Virginia

Virginia Part Two

Such Beautiful Sights

Virginia is an absolutely beautiful state! While it wasn’t an ideal situation that led me to visit Virginia (see previous post), I am really glad I had the opportunity to visit. Driving to Virginia in 2017 was the first time I experienced mountains. At first, I was a bit frightened to drive on the mountains but it was actually quite easy.

In Miami we have no mountains and most green space is being taken over to build in every available corner. What can I say, it’s a hot spot and everyone wants to move here. The traffic is horrible and the scenery really is not all the pretty.

I was so happy to reach my friend’s home in Herndon, Virginia after an endless journey that had every part of our bodies aching from being constrained in a 32-hour drive (which included sleeping in the car). That Saturday morning the four of us traveling were finally able to get out of my Toyota Corolla that was packed and stretched.

The First Day

The weather was in the 70’s and the day was absolutely beautiful. The first day of our stay in Virginia consisted of showering, resting and going to the local store for much-needed medicine to combat the fever I had, later that evening to venture out to find somewhere open for food but only found a McDonald’s. Coming from Miami, we are used to restaurants open 24/7.

The second day of our stay was actually a bit humorous as my friend woke us all up bright and early after a very late night to go to church. As I was sleeping peacefully, the next minute I was woken up startled with my friend screaming “Bethanie!” standing over me. I was terrified! My eyes flew open faster than my brain could register. My first thought was, “Oh did I do something wrong”, and I thought she was upset at me for something I might not have realized I did. Two seconds later she started laughing which left me relieved that there was no issue but I understood the humor.

Awakening

I was sleeping in a completely open loft and everything was heard throughout the condo. The family friend who traveled with us was on the 2nd floor as well. He stayed asleep during my wake-up call but to my amusement, he was woken up by having his face lightly slapped by the words she repeatedly said “Bethanie’s friend’’, ‘’Bethanie’s friend’’, ‘’Bethanie’s friend!” I tried not to laugh when he woke up, but it made me laugh so much as he was so annoyed. We all ended up getting dressed afterwards and going to church.

Mom and sis stayed in the condo glued to the news

After we got out of church my friend asked me to wear a jersey in support of his country so I changed before continuing on our way. We then decided to check out Lake Fairfax Park. That place is gorgeous! There is a large lake, trees and trails and a hill that needs to be climbed.

What to Do…

I loved standing over the lake and reflecting.  The waterpark section of the park was closed due to the offseason and no one was renting kayaks. This park really has it all. They also offer boat rentals, a playground, picnic areas, shelters, a skate park (which I actually am sad I missed), a carousel and athletic fields. There were families taking pictures and couples having picnics as we walked around. It is definitely a place I want to revisit when it’s in full swing and really one I recommend.

During our time in the lovely park, my mother injured her eye and required a visit to the emergency room so off to Reston Hospital we went since it was very close by. The staff and medical team were amazing. The facility was spotless and medical care was the best we have ever seen. Thankfully nothing too serious happened and off we went to enjoy the rest of the day.

Shopping and Food

The next place we went to was the Reston town center. Again the weather was amazing and the traffic was basically nonexistent. We parked by Best Buy and walked to the shopping center. That place is a definite one to go visit. This shopping center is laid back, has great eateries and very nice to walk around. We spent the day walking around and taking in the beauty that surrounds the center. We did go back to the town center later that evening for dinner and ate at Vapiano (Italian Restaurant). The food is so amazing!  

Staying in Fairfax

That evening, my friend’s little girl was not feeling well and we did not want to impose, so we thanked her for her kind hospitality and went to look for a place to go rest. After many calls, we located the Hyatt Regency in Fairfax VA. This hotel is absolutely beautiful, reasonably priced and offers an upscale experience. Our suite was very clean and spacious while it provided a queen bed and a sofa bed. It was really nice that the room had a divider which separated the sofa bed from the queen. The bathroom was immaculate and provided an ample deal of space. We only stayed there one night and planned to go head back to Miami the next morning.

After a good night’s sleep, we woke up refreshed. The hotel provided fruit infused water all throughout the lobby. We began to head back home and drove through Virginia’s oldest and most historic city. It was really beautiful to see rolling hills, lush greenery, and even preserved untouched architecture. We began our route home, but after listening to the radio, news stations and speaking to everyone back home, we were informed that the roads were still closed due to fallen power lines and debris. All exits and highways were blocked making entering and existing impossible. Also, the hurricane which we evacuated was now headed towards the direction which we would need to drive through in order to go home.

Can’t Leave Yet

Our stay in Virginia would be extended as a result of road blockage. A family member was very gracious and helped us out with funds to cover additional unexpected expenses. Finding our next stay was a bit difficult as we didn’t know the area and most resorts were booked from fellow evacuees. After many hours of driving and being exhausted from the very long day, we were finally able to find a hotel which had a vacancy. A staff member in Hilton Garden Inn in Colonial Heights was very courteous and sympathized with us when he heard about how we came from Miami to escape Hurricane Irma. This hotel would be where we would stay for the next three nights.

Colonial Heights

The Hilton Garden Inn Hotel was ideally located next to Target, Walmart and even the Southpark Mall.  After checking in that evening, we desperately needed to replenish our energy and rest so we didn’t do much sightseeing.  Feeling thirsty and hungry my mother and sister crossed the street and went to Walmart to buy some drinks, snacks and cold cuts since we had the commodity of a refrigerator in our room.  I was told that when they went into the store they were shocked because it was completely different from the local Walmart in our city. The isles were nicely organized while the floors were clean and spotless. They also really loved how this location had a large variety of organics at very reasonable prices and the workers were very courteous and friendly.

Since we were low on funds and our stay would be for a few nights this would consist of our meals for the next few days. Having a coffee machine and a little sink was an added advantage. This was a great way to save money on food and beverages.

More Shopping

Since we were in such close proximity to the Southpark Mall; of course, we went to visit. We spent a good amount of time in the F.Y.E. Store which we all really liked. I ended up getting a couple of things including mint green Converse sneakers from Foot Locker.  

Roads finally opened and everyone was given the clear; so on the fourth day of our stay in Colonial Heights, we headed out in the early morning hour’s hours with every intention of heading home. Upon arriving in Savannah, Georgia and been driving for long hours our energy was depleted so everyone decided to stay one more night in a hotel. We found a vacancy in Hampton Inn. The staff provided true Southern hospitality and a generous complimentary all you can eat continental breakfast. That evening we went to Pooler Georgia to have a good dinner at Texas Roadhouse. Afterwards, it was early to sleep since we would all be heading home early morning. We arrived back to Miami around 6 pm tired but happy to be back home and finding our home still in tacked.

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