Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Road Trip Nostalgia

This weekend we will be doing a brief road trip (two hours each way) with our almost-seven-years-old twin granddaughters, Tori and Brianna.  We love these girls to death, but after four hours together in the car, well...we will see.

Anticipating this trip, I found myself reminiscing back to the days when my parents took our family on long drives.  We didn't do any extensive cross country drives, but I do remember car trips that lasted maybe five hours to our destinations.  My two brothers and I sat all together in the back seat of course.  I was usually in the middle, for I was the oldest.  Looking back on that now, I'm not sure what twisted wisdom dictated that arrangement.

Most of the time I am quite sure we were very well behaved, obedient, kind, happy, considerate, and polite children.  We were excellent travelers.  Yes, I'm positive of that.  There were threats, you see.

However, there were occasional disturbances in that back seat area, and here is what I remember coming forth from that vicinity at those times:

Are we there yet?
How much longer?
I'm bored.
I'm hungry.
I'm hot.
I'm cold.
I'm thirsty.
Turn on the radio.
I can't hear it.
It's too loud, turn it down.
Open the windows.
Close the windows.
Are we there yet?
He's touching me.
She's touching me.
Stop touching me.
Mom! They're touching me.
She needs to shave her legs.
They're cutting me.
Are we there yet?
You're on my space.
No I'm not.
Yes you are.
You're over my line.
What smells?
Are we there yet?
I have to go to the bathroom.
I'm gonna be sick.
How much longer?
I can't breathe.

Yeah, those were great trips.  

So I am on a hunt to gather up some road trip activities to keep us all sane the girls occupied on what they might otherwise think is a long and boring ride.  I've found so many good ideas and resources by searching on various internet sites, that now I'm thinking I was a bad mom when my own children were young.  Back then the biggest excitement for my kids on a long drive was the possibility of having a potty stop followed by a snack.  

Stay tuned.  Tomorrow I'll share the Road Trip Activity Books I assembled for the girls.  Fun ahead!

Monday, April 29, 2013

"Cash on Delivery"

Saturday night after we returned from our three day beach getaway, the husband/lover/hot date and I headed north to see "Cash on Delivery" at the Community Theater League in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

This little theater seats approximately 150 patrons and seating surrounds the stage area on three sides.  It is easy to feel part of the action as you are sitting literally a few steps away from the actors.  Cast members enter and exit the stage from all four corners of the area.

This fast paced British farce includes a cast of six male and four female characters.

Mr. Eric Swan is a con artist who has duped the welfare authorities for years by claiming every type of benefit for the innumerable people he claims live at his address.

His scams net him thousands of dollars, tax free.  That is, until...

About the time he decides to kill off many of the imaginary dole recipients (because matters are getting too risky), a welfare investigator shows up at Mr. Swan's door.  The official makes inquiries about what is going on and even offers additional benefits for which Mr. Swan hasn't yet applied.

To outwit the investigator, the con artist enlists help from one of his real tenants and from his Uncle George, who also volunteers to convince his nephew's wife that he is not a transvestite.

One lie piles onto another as the story speeds along to its surprising conclusion.  This show definitely proves that adage about the tangled web we weave when we deceive.

Watching this farce with a twist, it didn't take too much deep thought to realize that as we were laughing at the hilarious antics of the cast, we were also laughing with them at the crazy machinery of our society today.

This play went from zero to sixty in the first ten minutes, and then never slowed down.  It was a fun and wild ride!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

More Postcards From the New Jersey Beach

During our adventures this weekend at the seashore, we spent some time on Friday all the way down at the cape end of the state at Cape May, New Jersey.  We were searching for a campground as far south and as near to the beach as possible.

After finding a good one, we headed out to the beach.  Cape May was not filled with traffic and thousands of people as it usually is during the summer season, and we had a very peaceful look at our surroundings.

We parked right on Beach Avenue, which is the road running along Cape May's boardwalk and beach access.  Cape May doesn't really have a wooden boardwalk;  it's a raised concrete walkway with good views overlooking the ocean.

While the husband/lover/beach boy took a walk out to the water's edge, I waited on the boardwalk and had this view to the south:

Beyond that small structure is the southernmost tip of the Cape.

