The end of my birthday

The last few days became so busy, both emotionally and professionally, that I never even finished blogging about my perfectly awesome birthday.

(Gayle’s Portfolio)Art by Gayle Hendricks
(Click image for her portfolio)

That may have something to do with the bottle of Vouvray the teenager and her father selected for me to accompany a most amazing cheese and fruit platter with charcuterie that they provided for my birthday dinner.

The meal came courtesy of a trip to Wegmans and included a block of applewood smoked Gouda, dill ha art I, and intense Brie. The fruits were white grapes and some succulent watermelon. A fresh baguette. Some Italian meats, include prosciutto. (Which I love to say in my best Sicilian accent) and silly cupcakes.

And the morning after my birthday I breakfasted like a princess in chocolate dipped fruits and a cookie and a tea from Dunkin’.

And yesterday I made the birthday Spam by mom brought me. On Wonder Bread for the teenager. Me. Accordion was jealous. He offered me some recipes.

This might be why my Corona weight gain is up to 10 lbs.

The artwork featured above is by Gayle Hendricks.

My friend Gayle appears in this blog from time to time, for our silly adventures, long walks or random road trips. She is a fantastic graphic designer with a very clean style. She specializes in typography and can set books in both traditional and electronic formats. I connected her portfolio to the image above, which she made for me representing my flock. (She altered a stock image in Adobe illustrator.)

Please consider her if you need freelance graphic design and know we are available as a team. I handle the editorial and she handles the pretty stuff. And we’re efficient.

And we celebrated my 40th birthday at a Trampoline Park.

Sky Zone (Gayle’s blog—5 years ago!)

More on our silly adventures:

Niagara Falls

Honey Nut Cheerios

State Parks Weekend

Volkssport Trip to Maryland

Littleton, NC

South Carolina

Birds and beasts in Georgia (This was the day I became interested in birds)

Now today:

But back to more memories:

My first visit to Waffle House

The Juliette Gordon Low House (founder of Girl Scouts)

The teenager buys a bugle

Adventure in Rock Creek Park

Today we took a winter’s walk in Rock Creek park.

Many people were jogging. And walking dogs off-leash. One spry pup dig holes relentlessly. See him here:

https://youtu.be/HKYyoNTuMSI

And upon leaving the park, we discovered a lovely neighborhood of 1950s modern homes, amazing in their architecture and how they aged seamlessly.

And then we discovered deer in someone’s yard trying to return to the park.

Brief update: Cape May Eastern Shore Maryland volkssport trip

Today is the third and final day of the Liberty Bell Wanderers bus trip to Eastern Shore Maryland.

These trips include volkssport walks of 5 or 10K daily and some sightseeing highlights.

Unfortunately internet and free time have both been unpredictable so I’ve been posting more on YouTube and Instagram that blogging.

On Instagram, check out the hashtag #theadventuresofPJtheBear.

This is a tractor trailer at the grain mill at Purdue Chicken in Easton, Maryland:

https://youtu.be/cLMjk0Rol7E

This is a brief video of the weird little rail system in Cape May:

https://youtu.be/rpsziLk0vtA

Now, I am just starting to edit video on my phone so these are poorly & sloppily edited but this ferry might have been my favorite part of the trip:

https://youtu.be/FbJ4SkUyiAY

This cruise on the Patriot in The Chesapeake Bay and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in Saint Michael’s are definitely my second favorite:

https://youtu.be/S0ZtdAtQnd0

https://youtu.be/3ZiQCLar6xM

On the road again…

I’ve meant several times to blog but PJ and I are on the road again, with Gayle and her niece/practically twin sister Bonnie (oh the joys of having a large family), on the Liberty Bell Wanderers weekend bus trip.

This three day adventure will take us to Cape May and the eastern shore of Maryland so stay tuned.

I woke at 4:30 this morning and some household snafus had me running at least ten minutes late. This bothered me as I am an extremely punctual person.

I am wearing my Wilson Warrior Marching Band t-shirt as red is the Liberty Bell Wanderers color and today is homecoming. I will be missing the big alumni band and halftime performance, featuring the song, “Africa.”

This group is part of the American Volkssporting Association, so we will be doing a series of volkssport walks.

