Monday, June 23, 2014

Jersey Girl

I finally had a chance to visit Little Helen in her new place over the weekend.  Mr. Helen was supposed to come along as well but somehow the vacation schedule at his job got messed up and he had to work instead.  I went anyway as I really wanted to see her new place.

If you want a hair raising experience, make the drive from my house to hers.  It's basically I-95 all the way but this particular part of 95 is white knuckle driving.  It really is relentless traffic going too fast and at times there are 5-6 lanes across of that.  Additionally, there always seems to be some sort of construction going on and even if they are not working, there are lane changes, bumps and dips in the road and barriers everywhere.  In other words, really not relaxing at all.

I was glad to go see where she lived though - she has quite a nice/cute apartment:  large open living area, large kitchen, 2 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms.  It's in a safe complex and there's even a swimming pool there if she's ever there long enough to enjoy it (she travels a lot).

As soon as I arrived she suggested that we walk to downtown Princeton and look around at all the cute shops.  I was glad to do that after 3 hours of driving.  The walk was 3 1/2 miles each way plus I bet we walked at least a mile or more while downtown so I figured we got in 8 miles of walking.

There are very nice sidewalks all all around, plus we crossed a bridge and over a towpath that is part of the Delaware and Raritan State Park.  When I saw that path I thought of all my running and walking and biking blogging friends who would so enjoy that!  Next time we go visit her, weather permitting, I think we will probably rent kayaks or canoes and paddle part of the canal.

Princeton University is sort of scattered all around Princeton itself with a bit of a central campus right in the downtown area.  Downtown Princeton reminded me of a lot of New England downtowns with quaint shops and sidewalk cafes.  Very fun to walk around both the high end shops (like Kate Spade, Ralph Lauren) and the less expensive places.  We had lunch at a Mediterranean Grill and I realized afterward I'd picked a vegetarian menu:  Shepherd's salad, falafel, baba ganoush, and feta with tomatoes.  No photos, all delicious.

Here's a bit of our walk:

Anyone know what these gorgeous purple flowers are?


This is a side street in "downtown."  Love the way they've preserved so many trees.

A bookstore had cutouts of famous people.  I chose to be Sonya Sotamayor.

Effe's Grill where we ate lunch.  Delicious!

We walked back through the Princton Campus

I asked Little Helen if this is why the school is called Ivy League?

These buildings reminded me a lot of Duke University.  Little Helen told me Duke was actually modeled after Princeton when it was built.



After we got back to the apartment we hung out for a while, resting from that long walk lol!  She has a cute deck/patio off the living area and kitchen of her place so we sat out there and enjoyed a glass a wine before we went to dinner.


She and her friend wanted to take me to dinner at a particular restaurant they'd found.  This meal was meat based which was fine after my vegetarian lunch lol! This time I took pictures because I knew Mr. Helen would want to see.

This place was hilarious, both in name, where it was located and what they serve.


It's both BBQ and Mexican!  And yes they had a combo plate where you could get ribs, brisket, and some tacos which cracked me up.

House made chips brought to every table

We ordered a bunch of stuff for all of us to share: wings, ribs, brisket, hot links.  Little Helen said next time they have to try some Mexican. It was all delicious.



We were, obviously, too full for dessert so we went back and hung out at the apartment until bed. The next morning we hung out and drank coffee on the deck - until we went to brunch at a diner.  Holy food portions Batman!  Little Helen and E. tried to warn me but it didn't compute.  This was my breakfast, half of which came back to Connecticut with me (and I'd already eaten a piece of English Muffin).


Little Helen's friend E. ordered a "side" of bacon to go with his one scrambled egg and toast.  He'd already eaten a couple of pieces when I took this photo but we figured it was somewhere between 8 and 12 oz. of cooked bacon.  

We all decided when Mr. Helen and I come back we should take him here for a meal as he would appreciate the ridiculous portions.

Then it was time for me go. As E. walked me and my bag to the car he apologized that we'd not been able to find any food to eat - hahahahaha!

I'd literally been there 24 hours but I knew if I didn't get on the road I'd regret it because Sunday traffic on the highway is notoriously bad - and I was going north vs. south which is even worse.  Sure enough, even though I routed myself a different way to avoid the George Washington Bridge and going through New York City, it still took me a full hour longer to get home.  175 miles and it took me 4 hours... that's just how ridiculous the traffic is. But it was worth it to have time with my Jersey Girl!

16 comments:

  1. Yay for a visit with your girl!! What a neat area; how fun to see in person some of her favorite haunts. Holy moly, that breakfast...looks like Texas-sized portions, lol!

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    1. Those portions were crazy! I'm anxious to go back to do some of the other stuff we couldn't fit in a 24 hour trip.

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  2. Those purple flowers are clematis. I have some growing on a trellis at the end of my porch. They bloom in June and come in other colors (pink, white), but I LOVE the dark purple ones--they are gorgeous! All those food pictures made me hungry. Glad you were able to walk so much to work it off. Princeton University is gorgeous. Didn't the TV show, House, take place there? I don't envy you all that traffic--here in the Midwest we don't have much of a problem with that.

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    1. I would love a wall of honeysuckle with a wall of clematis right next to it. I don't even think this photo does justice to just how beautiful they were!

      I drove a lot last year on our Grand Canyon vacation and hated how barren and far apart everything was. I'd like something in between our I-95 craziness and the midwestern/western barrenness please.

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  3. Oh, I love Princeton! I spent a few days there a couple of years ago - and LOVE the towpath. Little Helen is in a beautiful place and I'm glad you got to go see it/her!

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    1. I can't wait to go back and actually run/jog/walk on the towpath and definitely kayak the canal!

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  4. Holy moly side of bacon! I loved that picture of you and her toasting to a glass of wine - love it! So glad you made the trip - and I know Mr. Helen will love the next one!

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    1. Mr. Helen was both very upset and jealous that he didn't get to go. We need to try to work it out to go back soon!

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  5. I enjoyed your detailed recounting of the experience, Helen! How beautiful and peaceful those surroundings look-- and the joy filling you throughout, came through wonderfully. 8 miles--Yikes!!! However, I imagine you were so deep in genuine joy, you may not have noticed the incredible workout you were receiving. Excellent post, Helen. The food pics look amazing! You gotta be proud of little Helen! :)

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    1. I wish I had taken more photos along the walk, especially of the actual downtown area, the towpath and the canal. It's amazing to think you're in New Jersey - almost doesn't compute. I am very proud of her and happy that she moved into a new job that she loves!

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  6. Princeton is very pretty! I am not all the fond of New Jersey in general (probably from driving through it too many times LOL), but that sure is pretty.

    Yes - that flower is a clematis. I love clematis - so beautiful!

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    1. I'll take better pictures next time, but yes very pretty. I even said to Little Helen that if I was a parent bringing my child there for college the way the area looked would make me feel better about leaving them.

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  7. What a great weekend, she lives in a beautiful green place, must be a pleasure living there. And I was happy to see she has a love for a patio as much as you do.

    In 4 hours you get from the north to the south of my country LOL. I looked it up, Netherlands is approx 16,000 sq miles, New Jersey 8,720 sq miles, Connecticut 5,543 sq miles, you get the point how small my country is right :)

    But I also saw I really need to plan a trip called the "Helen Springsteen" trip. If I visit you I can also visit the places Bruce has written about, every all he's from Jersey too as you know: Atlantic City, Asbury Park, Helen: here I come!

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  8. Hip hip hurray to a wonderful weekend!!!!!!

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  9. What a lovely area! I'm sure it puts your mother's mind at ease to know she's in a nice place and space.

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