Sunday, November 14, 2010

Team Sabo In Norfolk, Va.

Grandma and Grandpa Sabo are in town for several days before they ship out to the Middle East for a couple of weeks. On a glorious Fall day when the mercury scared 70 degrees, we trekked down to Norfolk to check out some joint that invented the waffle cone. We managed to arrive at the exact location where the waffle cone was reputed to be invented, but just one small problem. The place was closed. D'oh! We went with Plan B and headed to the Norfolk waterfront, where we quickly spied a behemoth with big guns ... no, it wasn't Ethan, who benched 170 lbs. the other day even though he weights just 125 lbs. It was the USS Wisconsin, a battleship sporting 16-inch guns that battled the Japanese in WWII, the North Koreans in the Korean War and even got in the scrap known as the Gulf War. Back in the day, the battleship could launch a one-ton shell up to 23 miles. That's range, baby! Now the USS Wisconsin is moored at the Norfolk waterfront and is open for tours as a floating museum. One small detail is the cost. For the 15 of us to see the Wisconsin, it would have cost approximately $1,785. Well, maybe not quite that much. But with prices starting at 12 bucks for an adult, I would have had to take out a second mortgage to finance it. We passed on the tour, unfortunately.

So we went with Plan C. We let the kids crawl around an anchor from the USS Antietam, an aircraft carrier, in a nearby waterfront park. The anchor, in a word, is h-u-g-e. Then we hit an indoor mall a half-mile or so away, where we cleaned out a Hershey's ice cream stand on the food court. Grandpa's retirement fund took a big hit by the time we finished with Hershey's. The kid with the ice cream scoop saw us coming and called the headquarters hot line looking for emergency supplies. I think they sent someone to the nearest Wal-Mart. As you can see from the photos, the ice cream was good, real good. After wrapping up the ice cream fest, we piled into a nearby bookstore. After some quality book window shopping, we launched on the journey back to the van, zigzagging through downtown Norfolk, which is always an adventure when you're herding 2 dozen kids! Well, maybe not quite that many kids. But with Ezra on the run from the time we got out of the van, and some other kids scrambling around a bit oohing and ahhhing in the "big city," it felt like I was trying to herd cats. Ezra is a flat out runner. The kid just loves to run. A chip off the old block, I reckon. I'm happy to report that not only did we make it back to the van, but we also brought back 10 Sabo children ... the same number we left with! Amazing!

One more little detail. To get to Norfolk from Gloucester we have to bisect the James River. If you think the Willamette River, or the Deschutes River, or the Columbia River is a halfway significant body of water, you ain't seen nothin'. The James River at its mouth is 5 miles wide. To get to Norfolk, you go over the James River part way, then you go under the James River the water in a 2-lane tunnel (one way) ... then back up and over. It's the first time Grandpa and Grandma Sabo had made the trip through the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. They thought it was pretty cool, especially when you see 3 aircraft carriers berthed at Norfolk Naval Station off in the distance.

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