A long time ago I used to get really excited about flying in a plane. New places, new adventures, new people. These days it’s more like boarding a bus, so I wasn’t too excited about getting back in the air. Eventually the excitement of getting together with my brothers and sisters – that would be all five of us together at the same time in the same place – pushed those airplane blues behind me. Leaving bright sun and the warm 90’s behind us in Phoenix, Denny and I boarded the tepid skies and landed in Newark airport just ahead of series of rainstorms that would dance across the eastern seaboard during our visit. Mostly everyone was working, or trying to squeeze a day off here and there, so for the most part we were on our own during the daytime.
Our first night was with niece Liz, her husband Tim and their two cats Mischief and Mayhem. In between Liz’s place and my sisters were a few sites I hadn’t seen for years. Guess who used their lifetime senior pass to get into the Thomas Edison National Historic Park, West Orange? Ah, the privileges of having been around the block a few times. A lot of cool stuff is located in the Edison Laboratories. Denny is here playing an instrument made from PCV – nice mellow tones! The birth of the motion picture industry was right on these grounds. It was fun seeing all the tools they used to develop what is now a mega-digital experience.
I have to admit that there were a lot of places I did not recognize – it really hampered getting around town. Every once in a while a street name rang a bell, prompting mental strolls down memory lane. The GPS came in handy more times than I care to admit. After all, these were supposed to be my old stomping grounds. Yet all those shortcomings were soon forgotten – with Jersey in full spring mode, every where I looked there was some flower or bush that was in full glory and that was a really special treat.
Apshawa Preserve in West Milford still bears Sandy’s scars, which tested our scouting acumen while tracking the now rustic trails. Our two hour jaunt was a good excuse to head on to the Dairy Queen we passed while getting lost getting to Apshawa. And that evening we had the honor to hear my nephew Ryan play the trumpet in the West Milford High School Highlander Wind Ensemble. They opened for the Ridgewood Concert Band 30th anniversary concert, featuring jazz legend Rufus Reid. We got to meet Rufus and shake hands – overall it was an amazing experience. The high school ensemble was incredible – they sounded so professional.
The Wedding. The reason (or should I say excuse?) for the trip. Rain made good on its threat, but didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. Thunder during the ceremony only added to the festive atmosphere – we were a joyful crowd, thrilled at being all together to celebrate such a happy event. No sourpusses or party poopers. Anne and Adam’s happiness was infectious and shared by all.
Can you believe it, after all these years, the five of us made it to the same geographic area at the same time. Here we are, not so bad for the wear and tear. This is a post wedding activity shot. It was Mother’s Day, there was a break in the rain, and temperatures were falling rapidly. We planted flowers on my mother’s grave, and brought ice cream and sorbet for everyone from Applegate Farms in Montclair, just as in the old days.
On the way to Anne and Adam’s reception, we kept seeing signs for The Sterling Hill Mine in Ogdenburg. Never had heard of it. Isn’t that the way it goes – you live someplace for what seems forever, you leave, and when you visit you find out about all sorts of things you missed while you were living there. It was a Monday, it was FREEZING (as in 55 degrees, can you believe it?) and we were under ground (where it was a milder 58 degrees) for over an hour. It was really interesting. The irony of it all was when I saw that the stamp mill that was located outside the museum was made in California, by the company that was the original owner of the plant I worked in, and the mill had been used in Arizona, where I am currently living. I have come full circle.
My last job in Jersey (before moving to California) was in Parsippany, right near Morristown, which always held a dear spot in my heart. They’ve been really busy sprucing up all the spots where Washington, you know, “slept”. I didn’t feel too bad when I learned that some of these tourist destinations hadn’t been in operation while I was living in Jersey. While at Edison’s Labs, they mentioned Samuel Morse developed the telegraph right there in Morristown. So we spent time at Historic Speedwell where it all happened, right along with all the working farm activity during that era. The Ford Mansion and Washington’s Headquarters were in the same neighborhood, so we toured there as well. A late lunch at Pomodora’s topped off the day. What great pasta! And the pizza was good, too!
There were so many people and places that I didn’t get to visit with or see. My profoundest apologies to those I missed. One consolation is that Jersey will be there, ready for another visit, when the budget says go.
So many familiar places – my college roommate was from New Milford – is that close to West Milford? Since my high school drew students from all over northern NJ, I had friends from many of those places – maybe not as far as the Oranges or Parsippany but definitely Ridegwood. Sounds like a great visit.
Following Jersey logic (such as it is) West Milford is in Passaic county, near the upstate NY border, and New Milford is in Bergen county, across from NY. Since I’ve moved away, and my siblings have spread across the state, I am learning more about it now that I’m out of it! Go figure.