Since it's hard to find wargaming opponents in Boise, I like to go to wargaming conventions when I can. One of my favorites is GMT weekend, held twice a year at the GMT warehouse in Hanford California. GMT is the largest wargaming publisher (which isn't very large) and they open their warehouse to wargamers twice a year, once in spring and once in the fall. I went last fall and had a great time. Unfortunately I had a conflict with work in the spring and couldn't go, so I was psyched to go this fall. I reserved the days off from work well ahead of time.
Then Sandy came up with an even better option. She was presenting a paper at the annual ASEM conference (American Society for Engineering Management) which was being held in a nice hotel right on the ocean in Virginia Beach. I could take those days off and fly out to meet her and we could spend a long weekend there when her conference was done. It seems like we don't get to the ocean as often as we used to so I was excited about it. I had never been to that area either so it was a chance to explore. I'm always up for that.
Sandy flew out on Wednesday morning for the conference. I held the fort with Abby until leaving on Friday morning. I rented a car when I arrived in Norfolk so we would be able to explore the area. There was a short period of confusion when I ended up at the Hilton Garden Inn to pick up Sandy while she was waiting outside of the Hilton Oceanfront. Hey, I came twenty five hundred miles and only missed by three blocks. That's pretty accurate!
By the time that I parked the car, got to the room and unpacked my stuff, it was already 6:30 pm. Both of us were hungry and ready for dinner. The good part of my navigation error on the way to the hotel was that I spotted an Italian restaurant just three blocks away. We went to Big Italy, which combined three Italian eateries at one location: Pi Pizzeria (for pizza, duh!), Mama's Italian Kitchen (for pasta and other Italian dishes) and Cafe Amarino (for gelato and Italian pastry). We opted for pasta and it was very good. But it was also...really...slow. We eventually had to get up and go look for our waiter so we could get our check. Normally we wouldn't have worried about how long it took. We were on vacation after all. But BSU was playing Fresno State on ESPN. We made it back just in time and BSU won an exciting game that went down to the wire.
Saturday morning was when Sandy actually presented her paper. I would have been interested to hear her talk, but it was very expensive for even a day pass to the conference. Besides that, I'm pretty sure that Sandy wouldn have been uncomfortable with me there. She could see me clapping and cheering and jumping up and yelling "Yeah!!!" all through her presentation. That meant that I could sleep in...and I did. When she finished her session (and I finally got up) we decided to go for a walk. The beach at Virgina Beach is incredible. It is about two hundred feet wide and over three miles long. There is a wide boardwalk the entire length that makes for great walking. It was a beautiful day so we started by heading north along the ocean. We were hungry so we didn't get far. We had a nice lunch at Lager Heads, with a table on the patio overlooking the beach and the water.
After lunch we took a long walk along the beach to the south. It was a great day and there were lots of people enjoying the beach or strolling on the boardwalk. We walked almost two miles south along the beach. There was a fishing pier that we checked out to see if we could get photos from the end, but there was a charge for it. We settled for going to the gift shop. Although the whole beach area was full of souvenir shops, this was the only nice one that we found. Since I am the heavy duty tshirt shopper of the family, Sandy just waited outside for me and enjoyed the view. That was good because I found the perfect tshirt for her.
Sandy liked it so much that we decided to go back the next day and get one for Sarah for taking care of Abby while we were gone. She had her hands full. Last time she dog sat for us, when we went to Vancouver Island in July, Abby ate a big chunk of carpet and Sarah had to take her to the vet. This time another Abby crisis developed. Sarah noticed that when she got up from the couch she left a big wet spot. She did the same on a quilt on the floor. Sarah had to take her to the vet again and it turned out she had a urinary tract infection. Sandy was worrying and was on the phone for two straight days. The vet gave Abby some medicine which fixed her up and she was herself again. Bad luck for Sarah. Hopefully she won't be afraid to take care of Abby in the future.
After our long walk on the beach, we walked to the grocery store. We picked up fruit, cheese and wine and headed back to the hotel. It was Saturday night and there were late football games to watch.
A beautiful day at the ocean and a great start to our long weekend.