New Jersey Visit: 11/4 – 12/2/19

It is always bittersweet for me to be back in New Jersey to spend time with my family and friends. It’s feels like a tug of war in my brain, however, as I embrace the old and attempt to find its’ place in the new. I don’t live in New Jersey anymore. I live on the road with my husband. We get to travel to new places (some repeaters), and we are getting a glimpse into the diversity of our beautiful country as we wonder about where we will live when we grow up and settle down. What we don’t get is the regularity of spending time with the people we love. And, we don’t have a home base. Although, I do consider my mom’s home my home base. While it is not a complaint, this is the reality of my current life on the road, of being a full timer. All I can do is accept that which is and “to bloom where I am planted”, one of my mom’s favorite words of wisdom.

During our time back in New Jersey, Scott and I went hiking a few times in good-ole-Harriman State Park. Harriman is located in New York, just outside of the town of Tuxedo. It is the second largest state park in New York. Located in Rockland and Orange counties 30 miles north of New York City, it is a haven for hikers with over 200 miles of hiking trails. The park is also known for its 31 lakes, multiple streams, public camping area, and great vistas. The park’s hiking trails are currently maintained by volunteers from the New York – New Jersey Trail Conference. Although, the elevation gain is minimal, there are lots of great trails to get your heart rate up. We have a favorite that we call “Our Loop”, which is about 4.5 miles in length. Here we are with our friend, Karen. It was perfect weather for an east coast hike.

Below are some highlights from this trip back home.

Finnegan’s for Lunch with Mom
Celebrating Grandma Moo’s 90th Birthday!
Sixty and Sensational
Visiting Baby Luke
Taking the Ferry to the Big Apple
Holiday Dinner at Carmines with “The Gang”
Celebrating Danielle’s 28th Birthday!
Getting a Tree in NYC
Helped with the Lights
Celebrating Lizzie’s Birthday!

NJ and NYC: September 2019

Our first stop in New Jersey was to visit my sister, Terry, and her husband, Gary. They found the BEST parking garage for our trailer for a few weeks that we couldn’t refuse. We also enjoyed a fabulous dinner at a famous farm-to-table restaurant in Hackettstown called James On Main.

Since I hadn’t been to the Jersey Shore since the summer of 2017, we decided to stop in LBI for a few days before heading to Bergen County. I REALLY missed my beach.

As you can see, the beach was not very crowded. We were content with the peacefulness of the day.

Look Mom! My handstand!
Celebrating our friends’ anniversary and friendship!
Saying goodbye to my baby girl. Have a safe ride home!

After the beach, we headed to Oradell for a few weeks. We enjoyed a delicious dinner with my nephew, Steve, and his wife, Malou, at The Stony Hill in Hackensack.

On Friday, September 20, 2019, Danielle was a bridesmaid in her friend’s wedding. It was a beautiful day, and we were so happy to have made it back into town to celebrate with them.

My old buddy Don from my Lipton days!!
Phil and the “Girls”

And then there was my “SURPRISE” 60th Birthday Party on 9/22/19. It was an amazing day that I will always remember. My husband pulled it off and I am so very thankful for the gift of seeing almost all of the people who mean the most to me together in one room, at one time.

On my birthday, September 24, we took the ferry from Weehawken to New York City. It was a spectacular day.

My sister, Rose, surprised me by showing up for my party. Today, she was flying back to Florida, but not before we spent a little time together walking south on the High Line.

Sweet Lavender!

Rose took off for the airport, and Scott and I made our way to Central Park. Although I have been in Central Park before, I never walked through it like a tourist. They still have the horse-drawn-carraige rides. Last I knew, they were banned from the the park.

The Lake
View northeast from atop Belvedere Castle
View of Delacroix Theater
Shakespeare Garden
Shakespeare Garden
Looking out on the Great Lawn

That evening, we saw a Broadway show. It was a wonderful birthday!

The following weekend, we took the ferry into Manhattan (again), but this time with my in-laws. It was a beautiful but windy day.

Dani found a great restaurant for lunch. Afterwards, they got a tour of her new apartment on the upper east side. Below is a picture of the entranceway.

As if one Broadway Show wasn’t enough, my daughter called me on Tuesday morning as she had scored lottery tickets for Mean Girls. I found myself back on the Weehawken ferry. This was a “bonus” last visit with my girl.

Time to say goodbye to New Jersey and head northeast.

