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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on January 26, 2008 2:14 AM. The previous post in this blog was Birds of a feather. The next post in this blog is For English, press 1. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.



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Saturday, January 26, 2008

Across the river to the Jersey side

When we finished the business aspects of our recent trip to New York City, we headed across the Hudson to New Jersey, there to spend some time with our mother and sister. The frigid weather that had greeted us upon our arrival in the area several days before had broken, and our time in Jersey started with a mild version of winter and ended up positively spring-like and sunny.

When New York was our playground many years ago, the way we got between there and our Jersey home was usually the PATH train under the river. It runs from Penn Station and the World Trade Center in New York to Hoboken, Jersey City, and Newark on the other side. The waits and the rides could be interminable, and on weekends the trips to Jersey City and Newark always involved an unwanted stop in Hoboken, which in those days was a dump of a train station. The trip was predominantly underground -- the train didn't get out of the tunnels until it was well west of the river in Jersey City -- and it was a fairly gloomy affair. The windows of the train reflected back images of the passengers in their fluorescent subterranean pallor. But for 30 cents each way, we didn't complain much.

All that is in the past tense now, as there's a private company that runs a network of ferries between the big city and various points in Hudson County, New Jersey. Clean, fast, open, airy, and with a network of free shuttle buses to get you to and from your land destination in Manhattan. It all runs so smoothly, it must be a Mafia deal, but hey -- it's New York and New Jersey, so stop thinking about it and enjoy. It was a Saturday morning when we flagged down one of those buses a few blocks from our hotel for a short hop to the nice, sleek ferry terminal. The place was fairly deserted at that hour, but one could tell from the size of the facility that lots of commuters must use the boats during the workweek.

We paid our fare ($7.50 one way) at the window and headed outside, down by the piers to wait for the ferry. From there we got to gaze across the water to Weehawken, where we were headed. We've written about that town here before -- especially in our college days, it was a place of great romance -- and from the docks its palisades can be seen quite clearly on a sunny day.

When the ferry arrived, it was packed with Jerseyans who were on their way into New York. As it was now around noon, many of them were likely theatergoers on their way to Broadway matinees. They wasted little time piling out, and the ferry guys hustled our smaller group, heading in the other direction, on board. We wheeled our suitcase and laptop behind us onto the boat, grateful that we weren't trying to do this during rush hour. A few minutes later, still not quite believing that we had just traversed the surface of the Hudson (although we've done it at least a half dozen times over the years), there we were in Weehawken, where as always our wonderful sis was there to pick us up.

We rarely fail to have a fantastic time when we revisit the Garden State, and this round was no exception. As the years progress, family conversations contain increasingly more medical information that one might wish, but such is life. As ever, the food and company were splendid.

A couple of scenes stand out from the trip. One involved blogging. Our mom accesses the internet on her television set, via something called WebTV. It's ghastly, but it serves her purposes, and she doesn't seem the least bit interested in owning an actual computer. This meant that our time spent at her place was going to be time spent more or less away from the intertubes. One thing is for sure -- one is not going to be running Movable Type blogging software on WebTV. As the kids say, LOL! And there wasn't a wireless signal to be found at her place.

After nearly a day of this deprivation, of course, our blogging fingers were getting extremely itchy, and between that and the fact that we had consumed huge quantities of mom's cooking, we decided that it was time to take a walk. We would head out onto the streets of Lyndhurst, New Jersey, looking to find an internet hotspot.

We know what you're thinking -- no problem, Starbucks, or some other coffee shop, right? Wrong! This may come as a shock, but there is no Starbucks in Lyndhurst, New Jersey! Nor is there even anything resembling a coffee house. It's like trying to get a newsstand copy of the The New York Times there. Sometimes in Jersey, although you're 15 minutes from the center of the universe, you're in a truly remote place.

Anyway, it was a nice enough late afternoon, and on we happily trudged up the main drag of the town as the short winter day turned to evening. Once in a while there'd be a bus bench, and we'd plop down and crack open the laptop, looking for a wireless signal. Maybe we could snag a connection out of that doctor's office over there, or that realtor's office over there. Quite a few nice old residences along that road have long been converted into professional offices. But nope -- no wireless signal that you didn't need a password for.

