Tag Archives: Travel

Celebrating in NYC

When my friend Maria let it slip that she was talking to her daughters about going to New York with me for my birthday, I was touched and beside myself with excitement. Since moving to Jersey I had been wanting to go to the city. After not making it there to celebrate Christmas, I resolved to spend my birthday there even if I had to do it alone.
My initial plans were to ride the train and sightsee, but those plans changed when my friend joined the celebratory adventure, which also included another one of my good friends, Paula. I met both of these women in the writing group that meets at the Hamilton Library and they’ve become near and dear to my heart.

Once again I was unsure of what to wear. I’m still adjusting to dressing for East Coast weather. I’ve learned that layering is the best option.  How many layers do I wear so that my insides don’t shake without feeling like I’m in a personal sauna once the day starts to warm up?

Once I settled on four light layers on top and two layers on bottom, I left the house before sunrise. Once I met up with my friends, which also included Maria’s daughter Diana, we headed to the train station in Hamilton.

While I’ve ridden trains in Europe, I had never travelled on one domestically, so I was excited that we were taking the train. I even started jumping up and down like I do when I get excited about seeing or doing something new. Can’t help myself. Much to my delight, Maria told me that her birthday gift to me was that I could jump up and down as much as I wanted and she wouldn’t get embarrassed.
Best gift ever!


Our first destination after arriving at Penn Station was the TKTS booth in Times Square to purchase discounted tickets for a Broadway show. I had hoped to see my all-time favorite musical “Phantom of the Opera,” but I was the only one that wanted to see it, so I decided to save that for another time. We narrowed it down to the top three that we could all decide on and from that list I chose “Kinky Boots.”



Being in Times Square, we (I) had to take some pictures before we ventured out into the city. After snapping a few photos, we stopped at Starbucks to get a quick caffeine boost.


Maria picked out a coffee cup with NYC skyline on it for my birthday while we waited in line. It was the longest line I’ve ever stood in at a Starbucks, but it was in Times Square.


Once we ordered I realized I no longer had my debit card, so Paula graciously bought both of our green tea lattes.

I searched through my bag and pockets to no avail. I jokingly told Diana that maybe we should have gotten tickets for “The Play That Goes Wrong” instead since it seemed things were already going wrong. After a quick laugh, I cancelled the card and we returned to Starbucks.

I realized it was going to be too noisy to Facetime with my sister and nephews, so we ducked into the M&M store. My nephews were far more impressed with the massive amount of M&M’s that they could choose from than they were of the view of the city that I showed them from the second floor.


With an hour and half before needing to be at the show, Maria, Paula and I jumped into a cab so we could go see the 9/11 Memorial site and the “Fearless Girl” statue. It was the perfect place to Facetime my parents and nieces.


I didn’t see the 9/11 Memorial Site, “Reflecting Absence” the last time I had been in NYC for my 39th birthday with my sister. It was absolutely surreal. Water continuously flowed into what seemed like an abyss. It was evocative of senseless and endless loss and grief. We paid our respects and headed to see “Fearless Girl.”


Along the way we stumbled upon a studio full of sculptures! It was the Carole Feuerman Sculpture Studio. Such a pleasant surprise since we weren’t going to have to go to a museum. Her work was centered around swimmers in various poses. Some of it was in the form of larger than life sculptures, while other pieces were pop artesque images. Needless to say, I loved it!


After our detour to appreciate art, we found the “Fearless Girl” statue and “Charging Bull”. There was quite a crowd there posing and taking photos. We jumped in and did the same.


Our ride back to Times Square via taxi was far more scenic. Even saw the Brooklyn Bridge as we rushed back to see “Kinky Boots.”


I was so excited to be seeing my first Broadway show AND on my birthday! While it wasn’t my first choice, I loved it! We laughed harder than I’ve laughed in a long time and teared up at some poignant moments. It was funny, but touched the heart in an unexpected way. And the boots were absolutely fabulous!


As the day was winding down, we still needed to eat. Of course I was craving Mexican food like I always am. We found one place in Hell’s Kitchen, but it wasn’t open yet. While we waited, we stopped at Mickey Spillane’s to get a margarita and snacked on chips and guacamole.

