June 13, 2009 at 9:57 pm | Posted in East Coast, Festivals, Food, The Great Outdoors, Travels | 1 Comment

Oliver’s First Camping Trip

Ok, first of all, for you hard core campers out there – this is just one step more rustic than the Holiday Inn, but we’ll just call it camping and be done with it.

Last fall, Kevin, Oliver and I headed down to North Carolina for a great festival outside of Asheville:  The Lake Eden Arts Festival, also known as LEAF.  We had been to it in the past, before Oliver was born, and were looking forward to seeing it through his eyes:  Music…dancing…kid-friendly crafts…camping, and excellent food.  What other outdoor festival serves gourmet French crepes for lunch?

A few days before meeting up with our friend Mary at the campground, Kevin logged to the fesival website to get a time table and learned that it was sold out.  That’s right, no more tickets to be had!  Well, all three adults had taken time off of work, and the little one had his heart set on missing school, so we were not about to give up on our camping trip, so we set out on the long drive.

We had a great time:  Spent time with Mary, visited the Biltmore Estate and Table Rock, ate ice cream, and even visited his Carolina Cousins on the way back.   Oliver had never had s’mores before, an oversight we quickly remedied.  Now he’s a big fan.


First Campfire

June 13, 2009 at 9:49 pm | Posted in East Coast, Food, The Great Outdoors, Travels | Leave a comment

First Campfire, originally uploaded by MAKNJ.

Photoshop Before and After

April 25, 2009 at 6:37 pm | Posted in East Coast, Miscellaneous, The Great Outdoors | Leave a comment
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I took this at the park on a warm winter day. You know the kind, where you can’t resist wearing your short sleeve shirt and saying “I can’t believe this is January!” 

I was trying for the visual interest of the perspective of the fence getting smaller, then the punch of him in his colorful shirt.  (We bought that shirt at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ.  I have one just like it.  What is it about tie dye?)
I like this picture, but I couldn’t leave well enough alone.  So I changed it and like the new one so much I posted it on my Flickr page.
I added a little vignetting and changed it to black and white.  But I let his shirt shine through:










Kevin wanted some pictures to hang on the wall in his new office, so he shopped at MAKNJ’s Photography Studio (my study in the spare bedroom) and picked out this one.  But I didn’t like the way it looked in the frame, so I went back to the color version, desaturated it a little, and then applied a tint so it’s sort of sepia toned.  




Then, I read this post on Shutter Sisters asking us to show some before and after pictures we had edited.  They call it “Before, After, and Beyond.”  if you’ve done anything fun with your photos, leave a link in the comments.

Different Strokes For Different Folks

September 15, 2008 at 12:25 am | Posted in East Coast, Miscellaneous | 4 Comments
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It always amazes me how different people can be.  How many ways there are to be a family.  How many ways to take a trip, go on vacation, spend your spare time. 

This was especially apparent today when we took a trip to the beach.  I compared and contrasted how we did things today to the way they were when I was a kid.  In other words, how I do thing differently from my parents.  For example:

Then:  We would never get to the beach early enough to get a spot on Ocean Ave., so we would have to walk three or four blocks in the hot sun before hitting the beach.

Now:  We either get to the beach real early, or we don’t go until after 4, when the people who got the good parking spot are ready to leave.  Almost always park less then one block from beach, and temp is still below the hottest of the day.

Then:  All three kids and both parents were loaded down like pack mules for the multi-block walk:  Cooler, lunch bag, chairs, blanket, towels, change of clothes, castle building toys and water toys.

Now:  One towel apiece, enough cash for snacks, point-and-shoot camera.  We still bring the castle building toys and bucket; we’re not philistines.

Then:  Play in the sun all day, eat a sandy peanut butter sandwich and a warm Shasta cola.

Now:  Go inside for lunch, re-apply waterproof sunscreen.