One of the errands on our list was to pick up some sort of wire at the local Radio Shack to try to fashion into an AM antenna for mom's radio. While we were in there, we asked the young man who waited on us where we could find a wi-fi signal. He suggested the nearby Restaurant Formerly Known as Perkins Pancake House. Sounded like a plan.

We walked into Perkins (a new establishment in that particular strip mall) and asked the teenage girls at the reception booth if the place had wi-fi. "Er, um, I don't think so..." one offered hesitantly. But just then a bright-faced boy waiter stepped over and said, "No, wait, I think we do. You can come in and try, anyway." And so we did. Lo and behold, there was indeed a wireless signal in the restaurant, but it was encoded with a password. The manager, more like our age, came over and explained that the wireless was new, and it would eventually be open to customers, but the staff didn't even have the password themselves yet. Rather than send us away just then, she went into her office and called their IT guy, who didn't have the password handy. "Would you like to use the computer in the office?" she asked us sweetly. Who says people in New Jersey aren't polite and helpful? We allowed as how no, that wouldn't be necessary, and back onto the street we headed.

By now it was dark, and we were about ready to give up, but the Town Hall was just a block away, and there were a few benches out in front of it on the corner of the building. What the heck, we thought, one more try. "View Available Wireless Networks" again, for the umpteenth time, and there, ever so faint, fading in and out, so sketchy that it wouldn't stay put, was an unsecure connection that said "Lyndhurst Public Library." Jackpot! If only we could get close enough.

We hailed a passerby, who looked at us, seated on the bench under a dim streetlight, as if we were crazy. "Excuse me, sir! Where is the Public Library?" "It's right over there," he said, pointing to the building next door, "but I think it's closed now." "That's o.k.," we said gleefully, "I'm just wanting to use their internet signal." The fellow walked away briskly, doubtlessly convinced that we were about to cause him, ourselves, or both grave harm of some sort.

Anyway, we found another bench in front of the library, where the signal was indeed quite good. We left this post, scrolled through the usual ton of e-mail, and logged off. Through the wonders of cell phone technology, we alerted mom and sis that our walk had been a success, and we were heading back their way.

I'm sure that, just as it did for the gentlemen who steered us to the library, this incident confirmed for the two of them that we have completely lost our mind.

But of course, quite the opposite was true. Reuniting the blogger's life of our geezerhood with the people and places of our youth was one of the sanest things we have ever done. And on that score, the best -- by far -- was yet to come.

Comments (3)

Love the entry Jack. Your talking about the lack of Starbucks takes me back to 6 months ago when I went back to South Carolina to watch my daughter graduate from Basic Training. Couldn't find a Starbucks to save our lives. We took a trip to Augusta Georgia (see where the Masters is played) and found a Starbucks. Walked in and mentioned how few of them we'd found. The gal behind the counter said, "We have seven of them in Augusta, that's a LOT for around here!" We LOL'ed when we told her that in Portland you could find seven of them within a 10 block radius.

I found it interesting about the "public transportation" piece. Gee, a private company runs it? And my guess is that it runs better, faster, is cleaner and more secure than the excuse for public transit that we have around here. Any idea if it is subsidized? For the most part, the government should stick to fixing roads, and putting criminals away. Get them out of all the 'mission creep' that they've moved into, they don't know how to run a business, they don't have to. When they run low on money they just tax us some more - talk about a monopoly.

Great. Looking forward to the next installment.

Ahh... Jersey. We do have a Starbucks in my current neck of the woods (Englewood Cliffs/Fort Lee), but I'm moving to Jersey City next month (near Journal Square) where there is no such thing.

That Ferry rocks, by the way, as to the free buses in NYC. But the parking on the Jersey Side ferry dock is what kills you.


As a lawyer/blogger, I get
to be a member of:

