Visiting New Jersey With a Jersey Girl

As I mentioned in my last post Linda had planned a trip back to her home state of New Jersey, several months ago. She left NJ just short of a year ago and wanted to go back to spend time with her son and other friends and family during her birthday month. Shortly after we started dating and became an item, she invited me along on this trip. I made the incorrect assumption that she wanted to take me there to show me off. But one day when I was talking to someone on the phone about the trip and mention that might be the case. She quickly corrected me and informed me that I was going there to get approval of her friends and family LOL, “not to show me off”. She was going to spend two weeks there, but I could only manage to get a week free for the visit. So early Labor Day morning September 7, her daughter Jesse took us to the Palm Springs airport. I’m getting ahead of myself a little here. On September 3, I headed down the Linda’s place at Sequoia RV Park. The next day, Friday morning we packed up her rig and both of us headed down to Twentynine Palms, CA where her daughter Jesse lives. This should have been about a six- or seven-hour trip. But due to traffic and the direction we took it ended up being over nine hours. We got there late in the day got set up and called it an early evening. She plans on staying here at Joshua Tree Lake RV Park for the next several months, probably till spring. She had stayed at the same RV park from March until the end of June so that she could be close to her daughter and granddaughters. But this is the high desert and gets extremely hot in the summer months. That’s why she had moved further north to the mountains. In matter fact the next two days Saturday and Sunday the temperatures got up to around 112 both days. We were quite glad to be leaving Monday morning for cooler weather in New Jersey. With the ongoing concerns of the pandemic, air travel has changed considerably. You are required to wear facemasks all the time you’re at the airports and on the planes, which this was fine with us. We both felt relatively safe as most people would keep their distance as best as they could and the airlines certainly are doing a much more thorough job of cleaning the planes and the airports. We were boarded and on our way by 6:30 AM, with a quick stop at Dallas-Fort Worth, before we continued on to Newark, New Jersey airport arriving about 5:30 PM their time. Linda is a true Jersey Girl, having been born and raised in Jersey City. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the chance to visit her childhood neighborhood. But she had told me that from the view from her bedroom window, she could see the Statue of Liberty, across the bay. But this “Jersey Girl” doesn’t act like a city girl at all, she is very comfortable at home in the wilderness and enjoys the great outdoors. I think the main reason is she spent the last couple decades living and raising her family in a rural community called Forest Lake. Which is about an hour from downtown Jersey. This community and several others like it in rural New Jersey are built around different lakes. The nice thing about this Lake is even though it’s a fairly large community none of the houses are built right on the water. But they all have access to the lake and numerous beaches and other public areas around the lake. It’s kind of like where I lived in rural Wisconsin, a small close-knit community. Because of this, most of the families know each other well and spend a great deal of time doing activities together. A matter of fact, the evening we arrived a group of them were having a lobster dinner at one of the beaches. Our gracious host “Jodie” one of Linda’s best friends and her husband Alex had reserved lobsters for us. We didn’t know if we make it in time to eat with everybody else, but we lucked out and arrived just as they were starting to eat. What they do several times a year especially during the summer is they’ll order or plan some kind of main dish and everybody will bring something to pass and have a wonderful dinner together. This year has been a little unusual with the virus and all. But everyone has been taking extra precautions and precious social distancing, when they are out and about. So, everyone feels quite secure when they get together as a group in this small community. There have been no recorded COVID-19 cases around the lake. In this photo you see Linda and me at the end of the table, shortly after we arrived. Linda was being greeted by all her old friends and I was being introduced and I believe the judging began LOL.