So I’m almost to Cape May. I look forward to sharing PJ’s newest adventures.

State Parks Weekend with the Liberty Bell Wanderers

I have had a great month in October. My boot is off. I had a fantastic ortho who released me from his care on Wednesday (Thanks, Dr. Sacco.) I also have a team of physical therapists who have taught me so much in the four short weeks we’ve been together. (And I will probably have my final session with them on Monday.)

This weekend my family and I joined the Liberty Bell Wanderers in Willow Grove where we will visit four state parks. Today we walked 10 miles on trails and more around town.

We arrived at the hotel where most of the group was staying at 8 a.m. We were on the road fairly early for our first stop: a 10K walk through Fort Washington State Park. By about mile 4.5 my ankle had that mild soreness, but we came upon a playground so the swings, monkey bars and, no lie, FOUR WAY SEE-SAW soon made me forget a twinge of discomfort.

Oh! And we saw hawks swirling around at the Hawk Observation Deck.

Lunch was at Feliz Cantina. There we experienced a true culinary miracle: gaucamole with candied pecans, bacon and blue cheese. And I tried fish tacos. And I liked them!

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We went back to the hotel where we moved from (my friend and fellow walker) Gayle’s room to our room. She’s staying with us tonight. After a very brief respite, we headed out to Tyler State Park which reminded me of our local park, Jacobsburg.

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We only attempted a 5K, and to keep child happy we let her take photos of people’s dogs. I’ll have to do a count and perhaps a gallery of her dog photos.

Once again we found ourselves at the Hampton Inn in Willow Grove where child immediately hopped in the shower. I had brought cake pops from Starbucks, microwave popcorn and board games in my suitcase. Gayle and I went out for beverages (found a 7-eleven a half mile away) and somehow ended up with a pizza. On foot.

We had pizza, cake and chocolate milk and played Ticket to Ride (the board game). Child crawled in bed without a fight at 7:45.

Barnegat Adventure

  

My schedule suddenly opened up for a Monday— no plans for child or myself. The weekend had passed normally, which meant some of it was fun and some of it involved pre-puberty meltdowns every five minutes from my tormented eleven year old. My husband had to work, as usual, on Monday and I wanted to do *something* that would keep the child and I occupied. Preferably fun.
So, over my cup of coffee with my husband in the wee hours, I searched the AVA web site from my phone. We’re members of AVA—American Volkssporting Association, a group that sponsors self-guided walking tours of various points of interest— and our closest thing to a local chapter (Liberty Bell Wanderers).

I found walks in communities anywhere from an hour to three hours away, some in the mountains, one in Hershey, another in Lancaster, history-commemorating walks in Philadelphia, and many in New Jersey, including the shore points.

At 7 a.m., I roused the child and told her if she wanted to take a road trip and do a Volkssport Walk she needed to rise and shine. I consider volkssporting educational (reading maps, following directions, filling out paperwork, and learning about new places) and a good source of exercise since I push for the 10K walk whenever possible. Anything to keep the family moving. In my daughter’s mind, volkssporting means an interesting day, usually with a meal in a restaurant, and the chance to buy drinks at convenience stores. 

In other words, a win-win. 

I let her pick the destination. This avoids the pouting that eventually happens if “we always do what Mommy wants to do.” The first part of the equation was to narrow down the distance she wanted to travel. She told me she was willing to drive as far as D.C. That pretty much meant anything I might be willing to drive. I thought she’d want to stay a little close to home. But no. She is an adventurer at heart.

She picked Barnegat Lighthouse on Long Beach Island. The fact that she selected a beach did not surprise me, but it did somewhat surprise me that she picked Barnegat when I had offered shore points much closer to home. She opted for the 135 mile car ride. 

We didn’t set out until 7:50 a.m., and we had to stop for gas so I suppose our true start time was 8:10 a.m. We hit a bit of a travel snarl on 78E, which could be anticipated at such an hour on a Monday. It kept moving and we only “lost” about ten minutes. We hooked up with 287 and headed down to the Garden State Parkway, making our only potty stop at the Cheesequake Travel Plaza. Having never visited before, we didn’t realize there was a commuter lot and ended up parking— no exaggeration, I clocked it on FitBit— a half mile from the building. Honestly, after the first leg of our journey, the walk felt good.

