Monday, 9/26/11 - Well we are back on the road again after a fabulous time with Nancy & Howard in New Jersey. Of course Nancy kept me much to busy to update the blog, so I will try and give a very brief description of what we did.
Sat, 9/10 We arrived in Liberty RV park in Jersey City, New Jersey, which consists of a parking lot w/water & electric and NO sewer for $60 a night. Of course the view is spectacular, the Statue of Liberty was right in front of us and the Manhattan skyline was something to see at night. Of course we were anxious to get to Howard & Nancy's so put their address into girlfriend, GPS but little did she know because of 9/11 the roads she picked were closed for security reasons. So here's the picture, ME driving, Will on the phone with Nancy who has a map up on her computer talking us through streets to their house. This should have been a half hour drive but took one and half hours.....and to say my nerves were shot is to put it mildly.....how Will survived that ride is beyond me. But we made it and we all went out to dinner when we finally arrived. Day one.
Sunday, 9/11 We were going to go into NY for the 9/11 memorial but the security and road closures we decided it was definitely not worth it. We took Will back to the RV park with Howard's girls, Olivia and Julia to see the RV and then the 5 of us went to a street fair in Chester, NJ....Will made it very clear he wasn't interested in having much to do with NY and was very happy staying at the RV.
Monday, 9/12 Nancy had an appointment time of 5pm for our entrance into the 9/11 Memorial site. It was an incredibly moving experience seeing both pools, the names of all the people who died in that tragedy, the tree that survived and the ribbons that people had tied to the branches and the Freedom Tower that is being built. The sound of the water is incredibly soothing and there are many benches around that you can just sit and take it all in. I met a lady there that was copying several of the names of people who worked for Aon Insurance and had died that day. She then told us she had worked there on the 101st floor that day and after the hit, they were all instructed to stay at their desks and it would be okay. She said when she heard that noise she just ran out and went down the 101 floors immediately.....she said the people that died, did what they were told and died because of it. We hugged and I thanked her for telling me that story. When we left the memorial we went across the street to the Westin Hotel and had dinner there overlooking the memorial and waited for the car service to pick us up and take us back to our house in W Orange, NJ.
Tuesday, 9/13 I went to a have a "reading" by a former nun who Nancy had a reading a month or so earlier and loved it. She insisted I go, which I did and it was really a very interesting experience. I had a tape made and will listen to it again to remember all she said. Right now Nancy has the tape to listen to. Mostly, I remember she told me I had a long, healthy life line and that Will's inter ear problem had been misdiagnosed and he should seek a second opinion. You can imagine how HE felt about that. After the reading we drove into New York to stay overnight at the Sheraton hotel in Time Square, my favorite place and Nancy's LEAST favorite. After walking up and down Time Square, for my next surprise we took a subway downtown. Nancy had arranged a tour for us of the MLB Fan Cave. This is 2 guys that were selected to live in this ground floor building with large windows and watch EVERY baseball game for the entire 2011 season. It was an amazing tour of both floors with lots of baseball stuff everywhere. Baseball players come there to "hang out" so lots of signatures everywhere. A very fun day.
Wednesday, 9/14 We got up and checked out and the next surprise was a drive out of New York but not back to W Orange. That's how the whole trip went one fabulous surprise after another. I had no idea where we were going and then Nancy finally said Bristol, Conn......what???? What the heck is in Bristol, Conn? As it turns out the ESPN studios are in Bristol and Nancy had arranged with a friend of hers who works there for a tour for us. I couldn't believe it....my favorite TV show....Sports Center. The tour was given to us by Tom who is an editor at ESPN and they give the tours to only family and friends and different employees do them for fun. Tom was wonderful, he took us everywhere, explained everything and introduced us to many people. Actually, when we arrived Chris Bosh of the Miami Heat was just leaving as he had been there for an interview. There are 14 different buildings on the ESPN "campus" as it is called. The tour lasted almost 2 hours and then we met Nancy's friend, Sonia at the ESPN store so we could make a "few" purchases. We then went over to the ESPN cafe and the three of us had lunch for another couple hours. An absolutely amazing day and a great big thank you to Sonia for making this possible. I truly was out of my mind that day! We then returned to their house in W Orange where I couldn't believe it could get any better....but wait!
Thursday, 9/15 We spent most of the day shopping for Nancy & Howard's "End of Summer" party that they were having on Saturday. Later that afternoon Nancy informed me a piece of luggage that was lost on their recent vacation at Hilton Head, NC and we would have to go to the airport to pick it up as it was arriving at 8:30 ish pm. So off we went arriving at Continental baggage claim and sitting there for quite sometime. I kept asking when is it coming in and she kept checking the board and her phone. Finally, I walked over to carousel one, where it was suppose to be and started checking luggage tags looking for it. After about 3 minutes or so, someone from behind me says, "what are you doing here?" I look up and it's my sister Alice, as a surprise she flew into NJ from Fresno for the party and to meet our cousins and Howard's family. Well I was completely shocked, to say the least and almost speechless! It was very exciting and of course there was no lost luggage. So we went back to the house and her and I talked most of the night in the girls bedroom where we stayed.
