Across the river to the Jersey side
Take my baby to the carnival
And I'll take her on all the rides....
'cause down the Shore every thing's alright....
Unless of course you factor in earthquakes, hurricanes and a family photo shoot! Yes, we had all of the above in the past few weeks here on the East Coast of America. At times I would have thought I was in California or Louisiana or the Leave It To Beaver Show and not New York and New Jersey. I am glad I was here and not there though because here I got to enjoy not only a couple natural disasters but also my Niece Kasey's 8th Birthday, an amazing evening in NYC with my Niece Danielle, a week of computer training with my Mom, an epic boat ride with my Dad, Labor Day weekend with my family and many meals, laughs and good times with my friends.
I was lying on the beach in Lavallette, NJ when the earth shook. Having lived in California for many years I immediately knew what I was experiencing. I enjoyed the brief yet exhilarating ride as the earth rolled and then I too rolled, rolled over to even out the tan. The rest of the people on the beach however were not quite as calm. The entire beach whipped out their smart phones and my peaceful, relaxing afternoon in the sun was soon filled with the sound bites of fear. I could hear my fellow Californians laughing as the entire Northeast Coast of America panicked over a few bricks falling off of even fewer buildings.
Shortly after the quake and before the evacuation for Hurricane Irene I did get to celebrate my Niece Kasey's 8th Birthday with her which was a huge treat. I am normally not around this time of year and have never actually been with her on her birthday. So, being her Uncle and all, she was excited that we were together for her special day. I've come to find out that turning 8 is a big deal when, well when your 7, and she was all smiles as she munched on a birthday lunch of french fries smothered with bacon and cheese, an order of fried calamari and then ice cream for dessert.
The news of Hurricane Irene quickly grew to be all consuming and as the low lying and coastal areas prepared for the worse I snuck out and did what I do best. Go see live music and dance! A group of friends and I went in to New York City where I met up with my New Yorker Niece Danielle. After a great dinner and some pre-concert laughter we headed to the Hiro Ballroom for a spectacular night of music performed by the Voice of the Wetlands All-Stars (http://www.voiceofthewetlands.org/vow-all-stars). VOW All-Stars are a group of New Orleans musicians that rock! Check them out if you can.
As the glow of the music faded the reality that Irene was baring down on us set in. Most of the East Coast evacuated to safety and settled in for the storm. Me? I ducked and dodged the rain drops and managed to visit a bunch of special life long friends along the way. I stopped in and spent some time with my friend Suri, had a home-cooked meal at my friends Anthony & Jill's, hid out in the woods with Kevin and Rob, enjoyed a delicous meal at Morton's with Kevin and Anthony as we watched the Jets beat the Giants in pre-season and finished up my visits with breakfast at a New York Diner with my friend Dave. All and all a good run.
I, and the people I know were very fortunate to escape Hurricane Irene relatively unscathed - where I was there were a lot of downed trees and we had no power for a day or so but really no big deal. For all of those less fortunate my thoughts and prayers go out to you. In the words of Tad Benoit from the VOW All-Stars "hopefully FEMA takes better care of you then they did the people of NOLA."
Back on the Jersey side, it was time for family. I spent the better part of a week with my Mom and her new computer(s). I helped her set them all up and then spent more then a few hours (some of them frustrating - for both her and I) helping her figure out how to use them. She was a PC but is now a MAC. My Mom really is quite amazing in her willingness to learn all things new and modern. She will be a wiz at this iMac thing in no time.
Down the Shore the weather was perfect all week long and the bay and sea were calm so My Dad and I took a great boat trip across Barnegat Bay to the Barnegat Lighthouse and out into the Atlantic Ocean. We then powered north up to the Manasquan Inlet and back through Barnegat Bay to West Point Island. Nice to be out in the sea in a real boat and not on some bangka, outrigger canoe, or other questionable craft and really nice to be out there with my Dad.
As Labor Day Weekend (the unofficial end of summer and a National Holiday) unfolded the whole family gathered for lots of food, fun, laughter and photo's. Sister Kelli cooked on Saturday and we finished off the dinner of cockles and fusilli with a homemade Birthday cake for Niece Kasey. Sunday found us all dressed in matching colors - boys in blue, girls in pink - and my Mom had a professional photographer take family photo's. Believe me when I tell you that she owes me big time for putting up with the whole nonsense. As the sunset we had a good old fashion BBQ of burgers and sausage patty's accompanied by Mom's tomato salad and macaroni salad.
Monday, Labor Day, most of the town set out for home and so did most of my family members. Me, I'm on my way home too. My Home in Ocean Beach, San Diego, California. I fly out tomorrow and will spend 8 weeks getting caught up with friends and life before I hit the road again. It has been a little over 10 months since I was last at home - it will be nice to sleep in my own bed!