It was worth the wait to get into Ponche Taqueria. We all ordered something different. I had their chicken enchiladas with tomatillo sauce with the Coronas that Paula and I were sharing.

The last destination I had planned for the day was to go to Serendipity to have cheesecake like my sister and I had done during our trip. Given the time and delays on the subway, we decided we should hop back on the train to Hamilton.



What a day y’all! I couldn’t have asked for a better way to celebrate my birthday than to spend the day in NYC with my friends!


 

 

Exploring Philadelphia: Love at First Sight

My first glimpse of Philadelphia was from an airplane as I flew into the airport this past April. Flying in to spend the weekend in Jersey. I was in awe of the massive sports complexes clustered together, the skyline, the naval shipyard… It was all pretty much a blur since I was seeing it so late at night and while in a moving vehicle. An unfamiliar place with unfamiliar sights, sounds and smells.

Unfortunately that weekend didn’t include any excursions to Philly, except for returning to the airport.  Little did I know then, Philadelphia would become a destination I would explore repeatedly and seemingly on a regular basis. While Philly is entrenched in American history, I’m also irresistibly drawn to its artistic side.

My 1st day excursion into Philly was a spur of the moment trip this summer. I had three objectives: see the Liberty Bell, the LOVE sculpture and eat a Philly Cheesesteak. Seeing the Liberty Bell was something I wanted to do for historical purposes and on a lighter, playful note, because Barney and Ted made a trip to lick the Liberty Bell in “How I Met Your Mother”, which is a series I loved watching.
And the LOVE sculpture, aside from being an iconic artistic piece for the City of Brotherly Love, it’s a piece that my baby sister and I have admired for years. During our trip to NYC for my 39th birthday, one of our stops was to see and pose with the LOVE sculpture there.
Of course there does not need to be a compelling reason for eating a Philly Cheesesteak. Tasting local food is all part of the experience.
Needless to say I didn’t accomplish anything that day other than what I considered a tourist hit and run. I had completely forgotten the DNC was being held in Philadelphia. Traffic and parking were more than I wanted to contend with. My exploration would have to wait for another day, which I would plan in advance. I settled for appreciating the city once again from a moving vehicle.
When I returned to Philly, I visited the Philadelphia Museum of Art, since admission was free on Sunday (and every first Sunday of the month). I spent most of afternoon there soaking in all of the art. It was such a thrill to find pieces by my favorite artists like Picasso, Dali and Van Gogh that I’d never seen in person before. It’s such a visceral experience that permeates my soul and floods my being with an inexplicable joy when I see certain pieces of art.


I felt intoxicated from the art when I finally stumbled outdoors. The cherry on the top of my artistic experience at the museum was seeing the AMOR sculpture by Robert Indiana outside in front of the fountain. While it wasn’t his LOVE sculpture, I was still smitten.


Running the Rocky Steps at the entrance was more than a rite of passage and another thing to cross off of my bucket list. It helped reorient me back to reality considering the physical exertion involved in running what seemed like a never-ending supply of concrete steps. Midway through I started thinking that it was not nearly as fun as I thought it was going to be to run the steps. I did not feel empowered or accomplished, that is, until I completed the last step. Then, I did throw my arms up in the air. I had to.


After devouring a Balboa burger I purchased from the food truck at the top of the steps, I made my way to the Rodin Museum. Even before I stepped foot on the grounds, I was anticipating what it would be like to see the replicas of the sculptures that I had read about so many years ago and continued to appreciate over the years. “The Kiss” and the “The Thinker” were foremost on my mind. I’m in awe of how much emotion can be captured and evoked by a single work of art, much less a large body of work. The collection was breathtaking. Everything I expected and more.


Since that first trip this summer, I’ve made several trips back at least once a month. The list of sights to see and experiences continues to grow every time I’m there. I finally made it to Love Park and posed with the LOVE sculpture. Twice. Once this summer and then again during Christmas.


