Sunday, August 11, 2013

Lucky Girl

Hi Friends!!

I've been gone for a while, but now I'm back!  Life is oh so good.  I went on a lovely bike ride today with my intended and all I could think the whole time was how lucky I am.
  • I have my health, 
  • a great job, 
  • a wonderful son and 
  • a fiance who is just as crazy and adventurous as I am. 
  •  Not to mention the fact that we have the W & OD trail just minutes from our house. 
Joseph and I have been riding our bikes pretty regularly since June 21st.  Not every day, but many days for sure.  Most days we have been right on our street which happens to be about a mile and a half circle that is mostly flat.  I have built up my endurance until six miles feels like nothing.  Then I did some research and realized that if I did 12 miles a day I would lose these extra 30 pounds I have been carrying around at the rate of one pound a week instead of one pound a month.  So today, we drove the car over to the trail and rode 13 miles!!!  Let me just say I AM PROUD!!  I feel great.  I'm tired, but only in the good way.  We finished up at the barbeque restaurant that was smart enough to open right on the trail and had a quick light lunch before we got back in the car.  I burned a total of 557 calories.  It really made me wish we lived right on the trail so that we could always ride the trail.

The biggest difference between the trail and the streets around our neighborhood is the traffic and I don't just mean the fact that we don't have to contend with motorized traffic.  Good Heavens!!  That trail is like a bike superhighway!  Those bikers were going SOOOO fast!  It was a little disheartening to have people whizzing by me as though I was standing still.  But I was going the perfect speed for me, so I am determined not to let the bastards get me down.

A few weeks ago Joseph and I were staying in our hometown for our 30th high school reunion, we decided to ride all around town.  Luckily it's a relatively small town and the "downtown" area is pretty flat (although my mother's house is on a really steep hill and that's where the rig was parked), but anyway we zigzagged all through town and saw lots of lovely houses and lawns that we had never seen before.  We also saw all sorts of people, people working in their lawns, or running their errands.  It was about 9 am on a gorgeous Saturday morning and I just couldn't help myself.  Everyone we saw prompted me to sing out GOOD MORNING!!  Well, let me just tell you that small town or not, we startled a LOT of people.  I couldn't wipe the grin off my face.  I'm sure some of those folks are still wondering if they knew us.

Have a great Sunday and my app recommendation for today is MapMyRide!!!  I love it!!

Thursday, July 21, 2011

10 things about my Maternal Grandma

1.       Her name was Urath Cromwell Cockey Gibson.
2.       Today, July 21, 2011 would have been her 100th birthday. 
3.       She was born in 1911 and when she was of school age her grandmother insisted that she come live in the city because surely the country schools were not going to teach her much.  Her grandmother was a woman who was born in the 1850’s and so she imparted her Victorian ideals on her young charge.  As a result my grandmother was very Victorian in her manner and attitudes, and yet, she was also very modern.  She didn’t marry til she was 28 years old and she didn’t start having children until she was in her 30’s.  Her last child wasn’t born til after she turned 40.  But here’s the most amazing thing about all that to me…she was living in West Virginia, it was the 30’s and 40’s and she had a FEMALE OB/GYN!  How progressive is that? 
4.       Grandma was always reading and the best advice she ever gave to me was to always carry a book with me and I’d never be bored.  I wonder how she’d feel about Kindles?
5.       Grandma got her college degree when she was 78 years old.  She took a computer course cause she was so curious about what everyone on tv was talking about.  She never quite understood the “information superhighway” but she wanted to know all about it.  She also took a typing class and when she couldn’t type fast enough for the timed tests she would hold up her 77 year old hands and tell the teacher she was going as fast as she could and the teacher would let her off!  (As I had just struggled through typing class in high school I was quite incensed by her ability to get away with this!  Ironically now I make my living typing.)
6.       At her funeral the eulogist said that grandma had “boundless curiosity” and I realized in that moment that I had inherited that trait from her.  She was curious about everything and everyone she met.  She pat the space beside her and say “Come sit here and tell me what exactly it is you do?  Where do you work?  What did you study to get there? Where do you live?  Where are you from?  Where are your parents now? How do you parents like this life you’ve chosen?  What do they do? 
7.       She liked company but wasn’t shy about shooing you out of her house when she’d had enough for one day.  I remember going to visit my grandparents on Sundays when I was a child.  When 60 Minutes came on at 7pm silence was called and all the grandchildren had to settle down.  I remember lying on the oriental rug in front of the tv watching the show.  I didn’t understand most of the stories, but I loved that ticking stopwatch and to this day when I watch it I feel like my grandfather is over my left shoulder.  As soon as the show was over Grandma would order everyone out, it was time to get home so we wouldn’t be driving late at night.
8.       Grandma loved a view.  Her house sat on a hill and her favorite chair was by a window where she could watch the birds and the cows and the traffic on a nearby road.  She passed that down to my mother and to me as well. 
9.       She was fascinated by the weather!  She should have been on the news talking about the weather.  She had a rain gauge always and in later years when the electronic weather stations were small and affordable my uncle bought her one, then she would tell you all about the windspeed and rainfall and anything else you might want to know about the weather that week at her house.
10.   Grandma died several years ago, but she lived a very full life.  She was very independent and died in the home that she and Grandaddy had built back in the 30’s.  She lived alone from the time my grandfather died in 1980 until her illness at the end of her life when she had 24 hour nursing care.  I never heard her express regret about any part of her life.  She always seemed content to me.  I wish she was still alive so I could ask her about a million questions that I never thought of while she was living.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I have a new favorite drink.  Betsy came over here one Saturday a few weeks back and asked if I'd ever had an Icehouse.  I had heard of Icehouse Beer, but not the mixed drink.  When she described it I wasn't convinced I would like it, it sounded rather odd.  You make frozen margaritas and then in each glass you pour 1/3 Dos Equis Beer and 2/3 frozen rita.  Let me tell you, no matter how odd that may sound to you it is absolutely delicious!!  There is something about that mixture that cannot be beat.  We've only had them that one time, but I have been craving them ever since and I'm not much of a drinker, so that is really saying something.

