Our first days of work complete, we were very excited to be welcoming some company! My Mom, who drove down for the day (she’s staying with a friend while visiting from FL) and our dear friends, Steven & Linda! You may recall, we spent 3 weeks with Steven & Linda traveling up to AK, and then more time when they visited Seward. That was a glorious trip and we hadn’t seen them since they left the Kenai Penninsula in July 2016 – seems like a lifetime ago!
My Mom arrived about 11am. Bill and I had already started preparing our yummy lunch of AK salmon and a sauté of root veggies Bill had been wanting to try. Yummy!
We enjoyed catching up with Mom while we ate outside and soaked in the spring sun! I caught her up on some wedding plans and she brought us a bunch of mail that she carried up from FL. Sadly, none of us got a pic! Except the food one above!
Steven & Linda pulled in around 2 pm, after a short travel day from Lewes, DE. They had started their year back in TX, leaving there at the end of February, and have been making their way across and up the east coast. They’ve included some awesome stops along the way, as well as some varied travel methods, utilizing the ferry system in OBX NC, Chesapeake Bay Bridge and Tunnels in VA, and most recently the Lewes DE to Cape May NJ ferry. You can check out their blog – and Stevens awesome photos here: The Chouters.
After a quick set-up, I was happy to have them meet Mom. I know my Mom also likes meeting our friends. As a Mom of adult children now – I always like meeting my kids friends.
Mom took off about 3:30pm after a quick taste of a ginger/lime/tonic water drink Bill made and then Happy Hour officially began! I know – it was early, but we don’t get crazy with a lot of drinking. It’s more a state of mind.
Bill and I had planned baby back ribs, Mac & Cheese and salad for dinner, but somehow the salad got forgotten about! We weren’t lacking for food – no excuse to come away from dinner hungry! Check this out:
10am we were loaded into the CRV and headed north! The weather could have been a bit more cooperative, there were lots of heavy clouds, but we were determined to make the best of it!
We got off the Garden State Parkway at exit 105 and turned east toward Long Branch on Rt 36. We turned north again, onto Rt 35, when the ocean was in front of us. We passed through shore towns along the way with the Atlantic on our right. Bill and I love that drive, and each scene that we passed invoked happy memories, notably Long Branch pier, where I was scared witless at the Haunted Mansion, and McCloons Rum Runner restaurant, where we celebrated many occasions. We took turnes telling stories of our growing up NJ style – hopefully not boring Steven & Linda too badly with our reminiscing.
The first stop of the day was Twin Lights Lighthouse, with its unique double lighthouse. The museum was open, as was one of the towers, which we easily climbed. Twin Lights were built atop the bluff, and there are sweeping views of the Atlantic, the mouth of the Raritan Bay, and beyond. While we could see some of it through the cloudiness, on a clear day, Manhattan, including the new Freedom Tower, and even Coney Island are visible. We could see the Tappan Zee Bridge, but it was somewhat hidden in the clouds.
Next stop was my fav lighthouse, Sandy Hook. We opted not to climb it – even before we realized it wasn’t open to climb anyway. We drove around Fort Hancock, imaging what it might have been like to live out on the “hook” back in the day. The views of Highlands and Twin Lightes are amazing from out on the end.
After a quick drive by of Bill and I’s first house and historic Keansburg boardwalk, Linda wanted to stop in Union Beach to see her Aunts former home. Linda spent time each summer there for years and wanted to see if the house survived Super Storm Sandy and if so get a pic. Well – the house looked just as she remembered; pics were taken and forwarded to her Mom.
Linda got back in the car after getting the house pics and we were all starving – so next stop was another fav – Keyport Fishery. We parked the car and crossed Front Street to the take-out only restaurant. The Keyport Fishery has been in business since 1936, before that it was known as Wilsons; many older locals still call it that. They still take and keep track of orders the old fashioned way – writing orders on the paper bags they will go into when ready. They still take your initials to call out so you can grab your yummy soups, sandwiches and platters before heading back to your car. Unless you are heading home, most locals will move their car closer to the bulkhead to sit by the water and eat their meal, always saving some of the generous portion of French fries for the spoiled sea gulls.
Interestingly, Linda actually got married in NJ (not to Steven – but to her first husband) – AND – in the same exact church as Bill and I! Of all the places in the world to get married! AND – also by the same minister, Rev Riley. After the sea gulls got the last of the fries, we back-tracked a little to go see St Johns United Methodist Church. We parked and got out to get a pic. I still can hardly believe the coincidence!
It was now time to start heading back south. The day before, when discussing potential routes, Bill had come up with the idea of stopping at another local landmark – Delicious Orchards. Apple Cider Donuts anyone? Another quick drive by – of the old Bell Labs water tower this time – and we took back roads through Holmdel all the way to Scobeyville. Most of you are probably asking “Scobeyville? – where is that?” Even NJ natives might be thinking I’m making that up – but no! It’s an actual small town, right next to Colts Neck. Another drive-by, this time at the place where Bill began his career in beverage manufacturing, Laird and Company. I worked there first, in the office, and told Bill about the job opening in the quality control lab. That was way back in 1984! WOW! Going on 33 years ago!
Laird and Company is “Americas oldest native distillery” per their own website. It is still owned and operated by the Laird family, as it has been since 1780. Their largest product is Lairds Applejack, which is a whiskey distilled from apples. They also produce Apple Brandy. The company survived prohibition by making apple cider, applesauce and other products; in 1933 Laird and Company received a special Federal grant to produce applejack for medicinal purposes. During Bills 9 year tenure working for Lairds, along with their products, they also did contract bottling for Hiram Walker, bottling Kahlua, also Cruzan Rum, Smugglers Scotch, etc.
Next up was another NJ fav – Delicious Orchards! This used to be, again, back in the day, a small Mom & Pop kind of place, with apple picking, pumpkins, fresh picked local veggies and their homemade delish pies and BEST EVER Apple Cider Donuts. The donuts come in sleeves of 6 and you always needed to buy at least 2 because there was a better than average chance one sleeve (yes – 6 donuts) wouldn’t make it home. Delicious Orchards is now a HUGE place, still selling fresh local fruits and veggies, still have their fresh homemade pies and Apple Cider Donuts, among the other desserts, but now they also have a fresh butcher area, fresh seafood, fresh deli, homemade preserves and dairy products. (I think that’s it!). We headed inside to be awed by the selection!
We all started out with the idea that we would get some donuts, however, what we left with was much more, little pies, cannoli, brownies, jams, salad fixings, and more. It’s a yummy but dangerous place!
It was now time to continue south toward home, before serious food coma set in!
Stay tuned – next up – boardwalk tours!