Then:  Completely shower off, change into clean dry clothes for the ride home.  Apply Solarcaine when you get home and realize you have turned the color of a cooked lobster.

Now:  Rinse off your feet, play on the swings or sit at a cafe until you are dry enough to get in the car, vacuum up later.  No sunburn. 

The beach, which was a major event, taking planning and a whole day to recover when I was a kid, is a no fuss, “do it at the drop of a hat” thing for us now.  That’s better, to me – but I’ll bet the wet sandy butts in the car would be no good as far as my parents are concerned!

A Day At The Beach

Hurricane Harbor

August 15, 2008 at 10:47 pm | Posted in Amusement Parks, East Coast, Music | Leave a comment
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Our nine year old niece is visiting this weekend, so this morning we set out to Hurricane Harbor, the Six Flags water park nearby.  The greatest thing about living 15 minutes from a theme park is that you get to go even when the day is overcast, you slept late, and you know you may not have more than a few hours anyway.  All the pressure is off.  We’ve had season passes to this park ever since we moved here 5 years ago.  They make it impossible not to – if you go to the park twice all year, it’s cheaper to buy the season pass.  The way I think of it, every visit after the first two is free.  So, you actually go more, because who cares if its raining, or a little chilly, it’s not like you are losing any money on it.

Unless, of course, you become hungry or thirsty during your visit.  In that case, lose hope for your pocketbooks all ye who enter.  I got a kid’s size Sprite and a medium Diet Coke, and it set me back almost eight bucks.

I am also going out on a limb to say this is not the ideal destination for a traveler with disabilities.  Seriously, I do not know how they are not breaking the law by having not one of their waterslides accessible to people who can’t climb stairs.  Just because you use a wheelchair doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to strap on a life vest and careen down a waterslide.

The park is clean, and the music has been carefully chosen to make you feel like you are on a beach vacation.  They’ve got some calypso tunes, lots of Jimmy Buffet and Beach Boys.  If your favorite artist ever recorded a song with “beach,” “surf,” or “island” in it, odds are it’s on the playlist.

They have phtographers through ought the park, and they will give you a wrist band if they take your picture, so you can look at it on the way out.  It’s all digital now, so you look on the computer monitor, rather than at a printed copy, like some other places (cough..disney boat..cough) do.  It makes so much more sense this way.  Today, the photographer pictures were no better than ones I’ve taken myslef at the park, so we passed.  I rarely buy these pictures anyway, but have once or twice at other places.  I’ll post them when I write about those trips.  One in particular was taken with a – gasp – Polaroid.  And not the good kind.  And we PAID for it.   But hey, we were young and in love, and how many times do you get a change to get your picture taken inside a shark?

What’s you favorite photo taken by one of these resort photographers?

The Great Wolf Lodge

March 12, 2007 at 8:55 pm | Posted in Amusement Parks, East Coast, Snow, Travels | Leave a comment
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We don’t care if its snowing out-

We don’t care if it’s raining out-

I met up with my Carolina Cousins and we had a costume party for my 5th birthday. They had Magic Quest and water slides and Pizza Hut and I swam. I had a bunk bed in the Wolf Den and my own TV.

My Coney Island Adventure

October 15, 2006 at 9:04 pm | Posted in Amusement Parks, East Coast | Leave a comment

by Oliver

Today I went to Coney Island with Mommy and Daddy. I had never gone there before. Aunt Mimi, Matt & Michael came and I got to ride there in their car. Nana and Pop Pop came. We went to the original Nathan’s where everybody who liked hot dogs got to eat. I don’t like hot dogs yet, but I had some good snacks. I also chased some sea gulls that tried to come by our table.

Coney Island is cool. They have a beach and I dug in the sand. The waves came and got my legs wet. The water was cold!


They also have a big ferris wheel called the Wonder Wheel. I rode on the rocket ships with Matt and Michael. After that we went to a bakery in Brooklyn that had yummy cookies that had chocolate on them.

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