Try it for yourself and let me know what you think!

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Me in Grad School? Whaaaaa???

So my friend Kiki was badgering me the other day about contacting GMU and contesting the fact that they want me to repeat classes from 27 years ago.  I have been avoiding this partly because it's painful after everything that happened to me last fall and partly because I feel like I'm asking for special favors and I don't want to do that.  But to shut Kiki (and TWQ and CAB and everyone else who has commented on this recently) up I wrote an email to my favorite Folklore professor who is also one of the "chairs" in the English department.  I was FLOORED by her response.  She said that she was so saddened to hear that I was not in school and not finishing because she had hoped I would go to GRAD SCHOOL!  Me!  In grad school!!!  The idea is SO ludicrous to me because it has taken me so long to get this fucking degree, the last thing I was thinking of was CONTINUING.  But then the idea that she thought so highly of me and my writing that she wanted me in her field really gave me pause.  What if I did go to grad school.  What if I did become a professional folklorist (that sounds so silly considering that folklore is something you learn from someone else and not from a book).  The thing is I am a folklorist now, I love to hear other people's stories and share my own.  I write about my adventures on my blog.  I take daily joy in life.  I don't need any degree to do that.  But still...I'm intrigued.  Grad school.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I Heart The Birchmere

Hello my friends,
I am still blissed out after another fabulous night at The Birchmere.  I bought tickets to see Kasey Chambers the moment her new tour was announced.  Originally I thought my bestie Betsy was going with me but she made plans to visit her family at the beach (and who could blame her) then I thought I'd force Miles to join me, he's my child he has to do what I say right?  Well he made other plans as then I invited EVERYONE I could think of including broadcasting it on Facebook, but NO ONE could/would go.  So you know what I did?  I went all by myself!!!  I had a blast.

The Birchmere is my favorite venue, it relatively small and intimate and it has open seating, so it doesn't matter when you buy your ticket, it only matters what time you line up at the door the night of the show.  I have a system and a favorite seat and so far I have not been disappointed, since I started my system I have always sat at the same table with the same fabulous view of the stage.  Last night was no different.  I showed up at 4:30pm last night which is actually late for me, I've been known to get there as early as 3:30 and been first in line!  Last night I was #20 in line.  I sat on the ground with my back against the building and read my book until 5pm when they opened the door and gave me my tickets and line number.  Then I sat in the bar and read my book (really good book btw) until 6pm when they opened the Music Hall door and called my number.  I sashayed my way right to my favorite table, a 4 top, and sat down and opened my book again.  Within a few minutes a gentleman walked up and asked if I was alone and if he could sit with me.  Well of course you can!  Turned out he was an education professor at Towson University, one of my alma maters!  Also turned out he was a big fan of Kasey and folk/bluegrass music so we had a great conversation about music and we each made a list of acts and albums to check out.  Also turned out that he is married.  Sigh, the story of my life.  Shortly after Mr. Professor and I dove headfirst into conversation two more guys walked up and asked if they could sit with us.  We said SURE.  They sat down and talked to each other.  All three of these guys were age appropriate, tall, handsome and obviously had good taste in music.  I figured the other two were gay.