It was such a beautiful sunny day that we just had to stay here for a while and soak up some free Vitamin D.  Here is the view looking straight east out to the ocean:

One small family had the entire beach to themselves, until Bob joined them.  He found a small piece of driftwood which we considered bringing home to our gardens.  After I nixed the idea because it would get sand all over in my trunk some discussion, we decided to leave it and its ecosystem right where we found it.

If you ever get the chance to visit Cape May, New Jersey, you will find that it is simply a delightful town.  Many Victorian era homes are painted in all sorts of bright color combinations, and decorated with elaborate "gingerbread" wood trims.  This fancy purple home was right behind us, facing the ocean.

After we accomplished our campground searching business, we headed back up the coast towards Wildwood Crest and our hotel.  We saw many huge kites out on the beach,

and there was an international convention on the beach for Blokart enthusiasts.  We spoke to some guests at our hotel about this sport, and learned that the sport and the carts originated in New Zealand.  If these wind carts catch the air just right, they are taken on an exhilarating charge down the beach.  Take a look:


Perhaps if our son Caleb had had a cart tethering his large kite down to earth, he may not have ended up in the emergency room last fall.  If you missed that excitement, you can read about it back in this post.  However, if he had been along with us on this trip and had seen these guys racing up and down the beach, I feel certain there would have ultimately been some emptying of his wallet.  I cannot deny that it looked like a great amount of fun and thrills.

On our last night we saw the moon rising over the ocean, and changing colors as it went.

Sort of like a "Red Moon Rising."  Wait, isn't that a movie title?  I can easily picture a mass of zombies stumbling up the beach, coming into town and doing what they do.

Good thing we were up on the sixth floor.

Friday, April 26, 2013

Seek and Destroy Mission

As hinted at in yesterday's post, the husband/lover/beach boy and I headed out on another adventure.  Last evening we drove the five or so hours southeast to Wildwood, New Jersey.  To our family and friends, yes, we are just crazy enough to head to the beach in April, and here's the proof:

Do you see the ocean in the distance?
In fact, I can confidently say that we, yes we, essentially OPENED THE NEW JERSEY BEACH FOR THE SEASON.  You can all come down now.

For one, we checked into our hotel, which is right on the beach, on its very first night of the season.  No leftover bedbugs in there to worry about.  Here are some views from our balcony:

The beginning of the Wildwood boardwalk is right there.                                                    
The view northwest into Wildwood
 And furthermore, we were the very first customers of the season to dine in the attached hotel restaurant:

Open and ready for business
Ordering the very first cup of coffee and eggs of the season.                                                                                     
We were on a mission that was multi-faceted:

1.  Seek out the best campsite down in the Cape May area of the New Jersey beaches.

2.  Eat as much Mack's pizza as possible in a two night trip.

3.  Experience the wellbeing that comes from breathing lots of seashore air.

I am happy to report that we accomplished all of our goals, and enjoyed ourselves thoroughly while doing so.

This morning we visited and toured about five or six campgrounds.  We know now which campground has wide enough roads and sites to comfortably accommodate our new fifth wheel camper.  Some of the more family oriented campgrounds have super amenities, planned activities, swimming and mini golf, all that would appeal to children and teens.

As for us, we're just two geezers that need a quiet place to relax with our camper - a central location from which to branch out and see the local sights.  We found a simple campground that we think will be a good fit for us.

While looking around in one of the campground resorts, we saw the strangest thing:  this male turkey strutting around in one of the sites.

The security guard at the exit gate told us the story of this beautiful bird.  Apparently some campers had this turkey and were going to kill it and eat it.  The campground management didn't want that to happen, so they bought the campers a frozen turkey in exchange.  Now this unusual turkey just lives in the campground, roaming from site to site and chasing the lady turkeys.  

I've never seen a turkey with these colorations:

After seeking out a good campground, next we headed to Mack's pizza, the best pizza on earth, in my opinion.  We quickly inhaled an entire large pizza, just the two of us.  (This was the "destroy" part of our Seek and Destroy mission.)

On the boardwalk
                                                                     This wall hanging has been there since I was a child.
The interior has its same old pink and purple color scheme.