I’ve also tasted my first Philly cheesesteak from one of the most famous vendors, Pat’s King of Steaks.  Although it seemed like a no-brainer that a cheesesteak would come with cheese, that is not the case.  When ordering, you have to specify “wit wiz” or “wiz witout,” which threw me for a loop at first.  Wouldn’t that just make it a steak sandwich without the cheese?  So I waited in the typically long line and ordered my sandwich and fries “wiz wit, along with a birch beer.

According to locals I still need to try the cheesesteak from the rival across the street, Geno’s Steaks, so that I can make a fully informed decision about who makes the best one.  As far I’m concerned, anything “wiz wit” is going to be good!


It was also during Christmas when I had the opportunity to see the Liberty Bell, which I did not try to lick. But I did think about it. I wanted to taste freedom like Barney did. Because it would be. Wait for it. Legendary y’all!

Exploring Gettysburg 

Visiting Gettysburg is not something I ever expected to do. I remember reading about it in school, but quite frankly, it never seemed real to me. Like a lot of other historical places that I’ve seen and visited since I moved to the east coast, it never felt tangible. Just words, stories and pictures… I never connected to history the way I did with English. Words are tangible. I can touch them on a page and directly connect to them; or I create them when I write.

The opportunity to visit Gettysburg came up when I was invited by my dear friend (and former EMS mentor) who serves as a family escort to attend the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Memorial Weekend in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Once the service ended on Sunday, we dropped off luggage, changed and headed to Gettysburg, which was only about 30 minutes away from where we were staying the night. Since my friend was driving, I googled the battlefield and tour information.

As we made our way into Gettysburg, I started to feel uneasy and a sense of eeriness enveloped me. I had the same visceral reaction that I had when I visited Pearl Harbor back in my 20’s. There was this unexpected aura and sorrow that lingered in the air the entire time we were there.

The first place we stopped had just sent out its last tour for the day, but suggested another place that did a sunset tour. We thought that would be perfect! We’d see the sunset on the battlefield that would surely offset the tragic events and loss of thousands of lives that had occurred on this land during the Civil War.

While we waited for the tour to begin, I couldn’t help but pose with the Abraham Lincoln statue that was outside of the building, along with a placard of his famous speech that he gave from Gettysburg.

Despite the cold, we decided to ride on the top of the double-decker tour bus so we’d have the best possible view.  This was my first experience on one of these buses.  Felt like any minute it could turn into something out of National Lampoon’s.  

We sat across the aisle from two members of the Atlanta Pipes & Drums who were also in town for the Memorial Weekend and conversed with them for a bit until we left the visitors center.
Can’t say enough about the tour guide, who presented a program that was insightful, interesting and provided comic relief at different intervals. As we drove along we roughly followed the progress of the 3 days of gruesome and treacherous battle that occurred July 1-3, 1863.

It was startling to see how many of the original buildings and homes that were still standing and being utilized. Our guide would periodically point out the holes in buildings that were from the battle. There has been a resurgence in efforts to preserve the history and reclaim the land of the battlefield.

Our “tour” ended when we stopped at the top of Little Round Top to gaze upon the vast battlefield as the sun was setting. Provided a beautiful and enchanting image of the landscape where so much life was lost that lingered in the memory long after we departed from Gettysburg.

