Sunday, March 5, 2017

Cookie Jar House Vacation

I recently planned a vacation to go see my granddaughter for her 6th birthday, however she got to go to New York to visit her maternal grandfather instead, so I regrouped and chose to go to Philadelphia, my original home town. Being of a limited budget, I dialed up a relative and asked if I could couch surf. My cousin and his wife live in the Cookie Jar house , a unique house located in Glendora, New Jersey. Now if you are not from the east coast, you may not know that parts of south Jersey are like suburbs for Philadelphian's. The Cookie Jar house is a unique landmark and it is not uncommon to see folks driving by to snap a picture or two.

The house is deceiving from the outside, but is actually quite roomy. There are three levels and a spiral staircase runs up the inside. It was really cute. Out of respect for my cousins I did not take pictures of the inside, but I can tell you it is really cute inside too. However it would hardly would qualify as a "tiny house." I invited two friends, Sharon and Destiny, to go along on this adventure too. Neither friend had been to Philadelphia or New Jersey, so we really had a great time.

We drove from Oklahoma the first day and stopped in Tennessee for the night. We planned to spend the night at Destiny's sister's house on her couch. Destiny hadn't seen her sister in a long time, so they were super excited to catch up. We stopped in Memphis to visit Graceland. It was closed by the time we arrived, but in true fan style we stood outside the gate and took some pictures. I stared in wonder at the private airplane that is now parked across the street. How the heck did they move that monstrosity into place in the middle of congested Memphis? While we were in Memphis we also took a tour of the giant pyramid that is actually a Bass Pro Shop. It was really cool inside with live fish in ponds and a restaurant on the top floor with an observation deck. We didn't have the time to go eat as there was quite a line, so we loaded back in the car and continued on our adventure.

We arrived at the Cookie Jar house around 3 am on Monday, February 20th. We immediately went to sleep and slept in until after 11 am! After finally getting up and about, our first day in Philadelphia we drove into the city and walked around. It was President's Day and a bunch of whiny ass bitches Trump protesters had the center city on lock down due to police presence. Police were everywhere. That meant we couldn't drive in to park close to City Hall, so we chose to park up by Elfreth's Alley and walk down to Market Street.

Side note, in case you did not know. Elfreth's Alley is the oldest continually owned block of houses in the United States. They were tiny row homes and every once in a while one or two will come up for sale. I used to dream of owning one someday. I just don't know if I could handle all the tourists trying to peak in my windows every day.

On Market Street we made a b-line for Campo's. Oh my goodness, Campo's makes the best hoagies!! A real Philadelphia Hoagie. And, just let me tell you, it was DELICIOUS! Located at 2nd and Market, you should definitely try them. Be sure to get cherry peppers on your hoagie too.

In addition to the hoagies, we ate delicious soft Philly Pretzels with dark, spicy mustard. There is no place in the world that makes a pretzel as good as Philadelphia. After some more site seeing the sun was setting so we headed back to the Cookie Jar.

Day two of our adventure,Tuesday the 21st, we discovered upon waking all the walking and the travel from the days prior had us quite bushed, so we hung around in New Jersey and hit a couple of Goodwill stores with my cousins. It is always fun to go to thrift stores in other states because the donated goods are often quite different. For example, I scored a whole set of Lenox spice jars ($20!!) and a diffuser shade needed for the vintage tole lamps I mentioned in a prior post. We also drove around and down to Riverton, NJ. There we saw the Riverton Yacht Club (first yacht club in the US ) and the century old mansions that line the Riverton River.

Day three, the 22nd, we drove out to Gettysburg National Military Park. This was another full day of walking, but you could not beat the weather. It was a beautiful clear day with a gentle breeze and warm temperatures in the 60's. We walked the battlefield and read the displays. It was sobering to read how many fell during this battle and understandable why President Lincoln felt it so important to visit. Destiny and my cousin chose to go to the top of one of the memorials which was accessible by a tall staircase. That's her at the top with her arms out. Yes, she is kinda nuts. That was way too high up for my comfort and my knee told me climbing those stairs was not going to happen.

When we got back to town from Gettysburg we went to Joe's Crab Shack to eat dinner. I had never been to one before. The food was good, but the drinks were divine. It was a fun evening, but my feet and knees hurt from all that walking and I was ready to go back to the Cookie Jar to hit the sack.