Ohhh myyyyyy

Our last goal is being realized as I write.  We are breathing in the ocean air, and feeling its wellbeing-inducing ingredients.  Bob says whatever is in the air is due to the amorphylization of shellfish.  I say it's not that season yet.  We are at an impasse.  No matter, we do feel great.

Tonight, hopefully a meal at a DINER.  I love diners.
Tomorrow, what else?  More Mack's pizza.  
All is well.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Shish Kebabs

Last night we had the grand opening of the backyard grill, officially ushering in the 2013 backyard picnic season.  Unfortunately, Mother Nature had absolutely no regard for our dinner plans.  She unceremoniously dumped buckets of water onto the husband/lover/chef just as he was finishing turning our skewers for the last bit of cooking.  Kinda takes the fun out of grilling, don't you think?

Well, in spite of the unfavorable grilling conditions, our beef shish kebabs were colorful, delicious, and fairly simple to make.

First gather up your ingredients and supplies:

beef meatballs
small red potatoes
cherry tomatoes
one red onion
small mushrooms
one orange or red pepper
one green pepper
barbecue sauce
skewers and a baster brush


Let me come clean right here and now and tell you I cheated.  I bought fully cooked meatballs at my local meat market instead of making my own.  I've had them before so I know they're good, and I needed simplicity for tonight.  My feet were killing me, so there.

Cut the peppers and onions into large chunks.  Remove the mushroom stems and wash the mushrooms thoroughly.

Cook the potatoes, peppers, and onions in the microwave for about 3 minutes to soften them up a bit.  Then cut the potatoes into quarters.

Thread the ingredients onto your skewers.  I'm not a fan of those tiny cheapo wooden skewers, because there's barely anything to get a hold of.  Not to mention that they can catch fire in the grill.  My dog eats sticks, not me.  I've invested in a good pair of stainless steel skewers, and I've never regretted the purchase.  Dishwasher safe, too.  That's a win in my book. 

Paint them with barbecue sauce, and grill them, turning them and repainting them every couple of minutes until they are done.

Gosh, it is only now as I write this that I'm noticing I completely forgot to use any of the tomatoes.  Maybe that is my subconscious avoidance of them, as I've never learned to like them.  Interesting too, that my husband didn't even say a thing.  He loves tomatoes.

Poor guy, he was utterly sopping wet after his grill duty.  

I don't even have a final picture - he had the finished shish kebabs onto plates and going into his mouth before I could even get near my camera.  

I'm sure this recipe would work well with chicken pieces too.  Perhaps I'd add a teriyaki sauce instead of barbecue for a delicious alternative.

Today the husband/lover/chauffeur and I leave on our "Seek and Destroy" mission.  We're heading to the southern New Jersey beach area to accomplish our business.

Stay tuned, more on that adventure to come.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Unsolved Roadside Mystery

Weird STUFF along the road
Tomorrow the husband/lover/chauffeur and I will be heading out on a two day "Seek and Destroy" mission, but more on that later.

Thinking about road tripping, and about the 4 1/2 hour drive we will be making to get to our destination, brought back to my mind an unsolved travel mystery that has plagued us for many years.

If you have done any amount of road tripping throughout your life, you certainly have seen an extensive and bizarre variety of items along the roadways.

Oh yeah, we've all seen the STUFF.

There are plenty of shredded truck tires to avoid:

We often pass by loads of trash, and the college fraternities doing a service project, or prisoners doing time cleaning it up:

Memorial crosses are left by grieving family members:

Of course there is roadkill of every variety:

There is one thing my driver is adamant about - he will always swerve to avoid any closed containers, like bags or boxes, and here is why:

He claims you'd never know if those trash bags or cardboard boxes might contain somebody's pet, or worse yet, a baby.  There are stupid people out there that do stupid things.

So yeah, we've seen a lot of STUFF over the years along the roadways.  But here remains the mystery:

A shoe along the side of the road.  Yes, just ONE shoe.  I saw this just the other day on my way to the mall, and I had to pull over and document this anomaly.

How does a shoe get out along the highway, sometimes miles and miles from any civilization, and why is it always only ONE shoe?  

In all the years we have traveled, I don't believe we have ever seen a PAIR of shoes.  Actually, I think I could more easily come up with an explanation for a pair, than for just one shoe.