Friday, 9/16 This was the day we are redecorating Julia & Olivia's bedroom as a surprise for them when they come over for the party Saturday night. Nancy had made all the purchases and the 3 of us spent the day putting it together. It turned out absolutely darling, with posters on the wall and incredible colors and decorations. We can't wait for them to see it. After the decorating party, Nancy started cooking for the party (pray tell where does she get these traits from?) and Howard rewarded all of us with dinner out at P.F. Chang's in West New York, NJ a beautiful community down on the water with a fabulous view of Manhattan. After dinner we got an ice cream and the four of us took a walk along the water. Pure Magic.
Saturday, 9/17 Tonight is the party!!!! Howard took Alice and drove to Jersey City to pick up Will and then over to Mountain Lakes where the girls live while Nancy and I stayed home preparing for the party. The party started at 4 pm and the guests included, our cousins Diane, Susan and Laurie Becker and their husbands, plus the cousins wonderful mother, Nancy. Howard's parents, Bobbi & Jack, his Aunt Rosalie, Aunt Claire and Uncle Herman and of course Howard's 2 girls, Olivia and Julia....plus Alice and Will. I seemed to be in charge of giving house tours of all three floors. The house is decorated beautifully and it is truly "Italy in New Jersey." The food is amazing and I can't imagine Nancy is such a great cook. Mimi would be shocked and so very proud! Now Alice had never met her Becker cousins before and we had a wonderful time telling stories and taking lots of pictures. Hopefully, Howard will be able to post some pictures to my blog or facebook page. It was a wonderful party and everyone stayed pretty late. Afterwards Nancy and I slept in the TV/Movie room downstairs as a car service was coming to pick her up at 6 am on Sunday morning to return to Fresno. Another late night for us but we got up at the right time and I was able to take a picture of Alice sitting in the back seat of the limo. Thanks so much Alice for making the trip.....it was wonderful spending that time with you!
Sunday, 9/18 Howard took Will and I out to breakfast so Nancy could sleep in and get some much needed rest. After breakfast we took Will back to Liberty RV park and then before we got to W Orange, Howard took me by Eagle Rock Park which is a 9/11 memorial very close to the house with a spectacular view of the New York skyline. A very moving memorial they have put up in Verona, NJ. When we returned it was a lazy day of watching TV and 9/11 reruns plus eating lots of fabulous party leftovers.
Monday, 9/19 Another big surprise for me today.....we drove to Bay Head, NJ. We call it "going to the beach" they call it "down the shore." Nancy & Howard have a favorite bed & breakfast in Bay Head, Bentley Inn, on Main Street, a short half block to the beach. After we checked in and got settled in our room we immediately change and headed for the beach. Because the summer season is over there were only 6 or so other people on the whole beach. But we had beach chairs from the house and we spent the entire afternoon relaxing in the sun and listening to the ocean roar. That evening we went out to dinner at Wharfside Restaurant which is located right on the water in the next town, Point Pleasure, NJ. After dinner we walked on the boardwalk at Point Pleasure and played some skeet ball (shades of old Santa Cruz days) we received hundreds of tickets for our games and our big prize for the evening was.....a yellow rubber duck.
Tuesday, 9/20 Thank goodness we came yesterday while there was sun because today is rain but perfect for shopping which is of course what we did. We went in and out of shops in Bay Head and Point Pleasure and I think managed to buy something everywhere. Our favorite purchase was a shirt for me...on the 70% off rack. It is a turquoise v-neck tee shirt with listed on the front of it: London, Paris, Rome, Bay Head.......that is the exact order of my Europe trip.....so cool. We then drove back to the W Orange house still eating party food for dinner again. The remaining Becker cousin who I have NOT met, Michael, who lives in Maryland is due in at his sisters house this evening and Nancy & I are going over to meet him. He arrives at around 8:30 pm and fortunately the cousins live in the next town, Verona, to Howard & Nancy. We also found out it was cousin Laurie's birthday so we also celebrated that. It was wonderful finally getting to meet Michael and I look forward to meeting his wife Allison, a big Yankee fan.....Michael is a Mets fan and was not happy hugging or standing next to me for the pictures as I was decked out in my Yankee stuff. Of course you know I made Michael take the infamous Carole & Derek picture for his wife.
