Note: I had to drive it for work for a whole year of my lovely life. I still twitch a little whenever I have to grace it with my presence.
Hubby drives the Garden State Parkway (GSP) everyday. Only a short stretch, but it is the most dreadful part of his entire commute, as noted by me. I don't think he acknowledges how terrible it is. Perhaps he has blinded himself to the horrors of this road so that he is able to endure it.
I don't know.
In case you don't live in New Jersey, or in case you are so blessed as to never have to drive this end of the GSP, here are my complaints. For starters, there are five lanes. That in itself is recipe for disaster. As if that wasn't bad enough, whoever designed the lanes clearly had smart cars in mind because short of a bicycle, they are the only other vehicle that could comfortably fit. Though I know I am staying in my lane, I am constantly feeling as though I'm drifting closer and closer to the cars beside me. I can't imagine what it is like when there is an accident. On top of all this, the lanes curve and turn more than a bendy straw. Meaning that as a driver you have to be doubly alert.
That said, Hubby ventured even further than usual down the GSP with me Tuesday night for a life changing event: another chance to see the Pioneer Woman live and in person.
Okay, not exactly life changing. Perhaps, simply inspiring?
You might recall a year and a half ago, when this blog was just a baby, Hubby took me to meet The Pioneer Woman. Her second book had come out and I was ecstatic to go to NYC to see her. I walked on clouds the entire night and left the city with her signature, a blurry picture, and the courage to pursue my dreams.
Seeking another such experience, I begged Hubby to take me to the signing of her recently released holiday cookbook.
Alright, I didn't really have to beg. I just said I wanted to go and he made it happen.
I love him.
Our long drive down the GSP wasn't so horrible. We headed out before rush hour and were at the bookstore a honkin' two hours before the signing started. We weren't taking any chances with having to wait three hours again to get our book signed.
No, that time is not an exaggeration.
This signing was in the Barnes and Noble in Paramus, NJ and they did not seem to have their ish together.
I know, I just used a non word 'ish'. It was that horrible and I'm sorry.
There were no organized lines, no staff readily available to guide and assist the customers, it was, in a word: nightmarish.
We weren't let in to our seats for the presentation until 15 minutes before it began. Which meant we had to stand for an hour and a half.
We got coffee first, of course.
When we were finally seated, the leg room provided was worse than economy class on an airplane.
We were in the third row and although we really should have been in the second or first, I wasn't complaining.
Okay, I might have complained just a little.
Pioneer Woman, Ree Drummond, came out a half hour late. Apparently no one had warned her what NYC traffic into NJ is like around 5 o'clock.
Again, people, get your ish together!
She did a short presentation that inspired me to blog blog blog, and then began signing books.
Which meant more waiting.
There were quite some characters that Hubby and I observed together as we all bonded in the boredom of waiting and the stickiness of three hundred people being squished in a small room for two hours.
Pioneer Woman is gracious enough to sign every item brought to her and to pose for pictures with every person who wants one.
Hubby was beginning to melt and hinted to wanting to step outside when I was only about a half hour away from getting my book signed. I gave him the you-won't-get-in-trouble-later-if-you-do-this okay and he cleared out of the room.
Which meant the poor Barnes and Noble guy had to take my picture for me. I brought my DSLR camera this time, instead of using my phone last minute like last time. He looked at my camera, held it for a moment, then said, "It's not on" and Pioneer Woman and I shared an understanding laugh. I went over to explain to him that it was indeed on, but the picture was not going to show up on the screen, that he actually had to look through the little hole that is made for an eyeball to be held up to.
It was a learning experience for us both.
*"Boy, I'm glad I didn't use a blotting paper, tissue, of even just a sheet of paper on my face before this picture"...wait, nope that's not what I said. I looked at my picture on the ride home and though, "Gee, I'm so glad I fixed my hair before this picture. If only I realized it was my oily face that needed the work!".
Though I had pre-ordered my cookbook, as any true fan would, I bought one of her "Charlie" books for my Kindergarten class. She signed it to them and I shared it the next day in school. They seemed to really enjoy the fact that her dog likes bacon....just like any smart person or animal would!
*Oh look...Kitty Kitty is having the same problem that my face was having.
Hubby and I love trying local restaurants whenever we are in a different city. Hubby found "Chakra" while we were waiting in line.
He may or may not have made a reservation for 7:30 and we may or may not have shown up at 8:00 and pretended we didn't have a reservation.
Come on, don't tell me you've never done it.
It was a Tuesday night, after all.
Okay, I know, I'm just making excuses now.
You would never know from it's name that it is a Modern American restaurant.
The mood was very intimate, definitely a perfect date setting. There were couches with pillows instead of chairs for some of the seating. There was one wooden table seating about ten with a glass top that covered a dug out center that any type of "centerpiece" could be placed in, or under. I wanted it.
It's been some time since I've pulled out my DSLR camera in a restaurant, but my food looked so good I knew I needed to do it. I had to do it. I ordered the Goffle Farm Chicken 'Thanksgiving Style' with a side of Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. The chicken was tender and served on top of root vegetables, cornbread stuffing, and cranberry jus. It was the perfect blend of wonderful. The mashed potatoes might not have been a necessity, but they made it that much more delightful. They were smooth, buttery, and everything I love in a mashed potato.
Hubby ordered the TC steak which is 40-day aged Colorado sirloin steak served with cream spinach. He also ordered a side of hand-cut fries topped with Parmesan and truffle oil and served with ketchup, aioli, and spicy mayonnaise.
I'm going to be honest. I was so obsessed with my food that I didn't even look at Hubby's plate until his steak was half way gone. I did get a bite of his steak and a handful of fries. The steak was perfectly done and the fries were exceptional. The aioli and spicy mayonnaise were a delightful difference to the average french fry dipping sauce of ketchup.
If Hubby hadn't said it first, I might have said it myself. The experience of going to a book signing is awesome, the first time. While this trip was still inspirational, and all in all I'm glad I went, it will probably be the last book signing I attend until I am able to go to one of my own.
Here's to that hope.