Team Stimey Takes Virginia!

I am so excited to tell you about Team Stimey’s Super Awesome Fun Spring Break Adventure! We packed a lot of fun into our two-day vacation. Alex had a business trip on Monday so I decided that instead of sitting around and being surly that he was gone again, I would bail as well. Only I had to take the kids.

We based our trip around Luray Caverns in Virginia, adding on other roadside attractions until we had the best 48 hours ever. Alex went to Cincinnati and had a meeting in a conference room overlooking a freeway.

You can guess who had more fun.

I have to admit that I was annoyed when I woke up and saw my spring break adventure looking more like spring broken adventure.

Clearly I was delighted by spring snow.

Clearly I was delighted by spring snow.

Although the snow did teach me something interesting.

Quinn makes his snow angels face down.

Quinn makes his snow angels face down.

That kid is his own person, that is for sure.

Regardless of snow (I had prepaid for our hotel room so we were going—even if a tornado showed up), we headed out and arrived at Luray at about noon. Now, Team Stimey had been to Luray Caverns before, but it was a long time ago (click that link to see my tiny babies) and we didn’t go on a cold, snowy spring day. It was practically deserted when we went this time. There were no lines and no sweltering heat and there was plenty of snow to threaten your brothers with.

This photo cracks me up over and over. It is so them.

This photo cracks me up over and over. It is so them.

We grabbed some lunch and then jumped onto a tour. Our guide was great except that she didn’t have answers for any of the Minecraft-related questions my kids had. It’s almost like they didn’t train her at all.

The tour started off really well. All three kiddos were happy. Sam was learning, Jack was musing about types of rock, and Quinn kept finding dark little recesses and saying, “Look! A cave system!”


Back at the beginning of the tour when they were still willing to stand together for me to take a photo of them.

So, let’s talk about my kids and the way they handle tours for a minute. Last time we went to Luray, we did a self-guided tour. This time they didn’t offer that option, so we were with a group of 25ish that traveled together. This isn’t optimal for my kids, but I’m lucky in that they can mostly handle it. Mostly.

Sam is my kid that is best suited for tours, exhibits, and other learning stuff. We were hanging in the back of the group so I could take some photos without people in them and also so that we weren’t distracting the guide with infinite questions about bedrock and mining. Every time the guide started talking, Sam would gasp and run up to be in ear shot.

In fact, my cell phone is full of videos of the guide telling us things about the cavern. I had to threaten him to make him stop taking video that we will never watch.


Also on the phone? At least one photo of me and my camera.

Jack tends to get overwhelmed and spinny in tour situations. The cavern, however, was spacious enough and involved enough walking that he was okay. The best way to help him regulate himself is to take him on a long walk, so considering the tour was about a mile long, this was just his thing. Near the end of the tour, he was up at the front chatting with the guide. Maybe he was giving her that sorely needed Minecraft information.


I’m imagining that he was thinking about different kinds of Minecraft blocks in this photo.

Then there is Quinn. The thing I’m coming to realize about Quinn is that he has a time limit. He started off the tour completely happy, but his attention span is not…expansive. Also, when he is unhappy, tired, or bored, he gets loud. God forbid he is all three. Because when he is all three, he also falls to the ground.


Oh, Quinn.

Quinn and I are working on finding a happy medium together.

We emerged from the caverns into the greatest unblemished field of snow that ever was. That snow quickly became the greatest blemished battlefield of snow that ever was after my kids’ epic snowball fight broke out. It was one of those rare, unplanned, no-one-got-mad-or-hurt bouts of awesomeness that very occasionally happens. It was the absolute greatest.


Even Quinn came right back to happy. Also soaking wet. That too.


Quinn is a fan of the “snowball as big as your head” tactical approach.


After snowball fighting, terrorizing some geese, and exploring around, Jack found his sensory happy place lying in the snow.


Sam’s happy place, on the other hand, involved throwing snowballs at me. See that particularly well-aimed one hurtling toward my camera?

The hedge maze we had planned to go through was closed because of the snow, which I thought was absurd, but my thoughts had very little effect on the open vs. closed status of said hedge maze, so we departed to our hotel.

Now, my kids were happily watching a movie in the backseat, so they were unaware of what happened next. I should preface this by telling you that my GPS, which is probably the same one you have, reminds me very much of a Dalek from Doctor Who—its “RECALCULATING” sounds exactly as evil as “EXTERMINATE” and makes me laugh every time I take a wrong turn. I also may or may not repeat “RECALCULATING” in a Dalek voice every time it happens.

Now, my GPS always gets me where I’m going, but it often chooses the weirdest damn way in the world. In this case, instead of choosing a2 + b2 on two-lane and larger roads, the GPS sent me straight across c2—the hypotenuse, which in this case turned out to be a series of increasingly windy and snowy roads over a mountain on which there were NO other cars. If I’d had slinky college coeds in my car instead of damp tweens, it would have been EXACTLY like the beginning of a horror movie.

Perhaps the best part, however, was when I made a wrong turn and the GPS recalculated and I assumed it was sending me on a new route, but it was in fact sending me on the longest, most dangerous 11.2-mile u-turn I’d ever been on. I knew that Dalek GPS has been trying to kill me.

Fuck you, mean GPS. Fuck you.

(start at the bottom) Fuck you, mean GPS. Fuck you.

That done, we finally got to the hotel, which was the best hotel in the history of hotels, but notable mostly for the fact that it had an indoor swimming pool in which my kids spent HOURS.



Also making this hotel notable was that they offered free hot chocolate in the lobby and a microwave in the room, which made an excellent combination for Quinn, who warmed up his one cup of hot chocolate many times over the course of the evening.