Wednesday, 9/21 Howard, Nancy & I drove out to Liberty RV park, one more time in horrible traffic but all for a good cause.....a 1 pm Yankee baseball game. Now the game started at 1 pm and I couldn't figure why we were leaving so early but with Nancy you NEVER question anything. When we arrived, 1 1/2 hours before game time, we find out that Nancy has arranged with her Yankee connection for Howard, Will and me to go ON THE FIELD BEFORE THE GAME AT YANKEE STADIUM. I almost died, they give us our official passes to wear around our necks and I asked, "do we get to keep them?" I was so excited as we we were being lead through the Yankee tunnel and up some stairs out onto the field. It was an unbelievable feeling plus being able to look up into the stadium and out onto the field. Of course I was busy taking pictures of everything and spotted Mariano Rivera giving an interview a short distance from us out on the field. Nancy had to go into the Yankee clubhouse as she needed to talk with some players (that's her job folks) and the three of us just stood there taking it all it. Shortly, the Yankee manager, Joe Girardi came over and took his picture with Howard, Will and myself and then he autograph my official badge. When Nancy came back I told her I desperately wanted my picture with Mariano could she tell him his "Cleveland bodyguard" was here and wanted to say hello. And then I don't remember what happened but I saw Nancy with Mariano and the next thing I know he is walking straight for us. I absolutely don't remember what I said or what he said, but I did get my picture taken with him and Howard got his taken. It was fabulous, it seemed like a dream but truly the highlight of the trip.....the Yankees win the division tonight and I get my picture with Mariano after save 602. Nancy made the announcement as we were leaving the field, "she is officially done with making every one's dreams come true." Thank you daughter you sure have made mine come true. After the game we returned Will, one more time back to Jersey City. That evening Nancy & I went to the AMC Dine In Theater across the street from their home. Now get this, you reserve your recliner (that's right, a plush, soft, recliner) when you get there they seat you, hand you a full service menu....alcohol drinks if you want them (no kids in this theater, that's worth the price right there!) We ordered our dinner, fish & chips with a coke, they served us a small popcorn and while we were watching the trailers they served us our dinner. We ate dinner while watching our movie....The Help, which I thought was BETTER than the book, I loved it. What an experience, I can't wait for one to come to Fresno.
Thursday, 9/22 That morning Nancy & I took the commuter bus, that stops in front of her house, into New York City for another stay at the Sheraton in Times Square. I have no idea what's in store for this trip but we will see. When we arrive at the Sheraton we find that it is booked for the Clinton Global Initiative (what ever that is) Clinton was at the Sheraton everyday (we didn't see him) and found out Obama was there Wednesday. First on our schedule was a free movie called Tower Heist with Ben Stiller. Mothers Day 2010 when I was in New York this film was being shot in Nancy's old neighborhood 63rd and Broadway, the upper west side and we saw lots of the filming going on so it was great fun to see the finished product. And actually it was really a good, funny movie and it was neat to see so many familiar places. One of my favorite things about the Sheraton as well as other hotels she stays at... is Nancy's privileges for the Club Floor.....or as I call it, the Free Food Floor. It takes her room key to open the door so of course we went into the Free Food Room for dinner. Then the surprise of the evening was the Broadway play, The Lion King. A wonderful and colorful play with great music. We were in the second row and had fabulous view.
Friday 9/23 We were suppose to leave at 2 pm but it's another rainy day so Nancy called for the car service to pick us up early and we returned home early. We cleaned up the house, and the refrigerator, and got ready to go out to dinner with Howard's entire family at Pals Cabin, a wonderful steak and fish restaurant 3 minutes from their house. The entire Matalon family was there including Aunt Debbie who is visiting from Colorado. After dinner we returned to Howard and Nancy's for dessert that we had purchased in New York City. The surprise of the night was for Howard's mother Bobbi....it was her birthday and Howard had edited her super 8 movies of Bobbi & Jack's wedding and Howard's first few years and other family members onto a CD. It was a great Matalon Production with music and subtitles and everyone enjoyed it immensely with maybe a few tears.
Saturday 9/24 Well this is the day that I return to Liberty RV park as we will be heading out Sunday morning. However, Howard, Nancy, Julia and I head out to several garages sales, a huge mall and lunch at Panera with afterwards picking up Olivia from a birthday party and taking the girls home. Then the long, sad drive out to take me home, I shouldn't say sad.....it has been a fabulous 2 week stay with so much fun and excitement. I just can't thank Nancy & Howard enough for all the incredible things I got to do and see. It's always sad saying goodbye but we are all meeting in Miami for Thanksgiving and it will be here before you know it. A big thank you to you both and I love you both so much!!!
Sunday, 9/25 We are on the road about 10 am heading west on highway 78 for Gettysburg, PA. We will stay there until Friday getting both vehicles serviced, lots of chores on my list of things to do and hopefully a nap or two. Congratulations to Howard who ran his first half marathon in 2 hours and something minutes in his favorite city....Jersey City. Much love to all our family and friends and the fun continues.