Loving New Jersey
New Jersey Travel Blog› entry 3 of 6 › view all entries
I had my very first picnic in New Jersey on my 1st weekend away from home. Jersey is filled with man made lakes and I definitely appreciated this on my first day out. This was when I started to feel out of place. The boys didn't invite me to their forest hike and the girls were too lazy to do anything.
With my colleagues having their own cliques I decided to go exploring autistically on my own. The park was a lengthy walk, and I played Maria in Sound of music as I rolled around the greens of the hillside. Coming back to the group with an exhilarated look, I definitely enjoyed my independent gulp of fresh air.
I was always out of the staffhouse as soon as the clock hit 8 hours. Everyday I'd either jog or walk around the neighborhood for around 2 hrs, with the sun staying out in spring till 8pm.
This is where I got to befriend the friendly elders having coffee, the 2 boys always playing with their bicycles in the front yard two blocks from us, and the black cat I so loved which became superstitously my status indicator. This was also where I caught the chill on my second day after walking in the crisp weather and deciding to sleep over at my colleague's foster home a half hour away.
I've even gone autistic a few times by playing around the swings at the neighboring school after the kids have gone home or watched parents cheer from the bleachers for their kids playing baseball.
The crazy thing is, the road to Starbucks is a small dirt path running from the neighborhood, passing through a highway, a bridge and then finally ending up in the strip mall where the shop is at. All for the love of coffee!!! After I left the joke was the cement path they were building in the area I walked through was in commemoration of me. How thoughtful.
I also enjoyed the souvenir shop at the corner of our street, the Antonio's Italian resto for our farewell party to a colleague, and another nice hangout where they in turn said farewell to me.
This is where I discovered that the animal lying run over flat in the middle of the road was not a cat but a beaver, where I saw my first acorn and squirrel, and found out that rabbits freely hop around backyards.
The next time the group was out in Jersey was when we checked out the yearly Seafood festival at Belmar. This is where I realized how huge this state was, taking us over 2 hours to get to Belmar alone and about another hour to Atlantic city. I had to force myself to eat despite my allergy to seafood. With the unswimmable 18 degree temperature all we could do was walk around the boardwalk, appreciating the blimps in the sky, the long stretch of beach, and beachgoers in their swimwear. We decided to enjoy shopping at the Atlantic city and got starstruck by the sights and sounds of the fancy casinos. We stayed up way late waiting for a colleague to win back the money she spent to no avail, but I did get to at least breathe in one of Donald Trump's famous structures.
Then there were the crazy times, walking for 2 hours from Marshalls on the eve of July 4th as there were no buses around; hitchhiking without remorse from the Rockaway town square mall, finally zoning in on a friendly looking black middle aged lady who warned me repeatedly how dangerous it was to do this, she did kindly drop me a few blocks near home after we got lost for half an hour; walking in the cold rain for an hour from Wendys and drying myself off in the shed to avoid further issues from the staff.
I could not go around too much as though I had a license, my male colleagues were bringing the company cars around in liberty. I did get to shop for personal items and gifts at the GAP outlet store, Toys r Us, and Marshalls, getting books at Barnes and Nobel, and watching Star Wars at the Rockaway mall with one of our bosses and being welcomed by my first backyard barbecue after.
I also enjoyed viewing the New York strip from across the Hudson river at Hoboken with a friend 2 weeks before I left.
I'd say I definitely did an acceptable job of savoring the state and the memories have remained in detail.