We drove to Hilton Head, South Carolina where we would spend the night at the home of our long-time friend Geri.  Once we were settled, Geri offered to take us around the area but we just wanted to relax and catch up.  I love talking with Geri, she has a wonderful sense of humor and keeps me laughing.  We enjoyed a wonderful afternoon and evening of lively conversation and a home-cooked meal of barbecue steaks, grilled vegetables, roasted potatoes and Geri’s famous rum cake.  As we prepared to leave the next morning, Geri presented us with the rest of the rum cake and another to take along.  How wonderful!!!! We shared the cakes with our family in Virginia.

Our next stop was the first of our family celebrations.  We met Kristine and Brian at the hotel in Danville, Virginia and once we were settled prepared to make the hour and a half ride to the university.  We drove in a driving rain and ran into a great deal of traffice once at the university.   We knew we would have to park a distance from the Vines Center so Brian stopped at the bookstore and bought umbrellas for the four of us.  We attended the Baccalaureate Service and the Military Graduate Recognition Ceremony both of which were very inspirational.

Kristine, Randy, Brian’s mom Wanda, stepfather Skip  and sons Zack and Jacob waiting to be searched and wanded by security before entering the stadium.

Saturday morning we were up at 4:00 am to make the hour-long trip back to Lynchburg and the university.  We met Brian’s family in the lobby at 5:15 am before we set off.  We left early because, aside from the hour-long drive to the university, there would be heavy security because President Trump was the commencement speaker.  There was a concern that it would be another rainy day and we would be in the stadium and because of the president’s visit there would no umbrellas allowed.

Kristine & Brian

As it turned out the rain stopped and the security check went quickly and smoothly.  We were able to find seating in the section that gave us a great view of the speaker’s tent.  The view of the stadium floor was amazing after 18,000 graduates and faculty had taken their seats.  The sky was cloudy and every so often early on there were a few drips of rain but eventually the sky cleared and once in a while the sun would peek through. Randy and I both thought President Trump’s speech hit the right note for a commencement. After the commencement ceremony the graduates were broken into their individual schools to receive their  degrees.  Brian graduated cum laude with a degree of Bachelor of Science –  Business Management Information Systems: Information Assurance.  We were all very proud of Brian’s accomplishment.

From left: Jennifer, Mary, Maddy, Kevin, Derek, Randy

Sunday morning, after having a lovely breakfast at a local restaurant with everyone, we left to make the trip to Fairfax, Virginia to visit with our daughter Jennifer and her family.  As soon as we got settled in our hotel room we made arrangements to meet them at the Kona Grill at Fair Oaks Mall for dinner.  Jennifer told us that the food there was very good and that they had a very wide variety of choices on their menu.

Chicken Satay with sweet hoisin and Thai peanut sauces

We arrived at the restaurant early and were pleasantly surprised as I was presented with a lovely rose and a glass of champagne.  It was Mother’s Day and so the restaurant presented all the moms and grandmothers with this lovely surprise as they were seated.  “What a nice touch”, I thought.

Kona chopped-macadamia nut chicken, eggs, applewood bacon, avocado, white cheddar, tomatoes with honey dijon dressing. YUM!!

Butter cake with raspberry sauce and vanilla bean ice cream and , of course, multiple forks. YUM!!

Jennifer was right; the menu was indeed varied making it a little hard to make a choice.  Of course, we had to try a number of foods.  So, we chose several appetizers, main dishes and a yummy dessert that we shared.  We spent our time catching up with everyone’s comings and goings, sharing our experiences at Brian’s graduation and learning all about Maddy’s new job at a restaurant called Mission BBQ and Derek’s anticipation at starting high school in the fall.

Before we knew it, it was time to part but not until we made arrangements to meet Jennifer Tuesday for lunch at Mission BBQ restaurant. Randy and I were anxious to see what Maddy was so excited about.

On Monday we made our way over to Springfield, Virginia to visit Randy’s long-time next door neighbor and friend Joe. Whenever we come this way we always stop by and take Joe out for lunch.  Joe is amazing.  Joe, who is a spry 97 years young, still lives alone, continues to be a dapper dresser and is as sharp as a tack.

As we walked up to Joe’s house, Randy looked over at the home he lived in for over 30 years and smiled with approval.  The young man he sold the house to was taking very good care of the house and grounds.  And, what is amazing is that he takes care of Joe’s yard too.

This year Joe decided he wanted to have lunch at Mike’s American Grill just a short drive from Joe’s home.  We spent hours talking and laughing while enjoying our lunch.  It was wonderful to hear that Joe’s three sons each play a role in making it possible for Joe to remain in his family home.

Granddaughter Maddy – Proud cashier at Mission BBQ working her way through college.

Promptly at noon everything comes to halt at Mission BBQ to salute our flag and country!

Tuesday we were off to meet Jennifer for lunch.  Mission BBQ is a small restaurant at the Greenbriar Shopping Center with inside and outside seating.  The restaurant specializes in barbecue meats, a variety of sauces, and typical sides like mac and cheese, fries, baked beans, cold slaw, green beans and bacon and salad.  Maddy told us to come at noon and watch as the whole restaurant stops, including employees, and everyone sings the national anthem. Promptly at noon I went inside to watch and, “What a sight!!!!!” I loved it! I found this display to be very heartwarming.

Jennifer and mom!

When I returned to the picnic table outside, Randy said that he watched as people in the parking lot also stopped and honored the moment. We had a wonderful visit with Jennifer while we enjoyed our lunch.  I had the pulled chicken and it was so tender.  The mac and cheese was beyond yummy!  Once Jennifer left to return to work, we went inside and asked one of Maddy’s co-workers to take a picture of us with our beautiful Maddy.

Next stop on our road trip, our daughter Kristine’s in Alexandria, Virginia.

Beautiful sunset!



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2 Responses to Road trip: Family, friends and celebrations

  1. Randy J Chartier says:

    Nice. It was really nice to see Geri at her house in SC and to have the experience of seeing Brian graduate with President Trump speaking!!! Then off to see the Farmer family in Northern Va. Maddie is sure grown up!!!

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