Category Archives: trips

Happy, Shiny Day

There is always a summer day that stands out to me – The Happy, Shiny Day. There is a quality to the day that makes it quintessentially summer, special and a little sacred.

This very blog chronicles some of those days. I am not always sure it is happening, when it  is happening, but when that day begins to inhabit my thoughts in mid-September and take up residence in the spot labeled ‘Best Summer Memories’, it takes it’s place at the head of the line and earns itself that title. When it turns into a day whose heat and sunlight fuel my hope in February, it is forever sealed into the mental album where the others of their ilk are stored.

I knew this day was going to be in the running for a summertime award, when all three invitees amicably accpeted my invitiation and readied themselves in record time. When my request for time on the bayside, rather than the oceanside was met with resounding positivity, my happiness quotient expanded.

I sank down into my beach chair on the bay of Sandy Hook and I sank deeply into a space of sheer gratitude as I watched my boys play together. Play – with kind words and happy voices. I bought them ice cream and wished for a few more weeks of summer. Someone may have uttered the words, ‘Thank you for the beach day, mommy’. That someone may have been a teenager.

Sea creatures, and tidal pools and endless strand lines to comb for teasures are always ingredients that mix up into a delightful concoction for me. I wish that I had magical chemistry equipment that could distill these days down into a ‘Felix Felicis-type’ serums and save them in medicinal blue bottle for another time.

The school year has barreled into September like a NJ Transit Train with blaring horns and loud announcements. It’s dumped paperwork, early morning alarms, tight schedules, homework and a bit of unwelcome chaos and calamity on the platform as it sped off with my two of my boys.

I count the days to the Autumnal Equinox – I know it’s coming. So, I will line up my happy, shiny days like glossy, beautiful magazine photos for reading and purusing during the cooler, grayer and darker months that are coming. I will try to stay positive, but don’t blame me if I need to resort to what is in the cobalt blue bottle. 

Off The Rails

There is a roller coaster at the pier at Seaside Heights in which you hop into a little car and a chain pulls you to the top of the metal structure with clicking and clacking noises. It perches you at the top and releases your car to swivel, swerve, turn and dip by the shear forces of gravity.

My mornings go the same way. Clack, clack, clack and then ‘Go!’. The same 7 chores, in the same order and then a turn here, a dip there, faster, slower. Almost always exactly the same and firmly attached to metal rails to ensure the same route each time.

The remedy to the predictable routine, is to go off of the rails. A sure fire way to do that is to leave town. Usually I try to get my family to do that as often as physically and financially possible. But not this time. This was my first solo road trip ever.

I was invited to a friend’s wedding in Vermont and I truly wanted to be there for the occasion. I have never driven that distance alone, rarely do much of anything without our whole family, Dennis or at least one kid, and had never slept in a hotel room by myself. I don’t experience many days without an extensive to do list and a great deal of domestic responsibility.

I am fond of trail signs.

I am also fond of trails

Look at that sky!

Endless landscapes.

Firetower at Mr. Olga

Simply couldn’t resist. 

The wedding I attended was beautiful and all you would want for a dear friend and I squeezed every single drop of fun out of 36 hours in Vermont – 3 hikes, a climb to the top of fire watch tower, a ride on a high and fast ski lift and a beautiful reservoir kayak excursion. I felt free and accomplished and renewed.

When I woke up Monday morning to no coffee and no way to make it, I simply grabbed a five dollar bill and walked the quaint main street of Wilmington, Vermont until I saw an open sign at ‘Dot’s’.

The coffee was great and the experience of having nothing else to worry about except for a cup of coffee was fabulous.

Day Trippin’

If you don’t know what ‘Earthing‘ or ‘Grounding’ are and you don’t have a friend who reminds you that the best way to traipse through the New Jersey Botanical Gardens is barefoot, I suggest you remedy both deficits.

I love day trips with the fervor usually reserved for say … your firstborn. I dream of places to scoot off to at a moments notice and always have a list running in my head. I love packing my sage green, insulated picnic basket and trekking somewhere new and exciting or old and wonderful. I know from experience that the things I think are so important on the list for the day…can wait. Day trips pluck me from the thick mire of tasks and to-dos that hold my feet firmly in the muddy constraints of life. I can hear the metaphorical sucking sound as I break free.

If it’s one of my best days ever, you will find me floating in a river-fed, natural pool hewn out of rock in the middle of the woods. If you don’t believe in the healing power of nature, good vibes, the transformative power of stones, maybe you will get lucky and I will take you on a pilgrimage to a place that will change your mind.

I am the dot in the middle of the EMPTY pool! Photo by Sean Costello

Days like this lightening my load, feed my soul and clear my mind – and all for $13.

Where Have I Been?

I’ve been right here.

But I’ve also been here…

Niagra Falls was crazy-cool. It’s somewhere you hear about, but just haven’t gotten too. At least we hadn’t. But now we did.

