Forgive me, New Jersey, for I have traveled.

It’s not likely that I will ever pass up the opportunity to travel, unless, of course, the opportunity arises during the school year when I can’t take off from work, or if the adventure is priced just too far out of my budget.  I was bitten by the travel bug a few years ago, and the need to travel still strongly courses through my veins.  So under all other circumstances, I am happy to pack a bag (or two or three) and go.

I know there are plenty of places to see and travel to here in NJ, but since my September-through-June schedule doesn’t usually permit me the opportunity to go very far, I took advantage of the time I had this summer to travel – a little further than my home state.

It was my intention to blog from vacation this summer.  But as with any good intention, sometimes things don’t quite work out.  We can blame my glitchy technology, procrastination, or perfectionism, but it is probably a combination of the three that prevented me from sharing my non-NJ adventures with you this summer.

I’m home now.  And back in front of my reliable computer.  Photographs have been downloaded (mostly) and sorted through (somewhat) and blogging can, once again, resume as intended (hooray).

Pittsburgh, PA and Chicago, IL

Standing on the 103rd floor of Chicago's Willis Tower...1300+ feet above the street...on glass. OMG.

The first part of the summer travel brought me west a bit to Chicago via Pittsburgh.  I was able to blog a little from my phone some of the cool things that I saw during these trips.  It’s funny that most people (even the ones who know me well???) ask if I saw any games.  Nope.  No sports games were seen in either of these cities.  The closest I came was touring an empty Wrigley Field.  It was close enough for me. 🙂

Stroudsburgh, PA

My handsome tour guide in Stroudsburgh, PA.

Dear friends of mine (from New Jersey) now live in Stroudsburgh, PA –  in the Pocanos.  The fact that my friends live there is reason enough for me to jump in the car and drive nearly two hours for a visit.  But, the added bonus of great shopping helped to turn a visit into a mini-vacation for me.  It was there that I began my back-to-school shopping.  I found great deals at the outlets in the area and “window” shopped in some of the sprawling antique stores.  Also, I added a few pieces of furniture, beautifully made by the Amish, to my wish list.  Perhaps something to pick up on my next visit out there…

Corolla, NC 

Beautiful sunrise in North Carolina.

Ah, the Outer Banks.  Or, now that I’ve actually been there – the OBX.  (I even picked up one of the official OBX stickers for myself.)  The three level beach homes with wrap-around porches adorned with rockers and hammocks always seemed like an ideal vacation spot to me, and it proved to be just that.  There, I read and sat on the beach and read some more.  It was a great way to end the summer of traveling and feel refreshed for a new school year to begin.

As much fun as I had exploring other states this summer, I still have to say, there is no place like home.

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

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On the Road – in Pittsburgh

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The incline.

This is the first time I’m trying to write a post from my phone. (Just figured fair warning might be in order!)

Pittsburgh during the day.

I left NJ (forgive me) with three other Jersey girls yesterday morning and headed west. We had talked about driving out to California, but settled on Chicago, IL as our destination instead.

We arrived in Pittsburgh, PA in the afternoon yesterday. It was a nice (but long) drive through mountain tunnels and long expanses of highway. The farmland was breathtaking. I drove, so I don’t have photos of anything we saw along the way.

Pittsburgh at night.

I’m not sure if I can actually post photos from my phone, but I do have a few that I’d like to share from our Incline adventure. The inclines were built (in the 1870s or so) to help people working in the city get back up to their homes at the top of the “hill.”  They take you up 800 feet and give you an amazing view of the city below.

Let’s hope this works. Please forgive any typos (all autocorrect’s fault, I’m sure) or weird formatting. I’ll check the post myself as soon as I get to a proper computer.

Getting back on the road toward Chicago today…

-Melissa
The Jersey Girl

Picture Perfect: Good Morning, Sunshine

Whenever I’m traveling, having a moment or two by myself to soak in everything around me is especially appreciated and quite honestly, can make up some of the most memorable moments of a trip.  These are the moments when I get to take out my journal and reflect on where I’ve been, what I’ve seen, and who I’ve met.  These are the moments when I get to take out my camera and capture where I really am when I travel.

"Good Morning, Sunshine" The sun rises in Central NJ.

While in New Jersey, I try to do the same things.  Here is a photo I took the other morning (with my new Samsung Fascinate) just before work, when mine was one of a few cars in the parking lot, the sun was still coming up, and the whole day lay brightly ahead…

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

Happy Birthday, Jersey Girl!

One year ago today (in Florence, Italy – of all places!) The Jersey Girl site was launched!