We had a wonderful evening together and I got to meet a lot of her close friends and acquaintances. I tried to be on my best behavior, (but as any of you, that know me well), know that is a big challenge. We call it a fairly early evening and headed back to Alex’s and Jodie’s place where we would be staying while we would be out here visiting. After visiting a while longer, we headed off to bed after a long day of traveling. But Linda planned on getting up early and walking with a bunch of her girlfriends, they walk every morning shortly after daybreak. This time of the year that meant they heading out around 6:30 for a couple laps around the lake. Once around the lake I’m told is about 2 miles. I laid in bed relaxing and Linda got back about an hour later happy and rejuvenated. Of course, I was invited along every day, “but me being the gentleman I am,” I didn’t want to intrude on the ladies. Or maybe it was that I felt I would be an embarrassment, because I wouldn’t be able to keep up with them, LOL. While I was there for the week, Linda went on her morning walks, every day but one. The rest of the morning we took it easy and we went to one of the local bagel shops and got bagels for breakfast. There were several things that Linda wanted to make sure I experienced while I was in New Jersey. Such as good bagels, wonderful pizza, Taylor Ham, egg & cheese sandwich on a Kaiser roll, for breakfast and shopping at the Chinese Market, and many other things. Tuesday afternoon had the makings of being the nicest day that week so we planned for a beach day, as Linda refers to it. What this entails is some of the local ladies, (and when they were younger), they & their children would gather at one of the beaches to relax and enjoy the day. So now that Linda’s children and her friend’s children have all grown. It meant that me and four lovely ladies spent several hours, floating on these very comfortable rafts enjoying a beautiful afternoon with the weather in the high 70s or low 80s.

While all the ladies were catching up, I tried to be on my best behavior. But it proved to be a difficult task and I’m sure I embarrass poor Linda a few times. To be honest with you I don’t remember what we did for dinner that night but I know we had a great time. We did so much and saw so many people that I can keep it all straight but every moment was a pure pleasure and Jodie and Alex went out of their way to make me feel so welcome, I can’t thank them enough. But I do remember Wednesday morning after Linda’s early morning walk. We headed over to her sons Jimmy’s new place. He is living in a house with two of his friends, the three of them have a nice bachelor’s pad. This is the first time I got to meet Jimmy and talk to him. I must say that he is a very nice young gentleman and I can see why Linda is so proud of him. The plan was he had off Wednesday and Thursday and Linda and I were going to spend both days with him. Linda just being mom, felt the need to help him organize the new place. Not being in the new place that long he still was getting organized. We didn’t do a whole lot on Wednesday but made plans to spend the whole day Thursday. Helping him get organized and move some items from his old apartment that were still stored there, which we did. This took up just about all of Thursday. Also Thursday evening Jimmy cooked us a great dinner. Linda and I, and his two roommates enjoyed it. You see the three of them take turns cooking, each a couple nights a week. This is nice because then they prepare good meals. Like I said Wednesday we didn’t do much organizing. But I know what was high on Linda’s priority list. So that’s why we spent all day Thursday doing it. Wednesday the plan was to meet up with Alex and Jodie, so the five of us could go out for a very nice dinner. With all the planned activities this was going to be the only opportunity that Linda and I, would be able to take Alex and Jodie out to show our appreciation for hosting us all week. So, we made reservations at Andre’s Lakeside Dining, to be pampered a little. It was a beautiful evening so we sat outside and enjoyed the fresh air and lovely scenery. In this photo from right to left, Alex, Linda, myself, Linda’s son Jimmy and her bestie Jodie.

The meal consisted of numerous courses, and the food and service were excellent. We started off with a lovely salad.

Linda had the Sea Scallops as her main entrée.

I had Pork Osso Bucco. A pork shank slowly cooked in a special sauce and served over Couscous a type of pasta, originating from Maghreb. Which I’ve never had before it was quite delicious.

