Posts Tagged With: NJ

New York Stories

NYC 2016 (53)

Onward to the Big Apple from Washington, DC we ventured.  With stops in Newark, Delaware and River Plaza, New Jersey to revisit childhood neighborhoods, we made the trip to the Lincoln Tunnel with little trouble.  Good thing we had more than a handful of quarters and plenty of cash in small bills, since the bridge, tunnel and parkway tolls were quite pricey (and many were cash only with no attendants!).  Ok, we can do this, right?

Down the spiral into the tunnel we went, keeping up speed and staying in our lane between the buses and trucks. We shot out into the sunlight on the other side and tried to get our bearings, heading to 3rd Avenue and 45th street.  Good thing Jackie was an expert navigator with her Maps application, because you really need to know your way around one-way streets and traffic jams.  By the way, in Manhattan the right lane is really only for parked delivery trucks, the far left is the same and the space in-between is sort of up for grabs.  Maybe you double park, maybe three taxis angle in from the left and right, maybe you get to drive through.

Streetside in front of our Wyndham Midtown 45 was a huge truck loading the day’s laundry.  Naturally it meant we had to squeeze just in front, along a wall of garbage almost at the crosswalk. Quick! Unload the suitcases and round up the women and children!  Well it wasn’t quite that bad, but Jackie was left with the bags and Doug went in search of a parking garage.

33rd floor

Cheers from the 33rd floor terrace.

However, our room on the 19th floor was amazing by New York standards.  Kitchen set-up and a great view up and down 45th street between Grand Central Station and the United Nations building.  How cool!  We unpacked and grabbed some beer from or DC brew tour and checked out the owner’s terrace on the 33rd floor.  Fabulous.  Now this was living.

NYC 2016 (27)

St. Patrick’s Cathedral

So what did we manage in two quick days in Manhattan?  Quite a bit, actually.  I guess it was like speed-tourism.  One big help was our decision to buy two New York Passes, which we highly recommend.  The pass gives you discounted admission to nearly every spot you want to visit, plus you can do the hop-on hop-off Big Bus tours, water taxis and ferries.

NYC 2016 (15)

Spices and teas at Grand Central Market.

First night in town we walked over to Rockefeller Plaza and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.  On the way back we walked through the cavernous Grand Central Terminal and checked out the Marketplace for some bagels and Danish for breakfast.

NYC 2016 (130)

Big Bus Tours in Times Square

Next day we were up and out to Times Square where we got our Big Bus tour tickets and validated our 2-day New York Pass. New Yorkers say it’s only a few blocks walk, but it can be tricky as you navigate the taxis, scaffolding, curbside garbage and other folks rapidly moving around you.  Oh, and if you look up at the skyscrapers while walking… well, it can be quite disorienting.

NYC 2016 (71)

Statue of Liberty

We took the downtown loop bus, sitting in the open air top level and listening with earbuds to our guide explain the cool buildings and history along the way. Getting off at Battery Park we were able to catch a ferry to the Statue of Liberty, then Ellis Island and back to the park.

NYC 2016 (75)

One World Trade Center

NYC 2016 (81)

The Oculus

Next stop was One World Trade Center, the 9/11 Memorial and Museum and the soaring Santiago Calatrava designed Oculus Transportation Hub.  We were both very, very moved by the exhibits and memorial.  Such a sad event that brought back memories of watching the tragedy unfold just 15 years ago.

We finished the day with a ride up to Top of the Rock at 30 Rockefeller Plaza.  Amazing views of the skyline all around us.

30 rock

Top of the Rock

Day 2 started with a backstage tour of Radio City Music Hall, where we got to check out the stage hydraulics, Rockette dance hall, costume shop, exclusive Roxy Lounge and a photo op with a wonderfully sweet Rockette.

NYC 2016 (128)

The upper level is where my family had seats for the famous Christmas and Nativity show.

Hustled over to Times Square and caught the uptown loop atop the bus, then got off at the Natural History Museum.  Great evolution and dinosaur exhibits were the highlight.

NYC 2016 (136)

Natural History Museum

Heading back out to catch the bus uptown we got drenched in a downpour, but once it cleared we jumped up top to see Harlem, Grants Tomb, a stop at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine and a drive along both sides of Central Park on our way to the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

NYC 2016 (148)

Egyptian artifacts at the Met


NYC 2016 (150)

Armor at the Met

Wow, the Egyptian artifacts and temple reconstruction, Greek and Roman sculptures and Medieval armor displays were highlights for us here. A cavernous space with way more than you can absorb in a short visit.

NYC 2016 (166)

We finished the day with drinks on the 33rd floor terrace and then a trip to the top of the Empire State Building.  Another spectacular view of the city, this time with the lights aglow.  Wow, what an ending to a great visit.