In Vino Veritas

Lange, Pinot Gris 2015
Kiona, Lemberger 2014
Willamette Valley, Pinot Gris 2015
Aix, Rosé de Provence 2016
Marchigüe, Cabernet 2013
Inazío Irruzola, Getariako Txakolina Rosé 2015
Maso Canali, Pinot Grigio 2015
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Kirkland, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2016
Cantele, Salice Salentino Reserva 2013
Whispering Angel, Côtes de Provence Rosé 2013
Avissi, Prosecco
Cleto Charli, Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco, Vecchia Modena
Pique Poul, Rosé 2016
Edmunds St. John, Bone-Jolly Rosé 2016
Stoller, Pinot Noir Rosé 2016
Chehalem, Inox Chardonnay 2015
The Four Graces, Pinot Gris 2015
Gascón, Colosal Red 2013
Cardwell Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
L'Ecole No. 41, Merlot 2013
Della Terra, Anonymus
Willamette Valley, Dijon Clone Chardonnay 2013
Wraith, Cabernet, Eidolon Estate 2012
Januik, Red 2015
Tomassi, Valpolicella, Rafaél, 2014
Sharecropper's Pinot Noir 2013
Helix, Pomatia Red Blend 2013
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
Campo Viejo, Rioja Reserva 2011
Villa Antinori, Toscana 2013
Locations, Spanish Red Wine
Locations, Argentinian Red Wine
La Antigua Clásico, Rioja 2011
Shatter, Grenache, Maury 2012
Argyle, Vintage Brut 2011
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16 Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2014
Benton Hill, Pinot Gris 2015
Primarius, Pinot Gris 2015
Januik, Merlot 2013
Napa Cellars, Cabernet 2013
J. Bookwalter, Protagonist 2012
LAN, Rioja Edicion Limitada 2011
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Rutherford 2009
Denada Cellars, Cabernet, Maipo Valley 2014
Marchigüe, Cabernet, Colchagua Valley 2013
Oberon, Cabernet 2014
Hedges, Red Mountain 2012
Balboa, Rose of Grenache 2015
Ontañón, Rioja Reserva 2015
Three Horse Ranch, Pinot Gris 2014
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
Nelms Road, Merlot 2013
Chateau Ste. Michelle, Pinot Gris 2014
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2012
Conn Creek, Cabernet, Napa 2013
Villa Maria, Sauvignon Blanc 2015
G3, Cabernet 2013
Chateau Smith, Cabernet, Washington State 2014
Abacela, Vintner's Blend #16
Willamette Valley, Rose of Pinot Noir, Whole Clusters 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Ca' del Baio Barbaresco Valgrande 2012
Goodfellow, Reserve Pinot Gris, Clover 2014
Lugana, San Benedetto 2014
Wente, Cabernet, Charles Wetmore 2011
La Espera, Cabernet 2011
King Estate, Pinot Gris 2015
Adelsheim, Pinot Gris 2015
Trader Joe's, Pinot Gris, Willamette Valley 2015
La Vite Lucente, Toscana Red 2013
St. Francis, Cabernet, Sonoma 2013
Kendall-Jackson, Pinot Noir, California 2013
Beaulieu, Cabernet, Napa Valley 2013
Erath, Pinot Noir, Estate Selection 2012
Abbot's Table, Columbia Valley 2014
Intrinsic, Cabernet 2014
Oyster Bay, Pinot Noir 2010
Occhipinti, SP68 Bianco 2014
Layer Cake, Shiraz 2013
Desert Wind, Ruah 2011
WillaKenzie, Pinot Gris 2014
Abacela, Fiesta Tempranillo 2013
Des Amis, Rose 2014
Dunham, Trautina 2012
RoxyAnn, Claret 2012
Del Ri, Claret 2012
Stoppa, Emilia, Red 2004
Primarius, Pinot Noir 2013
Domaines Bunan, Bandol Rose 2015
Albero, Bobal Rose 2015
Deer Creek, Pinot Gris 2015
Beaulieu, Rutherford Cabernet 2013
Archery Summit, Vireton Pinot Gris 2014
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Oberon, Napa Cabernet 2013
Apaltagua, Envero Carmenere Gran Reserva 2013
Chateau des Arnauds, Cuvee des Capucins 2012
Nine Hats, Red 2013
Benziger, Cabernet, Sonoma 2012
Roxy Ann, Claret 2012
Januik, Merlot 2012
Conundrum, White 2013
St. Francis, Sonoma Cabernet 2012

