hey everyone-- here is a plug for my cousin cortney and her blog that she just started. she and her boyfriend David are traveling to Japan in March for the famous cherry blossom viewing as well as just touring around. This will be amazing, she is a wonderful writer. she plans to keep the blog going long after the trip so for sure check her out for interesting travel and life tidbits. Cort lives in Hawaii, which in itself is blog worthy! I am so glad she is doing this! The link is to the right in the "other sites we like" column. the pic is of cort and I on our road trip to Sun Valley via the Sawtooth Mountains a few years ago.

Its COLD here! With the windchill its below 0! Tom is flying back tonight from a quick 2 day meeting on the West Coast.
Tomorrow--- I am SO excited---my cousin Malea from Seattle is coming to visit (some of you may be wondering "how many cousins does she have already??". Well--a lot.) and is staying until Monday. I am taking a couple days off from work and we are going to do the normal things I do when friends come to visit including play tourist in the city, go to a show, try and spy movie stars, purse shopping in china town and just taking in ALL that we can!! I will update the blog of course with our wacky adventures and associated pictures!

dog play

On Friday we had our biggest snowfall of the year in the NE! We got around 8". Attached is a short video with the dogs frolicking about. Enjoy!

the hampton's

happy Presidents day! hopefully everyone is looking forward to the elections in Nov. Its quite a conversation topic out here in the East and I love it!

Today Tom, the dogs and I decided to drive to the Hamptons to see what thats all about.
Because we were there just for the day, we only hit East Hampton and drove to pretty much the end of Long Island (where the "Hampton's" are). We saw beautiful, large homes and the beach was gorgeous. The waves were quite big today as a storm was on its way in (it hit tonight actually).

Its about a 3 hour drive from our place, but it was a nice one. Traveling through NY is always good--always something to see. We drove thru the Bronx and Queens in route to our destination.
East Hampton is nice. Pretty swanky, but since it is still the off season, the crowds were small. Some of the shops and most hotels are closed until mid April, but there were plenty of things to do and see. The dogs loved it and per usual, they became a reason for strangers to greet us on the street and discuss everything from the Westminster Dog Show to a doctor in the Hampton's that has created a practice solely for dachshunds and offers acupuncture for them (only in the Hampton's...).

We had a wonderful time and our weekend was very full! It got to 68 here in NJ today and it felt like spring (or summer in Seattle. haha). All the snow melted and we are seeing buds on the trees. We are supposed to get snow on Wed though... crazy weather!

asbury park

today tom and i headed to the shore. tom wanted to do some more work on the boat (install a new ice maker, some speakers, tons of projects that he loves to do)! These were pretty much one man jobs (which I was ok with-its cold out still and the marina is no exception) so I decided to play tourist and check out the shore a bit more intensely. As many of you may know ( i HOPE you know), Bruce Springsteen began his career in Asbury Park. He, being one of my all time fave artists and this city being so close to the marina, it was an ideal destination for me today!