New Jersey: 5/15 – 6/3/19

I have realized that the cheapest flights either depart at the crack of dawn or arrive after midnight.  It is a costly headache to have to find a place to sleep in the middle of the night (especially in Los Angeles) than it would be to pay a higher rate to fly at a more reasonable time of day.  I will mention more of this later in the blog.

Our visit to New Jersey was a whirlwind for me as I pretty much never stopped.  It began with my mom’s 90th birthday weekend.  We had a family party planned with 22 people for dinner at Lieto’s on Saturday night.  

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This is what 90 looks like!!

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Mom and Siblings

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Mom and Grandchildren (missing Patrick, Paige, and Cody)

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Althea, Mom, Rose and Brother Bernie

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Mom and Danielle

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My honey and me

On her actual birthday, May 21, we took a ride to Barnegat, NJ, to see my brother, Jim, and Jeanette’s new digs in a beautiful 55+ retirement community about 15 minutes from one of my favorite places, LBI.  (I just may find myself down in that area someday.)  We enjoyed a seafood lunch on the island, and returned home that same day. 

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Jim and Mom

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Selfie outside of restaurant

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Mom and Stephanie

On Thursday, we went to Finnegan’s in Westwood for another birthday celebration with my mom’s brother, Bernie, and his wife, Rose, and my dad’s brother, Phil, and his wife, Dorothy.  Just another reason to celebrate my mom. 

9C05A647-7A64-41D7-9E3C-EF2A0BF56C11B9162940-CC11-4C33-8F5C-4D0502D202054C67BDFC-0EA8-40C2-A114-DA058EB78CB6On May 26, 2019, my daughter, Danielle, was the maid-of-honor in the wedding of her childhood neighbor and dear friend, Alexis.  Scott and I were invited to a Pre-Wedding Rehearsal party at Alexis’ and Arianna’s new home in Booton, NJ, on the Friday evening before the wedding.  It was great to see their digs and meet the rest of the bridal party and close friends.  The wedding took place at Rock Island Lake Club, a beautiful lake-front venue in Sparta, NJ.  It was truly a beautiful ceremony with a fun reception to follow.  Why is there so much food served at weddings????

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Ariana & Alexis

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Maid of Honor Speech

D414EAE2-6633-4149-9F40-8083255C468A37AD8257-5867-4CE5-A1F2-6299CC07ADFDMemorial Day evening was spent at the Cheesecake Factory to celebrate my great-nephew, Marlon’s, 21st birthday.  Why didn’t anybody take pictures??  It was a fun evening.  

Scott and I were able to take one hike in Harriman, and I got to three yoga classes at Juluka, my training location.  It was a year ago this month that I completed my 200 hours to become a RYT, and it was wonderful to see my teachers and teachers-in-training again.  It’s a family that I miss and think of often during our travels.  I also crammed in doctors visits to get in my annual checkups – physical/mammography/body-skin check.  And, I was able to see my orthopedist to learn that I had a small tear in my ACL in my left knee. So much for being ski bums this past winter.  I went back to my favorite Physical Therapist, Jeff Grinkovitch, in Oradell for a take-home exercise program to strengthen my knee.  Thank you, Jeff.

Scott returned to San Diego on Wednesday, May 29, while I stayed in NJ to attend my very first Bat Mitzvah for a young girl that I tutored for several years.  It was a privilege to see how she had grown and to witness how her determination and effort to overcome dyslexia while simultaneously studying Hebrew paid off.  She was amazing!  I was beyond proud of her accomplishments.  

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My date

In between attending the ceremony at the Temple and the evening gala, I made a quick trip to Valley Hospital to meet my second great-nephew, Luke Thomas Smith.  He was absolutely perfect!  Congratulations to the parents of boy #2.

336B47E5-388E-42A1-B4A0-A53B9710F39BD5801B87-1E5E-400F-A186-920AA2F11908My final event before returning home was an art show at Glen Rock Art Studio.  My goddaughter had won an award, and I was invited to the showing.  She is too stinking cute and becoming quite the little artist.  It will be nice to see how she develops her talent in the years to come.

132DCADB-E7FF-4615-9F02-4AF640FBCFDBThere were so many friends that I wanted to see during my short visit to NJ, but it was impossible to make that happen.  After one year of full-timing (living on the road), I am realizing that “home” is where Scott and the trailer are.  New Jersey is my hometown, but no longer my home.  It is now a place that I visit.  And, there is only so much one can do during a limited visit.

