Thursday, June 30, 2011

New York / New Jersey highpoint

This past Friday, June 24, was the first day of a 4-week paid sabbatical from work, which is approximately the best thing ever. For my first stint of vacation, I flew up to New York for the weekend. Saturday was a big birthday party for family friends, celebrating their 75th and 80th birthdays. On my way back to my parents' house from their place in upstate New York, I hit the highest point in New Jersey, only a minor detour, really.

My flight on Friday was supposed to leave at 7am and go through Detroit. I got a call at 8:30 Thursday night that the first flight was canceled and I was rebooked through Atlanta leaving at 1pm. I was originally going to get into White Plains at 4:30, and my mom and I were going to go straight upstate, but the new itinerary had me getting in at 8:30 instead, killing that idea. The plus side of the change was that I got to sleep in a little, although I woke up at 6 naturally. I did get a chance to do some stuff in the morning (mainly watch TV) before going to the airport. The first flight was uneventful, with a minor exception of several small children in my vicinity, but that was fixed easily with death metal once airborne. The incoming aircraft for my connection, however, was delayed, and the weather was looming. On the radar, the storms looked to be well north of the airport, but by the time we were onboard, it was on top of us. They held us at the gate for a little while, and then we sat on the tarmac for about an hour and a half. They did offer snacks and water, at least, and I did sleep for a bit while we were sitting there. It was after 9 before the gaps in the weather had allowed enough traffic through for us to have our turn. It was after 11 when I got in, and because of the fog and drizzle, they didn't have gate checked bags available at the gate. At least those bags were the first onto the baggage carousel, and my mom and I were able to get out and get home around 12:30.

We left the house around 6:45 Saturday, went to the friends' house we were staying at, and then went into town to pick up a few things. We got to "the farm" (family friends' place we've been going to, especially for Thanksgiving, for 30 years now) around noon. There was a flurry of greetings of old mutual friends, and of friends and family of J&S (the couple of honor, whose birthdays are two days apart), and then everyone got to work setting up for the party, which started at 2 with appetizers. The whole thing was really great. There was a brass quartet playing classical music; there was a "duck race," where a whole bunch of rubber duckies were dumped in the creek, and the first across the finish line ~100 yards later was the winner; and generally just a good time catching up with old friends, many of whom had come from a long ways to be there. Dinner was barbecue and a ton of side dishes, all of which (or at least the ones I tried) were good. There was also a wide assortment of desserts later. I usually avoid dessert, but it was all right there and it all looked good, so I indulged myself. My parents and I left the party to get back to where we were staying before dark (this was the first time I had been there).

I went for a run Sunday morning, running every bit of sidewalk on Main Street, Franklin, NY (some twice) for a total of 5k. Breakfast wasn't exactly great recovery food, a strudel, but it was pretty tasty, and I supplemented it with a banana. We all went to the market in town afterward, where I picked up a pair of wool/alpaca socks that looked warm and comfy and a pizza for lunch. I went back to the farm while my parents headed home. I helped move tables, chairs and tents for a while, but my hip was hurting from the morning run, so I wasn't up to doing too much. I headed out from there to the New Jersey highpoint around noon. The highest point in the state is very unimaginatively named High Point, and is in High Point State Park. The park is quite well used, particularly the beach on a small lake. The highpoint has a 220-foot tall obelisk monument on it that they allow people to climb. Because of some veterans event, I couldn't drive to the monument parking area when I got there, and was diverted to park next to the interpretive center. The center was a pretty nice building, a former restaurant, but not particularly exciting content. I figured as long as I had to walk to the monument, I would take the trail I saw leading to it, not realizing that the trail was not direct in the least. It was quiet, however. Considering how many people I had seen picnicking and otherwise enjoying the park, the only people I saw on the trail were right at the start. Since it was pretty flat, and in the interest of time (to get back for a 6 o'clock dinner reservation), I ran about half of the trail (not nearly as fast as the morning run). After the 5k hike, running up the stairs of the monument, and it being incredibly humid up top with no ventilation, I was soaked in sweat in the picture another visitor took of me. I walked on the road back to my dad's car, and got there much quicker. I got to my parents' house just after 5 and had just enough time to get cleaned up a little and changed for a delicious dinner.

Monday I went for a run starting on the Croton Dam, going along the road for a couple of miles before turning down a trail leading to the gorge below. I took a little break at the bottom before running back to the top and getting my phone for a couple pictures of the magnificent structure. I picked up some pizza, and my niece had arrived by the time I got back to my parents'. Later in the afternoon when my parents took her to a camp orientation, I went out to look for a new camera, having remembered that I had broken the shutter button on my camera at the West Virginia highpoint. I didn't find anything I liked, however. My sister came over to the house later, and we all had a nice steak dinner together.

My flights home Tuesday were pretty uneventful. On both, I slept from the time we were airborne to the time the drink cart got to me, almost an hour each. I got home in the late afternoon, and started unpacking, then repacking for the next leg of my vacation, which starts early next morning...

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