Exploring Jersey: Long Beach Island

Life has gotten pretty busy since I’ve started to settle in to life up here in Jersey. Especially since I’m writing and trying to find a job.  But I did have the opportunity last Saturday to drive down the shore with one of my writer friends to Long Beach Island for paddle board yoga.
While I was over the moon about trying paddle board yoga, I had so many questions! How do you paddle board? What happens if I fall off? Will I be in deep water? What if the board drifts away before I get to it? Will I be able to get back on the board? What do I wear? Yoga pants? Bikini? What’s it like to practice yoga wet? Will I slip off of the board?
Despite some questions and reservations, I put on my bikini and made the hour drive with my friend. Once we arrived at the location I started feeling more nervous than excited. But I still wanted to do it.  
There was a group paddling in, so we had to wait for them before we could do anything. The light blue boards looked pretty big, had an anchor tied to them and had a special yoga mat top.  
After the instructor introduced herself, and gave us a brief demo on how to move on the board so that we were balanced and how to actually use he paddle, we headed to our meeting spot. I volunteered to go first. Sitting on my knees I started paddling. I was all over the place, but started to figure it out pretty quickly. The only adjustment I made was to sit on the board, because it put too much pressure on my knees to stay in the position. I would’ve stood up, but our instructor said it was pretty windy, and she wouldn’t recommend doing so since we were new.  
Paddling out took longer than I expected and made me wonder if I’d still have energy for an hour of yoga. It took several minutes for the others to paddle out, but the instructor swooped right in to where I was at. She hopped off of her board and connected us while she relocated me and put the anchor from my board down.  
Once we were all lined up, we started our practice in a seated position. We were instructed to close our eyes, which I reluctantly did one eyelid at a time. I thought she was crazy for asking us to do that. We were 100 feet from the shore, on a paddle board. I felt exposed and vulnerable. And scared. I had to force myself to trust that I would be fine and nothing would happen.  
As soon as I let go of that fear that something bad might happen like falling off of my board, or a bird pooping on me, it was liberating and peaceful. Feeling the heat of the sun and the wind on my skin as I heard it blowing, along with hearing the movement of the water around me was surreal. I felt like I was deeply connected with the world and not just the people I was practicing with. 
Standing up on the board was a little unnerving at first. We started with sun salutations. It couldn’t have been a more perfect setting.  
We went into familiar poses as well as a few new ones that I didn’t even know that I could do. It was exhilarating to accomplish these poses on a board that was sometimes wobbly from the water, wind and my own sometimes unstable balance. There was a few times I thought I might fall off, but I would slowly adjust or back off of a pose until I was stable again.  

  

I felt like it was a huge achievement that I made it through the entire hour without falling off of the board!   
Afterwards we sat on the beach at LBI, which had a different feel and look from the other places on the shore that I’ve gone to. But I still enjoyed it! Love the sand, sun and salt water!
Along the way we picked up some chocolate and marshmallow fudge at Country Kettle Fudge since I’d been told it was a must since I was going to LBI. They hand stirred it with large wooden spoons in these big barrels right there in the store! It was so good, that I ate every bite of it!
The last stop on LBI was the Barnegat Lighthouse, aka “Old Barney.” It was the first time I’d been to a lighthouse. My friend wasn’t interested in climbing to the top since she had already done it years ago. I was a little disappointed, but once I got up a few flights of stairs, I totally understood. And realized she was the smartest one of us both.  
My heart was beating so hard and was labored and loud. I started regretting my lack of running the past few weeks. My life flashed before my eyes a few times… I wondered why lighthouses don’t have elevators. That would be a great upgrade and much appreciated!
Hitting the halfway mark was by far the biggest relief and motivator! I looked forward to reaching the top of each section of yellow metal stairs, where there would be a sign that noted how many steps you’d climbed and how many left to go. There was also be signs sharing the history of the lighthouse that you could read while you caught your breath, which I thought was very considerate.  
At the top I took a moment (probably a full minute or two or more) to catch my breath. I was worn out!   
I stepped outside and was blown away by the view and the wind! I walked all the way around taking it all in and taking pictures. I lingered a bit because it was breathtaking and I also wasn’t quite ready to go down those 217 stairs!  
Didn’t have trouble sleeping that night!

Exploring New York

As we drove north through Jersey en route to upstate New York, I started to see the urban industrial side of the state. Quite a contrast to the softer side of Jersey that I’ve been exposed to so far with the beaches and the country side that is almost an emerald green color and very plush.  
Crossing the NJ/NY state line was a first for me. We got on a stretch of highway called the New York State Thruway (which made me wonder why they didn’t just spell it out, perhaps it was a budget thing). Along the way we passed through the exit for Woodstock! Yes, that Woodstock! Peace, love & rock-n-roll! Made me want to throw up a peace sign. Thought that would be silly, so I checked in on FB and used the ✌️emoticon instead.  

