Early Saturday morning, we loaded up the car and hit I-95N, headed for Marine Corps Base Quantico. Fun fact, our car can make it from Camp Lejeune to Quantico (or Parris Island!) with about 30 miles of gas to spare. I generally try to make the five hour trip in a straight shot now that the kids are old enough entertain themselves in the car and don’t need frequent pitstops. The new baby will be slowing us down oh-so-soon and I’m oh-so-excited! Lucky for us, this is a rare road trip in which we were joined by Steve! Normally we find ourselves going to visit the hubby on trip like this while he’s assigned on another base temporarily, but this time, it’s my dad who is “stationed” at Quantico for three whole months! We just knew we had to make a few trips to see him during these months. Having him a few hours away is so much more convenient than Kansas, I’ll tell ya!
We settled on the fourth of February for our little trip, traveling with one main goal in mind – The Museum of the Marine Corps. This is a really awesome place on Marine Corps Base Quantico. If you’ve ever driven on this section of I-95, you’ve probably seen it. And whether you knew it was there or not, I highly recommend it if you’re ever looking for a pitstop on a roadtrip! It’s not even a mile off of the highway, admission is free, it’s open 365 days a year, and it’s a really cool museum. We’re a little partial to it, simply because the Marine Corps will always have a special place in the heart of our family, but it really is a great resource for people who have no knowledge of military at all! The exhibits are extremely kid friendly, and really informative for adults too. My husband and dad are both history buffs, and when you put them in a museum of any kind, they are really in their element. My dad has been resisting the temptation to go for a few years now, because he really wanted to go with Steve, since he is the Marine of the family. With Steve starting a really intense training cycle today, we knew we wanted to get this trip while we could, and this proved to be the best weekend to do it!
I had an idea of what I was getting into. Mitchell looks up to his Daddy and Pop-Pop like they can do no wrong, and hangs onto every word they tell him. But, like any three year old, he eventually loses focus and needs a break. Since the museum was really the only activity we scheduled for the whole weekend, we took our time with a lunch break in the museum cafeteria and then headed to the park just outside the museum. This gave daddy and Pop-Pop some kid-less time (i.e. no distractions) to fill their history void while I supervised our two balls of energy. It was pretty darn cold (forty degrees) but we came prepared. My North Carolinian children were wearing more winter layers than all of the other kids at the park, combined! Ha!
Once we were sufficiently cold and tired, we headed back in the museum to find the hubby chatting with a few Marines he knows that are stationed on the west coast, currently training at Quantico. The Marine Corps really is a small world! It only took a few minutes of post-park strolling before we had two sleeping babies. Success!
Resulting in this as our family picture, ha! I couldn’t figure out who was more comical in their sleeping.
The hotel on base was all booked up for the weekend, but we found a nice place to stay just outside of the base. We grabbed dinner at the Globe and Laurel (cool atmosphere, but I’m pretty sure they forgot about us five times), but it was okay because we spent the night chatting it up with the adjacent table. Talk about the Marine Corps being a small world. I chatted with a military wife who would have been our neighbor in base housing if we lived there forty years ago. We bonded over our experiences, so similar but decades apart. They were eating with an 80 year old Marine veteran (who they met in the museum) who we ended up inviting over for dinner in a few weeks when he makes his way through Camp Lejeune! It’s amazing how this Marine Corps life connects strangers, even throughout generations! My dad stayed the night in his barracks on base, but hung out with us for a night of swimming at the hotel. It worked out that the kids were able to swim, because we were skipping our usual Saturday morning swim lessons. The big advantage of the hotel pool was that the kids were t-i-r-e-d by the time we made it back to the room and perfectly content to snuggle up in their sleeping bags and go right to sleep. Our relaxed hotel night reminded me so much of all of the softball tournaments I spent hanging out with my dad at hotels and hotel pools. I had the best parents growing up, I tell ya! And now they’re the best grandparents!
Check out Mitchell and his muscles in that mirror! They slept like rocks, which had us twiddling our thumbs at 8:30 (eleven hours later) wondering if we should wake them up.
After a Cracker Barrel breakfast and some Pop-Pop hugs, we loaded back in the car and headed south to Camp Lejeune.
The drive home seemed way short, because the kids and I napped for about three hours! I initially thought we’d be missing the football game when I realized that it was Superbowl Sunday, but our early departure combined with the late game left us plenty of time to make it home and pop some frozen pizza in the oven. Best part? That nap meant I stayed up for the whole game and no work for this pregnant momma on Monday!