Monday, May 22, 2017

BLOGGED ALONG THE WAY: JERSEY GIRL EDITION - MAY 20, 2017

We had to get up at the butt crack of dawn this morning so that we could be on time for our plane.  I am not a fan of super early flights, but what are you going to do?  That's when the plane left.

We made it in due time to the airport and got checked in with little problem, except that the Newark TSA is freaking slow.  I blame it on the fact that we were traveling so early, but still...slow.  Not much of interest happened after that, and our flight out was much nicer than our flight in. I spent time returning emails and looking out of the window. You know...normal airplane stuff.

We landed in Atlanta and realized that we had lost our parking pass (totally my fault) and so it took us forever to get out of the parking garage.  Apparently they have to run a background check on you and decode your DNA if you lose your parking pass.  I don't know, I just know we were in there a long time and we had to pay a penalty. :(

Since we'd landed fairly early on in the day, and accidentally took a wrong turn somewhere, we ended up going through Duluth, so we stopped at a store called Super H Mart.  We'd been there once before a few years ago when we were visiting family, so we knew it existed already.  This is a big grocery store that caters to the Asian population of Atlanta, and so of course I had to go in an buy a bunch of stuff I wanted to try.  I don't know what some of it is, but I was feeling adventurous!  I do know at least one thing has cuttlefish flakes in it (which I didn't realize until I had already purchased it) but I'm willing to try it at least! I also got some really great shampoo.  At least I think it's shampoo. It smells nice and I've used it to wash my hair, so we're just going to call it shampoo and not look into it any further. We ate lunch there at the hot food place and I had some superior don katsu.  I can almost work chopsticks, too, so I managed to eat most of it with those, although from time to time I had to use a spoon.  Heehee.  Steve had sushi, and I still can't understand why. Yick.

Once we got back on the road I fell asleep.  I hate doing that, because I like to be awake to keep Steve company, but he said he likes to think his thoughts when we drives long distances, so it turned out ok.  I finally woke up when we weren't that far from home, and in due time we made it back! 

We're taking tomorrow off from church because we are both so tired from traveling, so we'll have a day of not doing anything in particular to rest up.  I'm looking forward to it!  I'm sad the trip is over, but I had a really great time.  It was a wonderful adventure.

BLOGGED ALONG THE WAY - JERSEY GIRL EDITION - May 19, 2017

We slept in a bit longer than we meant to this morning, and when I got out of bed everything hurt.  I had no idea that walking that much would hurt all of my bones.  Mostly it was my feet.  Even though I have been wearing sensible shoes, my feet are swollen up from all the walking/running we did. Boo!

We actually ate breakfast this morning before leaving again.  I"ve just realized we hadn't done that all week.  Huh. This time we didn't bother trying to find a train anywhere.  We were going to Liberty State Park so that we could catch a ferry to visit the Statue of Liberty and just decided to drive it! YAY!  We'd gotten tickets online earlier in the week, so we were all set!

This time, driving out that way was a lot less nerve wracking, although I still do that thing where I cringe and squeak when I don't think Steve is going to slow down in time.  He hates it, but I can't help it.  His driving makes me nervous, and riding with me in the car makes him nervous, so it's a trade off.  :)  We made it a lot more quickly than we thought we would, and got a chance to walk around for quite a while before we boarded our ferry.  On that ferry was also what seemed like 600 school children.  Look, kids one at a time are usually OK.  Small groups of children are sometimes OK.  Large groups of children are just evil.  That's all I'm going to say about that.