NYC 2016 (177)

Next morning we needed to get the car out of the parking deck and retrace our steps, or roads and tunnels, out of the city.  This part of the trip will involve a stop in Hunterdon County to see the Park System HQ building where we lived in the upstairs apartment.  Then to High Bridge to see our first house.  Our old apartment had been converted to offices and the solar greenhouse I had designed and staffed had been removed due to lack of maintenance.  Walking the grounds, I got a bit choked up seeing the trails and gardens I had planned out 40 years ago were still there, along with the historic gazebo we relocated to the site.

Hunterdon HQ

Hunterdon County Park System HQ, circa 1985


HQ building in 2016

Hunterdon County 2016 (7)

The gardens of the Arboretum, with the gazebo focal point.

In nearby High Bridge, Jackie and I were sad to see that our first house was in disrepair.  It seemed that little had been done in the years since we sold it – sad commentary on a cute place with lots of potential.

High Bridge 2016

Our first house in High Bridge, 2016

Two days of driving and we were back home in Kennesaw, ready to plan our next adventure.

Lessons Learned?

Is there a lesson in our visit to the past?  What will you find when you go back to your roots?  In my case it was a mix:  a return of memories of growing up, family moments and friends long forgotten.  Some things you work so hard on endure, but others are fleeting and can slip away with time.  Best not to think too hard about it.  We had fun.

Statue of Liberty selfie

“Send me your retired teachers … “

Be sure to check out the “Places Gallery” for some of the many pictures I took and revisit the previous blog for a recent update.

Next adventure is a trip to Key West in the Winnebago.  Stay tuned!

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Monuments, Memorials and Memory Lane

Off we go to use up our accumulated days of timeshare before we turn it back to Wyndham through their Ovation program.  We have a plan to spend 5 days in Washington, DC and 2 days in Manhattan (totally not enough, but this will be speed sightseeing!).

This time the RV stays home and we hit the highways in the Scion.  Along the way we plan to stop by some of the places we remember from our past.  In Doug’s case it will be childhood neighborhoods in Delaware and New Jersey; for both of us it will be our first house in New Jersey and the above-the-office apartment we rented for that first real job.

UPDATE:  We are now home from the adventure and I can now post some pictures and share some stories.  I’m going to add some information to the Foodie page, post lots of pictures to the Gallery page and hopefully keep your interest.  Next blog page will be devoted to the New York stories, so you will want to check that out as well.

So can you really go back and re-live the days of your childhood by visiting all those great neighborhoods and places you remember?  Have they changed much in 55 years or 30 years?  What will you find?

Newark, Delaware

On the way from Washington, DC we drove to the Newark, Delaware neighborhood where Doug’s family bought their second house.  While it was being built we stayed just down the hill in a small brick rental.  What are some things I remember from that time?  I recall going to Junior High for the first time, a late Spring snowstorm that with snow so deep we built an ingloo to play in, lining up to take our sugar cubes with the Polio vaccine, playing in the creek behind our houses and mischief night fun in the neighborhood (that was the night before Halloween when you could pull pranks on your neighbors).

Second house

The second house Doug’s family grew up in, circa 1961/62 (and YES we had real snowstorms back then).

Arbor Park 2016

Not much had changed after 40 years or so…

My sister of course remembers the time my brother chipped her front tooth (the cap for which she is just now replacing once again).  I recall the time in the rental house when our hamster got out of his cage, never to be found again.  It caused great panic for my great Aunt who was babysitting us that night and had already named it “that rat.”  I was sure we would lose both the hamster and my great Aunt that night before my parents returned!

Newark 2016

Our rental house and scene of the missing hamster caper …

The old neighborhood looked pretty much the same, except grown-in much more.  I sure thought we lived on a hill with a steep front lawn, but by the looks of it today it was really just a gentle slope. I wonder if the pachysandra and hosta out front are the same ones that mom planted so long ago…

River Plaza, New Jersey

Further on into New Jersey and we crossed toward the shore and River Plaza, which is just next to Red Bank and along the Navesink River.  Small world indeed, one of the guys on our DC Brew tour lived in the same area and we had been talking about some of the landmarks.

Ok, my elementary school was old even back then.

Ok, my elementary school was old even back then.

I found my way to River Plaza Elementary, turning just after Chris’s Delicatessen (still there) and was able to chat up the front office staff there.  Yes, this is the school I went to for kindergarten and first grade and would it be possible to have a look around?  Students won’t report until after Labor Day (wow) so I was able to check out the all-purpose room and hallways I once walked.  The all-purpose room was that combination of raised stage, gym and kitchen area where you ate lunch.  All I can recall of lunches was that on Thursdays you could buy a hot dog. Still K-5 with about 275 students.

Around the corner and down a hill toward the marsh was our neighborhood.  Found our old house and met the nice couple who live there now, Mr. and Mrs. Cunningham.  We shared some memories of the street and who was still around, who is gone.  The Moores, Mansons, Kulas and Culises.  The empty lot next door where we used to disc and sled during snowstorms was still called the Elephant Pit, even though there was now a house there and I doubt it was ever an elephant graveyard.  Some of the great trees with rope swings along the banks of the marsh (that led to Dutch Neck, a netherwoods area that only the brave would wander into) were gone, victims of recent storms.

