Miracle of Science – Part Three

To recap, Miracle of Science Part One was the weekend that having our Moderna Vaccine let us leave the state of New Jersey for the first time since March 14, 2020, and to journey down Interstate-95 to see our son Billy, daughter-in-law Lori, and our three wonderful Grandkids Layla, Henry, and Annabelle, who we had not seen since the end of January, 2020. Miracle of Science Part Two was the weekend that being fully vaccinated allowed our daughter Krissi and son-in-law Mike to not only come and spend the weekend in our house in Ocean City, but to be hugged and kissed by Susie and I for the first time in over a year. That takes us to Miracle of Science Part Thre

After we went down last weekend to Wake Forest, North Carolina for the dual birthday party of our two beautiful Granddaughters Layla and Annabelle, it was time to broaden our horizons, and to encompass the rest of our kids in this miracle, and towards that end, we continued our journey down Interstate 95 south, to the Sunshine State, the home of Our Boys, son Kenny and his husband Chris! We wanted to see them, we wanted to return to our Florida home of Pinellas County, and we wanted to keep our Florida visit record intact! So last Sunday, after the Saturday birthday party for Layla and Annabelle in Wake Forest, we headed south, and on Monday, we reached our goal!

Since I retired the end of January, 2016, a “winter” trip to Florida has been part of our yearly agenda so that we could sample a preview of the next summer. In 2019 and 2020, we rented a condo in Indian Rocks Beach, and immersed ourselves in the “Snow Bird” life style. Unfortunately, we had to cut our 2020 visit short due to the pandemic, and made no plans for a 2021 visit. However, now that we are fully vaccinated, and Kenny and Chris live in St. Petersburg, Florida, we decided that a brief trip was in order. We are not going to be here a month…heck we’re not going to be here a week, but we are in Florida, enjoying this early spring/summer weather, and we are with the boys

The first thing we were interested in seeing was their apartment, that we’ve only heard about and seen in pictures. Bottom line was we loved it! They have definitely put their spin on it, and with so many familiar things from our house, my Mom’s house, and Kenny’s life, we definitely knew we were on familiar ground! It was great and they feel very much at home!

After a brief visit, it was time to drive down the street and check into the hotel. We are staying in a brand new hotel, just 2 blocks away from the boys’ apartment. It’s called Tru by Hilton, and is a hotel of the new “industrial” style, but it’s very close, the room is comfortable, and the cost is zero dollars a night, thanks to Hilton points! We didn’t even get charged the $17 a night to park the car!

After we got all set in our room, the boys came over and it was time to get our evening started. The plan was that they were going to show us the area that they live in, the Central Avenue area of Downtown St. Petersburg. There are lots of new apartment buildings in the area, and an active bar scene, and looks like the perfect area for the boys. There is always something to do, and they are very much enjoying being just a couple of blocks away from it all. The boys walked us all over the area, including past Tropicana Field, home of the Tampa Bay Rays. By the time we got to the venue they’d planned for dinner, we were ready for a seat, and a drink. We got both!

The boys had decided our first stop of the night was going to be the Burnt Ends Tiki Bar, a beautiful roof top venue located above a bar-b-que joint (hence the name). The weather was absolutely wonderful, and it was super to be with Kenny and Chris, to be in Florida, and dining outside!

After a couple of great drinks, and some excellent appetizers, we decided to venture downstairs to Dr. BBQ to sample some of the BBQ the boys had said was so good…and it was!

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped and had another drink at a place on Central Avenue called Ferg’s Sports Bar. This incredible venue encompasses nearly two city blocks, and is ground zero for game day pre-gaming, as Tropicana Park is just a block away. It was much quieter on a non-game day Monday evening, but it was fun to sit along Central Avenue and have a drink with the boys!

After a good night’s sleep, Tuesday’s plan was for the boys to show us around St. Petersburg some more (not on foot), and to ultimately show us where they lived for the first 6 months they were here. When they left Ocean City last July, it was to move to a furnished apartment they’d found online in St. Pete’s Beach. Although they enjoyed their time there, living in a furnished apartment without their “stuff,” they kind of felt that they were just visitors and they did not really get into a resident vibe. The area was also very transient, as most folks there were on vacation. It was a nice place, in a great location (just a little over a block from the beach), but when their 6 month lease was up, they were happy to move to their current apartment. Back in January, they rented a commercial van, drove back to Ocean City and emptied their storage unit. So now they are living with their “stuff” and loving the new location. We agreed that the beach looked interesting, but being on Central Avenue was the right neighborhood for them!

They did show us a bunch of local establishments they frequented during their time in St. Pete’s Beach, and one in particular was singled out as our lunch stop of the day! We’d been hearing about this place called Focheezy almost from the first days they were in St. Pete’s Beach. It turned out that it opened just days before the boys arrived, and from what they told us, and the pictures we’d seen, it looked like the home of the most outrageous Grilled Cheese sandwiches ever devised. Susie and I had to see what it was all about! We saw, and we tasted, and it was incredible! The sandwiches are huge, so the four of us split two sandwiches and some sides. Take a look and tell me if it doesn’t look incredible!

