Family Visiting Jersey! My Epic Weekend In Pictures

Talk about another epic Weekend In Pictures!  My sister Suzanne visited us and we were so happy to have her.  My family, Awesome Girlfriend Megan, and my friends are everything in my world.  I have hit the jackpot in life to have everyone I do from Boston to Jersey and beyond.  This weekend we enjoyed amazing food, surprising my sister with CUTE puppies and kittens, yummy craft beers, a fantasy football draft, and time with some of our wonderful friends.  Friday night Suzanne drove from work in Boston to us in Vernon on Campus.  You know what that means for my Friday night after work, right?  DEEP DIVE CLEANING!  Cleaning always a must before company, which I don't mind too much.  When your place is clean it can be relaxing, even though poor Awesome Girlfriend Megan was slipping a couple of times on my freshly swiffed hardwood floors (sorry, Meg I should've warned you!)  

The last hour of my Wicked Awesome Sister Suzanne's commute was during those intense thunderstorms we received Friday night.  This happened to Suzanne last year during her summer visit to us, and once again the first words out of her mouth were expletives.  Welcome back to Jersey, Zannie!  This was my sister's first time visiting since I have become addicted to grilling on my deck.  We were counting down the minutes until I could grill her a nice, juicy cheeseburger and show off her big brother's new grill skills in progress.  Even though we were hosting, I still received a present!  My Uncle (Leisure) Paul and Aunty Donna are two of the most amazing people you will ever meet.  They have been there for us no matter what from day one.  They're also extremely generous, and gave me a nice welcome mat that says "Welcome to the tiki bar," and it even lights up!  We need to find a home for this ASAP, I love it!  I can't keep it outside though, don't want to risk ruining it.  It's too pretty for the outdoors as you can see.  The grilling came out fantastic.  My burger came out medium rare, which is the only way I can do beef.  Victory!  It was such a wonderful night after grilling, just relaxing with Meg and Zannie.

Saturday morning, time to rock!  My family and friends always tease me because I tend to schedule many things ahead of time.  I tend to blame that because so many things are a nice 45 minute drive away from Vernon, planning is imperative to our operation / their vacation.  Whenever my friends ask my parents about a potential adventure they just laugh, look over and say "I don't know Steve, do we even have time to drink this beer?"  While I tend to blame the long country drives, it is more likely due to my super Type A OCD nature.  Suzanne actually stumbled onto the Sunflower Maze in Branchville over the past few weeks.  My Wicked Awesome Sister is now researching and planning what she wants to do while visiting us!  Saturday was their opening day, and we were there by 9:10.  Thank goodness for my Jeep Compass, it was basically off roading and mud bogging to park.  We were their first customers of the year!  While many sunflowers haven't bloomed yet, we still enjoyed being at one with nature.  I had never seen dark colored sunflowers in person before, and that is a sight I can certainly recommend.  On our way to the Sunflower Maze, which btw was only a 42 minute drive, not 45, Meg accidentally slipped and spoiled one big surprise I had planned for Zannie.

Saturday of course was National Clear The Shelter Day.  I figured what better way to celebrate than to swing by my friends at Father John's Animal House, and let my sister tour their terrific, well organized shelter.  Garret and Nancy were able to hook us up with a terrific tour, let us take a live video on Facebook, and yes, Meg and Zannie were able to play with cute puppies and kittens.  I'm hoping to get great news from Father John's that several of our friends were adopted, especially Buddy.  Buddy was my Pet Of The Week a couple months ago, and is a great pup who simply fell through the cracks.  He's a sweet pup who has been there at the shelter for over a year!  Plus, if you watch the video, prepare for your heart to melt over this bonded kitty pair, one is totally blind depending on his sibling to function.  Hopefully we had success partially clearing out the shelter, and Meg and Zannie were all smiles.  Success!

After our shelter tour, I took Meg and Zannie on a whim to see our friends at The Cottage in Franklin for a quick snack.  Damian was of course less than thrilled I brought another Patriot fan into his irish pub.  LOL.  Sorry!  Delicious pizza for us and Zannie had a Watermelon Sangria, or as she would say Whaddawhmelon Sangria, while Meg and I enjoyed Perpetual IPA.  Meg and I highly recommend Perpetual IPA, seems to give enough of what you what, plus nothing you don't.  

Then it was time for afternoon adventures with our besties, Douglioso and Sally.  Meg took Zannie, and I took them for our tour to see Hackettstown --- plus enjoy yummy craft beers ---- and blow them away with the pickle store.  This was great for Zannie, Douglioso and Sally to see many of mine and Meg's regular hang outs when we are in Hackettstown.  We started off at Long Valley Brewery & Pub Tiki Bar, where we enjoyed a terrific flight sample with some pretzel sticks.  Tons of fun times.  The rain stopped for us during that time.  We then continued our trek from Washington to Hackettstown, enjoyed another yummy flight of craft beers at Czig Meister.  I then took them to the pickle store, where they were all blown away.  We ended up having a pickle fight over whose were better, my quart that was full sour, or Sally and Douglioso's which were spicy horseradish.  I think we ended up in a draw with our friends.  LOL.  We then did a beer at Marley's where I usually get my nuclear wings.  Minor miscommunication issues, but then our bartender buddy Charlie jumped in and fixed everything.  We will definitely keep going there and supporting them.

Saturday night we ended up back on Campus.  The afternoon rains resulted in closing our Campus Tiki Bar, but we still utilized our friends at Kite's Bar & Grill to be our central meeting spot location.  Amazing times with Sally and Douglioso, JG, Tyann, Carrie, Kenny, and Steve!  We broke out our pickles and everyone enjoyed.  It means the world to me when our friends take time out of their day to see my family.  I'm blessed with many amazing friends.

Saturday I drove my sister around a ton, which can be very draining after traveling from Boston to Jersey or vice versa.  I've been trying to calm down over the past few years and have my family / friends do less when they visit.  It's a long drive, and why not utilize the fact that I live in a vacation resort.  Therefore, Sunday we made it a chill day on Campus.  We took Suzanne to breakfast at Granny's on 23, where of course I ran into friends.  Robin and her husband Chris, plus our dear friend Chuck.  Full disclosure, we are friends with both Deb and Carrie who run Granny's.  Suzanne was able to meet two of three of Meg's Awesome Daughters, