Month: July 2016

Disney, all grown up

Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida has never been on my must-see list. In general, I try to avoid places that are filled with children.

However, when my best friend, Dona, invited me there for her birthday to stay in a timeshare that her family owned, I couldn’t really think of a reason to say no. I wanted to celebrate Dona’s 25th birthday with her, I wouldn’t have to book a hotel room and I could go for just a portion of the week that Dona was staying for with her college friends, so I could only take two days off of work. Plus, things have been stressful lately, and I figured I could use a few days away to decompress.

For only $250, I snagged a round-rip flight to Orlando. I can’t remember the last time that I felt so relaxed.

Dona (left) and I.

Dona (left) and I.

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Exotic car garages are car lovers’ dream

Written for MyCentralJersey.com on 7/26/16

Every weekend, 12,000 car lovers flock to the New Jersey Motorsports Park (NJMP) in Millville to race on two world-class road courses, go-kart on one of the top karting facilities in the country, watch races and take on-track driving instruction.

However, for 16 enthusiasts — a number that is ever-growing — NJMP has become their home-away-from-home after their purchase of an exotic car garage (ECG).

“I think that this is a dream for anyone who’s a car guy,” said Brandon Hull of Princeton, a venture capitalist who was the second person to purchase an ECG, which began being constructed at NJMP in 2014. “It’s sort of nirvana to be able to store all of your equipment right at the race track. And, it’s a privilege to do track days whenever your schedule permits.”

njmp1

The convenience of having all of their cars and supplies in one place makes it a worthy investment for some car lovers. (Photo: ~Courtesy of New Jersey Motorsports Park

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The circus is always in town in Hillsborough

HILLSBOROUGH – There was a time when doing aerial stunts, juggling and riding a unicycle meant that you had run off and joined the traveling circus.

Now, being proficient in those skills may just mean that you’ve been hanging out in Hillsborough.

Circus Place, a circus school at 6 Jill Court in Hillsborough, has been training kids and adults alike in the circus arts for the past five years, bringing in 200 to 250 students a month and 700 visiting students a year, of which about half are adults and half are children.

And those students are not messing around.

“You used to have to run away or be a gypsy to join the circus and be accomplished in circus arts,” said Guinevere DiPiazza, a Branchburg resident and owner/program director of Circus Place. “But now, it’s become a movement happening here in America. It is becoming more mainstream and it’s being known that anyone can do it on the recreational level.”

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Durham: Feeding its tourists with dignity

As a classic clutcher of a glass-half-empty, I’m always aware when visiting a new city that I’m probably not going to eat quite as well as I do at home in New Jersey, where I know my fair share of hidden gem restaurants as well as what spots are grossly overrated.

Unfortunately, when traveling, I don’t have this kind of advantage. Instead, I’m at the whim of what restaurants are within walking distance of my lodging, passing recommendations from Uber drivers and how many stars a particular eatery as garnered via a quick Google search.

However, during my recent stay in Durham, North Carolina, for a wedding, I have to say that for one of the only times in my life, every restaurant that we sampled was simply fantastic. Here’s my recap.

Carolina-style ribs.

Carolina-style ribs.

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When I was a Phish head for the weekend

Although I’m a seasoned backpacker, I’m definitely not a camper. After a long day of traveling, getting caught in the rain, being stuffed into crowded bars and wandering dirty streets, I appreciate a hot shower, a warm bed and indoor plumbing.

The only time other time I went camping before last weekend, I went with three other people and we all stuffed ourselves into a two-person tent and ate hot dogs for every meal. It wasn’t exactly ideal. So, I was a little hesitant to go camping with my boyfriend, Mike, and his friend Adam to see Phish for three days in Saratoga Springs while camping at Lee’s Campground, about seven miles away from the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC).

Mike and I before the show.

Mike and I before the show.

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Summer Ville is serving up cool ice cream flavors

SOMERVILLE – On most nights, the crowd starts growing large at Summer Ville Homemade Ice Cream, Somerville’s newest ice cream parlor at 144 E. Main St., a bit after dinnertime.

Turns out, that’s when Elio DeFranco, Bridgewater resident and owner of the new hangout, is concocting his chilly creations, too.

“I love food, cooking and making things with my hands and I thought I could run this and keep my full time job as a computer testing manager, too,” he said. “It’s been a lot of work because I’m here many nights until 11 p.m., but eventually I would like this to be my full time job.”

Summer Ville, which has been serving about 200 to 300 people a night, has been pulling in quite more of a turnout than DeFranco expected when he opened on June 6 after about three years of planning.

Mark Sullivan/Staff Photo

Mark Sullivan/Staff Photo

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Somerville’s Cruise Nights have global appeal

For locals, downtown Somerville is a destination for many occasions — a night out for a nice meal, an afternoon of shopping or a visit to the weekly farmers’ market, to name a few.

However, the borough is also a hotspot for a less obvious group of visitors — those looking to check out or show off classic cars from all over the world, coming from garages throughout the tristate area.

Somerville has been holding Friday night Cruise Nights for 27 years, a gathering of over 150 classic cars and 2,000 accompanying visitors that line Main Street from North Doughty Avenue to Grove Street from Memorial Day to Labor Day.

One of the largest weekly events of its kind, which Beth Anne Macdonald, executive director of the Downtown Somerville Alliance, said that she gets calls about from all over the United States, has garnered so much popularity partly because it has one-mile-long difference from other car shows — it isn’t held in isolation.

Cruise Nights bring in 150 classic cars per week. (Photo: ~Courtesy of Downtown Somerville Alliance)

Cruise Nights bring in 150 classic cars per week.
(Photo: ~Courtesy of Downtown Somerville Alliance)

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