After lunch, we stopped and did a little shopping, and then returned to the boys apartment. A late afternoon and evening of hanging out, having a drink or two, talking and relaxing, and ordering some take-out food was the perfect way to end our second day in St. Petersburg!

Wednesday was a bit of a laid back day, with our plans for the day not starting till around lunch (or brunch) time. Unfortunately, Chris was a bit under the weather, so it was time for Kenny and Mom and Dad to venture out. Our plan was to go toTrip’s Diner, a place we’d enjoyed in 2020 when we were in Indian Rocks Beach. We were going to go to a location nearer the boys, and one that had outside dining, as the weather was superb. Unfortunately we were not the only ones that apparently had that idea, because there was a line out the door, and nary a parking space within a 2 block area! After a couple of passes, it was decided that Susie and I could have Trip’s tomorrow as we headed to Indian Rocks Beach, and we’d go with Plan B! Plan B was the Maple Street Biscuit Company on Central Avenue, and it was fantastic!!

Susie and Kenny had The Five & Dime and I had the Egg-stremely Risky Biscuit. We added Potatoes O’Ryan and something called Maple Sausage Balls, and we had a fabulous brunch! Plan B was good!!! Leftovers went home for Chris, and for safe keeping, Kenny made sure they were strapped in!

After a brief rest period back at the hotel, the four of us did a tour of the boys two favorite St. Petersburg breweries! The day was beautiful, with sunny blue skies and low humidity, and we enjoyed being outside, first at Three Daughters’ Brewery and then at Pinellas Ale Works! An interesting thing about Pinellas Ale Works…Chris is an artist, and later this year (July to September) he is going to have a showing of his work there!!

What a wonderful town St. Petersburg is, and amazingly, Susie and I both agreed that in our minds, it was a place we associated with old people, but today it is a wonderful vibrant community for young folks. We’ve loved every place we went with the boys, and see why they love where they live!! St. Petersburg is a wonderful community with lots of culture (museums everywhere), with art all over the place, with a vibrant bar and food scene, with a love of dogs, and seems like a wonderful place for Our Boys to live! We will be back, and we think they will be here for the long haul!!

On Thursday, for our last night in Florida, we were off to Indian Rocks Beach, and the place where our love of the area started back in 2018..the Holiday Inn and Jimmy Guana’s! This will be the 4th year in a row that we’ve visited IRB, unfortunately not for an extended period, like we’ve done the past two years. In fact, in this semi-post-pandemic year, this one night stay will be our shortest stay ever in IRB. Unsure about what 2022 will bring in terms of a new hip for Susie and my second new knee, our fingers are crossed that we’ll be back next year, but we were so glad that the boys joined us at the Holiday Inn, and a good time was had by all as we celebrated our last night in Florida!!

Friday morning, we were up and out of Indian Rocks Beach, and that afternoon bid a fond farewell to the Sunshine State! It had been a busy 4 nights in Florida, and we loved being with Kenny and Chris, seeing their apartment and city, and reconnecting with Our Boys! Farewell Florida…see you soon!

PS – Our stop Friday night was Darien, Georgia, and yes, we did get our shrimp at B&J’s Steak and Seafood, that we’d missed in 2020 when we “ran” home from Florida! It was wonderful as always!!! Thanks Abe!

Miracle of Science – The Return of the Road Trip

Those of you who have been following this blog, already know that its origin was way back in 2016, and was to mark Our New Adventures, as I followed Susie into retirement, and we entered the next chapter of our lives. The first blog post in February of 2016 that was entitled Road Trip (https://rnewadventures.com/2016/02/), detailed the background of our first retired road trip, a trip to Florida. After we returned from that Florida trip, we started discussing the planning for what we called Our Big Adventure, which ultimately took 9 weeks of our life, during which we traveled a grand total of 9,773.0 miles! Every night of that trip (with a couple of exceptions due to internet issues), I detailed that day’s travels, what we saw, what we ate, and what we thought. In reality, road trips are at the very core of this blog!

Over the past five years, there’s been lots of blog posts about road trips. Every winter we have journeyed at some point to Florida and have written about traveling around the state, about our 3 wonderful stays in what we consider to be our Florida home, Indian Rocks Beach, on the Gulf Coast, of trips to Disney World taking advantage of my Disney Retiree Discount, Spring Training Baseball games with our Mets, interesting places we’ve seen, and wonderful meals. This is post number 241 in this blog, and I’d have to say that being on the road has been one of our favorite blog subjects, and probably comprise a majority of our topics. But, alas, our last road trip ended very suddenly, in March of 2020 when we left Florida in a big hurry to get back to our Ocean City home, because of the Covid 19 Pandemic.