Saw the Albany skyline as well! And passed over the Eerie Canal as we drove over the Thaddeus Kosciusko Bridge, which please don’t ask me to pronounce because I would have no clue how to say the last name that starts with a “K”.   
After about 4 hours of driving we made it to a mountainous region called the Adirondacks, which is yet another word I struggle with to pronounce for some reason, the same way I struggle with pronouncing the word “rural”. And I grew up in a rural area! I referred to it as the country just so I wouldn’t have to say the “r”

word.  
I may have oohed and awed more than I’d like to admit driving through the mountains. And I’m pretty sure I used “wow” countless times the entire weekend! 
But what caught my eye immediately as we approached it was the brightest blue (almost a cobalt blue) body of water I’ve ever seen, with the exception of the Mediterranean Sea. It was breathtaking and serene at the same time. It was a portion of the 32-mile long Lake George and it was intoxicating!
Of course we had to pull off to take a few pictures!
Once we arrived and settled into our room in Ticonderoga, we drove around to explore the town. Drove out to see Fort Ticonderoga, which was closed.  
As we drove back to our room, saw a waterfall nestled downhill in the Municipal Park that fed into the short La Chute River. Had to stop and walk around, climb up the rocks and explore the park, which also had a small monument honoring French explorer, Samuel de Champlain, who joined with the natives to fight the Battle of Ticonderoga 
The next morning, got up to take a trail ride through the mountains on horseback. Halfway there, got a flat tire. In the mountains! I’ve learned that’s a terribly inconvenient place for that to happen. No shoulder to pull off on and the area we were in had nothing but Private Roads, which is where we pulled off.    
I had a little experience changing a tire. Started to get to work and Lo and behold, the property owners pulled up. And we were blocking the driveway. I had already pulled out all of the tools and in the process of getting the spare off of the back. Fortunately the dad, his 2 college age sons & their friend were willing to lend a hand or hands in this case. Grateful they offered to help and were incredibly friendly and chatty while they worked.
Only took an extra hour to get to the stables, which I was hoping wouldn’t make us have to wait too long to ride. Luckily it didn’t. I was a little nervous. Haven’t rode a horse in about 20 years. So the young female guide gave me a horse for beginners and told me to step in the stirrup & throw my leg over like I would a bicycle (and I thought a really, really wide and hairy bicycle).  
The hour long trail ride wasn’t quite as scenic as the website led us to believe, but it was peaceful and quiet, except for the lady behind me that kept verbally scolding her horse for stopping and trying to plants and trees constantly.  
There was a few times that my horse slipped on rocks and gave me a queasy feeling. I pictured he horse collapsing like a one of those vintage, wooden collapsible horse toys that I had played with as a kid doll me scrambling to fall in a way that I wouldn’t get hurt. Started to wonder why horse shoes didn’t have rubber traction on them like tennis shoes. But I don’t know much about horse shoes or horses, so maybe that was normal.   
Once we took a touristy pic on the horse, dismounted and headed to Hague for a late lunch. Had wanted to do a little shopping for a souvenir there too, but discovered they only had two shops. And they were out of my price range, but I did buy 2 postcards to send to my nephews.  
After a few hours of rest, went to dinner at a local BBQ place in Ticonderoga. Disappointed in how slow the service was, but enjoyed the deli-thin slices of brisket. Had a nice flavor.  
Sunday we decided to head to Vermont, which I wrote about in a previous post.
Upon returning to Ticonderoga, we didn’t have time to tour the fort. Instead we checked out the Ticonderoga Fire Hall

of Flame Museum. It has quite an impressive collection, including a firetruck in the midst of a large room full of records, (including a ledger from the 1800’s), photographs, equipment & #gear that the volunteer firefighters there have worn over the years! ❤️🚒
Our last stop was Mount Defiance. Oh my goodness! What a view! You can see Vermont, Lake Champlain and Fort Ticonderoga, which must have been having a reenactment, because you could hear cannons being fired and see smoke.  
After climbing around the top of mountain and soaking it all in, we started making our way back to Jersey! 
 3 states in 3 days!   Whew!   What a weekend y’all! 

Exploring and Tasting Vermont


Since we were in upstate New York for the weekend (which I’ll write about exploring in a separate post), decided to spend Sunday morning exploring Vermont since I had never been there. Couldn’t help but take the opportunity to cross off another one of the 50 states in my travel bucket list!
And I was really wanting to taste some local maple syrup, since I had heard that’s what they’re known for.  
From Ticonderoga we had to take a short ferry ride across Lake Champlain, which according to folklore has a monster in it named Champ or Champy (guess that’s what his folklore friends call him). No, we did not see him, although I did look around. You just never know.  
We exited the ferry, which, by the way, this was my first time to drive a vehicle on a ferry.  Woohoo!   I’m usually a passenger on ferry rides. Took about a 20 minute drive through the country side that looked mostly like farmland with old buildings scattered about. I did notice that it was not as vibrant of a green as it was in New York. The landscape seemed like a watered down version, but still pretty.
Stopped at a small restaurant on the side of the road called the Halfway House for breakfast and I couldn’t help but think that maybe they employed people that were transitioning from being incarcerated. We were greeted by the sweetest blonde waitress that immediately made me realize my assumption was wrong.  
I was a little disappointed that they didn’t have some type of dish or side order that was made with maple syrup. I read the whole menu trying to find something. So I decided to try something called ham hash, which was mashed potatoes, cubed ham and onions Made me think it was a variation on shepherd’s pie when I ate it. And I ordered toast so I could drizzle maple syrup on it and create my own little maple flavored side order.  And that was good!
Made friends with an adorable 2 year old boy that had the biggest, fullest set of tight, blond curls & the bluest eyes. He tried to come over to our table and play, but his parents told him he couldn’t sit with the pretty girl & he needed to sit with them.
Already on a bit of a sugar high, went ahead and made our way to Middlebury Sweets, which is Vermont’s largest candy store. Read they had a 27 lb gummy bear and was really curious about how big this bear could possibly be! Plus I wanted to get some maple syrup and some type of maple flavored candy. I was all about maple! Maple! Maple! Maple! 
As we approached Middlebury, all of of a sudden noticed this multi-story tan building that looked really old that seemed to be in the midst of nowhere. The closer we got, the curiosity was building (no pun intended)! What was this place? Turns out it was Middlebury College that was founded in 1800. Drove through the campus. It was small and buildings had an old world feel and charm about them. Wanted to stop and stroll around the campus. And maybe even find a spot to sit and read some poetry. 
But we were on a mission to see that 27 lb gummy bear! When Google maps said we had arrived at our destination, I was a little puzzled. It was a slate blue building that looked like it was a feed store. However, that was the candy store! Had colorful signs on the storefront designating what it was.  
It was for more smaller than I had expected given that it was Vermont’s largest candy store. As I walked in I couldn’t help but feel like Buddy the Elf and how he said that elves stick to the 4 main food groups: candy, candy canes, candy corn and syrup. In this case it was maple syrup.  
Immediately started searching for the 27 lb gummy bear. Found it in a plexiglass case up by the register and it was also smaller than I had expected. Perhaps my Texas is showing, where everything is bigger, so my expectations are heightened! It was still pretty cool. 
Once that mission was accomplished, I felt like a kid in a candy store! Started looking through all of the candy searching for anything maple flavored. Settled for some maple bacon and then just plain maple salt water taffy. Grabbed a few non-maple gummies and bagged them up. Picked up a bottle of Vermont maple syrup on the way to check out and finished my maple themed purchase by ordering maple-walnut ice cream on a cone. It was sweet, delicious and decadent. I enjoyed every drop of it and then drove back to New York (and I may have nibbled on some my candy along the way)!

Exploring Jersey: Grounds For Sculpture 

I had driven by the signs on 295 showing where to exit for this place called Grounds For Sculpture.But what really caught my eye was the 2 massive bronze heads (1 blue and the other red) off to the right side of the of 295 that look almost like something Picasso would’ve done.  

I used google to find out what this place was. And learned that it was a 42-acre sculpture park! First thing I thought was, wow, that’s a lot of walking so I better wear some tennis shoes.  
Of course the day I decided to go, because I had the time, I wore sandals. They were super cute, but not comfortable. Nevertheless I decided I’d suck it up and deal with it. It’s art AND and it’s outdoors! How perfect is that!
After I exited 295, I was immediately captivated by all the huge, larger than life sculpture that seem to be strewn about alongside the road as I made my way to the park. The 1st one was a giant tooth that looked like it was the size of a small house. (Seemed like it would make a fun playhouse for kids or dentist’s offices).  
Thought my mind might be playing tricks on me. For some reason, I started blinking my eyes trying to refocus and process what I was seeing. But there were more. Didn’t matter how many times I blinked, looked away and looked back, they were all still there. There were so many of these sculptures that I can’t even remember them individually (except for the tooth), but I do remember that some were exaggeratedly large (I felt Buddy the Elf and wanted to exclaim these things are ginormous!  But I didn’t.  Loudly that is.), while others were true to scale. The life size ones were typically posed in some way that made them look uncannily real, while others were posed and facing the sculptures admiring them. 
I started to feel like the lines between reality and fantasy were starting to blur. I started to feel like I was Alice I was going down the rabbit hole. (I’m sure I’m not the 1st person to feel like this, nor will I be the last.)
I followed the signs to the welcome center and paid the $18 for admission (for the whole day), although it did give me pause since I’m on a tight budget, but this was already turning in to an extraordinary experience that I didn’t want to miss!    
I toured the indoor exhibits 1st, which are all creations of the artist, visionary Seward Johnson, who is the founder of this place (and also an heir to the Johnson & Johnson fortune).
This part included the most moving 2 pieces there, which was the 9/11 tribute. I was brought to tears just viewing it, and then reading the back story and watching some video clips next to it, I was brought to tears (and wished I had a tissue with me).
Seeing those 2 pieces brought me back to reality real quick, but that didn’t last for long.  
I enjoyed seeing the popular Forever Marilyn statue (of her famous pose where she’s trying to hold down her dress). I used to be a huge Marilyn fan back in my 20’s (and still have a large print of her iconic pose)so that was kind of neat to see. 
But what took my breath away was “Welcome Home”, which was Johnson’s 3D interpretation of Van Gogh’s “The Bedroom” that was vibrant and whimsical. Even the brush strokes are #3D & there is an actual chair, table and bed for you to touch and sit on! It’s literally a bedroom! I could totally take a nap in that bed if they’d let me! I did sit on it through, because that is ok to do (next time I’ll have to ask someone to take a pic for me). 
Once I stepped outside to begin exploring, I started to feel like Alice did in Alice in Wonderland, that is if she were real (but reality is a matter of loose interpretation at this place so I think that’s an irrelevant point). 
There were so many sculptures scattered about the 42-acres and I knew I wouldn’t be able to see them all in one day, so I picked something on the map that seemed the most interesting, which was Monet’s Bridge, and started taking the path (as much as I could tell) and head in that direction. Kind of felt like it was a treasure map and I was going on a quest.  
I wandered for a bit, because I got lost (no surprise there) and enjoyed all of the lush greenery and flowers that fill this park with an enormity of fragrant, natural beauty. In stark contrast to all of this softness and delicacy are the hard, bronze statues that are scattered about. Some are colorful. Some are not. Some are true to life, while others aren’t.  
One of my favorite discoveries was a 3D version of Edward Munch’s “Scream” that covered an outside wall on this one exhibit.  
At some point I stopped for a snack. I couldn’t help but think that I might grow big like Alice did when I took my first bite of popcorn. But I did not.   
Eventually I did find the area surrounding Monet’s Bridge and was blown away by how beautiful it was. By this time I was hot and tired and ready to head back.  
After getting lost a few times, I returned to the indoor exhibit to take a break and just soak in those exhibits one more time, so I sat down on a couch. I must have been really still because I look up and this couple is staring at me. They jump a little and gasp when I look up and say, “Oh, you’re real!” We all laughed. They looked back a few more times, so I got up and figures that was my cue to leave!