The opening act was a young guy I had never heard of although this didn't bother me in the least because I have discovered both Red Molly and Justin Townes Earle when they opened up for someone bigger at The Birchmere and they are two of my favorites.  This kid's name was Owen Danoff and he just graduated from the Berklee School of Music.  He did an excellent job, he was funny and self deprecating and he and his partner (who's name was Adrian something) were terrific at the guitar and at harmonizing.  Turned out that his mother was sitting at the table right behind me so I got to talk to her as well.

I talked to all three of my table mates during the break between acts.  Mr. Professor went out to the merch table and the other two and I compared notes on what we thought about Owen.  Turns out they were brothers although they looked NOTHING alike and one of them is a Lighting Guy on Broadway!!!!!!!  Needless to say I SWOONED at that!  His brother was the local of the two and when we had a discussion about the best pizza, he actually named Melting Pot before I could!!!!  We were each suitably impressed that the other knew about our favorite pizza.

Then Kasey and her band came out and brought the house down.  She is amazing and last night she was 6 months pregnant which makes her even more amazing in my book!  She had her dad with her on stage as always and this time she had another girl and a young guy as well.  She did a great job as always but I think my favorite part of her shows is her storytelling between songs.  She played my two favorites "Not Pretty Enough" and "The Captain" but I think my favorite song of the night was a bluegrass primer for Aussies.  She said that they don't really know bluegrass in Australia so she is trying to introduce them to it gently.  And then she played the funniest medley I have ever heard!!!  All four bandmates stood up around one microphone and started playing bluegrass sounding music and then began singing Not Pretty Enough followed by The Captain followed by Stayin Alive followed by Beat It!!!  I thought I was gonna fall on the floor laughing.  It was priceless and I only wish I had video of it!

When the show was over Mr. Pizza and Mr. Broadway waved and left before the lights even came up.  Mr. Professor said how glad he was to meet me.  I turned to Owen's Mom and told her what a great job her son had done and then I made my way to the parking lot where I read my book for another 15 minutes while the traffic jam cleared off.

All in all it was one of my best concert experiences ever and other than the fact that I had to eat a ticket, it may be my favorite one so far.  Definite proof that I don't need a date to have fun!!!

Monday, July 4, 2011

Selling the RV

Here she is from the front.

28' feet of beauty and comfort

the kitchen 

the dining, game playing, talking, reading hanging out area

 here's where the driver sits in comfort while motoring down the highways...
 here is where you can sit in comfort while you're waiting for your dinner or guests to arrive...
plenty of tread left on those babies...

the view from the front, it sleeps 6 altogether

I don't want to do it, but it has to happen.  It makes no sense to keep the RV when I have no one to travel with.  I put signs on it last week and yesterday I went out to Mama's and took pictures of it.  I sobbed on the bed in the back in spite of the 99 degree temps inside.  I cleaned out most of the personal stuff that was left, I took a bunch of pix and I listed it on Craigslist and Facebook.  I have had 5 people contact me to ask questions but no one has moved beyond that so far.  Here are the pix, let me know if you or anyone you know is interested...

Saturday, June 25, 2011

It was a very good week...

Hi My Friends,
I have had a very good week:

  • I had my annual review at my new job which was really my 90 day review since that's how long I've been there.  They all had flattering things to say about me so I was more than pleased.  I'm not sure if I'm eligible for an increase or a bonus at this stage but obviously both things would be welcome.
  • I finished a project that I thought would only take a few days and ended up taking more than three weeks.  It was transcribing interviews with various heads of human services organizations and while sometimes tedious it was also interesting.  I also got to use a transcribing pedal for the first time and I really loved that gadget!
  • I found a birthday gift for my mother that I have wanted to get for her for years.  Her birthday isn't until November but I really want to give it to her RIGHT NOW!
  • I have almost nailed the ins and outs of a complicated project that I have to accomplish on the 14th of every month for one of my five bosses.  Each month I get it done faster and I understand it better, next month it should be a breeze.
  • I bought myself a skillet and a turner at a thrift store so now I can have grilled cheese sandwiches again.  Hooray!
  • I had some very illuminating conversations with a college friend who only new me for a short time 25 years ago.  Their memories of who I was then, how I carried myself, how I was viewed by the world around me gave me terrific insight and peace on who was then and who I am now.  I feel almost reborn in a way, that sounds so cheesy, but I really do have a new sense of peace and I wake up smiling every day.
  • I bought two tickets in the second row of BOOK OF MORMON for my birthday next year!!  Miles and I can hardly wait!
  • I figured out what to do with an afghan that I had started for someone that I could no longer give it to.  I have almost finished it now and the little girl who will get it will be thrilled as it is much larger than the one I made that she keeps stealing from her new baby sister.
  • I met a young man at work who is equally interested in blood drives and we have spearheaded a new blood drive program at work.  We are both very excited about it and so is HR.
  • I discovered Green Olive Tapenade at Whole Foods and it is my new favorite food.
  • I read, I crocheted, I played on the computer, I sang, I practiced my banjo, I cooked for my son, I visited with friends, all to my heart's content.
It was a very good week.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Rapture Cake

