The driving force behind the weekend was, of course, the concert – but we had to drive there! The side act for the weekend was a trip to Busch Gardens. This is the brief story of both…
Thursday I got home from the RCIA session around 9:30pm, and proceeded to put together the things I would need for the weekend (laptop, iPod, clothes, HBA items, books, moving supplies, etc.), and went to bed around 11-ish.
Friday morning, I got up fairly early (about my usual 7am) so I could get my oil changed, try to get an inspection, and a few other things before my sister arrived. While I was getting the car worked on, as part of the service check, the technician pointed out a couple of items. It was about time to get a radiator flush, and, “Sir, this is your serpentine belt, and it helps to keep everything running – your AC, alternator, etc. – and it’s looking pretty bad and dried out. I would really suggest getting that taken care of today.” So I did.
It took a little more than an hour, maybe an hour and a half, and it was done and I was ready to roll. I ran to finish my other errands (which included getting breakfast – around 10am) and then headed to the house to finish packing my things for the trip. I was just finishing putting my stuff in the car when my sister and the kids arrived. After transferring bags to the one vehicle, and final pit stops, we were on the road. It was about 12:30.
We’re rolling along, music from the iPod pumping through the speakers – the kids either sleeping or playing their GameBoys, and my sister and I are either talking or she’s trying to read as we roll along. Around two o’clock, my battery light pops on, followed shortly by a spike in the engine’s thermostat. We are in Virginia, just on the north side of Suffolk, and still a good hour away from our destination. I find a spot to pull over and pop the hood open.
I can’t help but laugh at the sight that hits me as I peer into the open front end. The brand new belt, replaced a mere few hours before, had broken. Fortunately, we happened to be close to a used parts yard (“Everything sold at auctions, no sales on site”), so I navigated the median and crossed the “business” route to get to the shop and seek some help. They contacted a local shop (“Are you looking to just get it towed, or towed and fixed?” Fixed… Duh!) where we were taken, and eventually fixed (they had to wait for the new belt to be delivered). It was also discovered that there was still some of the flush fluid in the radiator (as it was still clear to white – virtually no green).
We were back on the road around 4pm, and I opted to head for the venue, just to make sure we were there for the entire show, instead of backtracking as I would have if we had made it earlier (we would be staying the night in Yorktown, and the show was in Virginia Beach). My bearings were all out of whack (partial dehydration, and partial frustration at the kink in the schedule, and partial stupidity in the fact that I hadn’t eaten since 10am, and not having taken that direct route to Virginia Beach in a long time).
The youngest was needing to go to the bathroom, and I was getting hungry, and it was a little after 5pm. I picked an exit looking for food, and happened to catch sight of an “Ampitheatre” sign on the same exit, so I followed it, eventually stopping at a Chic-Fil-A. I asked about the location, and was told that yes, we were headed the right way – it was just another couple of miles. We ate, made it to the show with time to spare (we were standing in line waiting for them to open) and watched the show.
After the show, we hung out in the parking lot for a little bit, waiting for the lines to die down a bit before leaving. Since I hadn’t driven the route to Virginia Beach, my bearing were a little fuzzy (that, and three hours of a rock concert :o) and it took a bit longer to make it to Yorktown than it would have if I knew (well) where I was trying to go…
Saturday, we were up kind of early (around 8am) for breakfast, and to coordinate meeting other people at Busch Gardens around 10am. The temperature was warm, the sun was bright, and Busch Gardens can be a big place when you’re walking and back-tracking between “countries”. I rode the Griphon – the first of the rides for the day, around 11am. It was, by far, the most popular, and it was a good thing I got in line when I did (around 10:30-ish) – things moved quickly, but it definitely would have been a longer wait if I tried going later in the afternoon.
I also hit Alpengeist, Loch Ness and the Big Bad Wolf, as well as a lot of walking through the park. Lunch was at the Festhaus (one of the sampler plates). All told, we were there until almost six before we left, returning to Yorktown. My sister and the kids packed up and returned (with no noticable problems from the car) while I tried to recover and recharge the batteries – preparing for “the exodus” of moving someone over the next couple of days.