May 042012

Our final couple of days saw their highs and lows, to be sure. Overall, this turned out to be the retail vacation. We returned with lots of “stuff,” as well as the usual memories.

We started out Tuesday morning with a quick drugstore stop for some necessities. From there, it was a stop at the Christmas Mouse, a chain of (as you’d guess) Christmas merchandise stores. We’d bought a Williamsburg souvenir ornament at the Visitor’s Center the day before, but figured we’d check it out… and wow, did it not disappoint. Huge store, like 100 Christmas trees exploded and left ornaments everywhere… only, y’know, neater and way more organized. It was good for a gift or two, a cute kitty ornament for us, and replacement Christmas stockings (from knit ones that were impossible to load, to felt-lined knit ones that should be a breeze).

We also did a stop at a ginormous Yankee Candle flagship store. Imagine if Yankee Candle took over a small indoor mall. Lots of interesting items here, though we refrained from any purchases.

From there, it was off to meet up with Jim and Erin for lunch at the Gabriel Archer Tavern, across from the Williamsburg Winery. A few glasses of wine, a charcuterie plate for me and Gina, a couple of sandwiches for Jim and Erin, and a very relaxing lunch on the GAT’s patio. After lunch, we crossed over to the winery for a tasting, which can finally be had without the unnecessary winery tour. The four of us ended up in our own private tasting room, with a knowledgeable young tastetender leading us through their designated tasting wines and a few bonuses. I was very impressed with how far the winery has come in the few years we’ve been going there—there were a few excellent wines, many good, and little sub-par. We ended up with three bottles in tow (which doesn’t account for the four non-Williamsburg Winery splits we’d purchased at The Cheese Store the previous day).

Later, we met back up with Jim and Erin at Marriott’s Manor and piled into their car to head to Berrett’s in Merchant’s Square for dinner. Unfortunately, upon arrival, Gina ended up having a pretty bad migraine attack. After sitting on a bench for a while, downing some medication, and canceling our reservation, we headed back to Marriott’s Manor for Plan B.

Plan B ended up with a to-go order from Carrabba’s… which did have some difficulties (the online order never reached them, so we had to wait a bit when we went to pick it up). But, given the disaster that could have been (Gina’s migraines can be nothing to trifle with), it turned out to be a pretty nice—albeit late—dinner.

The next morning, we managed to get a reasonably early start, and headed to Williamsburg Pottery, which I’d often heard about but never visited. Turns out it’s nice we waited, as they just reopened in early April with a new, beautiful facility. We browsed slowly through the various sections, which, oddly, contain very little pottery. A couple of purchases later, we were on the long road home.

We opted for the somewhat-longer eastern route, taking us over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. It adds maybe a half hour, but we were cheated out of our crab cake sandwich the last time we tried that route, so it was time to go again. The restaurant and gift shop were refurbished a bit, offering more dining space and fewer cheesy souvenirs. Things in the sit-down restaurant looked mostly the same with a fresh paint job, but you’re mostly looking out the windows at the bay, anyway. The food, however, was much improved. Where it once seemed you were getting a deep-fried frozen crab cake on a bun, you’re now treated to something that at least seems fresh and grilled. Quite a tasty surprise!

The rest of the drive was mostly uneventful: a quick stop for drinks at Sonic, a gas stop, a remark about not remembering how much highway there was… then realizing I was on the wrong road. It all seemed too short, which perhaps it was. Good thing we head back out in a little over a month!

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