New Jersey Quick-look.

After picking up a whole bunch of cigarette butts, straws, and rusty bottle-caps, I sat down in the grass and leaned against a tree. You’re not supposed to do this, because they’re primary targets for dogs. I figured the urine had dried and it was a beautiful day so I didn’t care. Kids played on plastic swing-sets and slides, parents presented various pre-packaged culinary options at picnic tables, and I stretched through the post-workout pain in my legs.

Everything was a brilliant shade of green. A breeze broke through the branches above carrying a bit of sunlight, redistributing it across the lawns and around the pond to disappear into the brush. The rustling leaves blended with another sound; it took me a while to figure out what it was. But the kids knew instantly, they froze for an excited moment, disentangled from their parents and raced to its source. The gentle bells pulled me up; I felt my slightly moist back peel off the bark, and there it was, an ice-cream truck driving slowly around the park. Colorful decals decorated its sides and the window was open vacuuming in the mesmerized kids. Pure Americana.

I’ve been woefully behind on my online journaling. So, I’m going to take my own advice and submit to the pressure of my friends to do exactly what the title of this blog suggests. I’ll post it on Sunday Evening. This means that my attempts at well-designed prose will have to wait till I get around to them, and my few readers will have to suffer through a discombobulated summery of what I can remember, in the way it comes to me, and in whatever order it enters my netbook keyboard. I’ll get back to formatting and updating them later.

Right now I’m at McDonald’s listening to an amazing blend of 80s music on their ceiling speakers, around me swirl bits of church conversation by a trio of old men who manage to salt it with veering digressions into local sports, the nature of stars, and black hole singularities. I’m sweating. Outside I can see a cinder block hut with a hand-painted West Milford Lion’s Club sign. Maybe it’s a shelter for rain. It rained earlier in the week. Now it’s blissfully sunny. I plan on camping tonight, so this is good.  According to my iPod nav, there doesn’t seem to be a Walmart around. But there are plenty of small lakes and rolling green hills and forests. The country in northern New Jersey is quite beautiful. So I’ll burrow into nature as soon as I get this writing done.

A few days back, I was in Atlantic City, where I sat with an Indian guy in the lobby of a cheap hotel and watched TV. He’d been in the U.S. for over thirty years, but still had a very thick accent. I splurged on a hotel room because I desperately needed a shower and Wifi. But the Wifi didn’t reach my room, as they’d advertised, so I was hanging out with him at the front desk, heating my $1.69 Hormel Chicken Alfredo in their dirty microwave. The rain tapped against the windows, we watched the finals of the Voice and double episodes of the Deadliest Catch on the little TV.

The next morning I walked the slick wet boardwalk, bought a cheap umbrella, peered up at the giant casinos and out at the crashing waves. Some stores were open, some were not. Sunglasses, funnel cake, t-shirts, and pizza. I did a loop through the new but empty Revel Casino. Starbucks lured me in for a chocolate chip cookie and a bag of popcorn. I saved a few kernels to feed famous Lucy the Elephant a few miles distant, but being made of concrete, she wasn’t having any.

The Chief doesn’t drive at night because he’s blind, his headlights don’t work. So I’m strictly relegated to day travel. Thus I race through as many places as I can before the Earth hurls us backward and swallows the sun. I drove across the state through Camden and got some gas, then popped into Philly to visit friends, raise some funds, and watch a baseball game. At Trenton I did sprint exercises in a Walmart Parking lot, shot a few pictures, and headed up to Princeton. There I tooled around the campus, and followed some Facebook tips, like visiting an ice-cream store, a chocolate shop, and the Grounds for Sculpture where I prowled its super cool paths full of art. After that, jamming to Florence and the Machine on repeat and driving with my shirt off, I returned the thumbs-ups accrued from passing traffic and cruised to Roselle where I hung with a high school friend. She treated me to a great mountain of nachos and wine.

The next morning, after taking a ferry in the hot sun, hungry and huddled with masses of tourists from Kolkata, I visited Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty. She appeared much smaller than I remembered. I bought magnet for the Chief and slapped it on his dashboard. A friend’s mom worked at a Health Food Store not far away, so I stopped by and collected a bottle of Muscle-milk, a protein bar, and coconut water which she very kindly put on her own tab. That night I played with two very cute dogs named Bella and Luna, then relaxed on Kristen’s couch watching Lost in Translation and formatting my pictures from the week.

It’s now Sunday, I sit at the McDonald’s and the trio of old men are gone to be replaced by a trio of teenagers eating ice-cream. Love Shack plays on the speakers and these are the last few lines of what will be my summary for New Jersey. Later, this will be re-written with all sorts of interesting New Jersey facts, pictures, hopefully poetic prose, insights, humor, and thoughtfulness, if when time allows.

I’m going to head out to find a nice campsite as soon as I press post. Tomorrow I’ll catch up on my State Sign dances and advance into Connecticut and Rhode Island for the week. If anyone has any interesting tips, people to meet, or places to see, please let me know…

This will be the first posted I’ve actually posted on Sunday Evening… :)