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A Fourth of July Mystery Ride July 1, 2013

Posted by nrhatch in Travel & Leisure.

2013-11-18 11-48-59_0003“No fair!  You and dad get to go to New York City for your anniversary while we’re stuck here doing NOTHING!”

Without waiting for a response, Nicole flounced out of the room, with all the indignation a 9-year-old can muster.

Hours later, Nicole heard her grandparents arrive, with doors opening and shutting. Still pouting, Nicole didn’t run to greet them with her usual enthusiasm.

Her mother came to the foot of the stairs.  “Nicole! Come down. We’ve got a surprise for you.”

Intrigued, Nicole rolled off the bed and clunked downstairs with satisfying “thuds” and “thunks.”

Her brothers, John and David, sat at the kitchen table wearing huge grins.

Her 7-year-old sister, Beth, squealed.  “Guess what?!  We’re going on a Mystery Ride with grandma!”

Mystery Ride3

Nicole glanced around for confirmation.  Her grandmother nodded.  The black mood lifted, with hugs all around.

In no time, the three youngest nestled in the backseat with great aunt Edie.  John sat in front between his grandparents.

Everyone waved as they pulled out of the driveway.

Mystery Ride4Nicole loved Mystery Rides.

To the beach.

On picnics.

Hiking to a waterfall.

Visiting Turtle Back Zoo.

Nicole caught her grandmother’s eyes in the rear-view mirror.

“Where are we going?”

“Och, I cannae tell ye . . . twould no be a mystery.”

“Can we guess?  Will you give us clues?  I’m reading a Nancy Drew detective story and . . . ”

Mystery Ride5b

“Aye.  We’ll give clues.”

“Have we been there before?”

“No.  But it’s been there awa.”

“Is it older than you?”

The adults chuckled.  “Oh, yes.  ‘Tis older than us.”

Beth piped up, “Is it bigger than a bread box?”

John yelled out, “Is it man-made?”

David rubbed his stomach, “Will there be something good to eat?”

“Hold it.  Hold it.  One at a time.  Yes.  Yes.  And . . . YES!”

As they crossed over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, Nicole’s “inner Nancy Drew” solved the mystery.

“I know where we’re going!”

Mystery Ride5a

John rolled his eyes.  “No, you don’t.”

“Do too!  Colonial Williamsburg!”

Two hours later, they checked into a motel.  Beth saw the swimming pool and  started to cry.  “I don’t have my bathing suit!”

Mystery Ride1

Grandpa unlocked the trunk and pulled out the suitcases stashed inside.  “Oh, yes, you do!”

King’s Arm Tavern, Colonial Williamsburg

After dinner at the King’s Arms Tavern, they watched a Fife and Drum parade and fireworks over Palace Green.

Nicole grabbed her grandmother’s hand.

“What a great way to celebrate Independence Day!”

* * *

Fireworks over Palace Green, Colonial Williamsburg

Want to join the fun? Enter the Fourth of July Secret Mystery Writing Contest.


1. teresarobeson - July 1, 2013

I loved the grandparents’ accent…is it Scottish? And how cool to see places I recognize! My husband is a 5th generation Delawarean and I lived there for 3 years with him. Ahhh, the King’s Arms Tavern…brings back memories. 🙂 Thanks for a very fun story!

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Yes, my mother’s parents and Aunt Edie emigrated from Scotland in the 1920’s and had a lovely Scottish brogue which they played up from time to time . . . especially on Mystery Rides.

Williamsburg is such a great place to learn about history, and the taverns are fantastic fun. Writing this made me want to make plans for a visit this fall.

2. shreejacob - July 1, 2013

Yes, it was a fun story and loved the way you weaved in the mystery all over!! 😀

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Thanks, Shree! If you have the chance this week, Susanna is accepting entries through Friday.

shreejacob - July 1, 2013

Oh! So I’m not too late! I kinda..ahem…forgot about it..lol.
I might try to see if I can come up with something. Thank you 🙂

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

The entries I’ve read so far (#1 – #10) have all been terrific. Susanna’s too. Hope you’ll have a chance to play along.

