Sunday, August 2, 2009

A Shore Thing

I will preface this recap with the disclaimer that I did not take any personal pictures outside of my camera phone during our vacation. Lori's sister Noelle took some good ones but I forgot to consume said pictures from her camera while we were down the shore. Once I do obtain the pics I will post some of the good ones in a follow-on post.

Yesterday we returned from our week-long stay in Lavallette, NJ. Every year the Gecik family makes a pilgrimage "down the shore" in an effort to take a break from it all. When you're the Roses right now, it's kinda hard to take a real break from "it all" as kid-wrangling is still a part of Beach Week. Overall we had a great time though and it was a good break from work for me. The condo we stayed at was MUCH better than last year's one across the street. We had larger rooms, a nice back patio/deck, HDTV and more comfortable couches. We were even CLOSER to the Quick Chek (renamed Quick Stop this year) where we stumbled over to get morning coffee and newspapers each day. To go over the highlights, I'll break it down with day-by-day moments of note.

Saturday (July 25th) - After a nearly six-hour trek we arrived
at the house. Just a little afternoon Wii and a nice dinner at the condo for the first day. Stogies with Bob (father-in-law) and Ross (boyfriend of Noelle) on the deck after the kids went down.

Sunday - The first day of beach-going for me. Lori went nearly every day but the kids and I only went three days. I tried bringing Josh into the waves with me, carrying him like I did last year. He's really grown in a year (or I've gotten weaker). It was tough holding him in the pounding surf for more than 10 minutes so we cut that experiment short. Alex and Josh had fun playing in the sand although Alex wanted no part of the ocean ("too loud... ocean gonna come get me").
Sunday evening, Ross and I headed West to Philadelphia for the WWE Pay Per View event Night of Champions at the Wachovia Center. I used to be a WWE fanatic about 7 years ago but hadn't watched in a while. Ross had free tickets as his friend is currently a writer for WWE. Noelle wasn't really intrigued to give up any beach time and go see the show so I took her ticket instead. Ross and I had a great drive there and back and enjoyed our stellar seats (pictured) of the event. Props to Ross' friend for the hookup! Our trip to Philly included a stop at Target to buy the much anticipated Wii Sports Resort (may have to do a review of this game in another post). Needless to say, the new Wii Sports game was a big hit with everyone at the condo for the rest of the trip. Thanks Nintendo. Money well spent.

Monday - A mostly uneventful day featuring another trip to the beach and some good food and drink at night. Josh and I spent some time building a sand castle and a surrounding wall to fight the impending tide. We managed to keep our castle operational for nearly two hours.

Tuesday - In an attempt to build upon my successful outing with Lori's Dad last year, Bob, Josh, Ross and myself set out in the morning on a crabbing trip. We rented a boat and bought some crab lines and bait. After about 2-3 hours on the boat, Josh wanted to head back. We had only caught 3 crabs thus-far and were pretty disappointed with the lack of crab action. Josh did have a good time initially as he helped catch a few small ones that we had to throw back. After stopping for a lunch break (and leaving Josh at the condo so he could nap), the three remaining men headed back out to sea (the bay). We were inspired by watching The Deadliest Catch at lunch time and eating some fresh clams at the local fishery. Despite all attempts to finally strike crab-gold we struck out and I only was able to add one more crab to our four-crab overall haul. A far cry from the 20 or so we scored in 2008. I blame it on Ross messing up our crabbing mojo. It was fun to be out on the boat for most of the day though and I'm already looking forward to turning our crabbing luck around next year.

