Norfolk Wedding 2021

Dates: May 3-12, 2021

People: Mark, Sarah, Luke, Jonah, Seth, Anya, Marcia, Lisa


  • 5-3 (Sarah Travel Day)

  • 5-4 (Sarah in Norfolk)

  • 5-5 (Sarah in Norfolk)

  • 5-6 (Sarah in Norfolk, Group Travel Day)

  • 5-7 (Sarah in Norfolk, Group Travel Day)

  • 5-8 (Travel Day)

  • 5-9 (Wedding Day)

  • 5-10 (Group Travel Day)

  • 5-11 (Sarah-Lisa Ocean City)

  • 5-12 (Sarah-Lisa Travel Day)


We put Sarah on a 6:40am flight out of Detroit to get her to Norfolk. She flew through Nashville and had a 3-hour layover there. She got into Norfolk at 1:10pm to work with Lisa all week on wedding preparation.


Sarah in Norfolk doing wedding preparation with Lisa.


Sarah in Norfolk doing wedding preparation with Lisa.


The Monroe group (minus Sarah, but plus Mom Witte) left by 4pm. Luke had to skip track practice today and come home with the shuttle right after school. We made it out on time and hit the road with Mark driving first. We made a gas stop at the Amherst service plaza in Ohio and then Luke started up driving. It was 5:30pm. Luke drove us to the Glacier Hills Plaza where we got supper at the DQ and Panera. Luke continued driving after this stop as things got dark. He drove us til 10:13p where we made a quick switch. All in all Luke put in almost 4 hours driving for us tonight. Mark only had to drive us one final hour to our stop in Hagerstown, MD at a Quality Inn. It was 11:25p when we pulled in. Mom, Anya, and Jonah shared a room. Luke, Seth and Mark took the other room.


Having knocked out over 6 hours driving yesterday we weren't obliged to be up super early today. We got moving at 7:15a grabbing breakfast in the hotel lobby. They didn't have a normal breakfast yet because of COVID. But much to our surprise the hotel attendance came and offered us to go bags with yogurt, a microwaved breakfast sandwich and some fruit. It worked out and saved us from having to drive and buy some. It was 8:15am when we left the hotel. Mark started the driving to prepare for the DC traffic.

The DC traffic had some slow-us but nothing too bad. We made a gas stop at Thornburg, VA. The traffic heading into Norfolk especially around the tunnel bridge was probably the worst. Just into Norfolk we found a Fuddruckers for lunch. It was 12:55pm when we made it in.

After lunch we began to coordinate with Sarah as to who was where. The bridesmaids and Lisa were still doing some of their things. The Kerns and Rosborgs were touring Norfolk seeing old sites. We decided to hit the hotel and see if our rooms were ready. It was 2:15pm. They had us on the 4th floor at the Tru by Hilton where we were staying. Those upper level rooms were not ready yet. We had to wait til 3pm. In the meantime the boys and I took a walk around a lake right next to the hotel. Eventually the Kerns and then also Sarah and Lisa showed up to see us. We hung out at the hotel til about 4:40p when it was time for rehearsal.

We learned about the bad Norfolk traffic as we arrived late by about 5 minutes. Rehearsal and ceremony were both at Trinity Lutheran, Norfolk with Pastor Mraz. He led a nice smooth rehearsal once everyone was ready to go. Everyone wore masks due to the ongoing pandemic. We practiced up and down the aisle with Anya. She mostly liked to run. We had some hope she would work out well for tomorrow's ceremony.

After rehearsal we all went to the nearby Cogan's Pizza North for the dinner. They had an upstairs deck for just our group and this worked out great. Pizza was nice and we also had some beer. We probably spent 2 hours there. As things wrapped up I drove our group back to the hotel. I then drove back over to the west side of Norfolk to meet the bridal party for an after-party at Maker's Craft Brewery. We tried some beers and visited there for another hour or two. Sarah spent the night with Lisa in her room at the hotel, I joined the boys. We made it back around 10:20pm.


I was up early on wedding day. I'm in the midst of my 50-mile Ultra training plan and wanted to get 12 miles today. That, and anytime I'm out of town I love to find trails in new places. In my pre-trip research I found First Landing State Park on the northeast side of Norfolk and along the Atlantic Ocean. This seemed like a home run of a choice. First Landing is what it says, a state park marking the territory of the 1607 first landing of the settlers on the North American continent. They would move on west from this point to eventually found the first settlement at Jamestown. Plus, there were a nice amount of good trails noted here and looked to be runnable and reasonable to follow.

First Landing State Park Trail Mix Trip Report

I was up at 5:30am to head over there. It was just after 6am when I finally got out of the hotel to make the 20 minute ride over. I was there running til 9am when I headed back to the hotel. I stopped at the Chick-fil-A near our hotel for a calorie loading breakfast. Back to the hotel at 9:30am. One of the boys was still in bed so I didn't miss much. In the meantime Mom had gotten Anya up early to play her awhile and then get her a late morning nap so she would be good for the wedding. Anya went down at 10:15am.

