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A Pit Stop in Jersey

Every year since I met my best friend,
Sam (aka Sammy, Sampson, Samantha), 
during our sophomore year in high school,
she has spent about 3 weeks in the summer visiting her family in New Jersey.

When your BFF leaves you during the summer for three weeks,
that's no bueno folks.

Nothing personal NJ,
but really I harbored a grudge for a long time.

Sampson started inviting me to go each year,
but something always came up
or got in the way
or happened at the same time.

"Curse you New Jersey!
I'm jealous of all the fun times that Sammy is having there without me!"
I thought.

I wanted to go.

This year Lance, Svea, and I were planning out our trek to Utah 
for our family reunion
and Sam asked if I wanted to come to Jersey this year.
Darn it, the family reunion is probably at the same time, I thought.

I double checked 
and LO... IT WASN'T!
If we left two days before the reunion, 
we would have enough time for a pit stop in Jersey
to see what all the fuss was about
and then still head out for our reunion.

Yes, you read correctly.
A pit stop in New Jersey on the way to Utah.

I was determined to go I tell you!
And having a hubby that works for the airlines helped
that dream become a reality.

I was finally going to learn all of the secrets 
that only people who visit New Jersey know!
Well I guess there weren't any secrets besides the fact that it's super fun,
but that's not the point.

The point is that I finally got to visit New Jersey!

Lance, Svea, and I arrived in the airport to my first ever airport welcome party!
I've never had anyone actually come inside in a big group 
and wait for me outside security.
I usually just have to run out to the curb and hop in their car.
So Sam and all of her family were waiting for us 
with DONUTS!

I mean you can see why she is my BFF right?
What says welcome off a cramped, cross-country airplane flight 
better than donuts?!
That's what.

When we arrived at this New Jersey home that I'd heard so much about,
I was stunned by how lovely the weather was
and how beautiful the trees and plants were.
That night we had dinner with Sam's family at home
and some of Dia (Sam's sister)'s friends came over to help her celebrate her birthday.

At one point we were all sitting around the fire pit together roasting marshmallows
and fireflies were appearing in the garden
and everyone was laughing
and I thought to myself,
this is a moment that I want to remember forever.

And suddenly I got it.
This was why I'd been jealous of New Jersey for the last decade.
Because it was full of love and happy moments like this.
Moments that really, you can make anywhere with people you love,
but when Sam was in New Jersey,
that's where those moments were happening.
I was grateful to finally get a little piece of those moments.
I felt like they gave me more insight into my best friend.
We're different she and I,
and that's a reason why we are such good friends,
but one thing we have in common 
is the belief that family is the most important thing there is.
I guess in a way, 
we've shown each other that by becoming family to each other.

The next morning we headed over to the train station
to spend the day visiting NYC.
Svea was a happy camper right from the start 
and I was thoroughly impressed.

Even the long train ride seemed like fun with her to entertain us!

When we got into NYC we went over to ride the Circle Line Tour
which is a boat tour that takes you around the entire city.
We snagged a classic NY hotdog lunch and then boarded our boat.
The weather was perfect 
and I was really looking forward to seeing a lot of New York City 
without even having to ride a million subways
and walk 1000 miles.

I love you NYC,
but no,
I wouldn't walk 1000 miles 
to be the one right at your door.

Right away Svea was bouncing from person to person 
and having fun with Jim (Sam's brother),
Dia (Sam's sister),
Melissa (Jim's girlfriend),
and Sam.

I thought the front of the boat was the best place to ride
because the view was not blocked and it was lovely, 
the water was so pretty as we drove through it,
and the breeze felt nice too.

Of course my favorite thing that I saw on the tour was the Lady herself.
I've never seen the Statue of Liberty,
so I was pretty much thrilled!
I was also excited at how much Svea was getting to do 
at the ripe young age of six months old!

Another neat thing that I noticed about our tour was how different the parts of NYC are!
One minute we were going past sky scrapers and bridges...

And the next minute we would pass places like this.

The city is so varied in its beauty and its lifestyles.
We all enjoyed the ride and had quite a time!

Of course I had to include the blooper version of their kiss...

Finally, we arrived back at port and headed out in search of food.
We settled on a place called Five Napkin Burger 
and didn't have to wait too long since the lunch rush was already over.

I loved the decor and the feel of the place,
but I sincerely was expecting just an ok meal.
I'm not a huge burger fan.

When our food arrived and I took a bite of my burger,
I suddenly realized that yes,
that was in fact a burger that I had just tasted,
not a slice of heaven.

It was the best burger I have ever eaten!
Everyone enjoyed it, 
but I think I definitely loved it more than everyone else.
I am not a burger lover, as previously stated,
but my burger was so delicious!

Don't get me started on the fries...

These lovebirds...

After finishing our meal and feeling quite replenished, 
we set out to catch the subway 
and find a thrift shop that Melissa had been referred to.
We had some serious subway confusion, 
but I could not believe how sweet and patient Svea was about her napping
and her eating being thrown off.
It made everything easier. 

We finally found the shop and Melissa was able to find some treasures 
while Svea modeled all of the hats and sunglasses.
She's a regular doll baby, I tell you.

After a long train ride home,
that included a lot of sleeping people with their mouths open,
me possibly included,
we got a good night's sleep.

The next day we relaxed all morning and finished off the trip
by enjoying some family home videos of Sam and her family
before heading to the airport.
I had such a fun time with my little family 
and Sam's family.

I realized even more how blessed I am to have the people that I love in my life.
Our pit stop in New Jersey was definitely worth it.

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