Wednesday - After my final trip to the beach in the morning (Josh and I spent some good time throwing a small toy football deep into the ocean and having the waves return it), the whole 9-person crew set out for the boardwalk for some rides for the kids.
It turned out to really be rides for Josh and I as Alex really didn't want to partake in more than 2 or 3 rides. The Casino Pier in NJ offered a deal we took advantage of last year. On Wednesdays you can buy a $15 wristband for all-you-can-ride on all rides from Noon until 6 PM. After realizing that Alex wouldn't use his band much and that Josh was at the age where he wanted to start distancing himself from the "kiddie rides", I decided to buy a band for myself to go on rides with Josh. We started with a small Pirate mini coaster, the kind that can fold up into a tractor trailer and be moved from carnival to carnival. He really enjoyed the speed and turns of the ride so I decided to step things up a notch. We then went on the Mighty Mouse ride that was a much larger coaster complete with some steep drops. He totally loved this one and wanted to go on more coasters. I completely thought he would be too scared to go on any of these but he proved me wrong for sure. We finished up our coaster-fest by riding the StarJet (pictured). This one was a legitimate coaster similar to the smaller ones at King's Dominion. Josh loved most of it and thought it was cool that we climbed so high up to see the full beach and boardwalk scene from above. The first few drops and turns were OK but once we hit some really jerky ones he seemed like he wanted the ride to stop (he had just hurt his neck the day before and I think that factored in). But as we ended the ride he got back into it saying it was awesome when we finished up. He really did enjoy it even if it was a little much for him at his age. As we were leaving he said to me "Dad, that was so cool but I think I'm all coastered out for today." That's my boy! We finished our father-son thrill-fest with a little bumper car action. I tried to mix-in a ride with Alex as we rode a kiddie coaster, but he cried through most of it. After we were done, Lori asked him if he had fun and he nodded yes. He said it was fun and scary at the same time. We finished up the boardwalk trip by ordering pizza on the way back and eating it at the condo.

That evening, Ross, Lori and I went to the local movie theatre to watch the new Harry Potter film. Ross (an honorary member of Gryffindor) had seen it already but Lori and I were biding our time until her parents could watch the kids so we could go see it. A 10:30 PM showing and two-hour-plus runtime contributed to a few blackouts as I fell asleep a couple of times. Overall the movie was pretty good but not one of the better Potter efforts thus-far. I may review it later if I have time but I'd have to give it 3.5 out of 5 JR's. I'm hoping for bigger and better things with the final two Potter movies (spanning the 7th book). We got home and went to bed at 2 AM.

Thursday - Four hours later I was up with the boys trying to prevent them from waking the entire house up. Lori headed to the beach in the morning while I watched the kids. I then went with Ross to play 18 holes at nearby Bey Lea course. Ross didn't bring clubs so he rented them. He had also warned me that he was terrible at golf. I laughed thinking he would be able to hold his own at times, but he really was terrible. He whiffed on his first shot and took 4 or 5 holes to actually get a ball in the air. He did improve on the back-nine and sailed in for a score of 138. If I didn't like hanging out with the guy it would have been a real drag :) We brought some beers on the course and had a good time overall. My putting deserted me and I scrambled home with a 95. I am trying my best not to creep over 100 this season. After returning home, we were treated to a very tasty batch of ribs. Bob made a homemade BBQ sauce and the ribs were totally outstanding. Probably the best I've ever had outside of a very fine restaurant.

Friday - More kid-corralling (and Wii Sports Resort playing) in the A.M. during beach time for others. I didn't mind as the whole beach experience is a little overrated in my book. In the afternoon, Ross, Bob and I headed back to the fish market for some beer, oysters and clams to celebrate Ross' 26th birthday. Ross went shopping with Noelle in the afternoon to complete his birthday experience. I ended up buying and enjoying a bottle of Choco Vine in the evening. We had sampled the weird combination of red wine and chocolate earlier in the week at the local liquor store. At $9.99 I couldn't resist buying a bottle on our trip to the fish market. I just finished up the last glass as I type. It really is delicious and tastes very similar to Bailey's Irish Cream. We finished up the wonderful week of food with a tasty spaghetti dinner provided by Bob and Emelia.

Saturday - Stuffed and relaxed after a week away from it all, I made one more trip to Quick Stop and we were off on our five-hour trip back home. The highlight of this day was the shrieking cry-off between Alex and Rebecca for a solid 20 minutes. Good times!

Back to work and reality tomorrow. Next year's trip should be interesting and we'll have three mobile kids to keep track of.

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