The trip to New Jersey shortly after my sister married when I was 7 was the first big trip that I remember. I know we went to Chicago when I was 3 or 4 and I stayed with a former preacher while my family went to another wedding- I believe Sam and Virgina's daughter, but I was very young and don't recall the ride at all. Vaguely can see the church where this preacher was performing the wedding. I sat in the back with the preacher's wife.
I know we took trips to Niagara Falls, Canada plus taking my sister to Jumonville, PA for camp that I thought for sure we were going to Kentucky,because it was so long and I was told when you climb the hill to the big white cross, you're supposed to be able to see 3 states. I'm not sure, but when a person is 3, any ride can seem forever. Those trips were around 3 hours long or maybe longer, given traveling styles then.
When we took this trip to New Jersey, I-80 was not open, yet. The PA turnpike provided the route. How exciting- tunnels, another favorite of this small girl. I had my beige color monkey with movable limbs due to wires under the stuffing. His name was Toto from "Daktari," a TV show set in South Africa. He had sunglasses on and I was just tickled that he didn't take them off when we went through the tunnel.
This ride was an incredibly long ride for a 7 year-old. Now that I know where these areas are- I still think the turnpike is an incredibly long drive- I chuckle that I thought we should be done when we were just south of Pittsburgh. Oh, baby, long way to go.
My first trip to New Jersey was full of such new sites, such as a giant Dixie cup, a boat shaped restaurant, the Atlantic Ocean! My sister's in-laws had an in ground pool- I love to swim. My little eyes were opened causing knowledge expansion.
Gerri Lee was the first to leave the nest permanently. Even to my young mind, I knew marriage meant forever and I cried myself to sleep the night she married. Yet, her moving away was a gift and for 22 years, 2 apartments, 2 houses and a great daughter- my only niece for almost 9 years- I had numerous experiences spending summers in New Jersey, going into New York City and just living in a city for a few weeks. I had never heard of a deli before I flew out there alone when I was 10. I asked if we could get yellow delicious apples at the deli. Later in the evening, 3 year old Debbie, fighting sleep, decided to yell out from her crib, "Mommy, no orange apples!" Gerri Lee and I laughed so hard, I think it made Debbie mad.
We walked a lot, since driving is difficult in the city. My brother-in-law worked in NYC for 10 years. At least once, we commuted in with him to see "Mary Poppins" at Radio City Music Hall. Debbie became tired and just sat down while we were walking. My sister became very mad. I know she was scared!
The train was behind their house and Thom didn't have far to go to the station. But this is why we watched the Macy Parade on TV, even though we were only 13 miles from NYC. Again, as an adult, I can really understand this, but I always thought, we're so close, why can't we go in?
New Jersey expanded my horizons with the many trips we made there, the camping with my parents, sleeping on my sister's in-law's boat at Sea Side Heights, the boardwalk, playing stick ball in Bloomfield. I'm grateful for these experiences and so much more.