Though there have been some obstacles along this journey, I have really enjoyed working on the site and consider the first year to be a success.  (And what are obstacles anyway, if they aren’t reminders of just how badly you want to get where you’re going?)

As I hoped, I’ve learned new things about my home state, met new people, tried new foods, saw new sites, and have been able to share these things here.  Hundreds of people (from NJ, the US, and the world) now follow The Jersey Girl through email subscriptions, facebook, and twitter.

I came across this hat while shopping at a flea market in the mountains of Italy last summer...right after I decided to launch the blog.

To take a look back at some of this year’s adventures, visit the Jersey Girl List.

I’m looking forward to more exciting New Jersey travels and sharing another year with you!

Stay tuned for upcoming stories about the Sandy Hook Lighthouse, Langosta Lounge, and Don Guerrazzi.

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

Some (Don’t) Like it Hot ~ Support your local library!

Lately in New Jersey, it’s been hot.  Or humid.  Or hot and humid.

I can tell it’s hot because I typically resist turning on my air conditioner for as long as I possibly can, and it’s definitely been cranking this week.  Temperatures have been up around 110 degrees.  Humidity up around 90%.   To intensify matters, we haven’t gotten any rain in a while and the weather forecast is only predicting a few scattered thunderstorms this Saturday and a couple into next week.  Not too much relief there!

Many people choose to stay indoors to escape the heat, but that doesn’t mean you have to stay home to do so!

I’m pretty sure that wherever you live in New Jersey, your local library has air conditioning.  And you know what?  They have lots of other things there too. Like books.  Crazy, I know!  Books, magazines, computers, and other people with whom you can have conversations.

The East Brunswick, NJ library now even has a cafe!

But, as with all good things, be careful if you think this is something you can take for granted.  Here in New Jersey, budget cuts are threatening to dramatically impact our libraries.  So, get out there, New Jerseyans, and visit your local library soon.

If you like what you see and want to make sure it stays around for a while (even if for no other reason than as a reprieve from scorching summer heat and humidity), ask the librarian about what you can do to help support our New Jersey libraries.

Happy Reading!

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

Picture Perfect: Sunset Sundays

A few months ago (a little while after The Jersey Girl site was up and running), I came across a really fun blog called Stay Adventurous, written by Craig Zabransky.  Zabransky broke into the travel writing scene back in 2005 and then made travel writing his full-time work in 2009.  He started the blog as a place to publish pieces that he didn’t print in other publications and to share some of his personal experiences – experiences gained from traveling over 40 states and 30 countries.  (And I’m sure those numbers will grow soon!)

A favorite feature of mine on the Stay Adventurous blog is what Zabransky calls Sunset Sunday.  His photographs of sunsets from around the world are peaceful and hypnotic.   Because I subscribe to his blog, I usually receive a notification email on Sundays – just as I am wrapping up my weekend; a beautiful sunset is a great opportunity to reflect while making the transition from the weekend back into the week.  Each photograph is an opportunity for a mini-vacation!

When asked why he began the Sunset Sunday feature, Zabransky says, “It seems that everyone can enjoy a sunset, and everyone can recall certain sunsets from a childhood or even that dream vacation. I have many. And as I travel, I always take a pause at sunset. It slows, seduces, and surprises.  Plus, I always thought it is the best and most beautiful time of the day. Perfect light. And a time filled with positive memories, a time we should focus on (that love, that positivity). With my blog I can promote that each and every week.”

Inspired by Zabransky, I plan to feature beautiful New Jersey photographs (including plenty of sunsets) taken by a variety of talented photographers.  Next Sunday will be our first.

In the mean time, take a few minutes to visit the Stay Adventurous site and travel through some of Zabransky’s inspiring sunsets for yourself.

One of my favorite Sunset Sunday photos by Craig Zabransky. His original caption for this photo reads "typical sunset in the (upper) Florida Keys"

Enjoy.

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl

Sunset Sunday Links:
Stay Adventurous
Zabransky’s first Sunset Sunday post
Stay Adventurous on Twitter

Introducing The Jersey Girl List

Introducing The Jersey Girl List!

The Jersey Girl List is meant to be an easy-to-use resource for all of the posts on this site as well as other awesome sites I have found and want to share with you.  The Jersey Girl List is updated nearly every day, so visit often to see new updates.

There’s a strong movement out there right now to promote the best of New Jersey and defend against stereotypes, and this site will continue to do whatever possible to support that cause.  As always, please send me an email or post a comment on the site if you have something you want to check out.

THANK YOU TO ALL WHO HAVE SENT SUGGESTIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS SO FAR.  YOUR SUGGESTIONS ARE GREAT!  🙂

~Melissa
The Jersey Girl