Thursday, the 23rd, we made our way back into the city via the train instead of driving. Sharon and Destiny had both taken public transportation in Germany, however they were interested to see what a Philly subway ride was like. I think both really enjoyed the ride. I was shocked at how little parking was available at the train station. We had to go all the way to the Lindenwald station to find parking. I guess most who work in the city are smart enough not to try to find parking or it is just too cost prohibitive. I know I wouldn't want that hassle.

Of course any time you are in Philadelphia you must visit the Liberty Bell. We had a great time taking pictures with this symbol of freedom. It is a shame you cannot touch it like you could when I was a kid, but you can still get up close and that is nice. We went and saw the first post office started by none other than Benjamin Franklin. We mailed postcards and letters home there because they still hand cancel at that Post Office. It is odd to consider it has been continuously operating since before our country became independent. You will notice no flag flies outside that office. It is the only Post Office in our country without a US flag flying in front.

We ate lunch across the street at the Common Wealth Restaurant. It was so good. I had a Smoked Turkey and Brie sandwich as well as Seared Scallops. I also had a really good local brew, but I cannot remember the name of it. All I can say is it was delicious.

After walking around seeing the sites, we headed to the Reading Terminal to get Canoli and a Tiramisu for desert after dinner on Friday. My cousin had been planning to cook a dinner of Braciole and Pasta for us and of course we had to get the desert from my family bakery. We made our way back to the train and headed home. We were bushed, so along the way we picked up Cheese Steaks for dinner. Are you following the food theme? Ooh ya. This is what vacations are made of, lol.

Day 5, Friday the 24th, we were sad to find out Sharon's brother-in-law had passed away and we needed to wrap up our trip sooner than planned. We spent our final day running errands, doing wash, and preparing to go home. We made final stops at places Sharon and Destiny may never have a chance to see again. We ate at a diner so Sharon and Destiny could try Scrapple. There is nothing as good as breakfast at the Penn Queen Diner on Route 130. We purchased foods we planned to bring home and foods we promised to bring back in order to get them in the freezer overnight. I bought Scrapple and Sharon and Destiny bought wonderful homemade chocolates from Bayards Chocolate House. By the time we got back to the Cookie Jar, Ed and Nancy had cooked us dinner of Baked Rigatoni and Braciole and we gorged ourselves. It was sad to have to leave, but by 9pm we were packed, showered, and in bed to get enough rest to leave early in the morning.

We were up by 5am and putting all our things in the car. At 7 am we headed across the Walt Whitman Bridge one last time and drove through the quiet Saturday streets of south Philly. We had one last stop to make before heading back, the Termini Bakery original location. Fresh Canoli and a cup of coffee were purchased and we were back on the road. We took a different route home so we could avoid tolls. We discovered tolls on the way to our trip had cost nearly $30. This time we knew we could skirt the toll booths and get to see West Virginia as well.

We passed through Pennsylvania, Maryland, Delaware, and on into West Virginia. We decided to detour, get out and stretch our legs at Harper's Ferry, West Virginia. Harper's Ferry is a neat little town for a couple of reasons. First off, you can see Three states from there: Virginia, West Virginia, and Maryland. Secondly, John Brown, a famous abolitionist, led a raid there. Thirdly, it is the home of the halfway point of the Appalachian Trail. I had dreamed of hiking the Appalachian Trail for many years prior to having broken my back in a car accident. It doesn't stop me from being green with envy for those that have completed the journey. We stopped in to see if Destiny could find some of her college pals who had made the journey and been photographed in the many volumes of hikers the Conservancy document each year. We explored Harper's Ferry a little bit, refueled, and were back on the road within an hour. I plan to go back at some point and really enjoy learning the history of the area more in depth.

Driving through some rain storms as we crossed Virginia, we made our way back to Tennessee and stayed the night once again with Destiny's sister. Reheating left overs of Braciole and Rigatoni, we ate and hit the sack. By 7 am the next morning we were back on the road. Tennessee, Arkansas, and finally Oklahoma zipped by quickly. We arrived back in Oklahoma before the sun set.

I was bummed for Sharon for the loss of her brother-in-law, and bummed our trip had to end, but I did manage to make some great memories and a couple of new charms for my bracelet.

Hmm, where to next?