Let me set it up a bit:
There are some areas (most I would say) of the Jersey Shore that are beautiful, but there are also some areas that have, potential; potential to become what they once were a few decades ago. The latter describes Asbury Park. From one angle you see can see huge homes, some along the water, that will amaze and from another angle quaint, tree lined main streets that make you feel like you are in a small town. However, Asbury, I have learned is not what it once was. The most kind way to describe this town is that it is in a remodel--one that it has been in for years. Giant unfishinshed hotels line the shore, condos promising shore living that have had their creation halted due to the mortgage crisis, boarded up homes and hotels littered with graffiti.
Granted, it is Winter and probably not the most beautiful time to visit the Shore: the sandy beaches and vast boardwalks lose some of the awe they hold in the warmer months and I am guessing in the summer sun, just like with most people, everything looks a little better with a tan. :-)
Anyway--I decided to hit some of the hotspots that are famous for Bruce.
As I drove to each destination I was shocked to find that I literally was the ONLY person on the streets (driving or walking). It felt odd. I realize its Sunday, but still--I saw one person signing his own version of Opera in a small corner park and a jogger--that was it.
My first stop was the Stone Pony. This is the most famous Bruce spot in the city as this is where he played most gigs and its noted as his favorite. Looking at some old pics of the place, it still pretty much looks the same now as it did back in the early 80's. I attached a pic. It resides across the street from the beach and in the early days, one could see ferris wheels, huge hotels and tons of people out each night. The view from the Stone Pony look drastically different today. Its sad.
My next stop was the Boardwalk. I cannot wait until the summer! The boardwalk is beauiful and its steps from the beach. It is the one place that hasn't changed over the years. In the summer it will be packed with people as it was in its hey day.
Check the pic.
Next, the Fast Lane. This club can boast that the best have played here, including: Bruce, U2, REM and... Bon Jovi! to name a few. The pics here show the Fast Lane today as well as an early pic I found on the Fast Lane site of Bruce and Jon Bon Jovi playing there.
After driving past the remnants of the Metropolitan Hotel (see vintage before pic and after) which is for sale currently, I decided to walk Main street. I found a great little off the wall coffee shop and spoke to a local about the towns music history and the impact its made on the world. We also discussed what has become of Asbury today and the promises from various city and state governement entities promising to make it again what it once was. I was encouraged to come back and visit in the summer when I will see for myself why the residents here want to belive these promises. As for Bruce, according to this guy, he still makes the rounds a few times each summer, stopping to say hello to many (he lives just a couple towns away).
(side note: I think this guy lost a bit of respect for me when I asked if Jon Bon Jovi ever came in... his answer was a flat "no").

After this full day I went back to the boat, marveled at how much Tom had gotten done there and we headed home. It was a great day and Asbury is now a destination on my "to visit" list that I can mark complete.

I have also added a link (below, copy and paste) to some current news on the status of bringing Asbury back to what it once was. Sadly, its not a very promising article.

spring fever

Tom and I for sure have the Spring fever thing going today! We cleaned all the carpets for the boat and wow----do they look great! Its a beautiful day here, 100% sun. It really seems like Spring is here---until we go outside and realize its only 32 degrees! We are just running errands today and Tom is enjoying being home-- no traveling at all next week!

I like to put in little factoids about this area as I come across them so everyone can get a better feel for our new home. With the economy in a near recession and mortgages a major issue, the rental market in NY/NJ is booming vs the purchase of a new home. There are some pockets of the city though where you can still get a deal for not too much cash and none better than Jersey City. Although not quite in the city, its just across the Hudson and Manhattan is literally minutes away. Some of my past posts I have blogged about this area--Tom and I love it. Anyway, if anyone is looking for an investment (or to possibly move out here (hint hint L) Jersey City has some screaming deals (300-500K for condos in new developments). Even with some of the deals, the rental market still seems more popular for city living and it seems that this is only the beginning.

Here are some facts I read today in the NY Times:
-New Jersey's population density of 1150 persons per square mile is the highest in the WORLD, even greater than Japan (850) and India (950). This of course intensifies the demand for homes, which leads to higher costs; currently, housing in NJ costs 53% above the national average.
-It’s estimated that 30K people per year make the move across the Hudson from Manhattan to find housing. As this continues to happen, the rental market may be all people can afford out here.

Since we are on the subject of real estate… every Saturday one of my favorite sections of the paper is Real Estate. I love reading about spaces in the city that are so coveted here, but in other parts of the country what is sold/or rented out as living space would be viewed as obscene, even more so when you see the cost associated.

Here is a good one that’s been on the market for 12 weeks.

An Upper East Side studio (nice neighborhood, Socialite status, within walking distance to Central Park and multiple museums) in a pre-war (read= old) co-op building (no doorman which is a drawback), southern exposure, h/w floors, renovated kitchen and bath.