We landed on Liberty Island and saw the statue!  It was so beautiful! When you come into the docking area, you are at the back of the statue, so we took the long way around to go and see it.  It was so bizarre!  I've seen it a million times in a million different ways, but never in person.  I kept staring at it thinking "I'm actually here looking at this thing! It's not a movie or a picture, but I'm actually here looking at it!!!!"  I was so excited.  We had to brave a very large crowd, but luckily the statue is on a big platform and so it stands above everyone and no one can really get in your way.  I even managed to get a couple of pictures with Steve (haha, take that!) and we got a very good look at her.  It was a lot of fun, even though we didn't take a tour inside the base, or up into the crown, as it cost extra.  That's kind of the one thing that sucks, but as I worked in the tourism industry once upon a time, I do understand that getting people to pay for things in stages is a thing.  After getting our fill of pictures and looking, we departed on another ferry (I love the ferries!) and headed back to our car.

We'd thought about going into Brooklyn for a bit, but Steve wanted to head down to Red Bank, NJ to visit a comic book shop that he knew about.  Why drive to Red Bank, which is an hour or so away from NYC, to look at a comic book shop you may be asking?  Well, it isn't just any comic book shop! It was Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash, which is owned by Kevin Smith and has it's own "reality" type show called "Comic Book Men" that Steve regularly watches.  He wanted to look around and try to meet some of the guys that are on the show.  Me?  I didn't think that they'd really be there.  I assumed that they were only there to film, and then other not-on-television guys worked there the rest of the time.  I was wrong! We walked in, and three of the four guys from the show were there!  I immediately went into freeze up mode.  Number one, this was Steve's thing and not mine, so I got shy.  Number two, these guys were doing there thing and eating lunch, so I felt weird approaching any of them just to say "Hey! You're that TV guy!" and the thought of that made me feel very awkward.  Being awkward in a store leads to breaking things and breaking things leads to paying for things. I stayed in my own zone.  Number three...well, there is no number three, but three is a better number when you're listing things.

Anyway, I looked around and they really did have an interesting collection of stuff from the various Kevin Smith movies, as well as some cool pop culture memorabilia and comics.  It is a store, after all, and they do sell stuff.  I just kept to myself.  I give Steve props, too, he was very cool about the whole thing, and he got to meet two of the guys without seeming weird or intrusive, which is more than I can say about another guy who walked in.  I met one of them, Mike I believe his name was, because I asked a question.  He was very nice and helpful, and when I asked how offensive he thought "Buddy Christ" would be to Baptists, he said he hoped very, and gave me a gratis sheet of stickers of the character for my desk when he found out I work at a church.  Heh.  Steve bought a couple of things and we left.  He was happy and I got stickers, so it had been a productive visit!

Red Bank is really a cool place, but we didn't stick around for long after visiting the store.  I had wanted to see the beach situation there.  I was thinking more about finding out if New Jersey had the same kind of cheesy shops and culture that you see around the gulf, so we went towards Sandy Hook which the map said had a beach.  The drive out there was so interesting.  There were so many gorgeous and HUGE houses out that way, and they weren't like anything I had seen before.  We knew they were worth some serious coinage, because the ones for sale weren't being sold by Maggie Bee, your friendly neighborhood real estate agent.  They were being sold by Southby's and Christie's, which I didn't know had a hand in real estate. When we finally did make it out to the beach area, there weren't any houses at all.  Nor were there shops or restaurants, just beaches.  We tried to drive to the end where an observation deck was, but that was closed off for some reason, so we stopped by one of the public beaches and walked out there.  I hadn't thought about the act of actually going to the beach, even though I knew we were going to do that, so I was wearing blue jeans!  I rolled those suckers up and took off my shoes.  The sand area was really wide and full of rocks, so getting out to the water was like walking on hot Legos!  Haha!  We walked to the surf and I looked for shells. Weirdly, I didn't find very many sea critters.  I found lots of polished rocks, but only found shells up in the dry area of sand, so I figure that someone else must have pulled then out of the water and left them there. Eh.  I accidentally stood too close to the water and a wave hit me, getting me soaked, so we turned back fairly soon after that.  I was hot, sandy and wet, but I had some shells and my little baggy of sand!  I was happy!