Since last March, there have been zero posts about road trips (unless you consider the blog post about Sunday Traditions that included details of our usual Sunday ride around our Ocean City environs a road trip post), but now, thanks to the miracle of our Moderna Covid 19 vaccine injections, there has already been one road trip in 2021. That took place a couple of weeks ago when we left the State of New Jersey for the first time since March 14, 2020 and joined I-95 again for the first time since last March, so we could visit our North Carolina family, hug our Grandkids and our son Bill and daughter-in-law Lori, and get back to normal! As I said at the end of that blog, Thank you Moderna!

TIME FOR A REAL ROAD TRIP

So this post is just an advisory of what’s in our immediate future. On Friday, April 16th, we will once again head down the Atlantic City Expressway towards I-95 Southbound. Our first destination later that day will once again be our son Bill’s house in Wake Forest, North Carolina. You see, our two Granddaughters happen to have both been born in April – albeit 5 years and 15 days apart! Our 7 year old Layla came into this world on April 2nd, 2013, and her sister Annabelle joined the family on April 17th, 2019. This Saturday, they are going to have a joint birthday party for our two Granddaughters, and we plan to be there! Layla’s birthday happened to coincide with Easter this year, but this will be the first real birthday we get to spend with Annabelle, and Susie and I are super excited about that!

THE BIRTHDAY GIRLS – 7 AND 2 YEARS EARLIER!

Okay, so that’s part one. On Sunday, April 18th, we once again head south on Interstate 95 with Sunday’s stop at a Hampton Inn in Richmond Hill, Georgia. No, we’re not stopping there because it’s called the same as a village in Queens. There is a much more important reason…there’s a Fuddruckers in a truck stop just down the road from the hotel! So, are we driving all the way to Georgia for a hamburger we haven’t gotten since the Fuddruckers on Long Island closed many years ago?

Nope, Monday morning we are up and again headed south on I-95, and will keep going till we get to the city of St. Petersburg, in the Sunshine State, Florida! Covid cheated us out of what has become our usual summer preview, by traveling to Florida in February and March, and now fully inoculated, we need to make a brief guest appearance there to keep our record up to snuff….that, and we want to see Our Boys, son Kenny and his husband Chris who now live in Downtown St. Petersburg! We want to see their new apartment IRL, we want to see where they live, and mostly we want to be able to hug these guys! It’s only a brief 3 days stay in St. Petersburg, but it’s a start!

On Thursday the 22nd, we will head back to where it all started for us in Indian Rocks Beach, the Holiday Inn! This is where we first stayed for a couple of days back in 2018, till we met our bartender friend Lindsey, and decided to stay longer. After 4 days at the Holiday Inn, we fell in love with the town, and we are looking forward to a brief (one night) stop with the boys to say hello to our Florida home! It’s not the month we stayed in IRB last year, but at least we again get to keep our streak going, with hope for 2022!

On Friday morning, we say goodbye to Kenny and Chris, and head back to I-95 and another favorite “trip to Florida” stop, Darien, Georgia! We’ll spend the night at the Hampton Inn in town for one reason and one reason only! So we can have dinner at B&J’s Steak and Seafood! The home of the best fried shrimp we’ve ever had. It’s a Friday, so we may have a long wait, but we missed our shrimp on the way home in 2020, and we want it now!

So that’s what we will be doing the next couple of weeks, and who knows..there may even be a trip to New York for Doctors’ appointments and to see our daughter Krissi and son-in-law Mike’s new condo in New Rochelle! Watch out world…Susie and I are free, and we have mileage to put on the Honda before the lease is up!!!

To be continued….Thank you Moderna!

Week One In Florida!

We’re a little past our first week in Florida, and thought it was time to update you on our journey. There will be a lot of pictures this time around, because strangely, we remembered to take them…no guarantees going forward! So, here we go!

We arrived in Indian Rocks Beach late in the afternoon of Saturday ,February 1st. We have a new condo this year, that we’d only seen via the internet, so turning the key and walking in, there was a little mystery. Would it be as nice as what we saw on the internet, or would those pictures have been old, old, old! Well, our fears were unfounded, it’s very nice, but also HUGE! Three bedrooms, two bathrooms, a huge kitchen, huge living/dining area, and huge balcony. Not the decor that we’d choose for a beach house (more dark Mediterranean than beachy), but probably bigger than our Ocean City house! Take a look and see for yourselves!

Of course, the sunsets in Indian Rocks Beach, on the Gulf Coast of Florida are legendary, and our first night on the beach was exactly what you’d expect!

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Last week was a bit chilly and windy, so a beach day was in shorts and t-shirts, which was more than I’m sure we would have been doing on our home beach in Ocean City! The pool was warm, and sheltered from the wind, and we got to sit by the side and take a dip, so again, a win!

Did we eat out yet? Yes, we crossed the street and went to Keegan’s, one of our favs from last year. We also had breakfast at JD’s, and on Tuesday, instead of the Back Bar at Charlies with Sue, we walked down a couple of blocks, and enjoyed our night at Guppy’s!

