Hey everyone! Just got back from the west coast of Florida to visit Gina, Tony and my nieces. It was a much needed weekend away! My niece Sophia has her permit now and is driving really well (we didn’t die) and Ava is doing great with her YouTube channel. Follow her at Ava Kathryn.
My long time friend/sister Gina who I’ve known since we were 4 years old came to see me this passed weekend with my two nieces. We had planned a trip to St. Augustine to see the Tour of Lights that they have from November – January every year. They arrived at our house around 7:00pm and we had pizza and garlic knots from our favorite pizza place, Alberto’s. After dinner we spent time relaxing, catching up and maybe a little drinking…maybe…..
When we woke up in the morning, we packed my car and left for St. Augustine. We arrived at the hotel around 11:30am and were able to check in early which worked out great. We unloaded the car, freshened up and went out exploring the famous St. George Street in the historic district of St. Augustine.
After we walked around for a few minutes we started to get hungry and decided to go to Pizza Time (I try to ALWAYS stop there for pizza when I’m in town because they have the BEST PIZZA in the state of Florida) In fact, they were named Second Best Pizza Place IN THE COUNTRY by TripAdvisor. I’m not sure who is in first place (They HAVE to be from NJ or NY. Maybe V&J’s in Pompton Plains, NJ cause their pizza is like crack!) but Pizza Time has got to be one of my all time favorites. I never thought I would say that about Florida pizza because, let’s face it, trying to find decent pizza in Florida is like trying to find a needle in a haystack but Pizza Time is the BEST! It helps that the owners are from Brooklyn too…sooooo there’s that…..
I bought the tickets in advance for the Tour of Lights so we wouldn’t have to wait in a line to get tickets when we arrived. After we parked and got on the trolley to get to where we needed to be to hop on the OTHER trolley to see the lights, we were welcomed by a line that seemed to be never ending! Recommendation: If you are planning to go on the trolley ride to see the lights, get there at least 2 hours ahead of time to wait on the LONG ASS line! It was a little disappointing but the most important part thing is that we were able to get together and they were able to see St. Augustine for the first time. We walked around for a little while then went to dinner at Gypsy Cab Company
Ron and I had been looking forward to seeing Sammy Hagar for months and then Hurricane Irma came through our area and the original date of September 20th changed to November 11th. In the long run, it worked out better because we didn’t have to take time off from work since the rescheduled concert landed on a Saturday. We were so happy that they postponed the date and did not cancel it!
Since St. Augustine is about an hour and a half from our house, we decided to get a hotel at the Hampton Inn (We are Hampton Inn freaks) on A1A and make a weekend out of it. We’ve never been to this particular hotel or seen beach side in St. Augustine. Every time we visit, we stay in the Historic District (I’ll be there in a few weeks for their tour of lights..stay tuned for that blog in about a month or so).
We arrived at the hotel around 1pm and I walked in to see if we could check in early. They said they would take our phone number and call us if the room opens up before check in time and gave us a parking pass. We were able to park at our hotel and walk across the street to a place called Sunset Grille. Ron and I both had the mahi tacos that were absolutely delicious. Along with the tacos, they serve beans and rice on the side that were very tasty. We ordered a few beers and sat outside since the weather was not humid or buggy. When we were finished eating we hadn’t gotten a call to check into the hotel so decided to go to the bar area of the restaurant to watch the UCF game and have a few more beers. We made small talk with people at the bar and the staff were professional and kind. I would definitely recommend a trip to Sunset Grille if you are in the area.
After lunch we walked over to the hotel since it was getting close to check in time. When we went up to our room we noticed we had a balcony view (it wasn’t of the ocean, but we had a balcony!). When we checked out on Sunday the woman behind the counter asked how our stay was. I said, “It was great! Didn’t realize that I booked a balcony room”. She said, “You didn’t, we upgraded you.” SCORE!!! Thank you Hampton Inn!
On to the concert…..
This was the first time either one of us had been to the St. Augustine Amphitheater. I knew that it was a smaller venue and that it was outside with an awning that covered most of the seats and I LOVE these kind of places! They are not as crowded. They are big but not TOO big where you can get lost. AND it’s a much more intimate setting. Sometimes arenas can be so overwhelming and annoying.
When I book tickets for concerts I ALWAYS book the premiere parking. ALWAYS! They run between $20-$40 and worth every penny! When we got there we were about 8 cars away from the main entrance. Again, WORTH….EVERY….PENNY!
Collective Soul opened up for Sammy Hagar & The Circle and I really enjoyed them. I remembered some of their songs from back in the day and other songs I forgot they sang like “Better Now”. That was a sweet surprise. I haven’t heard that song in ages! They are a good solid band and they mentioned that they were in the process of recording a new album.
