Friday, April 25, 2014

10 things I love about New Jersey

Well, we’re back.

The floor of our truck has been relegated to a cemetery of fossilized French fries, but we survived the 1,200-mile round-trip voyage to New Jersey. (The trek was surprisingly stress-free, thanks in part to this post.) Not one meltdown was suffered by either Thing One or Thing Two, not one expletive was stifled by Scott or me, and nary an item (a sock, teething toy, my sanity) was lost.

I’d say this trip was a success.

While I went into this afraid of what the road trip might bring, I knew that when we got there, we’d have a blast. Because Scott is from Jersey – born and bred – I have since adopted the state as my second home and truly love it there. And here are 10 of the reasons why:

1. The Jersey Shore
Boardwalks, salt water taffy, the Atlantic Ocean: What’s not to like about this state treasure? My favorite spots in the summer include Point Pleasant, Long Branch, and Wildwood. It was too cold last week, however, to don swimwear, pack a cooler, and make a day of it. But I still needed my fix and Scotty had never seen the ocean in person before, so we stopped at the shore in Asbury Park because it is a stone’s throw from Freehold. We parked between the tribute to Tillie and The Stone Pony, the bar where Springsteen got his start, and Scotty and I played on the jungle gym, right there on the beach.

2. Wawa
My devotion to Wawa hinges on this: A 20-ounce coffee for $1.79. And not just regular and decaf coffee, either – I’m talking pure Kona, Caramel, Hazelnut, Columbian, and other delectable flavors – and all the trimmings you could possibly want: Splenda, reduced fat half-and-half, you name it. Even their iced coffee (pictured) is The Bomb. Wawa, I bow to thee.

3. No pumping gas for drivers
Drivers cannot pump their own gas in New Jersey. It’s state law. So while us Michiganders are sweating like a whore in church to fill up our tanks in the summertime, or risking the loss of a digit from frostbite to do the same in the winter, Jersey folk sit idly by in the comfort of their automobiles while their tanks are filled by a gas station attendant. Because, again, it’s the law. Um, excuse me, elected officials here in Michigan, are you reading this?

4. The Radisson Hotel in Freehold
We needed a crib for Kennedy, so we notified the front desk and they delivered one ASAP. Then we needed a microwave to make Scotty’s macaroni and cheese, and, again, the staff was Johnny on the Spot. Their room service is awesome, as is the complimentary fresh lemon water in the lobby. (Unfortunately, there was nothing the hotel could do to keep Scotty from kneeing me in the back at night while I slept, however.)

5. No sales tax on clothes
For this very reason, I waited until we arrived in Jersey so that I could stock up on all the kids’ essentials: undershirts, socks, pajamas, etc. at the Carter’s store inside the Jersey Shore Premium outlets in Tinton Falls. With stores like Brooks Brothers, Theory, and Columbia, I could have easily blown a whole day – or seven – at that outlet. No sales tax on clothes: What a glorious concept. Oh, and again, Michigan elected officials, are you reading this? 

6. iPlay America Indoor Theme Park
This is the childhood equivalent to a clothing outlet inside a state with no sales tax on clothes. With amusement rides, a bowling alley, bumper cars, and a ginormous jungle gym all under one roof, Scotty let off so much steam with his cousins that I burned calories just watching him. (In the photos above with the nets, that's Scotty and his awesome big cousin, Jordan, in the jungle gym.) It’s a good thing he was dog tired when we left, otherwise Scott and I would have had to drag him out in a straightjacket. (We went on Good Friday – when the place was teeming with kids – and it was still tolerable for us parents.)

7. The eats
Authentic pizza pie from Trevi’s, Stefano’s, or Federici’s. A burger and waffle fries from Court Jester. A submarine sandwich from Sorrento’s: You simply can’t find this kind of heaven on a plate anywhere else.

8. The treats
Jersey Freeze is how soft serve ice cream was meant to taste. My go-to is a small cup of vanilla with cookie dough, rainbow sprinkles, and whipped cream. Yeah, you could say I am obsessed. And then there’s Old Monmouth Candies, which houses every confection imaginable. Ever have espresso peanut brittle? Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.