Okay, so the world didn't end at 6pm, thank God, so I put a cake in the oven and then I put it in my tummy.  I have never made a pineapple upside down cake before, but I had been craving it so I went online and found a recipe at Pioneer Woman's Tasty Kitchen.  I have learned I can trust Pioneer Woman with food every time.
I just took this cake out of my oven.  OMG, it is so yummy!!!  Mine isn't as pretty as this picture, but it was definitely easy and quick.  There is most certainly some rapture going on in my living room.

Prep Time 10 Minutes
Cook Time 35 Minutes
Servings 8Difficulty Easy


  • 1 stick Butter, Unsalted
  • 1 cup Flour
  • 1 cup Sugar, Granulated
  • 2 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ¼ teaspoons Salt
  • ¼ cups Water, Cold
  • 3 whole Eggs (large)
  • 1 cup Brown Sugar (loosely Packed)
  • 1 can (20 Oz. Size) Pineapple Tidbits, Drained
  • ½ jars (10 Oz. Size) Maraschino Cherries, Drained

Preparation Instructions

Preheat oven to 375ºF.
Melt the butter in a 9-inch cake pan. This takes about five minutes in the preheating oven.
While the butter is melting, combine the following in medium bowl using a wooden spoon: flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, salt, cold water, and eggs.
Take melted butter out of oven and sprinkle (in the order given) the following over it: brown sugar, pineapple tidbits, and cherries (arranged prettily).
Next, carefully pour the flour and sugar mixture into the pan.
Place in the oven and bake for 35 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. I usually start checking at about 25 minutes just to make sure not to over bake it. (Plus I’m a bit impatient.)
Once fully baked, remove from the oven and let rest for 3 minutes. Invert cake onto a pretty glass plate. (I usually need to scrape a little of the brown sugar off the bottom of the pan. I put it on the cake or sometimes just eat it. Yum!)

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Fresh Start

Hello Ma Peeps,

It has been rough being me over the last few months and I had no desire to share my pain online.  Even now I'm not sure I can tell the story and I know I can't tell it without tears pouring down my face.  Frankly, I'm tired of crying.  Suffice it to say that my heart was ripped out of my chest and stomped on and I'm not recovered.  I have however made a fresh start.

I am living in a cozy, sweet apartment three miles away from my wonderful, gorgeous son.  I am working for a cool, dynamic company that takes very good care of their employees and I have such a solid collection of friends that complaining about my lot in life would be ludicrous.

I crochet and read and watch tv as much as I want.  I have work that challenges me.  I see my son as much as his busy teenager schedule will allow.  I watch every minute of every NASCAR race.  My paychecks are back where they belong.  Life is good.

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Elizabeth Berg

Hi All!

I'm sorry I have neglected you!  I know, I know, you are waiting for the rest of the Birthday Trip story...and all the news happening now.  I have just been overwhelmed with school and life and school and life.  Five people in my town or from my town have died in the past three days...see, life is overwhelming here!

Anyway, I am writing today just to tell you this...I love Elizabeth Berg!  She writes wonderful novels and a wonderful blog.  I wrote her a letter last year and I just read her blog and discovered that she thanked me online for my letter!!!!  Here's what she said...

"To Sarah of Leesberg, Va: Your purple greeting card and purple ink were fantastico. As was your personal card, which described you as "adventurer, believer, can collector, good samaritan, reader" and about a million other things."

How cool is THAT??

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Miles' Birthday Trip - Part TWO, NYC

In all my travels to New York City, I have never once gone to a museum.  I always wanted to go to but there was always so much else to do AND being from the DC area, I'm so used to free museums that it has taken me awhile to warm up to the idea of having to pay for the privilege.  This was the trip I was determined to change this trend, and we chose the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  By the time we got ourselves up and moving and fed and into Manhattan it was already noon so we only had 90 minutes as we were meeting Katy at the St. James theatre at 1:30pm.  We were very specific in our desire to see the Picasso exhibit though, so 90 minutes was just enough time.  Needless to say there are rooms and rooms of other stuff there that we would both like to see, but at least we've made a start on NY museums.  The Picasso exhibit was lovely.  He had a huge body of work and worked for many many years, so there was a very broad variety of works to see.  I have to say that I liked his ink portraits of his "bar buddies" that he did when he was 18 better than any of his later works.  They were very detailed and small, about the size of a coaster, which means they would probably fit in my budget better as well.