Linda and I shared each other’s entrées and we both agreed they were quite delicious. There were several other light courses and as I said the food and service was outstanding. But the best part of the evening was the company. Like I said earlier Thursday we spent the day helping Jimmy out getting organized and moving some stuff from his old apartment. Friday, I got to meet a lot of other people and had evening cocktails at a different one of the beaches on the lake. Saturday morning, we got up fairly early and Linda’s younger brother “Eric” pick us up. So, we all could go to their older brother “Bob” place. He lives about an hour away near Woodstock, New York. The main reason for the gathering was that Linda’s, Bob’s and Bob’s wife birthdays are all on September 14. (Sorry no pictures of the gathering.) But we did have a nice visit. And it gave us the opportunity to all meet. “Did I mention earlier that I believe Linda was circulating a questionnaire of whether or not I made the grade?” On the way back from Bob’s place we stopped at High Point State Park the highest point in New Jersey. The mountaintop is 1803 feet above sea level.

Atop the hill sits High Point Monument at 220-foot-high, War Memorial built in 1930.

I can only imagine what the views would look like from atop the monument, but it was not open to the public.

But at the base you had beautiful views of the surrounding Woodlands.

From this point you can see three states New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania.

On Sunday morning we were again up early for another adventure. We were off for a couple hour drive to Ephrata, Pennsylvania. Meeting up with our friends Bill and Kelly Murray. As you may remember, Kelly is Linda’s BFF and is the one that introduced us. (Thanks again Kelly I’m forever in your debt). Kelly and Bill have their own blog and you can find it here.

We met up at a local park and had a beautiful visit, and a picnic lunch of Jersey Mike’s sub sandwiches another New Jersey treat. Bill and Kelly had drove about four hours to meet up with us. So, they came more than half the way. That was so nice of them to go out of their way and do that. The last and first time we were all together. Was at the picnic in Florida back in December when Kelly introduced Linda and I.

The girls did time it so that Kelly and Bill could pick up their son Billy in nearby Lancaster. Billy was headed back with them, to help his dad out with some solar installs the upcoming week. Here’s a photo of Billy and Kelly.

What a wonderful week I had and I sure hope I made the grade!!! But as of now almost a week later I don’t think the verdict’s in yet “LOL”. After a leisurely morning Monday, it was time for me to head off to the airport to head back to “Smoky” California. It was sure a nice vacation and part of the fun was, I felt like “Miss Daisy”, the who week. Because either Linda or someone else was driving me around the whole time. So that way I could just enjoy the views and not worry about any traffic or knowing where I was going. Here’s a photo of the New York skyline as we headed back to Newark airport.

I’m hoping next time Linda takes me to visit New Jersey we will get some time to check out the cities. “That of course is if I make the grade.” Here’s a photo of New York skyline as seen from the airport terminal.

A couple more of the city as we took off.

When we left California, the smoke had pretty much lifted but it was still very hot. By the time I got home Tuesday afternoon. The smoke was much worse, this was the view from my RV at the campground. The smoke was terribly bad.

Here’s the same view when I first arrived at the park what a difference.

Here’s what the sun looked like, that tiny little orange spot in the center of this photo.

The upside of the thick smoke is a kept the temperatures down. On Wednesday and Thursday, I went back to work doing some litter pickup around the park but not overdoing it. One thing I saw because of the cooler temperatures, was I came across this little rattlesnake sitting out enjoying himself on a rock, right next to the parking lot. They are usually hiding during the heat of the day.

Thursday morning these guys were sitting right outside my trailer. This is the first time I seen any vultures close to the campground. I think they were hoping I was going to drop dead from the smoke.

This guy that I named Ingrid, let me get really close. I watched her catch a couple fish.

Relief came early Friday morning with some light rain and much cooler temps. Even though it was overcast, you can tell from these photos that it was much cleaner.

There are still lots of wildfires going throughout the state. But hopefully with cooler weather and more rain, they soon will be able to get them under control. And once again it will be a pleasure to be here. One more thing, I did get some snazzy new seat covers for my car, to match the shoes I bought a while back.

While that brings you all up to date. “I hope I get a positive review soon.” If I don’t you may want to skip my next post because I’m sure it will be filled with a lot of self-pity “LOL”. Till next time Safe Travels and Best Wishes to all, Rick

PS: “A Little Birdie” told me I don’t have anything to worry about, (I maybe in like Flynn) which is really great!!!

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