Thursday, July 25, 2013

Sad to Leave NJ

Of course you know that time flies when you're having fun.  We have left New Jersey and are on our way south to North Carolina.  But let's back up to all the good times we had in NJ!

My brother, Kirk, is a Moose Lodge member, and Gary wanted to join, so he sponsored us at the big BBQ picnic one Saturday.  Good timing on that one.  [I didn't even know my brother WAS a Moose].  So now we can take advantage of parking anywhere a lodge allows RV parking on their property across the country.  All for $45 a year! 

picnic spot
darn good food, too!
It rained hard at one point, but then the sun came out again and everyone steamed till we were cooked.  The kids didn't mind, they were all on the bouncy water slide having a ball.

We did some work on the Jeep, and decided not to paint Bella this time around, maybe next year. 

The Tinnicum Art Festival was happening again while we were visiting, and our dear friend and artist, RoZ had entered her 'seated mermaid', and won an honorable mention.  She took a dress dummy and placed glass mosaics it all over after preparing it with fiberglass, plaster and fabric.  I should have taken a closer picture of the mermaid, too.  Beautiful work. 

the art exhibit barn, with artist stalls all around, and a band
It was terribly hot and humid for New Jersey.  Last time we were here, it was over 100 several times, and this time it felt near 108 on some days.  So near the end of our visit, it started to cool just slightly, so we grabbed the opportunity to go bike riding on the Delaware and Raritan Canal State Park Trail path.  It runs for miles and miles, but we just did the bit between Milford and Bulls Run Island.  It was only about 5 miles, but the humidity wore us out in the end.  However, it was a beautiful, flat ride and we had a blast.
Gary ready to go!


wild raspberries - yum!

through the woods...

wildlife, kinda

and Gnome life

whoa, what's going on here?
We got our bikes back on the Jeep, and headed for home and a shower.  Soon after Gary noticed a bird flapping and squawking on the ground.  He took a look and noticed this black snake being chased by this catbird across our front yard.  It did the trick, he slithered away. 

When we visited the author, Pearl S. Buck's home last time in NJ, we stayed longer than we had planned because it was so interesting and beautiful.  So we missed the Moravian Pottery and Tile works.  This tile works was started in 1898 by Henry Chapman Mercer during the Arts and Crafts Movement in America.  The works are still producing tiles and mosaics today and it is one of three poured concrete buildings built by Mercer.  Three years ago, we visited the Mercer Museum about a mile away, and his home, Fontill on the pottery's property.

We talked with the artists in the museum, some of which have been there for 25 years!  They still use the original molds, local clay that is dredged from a nearby lake, and the slips and glaze formulas (to a safe degree).  The artists love what they're doing, although it can get very, very hot (like today) to very, very cold and drafty.  They were very informative and told us things that aren't in any brochure.

We walked over to Fonthill to take a tour of Mercer's home.  What a place!!  Built between 1908 and 1912, it had 44 rooms, over 200 windows, 18 fireplaces and 10 bathrooms.  It contains much built-in concrete furniture and is embellished with decorative tiles on every ceiling and wall and floor.  In some places there were six staircases from a hallway, and he designed all the rooms first, then had them put together to form the house like a puzzle.  The home also contains around 1,000 prints from Mercer's extensive collection, as well as over six thousand books, almost all of which were annotated by Mercer himself and kept in the exact locations by his housekeeper who was with him all his life, as Mercer never married.  If you get a chance to see it, do, it's really fabulous.  No photos were allowed in the house, unfortunately, but it is amazing.

My ancestors can be traced back to the 1640s.  And my maiden name is not very common.  Records and family trees have been kept all along, and each family has their roots begun in New Jersey.  Located in Basking Ridge and Millington our family has our most recent roots at a recently designated national historic site called the Kennedy-Martin-Stelle (me) Farmstead.  Begun in 1700, the farmhouse, barn and outbuildings have changed over the years, but the original house is now being used as the Farmstead Arts Center, where artists can use the rooms as their studios and hold classes.


I won't go into my family history, but when before my parents passed away, we went through all the old photos and papers.  Then we put them away.  My brother, Bob, has kept them all in his attic, and during our stay with him, I scanned as much as I could.  Hours and hours.  Probably because I had to read everything and put things together.  Anyway, I am glad that the house is being put to good use, and that we get to visit it. 

Our last day in NJ was spent in Middlesex at our niece, Jennifer and her husband, Keith's home for dinner.  Gabby entertained us rocking on her singing rocking horse, playing ball and squishing play doh while we ate delicious short ribs.  Cute beyond dispute!