Towards the end of the week, my cousin Jeanne and her husband Walt joined us from the East Coast of Florida. They spent 4 nights with us, and joined us as we tried some new places to dine!

One afternoon, we traveled down to Madiera Beach (a place Susie used to go with her Grandma a long time ago) and had lunch at the Mad Beach Brewing Company. Lunch was good, the surroundings were great, but the waitress was a pip, and soured it a bit for us!

On Saturday, we traveled up the coast to Clearwater Beach, for a wonderful lunch at the Columbia Restaurant! A great place, with incredible food and drinks, and this day, Taylor a wonderful waitress just enhanced the experience! Such good things like a 1905 Martini (their original location in Tampa opened in 1905), a 1905 Salad made table side, an incredible Cuban Sandwich, Sangria (made table side), and desserts to die for! We will be back!!

Sunday night, we tried another new place..PJ’s Oyster Bar, just down the road in “downtown IRB”. A nutty setting, a great waitress, and wonderful food!! It checked off all the boxes!!!

When we got home, there was a great light show out on the balcony, as the Full Moon rose to the east! A great Sunset, followed by a great Moon Rise!

Today Jeanne and Walt headed home (we will be back with them in about a month at their home in Barefoot Bay, Florida), and once we made some beds and such, we headed to the beach and pool! 80 degrees on February 10th, is nothing to dismiss as unimportant! We spent a wonderful couple of hours on the beach, and then took a dip in the pool! Also met and talked to some folks from Ohio. Life DOESN’T suck!

Then tonite, we returned to where it all started! Three years ago, we stayed at the Indian Rocks Beach Holiday Inn. After getting settled, we ventured down to the “Hotel Bar”, Jimmy Guana’s, where we met our new friend Lindsey Sterry. We had such a great time with Lindsey, in Jimmy Guanna’s and in Indian Rocks Beach, we turned our 2 day stay into 4, and started our love affair with a little Florida Gulf Coast town! It was good to go home tonight with Tony, one of our favorite local performers on the bandstand, but we did miss Lindsey!

So that’s a wrap up on week one in the Sunshine State. We’re here in IRB till the end of February and in Florida till almost the end of March! Stay tuned…lots more of Sue and Frank’s Really Excellent Florida Adventure 2020 to come! We’ll save a seat for you in the back of the CRV!

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See you next time!

Florida, Here We Come!

It’s Snow Bird time for the D’Elias, and Susie and I leave the cold and inhospitable beach in Ocean City, for what we hope will be a warm and inviting, Gulf of Mexico beach in Indian Rocks Beach, Florida!

We left OC yesterday morning, and our friend the Waze GPS App took us in a way that we’ve never gone before. Rather than across the 9th Street Bride to the Garden State Parkway to the Atlantic City Expressway, it had us go south to 34th Street, and across the Roosevelt Blvd bridge. Then it took us on back road, after back road, after back road (some we’d been on during one of our “Sunday Drives”, and eventually dumped up on the New Jersey Turnpike a couple of miles from the Delaware Memorial Bridge (or DELMEMBR)! Perhaps it was because we left the house at 7:45 and this was to avoid rush hour traffic heading towards Philly, but honestly, it wasn’t a bad way to go!

Traffic once on I-95 was good, and we hit Baltimore and Washington, DC at the perfect time to sneak right through, before the traffic Gods knew we were even there! As we approached Washington, Susie was driving and got this great Instant MPG reading on the Honda CRV! Not bad for driving 60-80 most of the way in a fully loaded SUV!

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Everything was going along fine, till we started seeing overhead signs talking about a “major accident” by mile marker 103 in Virginia with the right lane closed!! What a colossal waste of our time, directly related, I think to the (sorry but) CRAPPY way so many people drive today!! Speaking about that, if anything, Americans’ Driving Skills are even worse that we’ve seen on other car trips we’ve taken! Driving 20-30 miles above the speed limit, tailgating at speeds in excess of 70 MPH, cutting you off as they change lanes, weaving in and out of 2-3 lanes, just to get ahead of a car…you name it, we’ve seen it! Amazed there aren’t more accidents!! Well, the Waze took us off 95 to a ridiculous detour, that was backed-up FOREVER, because of a traffic light within the first 1/2 mile, that only let 3 people turn at each sequence! We lost 40 minutes and I was pissed, till getting back on 95, we came upon people who were right next to us when we exited 95! The age old question…get off or stay the course! Looks like it didn’t matter!

We ended up getting to Billy and Lori’s new house in Wake Forest, NC a bit after 5, but once we got hugs from the littlest D’Elias, all was right with the world! They’ve been in the house since just a bit after New Years, and have done a wonderful job getting new furniture, and making the house into a real home! So proud of the two of them and happy for their new house and their great success!!

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Susie and our 4th Grandchild, Beatrice!  A wonderful, loving soul!

