I set off from home just about 6 am on Friday the 6th. Without doing a whole heck of a lot of research, I felt like I wanted to make it into Virginia on the first day and then have a shorter but more stressful (DC, Baltimore, and Philly traffic) day the second day. I listened to the radio, sang loudly, and left my cruise control on almost the whole day. I split up my food breaks and my gas breaks so I wouldn't be in the car for more than three hours at a time. And I have to say, I really enjoyed that first driving day. I didn't quite make it to Virginia, but as it turns out the town I stopped in was 10 miles south of the border.
Random thought I had at 1pm that first day: "I've been driving for 7 hours now. That's how long I have to finish the Disney Marathon. I think I might've preferred running."
On the second day, I found myself all of a sudden confused that when the speed limit slowed to 55 heading into DC, suddenly the slow cars around me were going 75. The previous day, with a speed limit of 70, I was the fast car at 75-80. I also think I stopped for a total of 3 tolls: one at the tunnel in Baltimore, another random one in Maryland, and the cover charge for the privilege of entering Delaware, which should have just had a sign up that said "closed for construction." I eventually made it into Pennsylvania and had an "I am woman, hear me roar" moment when I realized that I had actually made it all the way there, all by myself.
And then I ran a half-marathon.
My first week in New Jersey was actually pretty quiet. I bummed around Jackie's house quite a bit, drove around the area (literally for the first time by myself, since I didn't get my license until college and then the only other times I was here I was with Scott), did some shopping and A LOT of eating... After the stress of the end of school, start of grad school, leaving my old job, packing, driving, and racing I was perfectly happy to decompress and just relax. Of course, "relaxing" at Jackie's house is an adventure all on its own, what with the kids and the toddlers and the pets. I have to say I totally love it as a temporary visitor, but I'm better suited for a quieter existence!
The Active Part of Vacation
|this IS our warm-up routine!|
On Saturday the 14th, I did a 5k with Jackie's whole family. The course was a small circle that we were told to lap 10 times (though I did 11 laps to make it 5k by RunKeeper standards), and every time I passed the girls they would ask what lap I was on. Their response was always "so am I." So I'm not really sure how far anyone else actually ran but I was proud of them for going out and doing it!
...and I also had a 5k PR, so I'm pretty proud of myself too!
|oui, je suis une artiste!|
|the family that jazz hands together...|
Also, I (allegedly) saw a dead body while I was headed back to the subway station. There was a man laying on his back, not moving, and an EMT jumped out of a fire truck, walked over and looked at him, and then asked the people standing around what was up. The guy's head was blocked from my view by a mailbox or something, but he definitely wasn't moving. Since the EMT didn't immediately check his vitals or anything, I decided that he must have been obviously dead. My crosswalk light changed, so I didn't get to stick around and find out the rest of the story.
Dinner the following night became a mini high school reunion. Originally planned for Tom and I, it turns out that Bill and Vicky were also able to come out. Bill showed up with a folder of letters and postcards from the college years that had me cringing, laughing, and crying. Our relationship has been from the beginning quirky and uniquely us. I love him so much, and continue to be grateful that he's in my life. The four of us laughed so much during our dinner I think we all hated that it had to end.
Dinner did have to end though, because I was up bright and early Thursday morning to spend another day in New York. This time, my hosts were my cousin Alexander and his girlfriend Megumi. Alexander promised me a day of hijinks, and he didn't disappoint! They picked me up at Penn Station and our first stop was the Houdini Museum. The museum displays were moderately interesting, but the visit took an unexpected turn when the man behind the counter asked "would you like to see a trick?" We then had what was basically a 20-minute private magic show by this guy, who truly knew his stuff. He transformed dollars, hovered coins, and did a lot of fun card tricks.
We then took the subway out to Brooklyn, where we had lunch at a Vietnamese sandwich shop (yum!) and then went to this place called Film Biz Recycling, where they sell and rent items used by TV and film production in NYC that might otherwise end up trashed. We returned to Manhattan via the Brooklyn Bridge. I'm not sure why this was so exciting for me, but it was such an amazing moment. Walking toward the city, seeing the Statue of Liberty and the new World Trade Center building to the left, midtown to the right, and the cables and iconic structure of the Brooklyn Bridge straight ahead... Wow, I just loved it!
|The Brooklyn Bridge: possibly my favorite half hour of vacation|
Side note: I had the pleasure of sitting next to a drunk man on the train back from NYC. He was simultaneously hitting on me, sexually harassing me (thank you for telling me that your thumbs, like your d---, were large), making racist anti-Muslim comments about the man across the aisle (who was black and speaking French, so I think perhaps he wasn't personally responsible for 9-11), telling me about his wife and kids, and talking about how much money he makes. Really though, he was harmless and got off the train long before I did. Had he been staying on until Trenton, I might have jumped off at some point and taken a later train. It was kind of fun chatting with a random stranger though, even a creepy one.
Yesterday, Jackie and I took the kids to Great Adventure. The park was pretty dead -- the longest we waited all day was 30 minutes, and a bunch of coasters were actually walk-on. I got to take each of the babies on Dumbo-like rides, and rode coasters of varying scariness with the older girls. I think I might have ridden ONE coaster that was there when I was younger. That park has changed a lot!
The past week has been full of memories, lots of walking, and lots of late nights and early mornings. Today was my last full day in town, and I spent it doing homework and laundry. I took myself out to Bobby's Burger Palace for dinner (yum!!) and started getting my things together.
I'm so sad to be leaving. It turns out I feel South Jersey roots that I didn't know I have. I'm happy I got to see so many of my friends and family members, but also bummed about the people I couldn't connect with or spend enough time with.
On To School
I leave tomorrow morning and head to State College. My one week summer intensive course starts on Monday at 8:30 and I'm definitely looking forward to getting started...but I'm also terrified at the same time. It's been a long time since I've set foot in a classroom and actually tried. I guess we'll have to see how it goes! Hopefully I'll have another "I am woman hear me roar" moment on Friday when I'm done with the class!