You may recall, if not I'm here to help, that our primary reason for being in NJ was to attend the wedding of Bill and Rena's son. More on that later. So yes, we live beside Bill and Rena in Green Valley, AZ and yes, we followed them to NJ. We're still honing our stalking skills! They arrived about June 1 and we got there July 15. Our RVs were set about 15 feet apart. We normally worked opposite days with some exceptions.
The wildlife refuge was great! It includes 47,000 acres stretched along the NJ coast in the area of Atlantic City. The central area of the refuge, where we were assigned, includes an 8 mile wildlife drive. This is a dynamic area for birders and the wildlife drive provides a sterling vantage point to view birds. We drove it many times trying to hone our bird identification skills.
|Some very serious birders and photographers!!|
Maintenance included mowing and weed eating, lots of tree trimming and related grounds maintenance and cleaning/organizing refuge maintenance buildings. Some of this maintenance work was done at locations outside the refuge area in Oceanville. Bill and I would work the same days for these outings. We trucked off together to go work, spent the day on our own, then scored a Pepsi and Tastykake the ride home. They were fun events. Debbie and I both enjoyed the visitor center and I really had a good time with maintenance. My immediate boss, Tom, is a great fellow. I had a great deal of freedom in deciding how to spend my work day and he was forever telling me to stop working so hard. I also spent a fair amount of time on a mule. This would be four wheeled, not four legged and it's name was Kawasaki. It was all very nice. There were some negatives. The biting bugs adjacent to the wetlands were HORRIBLE!!!!!!! This included mosquitoes, gnats, no see ums, black flies, chiggers and the world famous green headed fly.
|Hate green-headed flies!!!|
So it was not all work. The wedding was a gala event. Debbie and I were invited to the rehearsal dinner along with Trisha and Alex, nearly lifelong friends of Bill and Rena from Alaska. Bill, the old dog, made a great father toast that included this pearl of guidance "say you're sorry when you're wrong and say nothing when you're right". I think that's about a quote. Also, the food was great.
|Bill, Rena, Brian, Jen, Debbie, Duane, Trisha and Alex at Rehearsal Dinner|
Wedding day included threatening showers but the clouds parted and the outdoor wedding went as planned. Brian and Jen are a beautiful couple, you know more Jen then Brian but you get the picture. There were quite a few bridesmaids and groomsmen (obviously I don't know the exact number) but it was wonderfully informal. The reception was full of love, energy, dancing, a great DJ, open bar and wonderful food. Notice my theme? I think all the parents were mighty pleased so it was a great success.
|Craine and Yue Families|
We all enjoyed an authentic Philly Cheesesteak from a street vendor.
The four of us also went to the American Idol show when it appeared in Atlantic City. Debbie and I have been to American Idol shows twice before in two different locations and the most obvious difference is that the productions have become huge. They used to be a bit bare bone but not anymore. This show was in the Trump's Taj Mahal right on the boardwalk. As always, we had a great time.
|Winner Candice Glover (from SC!)|
|All the girls were great this year!!!|
Rena and Debbie had a unique outing together. Rena won a door prize at our volunteer appreciation luncheon. The prize was a 2 hour air boat ride for two with biologist Paul through the refuge. Because Bill and Rena are such wonderful people, Bill insisted that Debbie join Rena rather then Bill. Thanks Bill!
Debbie grew up in the Philadelphia/New Jersey area so it was fun for her to spend some time going down memory lane. This included multiple trips to Atlantic City which is located right across the bay from the refuge. Maybe a 20 minute drive. We did gamble a time or two but mostly we went to walk the boardwalk. We try to keep up our walking and, as said, the bugs were horrible at the refuge but no bugs on the boardwalk. So we walked and road the boardwalk. Sometimes up to 10 miles at a time. Occasionally, we ate health food like steak sandwiches or pizza that certainly whittled away at the benefit of our walking but it was consistently an enjoyable activity. Lots of interesting people, ocean views and endless boardwalk stuff.
Other outings included a couple trips to Wildwood Beach (to walk their boardwalk), a trip to Victorian Cape May
and several trips to visit Debbie's sisters, nieces, nephew and other family. We even got to visit with Debbie's cousin Cathy and her husband. Debbie and her cousin hadn't seen each other in about 40 years!
|Debbie with sister's Heather and Chris|
|Lee and Belinda|
So we departed NJ September 15 and headed south. We'll share more later.