Saturday, June 9, 2001

2001—Grand Cayman, June 2-9

I had a week banked with RCI that was about to expire. So I called and said I wanted a week in the Caribbean, on the beach, for the week of June 2-9, 2001. They had 2 choices---one in Tortola (I think) and the other at the Morritt's Tortuga Club in Grand Cayman. I mainly chose the Morritt's because I thought it would be easier to get to. This was another trip with just my son Tim, his future wife Faith, my daughter Angie, and myself.
We flew USAirways to Charlotte, then on to Georgetown, Grand Cayman. We left St. Louis about 8:30am and arrived in the Caymans about 1:30pm---not bad.
Along our way we even flew over CUba.

Soon after that we had Grand Cayman in view.

Again we cleared customs quickly and were on our way.

I had rented a mid-sized car (a very used Tercel). I was a bit concerned when I first saw it, but it managed to make it through the week---barely. I was also concerned about driving on the "wrong" side of the street. It really seemed weird having cars come at you on the right side of the road instead of the left, but we made it through that, too!

Our first stop was at the grocery store in Georgetown. Our resort was on the other side of the island (about 25 miles away) and I wasn't sure there would be a grocery store nearby. Other than the milk being $7/gallon, prices didn't seem too bad.
When we checked in, I asked if we had a beachfront room, he checked, made a change in his book, and said, "you do now". The location of our room was great! We were on the ground level, but our livingroom opened up onto a gorgeous beach. We were also near the club house and deck where all the entertainment took place.

the lobby
 the pool
Our unit as seen from the beach---bottom level 2nd from the left.
our condo from beach
It wasn't the fanciest place, but it was clean and sufficient. There was no dishwasher or washer/drier, but we didn't miss them too much.

livingroom with sofa sleeper.
small tv in livingroom

Our unit opened up onto the beach just steps from the water.  We loved the views and being so close to everything!
The bar b q hut
 our bar b q lunch
 tree outside our unit
 Tim and Faith enjoying a hammock
 the dock --- just to the right of our room.
pier through palms
Even the snorkeling there was pretty good. Saw BIG fish under the dock---tarpin, I think , and some giant snook later. Dinner the first night was chicken stir fry cooked up in the condo. Angie worked out in the excercise room there for awhile, then she and i went to the bar for the nightly activities. That night it was 70's disco party-name that year.
Here she and I are enjoying the bar.

We spent much of Sunday exploring the other side of the island. We rode into Georgetown and on to Hell, stopping along the way to take lots of pictures.
This was taken before the town of Georgetown.

Saturday, April 7, 2001

2001 April New Jersey with Dad

2001 April New Jersey

Mom died on November 15th, 2000.  It was after that when my Dad and I started traveling together 2-4 times a year.  We had been close for a long time, but grew even closer with all the vacations he and I eventually took.

The first place he wanted to go to was New Jersey.  He was born and raised there and wanted to get back and visit relatives and his old stomping grounds.  So in April we both flew out to Newark (him from Oregon and me from St. Louis) and we started a 1 week vacation/visit trip.   We rented a car which I drove since I’m more familiar with city driving and we booked a room in Somerset Quality Inn.  I still had to teach him about the necessity of staying in resorts for vacations!  We immediately noted a few things:  directional signs don’t have N,S,E, or W on them, they list a nearby town (which doesn’t help if you don’t know the nearby towns); there are no left hand turns (ramps go off to the right then you have to wait at a light to cross); and it must be New Jersey law that when the light turns yellow, 7 cars must go through the light. 
First on the agenda was for DAd to reconnect with his Gadziala relatives in the area.  So on different days, we drove to each of their houses: his Aunt Anna’s (where cousin Dan and Trish were living at the time); cousin Mickey and Dottie’s'; cousin Tommy and DAna’s; and cousin Butch and Barb’s.  We had nice visits with all of them. 

Also high on the agenda was to visit the gravesites of his parents.  Even though his Mom had died in Oregon, she was flown back to New Jersey to be buried with Dad’s dad in a south Plainfield cemetery. 

We also took his Aunt to North Arlington cemetery where her parents (Dad’s grandparents) were buried.  (Lucasiks)
 Lukascik's grave

Dad also got a kick out of driving around Plainfield and Millington and checking out the places he lived in 70 years earlier.  I was rather surprised the 3 places were still standing and actually looked pretty good.  Although I didn’t take pictures of the apartment complex in Plainfield.  It didn’t look to be in the best of neighborhoods.
When they moved from Plainfield, the lived in an apartment in Millington for awhile. 

From there they moved onto Bungalow Terrace into this house.  The current owner even came home as we were looking at the place and chatted with Dad for quite awhile.

 There was a river in the back that he spent hours fishing and boating in.  This is the place he remembered the most fondly from his childhood.

Dad back in the 1930s
 As we were getting ready to leave, the owner of the bungalow drove up, so we chatted with him awhile.

He even marveled at how good his old grade school looked.

He  enjoyed seeing the old train station (Hoboken station) and reminisced about all the trips he took on it with his friends.  They used it pretty much like we use metros now.

We even had time for a little touristy stuff.  One day Trish took off work and took us down the coast to the boardwalk.  It was closed that time of year, but we still enjoyed wandering around.

 Of course I’m always anxious to go to the beach when I’m anywhere close to one.  I was impressed with how nice the New Jersey shore is.

 He always joked that there were treasures to be found everywhere.  Here he found a hat---not what I’d consider a treasure, but…

 Not sure what he was taking a picture of here, but I always enjoyed our little photography excursions.

Another day we went to Washington Crossing Historic Park on the other side of the state.  From this site, General George Washington and men of the Continental Army and militia crossed the Delaware River on Christmas night 1776 and marched to Trenton, New Jersey.  There they attacked and defeated Hessian troops quartered in and around the village.  This surprise attack and victory set the stage for Washington's subsequent victories at the Second Battle of Trenton and Princeton.  Now it consists of nationally recognized restored structures that would have completed an 18th century farm complex.  They also had period clad workers there explaining the way things were done back then. 
back of the inn
 boat barn
 river on property
 bringing the sheep in for sheering
  sheering the sheep
 cabin in the flower preserve
 the visitors' center
 corn bin
 how food was prepared in fireplaces in the old days
 historic house at Washington's Crossing
 house to the historic inn
 ice house
 Here some ladies were talking about the women’s work in the kitchen.
 During the winter of 1776-77, this home of Robert Thompson and his son-in-law William Neely was used to aid and care for convalescing soldiers who were healing from wounds  or suffering from diseases and camp illnesses.
 old inn at Washington's Crossing
necessity house
Also on the historic site is a 125 foot tower completed in 1931 to commemorate the American Revolution. The tower height is reached by elevator and 23 stone steps. This site is open seasonally.  Bowman's Hill observation tower
 climbing up the tower
  The tower has a fabulous view of the Delaware River and surrounding countryside.
 another historic house

Our final excursion was to Duke Farms.  It is a 2,700-acre estate in Hillsborough, New Jersey,  developed by tobacco and hydropower magnate James Buchanan Duke. By the time he died in 1925, he had transformed more than 2,000 acres of farmland into a park.  Much of the landscape he created between 1893 and 1925 is still evident today.  His daughter inherited the estate and opened the gardens to the public in 1964. 
Here is the greenhouse.

Overview of the italian gardens.

The english garden

The Japanese Garden

cactus garden

the grounds

It was a jam packed week and the start of many more jam packed vacations with my Dad.  He was a great travel companion.  We had so many similar interests: photography; hiking; sports; nightly cribbage games; even enjoyed a little shopping.  After this trip, I knew there would be many more.