We had thought of going to a few other places after getting back towards NYC, but we were tired.  I hated to just go back to the hotel, but by the time we got back, my feet were sore and I was messy from the beach and I was hungry!  We ordered room service for dinner and packed up our things.  We are leaving early tomorrow morning, so we have to go to sleep soon.  I'm honestly ready.  I really have enjoyed my stay here, though, and I'd like to come back one day and see a bit more!

Goodnight!

BLOGGED ALONG THE WAY: JERSEY GIRL EDITION - MAY 18, 2017

I had one job.

Ok, I had more than one job, but I had one important job and I screwed it up. I am worthless.

When Steve invited me to go on this trip, he basically left it up to me to figure out what we were going to do when we went to New York City. I'm not good at that sort of thing, because I am always worried I'll pick things to do that he won't enjoy, but I was determined to do it this time to prove I was at least capable of it and so that we could have a fun day.  I got some advice from a friend who'd beenhere before, and although I didn't schedule everything down to the minute (that kind of thing isn't any fun) I did have a list of what we'd do when we got there.  I also asked Steve to pick one thing he'd like to do, and he managed to get us tickets to see Phantom if the Opera at the Majestic Theater on Broadway, so all we had to do was work around our 2:00 curtain time for whatever else we did. Easy peasy!

Well...

As I've said, where we are staying isn't a big city or even a big town.  It's a bit of an extended suburb with businesses and homes, but not much else that I could find. The one thing that seemed to be perfect (and I mentioned it earlier) was that it had a train station with a direct train that would go straight into the city.  It was less than a 10 minute drive away from our hotel and should make getting to where we needed to go simple.  That was the cornerstone of my plan and we set off with the expectation that we'd be getting into NYC by 9:45 am.  

After a tiny GPS hiccup, we found the station nestled in the middle of a neighborhood full of houses. It was a lovely, clean, landscaped place and set me to ease at once about the NJ transit system. However, we figured out pretty darn quick that the town of Short Hills, NJ (or whatever this place calls itself) didn't want us, or seemingly anyone who didn't live there, riding on their train. There was no place for us to park. Every single parking lot we found was only for residents. You had to have a sticker to park there. On the street the parking was only for an hour or two hours, and although we parked illegally for a few minutes to look at our phones to figure out what to do, we couldn't find clue of what a visitor was supposed to do or where to go.  To be fair, and I'm determined to be fair, maybe we missed something obvious, but from where we sat, it was pretty clear we weren't going to be able to get on that train. Had we known this situation before hand, we could have called a cab, or an Uber to have brought us out there, but we didn't and time was by now slipping past quickly. We just sat there trying to figure out what to do. I felt terrible and wanted to cry because I hadn't made a contingency plan. I'd screwed up! The day hadn't even started, and I had already put us in a bad spot. Sigh.

Steve saved the day by finding that we could take a ferry into the city, but we had to drive through New Jersey to get to the port. Granted, there might have been an easier way, but for two people as unaware of public transportation and such as we are, we couldn't find it.  So we set off.  We figured if the muppets can take Manhattan, so could we!  ONWARD!!!!

Driving through New Jersey is a little like driving in Atlanta, if Atlanta were full of angry vikings that have a grudge against you, all driving SUV's like they are in a demolition derby, and if Atlanta was on fire and located in an unused corner of hell. WTF, people? I've been in traffic before, bad traffic even, but this was a different animal all together. Lanes would merge without warning, people just edge in front of you at ridiculous speeds, and sometimes they'd ride next to you in a single lane just to get in front of you. All I can say is that the people up here drive like assholes. A middle finger to them all! Also, WTF are toll lanes supposed to be?!  You go through the gate, and there are no lines past that, so everyone is just in one FUBAR knot of vehicles trying to weave into lines that barely exist!  Seriously, W. T. F?  That is NOT an efficient way to do things!  Steve was the real hero that day. I'm honestly surprised that he didn't get fed up with me twitching and squeaking in abject fear the whole time and just kick me out of the car and into moving traffic, but thankfully he didn't and after what seemed to be an eternity in some gothic netherworld of punishment for past traffic violations, we made it to Port Imperial. Whew.