At 11:30am we started the day for real. We headed back over to the Chick-fil-A and picked up lunch for everybody. We then headed over to the reception hall at Gala417 to join the ladies and have Anya's hair done. The rest of us ate our lunch. We were there til almost 1:15p when we made the traffic-filled drive over to the church. We arrived at the church just after 1:30p. The ladies didn't make it til 1:50p, only 10 minutes to spare. Service started at 2pm and it was lovely. Everyone did have to wear masks and the bridal party chose to do so as well. Jay's nephew was carried up the aisle by his daddy (he was only 18mos. old). I could tell we were going to struggle with Anya. As we were getting ready she was in that mood where she was overwhelmed with people and just wanted to go out the door to play outside. Needless to say, when it was her turn to walk up she was a no go. I carried her. Even when I would try to set her down to hold her hand and walk she was a no go.

After service they did a few pictures outside and I took Anya over to the playground to play a bit. She was in her dress so we kept things careful. It was good for her to blow off some steam and move around. As we drove out we headed by the hotel to grab a few quick things before the reception. Traffic was horrendous. We made it back to Gala417 at 4:20p for the cocktail hour and tried some beer. I had a good time talking with Sarah's uncles.

At 5:15p they moved us into the main dining room and we prepared for supper. Lisa and Jay had chosen a breakfast-style supper. We had omelettes and they were nicely done. After meal Sarah gave a lovely toast and a few others including Dave Kern and Jay shared some great words. We spent the evening dancing. Anya even warmed up to it a bit through the night and had a fun dancing moment with Lisa even. We were amazed how well Anya held together and didn't run out of gas. We even got the boys (briefly) out onto the dance floor. Some of the bridal party decided to have an after party once the reception shut down but both Sarah and I were tired to we as a family headed back to the hotel. Got back about 10:45pm.


Another early morning today as I got up to get a run in before the morning's plans began. I was hoping for 7 miles but just didn't have the time. I ran a couple of loops on the fantastic trail around the lake by the hotel. Got 5 miles in. Was done by 7:10a or so and then got ready for breakfast and church.

We left the hotel at 7:55am to head over to the "Hair of the Dog Eatery" where we would be having breakfast/brunch. It was a little restaurant nearby the campus of Old Dominion University. Their food was pretty good, I had a breakfast burrito. The service was so slow. It wasn't like they were overwhelmed with people. Someone said they were short one in the kitchen but when we left after eating they had four people out back smoking. We were there almost 2 hours just to have a basic meal and it made us late for church. I was so frustrated and was on the verge of just deciding to hit the road to drive home.

We got to church 15 minutes late, and on the good side it was nearly full. On the tough side I had to squeeze into a pew over a lady and sit just Anya and I and wear a mask the whole service. More frustration. I'll grant I did enjoy the fact that Anya fell asleep on me and I just held her most of the service. I finally took my mask off for the closing hymn so I could sing.

Talking and a few quick gifts after church put our departure time at 11:40am to hit the road for home. Already this meant our earliest arrival for Monroe would be past 11pm. I started the driving due to the heavy Norfolk traffic. It took us a while to get out of town and through the bridge tunnel. As I watched the maps ahead I could see a massive slow-down on I95 due to an accident. I started to look for alternatives.

We made a gas stop outside of Richmond at 1:25p but weren't quite ready for lunch yet. Another 45 mins later we hit a Subway in Ruther Glen to eat and figure out our next move. Google Maps was suggesting taking US1 north up to and through Fredericksburg, where just north of the city the interstate opened up again. We tried this. As we neared Fredericksburg the direction suggestions continued to change and I was also plotting my own routes. It appeared many other vehicles had already left the interstate seeking "shortcuts" through the city. I thought we had a decent route straying off US1 slightly in town and hoping to gain it again right at the bridge over the Rappahannock River. Boy was I mistaken. We got caught in a backup on side streets which all bottlenecked at the bridge. We must have sat in bumper to bumper traffic for 45 minutes waiting to get through. It was awful. Thankfully once we finally got over the bridge traffic did begin to clear up some. We regained I95 north of Fredericksburg.

Traffic around DC wasn't too bad and we never had to slow up much. By the time we hit the Maryland border we would be pretty much clear of traffic the rest of the evening. The Virginia section though had been awful and we ended up losing almost 2 hours of time. We made a bathroom stop in Hagerstown MD just before 6p but weren't hungry. We hit a service plaza in New Stanton, PA at 8:25p and found a Burger King partly opened. With the pandemic food was really hard to come by and selections limited at these service plazas. We made another gas stop at 10:40pm and then one more rest area stop past midnight as I was growing tired. It was 1:23am when we finally made it home. One long exhausting day.


Sarah and Lisa took care of final wedding business all morning in Norfolk. In the afternoon they drove up to Ocean City, Maryland to spent the night.


Sarah and Lisa spent the day in Ocean City, Maryland enjoying the beach.


Sarah and Lisa drove from Maryland back to Monroe, getting in by 4pm.