3. Pix Under the Oaks - July 1, 2013

I think I recognize a smile up there!

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Yes . . . that’s “Nancy with the Laughing Face.” 😀

4. Susanna Leonard Hill - July 1, 2013

Wow, Nancy! I am so impressed! You wrote an actual mystery story in 400 words! And having struggled mightily with the task myself (and finding I really don’t know how to write a mystery! :)) I am amazed! Great job!!! 🙂

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Thanks, Susanna. Your contests are always such FUN ~ this one gave me a chance to share memories in a fictional format.

And I loved the Motorcycle (grand)Mama in your story!

5. spilledinkguy - July 1, 2013

Loved going along the ride, Nancy! I don’t know if your characters have visited Colonial WIlliamsburg before, but I’ve never been there… it seems like it would be a lot of fun! As does New York City, of course, so… you know… either way…

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

I spent 4 years in Williamsburg during college. It’s a fantastic slice of history with costumed interpreters strolling around . . . and delicious food at Colonial Taverns.

We visited for the first time when I was about Nicole’s age.

6. Tammy - July 1, 2013

Nice work Nancy.

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Thanks, Tammy. Susanna’s contest give me a chance to do something a bit different.

7. heylookawriterfellow - July 1, 2013

Niiiice. You are a wonderful writer, Nancy. You really get reader inside of Nicole’s head.

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Thanks! I remember getting my nose out of joint a time or two at her age. 😉

8. CMSmith - July 1, 2013

This is very different for you. Is it memoir or fiction? Are you in any of those pictures?

I’d do it, but I’m neck deep in straightening out my blog follows. I decided to do it all. I’m recreating RSS feeds on feedly (not switching that over was a huge mistake), and I’m creating a page on my blog so I’ll have them all in one place ( I tried to do a sidebar, but couldn’t figure it out. I had one before so I’m not sure what happened. How did you get yours in the sidebar? I couldn’t get the links to work.)

Anyway, I might participate otherwise. I need all the incentive I can get right now to start writing again.

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

It’s fiction, with heavy doses of memoir and memory. My grandparents did take us on Mystery Rides, including one over the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel and one to Maine.

The photos are of me, my brothers and sister, my grandparents, and my mom (at the zoo).

If you can do widgets on your sidebar with your theme, there should be one marked “links.” But it’s been so long since I set it up that I can’t remember if there was a trick to it.

I hope that you will play along. Susanna is accepting submissions until the 5th and she has some GREAT prizes lined up for the winners.

CMSmith - July 1, 2013

I thought I recognized you in a couple of the shots. I’ll think about playing, right now I’m organizing. . .

9. Tina Cho - July 1, 2013

How nice to add photos to your story! I liked the voice of the grandparents.

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Thanks, Tina. I loved listening to my grandparents and aunt Edie talk. A very warm and welcoming accent.

I saw that you entered Susanna’s contest. I had jury duty this morning so I haven’t been around to read anyone submissions. I’ll swing by soon.

10. Jodi - July 1, 2013

What a cute story! My kids would love this. Wonder what Grandpa is up to this weekend…

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Maybe Grandpa should take the kids on a Mystery Ride this weekend? Sometimes the Mystery Ride was local ~ out for ice cream or to the movies. Other times, they took us overnight so my parents could get some R&R. :mrgreen:

11. Beth Stilborn - July 1, 2013

A mystery ride sounds like such fun — and what a perfect destination for July 4th! Loved the grandmother’s Scottish accent (my grandma was Scottish, too). Well done!

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Thanks, Beth. Nothing like a wee bit of Scottish brogue to put a smile on my face.

We LOVED going on Mystery Rides with my grandparents . . . once they took us to Maine for a week. My mom packed our suitcases and snuck them into the trunk.

12. SuziCate - July 1, 2013

…and Colonial Williamsburg has something for everyone!

