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FF Sparks (Casual)

New Jersey Adventure!

So, met up with surubee and bobson to head to the archaeology museum today. We ran a bit late due to traffic and having to detour to Dan's dorm to let him drop a few things off. At the museum, we couldn't find parking right away, so we traded off to let Dan go park using his CHOP staff parking permit, while Susan and I walked to the museum to wait for adamdray, stephdray, dpassmor and Claire. We arrived just as they did, and wandered around the fountain garden until Dan joined us. Then we went inside.

We went to the Worlds Intertwined exhibit first, of Etruscan, Greek and Roman stuff. Lots of neat stuff to look at and examine, and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Then we went to the Upper Egyptian gallery, and sat for a while. Then we went down to see the Royal Tombs of Ur exhibit. Then we went to the café for a snack, and then to the Lower Egyptian gallery. I got very antsy a bit before the Ur exhibit, and Steph discovered one of my foibles; I don't like to split up cultures. If I start seeing Egyptian stuff, I want to see /all/ the Egyptian stuff, not see some-Egyptian-stuff-now-and-some-later. I finally gave in, though, and did it out of order.

David, amusingly, had misread the exhibit sign as 'Royal Tombs of Uf.' Some on my friends list will get this. At any rate, we went to the Museum shops afterwards, where I got some very amusing little fake tabloids. The Stone Age Sentinel ("Man Burns Finger on Fire!"), the Egyptian Echo ("Tut In God Swap Shock!"), a Greek one ("Naked Scientist in Bathtub Shocker! Archimedes Splash Smash!"), and the Roman Record ("'Volcano is Safe!' claims Senator"). Then we tried to decide on dinner.

This, in and of itself, was an adventure. Try getting folks who want red meat, a semi-vegetarian, and folks who need strict kosher food to agree on a restaurant. In the end, we ended up driving to New Jersey. I now know where strip malls go to die. Anyway, so, we're heading along in New Jersey, and we drive past the ShopRite where Susan sometimes shops, and there's a comment about this. We continue along. We pass a place where a Certified Public Accountant building is next to a doctor's office which handles stress counseling, which is next to a funeral parlor. Talk about your one-stop shopping! So, we're watching the address numbers. We pass 1813, continue on ("Hey, look, we're past the Civil War!"), get into the 1900's ("Look, the Depression is a strip mall!"), continue on ("We're almost to the present!") and get up to the 2000's, the 2100's ("The future is strip malls?") and suddenly... we notice the number changes to 800 and begins going downwards ("We're back in the Dark Ages, and going further. I feel like somehow I've ended up in Back to the Future!").

So we drove on a bit, got to a gas station, and asked for directions. Then we thought we must have missed it. So we turn around, drive back. Poor Adam, driving the car behind us, must have thought we were insane. We get a little past the ShopRite again, stop at a light, and realize, y'know, the menu we gave Adam and Steph and David and Claire to look at has the number on it! So we call them cell-phone-to-cell-phone, get the number, and call for directions as we turn around to search the other direction again. And discover that the restaurant is in the same complex as the ShopRite which we've just driven past -- again -- and so have to make ANOTHER U-turn and head back.

Finally we reach the restaurant, everyone meets up -- including Susan's husband and her other son Jon -- and we discover this nice kosher Middle Eastern place we've been trying to find for about two hours... is booked for a wedding banquet. Luckily, they gave us a table, and we got food. Food, socializing, and a few hours later we split up to all go our ways back home. I stopped with Susan and Dan and Jon to do some shopping at the ShopRite, then we drove back, dropped Dan off at his dorm, and I got taken home. Whew! Quite the night, and I added another state to those I've been in...even if I'm not certain New Jersey is all that impressive!

Bedtime now, I think...

Comments

New Jersey is NOT all that impressive, at least not that end of it. I'm told if you get up into the north end it earns the nickname "Garden State", but the part near the PA border is... depressing. (I wandered across the Delaware Water Gap near Pocono one night just to see. Ewww.

If you want to take a road trip and do a little shopping, look up Tannersville... it's north of Allentown, and there's a big outlet mall.. no sales tax! ('course, there may be an outlet closer... :)

It's been fun reading your travelog... Kosher middle eastern? I'll be that was good.
Royal Tombs of Uf

I'm going to take a guess, is the inside joke from translating UF as 'Undocumented Features'?

In the end, we ended up driving to New Jersey. I now know where strip malls go to die.

This is a brilliant and accurate piece of prose, perfectly evoking the densest and most informative semiotics of the rustbelt part of New Jersey, and got an LMAO. I bow to your superior wisdom.

However, this only paints part of the picture. There are some parts of New Jersey that are impressively pleasant. The state is a mixture in contrasts. The northeastern part (around Newark and Elizabeth) and the part around Trenton (which is where I'm guessing you were) are the ones that people most often think of and the only ones you ever see in movies. They're also the worst and most blighted parts of the state, where the strip malls alternate with refineries, power plants, and vacant lots with ominous Department of Energy warning signs around them (I so wish I was making that up).

Then there's the other side of the state, that includes the Pinelands, the farms, and 'The Shore'. The further west you go along Route 80, the state looks less and less like some Syd Mead vision of dystopia and more and more like... well, eastern Pennsylvania. The easiest way to see the best parts of the state is to take the major highways out of the rustbelt, and then go a couple of miles onto the backroads. Judging all of New Jersey by Trenton is like trying to derive a description of Lake Sammammish from the strip of industrial sprawl between Boeing Field and Seahawks Stadium.

My cousin Royal and his wife Ellen live in an area where honest-to-god wildcats and bears prowl the hills. Ellen's into Dressage and has her horse stabled on this quiet little piece of ranchland, you'd never guess that Newark is less than an hour away. The County Stables in Union are a mile away from the retail gulch on US-22; just a few hills make all the difference in the world. New Jersey is a big riding state and home of the US Equestrian Team.

Bell Laboratories Holmdel, where the transistor and laser were invented, is on a huge plot of land between dairy farms. New Jersey has a big dairy industry. There are cows all over the place.

I'm not trying to be mean or chastising or anything. I think your depiction of the area accurately reflects much of the character of the state; I lived there for a very long time and I know that side of it quite well. However, oddly, I sometimes find myself feeling sentimental about New Jersey. Perhaps it's analogous to the feeling you have about Narbeth - someplace else may be the home you have now, and you've experienced this other place that you know could also be your home.

Anyway. $0.02. Hope I'm not boring anyone else to death.
Nope. Uf, goddess of wind and dreams; it's a joke only firanites would get. Nothing to do with fanfic. :)

Wow!

I'm jealous! The Archaeology Museum at UPenn is one of my favoritest museums in the world. I'm glad you guys enjoyed (even the Royal Tombs of Uf)!