austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

I took months-long vacations in the stratosphere

Last year we never had a major amusement-park tour. Our dear lost pet rabbit Stephen's health wouldn't allow it, we supposed, and we don't begrudge him that. But it did mean we wanted to do something great this summer. The obvious candidate: a driving tour of the smaller parks in upstate New York. There's places like Rochester's Seabreeze that we'd so love to see. And bunny_hugger was well on the way to planning a tour, taking us to Canada's Wonderland and Niagara Falls and Seabreeze and Darien Lake when we realized: it was our fifth anniversary's summer. What should we do for that? We've fallen into the tradition of going to parks, often new ones, that day. We should do something special, something for that. And ... you know, she hadn't been back to New Jersey since the end of our New England Parks Tour. I hadn't been back since the work trip that ended with the death of Stephen. And it was such an important place, to me, to us, to all that we were before our marriage, and was where we spent our first anniversary. Shouldn't we go there?

So that's why we dumped the Rochester plan. bunny_hugger put together a new one. We'd get a hotel somewhere in New Jersey and take in Seaside Heights and visit Rye Playland and go to some of our old haunts, and after that ... who knows? New Jersey has a good number of small amusement parks. We could go to whatever ones interested us, and looked to have good weather. The only flaw: we would have to travel later in June, to match with our actual anniversary. This would put us into an exhausting schedule, with three week-plus trips, separated by a week or less, occupying all of July and spilling out before and after the month. I know, yes, such a shame to spend basically a month on holiday or in the preparation or recovery from a trip. But it is a lot of disrupted schedule, and please show some sympathy for that.

bunny_hugger booked our flight on Frontier, into Trenton, something she had sworn to never do again after Flightmare in early 2014. But the price was so good, until we remembered that Frontier charges for your carry-ons. Still, getting there was easy enough and not at all a fiasco and it wasn't until we tried to get out again that it turned into a mess that's got us sworn off flying Frontier to or from Trenton. She also booked the rental car, using not the agency that has a desk inside the Trenton-Mercer Airport terminal, which is about the size of a struggling Wendy's. Its desk is gotten to by shuttle, in part of the Aviation Warehouse District that surrounds the airport, in the part that by its layout just sends the warning that we, as civilians, should not be there.

bunny_hugger drove us from the airport to our hotel, which she realized was the first time she's driven in New Jersey. It wasn't the last time, but it threatened to be. What we overlooked was this took us through that part of I-95 that isn't the Turnpike, and then a bunch of the other busiest east-west roads right at rush hour. Some of the path took us very close to my workplace, who didn't know I was there; for a rare change I didn't piggyback a New Jersey visit onto a work trip. So they wouldn't pay for my airfare or car rental, but then, I didn't have to spend a week sitting in the office after all the fun was done either. Wouldn't have had time for that anyway; even if I'd stayed, it would have been for the week of the 4th of July, not a productive time.

The drive would take us through Cream Ridge, an area whose name had attracted bunny_hugger's curiosity a week or two before. (The soil's particularly rich in that part of Upper Freehold, good for the gentleman-farmers that settled it, tolerable for the tenant-farmers who actually worked it.) Also close to where my parents had lived before they retired to Charleston, South Carolina. I always thought of my parents as living in a strangely remote area in the center of the state, but visits back always send me within a mile of the place. And it took bunny_hugger on her first experience of making a jughandle left, the traffic-flow pattern that comes so naturally to New Jersey residents I could not understand her frustration about being told to get into the right lane so we could make the left turn to get to our hotel. She decided to let me drive the next couple days.

Our hotel was one in Toms River. It was the spot most central to what we really wanted to get to, and surprisingly affordable considering it's a short trip from the shore. And it's an area we know tolerably well. We could get dinner at the Toms River Diner, which we'd visited at the end of that first, serious date, that perfect day at Seaside Heights on the 23rd of July, 2008. ... Or we could if it weren't closed. Not just the night, either; it didn't look open the other two(?) times we drove past. Unhappy thought.

So we drove back the other way, to the Crystal Diner, a spot I would swear I'd have been with bunny_hugger before and that she didn't remember at all. It had the air of being recently renovated, which always complicates recollections. It had been a half-decade at least. The important thing is, we were in New Jersey. We had our home for the week. We'd gotten to a diner, and we knew where the nearest Wawa was. We could plan for the next day.

Trivia: On the 29th of October, 1787, the New Jersey legislature called an election for the delegates who would choose whether to ratify the proposed Constitution for the United States. On the 1st of November, it passed a bill authorizing the Legislature to call an election for delegates to ratify the Constitution. Source: Fighting To Be Heard: New Jersey in History, Thomas P Farner. (Someone had raised the question of how the Legislature had the right to call this election; the latter bill, to me, doesn't seem to quite answer it.)

Currently Reading: Time Travel: A History, James Gleick.

PS: Also meanwhile? I'm like a year behind in posting pictures. I'm going to try tossing some more in and see if that leaves me with an impossibly confusing narrative here. Some more pictures from the ballpark minigolf from when they replaced the outfield grass last year.


Baseception! One of the many amusing holes was this miniature baseball diamond. Your choice which path to take.


The hungry golf ball stalks its prey, carefully choosing the one least likely to make an escape once it pounces. Me being arty while waiting for the group ahead of us.

PPS: The Summer 2017 Mathematics A To Z: Morse Theory, because my mathematics blog demands it!

Tags: fifth anniversary trip, new jersey

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