After Picasso we found our way back to the front of the museum and hailed a taxi to take us to the St. James to meet Katy.  We were about to see Miles and Joseph's first ever Broadway Play!  We chose American Idiot which is based on the Greenday album of the same name.  It was a hard charging show that never slowed down.  We all really enjoyed it and we bought the soundtrack on our way out the door.  It starred John Gallagher Jr. who also starred in Spring Awakening, my all time favorite Broadway show.

It was about 3:45pm at this point and by now our donuts from the morning had worn off and we were all starving.  We had dinner plans for later but decided to grab a snack at Dallas BBQ.  My friend Nicole met us there and we had some yummy vittals.  Miles ordered the hot wings and we were all surprised when full wings came out, not just wing pieces.  It was a huge platter of food, but being a growing teenager he hoovered right through them and is still talking about how good they were.  We all enjoyed our food and catching up with Nicole and Katy.  Nicole had even brought Katy a floaty pen which is Katy's favorite thing!

Our next adventure was unexpected and delightful!  My dad's first cousin Carolyn moved from Miami to NYC many years ago and for the most part we had lost touch with her.  Recently she found me on Facebook and contacted me asking if I was interested in family tree information that she had collected over the years.  Of course I was interested!  I know lots about my mother's family, but very little about my father's so this was very welcome news.  I had met Carolyn at least one other time in my life, when I was five years old she was visiting my grandparents and she taught me to tie my shoes.  I thought she was SO cool.  I let Carolyn know that we were coming to New York and she asked if we would be interested in touring her husband Mitch's music studio.  Mitch is a music producer.  Of course we said YES!  So after our snack we called Carolyn and headed to the studio on 9th Avenue.  Mitch and Carolyn were absolutely adorable and we loved spending time with them.  They greeted us at the elevator outside the studio and welcomed us with open arms.  The walls of the studio were covered with photographs of the celebrities who had recorded there.  His studio has been there for many years.  The building is an Art Deco building from the '20's and the windows even open, which is so unusual in offices these days.  We sat in Mitch's office and enjoyed a view of the Hudson River.

Mitch and Carolyn had made reservations for all of us at their favorite restaurant just up the street, Ralph's.  We still had Nicole with us and though she attempted to back out as she felt it was a family thing, we convinced her to stay with us.  We had a lovely dinner at Ralph's, Joseph declared the fetticine alfredo as the best he'd ever had.  We shared a bottle of wine with our meal and then we all ordered desserts which got shared around the table.  Mitch snuck back to the bar and paid the check when we weren't paying attention, which was super sweet of him.  You would never have guessed that we had all just met, it really felt like we had known each other for years, we really were family.  When we finished eating we decided to walk a little and burn off some of those calories.  Carolyn told us that there was a free concert up the street at Lincoln Center so we headed up there.  Sure enough there was Caribbean music echoing from the buildings and a folks of every age dancing in the aisles!  We even saw a guy who was a dead ringer for Albert Einstein kicking up his heels!  I think the name of the band was Mazza Pucci, but don't hold me to that.

After the concert we asked Mitch and Carolyn if we could see their Manhattan apartment as I had always wanted to see one.  They have such a reputation for being shoe boxes and I wanted to see if the rumors were true.  I have to say that although their apartment was small, it was delightful.  I really loved it, it was plenty of room for two people and the location couldn't be beat!  We can't wait to hang out with Mitch and Carolyn again, we had such a good time!

We left the apartment and walked Katy back to her train and then Nicole and the rest of us walked over to the PATH station to head back to Jersey City.  As usual it was well after midnight before we got back to the rig.  Exhausted we fell into bed and didn't stir until 11am.  We called Nicole as she was interested in seeing this RV park in her town that she had never heard of before.  She walked down to where we were and hung out with us for a while.  She even drove the rig from our parking space to the dump station!  Then she directed us to a local diner that she had recently discovered and I had what may have been the best grilled ham and cheese ever!  We walked down to the waterfront to walk off our breakfast and then we said goodbye to Nicole and set off on the next part of our journey!

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Miles' Birthday Trip - Part ONE, NJ

School is finally done for the semester and it is almost Miles' birthday so we gassed up the Rallye Girl and headed out of town again.  We had been planning on this trip ever since we bought the rig, as I had asked Miles first thing where he'd like to go for his birthday.  He chose Boston.  I can honestly say I was surprised by the answer although I shouldn't have been.  To be more specific he wanted to go to a clothing store in Boston.  The name of the store is Johnny Cupcakes and the reason this shouldn't have surprised me is because years ago when I took him to NYC for his first visit he wanted to visit a clothing store there as well (Bape).  My child is a clothes horse, what can I say?

