I write a lot about New York and how much we love it there... and we do, but I realized that I also need to shed a little light and love on our own backyard: Jersey. Now I know most of you think of shootings and the mob and industrial smoky billowing factories when you hear "New Jersey" (I know I did prior to moving here), but I cannot stress enough how that is SO not the case with this state. Of course Newark is a lot like I have just described, but no one in their right mind spends time in Newark, so it almost doesn't even count.
This state is filled with tons of trees, gardens and a large amount of parks---so many I cannot believe actually.
My most recent tourist trip was to the Princeton area of the State, as in Princeton University--one of the eight Ivy League Universities in the US. Its about 40 miles to the south of us and a nice casual drive through what I can best describe as "the country" with horse pastures, barns and many other things you do not expect to see in Jersey.
As I approached the borough of Princeton I was easily impressed. The arching campus buildings with stain glass windows and gargoyles are gorgeous and in excellent condition for one of the oldest Universities in the nation.
I love college towns--and Princeton reminded me of the UW area, a town within a city.
I had flashbacks as I walked onto campus and felt a bit odd... First of all, i still get slow stomach grumblings when I get onto a college campus. I undoubtedly now will have another occurrence of my reoccurring dream about a paper being late or me missing a midterm. It always happens. However, the 80 degree weather, the blooming cherry trees and the beautiful architecture made those feelings vanish :-)
Tons of students were walking around campus, visiting or hurrying somewhere. I am sure its just my imagination, but some of the looks I got made me feel that it was obvious that I was a graduate of "just a state university" and I swear one guy looking especially smart was just waiting to quiz me on the square root of 745 divided by 7.3...
The pressure. State Universities do not prepare one for this. :-)
One street off campus is Nassau Street full of shops, bookstores, cafes and restaurants.
Two blocks from campus is the Princeton Cemetery erected in 1757. Being new to the East Coast these old dates still amaze me. I visited this cemetery mainly for its most famous "person"--- Grover Cleavland, former Pres of the US, but there are other notable souls buried here such as Aaron Burr (remember the dual with Alexander Hamilton) and the famous William H Hahn, which most of you may not know by name, but you may have heard of his tombstone inscription that is rather famous: 'I told you I was sick'.
It was a great visit and Tom was excited to hear all about it when I got home (and I know secretly happy that I didn't make him come with). :-)
Enjoy the pics of the campus and such.
Have I mentioned how much we love living here??? My Seattle friends are all close to not speaking to me as we share weather reports each day. As I leave work each afternoon I am practically changing into shorts and flip flops as I walk to my car. My friends... they are grabbing the umbrella and scarves. Sucks to be them! :-) I paid my dues! I can speak freely on this!!
Seriously though, its great here. This is the most wonderful Spring we have had in a long time. It got to 79 today at the house and tomorrow is supposed to be even warmer! Last year at this time, NYC had a record 8" of rain, in one day--so these warm temps are absolutley above average.
Tom was in Boston today and is on his way home now. Only a couple weeks until we launch the boat in the water... and oh yea, we changed the name. It was going to be Seattle Reign... but then we realized that that was a basketball team name in a defunct league that Seattle once had so we didn't want anyone to think we named the boat after that. After weeks of firing off different names (some pretty good I have to say) Tom came up with the winner. He wanted to name it after me in some way (so sweet) and he came up with DiNamic. Part Di and Di means 2 (tom and me) and Dynamic has just a great definition (look it up)!!
One last tidbit: When we were in Aruba we took a little video of some kite surfing at Baby Beach---the southern point of Aruba. The video is a bit jumpy at times (it was really windy there) but its interesting to see the kite rush hour going on. Be sure to watch close at the beginning for a major wipe-out. I added some music to it only because music makes everything a little bit better. Enjoy!