We took off this morning about 9 and it was 36 degrees and overcast. No rain, but that would come before our day was half over! Of course, we had to take our obligatory, yearly South of the Border pictures, as we passed from North Carolina to South Carolina. It continues to be very sad, and we won’t be surprised to drive by and find it abandoned one day!

img_2476We enjoyed our “Traveling Guilty Pleasure” of Arby’s for lunch again today…we did it yesterday too…but since we get the roast beef sandwich without the bun, accompany it with a side salad with ranch dressing, and a diet soda, our carb intake is very low, (under 5) so do we really have anything to feel guilty about anymore?? Wonder why we never drive down to Cape May Courthouse to have it for lunch back home???

Then the rain came! Cold, yucky, light to heavy and everything in between! We usually love getting to the one rest area in southern South Carolina, where we first see palm trees! Those trees were very sad today in the cold, driving rain!! No dreams of shorts and flip flops there today!!!

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Our stop tonight is in Darien, Georgia for one of our favorite stops along the way, B&J’s Steak and Seafood for our first shrimp meal of the trip, the 1/2 pound Fried Shrimp Basket! Tonight was also the Friday Night Seafood Buffet, which all looked great, but we’d only eat too much and suffer tonight!

Tomorrow we’re out of here and head to Florida. We are 49 miles from the Florida/Georgia border tonight in the Darien Hampton Inn, and just 300 miles and about 4 and a half hours away from our condo in Indian Rocks Beach, and what we hope will be our preview of the Summer of 2020!

Stay tuned!!

A Tale of Two Tables

 

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It was just about two years ago, in November of 2017, that a huge change happened in our lives.  It was on November 9th of that year, that we sold our Mineola house, a place that had been home to the D’Elia Family for 31 years, and we officially became full time residents of Ocean City, NJ.  It was a major change in the life of two people who had never known anyplace else but Long Island as home (Susie and I), and an emotional issue with leaving a home that our 3 children had grown up in….including for our 3 children!  I don’t think I’ve written about this before, so here’s brief recap to set up today’s story.

As often times happens, the anticipation of doing something causes you to put it off, and then once you’ve done it, you realize how stupid you were for dragging your feet.  That was our case when we faced the prospect of selling our house!  Our anticipation was that it would take months, and that it would be a painful process involving realtors, and all kinds of folks traipsing through our house.  Our reality was that one of the people that had told us they were interested in the house, came by with their family one afternoon and before we went to bed that night, they made an offer, and we accepted!  Never put the house on the market, never dealt with one realtor, never experienced one bit of pain, but afterwards wondered why we’d waited so long to do it!

The night they made their offer was a little less than 3 months before we went to closing, and our main job during those 3 months (besides a two week trip out to the West Coast to meet our prospective Son-in-Law Chris’ family), was figuring out how to empty the Mineola house.  We’d already taken the things we wanted to Ocean City, and all three of our kids had staked their claims on other items, and even some friends had taken a few items, but the sad Baby Boomer truth is, that we’re all looking to get rid of things, and NOBODY wants them!  Not our kids, not folks running tag sales, not even neighbors!  So, in the end, as the closing date got closer and closer, we had to pay somebody to empty out our house!

Now the clock wasn’t our friend, and as the closing date got closer, we got more and more desperate to just move on, and walk away from the Mineola House.  In the past two years, since Ocean City became our one and only home,  I can’t tell you how many times we have gone looking for something, only to realize that it was obviously one of those things we just left in the house, in haste, to be dealt with by the folks cleaning it out!  The list runs from things in the garage like snow brushes and shovels for the car, to snack tables, that we’d used for years, and that we have regretted leaving so many times since!  This, then, is the tale of those two tables!

These were well made, heavy oak snack tables, that we’d originally bought on one of our yearly trips to the Amish Country in and around Lancaster Pennsylvania.  We’d first bought one for my Mom as a Christmas present, and then added two more for our use on a subsequent trip.  We probably used them in the living room a couple of nights a week.  Sometimes they were the base for take-out food, or other times we used them when we had a meal we needed to use a knife and fork with (which necessitated sitting at a table, because you couldn’t do that with a plate on your lap!), and sometimes, just a base for Susie to write Christmas cards or such. 

We really don’t remember if we made a conscious decision to leave the snack tables, or it was just an oversight on our part, but we’ve missed them so many times over the past 2 years.  Wednesday, we spent the day righting that mistake, and along the way, we also took care of several other missions!

On our yearly trips to Amish Country, we always stopped at King’s Furniture.  It was place the kids loved to explore, and the place that Susie pined over a beautiful dining room set that ultimately came to live in our Mineola House (and one piece of which now lives in the den of our Ocean City House), so we knew exactly where we’d bought them!  Recently, I proposed to Susie that we spend a day, and make a great loop route through Pennsylvania, Delaware, and back to New Jersey, and in the process we hit King’s Furniture, then Total Wines in Delaware, and then Bagliani’s Italian Market in Hammonton, NJ before returning home.  And that’s exactly what we did on Wednesday!!

We left the house a little after 7:15 in the morning, and arrived at King’s Acres a little after 10.  The day was cold and clear, and the Amish countryside was as beautiful as always, and a little after 10:30 AM, we were back at the car, putting two lovely snack tables into the back seat!  Mission 1 accomplished and a wrong corrected that had been waiting 2 years to be made right!

Then we were off on the return part of our loop drive to Claymont, Delaware, and one of our multi-time a year visits to Total Wine & More!  It being mid-November, this trip would go down as our 2019 Holiday visit, and provide us with wine and spirits for Thanksgiving, Christmas and through to New Year, plus holiday gift items!  The prices are excellent, and there is no tax on liquor or wine in Delaware, so it’s a win/win!  

On the way home, we made a stop in Hammonton, NJ so that we could buy some of the great cheeses and sausages they have at Bagliani’s Italian Market!  A great end to a great day!

We left Ocean City about 7:20 in the morning and arrived back around 3:30.  In between, we traveled 257 miles, went through New Jersey to Pennsylvania to Delaware, drove briefly through Pennsylvania again, and back to New Jersey.  We replaced two tables that had slipped away from us two years ago, we stocked up on wine and liquor for the holidays, and stopped off at our favorite NJ Italian Market for some goodies!  All in all, a good day In Our Humble Opinion!

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Family Life Changes

 

When our three kids were younger, we were very lucky that our immediate family lived minutes, not hours or days away!  Susie’s Mom and Dad were in Hempstead and later East Meadow. My Mom was in Bayside. Susie’s sister and family were in Huntington, and her brother and his wife in Merrick.  We, living in Mineola, were pretty much in the geographic center of our entire family.  A 20 to 30 minute drive, got us to any of their houses, so casual drop-ins were very easy to do.  

Then there were holidays.  The hardest thing to decide about most holidays was who was going to host, and what could the rest bring.  It seemed very normal and natural, and we never really realized how lucky we were.  Our oldest son Billy reminded us of this fact of his childhood recently, but now, as the title of this piece says, family life changes!

Life has indeed changed, and Susie and I are at the center of those changes.   We were both born geographically on Long Island…Susie in Amityville, and me in Jackson Heights, in the New York City Borough of Queens.  Our entire married life, we lived in Nassau County…first Port Washington, then New Hyde Park, and from 1986 to 2017, in the same house in Mineola.  Over time, Susie retired (June of 2013), I retired (January, 2016), and then we moved out of the Mineola house (November, 2017).  We not only moved out of Mineola, we moved off Long Island and out of New York State, and made the house we’d owned at the beach in Ocean City, New Jersey since 2005 our forever home! 

Changes happened in our three children’s lives too.  First, they are all married!  Krissi and her husband Mike live in Astoria, in the NYC borough of Queens.  Krissi’s twin brother Kenny and his husband Chris have just finished  up a year long contract on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, but before that, they were in Los Angelos, and who knows exactly where they will end up.  Oldest son Bill and his wife Lori made the move a couple of years ago off of Long Island down to Raleigh, North Carolina, along with our Grandchildren Layla and Henry, and just bought a brand new house as their family has grown with the addition of our newest Grandchild, Annabelle, 6 months ago.  So, like many American families, our family is now spread out, and we no longer have the luxury of living 20 to 30 minutes from each other.

On a recent weekend, however, we made the effort and were rewarded by spending some family time with two thirds of our children, their spouses, and our three Grandkids!  Susie and I took the 8+ hour drive from Ocean City to Raleigh on Thursday morning.  Krissi and her husband Mike flew down from New York after work on Friday, and it was a weekend of family, fun, and babysitting!  Just the best!!

Week #2

Kind of like I did last week, I’m basically going to post a bunch of pictures of Week 2 of our cruise, and briefly talk about them.  Too much to do, too much to see, too much to remember, so, if there wasn’t a picture, we may not remember it happened!  

As I briefly noted at the end of week one, after saying goodbye to Jeanne and Walt on Saturday night, turnaround day in Galveston on Sunday September 29th, also happened to be our 40th Wedding Anniversary!  We started with Mimosas at one of the boys Sunday hang-outs, Brewchachos, and then it was off to Fisherman’s Wharf, where the boys treated us to a wonderful Anniversary Lunch!

After a beautiful Sail-A-Way, Chris had to get ready for the first parade of the week, and we visited Sorrento’s pizza on the Royal Promenade and found a good place to watch Chris perform from!

After parade, the boys joined us on a trip to the casino and a little gambling!

Monday was an alone day for Mom and Dad, as the boys had a tech run, and then 2 performances of In The Air that night.  We spent the day wandering the ship, including lunch at Giovanni’s Table, and one of our favorite non- participation spots, watching the flow rider.

This was also the night of the Captain’s Cocktail Party, so a dress-up night, but this week, since we’d already participated in the Captain’s party the week before, we decided to give up a glass of cheap champagne, for a drink in the R Bar!  A good decision on our part! Then it was time for the first show of In The Air!