9. The People
Some people characterize New Jerseyans as rude and mean. I’ve also heard that they are about big hair, big boobs, and Bon Jovi. My take is that they are just plain real. Ironically, while reading an US Weekly on the drive to Jersey, I read a quote about Jersey folk by one of their own, Wendy Williams. I can’t remember the quote verbatim, but she said something to the effect that people from New Jersey are messy – “but in a good way.” I take her comment to mean that they are no-holds-barred and let it all hang out. What you see is what you get. People in Jersey may not have a filter, but they do have a heart. And, in that regard, there’s nothing bad about that. (And oh my Gawd, how I love their accent!)

10. My man
On September 27, 1968 in the shore town of Neptune, New Jersey, Scott Conover was born. He was a precocious little boy, creating make-shift science experiments out of mouthwash, shampoo, and pennies. He would go on to graduate from Purdue University and, later, play in the NFL. But his greatest accomplishment would come in the form of a son and daughter. Simply put, if it weren’t for him, there would be no us. Here we are at a Jersey State Park on the day before Easter:

Thanks for the memories, New Jersey! 

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36 comments:

  1. Awwww. Adorable. Glad you survived. Sounds like it was a breeze and you had a blast along the way. Yeah. Your p la nning paid off. Bravo.

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    1. Thanks, Ray! It hasn't even been a week yet, and already I'm nostalgic for the time we spent there recently. And not to mention, how I could REALLY use a large Wawa Kona with three creams and two Splendas. STAT. (I sincerely wish K's two bottom teeth would just hurry up and sprout; these nights have been a bitch...)

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  2. What a great family trip! I love the picture of the kids with Scotty's arm around Kennedy! And the gas? What is this, 1955! I can't believe that's the law there. Although it's pretty nice, especially in the winter, it's such an old school law! Glad it was a successful trip.

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    1. Hey, Dina! That's actually Scotty being hugged by his big cousin, Jordan. (I should have clarified that, so I've gone back and edited that part.) Jordan is 6 and was so kind and gentle with Scotty...

      About the gas, yeah, I'm down with that law, I'm not even going to lie. It's a PITA to leave my air conditioned car in the summer -- and the warmth of the heat in the winter...

      Thank you for commenting!

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  3. No sales tax on clothes and you don't pump your own gas!!! That's down right luxurious!

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    1. Exactly, Susie. Like I said before, Um, Michigan officials...hellooooooo? Are you reading this? lol

      I seriously may consider being buried at that Jersey Shore Outlet, too.

      Thank you for reading! xo

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  4. *laugh* You don't pump your own gas in Oregon either... (we're in MT) and it always a little weird to go there and have to sit in your car. One of the Engineer's Aunts lives in Oregon and we're pretty sure she doesn't know how to pump gas any more as she refuses to do it here in Montana.

    I love the Shore pictures!

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    1. Thank you, Dakota! That time at the shore was so fun. I mean, tell me: Is there any greater pleasure then witnessing the unbridled joy experienced by our child?

      And as for the gas, yeah, I can totally see how someone can forget how to pump gas if they haven't done it in forever...just like I will conveniently forget how to change diapers when my youngest becomes potty trained. ;-) (Until I become a grandma, of course...)

      Thank you for commenting!

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  5. As a Jersey Girl (grew up in Northern NJ) I may be a bit biased, but I'd have to say this is one your best top 10's :) :) BTW- My hubs grew up in Michigan :)

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    1. Ah! Thank you, Monisha! This list was truly a pleasure to write -- and I loved conducting the "research" for it. Thank you for your kind words. And your hubs is from Michigan, huh? Small world! That is awesome...