I like riding on boats. :)

We finally made it into the midtown area on the ferry and started walking. It was hot, but not terrible, and we figured out where we were and where we were going pretty quickly. There was so much to see, and so many people.  It was a constant stream of sensory input coming from very side. I'm not sure where we started out, but we made our way through the streets and headed to Times Square. I'd never seen anything like it! There was so much going on, and unfortunately, although I try hard not to, I apparently stand out very clearly as a tourist. I mean, it isn't like I'm waving a selfie stick around and I'm not wearing a t-shirt that says where I'm from. I assume it's because of my wide eyed, mouth open stare as I looked around me.  Steve doesn't have this problem.  Steve looks mean and intimidating. Me? I look like a sucker, I guess.  Sigh.  We were approached many times by people who wanted to "give" us things...for a donation. We lied and said we weren't carrying cash, and those people snatched back their things and disappeared, thank goodness.  I didn't want their CDs anyway.  There were a lot of  "characters" on Times Square that you can take your pictures with if you want to pay. Two topless girls wearing body paint, a kind-of Mickey Mouse, a kind-of Elmo and the like. No thank you, please! I just want to be left alone to stare at things with my mouth open, if you don't mind!  At some point we apparently offended a local guy who was trying to talk to us. I was called rude by a New Yorker! I'm not sure if I should be ashamed or proud! Haha.

We walked across Broadway and we made our way to Rockefeller Center! I got to see the weird gold guy (Prometheus, apparently)  in person! I also learned that Steve doesn't like to take selfie pictures with me because it is "too hard'" so...well, ok, then. Nice. We went into the Comcast Building and looked around for a bit. We got tickets to Top of the Rock, another recommendation by someone in the know.  It's easier to get tickets to that than the Empire State Building and the view is just as good! We didn't actually have to wait that long to go up, thank goodness, and it was totally worth it!  I usually don't like heights, even in buildings, but I was fascinated at the view! There was so much to see and I took lots of pictures. A nice man offered to take some pictures of me since he saw me struggling to take a selfie with the buildings in the background.  I also managed to get in a couple of pictures with Steve, so maybe years from now people won't assume I was in New York by myself. Screw not wanting to take pictures with me!  I'd climb on his back and shanghai his damn phone if I had to. >:(  We stood up there for some time and I was duly impressed! New York is pretty freaking neato.

When we descended from the top, we decided get something to eat, and I'm pretty sure that saved us from being in a very bad place later on. I wasn't that hungry, and had it been up to me we would have just grabbed something quick so we could go back outside, but Steve was determined we should eat in a sit down place instead of just grabbing a snack. We found a burger place in the basement of the Comcast Building and had lunch. When we were done, We stopped and took some pictures of the Atlas statue and St. Peter's Cathedral, and started to notice a lot of sirens and emergency vehicles going by. At that point, we were walking towards the theater where we had tickets to see the show. We knew we would be a little early, but didn't want to run the risk of missing anything. However, when we were trying to walk towards 7th avenue we kept getting blocked by police.  No explanation, just that we couldn't walk that way. We wound up at an intersection where a crowd of people were standing and a veritable tangle of emergency vehicles, black SUVs and police were gathered, but we couldn't tell what was going on. We we were just told we couldn't go any further. Time was getting close for us to be at the theater, but we were told that the entire street was closed. We practically ran down every street and kept getting blocked, but I was determined to get Steve to the theater to do the one thing that he'd shown interest in! We finally found a place to cross over, which was several blocks from where we needed to be, but we made it just in the nick of time to pick up our tickets. It wasn't until we were waiting in line to get into the theater that we found out about the terrible accident that had happened in Times Square. It was then that I realized that had we not stopped to eat, there was a very good chance we would have been where that guy plowed through the pedestrians. I'm not saying we would have been hurt, but we probably would gave seen it happen, so thank goodness for Steve being hungry! I feel terrible about those people who got hurt, and the girl who was killed.  I hope none of the people who were hit were the people trying to give us stuff this morning.  I'm also glad, as much as you can say glad in a situation like this, that the guy wasn't a terrorist. We realized that might have been why the FBI (Steve recognized the black SUVs) had been called in, because cars running into crowds of pedestrians has been the MO of a lot of terrorist situations around the world.  Ugh. So far I managed to screw up the transportation and almost made us witness, if not an actual part, to a horrible accident.  Maybe I'm not the greatest travel director in the world.