Now we're on our way south to North Carolina and spending this evening at Dixie Caverns CG in Salem, VA.  The cicadas are going nuts.  We look forward to opening the windows again tonight, and enjoying COOL weather.  Funny, we had to go south to get cooler.  Go figure.

Anyhow, Life is Good with family.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

In New Jersey at Last

On June 27 we bid farewell to Pigeon Forge and ran over to Buddy Gregg's RV in west Knoxville to get our oil changed and our slide motor looked at.  I noticed a little spot of oil on top of a plastic container lid which was apparently dripping from the motor above it.  They had to order the motor, so we will have it replaced when we leave New Jersey the end of July.  Hate to drive all that way again, but we get to see our friends again, too.
The northeast has been having record rainfall and flooding and we were hoping for good weather, and we only had a little sprinkle in the three days it took to go 664 miles.  We are staying at my brother's in Stockton with 50A we rigged when we stayed here three years ago and water.  His house has the sewer. 
First on our agenda was the fourth of July Great Crate Race (alias the soap box derby) and Parade.  We skipped the parade, but drove some of Bob's refurbished antique cars to the race grounds.  He has refurbished about 15 antique cars as old as a 1904 Glide.  Gary got to drive the hot rod, and my brother drove his handmade 'racer'. 
This little girl is the epitome of the patriotic American.  Freckles and all! 
On Friday we climbed up on the roof and removed our in-motion satellite King Dome which our previous owner used.  It never did work for us, and it would have involved shipping to King Dome, updating and reshipping to us which was too expensive.  We use our portable Direct TV dish which we can place anywhere for great reception. 
Saturday was picnic day.  BBQ pulled pork and fish caught by my fishing-loving brother, Kirk.  Mmm, delish!  Tristan and his girlfriend, Tracy took the train in from Brooklyn, and we picked them up at the station that morning.  Bob gave Tracy a ride in the racer while Tristan remembered how to cut the grass.
After gorging ourselves, it was time to walk to the creek at the back of the property.  Bob outfitted Tristan and Tracy and I wore my duck boots.
We mucked around in the stream looking under rocks like I did as a kid.  It was a very warm day with no breeze, so we enjoyed watching my grandniece, Gabrielle, splash in her pool.  Isn't she a cutie?
It was great to see most of the family, and with promises to see each other again, we all departed.  Tristan and Tracy stayed overnight.  And around eight the next morning, we jumped in the Jeep with our suitcase and headed into Brooklyn to Tristan's apartment.  We had tickets to see Monkey - Journey to the West at the Lincoln Theater Sunday night, but we spent the day at the Museum of Natural History and eating a food truck lunch.  Fabulous!

I haven't been on the NY subway since my old work days in the city.  It hasn't changed much, except for the ticket price!

The show at Lincoln Center began at 8 and we had fifteen minutes before curtain to take some photos and look for celebs. 
Our celebs

The show incorporated animation, acrobatics and subtitles (as it was all in Chinese).  Interesting concepts combined into a unique production.  They got a rousing reception and a ten minute ovation.  Afterwards, we cabbed it down to the Village for our favorite Blue Ribbon Sushi.  Ahh, the New York life.  You need to be young to walk miles and miles.  At least on pavement.  Give me grass any day.

The next morning I was surprised to be able to get out of bed, and we walked 10 minutes to a fabulous bagel shop then walked over to Prospect Park.  There are free concerts and plays all summer in the Bandshell that Tristan attends regularly. 

Lilly and us ready for a walk
After our walk, we went back to the apartment and Tristan played the piano for us and we sang songs. Then we decided to head back to the country as thunderstorms were predicted for later in the day.  Hugs and kisses, and promises to see each other again before we left NJ.  Glad we had our GPS on our iPad, however it did tell us to go down a one way street the wrong way, so we had to quickly improvise.  We ended going over the Manhattan bridge into NYC and down through the Holland Tunnel.  It was actually fun to remember how many times I did that when we visited NY in a previous lifetime. 

We stopped at Wegman's, a HUGE grocery store, and visited with my niece and her husband who work there.  We also had lunch in the cafĂ©: more sushi!  We arrived home just before the rain and had dinner with Bob.

We had planned to repaint the front and back top of the coach, as Bella is losing her clear coat.  But, we haven't decided to spend the money yet.  Paint is really expensive.  Meanwhile, we will continue to do a little maintenance here and there and also go play.  Riding bikes along the Delaware tow path is on our list for this weekend!

Family is good.