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

And if the mystery and history get old, Busch Gardens is right around the corner.

13. Three Well Beings - July 1, 2013

What a fun story! I felt like I was reading one of my favorite Nancy Drew’s! And the photos are just fabulous. My grandmother had that same brogue, and we took so many fabulous local car trips together. This was just a delight, Nancy!

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Thanks, Debra. I enjoyed writing this AND selecting photos to include ~ simple pleasures are life’s treasures.

Maybe you could take your granddaughters on a Mystery Ride? I bet they would LOVE it!

14. Andra Watkins - July 1, 2013

I love the old photos. And the accents. Well done.

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Thanks, Andra. I don’t know which I enjoyed more . . . writing the story or picking the photos.

If you’re in the mood, Susanna’s accepting submissions through Friday the 5th.

15. colonialist - July 1, 2013

Great mystery story, without corpses!
July fourths must be great fun – but we’ve experinced many through books and films so it is quite a familiar occasion – for something that doesn’t happen here.

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Thanks, Col.

Any one can enter. It might be fun to see you share an outsider’s look in at our celebration. Entries can be prose or poem. Just click on the link and see what you think.

16. colonialist - July 1, 2013

btw = Do Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys still survive over there? They seem to have faded rather, in SA. I was nuts about them at one stage.

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Several of my nieces read Nancy Drew in their pre-teens ~ but Ms. Drew had LOTS of competition for attention. Harry Potter. Amelia Bedelia. TV. Computers. Video Games. Etc..

I expect the Hardy Boys are still around, but suffering the same issue of increasing competition for readers.

17. kateshrewsday - July 1, 2013

Oh, lovely, Nancy What a fabulous trip. Beats New York!

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

We had lots of lovely trips into the city, as well. It was a quick 45 minute trip by train, bus, or car . . . as long as we avoided rush hour. My great aunt used to take us into the city at Christmas to see the Rockettes at Radio City Music Hall.

With a pop-in to see the toys at FAO Schwartz. And we bought roasted chestnuts from street vendors to warm up our fingers.

18. Grannymar - July 1, 2013

Great story Nancy, Fiction, with heavy doses of memoir and memory are my kinda thing. I was hoping to take part, but am struggling with my effort right now. Maybe by tomorrow…

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Thanks, Grannymar. I had TONS of FUN writing this one. I hope you can play along . . . Susanna’s accepting entries until Friday the 5th. All the rules can be found via the link.

19. Melinda Taliancich Falgoust - July 1, 2013

Contests like these always draw in so many gems…and sometimes stir nuggets of memory. I enjoyed the almost voyeuristic peek into your past, especially since it reminded me so much of my own. It made the story much more personal somehow. I had to grin at the mention of Nancy Drew…she was a regular staple on my bookshelf. I even mentioned her in MY blog post. LOL! Thanks for the share, and best of luck!

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

I spent the morning at the courthouse for Jury Duty . . . and am looking forward to reading the other submissions. I’ll keep an eye out for Ms. Drew in your post. 😀

20. Patricia Tilton - July 1, 2013

Loved your mystery ride idea. Reminded me of my youth — as well as the photos! Great story.

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Thanks, Patricia. If you’ve entered the contest, I’ll be making the rounds shortly. Tuesday at the latest. :mrgreen:

21. Heather Annie Dent - July 1, 2013

Love, love, love all the old photographs!!! I felt very nostalgic while reading this. Well done!

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Thanks, Heather. I enjoyed selecting nostalgic photos to accompany the story. Susanna’s contests are such fun.

22. Cheryl Secomb - July 1, 2013

What a wonderful story! I loved all the pictures and links. (It put me in the mood to read a Nancy Drew mystery.) 🙂 What a fun surprise for Nicole and her siblings. I’m glad her folks packed the swimsuits! I really enjoyed it.

nrhatch - July 1, 2013

Me too! I had quite a collection of Nancy Drew mysteries growing up. Thanks!