I’ve also been here…

The observatory made me tear up. It was truly awe-inspiring. If you can go, do that. I highly recommend it.

I’ve been in my kitchen.
I’ve been in the car.
I’ve been in therapy.

I’ve been thinking about what I want to write about. I’d say I’m back, but I’ve been here.

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I do feel seriously bad when I leave my little blog out here all alone. I get busy and I don’t know what to say, so I avoid it. But I always come back.

While doing a little birthday cleaning yesterday, Sean asked me how old I was. He begged and begged so I told him 23 – he said that was a really high number. Uh-oh. Then I told him that I was actually 23, 20 years ago, he stared at me incredulously. Yeah, well.

 I had a great birthday celebration. No matter what the weather, an offer for a drive to the beach thrills me – and that’s what Dennis offered. We scouted NYC from a deck in the marshes right across from it – we could see The Freedom Tower – and I love The Freedom Tower. We drove and walked until we froze solid.

If you know anything about me, you might know that I LOVE the beach and shells, and shelling. I got to pick some things up for my birthday. And wouldn’t you know, I received the perfect give – from the hand of God and Mother Nature. How thoughtful, right? It’s a rare find, and even more rare to find a whelk in perfect condition. Not a chip or crack anywhere.

IMG_0278I mean, it’s gift from God – what did you expect?

Then it was on to Surf Taco in Red Bank. I was excited to find they had a Coke Freestyle Machine (I have a ‘thing’ about Coca-Cola). We were just getting fueled up for the main event – a trip to Yestercades. 80s music is the backdrop of the place. Ozzy Osborne (with Lita Ford), Bon Jovi, and David Bowie all playing on a big screen is a really happy thing for me. Playing pinball, Ms. Pacman, Asteriods, Frogger, and Tron are more really happy things for me. Doing it all with my kids, Dennis, my sister and my niece and nephew – totally above and beyond and fitting for such a large-number birthday!

IMG_0279We ended the evening at Carlo’s Bakery – I had a vanilla, vanilla buttercream cupcake. I figured the occasion called for a ‘classic’. I would have liked to try Sugarush, so I see another trip in our future.

Everyone in the bakery sang Happy Birthday to me. I did not think I would like that – but it turned out to be just right. Like the whole rest of the day.

Maybe the shell was not my only ‘gift from God’.

Weekend Wonderful

This weekend was right in my wheelhouse – thanks Dennis! I LOVE a weekend that starts with a Friday night in NYC for Christmas festivities.

DSC04081 DSC04085 DSC04091 DSC04094 (1) DSC04095 (1)We took the opportunity to visit Ellen’s Stardust Diner. The servers are all broadway-caliber performers who are auditioning for shows or between shows. They serve and sing and the atmosphere was fabulous. I was pleasantly surprise by the great food.

DSC04108 DSC04125 DSC04145 DSC04155 DSC04158 DSC04167We then made our way to Rockefeller Center. It was cold and crowded and exactly what you should experience in The Big Apple 5 days before Christmas.

DSC04169 DSC04172 DSC04191 (1) DSC04193 DSC04195I wanted The Boyz to see and be photographed in that iconic setting. Later in the weekend, while watching Miracle on 34th Street, Sean said – ‘hey, we are just there!’ Exactly. Just what I was shooting for.

The Macy’s windows don’t fail to impress – ever. I loved the Solar System theme.

The weekend continue with brunch with Santa…

and a solstice bonfire celebration, at which I forgot to take pictures, but it was full of fire and feasting. I embrace Solstice a little more every year – it fits every religion or lack thereof and is a simply wonderful way to mark the season.

Sunday found most of us home for most of the day – walk-taking, movie-watching, cookie-baking, game-playing, time-experiencing 🙂 We capped off the evening here.

I hope you find what makes you happy as you anticipate the impending holidays. My souvenir for NYC? I brought home some Holiday Spirit. Very Merry.

Where To Start

I did it again – blog neglect. It’s either the blog, or the kids or the house, or the….I don’t know where to start to jump back into my little corner of the internet. So, I’m going to start right here and I hope you’ll just meet me where I’m at. Please.

We had an exciting trip to Sanibel Island, FL. We saw sights and had experiences we had never had before. I will not lie (I try really hard not to lie to you) it is just not easy vacationing with The Boyz. But there were plenty of wonderful moments that will make great memories. I am so glad we had a chance to visit this beautiful island. (You know I just like saying ‘island’, right?)

Now I’m here, but I’m not really ‘here’ if you know what I mean. My brain is either still on the beach or I am having a problem with Mercury being in retrograde – blame Mercury – sounds good.

I still have not done ‘real’ food shopping since our return, so we are consuming the dregs of boxes of cereal, tuna, toast and whatever I can dig up hunting through the freezer. Laundry has been done in stops and starts and does not seem to be diminishing at all. I am shuffling papers around my desk, but no headway is being made there either. Oh well. I’ve checked in with you – here – and that’s something.

How did I contract a case of ennui in October. Damn it Mercury.