It's even more delicious if you get to operate machinery to prepare it.

It’s even more delicious if you get to operate machinery to prepare it.

I tell you, we got our money’s worth out of that hotel. We swam evening and morning, ate sooooo much breakfast, and checked out a half hour before we were kicked out. It was an excellent choice to stay overnight.

The other thing that made it an excellent choice to stay overnight was that Luray’s hedge maze was open the next day. I think that my kids were more excited about the hedge maze than the caverns, so I was glad that we were able to head back. It was substantially more crowded that day, which lends more credibility to my new “go to busy attractions on terrible weather days” theory.

The hedge maze at Luray is huge and awesome and has four goals and a center fountain for you to find so you’re not just wandering around aimlessly. Once everyone got yelled at once (by me) for running off in separate directions, Team Stimey stuck together and eventually we made our way through.


What could possibly go wrong?

The maze was actually really hard. Especially considering said maze was kind of an asshole.


This totally outraged Quinn.

Luray also has this new thing called Ropeland or some such where they harness you up and send you into a…well, a ropeland. It was really cool. There were three levels, one of which was crazy high. That is the one Quinn got tangled up in and had to be rescued from. Naturally.

Quinn looked so extremely put out by this situation.

Quinn looked so extremely put out by this situation.

Sam went up and came down almost immediately because it hadn’t occurred to him beforehand that he is afraid of heights. Jack, per usual, was fearless.

This is on the middle section.

This is on the middle section.

After Ropeland, we headed back toward Maryland. I had planned a stop at Dinosaurland and was considering one more stop, children permitting, but we only made it to the first stop. Did I mention that Quinn had a time limit? Yeah. It expired almost immediately after arriving at Dinosaurland.

Regardless, I did get this most excellent new Facebook profile photo.

You'll never, on the concrete again!

You’ll never go…um, on the concrete again!

Also, it turns out that my kids are surprisingly resistant to standing in front of giant fake dinosaurs and pretending to be scared of/running from/being eaten by said dinosaurs.


This was SO halfhearted on his part.


THIS is how you do it. (Also, I don’t know why a praying mantis is at Dinosaurland. Also, also, I don’t think this is a “life-size replica” as advertised.)

When all was said and done, though, the way I knew that we were really done with Team Stimey’s Fantabulous Spring Break Adventure is when I started to feel like this:


When you’re standing in front of a pile of trash and a mini-bulldozer with this expression on your face while watching your kid sit in a giant King Kong hand, you know you’re done with your day-o-fun.

(I just realized that I can’t NOT show you the King Kong photo. Here it is. You are welcome.)

I call them Surly and Surlier.

I call them Surly and Surlier.

The End. Come on back next year for Team Stimey’s Incredible Adorable Allegorical Spring Break Adventure II.

27 thoughts on “Team Stimey Takes Virginia!

  1. Two things:
    1. Jack has a spectacular eyebrow pop going on in that maze picture where he’s standing by the kidding sign.
    2. I had only glanced at your facebook profile picture and I thought it was Sam in the shark’s mouth. I didn’t realize till now how much he looks like you.

  2. Looks like a great trip. Hotels with indoor pools are awesome. That’s how we survived last Sunday with my boys. I wonder if the time limit is a third kid thing…my youngest is the same way.

  3. Excellent adventure! We took the kids to Dinosaurland when the younger one was about 2. Five years later, my older one still talks about it LOL. And we did Luray Caverns just this past Thanksgiving. So much fun stuff in Virginia. ;o)

  4. 1. The maze is like the maze in The Shining.
    2. The dinosaurs remind me of PeeWee’s Big Adventure.
    3. I would totally have sat on King Kong’s hand.
    4. You are an awesome mom.

  5. Going to busy attractions on terrible weather days is our approach too. We had an amazing Spring trip to Disneyland Paris years ago. It was pouring with rain and freezing cold and we didn’t have to queue for anything. Perfect!

    Also, I have a getting-lost-in-a-maze phobia, so a maze with a ‘sense of humour’ would probably finish me off completely.

    Finally, while you were outside doing all that fantastic stuff, we were inside having pyjama/computer gaming days and cursing the ice and snow. You definitely made the better decision.

    • With your phobia, the maze would probably not be for you. As for the computer days, don’t worry. We’ve had our share this week. :)

  6. Once I tried to navigate a Chicago to Cincinnati trip with my GPS set to find the best walking directions. I got all the way out of downtown Chi-town before I realized it was telling me it’d take 18 days to get there. Then we were all, “oooooh, THAT’S why the route was so weird.”

  7. It wasn’t until Jen’s comment that I realized it was you in the shark mouth. I thought it was one of the boys, too. How did you squish your self in there?

    Also, my daughter is insisting on getting minecraft because “all the boys play it”. I will come to you with any questions.

    Also, also, your experience with the hotel and the indoor pool reminds me of our trip to Chicago 2 years ago. I took the kids by myself and I think the thing they liked the most was the hotel pool.

    • If you have Minecraft questions, I’ll have to pass them on to my kids. I don’t understand the first thing about it.

  8. I an laughing so hard thinking about your Dalek GPS, you’re right, it was probably trying to kill you. New Doctor Who starts tomorrow night!!

    • I know. I’m sorry. I thought about you because you guys were the first people I ever saw in pictures in front of those funny dinosaurs. The problem is that I had no idea where in Virginia I was and how far away you were. Also, we were there for, say, 15 minutes.

      *hangs head in shame and remorse*

  9. thanks for writing this. We took our 7-year-old with autism today and we found your blog before we went. Thanks for helping us have an idea of what we were in store for. You’re a great writer!

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