23. ericjbaker - July 2, 2013

Grandparents and the beach (Island Beach State Park, to be exact)… no mystery, but always a great time.

nrhatch - July 2, 2013

Grandparents + The Beach = Perfect Together! 😎

Island Beach State Park is a a great destination . . . especially combined with the boardwalk rides, food, and fun in Seaside Heights.

24. Lauri Meyers - July 2, 2013

Oh fun and mystery! Was that a semi-true story? It felt so real. And I’m not far from Turtleback Zoo either.

nrhatch - July 2, 2013

It’s semi-true . . . we did go on Mystery Rides with my grandparents, though not to Wmsburg for the 4th of July.

We loved Turtleback Zoo, Mayapple Hill, and the South Mountain Reservation when we lived in northern NJ.

25. jannatwrites - July 2, 2013

I love the story! I imagined you as Nicole 🙂 Mystery rides sound fun – especially when bags are packed without the kiddos even knowing it.

I forgot about the writing contest. I don’t think I can write a better story than you just did, but it sure is fun to try. I’ll have to check out the rules again!

nrhatch - July 2, 2013

Nicole is much the way I remember being at that age . . . black moods, and all. 😛 We loved all the mystery rides ~ out for ice cream, to a picnic, or overnights with smuggled bags in the trunk.

Hope you can play along. I wonder if you can do a stand alone 400 word July 4th mystery that also ties in to your Darlene, Dottie, and Myrtle mystery. That might be fun. I’ve loved the entries ~ from stolen tiaras to missing party hats, a lost pony.

26. viviankirkfield - July 2, 2013

Nancy…I owe you one.:) For this wonderful trip down memory lane…NYC, Colonial Williamsburg and Nancy Drew! I loved the family photos…what a beautiful touch to a great ‘mystery’ story. We never had mystery rides when I was a kid and I never did them with my own children (wish I had)…but my son and his wife took me on one a couple of years ago when they were living in Boston…would NOT tell me our destination…we spent a glorious weekend in Montreal. 🙂

nrhatch - July 2, 2013

Oh, how FUN! What a great destination for a Mystery Ride. I took my parents on a few short Mystery Rides when they visited as adults. Trying to figure out the destination adds to the pleasure of the journey.

And another Nancy Drew fan . . . I loved watching her solve mysteries with Bess, George, and Ted.

I’ll be around shortly to see what you cooked up for the contest. Something tasty, I’m sure.

viviankirkfield - July 2, 2013

I still have stacks of old Nancy Drew books in a closet…maybe I will have to take them out and reread them.:) I loved the Hardy Boys also.

nrhatch - July 2, 2013

You should! Maybe you’ll be able to share them with your grandkids in a few years.

I had a shelf full of Nancy Drew growing up. My brothers had the Hardy Boys. I read both. I half expected to bump into the collection last summer in my parents’ attic, but they must have been donated to a Book Sale at some point.

27. Jarm Del Boccio - July 3, 2013

I love the way you have incorporated a part of your childhood with the story. . .great job!

nrhatch - July 3, 2013

Thanks! Life is a tapestry of moments bound together in overflowing memory banks. It’s FUN to pluck out individual threads and toss them into the Pensieve (a la Dumbledore).


28. bluebee - July 4, 2013

Lovely old photos

nrhatch - July 4, 2013

Thanks, BB. I had fun selecting photos to go with the story.

29. clarbojahn - July 4, 2013

This is great, Nancy! Love the way you illustrated it with old photos. 🙂

nrhatch - July 4, 2013

Thanks, Clar! I’ve enjoyed all the stories I’ve read so far. I’ve got a few more to read. But this has been a super FUN challenge from Susanna.

30. Robyn Campbell - July 4, 2013

Great job. The photos are an added bonus. It shows you were thinking, thinking, thinking. You must be a mystery writer. I really enjoyed myself. (I used to love Nancy Drew.) Think I’ll read one tonight. 🙂

nrhatch - July 4, 2013

Thanks, Robyn! I think I might enjoy writing a mystery ~ I love reading them. Enjoy your Nancy Drew mystery tonight.