Scott returned to San Diego a few days before me.  His 8:25 p.m. flight out of Newark scheduled to arrive at 11:25 p.m, was delayed due to poor weather and overloading.  Overloading??  What??  They had to wait while they emptied fuel from the plane, and some people actually got off the plane, too.  By the time the plane was ready to take off, it would not have landed in San Diego by midnight, which is the cutoff for any incoming and outgoing flights.  Who knew this rule??  Thus, he had to fly into Los Angeles airport, and then take a two-hour bus ride to the San Diego airport.  This was a long night/day for him.  He was up for 27 hours.  

A few days later, my return flight was scheduled to leave Newark at 6:00 p.m. There were delays, and it was an hour later before we took off.  At least my plane landed in San Diego by 10:30 p.m.  Scott picked me up and we drove three hours just past Los Angeles.  There were several motels that I searched on google that had limited availability.  They all said the same thing.  “We only have two beds in a room or a suite available.”  A one-bed room cost from $89 – $125.  A two-bed room started at $135.  As it was, we paid $154 at a Super 8.  Highway ripoff.  Just saying.  We would only be there for about eight hours.  If I had gotten in a little earlier in the day, we could have driven the six hours to Sequoia National Forest to sleep in our trailer for free.  

New Jersey: 4/12 – 4/23/19

I left Scott in Phoenix, Arizona, while I travelled home to see my family and attend a bridal shower.  Dani’s neighbor and childhood friend is getting married in May, and Dani is the Maid of Honor.  That Friday, April 12, the weather was beautiful in Arizona as well as in New Jersey, yet my flight was delayed four hours.  The problem was that the mid-section of the country was dealing with terrible, dangerous storms that would not allow for any aircraft to travel through.  This created a backlog of scheduled flights, massive cancellations, and longer redirected flights.  My 7:00 p.m. scheduled arrival time in NJ became 11:30 p.m., and I walked into my mom’s house at 1:11 a.m.  Just shy of 90 years old, she was waiting up for me.  That’s what moms do, I suppose.

The next day, I went into Manhattan to pick up my daughter and the “shower paraphernalia” and then headed back to New Jersey.  We ran around with GMoo shopping for furniture and other items for Dani’s new apartment.  Later that day, we picked up helium balloons for the party and stuffed them into the backseat of my rental car.  I was exhausted from the long travel day on Friday, not getting much sleep that night, and running around all day.  That evening when we got to my mom’s house, we put the balloons in the front porch thinking that they would last longer that way.  Everything was ready to go for the 11:00 a.m. shower the following morning.  When it came time to leave Sunday morning, we had one minor glitch.  I could NOT find my car keys.  We looked EVERYWHERE.  Dani was freaking out (I don’t blame her) as I tried to retrace my steps to no avail.  I woke up my mom from a sound sleep to tell her that I needed to take her car because I couldn’t find my car keys.  I hadn’t yet taken into consideration that my rental car was parked behind her car in the garage.  OMG I AM TURNING INTO MY MOTHER.  Then, Dani reminded me that all the party “paraphernalia” was in my locked rental car.  She was seething.  Finally, Dani looked in the front porch and saw the balloons (which we both thought were still in the car) and found the keys in the front door.  OMG or LOL?  Neither.  After coming in the side door last night, I went back out to the car to get the balloons.  I unlocked the front door and put them in the porch, but never took the keys back out of the doorknob.  So, both the side door and the front door were unlocked all night.  My daughter was now a stress bomb.  I have to say, however, that she pulled it all together and the shower was a big success.  I am proud of my girl!

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Table Centerpiece

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Rainbow Candy Box Favors

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Mom Waiting for the Arrival

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Fun & Games

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The Happy Couple

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Cutting the Unicorn Rainbow Cake

C1FD0BEE-2FE6-42BF-94DE-D0BC9F7EB8D9Dani got the keys to her new apartment on Monday, April 22, but she didn’t start the move until Good Friday.  I drove in Thursday night and slept on her couch in the old apartment.  The movers were coming early the next morning, and I wanted to be there when they arrived.  I can’t say enough about these two men that went above and beyond the contracted amount and moved just about everything for us.  We did some cleaning and unpacking and then took a walk around the corner and had dinner at this little gem.