*music is by the band The Shins with an closing instrumental by the Beastie Boys.
we made it back and overall that trip gets a 10 out of 10! We have nothing to complain about. From the flights, the weather, the food, the hotel, the diving, the prices---Aruba is absolutely the gem of the Caribbean. The more people we mention it too, the more people agree.
Our last full day there (Saturday) we drove around the island after doing a little shopping downtown. We drove to both ends of the island and the views are incredible. Saw some great kite surfers (and some great kite surfer wipe outs). We ate at some great places while there, but none better than on Saturday night at the Flying Fishbone. Most of the tables in this restaurant are in the sand right up against the water. The ocean there is calm, no real waves. We were literally 1' from the ocean. Our feet (barefoot of course) were actually getting wet now and again. We got some pics, but you can't really see much of the ocean in them or how close we were to it. In person though-- it was a beautiful night and the beach was lit by some underwater lights as well as the moon. We saw little crabs crawling near us and fish in the water. The food was wonderful as well, but the atmosphere is what made it THE nicest setting ever.
Now we are home and it was such a treat to come back to sunny weather. It is supposed to be in the mid 60's to mid 70's and sunny all week! Yay!
I am attaching a few more pics from our trip. If you get a chance, go to Aruba!
*pics: kite surfers at baby beach, our hotel, tom and I at sunset, tom at our fave beach bar, Di being serenaded by the sax man at Flying Fishbone, Di noting the miles home and our fave beach shot.
Today we went diving! Aruba isn't necessarily known as a heavy hitting dive spot--but of course it is a draw for many divers still. Like us, diving is important, but perfect temps and a relaxing environment are up there too. In fact-- thinking back on our recent tropical vacations, this trip has been one, if not the nicest as far as weather goes. Aruba, in just 2 days, has become a place that we will be recommending to everyone--and we can see ourselves coming back here again for sure.
The 1st dive today was great. We headed out on the boat this morning with about 16 other people and 2 dive masters. We rented our gear vs bringing our own since our only diving was to be today. It was a pretty shallow dive at about 50 feet, but so amazing. We saw fish and eels and a pretty big turtle, all who made their home in the sunken ship that was the dive destination. The Antilla was a German freighter during World War II that found itself parked in Arubaian waters at the same time that Germany invaded Holland. Holland instructed Aruba to take command of any vessels in "their" water. Instead of handing over the ship--- the German captain asked for 24 hours to remove personal effects from the boat before giving it up. The Aruba authorities obliged. But what the captain did was cleared the boat of the crew and set the engine room on fire that caused a massive explosion sinking the ship. That was the ship (in large chunks) that we explored today. We penetrated the remains a bit, but not too much... in a way it was a little creepy. I kept waiitng to see dishes and forks like from the Titanic movie.
The second dive was at a plane crash site--2 planes actally. Much of the shells of these old Cesnas had drifted into deeper waters, but the engines, props and some doors etc remained. It wasn't super exciting, not much fish on this dive and I got cold... but it was neat to see.
After diving and lunch, we headed into the city and walked some back roads. Aruba is amazing to us---its so organized, safe, friendly---the Dutch know how to rule! We got some souvineers and postcards and looked at some of the jewelry stores. No cruise ships in town today so that was very nice.
We had a fab dinner at a very popular place here--Madame Jeanette's-- and enjoyed sitting outside at 9pm (it was 90 today)!
We are really loving it here-- the license plate says it all. What a great island motto.
The other pics are of the downtown area.
we pretty much hung on the beach all day and it was great. At home, we don't do well at doing "nothing" so having a day to do so here was a treat. It was warm again---about 88-- and perfectly sunny. short entry tonight because we are tired---its a workout lounging around all day. Plus we are diving tomorrow early so its an early night.
Here are some pics. Me on a floatie= paradise; tom and i at our favorite hangout on the beach watching the sunset.
wow. this is the life. 89 degrees, but a very steady breeze, so just when you start feeling a bit warm, you suddenly are cool.