31. Cathy C. Hall - July 4, 2013

I loved Williamsburg–and we took our kids one summer. But boy, our youngest was NOT a fan. It was hot and historical and…well, we still laugh about his rallying cry: “Why must you torture me?”

Six year olds are so dramatic. 🙂

Fun mystery–enjoyed the accent and the Nancy Drew channeling! 🙂

nrhatch - July 5, 2013

Your son’s rallying cry reminds me of a walk around Wmsburg on a sweltering hot day when we overheard a boy of 6 or 7 say, with emphasis:

“I’m not cranky and irritable because I’m tired. I’m cranky and irritable because I’m S~W~E~A~T~I~N~G!”

Parents do know how to torture their kids . . . even without locking them in the stocks at the courthouse. :mrgreen:

Cathy C. Hall - July 6, 2013

Hahahahaa! SO true!

nrhatch - July 6, 2013

Kids say the funniest things at times . . . when provoked, poked, and prodded. 😀

32. Laura Anne Miller - July 5, 2013

Nancy, Wonderful story! I L-O-V-E this….what is more wonderful than family?!! Makes me miss my grandparents….I loved them so, but how I wish I had appreciated them more – the heritage – the wisdom. Are those actual pics of your family? I have so few of my grandparents. My dad was in the military, so we were often far away.

nrhatch - July 5, 2013

Thanks, Laura Anne! Those are photos of my family . . . including the grandparents who took us on Mystery Rides.

I enjoyed the delightful illustrations on your story. You’ve got real talent.

Laura Anne Miller - July 5, 2013

Thanks, Nancy, you are very kind. I espec. like the pic of the little girl and 2 boys on the steps. She does not look happy. My mom has one of me like that…we were going to eat breakfast out w/ another family…a real treat…but we got there too early and the restaurant was not open yet. WE had to wait an hour – and our folks took a picture…I showed my adamant displeasure. 55 years later it still comes back to haunt! 🙂

nrhatch - July 5, 2013

That photo of my brothers and sister was taken in Kennebunkport, Maine at Cabot Cove Cottages.

I’m not sure where I was or why my sister was so unhappy. But I’m fairly sure the black clouds blew away quickly.

33. julie rowan zoch - July 5, 2013

Love the photos! We made just such a trip to Williamsburg, with 4 kids in the backseat too!

nrhatch - July 5, 2013

How timely! It is a great family destination with lots to interest kids of all ages.

julie rowan zoch - July 5, 2013

Timely? Sorry for my sentence structure weakness – it was 40 yrs ago!

nrhatch - July 5, 2013

It wasn’t your wording, I read it wrong. I read “we just made” instead of “we made just.” My bad.

34. Penny Klostermann - July 5, 2013

The story and photos were just great! Nice entry!

nrhatch - July 5, 2013

Thanks, Penny. Susanna got a wonderful crop of submissions this time. I’ve enjoyed every one of them.

35. Joanne Roberts - July 6, 2013

There’s so much to love about this story. I love Gran’s accent, and the factual details, the kids guessing game, and the priceless accompanying photos. Thank-you for posting.

nrhatch - July 6, 2013

Thanks, Joanne! As mysteries go, this one is a rather pleasant, non-life-threatening, one. Glad you enjoyed. Thanks for reading and commenting.

36. Pam Brunskill (@PamBrunskill) - July 6, 2013

Love the tie in to Nancy Drew and the relationship between the kids and grandparents. Thanks for sharing.

nrhatch - July 6, 2013

Thanks, Pam. Susanna got some tremendous entries for this 4th of July mystery contest.

37. Margaret Greanias - July 6, 2013

What a fun story. I would’ve loved to go on a mystery ride with my grandparents. The pictures were a really great addition too.

nrhatch - July 6, 2013

Thanks, Margaret. Grandparents + Mystery Rides = Perfect Together!

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