We arrived on Long Beach Island about 10:30ish. We drove down the island for what felt like forever. Passing beach upon beach was like a tour in itself, like an endless array of possibilities. My daughter turned out to be an excellent navigator. 

We arrived at Kubel’s Restaurant at 11:07 a.m. The restaurant had the official walk box. It didn’t open until noon, but we didn’t exactly know that. We couldn’t find any info on the door or online so we decided to walk out to the lighthouse because the official walk had to pass the lighthouse. 

It was at this point that I realized I didn’t have my ATM card. This shouldn’t have been a shock as I never carry my ATM card. But usually I am with my husband who has his ATM card. And we were in a tourist area, heavily cash-based. I had something like $29 in toll money left and an additional $9 in our walking binder. I knew, if we climbed the lighthouse, I wanted to reward my daughter with the $15 t-shirt that required cash. 

After a quick tour of the area around the lighthouse onto the jetty and back. We happened upon a man fishing at the exact moment he caught a fish. We watched him unhook the fish and toss it back because it was too small. (We also saw a man with a prosthetic leg.)

  
This allowed us to see how much admission to the lighthouse would be. We stopped at the visitor’s center to use the bathroom and meandered back to Kubel’s as we were starved and thirsty.

We arrived at 12:01, got the walk box and a table and had the most amazing mac and cheese ever, baked lobster mac and cheese.

  
 It featured those thick spiral noodles with gooey cheese and a crisp top, with some grated cheese on that, and the innards had peas, cherry tomatoes and get this— diced tiny green beans. Delightful. Truly.

  
We decided to do the 10K. Our adventure took us to see the boats at the High Bar Harbor yacht club. 

   
 We deviated from the path to enjoy a 1/2 mile walk along the tip of the Atlantic Ocean, then back to the main drag. 

  
At some point we stopped at White’s Market for cold drinks. I even let the child have a black cherry Stewarts. The lady in the market gave us a paper with favorite things to do on it, and I have to say, the list tempts me to return. It’s an awesome list.

  
We also stopped at the post office to mail our start cards to the Princeton Area Walkers. 

  
We finished the day with a climb to the top of the lighthouse. 

  
After walking about 8 miles before the 217 step staircase, I have to admit my thighs protested heavily at the bottom. Might be the first time I ever had thigh cramps. They still ache a bit today.

   
 The day was fabulous and I didn’t even get that much sunburn.

  

And we’re walking

Since my trip to Niagara Falls with the Liberty Bell Wanderers, my family has joined me as official members of that group and the American Volkssporting Association. With their help, I recently finished my initial 10-event book and will now have my own walker number.

I am thrilled with this activity. Volkssporting is non-competitive walking or bike riding, typically for 5k or 10k distances, though sometimes 6k or 15k. The local group that sponsors the walk will have a start location posted on the AVA website. At that location, usually a hotel or a YMCA because of the flexible hours of the facility, there will be a “start” or “walk box.”

In the walk box, there’s a registration form, a start card and a stamp. You fill out the registration form, stamp your book(s), and fill out a start card. Also in the box are directions and envelopes. The envelope allows you to mail your completed start card and payment to the walk administrator (otherwise known as point of contact.)

From there, it’s like a walking tour/scavenger hunt. I usually ask my 11-year-old to read the directions and the map because it’s a good skill for her to practice.

We have recently done North and South Bethlehem, New Hope PA/Lambertville NJ, and Doylestown, PA.
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In Bethlehem, we visited the grave of poet HD.

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In Doylestown, we hob-knobbed with the history.

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Apparently, Doylestown has concrete castles similar to the Edison-inspired concrete house neighborhood in Phillipsburg NJ.

New Hope had lots of artsy views.

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Not to mention a mansion that could have belonged to one of my husband’s relatives…

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But Lambertville NJ had the most amazing falafel and kufta…

My daughter, who’s struggling to transition from her active elementary school years to a more sedentary middle school life, is outside again and moving so that makes me happy. My husband likes to walk and likes our adventurous day trips. I am so thankful for such a fun family activity.

And unlike bowling, it doesn’t require heavy equipment or ugly shoes.