The following brief video will show you one of the highlights of seeing our youngest perform.  Mom always get’s thrown a kiss from her baby!

We went to both shows, and once again there was pizza between, and a trip to the casino after!

The next day was a day we’d been waiting for since we were on the ship last March.  The port of call was Roatan, Honduras, and our excursion was a trip to Captain Jack’s and a visit to one of the sweetest women, Babe!  A haunt of the boys every visit to Roatan, we’d met Babe in March and fallen in love!  When they were last there, the boys had told her we’d be with them on their next stop, and we both got a huge hug from her and a wonderful greeting!  It was a fun day with incredible drinks, some colorful shots Babe gifted us, and the best Coconut Shrimp, Fried Plantains, and Conch Fritters in the Caribbean!!  We were joined by Kenny and Chris fellow cast members Martha (from Scotland) and Lee (from Ireland), and a great time was had by all! “Chaars…Bonkers!”

Going on one of these cruises with the boys are a blend of together time and alone time.  They are, obviously, working while we’re there, so although we love spending time with them, they’ve got shows and other duties to take care of when we’re on the ship, so Mom and Dad get to explore and enjoy some alone time too!  We head to the Windjammer buffet for meals, watch crew member drills, hit the pool and hot tub, and marvel and some of the outfits fellow passengers cram in their luggage!

But then, there are the shows!  Nothing better than watching “Our Boys” on the stage, doing what they love and what they’re very good at! They both come alive up there, and just watching them makes us happy and confirms that they are exactly where they belong!  A couple of highlights from Saturday Night Fever…look for Kenny’s Mommy kiss at the end of the second video!

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We awoke in Cozumel to find our huge sister ship,  Royal Caribbean’s Harmony of the Seas, tied up across the pier from us, and knew that it would be a busy day in Cozumel as it’s 6000+ passengers would be joining our 4000+, as well passengers from the several other ships in port.  Not to worry though, we were going to have a “Kenny and Chris Day in Cozumel”, following them as they visited some of their favorite non-tourist locations!  There were Margaritas and Beers at a favorite stop, incredible burritos at a locals only little hole-in-the wall place, and then some more Margaritas and Pina Coladas before heading back to the ship!

That night was the second Formal Night of the week, and the four of us put our best foot forward, as we dined in the Main Dining Room, visited our friends in the R Bar (where Lee and Martha and Martha’s Mom and Aunt joined us), and concluded the night in the casino where bartender Jay kept us all well supplied!!

Getting back to the cabin, we found something we’d been dreading since we signed on almost two weeks before…LUGGAGE TAGS to be used when leaving the cruise on Sunday!

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Saturday morning, Susie spent some time packing, and when she felt she had it well under control, we met up with Kenny in Vintages Wine Bar for some late morning champagne and to wait the start of the last Parade of the week, and watch “Admiral” Fox put the troops through their paces!!

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After Chris got changed, it was together time for D’Elia/Fox Family Time!

Our first stop was Olive or Twist, the lounge at the top of the ship.  Great drinks, and great views!

That night, we once again dined with Nelson at Chops Grill, were we were surprised with a lovely Anniversary serenade.

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After a nice meal, it was time for our last trip to the R Bar, and to say goodbye to 3 ladies that had become good friends over the past two weeks!  A sad night for us, but we were very happy to have met and got to know Irena, Shannelle, and Kisa during our time on the Liberty! 

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Getting off the ship the next morning was a breeze, as was picking up our rental car at Enterprise, and way before they expected to see us, we rendezvoused with the boys on the Strand, and were off to Walmart for their last supply trip of the year!

Then, it was a last lunch with the boys at The Spot on Galveston Beach…

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before visiting with their bartender friend Sophie at Patricks Bar, before we dropped them off back at the Liberty, and Susie and I began our drive to Houston.

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Our flight was scheduled out of George Bush Intercontinental Airport just before noon on Monday, and we spent a relaxing night at a Homewood Suites just outside the airport.  After two weeks of wonderful meals, in specialty restaurants, the main dining room, and even Sorrento’s Pizza on the Promenade Deck, this was our last meal of the trip…

Then it was time to wing our way back to Philadelphia International Airport, get the Honda, and drive down the Atlantic City Expressway to home!  A great two plus weeks away, but, It’s Good to Be Home!!

Week 1

We’ve just spent the last seven days, sailing on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas, the ship our boys Kenny and Chris work on, and we were accompanied by my cousins, Jeanne and Walter Pratt. Our ports were Cozumel, Mexico, Grand Cayman, and Falmouth, Jamaica. The trip worked out exactly like we’d hoped…we were together when we wanted, apart at other times. 