We had very nice seats in the theater and the play was really amazing. I'd seen Phantom performed in Nashville by a touring company years ago, but seeing it again in a much more intimate setting was great! I'm very familiar with the story, but I have to say that this was the first time that the Phantom really creeped me out. I have also realized that now I am more fascinated with the props, costumes and stage "magic" than I am with the acting (although it was great, but my eye for technical and practical effects was much more keen.)  It was late afternoon when we got out, and we were going to take a Circle Line Tour, but we'd just missed the last boat before the night cruises began, and since we were exhausted, filthy (seriously, that city is very dirty), and still had to drive back to Short Hills, we ended up leaving. I would love to go back sometime when we didn't have anything planned and just wander the city. Find some good hole in the wall places to eat and see the museums, but you have to have a whole lot more time to do it than one day! It was a fun adventure of a day, except for the drunk driver situation.  I do like New York, but I'll need to get to know it better before I know if I heart it!

BLOGGED ALONG THE WAY: JERSEY GIRL EDITION - MAY 17, 2017

Today was supposed to be much different than it turned out, but that's ok.

When planning the trip up here, I knew that there would be two days I'd basically be on my own. The first day (yesterday) went about like I thought it would.  I wanted to figure things out and find out how and where things were so I would be comfortable getting out and about. My original plan for today was to go into NYC by myself and wonder around, a plan that was not well received by anyone (save one person and I adore him for that.)  I found a train in town that would go directly into the city and I could take the subway anywhere else once I got there.  Ultimately, when I went to bed last night I wasn't 100% sure I was going to go.  Lots of people tried talking me out of it when I'd talked about it at home.  I'm sure I could have done it without any problems, but the more I thought about it, the less I liked the idea.  Strangely enough, I wouldn't have been afraid to be in the city alone, but getting there was what worried me.  After not being able to cross the street without asking two people and losing my way three times yesterday, the idea of trying to navigate the New Jersey public transit system gave me the wiggins.  In the end, I decided I probably wouldn't go. I'm a bit ashamed that I punked out, but it was actually for the best in the end because I woke up sick this morning.  Well, let me rephrase, I woke up feeling ok and was fine for a while, but I dozed back off about half an hour after Steve left for work, and woke up again feeling very dizzy and all around yucky.  Nothing serious, I was sure, but my head felt like it weighed a thousand pounds and I had a slight case of vertigo.  Eh, walking straight is overrated anyway.  I lay there for a long time wondering which deity I had offended, but no answer came forth. I finally got up and made myself decent, as in, I put on pants, and since it was after 11 by the time I could drag myself around, I decided I should probably try to eat, so I went down to the rather elegant restaurant (thank God I put on pants) downstairs to get lunch.

An aside: I realized that when I was going through my clothes that everything I brought is either black or blue and it all pretty much looks the same. I didn't realize when I was packing. These hotel people are going to think I am wearing the same clothes all week! Heh.

After lunch I still wasn't feeling well, so I went back to the room and fell asleep for a looooooong time. Seriously, this is not how I wanted to spend my day, but I must have needed the rest.  I woke up feeling sicker than I had before, so I was glad that I'd not gone anywhere.  I am mad I wasted a day feeling sick, but after dosing myself with loads of medicine (I usually carry something for every ailment), I started feeling much better after a couple of hours. Thank goodness, because I didn't want to be sick the whole time we were on our trip. That would suck.

