This and That.

It’s the holidays! The tree is trimmed, our presents are wrapped, the cards are signed, the wreath is on the door, and the cookies are baking in the oven. This year, my wife and I are adding a new wrinkle to our holiday plans… a massive holiday road trip to visit family and friends in the Midwest. Before we lock up the house and get on the road, however, I thought I’d share some of our recent updates and travels. Call it a “weekend potpourri,” a “weekend roundup,” or maybe, just a little of this and a little of that:

Automotive This and That.

Car odometer that reads 44454 mi. Car speedometer reads 0 MPH.
You won’t see much of my Accord over the next few posts, as my wife’s Jeep Grand Cherokee is the chosen ride for our upcoming road trip. Given that we’re heading to the frozen tundra of the Midwest, we’re going to take our four-wheel drive sleigh. I took the Jeep in for service, and aside from needing an oil change, a tire rotation, and a new cabin air filter, the dealership pronounced it fit and ready to rock.
Black all-weather floor mat in driver's side that says GRAND CHEROKEE.
One accessory we did add recently – a set of all-weather mats to protect the Jeep’s carpet from salt, sand, snow, slush, and all the other yucky s-words of winter.
All-weather floor mat across rear seat floor.
One thing I appreciate is how the all-weather mat stretches across the entire rear seat floor. In my Accord, the all weather mats in the rear only cover the space in front of the two rear seats, leaving the carpet in between the footwells exposed and easily dirtied. We originally explored a set of WeatherTech mats, but the Jeep-branded mats are significantly less expensive.
Car odometer that reads 18degreesF TRIP A 112.5
Nothing much new to report on the Accord – it continues to motor along without complaint, now nearing 146,000 miles. Even when the outside temperature struggles to climb above the freezing mark, my 8-year old, high mileage Accord starts up the first time I turn the key.
Snowy roadway during winter storm.
It’s certainly a lot easier to enjoy a beautiful winter scene when your car is equipped with proper winter tires! There have been a few days recently when I was glad I opted for Nokian WR G4 tires. A little expensive to be sure, but you can’t put a price tag on keeping control of your vehicle in bad weather.
Car odometer that reads 10000 miles.
Another fun milestone- my readers Chuck and Deb sent me this photo of their 2019 Honda CR-V passing the 10,000 mile mark. Congratulations! I’ve featured their CR-V in a previous post.
Citroen 2CV in left-hand lane.
My wife and I were in South Jersey recently when we spotted this European gem – a Citroen 2CV. Built from 1948 until 1990, this small car features a two-cylinder engine, front wheel drive, and a relentlessly minimalistic design. Almost four million of these little econoboxes were built. One of the coolest features? If the battery died, you had the option of starting the engine with a hand crank. I have seen a few of these during my trips to Europe, but this was the first time I had ever seen one on American shores. So cool!

I also wanted to share a fun video recently produced by Acura. In the early 1990s, Acura and Honda were desperate to enter the growing SUV market, but they did not have such a vehicle in their lineup. Their solution was to purchase and re-badge SUVs made by Isuzu. Acura’s first SUV, the SLX, began life as at the Isuzu Trooper. Although mostly forgotten, a few examples of this model remain on the road, including one owned by my friend Tyson, whose blog Drive to Five details his adventures and travels in his fleet of 1990s Acuras. Tyson originally owned two SLXs (along with two Legends, two Integras, a Vigor, an NSX… am I forgetting one?). However, he donated one of the SLXs to Acura for a special project for RADwood, the celebration of all things 1980’s and 1990’s (you may remember my trip to Philadelphia RADwood last year). Acura took Tyson’s former SLX and transplanted in the engine, transmission, and suspension from a brand new RDX, breathing new life into the old dinosaur. For the project video, they even gave Tyson a role (he’s the guy with the old Acuras for sale). It’s pretty epic… I’ll let the video do the talking:

Football This and That.

Plaque in front of red brick academic building that says THE BIRTHPLACE OF COLLEGE FOOTBALL.
A fun fact for sports fans: 2019 marked the 150th anniversary of the game of American football. On this ground in 1869, Rutgers University played Princeton for the first ever intercollegiate football game. The space is now occupied by the Rutgers University College Avenue Gymnasium. My wife snapped this photo shortly after the sign was dedicated in a ceremony earlier this fall. You can read more about this historic game here.

State Theater This and That.