Monthly maint fees in addition to the mortgage are $480.00
The cost: $300K.
Oh yeah, the size… 350 sq feet.

I have attached some new pics of the city. Even with its ridiculous pricing its a great place to be. :-)

nyu, cafe wha?, a frequent gig for bob dylan back in the day, rain in greenwich and frank preparing for tom's bday a couple weeks ago.

snowed in

Hey Everyone!! Its snowing here and its so beautiful! It started around 1 and shortly there after I headed home to finish the work day. With Tom in Conneticut, I didn't want to be stranded at work. I know what many of you are thinking... "you are in the NE, it always snows, people are used to it, blah blah"...
I too used to think that and while this area is superb at plowing and de-icing, the people here seem to get just as nervous driving as they do in Seattle. Anyway--so its still snowing and I love it! Although Frank and Ollie would love to play in the in it all day, they get pretty cold so we are hunkering down indoors where its warm, but moods get a bit testy (see pics).


Atlantic City

Hi everyone! Happy Saturday! Today we were greeted with snow falling and it was beautiful. It didn't last long though as it warmed up, but that was ok as we were on our way to the Atlantic City Boat Show. Its about 2 hours away from us and a nice drive. Maybe because it is winter, but what I saw of the city didn't impress me. It was how I expected it actually--like Reno but with taller buildings. Now granted, we didn't hang out there and just drove through the main areas by Trump Tower and Caesar's etc so perhaps I am not giving it a chance. The one thing that we saw briefly that I cannot wait to get back to is the boardwalk. It too is just how I imagined: Wonderful! The sandy beaches surround the wood planked boardwalk with the ocean on one side and store shops selling salt water taffy (among other things) on the other. I made Tom promise that we'd go back here the 1st warm weekend we have so we can lay on the beach and stroll the boardwalk. (It sounds like I am in California, not South Jersey). So I am guessing in April I will have a much more detailed entry on this location! Here is some history on the famous boardwalk: it was built in 1870 and was just 12 feet wide and only intended to keep the sand out of the hotels. Today, it's 40 feet wide and stretches for more than 4 miles and is a main attraction in the NE. Here is a pic of an artists rendition that I like.

The boat show was a feast for the eyes! We saw tons of things to stick on our "want" list. We are currently replacing some of the electronics (more of a want than a need and if you know Tom, that makes perfect sense), recovering the couches, etc.

We brought the dogs on this road trip today and they loved the car ride! Most of the time they sit in the back seat and nap or look out the windows---until they get just too cute and I bring them to the front seat to sit with us! :-)

Not too much else happening. Tom heads on a road show Tuesday for work visiting Connecticut, DC and a couple other spots. Aside from a trip to Seattle in late Feb, he hopes (as do I) that the traveling slows down. I am super busy at work but love my job so I don't mind too much. My cousin Malea is coming to visit later this month so I am taking a couple days off to show her the city and I cannot wait!!!

Have a good rest of the weekend! I hope everyone in Seattle went out and voted...

BIG weekend

We hope everyone is ready to cheer on the Giants as they attempt to make history tonight in what could be the biggest upset in Super Bowl history!! While we normally root for the Jets since moving out here, we are jumping on the Giant's bandwagon as frankly, its hard not to! Plus--the Jets didn't have the best season...

Yesterday we celebrated Tom's birthday (actually began the celebration Friday night with cake, presents, party hats, the whole nine yards) by spending some time on the boat and then heading into the city to see Grease on Broadway. It was a great show and we had pretty good seats! I don't think there is anyone who has NOT seen Grease the movie version so you can all relate to how infectious the songs are! (Sadly Grease II never compared to the fame of the original except for in Portland, OR in the early 80's where my sister, our friends Gina and Shannon and I LOVED it beyond words).

Here are a couple pics of the play!

Go Giants!
pics: greased lightning scene, summer nights (summer lovin') scene, grease II billboard (if you are curious...)

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