Memorial Day and Friend Time…

So, here I sit, in my recliner chair in my “salon” aka living room.  It is a beautiful sunny day outside, but I’m still in my jammies, so no getting my Vitamin D just yet.  After a shower, I’ll move out into my zero-gravity chair and catch a few rays before starting work at 5.  

It’s Memorial Day weekend here on the Jersey Shore, the kick-off for the summer season!  The campground is full – no open spots at all!  Bill and Joe have been needing to do 2 hayrides due to the number of people!  The store has been very busy – people needing everything from wood for a fire, ingredients for s’mores, ice cream, to an extension cord to reach the pedestal.  Pizza pretzel nuggets and fleece jackets have been hot items also!  The weather, which didn’t start out so well, has cleared and everyone is enjoying the warm sunshine and cooler evenings – perfect for campfires!  The pool is open and water toys are flying off the shelves!  Last night Lynn brought in a DJ, and he kept everyone dancing, with a great mix of oldies, classics and more recent favs, from 8 to 11pm!  

This was taken just a few days before the weekend
First hayride of the holiday weekend!
Kiddie pool – open for business!
Very inviting! Can’t wait to grab a chair and relax!
What a difference power washing makes!

 I’ve been thinking a lot about my blog.  I love my blog, but I sometimes feel like it is “forced”, and that isn’t what blogging is supposed to be about.  Usually I get excited to type out what’s happening.  More recently, I have been struggling.  Not sure why.  Perhaps it’s because last year at this time we were on our way, and arriving in AK, that was so exciting!  Now, while I love being in NJ, it’s just not quite as awe inspiring. (I didn’t mean to imply my blog was/is awe inspiring, just the AK part!)  I don’t want to lose readers because I’m not “feeling it” in my writing.  

I chatted a bit with my daughter about this.  With a Bachelors in English and MFA in English, Creative Writing, she is uniquely qualified to help me sort this out.   (Just as a proud Mom showing off: check out her new biz website: Maeve Stoltz Creative Coaching)   After some coaching from my creative daughter, I’m going to be trying a different approach to my writing.  Not any major changes, just small adjustments, a tweak here and there.  I don’t want to give it all away, but I’m counting on you, my faithful readers, to offer feedback on what, if anything, different you notice.  My hope is reading my blog will be a more enjoyable experience.  

Before I forget to tell you – one of my readers asked for the Manhattan Clam Chowder and Shrimp and Grits recipes from my last post.  I posted the Manhattan Clam Chowder under the Soup section of Foodies Welcome, you can find it here: Manhattan Clam Chowder or by clicking the “hamburger” in the above right, Foodies Welcome, Eating In then Soups.   The Shrimp and Grits isn’t my recipe but here’s the link to it: Shrimp and Grits.  Enjoy!

As I mentioned above, it is Memorial Day weekend!  When we lived in NJ, we lived for this weekend – starting, just a little bit, right after New Years; by Easter the countdown was in full swing!  Keep in mind that in the northeast schools don’t generally let out as early as other areas in the country, when I was in school we were lucky to be done by mid-June.  The exact end date would depend largely on how many snow days we enjoyed.   (And we did enjoy them!  Back when we were cheering for the snow day – our young minds didn’t correlate that with an extra day being added at the end!)   Memorial Day weekend was a small teaser taste of what was to come – family BBQ’s, swimming in the pool, being allowed to stay out late, if we got lucky – chasing fireflies!  

As locals, we rarely, if ever, went down the shore to the beach on a holiday weekend.  Well – I guess some people did, but we (my family) would stay closer to home and spread our towels out on Sandy Hook vs heading all the way to Belmar, Pt Pleasant or Manasqan.  First of all, traffic was bad enough going only as far as Sandy Hook, and BONUS – if we were “good” Mom would stop and get us soft-serve ice cream on the way home.  I sure wish I could remember the name of the place on the west bound side of Hwy 36 in (I think) Atlantic Highlands that she’d swing the huge Ford station wagon into.  The building was shaped like a massive ice cream cone – I can still picture it – vanilla!   

Summers were (I’m sure still are) such a great time in Jersey.  My grandparents lived in the same town as us, but right on the water.  A red raised ranch house, with a deck on the back with million dollar views of the Raritan Bay; to the right was Keyport, Union Beach and Keansburg.  To the left you could easily see Perth Amboy.  Straight out, seeming so far away, was Staten Island, then Manhattan and on really clear days we could see shadows of Coney Island. They would have family picnics quite often, at least it seems so now.  Nana would invite everyone so there was lots of people.  I had a huge extended family back then.  