By the time we got out of Strasburg it was almost time for Joseph's online class so we got off 66 at Front Royal and parked at the Cracker Barrel.  CB is one of those places that welcomes RV's and you can actually park there overnight if you like.  We were just there for dinner and class though, no overnights yet.  Miles and I amused ourselves on our computers while Joseph took his class.  We had the generator running and the AC on so we were quite comfortable.  

Now you may be wondering how we were all three online at the same time in a parking lot.  Well I am very happy to announce that we are the proud owners of our own little MiFi hotspot!!!  We had gotten so frustrated with searching for free WiFi and with trying to connect at campgrounds that advertised free Wifi but then had such a weak signal that we couldn't even check our email.  We are very pleased with our purchase and so far it is working like a charm!  

When class and dinner were done we hit the road again.  I assured Joseph that he didn't have to drive through the night.  We were headed to Asbury Park, NJ first, but we didn't have a reservation at a campground that night so there was no rush or exact destination.  Once we got north of Baltimore he started showing fatigue and was ready to find a place to plug in for the night.  

Now another aside about our other favorite gadget on the rig.  Our GPS.  We originally bought a GPS on our trip to Myrtle Beach before we even bought the rig, because we had gotten lost on that trip and didn't want to repeat our mistake.  We called that first unit Jill because that was the name of the voice we chose.  Although the unit was supposed to have all sorts of cool features, like traffic notices and exit ramp notifications we never really saw those features work.  I thought I just hadn't found the right commands and didn't really worry about it much.  Several times we would change roads without Jill's permission and she would do everything in her power to MAKE us go back and do what she said, but for the most part we were satisfied with her work.  One day though she simply stopped working altogether.  When we tried to turn her on she just blinked at us.  We weren't sure what was wrong, but the next time we went by a Best Buy we stopped in to see what could be done and the girl immediately took it back and gave us a new one.  Needless to say we were thrilled, it was less than 2 months old and I now know that it never worked correctly because as soon as we plugged the new unit in things were MUCH better.  We changed the accent on our new unit to Australian female, her name is Karen and we like her much better.  She doesn't seem as bitchy when we ignore her instructions for one thing.  ;)  For another thing, she tells us our exit before we get there.  I tell you all this in order to tell you that one of our favorite features of the GPS is the ability to find us a campground.  If you'll recall, on the way home from SML she found us the Shenandoah Valley KOA near Staunton, which was a fabulous place!  This time we weren't so lucky, but it wasn't Karen's fault.  She found us what looked to be a lovely campground near Elkton, MD but when we got there (after midnight) it was dark and locked and there was a gate with a code lock, so we couldn't even find a spot on our own and pay in the morning.  Luckily we had passed a Walmart so we back tracked a few miles and hunkered in there for the night.

In the morning we breakfasted at Waffle House and then headed on to our first destination of this trip, Asbury Park, NJ.  I had just seen a friend on Facebook mention the Silverball Pinball Museum and Arcade and knew immediately that I wanted to find it.  Of course Asbury Park was familiar to me as it is to any Bruce Springsteen fan and as it turns out the Stone Pony is diagonally across the street from the Silverball.  The deal at the Silverball is that it is a museum AND an arcade.  They have rows and rows of old pinball machines and arcade games, including skeeball in working order.  You pay $10 to get in and you can play all the games for free for an hour (you can also pay $15 for the whole day and go in and out all day long, but since we weren't staying we didn't need that option).  We plunked down our $30 for the three of us and got our armbands and headed inside.  I have never been good at pinball and today was no different, I suck at it.  

However, they also had Galaga which was my FAVORITE arcade game back in the day!  I rock Galaga, I even beat Joseph's high score, although I came nowhere close to the high score for the machine which they post on a little placard on every machine there!  When our hour was done (which felt like three minutes later) we went out onto the boardwalk and were planning to walk down to the water's edge and get our feet wet, but the "beach cops" had different plans for us.  Turns out that you have to pay to walk out on the beach there!  I didn't need wet toes that badly, so we turned around and headed to the rig, for some reason though the cops gave us the stinkeye until we were out of siight.  I'm not sure why they were so anxious about our presense, maybe they thought we were gonna turn around and bum rush our way onto the sand?

