So what do you do when you have a baby at 18 and that baby goes through all of your ups and downs and eventually turns into an 18 year old high school graduate? You take them on a road trip to celebrate.
Honestly, that’s the shortened version. Very very very shortened. That story involves a lot of details and complex situations. If you’re familiar with me or follow my socials then you probably have some idea of what I’m talking about. If you don’t, then it’s all probably confusing lol.
This kid came along when I was still a kid and trying to figure out how to grow up and be responsible while trying to be a mom to this tiny life. He also had to deal with my anxieties that existed in my life prior to him and he also had to deal with the poor choices that led to being in an abusive marriage.
He has spent some of his life in the trenches with me and rationing food or doing without certain things. Sometimes that meant electricity. Did we have it the worst, no. He always had a roof over his head and food even if that meant it came from my grandmothers house. But, we spent a chunk of his childhood very broke. Better yet, I spent a chunk of his childhood very broke. Financially and emotionally.
Starting when he was in eighth grade we tossed around an idea of a trip for his graduation present. At the time I had little to no money, was behind on my car payment, racked up credit card debt trying to survive and in turn late payments on said credit cards because I couldn’t pay them. I was taking any and all odd jobs to make money. Honestly this trip seemed far-fetched because I couldn’t even pay my bills much less ponder the idea of going on a trip. But I made a promise. A promise to a kid who had stepped up and taking on more responsibility than a child should have to. Witnessed more than a child should have to so maybe part of this trip was a way to make amends. Some mom guilt for having to suffer through life with a teen mom who was broke and got stuck in a situation where we all had to endure a lot of pain from people we should’ve been able to trust with our lives. A home that was never at peace.
So we begin planning a trip that I had no idea whether or not I would be able to make happen. And then his freshman year, finances turned around. Life for us turned around. A dream that was far fetched was attainable now. So we started with a trip to Ireland. Then Covid happened when he was a sophomore in high school. As we all know, COVID continued to happen so we adjusted our plans to a Hawaiian cruise which then got canceled in the winter of his senior year. We then switched gears to a cross-country road trip. Going to see the land formations he had never seen before.
I raised him in the same blue ridge mountains that I was raised in. He was someone with an urge to travel and see new things, but the furthest west he had been was Tennessee. It’s not a very long way for a western North Carolina kid and he was ready.
Then with his graduation coming up, so were adulthood decisions. He was offered a paid internship doing theater work. An internship he couldn’t resist and didn’t want to turn down. So plans switched again.
There was no international travel, no flight to a Hawaiian island, no cross country trek to explore land formations in the west. We traveled to the state right above us.
But as luck would have it, this kid is a history buff. Always has been. And for him, trips to museums and reading about American history is about as fun for him as I find good day in the sand with an ocean breeze. So history is what we did.
We started our trip in Williamsburg. Which was honestly a really cool place. Even for someone like me who doesn’t really thrive on history. But you could see my son just soaking it all in.
We started our evening by checking in at the hotel and then finding the closest place for food. I like to find local spots in my food hunts, but we were extremely hungry and a small chain across the street from the hotel would have to do. Tacos were good and quick service.
After that we drove about five minutes to downtown Williamsburg where we walked around, enjoyed the breeze, sat at a table and watched the people rollerblading down the street before we found our haunted tour guide.
I will say that was probably one of my favorite parts. Because it’s a little bit of entertainment mixed with a whole lot of history. No matter what the town, if you’re ever in a city full of history, I would highly recommend a haunted tour. They tend to dive deep into the history and culture of a previous era.
After a really good nights sleep from our travel day, we woke up the next morning ready to take on Colonial Williamsburg! History buff or not, I highly recommend doing this if you are ever in the area. The entire downtown turns into… Well you guessed it… Colonial times. From the outfits to horse and carriage travel. You learn so much about the history of America.
After an entire day of walking in 96-degree weather, we had reached our limit. The colonial area returns to “present day” at 4pm. We made it the whole day, but we were exhausted, thirsty and starving. We found ourselves at a BBQ place that I found via TikTok. Gotta love social media. Gives some of the best recommendations! This place had the best, most tender brisket I’ve ever had in my life. If you are a fan of all things BBQ and some sweet cornbread, then this is a must visit. Probably my favorite food stop on this trip.
Jamestown Settlement was first up on the next day of our adventure. It was a relatively quick stop. Took us about 3 hours to get through it all. The museum inside is really where all of the best information is. Unfortunately, no photography allowed so I can’t show you, but just know it’s incredibly informative. It is interactive and really takes you through the entire journey of how America came to be.
We bought a double ticket for Jamestown and the American Revolution Museum which was about a 30-minute drive north of Jamestown. So, off we went to spend the afternoon in Yorktown.
The American Revolution Museum is owned and run by the same company as Jamestown Settlement. Therefore, set up similarly. A large inside portion that homes so much of history and interaction. Followed by an outdoor section. Here we did get to see a reenactment of a cannon being fired. This was probably the biggest attraction outside. They only do this at certain times of the day so if it’s a must see for you or your family then plan accordingly. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself wandering around and waiting
Downtown Yorktown is a short drive from the museum and my favorite spot of the trip. It was a cute waterfront downtown area with dining, dessert, shops, riverfront benches and a beach area. We arrived when they were setting up for live entertainment. Everyone was setting up lawn chairs and camping out with food and the sailboats in the background. It was just a really cool atmosphere. One I could have enjoyed much longer if given the chance. I wish I had stayed there instead of Williamsburg, honestly. So given the option I’d definitely say go with a Yorktown hotel.
We did find a nice dinner spot at Waterfront Grille. Food was delicious and views of the river were spectacular. We walked off dinner before heading back to the other side of the state to finish off our trip.
It was all a little bittersweet. I had an amazing time and my son really seemed to be in his element and enjoying life. He was ready to come home after a few days and although I wish he’d wanted to stay on the trip longer, I know the memory will be a good one. One we can both carry with us after he’s gone away to college and thriving on his own.
Being a mom is hard. They try to warn you that it all happens fast. You only get so many summers with them. And it’s true. I wish I’d been in a position to give better summer memories for a number of those years, but that was not our journey. Our journey brought us to a meaningful road trip to Virginia from a duo who just a few years ago didn’t know if the power would stay on. The duo that sat on the floor together playing Thomas the Train after rationing a pack of rice. Now he’s off to college to study his passion. And I couldn’t be prouder.
If you need help with planning your own family memories, you can contact me here!