Exterior of State Theater New Jersey.
On a rainy evening, my wife and I recently took in a performance of The Nutcracker at the historic State Theater New Jersey, located in New Brunswick (and check out the piano keyboard crosswalk!).
Small chandelier hanging from ceiling in lobby.
Built in 1921, the theater was originally intended for both live performances and movies. After being purchased by RCA in 1928, the theater underwent a significant Art Deco-styled renovation in 1933, and those design cues remain part of the building to this day (via Wikipedia).
Glass display case with objects from the theater's history including play bills, match boxes, pictures, and music.
The second floor lobby of the theater houses a small museum about its history. Despite its historic beginnings, by the 1970s, the building had fallen on hard times and was being used as an adult film theater. Johnson & Johnson, the American pharmaceutical giant, has a headquarters in New Brunswick, and spent $3 million dollars renovating the building to recapture its past glory. It is once again a great place to see live shows. Last spring, I saw the musical Rent here, and the performance was phenomenal.
Interior of the theater.
The building is absolutely gorgeous, and kept in very good shape. You can experience great entertainment at a fraction of the cost of a Broadway performance.
Chandelier hanging from ceiling surrounded by twelve skylights.
My favorite feature? The chandelier that hangs the theater.
Cast of The Nutcracker taking their bows at the end of the show.
As for The Nutcracker? It was a fantastic way to get into the Christmas spirit!

Asbury Park This and That.

Exterior of Asbury Park carousel.
With a friend visiting from out of town, we recently took a trip to Asbury Park, one of our favorite Jersey beach towns (you can read about my previous journeys to AP here and here). The weather didn’t cooperate, but fortunately our activities were mostly indoors.
Menu and countertop of bar at Cardinal restaurant. Booths and open air kitchen are in the background.
We began our day at Cardinal Provisions, a small eatery a few blocks from the ocean. Open everyday from 9:00 am – 3:00 pm, this was our first time stopping by to try the food.
Plate of avocado, sausage, egg, greens.
I had the gluten free Belgian waffle, our friend had an egg, cheese, and sausage sandwich, but my wife’s dish once again stole the show. She ordered the “Weird Hash,” a bowl filled with roasted cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, squash, greens, home fries, breakfast sausage, pecorino, a sunny side egg, and avocado. Yum!
Exterior of Asbury Park Convention Center, with benches on boardwalk in foreground.
“Our true enemy has yet to reveal himself.” The rain and wind did not stop me from taking my wife (and our friend) outside so I could once again reenact one of my favorite scenes from The Sopranos. What can I say? I’m a Jersey guy, through-and-through.
Christmas Tree inside Convention Center, with seat for Santa Claus in foreground.
“You better not cry, you better not pout, I’m telling’ you why…” As I walked through the Convention Center, decked out for the holidays, I could hear Bruce Springsteen’s Christmas classic running through my head.
Billboard inside convention center that says ASBURY PARK CONVENTION HALL GREETINGS FROM ASBURY PARK DEC 14 15 ASBURY PARK HOLIDAY BAZAAR.
Great food, cool photos, and acting out scenes from a TV show were all fun, but not our reason for visiting. For the second year in a row, we came to attend the Asbury Park Holiday Bazaar and do some Christmas shopping.
Holiday Bazaar inside Convention Hall.
For a few weeks, the concert hall is turned into a holiday market, where small business vendors sell their handmade and homemade goods. It’s a cool place to find a gift!
Wreath with candy canes on either side and in middle, words that say ASBURY PARK BAZAAR.
“Happy Holidays… while the merry bells keep ringing… Happy Holidays to you!”

Christmas Decoration This and That.

House covered in numerous decorations, with decorative reindeer, polar bears, nutcrackers, and foxes in front yard.
Last weekend, as we were driving home, my wife and I spotted this house, whose owners obviously believe that when it comes to decorating for the holidays, “Go big or go home!”

Thanks for reading along on this fun and brief overview of our recent updates. Next week my wife and I will be starting an epic road trip, one of the longest distance drives I have ever taken, so stay tuned for updates from the open road ahead.

I wish you happy holidays, times of joy and togetherness, good memories, and may all your Christmases be bright!

‘Til next time.

4 thoughts on “This and That.

  1. That Christmas tree in Asbury park is huge! I love it. Looks like everyone is getting into the spirit of the season. My next blog post is going to have a bit of news updates on various fronts, much like yours did. Thanks for featuring the SLX story / video! Hope your weekend is going well.

    Liked by 1 person

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