Our next destination was Hillside, NJ.  In order to tell you why I would be headed to Hillside, I have an embarrassing confession to make.   My guilty pleasure in life is the Real Housewives franchise on Bravo TV.  I have never watched the Atlanta version and I have yet to see the DC version but I love, love, love the OC, NY and NJ versions.  One of the Real Housewives of NJ, Teresa, just opened a pizzarria with her husband Joe.  On her blog one day (yes, I read the blogs too) she mentioned the address of the pizza place and said "If you are ever in the area stop by, Joe will probably be there and I might be there."  Well seeing as Hillside is very close to Jersey City where we were staying, how could I resist.  We found the restaurant with no trouble whatsoever, and even found a nice parking spot for the rig, not too far down the street.  When we entered we were greeted by a sweet man who was very enthusiastic about his menu and making sure we enjoyed whatever we ordered.  We could see Teresa's husband Joe sitting a table talking to some people, so he really does run his business in person.  We placed our order and sat down to wait.  The restaurant was beautifully decorated and a poster of Teresa and a copy of her book were prominently displayed.  When our food came they were HUGE helpings and totally delish!  Joseph got a steak and cheese wrap, Miles got paninini and I got veal parmesan.  The sauce on mine was amazing.  When we were done the cashier asked if we had come because of the tv show and we told him yes and described our rig parked down the street.  He asked if we had seen Joe which of course we had.  He asked if I wanted to meet Joe, which I did also, but I didn't want to bust in on his conversation, he was actually on the phone at this moment, so I really didn't want to disturb him, but the employee assured me that it was fine and called Joe over.  Joe was very sweet asked us questions about our rig and such.

If you’re in Hillside, New Jersey, stop by Giuseppe’s Homestyle Pizzeria at 1576 Maple Avenue!

Quantico and Triangle in the Rig

In mid July we decided to take our second trip in our Rallye Girl.  Living with a Marine had taught me a lot about the Marine Corps and I was excited at the notion of visiting Quantico Marine Corps Base and the National Marine Corps Museum.  Joseph was equally excited to show me the base and the PX and he had never been to the museum either.  We looked around online to find a campground in the area and decided on Aquia Pines.  We drove up there on Saturday, after my first week of the summer semester was over.  By the time we got to the museum it was already 3:30 and they closed at 5pm, but since it is a free museum, we went in anyway.  

This museum is truly an amazing experience.  They have really done a good job of activating all your senses.  There were placques to read, videos to watch, and music to listen to.  In some rooms the floor would vibrate to simulate riding on troop ships, at the beginning of the tour you could stand in a booth where the voice of a Drill Sargeant was yelling at you from all directions.  It confirmed for me something I already knew...I would have never made it in the Marine Corps!  I would have lasted about five minutes with people yelling at me and then I would have been a puddle on the floor.  In one room meant to simulate a battle where Marines were freezing cold during the Korean War the room was kept very cold.  

The first day we only got as far as WWI before we ran out of time.  When we left the museum, we moseyed on over to the base and I got to shop for the first time in a PX.  We bought Marine Corps license plate frames for my car and the rig and I also found my favorite perfume for $36 which is much less than the $50 I would have paid at a regular store.  I had been holding out on replacing my almost empty bottle for several months in anticipation of this trip and I was excited to have perfume again, especially at such a nice price!  After the PX, Joseph drove me around the base to show me base housing and such and then we headed into to town for dinner and then back to our campsite.  The campground was decent, although not as nice as some we had seen and although they advertised free WiFi, we were sorely disappointed in the service as we could only log on for 3 or 4 minutes at a time, and not at the same time!

The next day we woke up, showered, lazed around a bit and then headed back to the museum.  We spent about 4 more hours and made it as far as the Korean War in the history of the Corps before I was on overload and had to leave.  We still have to go back to do the sections from the Korean War to the present, but it was a lot to absorb and I just couldn't take anymore that day.  We had a late lunch/early dinner at the replica Tun Tavern (the original is where the Marine Corps was founded in Philadelphia!) in the museum and then once again headed back to our campsite.  We were actually scheduled to stay another night in the campground and we did hang out until about 10pm, but we were so annoyed with the WiFi situation and worried about getting to school the next day, that we decided to head on home so we'd have or normal commute on Monday morning.

Monday, August 2, 2010


When we finally got home from our Lake trip we unpacked and got our laundry started. We were still pouting because we didn't want the adventures to stop. We drove up to Winchester in our car which felt very weird after being in the rig for a week. We went to the Camping World store there though, so we were still traveling in our souls! After shopping we stopped for lunch and while we were eating my sister called. My sister lives in Brooklyn and was feeling lonely because her roommate was out of town. She didn't have to ask us twice to come visit! We could hardly get home fast enough to pack up and take off for New York City.

