The death of my wife earlier this year was very difficult for me, personally. I’ve lost other family members, but my wife was my best friend, the mother of my child and a great person. We did everything together, including many, many vacations. When her health started to decline, our travels slowed. She was physically unable to do pretty much anything. My son, a kid who loves adventure and going places, was disappointed that we were not going on a ‘real’ vacation this year, but he understood. I made a big effort to do things on our ‘vacation’ that we would have done on a ‘real’ vacation. After Jo Ellen died, I told myself that he was going to get to go where we had talked about going, but couldn’t. So, that is what I set out to do this summer. Take him (and his cousin) to places-mostly theme parks-that we had not been or had been a long time since we had gone. Jo Ellen would have wanted us to do so.
Since his birthday was only two weeks after she died, and we had talked about going, I took my son and his cousin to the Great Wolf Lodge in Williamsburg, VA. What can say about this place. It is a great place stay. The rooms, even the smallest ones, are nice and have a rustic feel about them. I was fortunate when I booked our room as they were having a deal where just about any room you wanted was on ‘sale’. We got a room with a loft that had three beds, a sleeper sofa, a balcony and two bathrooms for the price of the single room. The massive water park is included and the facility has one restaurant inside and three other places to get food and the gift shop. There is also a restaurant on the property. Staying here is similar to taking a cruise (except the food costs money) in that everything you need is right there. There’s no need to leave the place. Should you want to do so, Busch Gardens Williamsburg is just a few minutes away as are golf courses and a smaller amusement park.
Another destination that we visited was the Six Flags America theme park just north of Washington, D.C. This is the first Six Flags theme park I have been to and, sadly, could be the last. Six Flags America has tons of potential, but the place is just run down. I”m told that it is better now than it used to be, but I find that hard to believe. At any rate, and as a plus, it has a terrific collection of rollercoasters. Superman is just awesome with lots of airtime and thrilling twists and turns. Batwing was good, though it hurt my chest with its odd harness. Six Flags should invest heavily in this park. It is in a good location, geographically, and has so much potential. The staff was terrific. They were friendly and very, very helpful.
Charlotte was another place we visited. Charlotte is a fantastic city and is on my very short list of cities that I would consider moving to if I left Richmond. Of course, there is a theme park there, Carowinds. Carowinds is a sister park to Kings Dominion and we have been there before. The last time we were there, Chase was too short to ride most of the coasters. Fortunately, that is no longer an issue. We had a blast there as well. Just before we left, I bought a cheap digital camcorder for Chase. He had expressed interest in making his own videos and uploading them to YouTube. The camera was under fifty dollars and if he lost or broke it, it would not be as big a deal. Chase is a kid who takes care of things and I knew he would this too, but I didn’t want to spend more until I saw how he did with this one. We stayed several days, so the first day he spent riding most of the rides and I took photos and video. The second visit, he took his camera and shot lots of video. When we returned, I helped him edit and upload the videos. They turned out pretty good. You can go here to see them. Carowinds is home to the Intimidator rollercoaster as well. Kings Dominion has the Intimidator 305, which is a 305 foot behemoth. Carowinds version is not quite that tall, but thrilling all the same. Carowinds also has a great collection of coasters and is just an all around nice park.
Ocean City was our favorite trip. It is a great little ocean side city and has lots to do. The people are friendly and it isn’t very expensive. We went to Trimpers, which is a sea-side amusement park and on the boardwalk, and had a blast. Even though my vehicle broke down (alternator died) we did not let it kill our trip. Ocean City has a nice bus system and is cheap as well-two dollars and you ride all day.
We also did lots of things around Richmond and, in general, kept busy. I think the trips and just staying busy has helped us deal with our loss. Chase and I talked quite a bit and, while on those trips, we pointed out things we knew she would like, or not like. It was like she was with us. She would have disapproved of some of the things we bought and we noted that too. I think the car breaking down was a message from her for buying that PS3.
Chase and I have always been close, but the loss of Jo Ellen and having to do things on our own has drawn us even closer. I cherish my relationship with my son more now than ever before. I do as much as I can with him now because, in short order, he’s going to want to do more with his friends and less with me. We both realized that we need to be there for each other because you just don’t know what is going to happen. I never, ever thought I’d be a widower. Never.