A3AA54F5-BB0F-4F87-9056-10B98885CE94That night I slept on a Aero Bed in Dani’s new living room on the fifth floor.  Neither one of us got much sleep due to the free concert on the ground below us, the on and off pouring rain, and for me…a deflated bed around 3 a.m.  When I finally woke up, my head was pounding, my sinuses inflamed, and my voice practically gone.  Feeling like I wanted to crawl into a hole and hide, I toughed it out, and we did some more unpacking, cleaning and even laundry.  Honestly, I am so glad that I was able to help her with this move.   My timing to get sick was not the greatest.  I am so happy that she is now living in a pretty, residential area where the streets are wide and uncluttered.  Look how happy she is with the width of her new neighborhood sidewalks!

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Rooftop

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Mom, there is an elevator!

On Easter Sunday morning, my mom, Dani, and I enjoyed breakfast together.  Even the Easter Bunny showed up and left some chocolate bunnies.

99129AD0-EB9F-4C36-825F-A6A160153BFCLater that afternoon, we had Easter dinner at the Whitneys.  We enjoyed plenty of food and drink, as always.  I crawled into bed that night, rubbing Vicks on my neck and chest.  The next day, my pulmonologist squeezed me into his overbooked schedule.  I was diagnosed with Bronchitis and Sinusitis, and I had a return flight to Phoenix to catch the following day.   My timing was pathetic, but I got on that flight to join my husband for a last few days in Arizona.

 

 

Home Visits/Colorado/New Jersey: 10/29 – 12/11/18

Our adventure together went into a holding pattern from the end of October into early December.  Scott stayed in Colorado to help his dad in Estes Park, while I flew home to spend time with my mom.  We stayed busy, but we both agreed that almost six weeks is way too long to spend apart.

While not cooking and hanging with his dad, Scott was able to take some hikes, and he even did some early season skiing!  Here are some highlights from his month in Rocky Mountain National Park without me.

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Fern Lake

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View from Flattop Peak

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View of Long’s Peak from Lake Estes

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Long’s Peak Trail

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Making a snow-shoe trail near Lake Helene

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View of Lake Helene

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Rest Stop in Utah

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I, on the other hand, traveled to the East Coast.  It was the first time I had ever been in an airport on Halloween.  Not only did Southwest Airline decorate the terminal, but they provided a free cocktail once on board.  Happy Halloween!

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Southwest Airline’s Terminal 10/31/18

Before arriving in New Jersey, I took a slight detour to Fort Lauderdale, FL, to visit with my sister and her family.  The sunshine was quite inviting, and it was great to see my Florida Family!  From beach to bar, to visiting with her grand puppy, Teddy, and his parents, it was fun to spend time with Dean, Rose, Cody, Paige, Alex, and Teddy.

Beach Day…Dinner Date

University of Miami Football Game

Teddy Love

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Fort Lauderdale Boat Show

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One of my favorite sounds:

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On 11/6/18, I flew to New Jersey to spend time with family and friends.  I have to say that there were many that I didn’t get to see.  Hopefully, I will do better the next time I am in Jersey.

My visit began with impromptu visits with friends.

Next, came the Thanksgiving weekend activities.

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Crashing the Thanksgiving Eve Pie Baking Tradition

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Thanksgiving Day Dinner

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The Best Part of the East Coast!

Then, we spent an afternoon with my grand nephew!  He is one smart little boy.

Of course, there was the annual Thanksgiving weekend JETS football game at MetLife Stadium.  Win or lose, we always have a fun time.

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JETS Game

It was great to see my friend, Liz, and celebrate her birthday actually ON HER BIRTHDAY!

Celebrating Danielle’s “Golden” Birthday:

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A Golden Star for a Golden Girl

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Blow Out Shop

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NYC Speak Easy

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Great Food, Great Friends

Next, came a “Toys For Tots” Speeder Trip in Pennsylvania with my brother-in-law, Gary.

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My Inaugural Speeder Trip

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Third Place

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Co-Pilot Sue and Pilot Gary

I lost a number of “visiting” days due to the unexpected need for some dental work.  What a lovely picture!  I can’t believe that I am sharing this photo!

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Surprise Double Crown Event

Having survived that surprise episode, it was a privilege to join my mom at her Woman’s Club Annual Performing Arts Event.

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Mama and Me

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Mom with Judy Brendel, our neighbor growing up.

I hope you enjoy a little bit of Christmas cheer!

Finally, my last hurrah…a day trip to NYC with dear friends!!

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Bryant Park Pond and Christmas Tree

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Fifth Avenue Coach Store “Rex” Display

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St. Patrick’s Cathedral Nativity Display (complete with a dog)

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DeRosa Family at Rockefeller Center

Time to rejoin my husband on the West Coast.  We won’t be living in our RV until the end of January, but our journey will continue in the state of Washington.