Sammy Hagar & The Circle consists of Sammy Hagar (of course), Michael Anthony (bass player from Van Halen), Jason Bonham (his father was none other than the late John Bonham from a little ole band called LED ZEPPELIN) and Vic Johnson (he played with The BusBoys and Sammy Hagar and the Waboritas). Their set list consisted of Van Halen tunes, Sammy’s solo career songs and Montrose songs. One of my favorite songs is “Poundcake” and whoa….was it AMAZING live! Chills! Some of the other tunes they played were “Right Now”, “Dreams”, “I Can’t Drive 55”, “Best of Both Worlds”, “When Its Love”, “Heavy Metal” and a few Montrose songs that were before my time. Ron knew them though! Ha! They ended the night with a cover of “Rock and Roll” by Led Zeppelin that rocked the place!
It was definitely a great concert and to think that Sammy just turned 70 is CRAZY to me! He has more energy than a 30 year old!
I just got back from an awesome trip to see my dear friends in North Jersey and my favorite band, Guns N’ Roses in NYC! When my friend Heather told me that GNR were planning on coming to Madison Square Garden, I didn’t even have to think about it, I said, “I’m booking my flight as soon as you get the tickets!”
My plane arrived around 9pm on Friday night and Heather and Sean came to pick me up at the airport. It was so nice to see them and when I walked outside and took a breath of the New Jersey air, all I could think to myself was, “I love and miss this place so much!”. I literally couldn’t stop smiling and this trip couldn’t have come at a better time since I’ve been feeling an overload of emotions lately and just needed a break.
Heather runs the Kristy Fund and she needed some help with collecting Skel-A-Mingo’s from people’s lawns around her town (please visit her website about the Skel-A-Mingo haunting’s that she organizes during October and other fundraisers that she has going on all through the year in memory of her dear friend, Kristy). It was great to be with her during haunting season so I could meet the Mingo’s and help out a little.
For dinner we had the best pizza in New Jersey at V&J Pizza. This place blows all the competition away! I love me some Delio’s in South Amboy but V&J Pizza is my all time favorite pizza! I mean, look at the picture below! My mouth is watering just looking at it! It’s a masterpiece!!!!
That night Heather and Sean invited some of their friends over and we hung out by the fire drinking beers and laughing. The weather was perfect and I got to meet some really cool peeps!
Before I start talking about the concert, I have to mention the plain bagel with scallion cream cheese that I had for breakfast and the awesome Italian sub for lunch from King’s Kid Deli in Pequannock. As you probably already know from some of my other posts, it’s all about the food when I come to New Jersey. I try to eat as much as I can then come home and starve myself. Ha!
At around 3:30pm we left for NYC to see Guns N’ Roses. The concert started at 7:30pm but we wanted to get into the city early so we could have some food and drinks at Stout which was down the street from The Garden. We shared delicious chicken fingers and an artichoke, spinach and cheese dip to DIE for!
I have to give a HUGE shout out to Heather for the tickets she got for the 7 of us! We had amazing seats in the first row on the 2nd level. We had TV’s in front of us, extra leg space and a sill to hold things (like my beer!).
Now onto the concert..OUT OF THIS WORLD! I think they had one of the best openings I’ve ever seen! The build up to the opening song was a train on the screen with each place they have played so far. When it got to MSG it stopped, everyone started screaming and they started playing “It’s So Easy”! I think I had chills! They played many of my favorites including one from the Chinese Democracy album called “Better” (This was when the original GNR band broke up and Axl toured as GNR with other musicians). They belted out one song after the other like “You Could Be Mine”, “Welcome to the Jungle”, “Don’t Cry”, “Estranged”, “Mr. Brownstone”, “Night Train” and ended with “Paradise City”. They definitely did not disappoint and Slash has to be one of the best guitar players on the planet (although I already knew this before the concert). I was in awe watching him! He just didn’t stop and I couldn’t stop watching with my jaw hanging! He’s one of those guitar players that is so good that the guitar is like an extension of his body. It’s meant to be there and he knows it so well that he doesn’t even have to THINK about it. He’s so natural and his sound is so distinct that when you hear him play, you KNOW it’s him. He’s in a league of his own that’s for sure! As for Axl and Duff, Axl seemed to be struggling a little with his voice at times but that happens when you’re touring for 2 years straight! However, it didn’t change that fact that he is Axl “Fking” Rose!!!! Duff has always been a great bass player and seeing him and Slash playing together again was just epic to experience! I don’t know what else to say about this concert except, yes, I got to see GNR “In This Lifetime!”
Recoup, food, recoup some more, Skel-A-Mingo’s, food, recoup….you get the drill.