Now, I know you are wondering where on Earth we thought we were gonna CAMP in New York City. Well for once Dear Reader, I am one step ahead of you. It so happens that years ago when I was married we travelled to NYC on a regular basis, but we couldn't afford to stay in the expensive hotels in the area. We usually stayed with friends, but I researched camping options (we were tent campers) so that if our friends' couches and floors were unavailable, we'd still be able to go visit the big apple. While Joseph was throwing our snacks and computers and clean laundry into baskets to carry out to the rig I looked up the Liberty Harbor Campground which I had found way back in the day. It still existed, but by the time I called it was after 5pm so I got a voicemail when I tried to make a reservation.

Liberty Harbor is in Jersey City where two friends of mine live or have lived. It has been my gateway to Manhattan for years. So directions were not an issue, from the time we left the house until we got off the turnpike I knew exactly where we were, and finding the campground turned out to be a snap. We pulled into the gatehouse and although we didn't have a reservation the night guard assured us there was room and took our information. We drove through the gate and were simply amazed at what we found. It was nothing more than an asphalt parking lot with 50 or more motor homes, fifth wheels and travel trailers. They were all parked close together just like a regular parking lot, but down the center lines of the rows were electric and water hookups. I think it is a truly amazing and beautiful idea. Whoever owns that parking lot is making themselves a mint. It was a random weeknight and the place was packed. It turned out that the campground was actually completely booked, even though we had found an empty space, and in the morning they informed us that although we couldn't have a regular space with hookups, we could still stay in lot, off to the side and pay for the privilege. We were happy to pay for a safe parking space though, we have a terrific generator for power and they had a nice bathhouse . They are located only 6 blocks from the PATH train and they have a view of the Manhattan skyline and the Statue of Liberty.

So here we are in NYC, we headed over to Manhattan around noon and our first priority was some good new york pizza! We got off the PATH train at the WTC and started walking north. Within a couple of blocks we found our heart's desire and had a slice. We texted Katy and let her know we were headed in her direction and got subway instructions. Now, as many times as I have been in NYC, I have never taken the subway unless I was with a local. It just seemed entirely to confusing and I really didn't want to be lost underground. Katy has been living there for a while now and was confident of her subway directions, so we trusted her and headed underground. We found her work with no trouble at all. She works for an adorable portrait studio on the upper west side, Portrait Bug, you can even see her pretty face on their website! She introduced us to her co-workers and showed us some portraits she had shot that morning and then just before her quitting time, her boss came in and we got to meet her and her husband as well. After we left, we made our way to several landmarks that I have always wanted to see including the flagship Tiffany's store, Trump Tower and St. Patrick's Cathedral. We also found a Tad's Steakhouse which is one of my favorite places to eat in NY. It is just a hole-in-the-wall chain, but the food is always good and the prices are great, especially for Manhattan.

The next day we left the rig earlier and made our way all the way over to Katy's apartment in Brooklyn. Katy needed food and had other errands to run, so we ran around Brooklyn with her including a trip to Costco. Katy didn't have a Costco card but I do so she was able to stock up on a ton of frozen foods that were reasonably priced. Her local grocery stores don't have the variety of frozen choices that she is used to and she hates buying fresh food and then having it go bad before she has time to eat it. She was a very happy girl, and I was actually able to add her to my account while we were there, so she can go back. After all our errand running we met up with my friend Nicole for dinner at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame restaurant at 519 Hudson and 10th Street. This restaurant had been on my list of places to try for quite awhile. I actually first saw it on Sex and the City. The food was really good and we were glad to have searched it out. It was really good to see Nicole and have her finally meet Katy. On our way out we walked through a movie or television taping. Not sure what show it was but they were filming street scenes outside another restaurant as well as filming a scene inside a restaurant, so we just moseyed our way right on down the street.

We headed back to Katy's house in Brooklyn because our brother (CAB) was on his way up from Florida and Joseph and I wanted to surprise him. He had no idea that we were already up there and I had been very quiet about it on facebook all week to keep him in the dark. We went to all this trouble because CAB loves to surprise people in this way, and it was nice to be able to do it to him for once. Once CAB arrived and was suitably surprised we played a trivia game which is pretty much a mandatory activity when a group of us in are in the same room. By the time we left it was close to midnight and by the time we got back to the Rallye Girl it was after 2am and we were EXHAUSTED.

CAB wanted to see our rig and Katy had to work the next morning so he left Brooklyn with her and came to find us in Jersey City. We hung out for a while and then we drove him back to the PATH station and we headed home. We love NY and were thrilled at how well the Liberty Harbor Marina RV Park served our needs. We know we will be back there soon!