I’m not gonna do a play by play blog here, but mostly some annotated pictures of our week.  Sometimes we were all together, sometimes it was just part of the group, sometimes Jeanne and Walt went off on Shore Excursions alone, and sometimes Walt stayed on the ship, and Jeanne partied with us.  Take a look at a fun Family Week on the Liberty of the Seas!!

First, once we’d gotten on board the ship, it was time to head to the R Bar and some Texas Teas, then off to boat drill at our son Kenny’s station!

Then some family fun with Jamie at the piano in the Schooner Bar!!

We hit the casino….

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And then pregamed in the room before the Captain’s Cocktail Party!

We had dinners together….

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And burritos with the boys in Cozumel….

We loved watching Saturday Night Fever where Chris starred as Double J and Kenny as Father Frank Junior!

We ate at Johnny Rockets…

And enjoyed Grand Cayman!!

In Jamaica we spent the day at Margaritaville!

We enjoyed a beautiful Jamaican sunset from our balcony…..

And loved seeing Kenny do the 70s Set on the Royal Prominade. 

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We had Late night family time in the Schooner Bar….

And a parade on the Royal Promenade starring Christopher!!!

Of course, there was time for a few last drinks in the R Bar….

And a trip to the Platinum Theater to see Our Boys starring  in In The Air!!!

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There were other Family dinners

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And then it was time to say goodbye to Jeanne and Walt (sniff, sniff), but we spent our 40th Anniversary with the boys in Galveston….

And now we’re back at the R Bar ready to start week #2 on the beautiful Liberty of the Seas!!!

 

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To be continued……

 

 

We Made It!

After a good night’s sleep at the Philadelphia Airport’s Embassy Suites, and a shuttle ride to Terminal C, we actually made it on the 8:30 American flight to Houston!!!  And guess what…we were able to reclaim our paid for First Class seats!!  I’ve finally learned that if you keep asking enough people, you’ll eventually get the answer you want!

The flight was uneventful and even about a half hour shorter than scheduled!  Oh, one funny thing….the meal they served us. I thought I misunderstood the Flight Attendant when she told us what it was, but then found out that she did indeed say a Granola and Strawberry Sandwich on a roll!  Huh???   In what realm is that a sandwich??  Oh well, two Bloody Marys helped a bit!

It was hot when we exited George Bush International Airport in Houston to wait for our Lyft.  In the 90s and sunny, but a lot of clouds in the area. In a few minutes our ride arrived and we were off. It’s some distance from the airport to Galveston, and the ride took about 90 minutes.  We had to detour a bit because of some remaining problems from the 43 inches of rain, but we weren’t driving, so all was well!

We’re staying at the Harbor House Hotel, on Pier 21, on the waterside of Harborside Drive.  It’s a nice hotel, created out of an old commercial building.  It’s a great location, just a couple of blocks from the cruise terminals and the historic Strand neighborhood.  

Luckily, even though we were early for check in, Glenn at the front desk found us a room, and we got to change out of our flying clothes, and into something more fitting for the Galveston temperature!  Still hungry after our Granola Sandwiches, we enjoyed the 2 club sandwiches we’d bought at the airport when we still thought we were flying coach.  Thank God we had them!

Then it was off to the Strand, an area we’d explored with our boys when we were here in March!

We purchased 2 bottles of Prosecco for tomorrow’s Sail-away, stopped for a couple of Pina Coladas when the rains came, and Susie shopped a bit – she got a visor and I got a t-shirt.  When the rain stopped, we headed back the couple of blocks to the hotel, and just as we were walking into the entrance, the rain started again!!  

After watching the Carnival Dream leaving Galveston from our hotel window, we got a text that my cousins Jeanne and Walt had arrived in Galveston, and now our traveling party is complete!  Tomorrow we board the Liberty of the Seas, and share Our Boys for week one of our 2 week cruise with them!!

But tonight, our last pre-cruise event, dinner right next door at Willie G’s, as the 4 of us reunite for the first time since we saw them last February at their house in Florida!   Let’s just say, a good time was had by all!

Mother Nature

So, all things being equal, our view tonight should be of Pier 21 in Galveston, Texas, but instead, thanks to a Tropical Storm named Imelda, and the 40 plus inches of rain she dumped on Southeast Texas, our view is instead of the atrium of the Embassy Suites hotel at the Philadelphia Airport!!!

Our original plan was to leave home this morning, and be on American’s 12:30 flight to George Bush International Airport in Houston. That was till we got the notification last night, while having dinner at Angelo’s, that today’s flight had been canceled!   They booked us on a flight tomorrow morning at 8:30, and we lost our First Class seats, but got two together in the Main Cabin!  Just hope we don’t have to fight to get the difference between First Class and Main Cabin returned!!  Rather than leave home before the sun rises in the morning, we decided to drive in tonight,  and stay at the airport!  A little bummed, but hey, we’re still TSA Pre!  

Fingers crossed everything goes right, and this time tomorrow we are indeed at the Harbor House Hotel at Pier 21 in Galveston!   Come on now…let’s see those fingers crossing!!

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See you in Texas!