      I love reading your comments. xo

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  6. NEW JERSEY FOR THE WIN!! My family is from the great garden state -- and, even though I went to college in North Carolina, most of my college bffs are from there too. I love Point Pleasant, so, so, so much. I'll be back up there for a wedding this summer, in fact, and I can't wait! And yay for such a successful road trip :)

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    1. Okay, so you are really a Jersey Girl? Yet another reason we get on so well...

      Point Pleasant, yes, is one of the best. I would actually like to return this summer and take Scotty to the aquarium there...

      Thanks for sharing (as always!)

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  7. Sounds awesome.

    I would enjoy the Jersey Shore.

    And not having to pump my gas.

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    1. Hi, Amber! Yes...and, yes.

      It's like those two features were made with us in mind. lol

      Thank you for commenting.

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  8. Everyone hates on NJ but it is kind of an awesome place. I go down to the shore every summer.

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    1. I know, right? It seems like more often than not, Jersey gets the shit end of the stick. There's this saying on the side of the Trenton Bridge: "Trenton [the state capital] makes it, and the world takes it." Jersey is actually home to a lot of fantastic inventions, that don't get a lot of pub. I mean, every state can lay claim to great inventions, too, but, it just seems to me that an inordinate amount of things -- good things -- get overlooked in New Jersey.

      Three things: The Statue of Liberty is actually in New Jersey! This year's Super Bowl...everyone was saying that it was in NYC...it was New Jersey. Even both of New York's NFL teams -- both reside in New Jersey!

      No disrespect to New York, I love me some Big Apple, too, but gosh it's like Jersey is the step child or something.

      Thanks for commenting.

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  9. You KNOW I laughed out loud by myself on #3. Add it to the list of reasons I love you...
    You've now convinced me to get my booty to NJ, if for nothing else than being lazy at the gas station and eatin' like it's my last day on earth.
    LOVE it.
    -Sandra

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    1. Hey, Sandra! (My mother-in-law's name is actually Sandra...and she lives in New Jersey! lol)

      Anyhoo, let me say this with regard to eating like it's our last day on earth: With the cravings I had while I was pregnant with my daughter, I would have been 1,200 pounds had I been pregnant in New Jersey. I would have consumed a pizza pie a day, and slept on the concrete picnic table in front of Jersey Freeze so I could be the first in line when it opened everyday.

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  10. I've been once when the HEAT played the NETS in the playoffs...it was fun! But we spent most of our time in the city. Looks like you had a good trip!

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    1. Hi, Kristen! Ironically, the very first time I went to Jersey was for work,too! I was traveling with Jaguar was a narrator and product specialist for Jaguar, and our training was actually at the Meadowlands -- inside the old stadium where the Giants and Jets played.

      Oh, and with regard to the Heat, I am so rooting for you guys (again!) this year...

      Thank you for commenting!

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  11. Hi Courtney, wow it looks like you and your family had a nice time in NJ. We used to go every summer on vacation there until our rented beach house was destroyed from hurricane sandy. I have lump in my throat just thinking about it. We had such fun summers there and wonderful memories. I'm glad you had a good time. I miss Wawa too. Take care and have a nice weekend.
    Julie at Julie's Lifestyle

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    1. Julie, reading your message gave me an immediate pit in my stomach and rendered me speechless, although I thank you tremendously for taking the time to share it.

      Sandy was absolutely tragic. TRAGIC. It was by the grace of God that Freehold, Scott's hometown, remained relatively unscathed. I remember how scary it was, watching it all unfold on TV, knowing that we had family there. But I can't even fathom what it would have been like to have been in your shoes, or the shoes of others whose homes were affected...

      Thank you for commenting.

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  12. Awh that was sweet I'm from NYC all day every day but I won't hate a cute story :)

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    1. Hey, Mari! I feel you. I'm born and raised in Michigan -- I'm "all day every day," with the Great Lake State -- that will never change. But I can also appreciate the merits of a leisurely visit to my "adopted" home state. :-)

      Thank you for commenting.