We had dinner with Steve's coworker again and walked around the mall for a while talking. He's a very funny guy and apparently a computer genius. I mean a legitimate computer genius and not in the hyperbolic sense, so he had a lot of interesting stories to tell. We had a great time. His wife is flying up here tonight and they are going to stay in the NYC over the weekend. What are the chances that we'll bump into them? Haha.


Tomorrow, Steve and I are going to travel into the city for the day and do some stuff! I hope I will be 100% better by then and that we will have a good time!

BLOGGED ALONG THE WAY: JERSEY GIRL EDITION - MAY 16, 2017

I stayed in bed for a long time this morning. This is a luxury I afford myself on days when I can and I recommend it! I kept myself entertained, though. :)  Today was going to be my "Figure Things Out Day" and so I lay in bed looking online for things to do and at subway times and things like that. I was thinking of exploring Short Hills today, but there isn't a lot for me here.  It's a lovely place, but it is a smallish town where people mostly work and live and not a place with a lot of interest for someone who doesn't live here. There is a huge mall across the street, though, which I decided to check out and do a bit of unnecessary shopping!

I embarrassed myself starting out, because I asked the concierge if I could walk there. "Sure," she says "just walk down the ramp to the crosswalk and go across."  "OK! I say, having no idea what ramp or which direction.  I walked four different ways, hoping that something remotely resembling a crosswalk would appear, but alas...  I finally had to go back in and ask again, feeling like a supreme idiot, and the other concierge walked me to the door and pointed down the second road I'd tried to walk down.  Apparently I didn't see the crosswalk because the lines were faded. Oops.  I was embarrassed, but he seemed good natured about it. Oy.

The mall is of those places with lots of seriously designer stores and expensive jewelry shops inside, so I spent a lot of time just looking through windows. I certainly can't afford Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana, and even if I could, they don't make things in my size, so I did a lot of walking and not shopping at first.  I also got my first in-person look at a lot of designer clothes that showed me that just because people have money doesn't mean that they have taste! Haha! Seriously, a LOT of it was ugly. Like, clown ugly. I do not understand. I did get to hold a Christian Louboutin shoe in my hand, and it cost two of my paychecks, so I put it down very carefully and walked away slowly! Haha!  The only place I really wanted to go into but didn't was Tiffany & Co. which is one of my favorite fancy jewelers, and they do have relatively affordable silver jewelry, but there were no less than 8 sales people in there and no customers, and I didn't want to have to talk to anyone who would ultimately be disappointed that I wasn't going to buy anything, so I just passed on by.

I walked around until I got to the part of the mall that looked familiar, as in, I have seen these stores and can afford things in them. I did a little shopping, but nothing outrageous. I kept getting turned around in the bigger stores, and people kept having to help me find my way out. Big stores are haaaaaaaaard, I guess.  I did find a fancy candy store, a Lush, wherein I found some lovely smelling things and while in Bloomingdales I discovered  (in the lowest level of the store, in the home goods section no less) the place where they sold clothes for people of my size. Nice, huh? I'm not to the point where I need to buy clothes at Chattanooga Tent & Awning or anything like that, but literally, I think I found the only place I could buy clothes in that whole store!  What?!  Of course I bought something, because I'm a basic heifer and I wanted a Bloomingdale's brown bag, so I shopped in the basement!  I got out of there before someone could put me in a cage and show me off as a freak of nature, though.

When Steve came back from work, we had just enough time to clean up before we had dinner with his coworker, who is a very nice guy.   He's younger than we are and madly in love with his wife, and we had some fun conversation with him over food at The Cheesecake Factory.  He jokingly shamed me for NOT getting cheesecake after dinner, so he's basically a man after my own heart. :) 


Steve had a lot of work to do after we got back to our room.  He's very busy on several different projects and he has to extra homework after his regular work, so we are each doing our own thing for now.  Although all I really did was shop and eat today, I enjoyed it.