Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Weekend in Mount Laurel, NJ

"One must have a good memory to be able to keep the promises one makes.- Friedrich Nietzsche

September 14-16: Drove from Stoudt's in Pennsylvania all the way back to New Jersey again. Like I said, it's best to visit breweries during the work week, and relatives on the weekend.

My cousin Gail lives in Mount Laurel with her husband Tom and daughters Michelle (16) and Allison (11). The last time I visited them was in 1996 when Gail was pregnant with Allison. Gail's dad, my Uncle Fritz lives about two miles away.

In the photo at the top of this page, L to R: Teri, Fritz, Tom, Allison, Gail and Michelle.

Gail is a Real Estate Broker and Instructor at Long & Foster Real Estate in nearby Moorestown, and that's where she had me meet her. I followed her to her house and backed my rig up her driveway. Even did a decent job of backing up.

Gail grilled giant t-bone steaks for dinner and we enjoyed them with some craft brewed beers and sodas that I had picked up in Maine. Then I packed my overnight stuff and went to Fritz's house to stay with him for two nights.

The next day Uncle Fritz, known as "Popsie" to the girls, was kind enough to chaufeur us to the local Mount Laurel Fall Festival. It was smaller than I expected, with lots of booths staffed by local real estate and dentist's offices. Gail (photo left) was stationed at the Long & Foster booth handing out free helium balloons.

Allison ran off to join her friend Olivia on the kiddie rides. Do you know those rides where there are round twisty-cars that go around like a ferris wheel, but each of the cars spins and each car contains four people? Well, they didn't have that. Instead they had a single twisty car and four kids were spun in place. I wonder if the operator hand-cranked the ride or if it ran off a lawnmower engine? All the rides were tiny versions of standard County Fair rides. It was sort of comical, yet economical, as $5.oo bought a kid all the rides they could stomach.

More than bored with the booths and too big for the rides, Michelle and I went in search of food. Not as much choice as I'm used to on the west coast: No Thai noodles, burritos, enchaladas, or Indian curry. Just hotdogs, sausages, softserve ice cream, sno-cones, and hamburgers. The longest line had the most interesting food: Crab cake on hamburger bun and deep-fried oreo cookies. The oreo cookies tasted like greasy chocolate doughnuts. Now you know.

I played the usual games with Michelle, Allison and Olivia out of my game bin. I told Jon on the phone that when Olivia grows up she won't need to drink coffee. Both 11-year olds had more energy than ten adults, but especially Olivia. Then I tried to work on photos and my blog. Not easy among the chaos of Michelle and Allison and four of their friends.

Back at Popsie's place, Uncle Fritz (photo at left) and I attempted to wade through about 150 or more old black and white photos that his mother had left him ten years ago. I wrote names on about eight before we gave up and enjoyed some dark chocolate together.

Uncle Fritz lives alone. His wife, Gail's mom, has Altzheimers and lives with Gail's step-sister three hours drive away. I could feel Uncle Fritz's sadness. It's very hard when your beloved wife of 52 years no longer remembers who you are. All I could offer Uncle Fritz was a little company for a little while. I wish I could have offered something more. He was very sweet, and in addition to offering his whole day up to act as chauffer for us girls, he gifted me $100 toward my gas expenses. Thank you Uncle Fritz, XOX!

Back at Gail's house, I repacked my trailer and hooked it back up to the van. After we had our fried chicken and watermellon lunch, we said our good-byes. Gail asked if it's going to be another 11 years before we see each other. I said I hope not - you guys come and visit me in Oregon! Then I drove south toward Delaware.

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