Sunday, February 5, 2017

Back to New Jersey

January 24 - 31, 2017:

Flying should be fun when you are going on a vacation trip, but it’s not, even when everything goes well.  I particularly find the situation ridiculous when boarding the airplane.  By the time all the frequent flier members, priority seating, first class, handicapped, people with small children, people needing special assistance and the military board the plane, about 10 people are left to board.  I would also be happy to see the the overhead bins reduced to lap top computer size to get rid of all the problems with the large bags. 
Car rental is also annoying with the scare tactics to entice you to buy the additional insurance and the multiple waivers for everything you decline.

I actually lucked out on my flights from Tucson to Phoenix, AZ and Phoenix to Newark, NJ with an empty center seat, good legroom and best of all on time arrivals and quick baggage return, so no reason to complain, be happy !

Flying over mountainous terrain was beautiful

Flying into the Phoenix metropolitan area

On my first day, I start with a train ride into NYC and a walk to the Times Square and Grand Central Terminal areas.  NYC is a fascinating place that always seems to be barely under control, dangerous, beautiful and addictive.  I would love to be able to return to see the ruins in about a thousand years from now, kind of like seeing the ancient ruins of Rome today.
I know everyone is going to ask if I went to see the World Trade Center, but honestly I am not interested in seeing it.  A few of my co-workers were taking a training classic the area on the day of the attack.  I was scheduled for this class also, but was too busy on other things and I cancelled, so missed all the horror and excitement of running from the smoke through the streets.

I do miss the train ride

The Empire State building\

The contrasting colors caught my eye

A sculpture exhibit along the street

Imagine seeing a tour bus in Times Square

Love this building and the light was great !

Egyptian designs near the top are impressive

Grand Central Terminal is always a sight

I visit Etra Park a few miles outside of Hightstown, NJ where we used to go for walks, nothing has changed and it is still overrun with Canada Geese.

The park crosses a farmers field

I'm sneaking up on the geese at the lake

When they suddenly explode from the water

My son Jeremy picks me up on his way home from work and we ride to Buck County, PA to pick up his daughter Sierra from school.  I get the tour of the school, way more laden with crafts, arts and books than anything I remember from my 1952 kindergarten class.

Jeremy and Sierra at school

Sierra's classroom

I always try to catch up with some of the local musicians who I followed years ago.  To satisfy that craving, I head to Philadelphia to see Mikey Jr. and Filthy Rich play at the Twisted Tale on South 2nd street.  The South Street area is a very interesting counter culture area of Philadelphia.  I had never been to the Twisted Tail before and was expecting it to be a dumpy bar, but instead found a rather upscale club.  I used to see Mikey and Rich almost weekly before our RV adventure started, but haven’t seen them since.  It couldn’t help but think, “some things never change” and I’m OK with that as many things would be better left unchanged.  Before leaving town I walked a few blocks away to Jim’s Steaks to get an authentic Philadelphia Cheese Steak.  On my next visit, I need to return to this area adjacent to the historic district for a day, it's a great place to visit.

The Twisted Tail

Filthy Rich and Mikey Jr as good as ever

Jim's Steaks

A thank you autograph from Jim Belushi

My next priority is to go to my storage garage and see if the 38 Dodge will start.  It’s really damp in the garage, its been sitting all year, that battery is about seven years old, what are the odds ?  A few squirts of starting fluid down the carburetor and it starts immediately.  There has been an issue with the air filter loosening from the carburetor and falling off on the last few drives.  I have another air cleaner with the correct base clamp that needs a little modification to fit and today is the day to do it.  After some bending of the clamp it fits and we are good to go.  On the road, it’s like driving a time machine, straight out of the 1930's you might say.  It’s fun to drive, rather advanced for its time, but far removed from todays cars.  Driving at 45 miles per hour feels like you’re going 90 compared to todays cars, but the getting there is so much more of an adventure.

I catch up with another old friend, Ron Ungarini, at the Salt Creek Grille near Princeton, NJ where the Paul Plumeri Band is playing on Saturday night.  Paul Plumeri (in the background) remains one of the best guitar players in the central NJ area.

The Paul Plumeri Band

While in Hightstown, I just had to get some real “NY style” bagels at Hot Bagels and have breakfast at the Hightstown Diner.  I also took a trip to Hamilton Square to visit an old haunt, Jo-Jo’s Tavern, where used to hang out watching sports and shooting pool in the late 1960's.  The Italian food at Jo-Jo’s was always great, especially those bar pies and they still are.  All of these places have somehow remained virtually unchanged through the years.

Jo Jo's Tavern

Sierra wanted to show me how she could ride her new bike without training wheels.  She also showed me how she can run, climb and do gymnastics at the school playground.  I was impressed, she's a natural athlete.

Sierra getting ready to ride

This girl is a born climber

Part monkey too !

On the swings

Doing flips, no problem

Loves to climb

Dad trying to hold her back

On my final night, Jeremy picks me up at the hotel after which we drive to Bucks County, PA to pick up Sierra at her school, then go a few miles to Newtown, PA for dinner, followed by ice cream at the very cool Zebra-Striped Whale Ice Cream Shop.  We then drop Sierra off at her mother house where I see her bedroom, various toys and more gymnastics and then return to Hightstown.   These kids have such an crazy, complicated life style.

Ice cream cones at the Zebra-Striped Whale shop

The owner has written a series of nice children books

Relaxing after ice cream

Sierra standing in front of her extensive collection
of stuffed animals

It’s time to move on with a noon time flight tomorrow to Ft. Myers, Florida,  

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