So there it is, folks, this mystery is out there for solving.  My husband watches every CSI episode ever aired.  He even has an OFFICIAL DETECTIVE CERTIFICATE from the Las Vegas CSI Experience in the MGM Hotel, and he still can't figure this out.  

May the best sleuth win. 

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Mother/Son Date Night

Sunday night son Caleb and I headed up the road for a night at the theater.  We had tickets to see "Voca People" at The Community Arts Center in Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

If you've never heard of "Voca People" before, (I hadn't before Caleb showed me this on You Tube), treat yourself to some fun and watch this little video.

We thoroughly enjoyed the show, and I found myself wondering if I may have possibly liked this group more than the Blue Man Group, which I had seen two years ago in Las Vegas.  In fact, on one of their flyers they describe themselves as "BLUE MAN GROUP meets GLEE!"

Full of energy and bursting with fun, "Voca People" are an international hit featuring over 70 a cappella and beat box versions of songs we know and love, including favorites from Madonna, Queen and even Mozart.  There are no instruments, no sound effects - just eight incredibly talented performers breathing life into the greatest music on earth.

The eight person cast includes Captain Beat On and Scratcher, two male characters that provide most of the percussion-like effects.  The other six characters were a mix of males and females, named Tubas, Tenoro, Alta, Mezzo, Bari-tone, and Soprana.

As their story goes, after a millennium of traveling through space, the "Voca People" finally land on planet Earth. These beings are from another galaxy, thus their completely white look.

Sadly they discover that their spaceship charger, fueled by music alone, has been completely depleted.  Slowly, the "Voca people" learn the strange earthly habits and the typical earth music, and with the help of the audience, reboot their unique spaceship with music energy.

The story sounds corny, sure it does.  However, its delivery by this ultra-talented group was amazing, and I was riveted for the entire two hours.  Not once did I find my attention wavering, nor did my toes stop tapping.

"Voca People" made use of some audience "volunteers" to the delight and enjoyment of all.  This girl was the recipient of the Voca Boys in Love medley, including the songs "Can't Take My Eyes Off You," "Got My Mind Set On You," "Careless Whisper," and "Sex Bomb."

Likewise, the Voca Ladies on the Hunt found some audience members to serenade with the love songs "Lollipop," "I Will Always Love You," "Fever," and "Big Spender."

"Voca People" believe that music is the most powerful source of energy in the universe.  Their motto is

"Life is music and music is life."

I don't know if I'd go quite that far, but this group did provide us with a very entertaining way to spend a mother/son date.  

If the "Voca People" come through your town, make sure you get some tickets.  You'll be glad you did.

Monday, April 22, 2013

First Year Blogiversary!

Yesterday, April 21st, was the first year blogiversary of this little blog.  How does the time fly like that?  I clearly remember making the monumental purchase of my first point and shoot camera early in 2012.  Even now, I still don't know what all of its capabilities are.

In one year, I made 317 posts, and those posts have acquired 43,532 page views.  Wow!  I'm certainly grateful to my readers who keep coming back each day to read what I write about and who sometimes comment, too.  Without readers, what would be the fun of blogging?

How did I spend my blogiversary, you may well ask?  Well, by taking a break from blogging, of course.

The husband/lover/chauffeur and I took a ride because it was finally a gorgeous sunny day.  We drove to one of our favorite state parks, the Raymond B. Winter State Park, to re-look at the campsites.  Our goal was to make a new list of all the sites that will easily accommodate our new fifth wheel before we make any reservations, since we are still learning how to maneuver and park this monster.

En route, I spoke to one of my granddaughters, who excitedly told me all about how she just lost her first tooth.  The report this morning following a visit from the tooth fairy is quite nice.  It seems that the fairy left $2 under Tori's pillow.  When Tori woke up and found the money, she quickly ran to twin Brianna's room and slid one of the dollars under her pillow.  How sweet is that?

Then later in the evening, Caleb and I had an enjoyable mother/son date.  We went to see an incredible acapella music group, "Voca People."  More to come on that in a future post.

For now, I leave you with a humorous flashback to the very first post I made, back on April 21, 2012:


Hi.  This is Jill.  See Jill go.  Jill is making a blog.  Go Jill go.