The Occasional Book

Marc Maron - Waiting for the Punch
Phil Stanford - Rose City Vice
Kenneth R. Feinberg - What is Life Worth?
Kent Haruf - Our Souls at Night
Peter Carey - True History of the Kelly Gang
Suzanne Collins - The Hunger Games
Amy Stewart - Girl Waits With Gun
Philip Roth - The Plot Against America
Norm Macdonald - Based on a True Story
Christopher Buckley - Boomsday
Ryan Holiday - The Obstacle is the Way
Ruth Sepetys - Between Shades of Gray
Richard Adams - Watership Down
Claire Vaye Watkins - Gold Fame Citrus
Markus Zusak - I am the Messenger
Anthony Doerr - All the Light We Cannot See
James Joyce - Dubliners
Cheryl Strayed - Torch
William Golding - Lord of the Flies
Saul Bellow - Mister Sammler's Planet
Phil Stanford - White House Call Girl
John Kaplan & Jon R. Waltz - The Trial of Jack Ruby
Kent Haruf - Eventide
David Halberstam - Summer of '49
Norman Mailer - The Naked and the Dead
Maria Dermoȗt - The Ten Thousand Things
William Faulkner - As I Lay Dying
Markus Zusak - The Book Thief
Christopher Buckley - Thank You for Smoking
William Shakespeare - Othello
Joseph Conrad - Heart of Darkness
Bill Bryson - A Short History of Nearly Everything
Cheryl Strayed - Tiny Beautiful Things
Sara Varon - Bake Sale
Stephen King - 11/22/63
Paul Goldstein - Errors and Omissions
Mark Twain - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court
Steve Martin - Born Standing Up: A Comic's Life
Beverly Cleary - A Girl from Yamhill, a Memoir
Kent Haruf - Plainsong
Hope Larson - A Wrinkle in Time, the Graphic Novel
Rudyard Kipling - Kim
Peter Ames Carlin - Bruce
Fran Cannon Slayton - When the Whistle Blows
Neil Young - Waging Heavy Peace
Mark Bego - Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul (2012 ed.)
Jenny Lawson - Let's Pretend This Never Happened
J.D. Salinger - Franny and Zooey
Charles Dickens - A Christmas Carol
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Deborah Eisenberg - Transactions in a Foreign Currency
Kurt Vonnegut Jr. - Slaughterhouse Five
Kathryn Lance - Pandora's Genes
Cheryl Strayed - Wild
Fyodor Dostoyevsky - The Brothers Karamazov
Jack London - The House of Pride, and Other Tales of Hawaii
Jack Walker - The Extraordinary Rendition of Vincent Dellamaria
Colum McCann - Let the Great World Spin
Niccolò Machiavelli - The Prince
Harper Lee - To Kill a Mockingbird
Emma McLaughlin & Nicola Kraus - The Nanny Diaries
Brian Selznick - The Invention of Hugo Cabret
Sharon Creech - Walk Two Moons
Keith Richards - Life
F. Sionil Jose - Dusk
Natalie Babbitt - Tuck Everlasting
Justin Halpern - S#*t My Dad Says
Mark Herrmann - The Curmudgeon's Guide to Practicing Law
Barry Glassner - The Gospel of Food
Phil Stanford - The Peyton-Allan Files
Jesse Katz - The Opposite Field
Evelyn Waugh - Brideshead Revisited
J.K. Rowling - Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
David Sedaris - Holidays on Ice
Donald Miller - A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
Mitch Albom - Have a Little Faith
C.S. Lewis - The Magician's Nephew
F. Scott Fitzgerald - The Great Gatsby
William Shakespeare - A Midsummer Night's Dream
Ivan Doig - Bucking the Sun
Penda Diakité - I Lost My Tooth in Africa
Grace Lin - The Year of the Rat
Oscar Hijuelos - Mr. Ives' Christmas
Madeline L'Engle - A Wrinkle in Time
Steven Hart - The Last Three Miles
David Sedaris - Me Talk Pretty One Day
Karen Armstrong - The Spiral Staircase
Charles Larson - The Portland Murders
Adrian Wojnarowski - The Miracle of St. Anthony
William H. Colby - Long Goodbye
Steven D. Stark - Meet the Beatles
Phil Stanford - Portland Confidential
Rick Moody - Garden State
Jonathan Schwartz - All in Good Time
David Sedaris - Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim
Anthony Holden - Big Deal
Robert J. Spitzer - The Spirit of Leadership
James McManus - Positively Fifth Street
Jeff Noon - Vurt

Road Work

Miles run year to date: 5
At this date last year: 3
Total run in 2017: 113
In 2016: 155
In 2015: 271
In 2014: 401
In 2013: 257
In 2012: 129
In 2011: 113
In 2010: 125
In 2009: 67
In 2008: 28
In 2007: 113
In 2006: 100
In 2005: 149
In 2004: 204
In 2003: 269

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