I woke up and looked at my phone to see what the weather was outside and when I looked, I thought my eyes were playing tricks on me. It’s 35 degrees!?!?! Whoa! A little chilly but I was excited that I would be able to experience cold and crisp air before I went back to humidity hell! Yes, it’s still humid in Florida in October. Just shoot me!
My flight was scheduled to leave at 10:50am. I like to get to the airport about 2 hours ahead of time only because you never know what the security line is going to look like. Heather and I left with plenty of time to spare until we didn’t have any time because of all the traffic! What the hell are people doing on the road at 8:00am? Shouldn’t they be at work already? Needless to say, my anxiety level was at 1000 (although I wouldn’t have minded missing my flight and staying in NJ a few more days!). We finally got to the airport and I did the hug, kiss, tuck and roll out of the car and made it to security with only 4 people in front of me. Props to Heather for her amazing driving skills (I was a little scared, I’m not gonna lie) and her calmness during my almost meltdown…ha ! Love you!
In the end, I had a wonderful time in my home state with my awesome friends and a little GNR to make it a perfect trifecta!
Heather and Sean’s front yard graveyard
The Killian Clan
Below are some videos from my trip. My goal was to make a YouTube video but some of my videos didn’t come out so great. Guess I’ll stick with blogging for a while until I can pull my YouTube game together! Feel free to enjoy the ones that DID come out decent.
~Funerals and weddings always have a way of bringing people together. It’s unfortunate when it’s a funeral~
On June 22nd, my husband’s uncle died. He had open heart surgery a few weeks prior to his death and seemed to be recovering well when we went to see him the weekend after his surgery. Unfortunately, he took a turn for the worse and passed away. The family had a viewing, a mass and a military service which was very beautiful and emotional. I’ll always remember him as a warm and kind man who loved his family beyond words. I’ll miss him a lot and know for sure that he is with his wife of 50+ years who had passed a year ago. May they rest in peace, together.
The services and burial were to be in New Jersey since he had spent most of his life there before moving to Florida a couple years ago. When we heard of his passing, we contemplated driving up (I hate flying) but decided to fly since it would be faster and with a holiday week approaching, we knew that I-95 could be a mess. On our trip home, our flight out of Newark was delayed 2 hours because of nasty weather in the area which made us wonder if we would make our connecting flight from Atlanta to Daytona. The flight attendant told us if we didn’t make our flight, they would pay for us to stay at a hotel and get us out in the morning. Needless to say I was praying we would make the flight! Luckily, we made it by the skin of our teeth and my calves were killing me from running! Time to get in shape!
While we were in New Jersey, we had a chance to eat pork roll, egg and cheese sandwiches (yes, it’s pork roll north jersey peeps!), pizza, chicken parm sandwiches, bagels and did I mention PIZZA? Nothing compares to New Jersey food so whenever we are in town we make sure that we visit Sciortino’s Harbor Lights, Delio’s, Broadway Bagels and South Amboy Deli. And now that we are home it’s….Time to get in shape! Waaaaa!
We also had a chance to visit Monmouth Park ! It was a very hot day but at least in New Jersey you get a cool breeze which was refreshing. In Florida, it’s hot in the summer with a breeze that never seems to cool you down, at least for me! Sorry…..as I’ve gotten older my need for coolness has grown and I’d love to find a cooler climate to live in. My thyroid and allergies would probably thank me too! Anyway, we bet on some horses (didn’t win anything) and couldn’t leave without a dirty water dog and beer! It’s so hard to think about healthy eating when you only have a few days to scarf down endless calories of deliciousness! Time to get in shape! Ugh!
The rest of our trip consisted of a few visits, laughing and drinking with our friends (MISS YOU ALL!) at Teddy’s Bar and Lagoda’s . If you are in the Central New Jersey area, I recommend that you grab a drink at one or both of these bars. Not only because the bartenders are my friends and I know the owners (HUGE PLUS cause they are awesome people!), but, they are the best bars in the area! Lots of fun had by all!
We also made a few quick visits including a trip to see my brother in law, sister in law, nieces and Lucy the sweetest German Sheppard in the world! It’s unbelievable how my nieces have grown and how they all have their own unique personalities and talents now. I’m really proud of them. Time flies and stops for no one I tell ya! Blink of an eye, and they’re grown.
I’m glad that we were able to come up and say our final goodbye’s to uncle Ralph. Life is precious…live it YOUR way!
Until next time New Jersey….and hopefully under better circumstances…..
On the Airtran at Newark Airport
On the train to Monmouth Park
“Be safe, be happy and don’t let anyone make you afraid” ~ David Coverdale
The piece of steel below was part of the north tower’s antenna and was donated to the City of South Amboy on 9/6/2014. South Amboy was one of the many city’s that risked their own lives as they rushed to NY to help others on that dreadful day. I will never forget.