Dan Golfs and Grocery Shops in the Commonwealth of Virginia

Virginia map

Once Hannah scheduled a weekend to Vermont with girlfriends in late April, it got my wheels turning for some time away myself.  After this winter from Hell, I’m thinking warm.   Playing golf with our son Will in Virginia seems a natural.  Delta Airlines flies from Boston to Richmond non-stop, round-trip for a sweet $118.

Twice the space I had!

Twice the space I had on my Delta flight!

But let’s take it down a notch.  $118 on Delta doesn’t get you much more than a safe trip to and from the one-time capital of the Confederacy.  I understand that arriving safely is of paramount importance.  That said, a bit of comfort at 30,000 feet would be nice.  The plane feels like a 1930s two-seater bi-plane when in fact it has 90 sardines masquerading as adults and families packed into a space the size of a railroad car on a diet.  When I stood up, I banged my head on the aforementioned overhead compartments.

My two carry-ons

My two carry-ons

Hold on.  Do not despair.  Do I ever have a primo travel tip for you if you never check bags when you fly!   Typically, airlines allow you to carry on a small suitcase and one additional bag.  Keep the small suitcase as lean and mean as possible so it is not pulled out by the ticket agent at the jet bridge gate because she feels it won’t fit in the compartment above the seats.  In our case, we stuff our canvas bag to the gills.  The airlines will never take an open air canvas bag for checked luggage.  Brilliant Dan, I hear you thinking.

10th hole at River's Bend Golf Club

10th hole at River’s Bend Golf Club

Within thirty minutes of landing at RIC airport in Richmond, Will has us on the golf course at River’s Bend Country Club on the James River in Chester, Virginia, some 15 miles south of the airport.  Check out these prices.  Two of us played 18 holes with a golf cart for $36 total.  Only 36 simoleons!  Locally here on the Seacoast, one-of-me pays $22 to walk nine holes at Sagamore-Hampton Golf Club in New Hampshire.

With those prices the South will rise again!

Hitting out of the rough again.

Hitting out of the rough again.

Golfing?  Do you play?  I began playing golf in my twenties on the flat, palm tree-lined courses in the Phoenix, Arizona metro area summers during the years I taught elementary school kids in Tempe.  Learning the game for the first time, I got to be “okay.”   Then I took twenty plus years away from the game to focus on our family and because of the expense of golf in the Northeast.

18 hole layout at River's Bend Golf Club

18 hole layout at River’s Bend Golf Club

Since I didn’t play as a kid, I never developed golfing instincts to fall back on as an adult.  Ergo, I hit some good shots and then some rather sad and pathetic ones, too.  I can hit pin-seeking irons of 140 yards as well as top the ball so it skims the fairway into traps or the woods.

River's Bend scorecard cover

So given my modest golfing skills, how do I keep from being that guy who is  obsessed by his score?  I want to enjoy the time on golf courses, especially the few times I golf with Will, now that he lives nearly 600 miles to the south.  What sort of company or role model am I if I bitch and complain about my lousy golf score?

River's Bend scorecard by hole

And then it hit me, the worst score I will mark down on the golf card is a double bogey (two over par).  If I am destroying a hole with poor shots, I can just relax and work on my game around the green without a scoring care in the world.  Then move on to the next hole without any baggage from the last one.

Will off the tee

Will off the tee

Fact is, no one cares what score I get.  Will bombs his drives and shoots in the 70s and 80s.  I am not competing against him.  When I hit the inevitable poor shot, I’ll chalk it up to That’s just what once-a-week or once-a-month golfers do, DanGet over it.

golf ball in grass

So today I chill.  There are few on the course this mid-day Thursday so we leisurely motor around eighteen holes in a little over three hours.  Sunny and 65 degrees on this spring day in paradise, I have some pars, a few bogeys, and some really big numbers, that I never record on the score card.   I stay in the moment and focus on the father-son time with Will.

Will shopping with Dad

Will shopping with Dad

And then the second part of my win/win afternoon comes at the Kroger Grocery store near Will’s place in Bon Air, VA.  That’s right, a grocery store.   Hear me out.  One of the true joys of retirement when we visit our children is buying an overflowing cart of groceries for them.

Grocery line image  (Identify the Corona, Sam Adams, and Gluten-free beer, Redbridge, pita chips, Tostito chips and salsa, gluten-free crackers, Ritz, watermelon, Dunkin’ Donuts Decafe coffee, peanut butter, bananas, milk, Corn Flakes, Cheerios)

Including Redbridge (a gluten-free beer), pita and Tostito chips and salsa, cheese and gluten-free crackers and  Ritz, watermelon, Dunkin’ Donuts Decaf coffee, peanut butter, apples, oranges, Cheerios, and Corn Flakes)

Before we get to the house that Will and his girlfriend Laurel are renting, we stock up at Kroger’s with snacks, fruit, beer, and cereals for the coming weekend.  You might wonder where cereals have a place on this list of party foods.  Read below under Bonus.  Sharing some of our good fortune with our kids adds continued joy to our longitudinal (never-ending) parenting life.

I’ve added a bonus thought for you and a “be careful” one.

Will and Laurel's place on Buford Road

Will and Laurel’s place on Buford Road

Bonus when buying groceries on the road – As a big cereal eater, I add a gallon of 1% milk, boxes of Corn Flakes and Cheerios, and bananas to our grocery cart.  By including these items I can have cereal anytime at Will and Laurel’s place without feeling like I am depleting their supplies.  As one who thinks cereal is about as good a dessert as it gets, I am set for the next four days in Virginia.  (You got to be thinking, Dan, my man, you know how to live!)

choice privileges visa card

The “Be Careful” – When traveling long distances from home, call your credit card company before you leave and tell them about the places and dates of your travels, even if you live in Maine and are just going to Virginia.  When it comes time to pay for the $122 of groceries at Kroger’s in Midlothian, VA,  my Choice Privileges Visa card is rejected not once, not twice, but three times.  A major bummer for me, as Will then has to use his credit card to pay for the groceries.  Of course, I will write him a check for the amount, but the “treating the kids” moment is slipping away.

Life is so good in VA

Immediately, while still at the checkout line, I get an 800 call from fraud protection at VISA.  I appreciate the credit card company looking out for me, I do.  Thanks to the patient customer service folks at Kroger’s we clear up the confusion with Visa in 25 minutes.  I am able to get the credit back on Will’s credit card and the charge on mine.

So a first vacation day ends successfully with a win/win.  Virginia is my kind of place.

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