Bill grew up in the same town and when we started dating, we would split our time between mine and his families homes.  Picnics for Memorial Day meant hamburgers and hot dogs, sausage sandwiches, BBQ chicken, potato salad, and cole slaw.  Grandma Gorman would make crab salad with macaroni – it was so GOOD! (later in the season – my fav – CORN!) My Dad would be in charge of the cooking.  I can picture the black round grill and huge bag of charcoal; back then there weren’t any propane gas grills like today.  You had to be patient (not my strongest virtue) waiting for the coals to get the right temp, just starting to turn white, only then could the food go on.  

I guess being back here, and looking forward to this summer, has me feeling a bit nostalgic!  Summer was always my fav part of the year!  

Back to the present!

Guy & Sue, fellow Class of 2014 RV Dreamers, came to NJ and stayed not too far from us at Turkey Swamp Park, in Freehold.  Bill and I drove up to see them, the plan: enjoy lunch while catching up.

The CG had been fairly recently redone.  It is very wooded with dirt roads.  Sites are all pull-thru and quite a few are large enough for their 45′ Class A coach.  I had camped there once, years ago, and back then you could not have fit their bus, but the upgrade made it possible.  Sue loved how it was near everything, yet felt like you were far removed from the hustle and bustle of Freehold Township and Borough.  

After a short discussion, we quickly decided on thin crust pizza!  Ok Jersey friends – where, in/near Freehold, would one go for the BEST thin crust pizza!?!  Federici’s of course!  Sue and Guy added sausage, pepperoni, roasted red peppers to their pizza, while Bill and I ordered sausage, mushroom and roasted red pepper.  Can I get a delish!?

Just looking at the pic makes me want to get more!

Sadly, we didn’t really have enough time to hang out for long after lunch because we were scheduled to work at 5, but we had another date with them on Tuesday!  

The weekend at Country Oaks was BUSY!  People having fun!  Monday arrived and the mass exodus of RV’s began before I opened the store at 8:30am.  There were people staying longer than the minimum 3 night stay, until Tuesday, but we had about 40 RV’s leave out by the noon check out time.   We offer late check out for an additional $25, and some took advantage of that.  

Sue & Guy texted that they were on their way about 10am Tuesday, with an ETA of 11:30, but we know sometimes it doesnt take as long as the GPS says.  I suggested to them they take the scenic route through the Pine Barrens (locally known as “the pineys”), and avoid the GSP (Garden State Parkway). 

We had a break in the rain right after they pulled in, so they asked for the nickel tour and we were happy to oblige.  We are proud of our summer home; Bob, Bill, and Joe have all worked hard to get the last remnants of winter all cleaned up.   

I sure do wish the weathermen/women could get their acts together and accurately predict the weather.   I get it when, on Monday, they say it’s going to be gorgeous on Friday and they are wrong, however, then they say on Thursday it’s going to be nice on Friday and that’s wrong – well – it’s really REALLY annoying.  

We headed to Cape May anyway.  Took the tour in the truck vs walking, but it was all good.  We had a really yummy lunch at McGlades on the Pier.  We couldn’t walk on the beach, but we could get a look at it!  3 of the 4 of us opted for the grouper special.  Guy broke ranks and tried their Manhattan (red) Clam Chowder, followed by crab cakes.  There wasn’t a single bit of food left when the waitress came for our plates.  

I REALLY wanted to show them our fav boardwalk – I’m sure you all know very well by now – Ocean City.   I navigated from the back seat, sending us through Sea Isle City, Strathmere and over the bridge into Corson Inlet State Park.  Rain continued to spit on us as we walked the boards from 9th street 2 blocks north to Kohrs Bros.  This time it was Bills turn to be different, getting himself a peanut butter/chocolate twist, while the rest of us were more traditional with the orange/vanilla twist.  We ate while looking out over the Atlantic, keeping dry in the Music Pier.  

We headed back over the mid-island causeway, admiring the huge multi-level condo’s, with their “For Rent” signs out front.  Ocean City also has many, many B&B’s to stay in, as well as your run of the mill hotels/motels.  As I’ve said before, the unique thing, one of the things we love best, is it’s a dry town.  No alcohol sold or served.  Once you cross the bridge or causeway, you will find liquor stores ready to sell you whatever you need or want.   

Upon returning to Country Oaks, LaciLu got a quick walk and we said our “see ya later’s”.  It was sad to watch them drive off, especially since we don’t know for sure when we will see them again.  Possibly January but that’s a long way off.  

Well, that’s all for today, blog readers.  Lets chat again soon!