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  13. So want to visit here now, looking at your pictures I want to go to the seaside. That is what we call it in London :) It reminds me of Brighton, loved that place. What the heck why do we not have a WAWA!!! I want a WAWA, I mean for the love of all that is holy we have Sixbucks, you know starbucks... ;) No pumping gas would be so LOVELY for winter, and NO TAX, hello yes please.... Thanks for the mini vacation this morning.

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    1. Hi, Ray, and you're welcome! I'm glad I could assist with your "going away" on a staycation. lol

      Jersey truly is a lovely place to visit.

      And with regard to my SITS comment early this morning, it wasn't 1 a.m. where I was; it was 4 a.m.: SITS is on central time. ;-) But, if you still think I should have been in bed knocking back Zzzzs at that hour, then that makes two of us...unfortunately, my teething 7-month-old didn't feel the same way.

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  14. This was some really good information. I haven't been to the area in years but it's on my list to take the kids. Visiting from SITs.

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    1. Thank you, Laina! Yeah, I am pretty open about my Jersey love, and if you do happen to visit the Freehold area in Monmouth County, I'm telling you, iPlay is where it's at!

      Thanks, again, for commenting.

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  15. I've only ever been to Red Bank and I did not know this about the clothes. I would've planned differently! :)

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    1. Hey, there! Yes, do plan accordingly for your next visit...and prepare to shop 'till you drop! lol

      Thank you for commenting. :-)

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  16. I was scolded for attempting to pimp gas in NJ the first time I went through - I had no clue it was illegal to pump your own gas. Why is that anyway? My grandmother lived there for most of her life and my dad grew up there (New Brunswick -- Grandma taught at Rutgers). Other than that, I don't have a lot of NJ ties, but it sounds like I should make some!

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    1. I have no idea why or how the no gas-pumping law was instated. Hmmmm. (I'm going to look that up when I get some time...) But Scott says that it has been that way for all of his life in Jersey...

      And New Brunswick is actually not far from Freehold, as they are in neighboring countries (Monmouth and Middlesex). I've been to New Brunswick -- and Rutgers campus, actually...Scott's older cousins played football for Rutgers. Rutgers is now part of the Big 10 conference, and we (University of Michigan) will play Rutgers in football this year -- at Rutgers this year, and I kind of want to go...

      That's cool that you have a Jersey connection, too!

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  17. Thanks for sharing about your Jersey trip Courtney! I never been there but have family there.

    And say what....no sales tax on clothes??? Another reason why I need to take a visit to Jersey. Also you don't pump your own gas? Does the attendants have to stand outside in the hot sun waiting on people to come? I would hate to have a job like that!

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    1. ...so, your answer is yes about the gas station attendants. Yes, in the cold, and yes in the hot sun. I wouldn't really relish having that job, either. (Heck, we do it here, actually, in Michigan.) It's called: "If you want your tank filled up, you had better get out of your car and get to pumping!"

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  18. Oh, I love this post so very much :) I am a very proud Jersey Girl (I think I can say that now that I've lived here... (mental math) about 10 years now. Jersey gets a really bad rap (I love how you said in one of your comments that it's NY's stepchild--so very true!) but it's a wonderful place to live and there are so many things within reach here. Beach, city, hiking, great shopping... Your post actually made me very excited about a trip I have coming up to Cape May in a few weeks. We found a dog friendly hotel so we're bringing our boxer mix for a few days in a colonial.

    Thanks so much for posting this to my FB wall ~ PS: I have never been to a Wawa. I KNOW! I always love good, cheap coffee, so I'll have to make a trip. PPS: You have an incredibly beautiful family. SO many aww's for that last picture at the park!

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    1. Hi! 'm so glad to get a seal of approval from a Jersey Girl! I thought you might enjoy this Garden State love. ;-)

      You must -- MUST -- frequent a Wawa. Like, yesterday. You have no idea the gem that is sitting under your nose. What I wouldn't do for a cup now...

      Thank you very, very much for the kind words about my family, and you are totally welcome for the FB "like." I enjoy your site. Let's keep in touch; I'm glad our paths have crossed!

      xo

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