First house

Doug’s family’s first house, circa 1953/54.  I guess it is “midcentury” now.  The style was the same as one that Jackie’s family had growing up, too: Cape Cod (with the unfinished 2nd floor).


The house in 2016. We met the current owners and shared some "whatever happened to ..?" moments.

The house in 2016. We met the current owners and shared some “whatever happened to ..?” moments.


Dairy Dan

Were we crazy then or what? Look how bundled up we were, but we HAD to get our ice cream!

Not much had changed in 50 years really.  This was a neighborhood where you came home on Halloween loaded with a bag of candy and treats, where your parents would shout out and call you to dinner at night, where we all learned to ride 2-wheelers and I tried out my first skateboard… which was indeed a metal skate nailed to a 2×4 for which the skateboarder (victim?) was pulled by rope behind a bicycle.  I still have dirt from that road embedded in my left knee.

Washington Monument

Washington, DC

Whirlwind 4-day tour of our nation’s capitol was a blast, even though it was still very hot (90’s).  Our timeshare was in Old Town Alexandria next to a stop on the Metro.  We bought an unlimited pass and learned our way on the blue, green and yellow lines quite well.  So what sorts of things did we do in Washington?  Saw all sorts of museums, memorials and historical artifacts that made us appreciate the significance of our country even more.  Really reminded us that our nation’s founders set a grand plan in motion that has been representative and responsive and functions well, despite the current election-year rhetoric.

WH Jackie  WH Doug

We toured and visited:

  • Smithsonian Museums of Air & Space, Natural History, American History, National Gallery of Art, National Portrait Gallery
  • National Zoo, US Botanical Garden
  • Union Station, Ford’s Theater, Old Post Office, National Building Museum
  • White House, US Capitol, Willard Hotel, Ebbett’s Grill
  • National Archives (Declaration, Constitution, Bill of Rights, Magna Carta)
  • Supreme Court, Library of Congress


Washington is such a photo-rich city with statues and flags and impressive buildings and marble everywhere.  It is going to take me a while to sort through all my pics, but it was so beautiful to see, even if it was way hot and humid.  A few tours were extra-special and worth the time to try out:

Evening Segway Tour


Have you ever tried a Segway?  How about with a dozen others as you zip along the roads, sidewalks, paths and grounds of DC?  We loved it!!  After a quick training with City Segway Tours, we were off to explore the memorials of the National Mall at night.  Off we went like a swarm of bees, heading to see all these spots, most of which were quite different lit up at night.  A few could not be appreciated as well at night, such as the Vietnam Veterans and FDR Memorials.

MLK  Jefferson

We saw the Washington Monument and memorials to Lincoln, Jefferson, Franklin D. Roosevelt, Korean War, World War II, Vietnam Veterans and Martin Luther King.  We stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and looked out across the reflecting pool as MLK did.  And we were quite surprised at the large crowd of folks at the FDR Memorial who were… playing Pokemon Go.

DC Brew Tour

 DC 2016 (253) DC 2016 (258)

Gotta try a brew tour, so we went with DC Brew Tours and joined a young couple and 9 guys on a bachelor’s party (we were worried about that, but it was cool… even the blow-up girl they brought along).  We hit four breweries that were a real cross-section of how it’s done.  First stop was Port City Brewing for a great Weiss beer and an atmosphere much like our local spot at home.

2016-08-27 17.36.16

We then hit a gastropub, Capitol City Brewing, for a much needed plate of grub and a sampling flight.  Third stop was a small neighborhood brewery (Public Option) with some of the operation in a garage out back.

 DC 2016 (256) DC 2016 (257)

Last stop was truly different.  We pull up to a lot that is surrounded by shipping containers and wire fences.  Inside the gates of Bardo Brewing we see that the entire operation is outdoors.  There are the fermenters and bright tanks outside, with taps from a shipping container surrounded by a pallet-wood bar.  Quite the operation, but the beer was good.

2016-08-27 20.49.59

Bardo Brewing tasting room bar


2016-08-27 20.50.19

At least it was a clear and dry night.

As we closed out the tour we headed to the van, one that very clearly says “DC Brew Tours” with a large mug of beer on it.  We all have our large tour lanyards around our necks as we load in to the van.  But just as we pull away from the curb, a Metro police car pulls out behind us and we are stopped.  Our driver was very professional and had not had a touch of beer all night, but of course was quite rattled as he tried to find the registration card for the van.  We were told the area had a lot of suspicious activity and drug deals, however we checked out.  Umm, I figure it was pretty obvious what we were doing in the area, but I respected their diligence.  Didn’t help that the guys in the back of the van kept sending the blow-up doll forward in the van… “crowd-surfing.”  Ah well, a little extra excitement, no charge.

2016-08-27 18.28.46

Seems like a suspicious van to me …

New York City is our next adventure, so be sure to check the next posting for pictures and stories from the Big Apple.  And check the “Places Gallery” for plenty of photos and “Foodie” for more stories.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Blog at

%d bloggers like this: