Thursday, May 22, 2014

IL DIVO!!!!!!

Aah.....Il Divo....seems like I've waited forever to see this group. My husband purchased our tickets in November. All I can say is that it was totally worth it! Granted, most of the audience members surrounding us were at least 65 years old, but, it was fantastic. They sounded fabulous; rich tone, great volume. And Lea Solenga was amazing as well! The only down side was the old woman behind us. I typed a message for Chris that said, "Feel like you're stuck in a bad episode of the nanny?" only because that Jersey accent really sounded like Fran and her mother.

Then at another moment, I leaned into him and said, "You know that part of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory? The part where Willy Wonka looks at him and says, 'You're Charlie Bucket; you're just lucky to be here'?" That is honestly how I felt amongst all those people. It was completely obvious that this wasn't their first big show, whether it was Il Divo or another group. It was then that Chris said to me, "Well, it probably means more to us than it does these other people." True enough.

 *sigh* aren't they lovely?

Backstory... the trip to Jersey started off great! Then went downhill, then great...a definite roller coaster. I had studied the GPS directions and all of the cities, towns and landmarks that would fall along our trip. When we came to our first toll, I was surprised that it came so quickly into our adventure. I looked at the step-by-step list of directions. No, we were on the right track...but the spoken directions were taking us down the Pennsylvania Turnpike; what we had strove to avoid. So, we paid even more money a few miles up to get off and figure out just what was going on. By this point, we were out of our way a good 25 minutes. It was then that I apologized to Chris because I was obviously hard to travel with. He said, with a grin, "That's okay, it was just your Autism coming out." I almost slugged him.

We came upon an exit for a scenic overlook. Unfortunately it was raining pretty steady so I couldn't get a picture. So, you'll have to settle for one I found online. It was breathtaking, even through the raindrops. Such a vast area to look out over!

See just how beautiful God's creation is?

By this time we had stretched our legs enough so back in the truck we went. We had passed over this ginormous 7 lane bridge, I believe in Perth Amboy. It was huge! Definitely more than I've ever experienced! 

Weeeee doggy! Talk about blowing my mind! We were on the left most part on the bottom picture on the way down to Atlantic City. Gorgeous views!

It was shortly after that when we came across a toll. Well, our GPS kept telling us to stay to the left but we didn't know that the "Cash Only" lanes were on the right of the toll. Needless to say, we are pretty sure that we will receive a fine in the mail for blowing through that toll. We researched it before arriving at the next toll. The NJ website said that we could pay it at the next toll booth so that is what we decided to do. Well, the guy wouldn't take our money. Instead, he told us that when they send us the fine we can just pay it. That was SO not helpful. We're hoping that it can be appealed as it was our very first time through there!

Traffic in downtown Atlantic City is atrocious! The drivers have no consideration for anyone else on the road. Actually, I could say it as, they know where they want to go and they don't waste any time going there. There are no such things as yields or red lights there. BUT, as Chris and I were discussing coming home, I definitely understand now why Jersey people drive the way they do while they're here. Because they HAVE to down there! Geesh!

We made it to our bed and breakfast, The Carisbrooke Inn, around 2:30. It was still raining pretty steadily so I opted to not look at the ocean yet. The best part about the Inn I chose was the fact that it was a couple hundred feet to the beach! 

 Quaint, yes?

We didn't realize the exact check-in time of 3:30 was strictly enforced so we decided to find some lunch. We agreed on the White House Sub Shop, mainly for its famed notoriety on the Food Network. Well, we headed up Arctic Avenue just in time to get to deal with all the school buses! Argh! EVERY light, EVERY intersection, two lanes of one way traffic. Totally not fun...but we finally made it to the sub shop. To be completely honest, I really don't see what all the hype is about. I found the bread to be ridiculously hard! I was told it was one of its special features. One thing I can say is that they do have generous portions, about which our waitress didn't elude to. I ordered a half, which was a 12" while Chris ordered a full. While the waitress did question the size he wanted, she didn't feel it necessary to explain how big they were. 

 With such famous faces as Bill Cosby, Guy Fiori, Robert Irvine, and the Soup Nazi, one would think this shop would be something to rave about. Frankly, I think not...I'll stick with Subway.

We finally we are able to pull out of traffic and make it back to the Inn. Our room was tiny, but nice. Not sure if it was worth the $167 we paid for it, but after all, breakfast was included. The nice thing about the room was that over the headboard you could see the ocean. Perfect... Room #3 was ours for 2 nights. 

So peaceful we were asleep by 11!
 That little strip of ocean between the buildings was our view from our room!

Thankfully the nice couple we met Friday night in the lounge area reminded us about signing up for breakfast for Saturday morning. They were from South Jersey. Turns out she works for the Bancroft School for special needs kids. We sat with them at breakfast Saturday. Sunday we sat with a nice couple from Philadelphia.

The lounge area above hosts a happy hour from 5-6 daily, encouraging guests to mingle. That was nice. The breakfast area below.

So, my husband, lovely as he is, tells this Jersey couple that it is my first time seeing the ocean. Really? I felt sheepish, really. They encouraged us to go and look. Although we had just started to dry off from being in the rain from earlier, we decided to go. We changed into our heavier, warmer clothes (thank goodness we brought some!) and headed down. Well, we no sooner stepped all four feet on the sand when the sky let go! Our clothes became a second skin. We were drenched.

Yep, that was us...

To say it was refreshing was an understatement. Between the stress and exhaustion of the drive and now the sogginess of ourselves, we were done. In bed and asleep by 11. Slept straight through til 6!

The next morning we were up and out the door, heading to the beach by 7:15. What a great and relaxing time that was! I slipped out of my flip flops and walked on the edge of the waves. How wonderful of a feeling! We walked the beach until 9 because we realized we had to be at breakfast at 9:30. After breakfast we headed out on the town. First stop, the Atlantic City Aquarium. It isn't a huge aquarium, but it had a lot of things we've never seen. Or touched. We picked up a purple leopard spotted sting ray for Kylee along with a pink sting ray water globe.

 The Atlantic City Aquarium

 Chris's New Friend

 The Awesomely Eerie Moray Eels

 The Albino Leopard touch tank. VERY weird texture.

Next stop was the Absecon Lighthouse. 228 steps to the top where we were met by a man easily in his late 60s, if not early 70s. What is awesome is when we crossed that threshold of the last step, he handed us a card that said we completed the climb. "Congratulations, you made it!" he said. He proceeded to educate us about the lighthouse, including the fact the lens is 8 ft tall and 6 ft across. Spectacular. Even more spectacular was the view. Wow. To know that meant that us, being at the top, were only at a quarter of the height of the Revel. Wow.

 The Historic Absecon Lighthouse

When we stepped out onto the caged landing, I grabbed hold of the cage to orient myself. Chris asked if I was afraid of heights. I replied, "I didn't think I was." And I really didn't. Funny thing was, shortly after we got up there, a group of three women joined us. One of them clung to the building. I said, "Let me're not afraid of heights either?" We shared a laugh and then they asked if I could take their picture. I was honored to do so.

 The view from the Lighthouse  

Going down was almost harder than going up! Thankfully there were 6 landings on the way up. I couldn't get a picture of the stairs going down so instead I took a video of all the stairs as we made our way down them. We picked up 2 lighthouse stickers, 2 postcards-one of the lighthouse, one of the steel pier diving horses, and a t-shirt. We also signed the guest register. It was interesting to see where everyone was from!

Our next piece of the adventure was attempting the infamous Boardwalk. Unfortunately I had a lot of problems with this. I was so uncomfortable...must be because of the skeevy carnies. We had one approach us trying to get us to tour a local casino in exchange for $80. I kept tugging on Chris, letting him know I was uneasy. Fortunately he got us out of there. We headed into Ripley's and to be completely honest, I had a terribly uncomfortable feeling while in there. Almost a smothering kind of feeling. I didn't bother telling Chris because he just wouldn't one really does.


After Ripley's, we walked to Itsugar, the candy shop best known for its large sizes of candy. Wasn't all it was cracked up to be but it was a nice experience. We were going to stop at Nathans to get a hot dog but the line was incredibly long so we went to Philly's Pretzel Factory instead.

Self-explanatory at Itsugar

 Amazing pretzel dogs!!!

 Unfortunately I was not a gracious tourist an asked to leave after we ate. The people were making me highly uncomfortable. Besides, we only had a few hours before our show! We made our way back to the Inn via good old Winchester and relaxed a bit. When it was time to go, I was getting a little nervous. Anxious nervous. Excited nervous. When we got to the Borgata we instantly decided on the valet parking. So much easier. Plus, it was only $5.

 Simply beautiful at night. AC's newest casino, built in 2003

Navigating our way through the Borgata was a little confusing. Up and down the escalator to figure out how to get our tickets, back down to the box office...duh. We went to the Cafeteria downstairs and grabbed some pizza from Villa Pizza. Hands down the best meal we ate out while we were there.  

The show. Oh my goodness, the show. Spectacular! I am so glad Chris made it happen! It was almost humbling to see them, within twenty feet of me! Of course, the way they played themselves out was David is the jokester, Sebastian is the soft talker, but also funny, Urs was just as handsome as ever in his fit-to-him tailored suit. And Carlos, ah, Carlos....was, well, your typical Spaniard I guess...the ladies' man. He said, "My Dr, he says to me, Carlos, you have to stop or your blood pressure will rise. And other things." Got a chuckle from most everyone. I couldn't believe it. This awesome, regal group and we were watching them like they were regular Joes.

After the show ended, we decided to get a bite to eat to take back to the Inn. So we went back down to the Cafeteria and got our dinner from Lettucehead, which serves just what the name implies. Talk about huge! They were at least 3lbs easily, $10 each. We ate them when we got back but honestly, our stomachs didn't necessarily like them all that much.

The next morning we got up early to walk the beach again. After two hours we went back to the Inn for breakfast and then decided to check out. We figured we'd use our last two hours to walk on the beach some more, to get in as much as we could while we could. It was the best decision. We came across a dead horseshoe crab and an anenome. Awesome. 

Finally noon arrived and we had to get out of Dodge. We got our directions set and headed home. All was fine until we got to East Stroudsburg where we nearly got rear ended. Not cool. We grabbed a bite to eat at the Burger King in Washington, NJ. Then, around Scranton, a woman crossed the line and almost nailed us. At this point I said, "I never thought I would be so happy to see a sign for Binghamton!" Of course, I wasn't really happy, but it definitely was fun while it lasted. And I will take my sinuses being completely empty over being home any day. I called mom when we were in Scranton and we both arrived at the house at 5:20. Couldn't have planned that any better if we'd tried!

But, overall, it was good to be home. We missed year we're going to shoot for Chincoteague!


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