11 days, 900 miles, and too many guest beds/couches/air mattresses to count.
To celebrate the start of summer and a few family milestones, Scott and I packed up the car last week and began the Great DiGiandomenico-Hicken Roadtrip of 2013.
As much as I love the home we’ve built in Cleveland, it had been a while since we reconnected with family, friends, and the places we came from.
With Scott’s parents celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary and my sister celebrating her birthday last week, we figured the timing was perfect for this kind of trip.
So off we went to our first stop – Culpeper, Virginia, where my sister lives.
This historic town is a fun place to getaway. I love downtown Culpeper, where you can find a tea room, many antique, wine and olive oil shops, and a new performing arts space. Civil War buffs will also love the area’s driving and walking tours.
Cafes, a local farmers market, and laidback BBQ restaurants make for good eating. Plus, Culpeper is home to Virginia’s only legal moonshine distillery – Stillhouse Distillery at Belmont Farms.
However, I think one of the nicest things about Culpeper is its proximity to a lot of other great attractions in the region. And for this year’s visit, we decided to take advantage of that with a daytrip to Kings Dominion.
Before my love affair with Cedar Point began, there was Kings Dominion. This was back when I was a kid and it was owned by Paramount featuring plenty of Hanna-Barbera goodness like Smurf Mountain and Yogi Bear’s Cave.
Now its owned by Cedar Fair so those Platinum Passes we have to Cedar Point come in very handy when we visit Virginia.
Although the park has changed a lot, it was great getting some ridetime on the very first rollercoasters I ever rode, as well as a new-to-me coaster – Intimidator 305. This coaster-ode to Dale Earnhardt gave Millennium Force a definite run for its money. And it’s soft over-the-shoulder restraints could be put to good use on other rollicking rides like Maverick.
After a busy day at the park, Scott and I were off to the Northern Neck to unwind with my parents for a few days.
There is nothing as calming as sitting on my parents’ porch and taking in their view of the Potomac River and Chesapeake Bay. I love being able to just disconnect and recharge.
My parents know me well, though, and we weren’t sitting around for too long. 😉
Knowing my love of the Glass Bubble Project in Ohio City, they took me to the historic Jamestown Glasshouse. In addition to preserving the remains of the original glasshouse, the National Park Service has created a replica and produce unique glass products there every day.
We watched them blow beautiful cobalt vases and bought a handblown double cruet for our dining room.
Of course, the real reason we were in Virginia was to celebrate my sister’s birthday. I can’t really call Gabbie my little sister, because for as long as I can remember she was one of those sisters who always looked out for you even though she’s younger. One of the most loyal, unselfish people I know.
I don’t get to Virginia often for her birthday. But after the fun we had during her movie-and-bowling-birthday-day, I think I’ll be back each year for it!
A quick breakfast the next morning and we were Philly and New Jersey bound. A layover in Philly gave us a really wonderful day of catching up with college friends over dinner and wandering around the city.
A highlight of our trip was reconnecting with our theatre roots.
Before I got involved with PlayhouseSquare Partners, I honed my love for theatre in Philly – first at La Salle University’s Dan Rodden Theatre, then in the Marketing department at Walnut Street Theatre.
I loved being able to visit La Salle’s campus and see my former colleagues at the Walnut where I was welcomed with my old nickname “A-Bomb”. Scott and I even grabbed lunch at the Llanerch Diner, which was our post-rehearsal, middle-of-the-night dinner spot in college – back before it was featured in Silver Linings Playbook.
A walk down South Street gave me a chance to pick up a couple comic books from Atomic City Comics where my love of comics was rekindled years ago and try out Brauhaus Schmitz – a fantastic German bierhall and restaurant.
We ended our trip in New Jersey to celebrate Scott’s parents’ 40th anniversary. I’m very lucky to have Bob and Betty Hicken as my in-laws. Not just because they’ve always been fantastic to me, but also because they set such a great example of marriage for Scott.
In honor of their anniversary, Scott and his sister Laura surprised them with a dinner at The Red Lion Inn, where Scott’s parents and grandparents both dated.
As we sat at dinner, I thought about how excited I am for his parents and grandmother to move out to Cleveland soon. Because no matter how much fun we had at the different places we visited during our vacation, it’s the people – our parents, sisters, friends – that made this trip so great.
And we’d have fun with them wherever we are.