Free Range Thoughts

Well, I’m back from a nearly 800 mile weekend excursion to New Jersey. I thought I’d share some of the moments gleaned from the free range of my mind.

Things I didn’t do …

Go sightseeing. Usually, my journey to Jersey — especially Paterson — includes driving past my old house in Totowa Boro and the old neighborhoods in People’s Park and South Paterson. I generally pass my old schools — St. Anthony’s and Don Bosco Tech — to reminisce and always stop at the Great Falls. Didn’t do any of it … except stop at the falls … for about 30 seconds.

Visit people … although I tried. I typically visit with my aunt whenever I come down to Paterson, but Saturday afternoon she didn’t answer the door {not that unusual} but when she didn’t answer the phone as well I assume she was out with one of my cousins. I also tried to connect with family friends in Wayne, but couldn’t reach them either.

Eat at Falls View or Rutt’s Hut. Heresy, I know. Heresy.

Stop at a grocery store. Normally, I make a point of stopping at Pathmark {or whatever they’re calling it these days} or Corrado’s to stock up on “essentials” like Taylor Ham, specialty coffee and snacks. Just didn’t think I needed anything that probably wasn’t good for me.

Make any other food stops. Although I did consider it, I didn’t stop at Dah Dah’s Deli for a freshly made sandwich or Deb Pam Bakery for crumb cake. {Who is writing this stuff?}

Roll up my windows. Conventional wisdom would have dictated otherwise, but I never rolled up my windows when I lived in Paterson so many years ago, and I wasn’t going to be intimidated now. I actually embrace the cultural differences and refuse to be captive to fear. {I may not recommend this to others … especially my female friends.}

Go out. Once I checked in at the Comfort Inn, Fairfield, I pretty much stayed in. I did notice there was a Kohr’s franchise just west of the motel so I did go there for a Saturday night sundae, and I thought about going to a festival or movie. But festivals are more fun with someone and there was nothing at the movies that tripped my trigger.

Swear at other drivers. If you’ve ever driven in New Jersey, you know that was a tough one. But I just moved with the flow, dutifully zigging and zagging around double parked cars, random door openings and pedestrians who don;t know what crosswalks are for.

Speed. Really. I kept it at or no more than 5 mph over the posted speed limit through the whole trip with the caveat being unless my life was threatened for going too slow (see below).

Exit at Exit 82 on the Garden State Parkway. Exit 82 is the Seaside Heights exit. Whizzed right by on my way to my cousin’s house in Manahawken. Opted to whiz right by it on my way home. In my defense I was there just a few weeks ago and I don’t think the ocean changed very much.

Things I did do …

Enjoy my family and friends. That’s what it’s all about. It was my honor to be part of my Aunt Bebe’s 100th birthday celebration, visiting with my aunts, uncles, cousins and friends at the party and visiting with my other cousin (on my mom’s side), his wife and her friends from Paterson Sunday.

Visit the cemetery. It wasn’t a long visit, but I stopped in to say hi to my Mom and Dad. I didn’t cemetery hop like I often do to visit my grandparents, though.

Listen to Pandora. From portal to portal and back {except for occasional dead zones}, Pandora was the entertainment of choice in the car. I set my 26 station playlist to shuffle and had a non-repeating musical cornucopia ranging from classical to country, Christian to contemporary, oldies to showtunes, instrumentals to doo-wop, southern gospel to easy listening.

Watch Titanic. After deciding to stay in Saturday night, I channel surfed and found Titanic on ABC Family. I figured it would be over by 11, so I snuggled under the Comfort Inn comforter with the air conditioner on high to watch it {okay I dozed off periodically, but I did see the steamy back seat sex scene and watched it through until 12:30} Spoiler alert. The ship sinks, Jack dies and Rose throws the million dollar Hope diamond back into the sea.

Had a sausage and pepper sandwich. No, it wasn’t at the shore, but at an Italian restaurant. Not as good as a Seaside sandwich, but close enough. And the sausage had it’s effect with nice, vivid dreams Sunday night.

Didn’t use any navigational tools on the way home. Just followed my instincts. I figured I had driven this way many times before and what’s the worse that could happen? I’d get lost?

Other musings …

Driving skills. It doesn’t matter where you go, but you have to marvel at the driving skills of some other drivers. Case in point … elderly driver enters the Garden State Parkway from a left travel stop at 35 mph without even attempting to accelerate. After backing up the left lane, he merges to the right — in front of a tourist bus. Then he merges to the far right lane, almost hitting a pick-up toy {a freshly washed and waxed truck with all the amenities and none of the dents or wrinkles of a real truck} and forcing him onto the shoulder.

New Jersey drivers. I know speeding is universal, but New Jersey has its own breed. Those little white signs with black numbers are totally ignored and highway drivers have a Route 80 mentality … with an emphasis on 80. That seems to be the speed number of choice … and even at 80, it’s not unusual to be passed on both the right and the left like you’re standing still.

Silver alert. You’ve heard of Amber Alerts … well, I saw my first Silver Alert. A senior was apparently lost in a gold Buick Lucerne with NJ plates starting with a “W…” Didn’t get the rest of the plate number. Hope they found him.

Squirrels. There was a freshly killed one on the Parkway Sunday morning. There were trees to the right and left of the roadway, but why would a squirrel try to navigate four lanes of Sunday morning traffic? Oh, wait. I’m talking about a squirrel.

Engineering. I honestly can’t figure out the engineering genius on the roadways, especially in New Jersey. It’s not unusual to be directed right, left, right, straight, right and left within a quarter mile. They must come from Massachusetts.

Road Construction. Everywhere you go, there are construction zones. It’s been that way for the 50 years I’ve been driving. But did you ever wonder why the roads are still in such horrible condition?

Litter. Aside from the pieces parts and tire chards, did you ever wonder how some of stuff on the side of the road got there? Beachballs, baseball caps, even an occasional beach chair. But a mattress? Or a sectional piece? How did they get there?

Billboards. I read them and realize there is so much we collectively have not scene. Some of the events look rather interesting, as do the non-traditional sites like a Christmas House, museums or the Spirit Gourds of Native America exhibit.

Humidity. I forgot how humid it gets in New Jersey.

And it all leads to today’s thought to remember …

THOUGHT TO REMEMBER: Always seize the opportunity to share love, love, love with your family and friends. Tomorrow isn’t promised so dance in the rain today!

About wisdomfromafather

I'm just an ordinary guy walking along the journey of life.
This entry was posted in celebration, family, love, Memories, New Jersey, observations, relationships, squirrels, travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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