The beaches are white sand and some of the cleanest we have seen. We must have walked a mile 1/2 on the beach this afternoon after arriving here in Aruba. We are staying in the Palm Beach area. The view from our deck looking out into the Caribbean Sea, the hotel pool 10 stories below under a canapy of palm trees and a live steel drum band seranading us is a beautiful thing. Have you ever heard Land Down Under by Men at Work done by an Aruba Steel Drum band? Its awesome. It beats the few renditions we have heard of Kokomo (you know, from that Tom Cruise movie (pre-crazy), Cocktail?) But even that sounds good.
Here is some history on Aruba. It is a country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands, just as Belize is a commonwealth of GB.
The State of the Netherlands, the State of the Netherlands Antilles, and the State of Aruba form a Commonwealth. They all share Dutch citizenship and the Dutch passport.
Dutch and a local dialect are the national languages, but we have heard Spanish and of course English so far which no doubt has been adopted for the massive amounts of tourists. However, right now-- the island doesn't seem crowded. Aruba of course falls victim to the cruise ships and the millions of people that visit each day and depart each evening. Luckily, Palm Beach is a distance from the Cruise area which saves us from the tacky souvenir shops and the annoying, not at all persuasive offers from street salesmen to take you fishing, or boating, or diving or hiking or whatever else you may want to do on the Island, but in the way where you feel like you never left the cruise ship.
We'll hit this part of town for sure to check it out-- i am a sucker to an extent for souvenir--but we'll wait until the ships have departed.
The weather is fabulous as I described above. Supposed to be this way for the rest of the week. We aren't sure what is on the agenda for tomorrow yet (I am the activity director for us tomorrow, Tom has Friday and he has already lined up diving at two local ship wrecks and possibly a plane wreck) but I do know it will involve the pool, the ocean, two floaties and some cool drinks.
Here are some pics from today: view from deck, palms at night and a friend.
Here is an interesting fact that was a surprise to us-- we are currently only 17 miles north of Venezuela.
... until we are lounging by the pool in Aruba! We are very much looking forward to this long weekend especially since neither of us have been to Aruba before. Tom took the entire week off and was at the boat for 12 hours today and tomorrow will most likely do the same. It is pretty much ready for the water now--save for a good spring cleaning on the inside (my job when we get back). The dogs are headed to the doggy spa while we are gone and it just kills us to send them there. Its a great place, but they don't seem to like it too much. We need to make some friends around here that love to babysit cute little dogs.
Spring in NJ has been so far so good for us. Some days its very warm and sunny, but other days cloudy and not so warm. We are below the average in temps which I hope will change soon. I saw them cleaning the pool today so that was a positive sign that summer is on the way--but honestly the winter wasn't that bad.
We will post some while in Aruba and of course look for pics.
Here are some to tempt you (and us).
today it got to 69 degrees and we are so loving it! heck, in Seattle that's a heat wave (ha ha, just kidding Seattle friends, kinda). :-)
it felt so nice to walk outside and not need a jacket, or socks for that matter! Tomorrow though its supposed to be back to 50 and the change that's going on with the weather has produced a very startling thunderstorm tonight! the dogs are wondering what in the heck is going on? The house is brightening up like daylight from the bolts of lightening every few minutes and the rain and thunder just make it too much for them to handle sitting down!
Things are good with us. Haven't written in a bit since we haven't really done anything blog worthy! Oh wait--we did get the boat even more ready for a water launch! we re-did the walls and re-covered all window valances (looks great) in the bedrooms and main cabin area. We got all new bedding and its been so fun getting everything set up in our "mini-house".
This weekend we will install all the valances etc and do a bit more work to get it ready for the water.
Still in the wedding planning mode and if I didn't mention it, it is so FUN! But I think I did mention that. :-)
Short entry today--just to say hi. Thanks everyone for reading and we can't wait for all of you planning to visit this summer!
Just for fun, here are some cute pics of the dogs. Frank the crazy driver and Ollie's cute face.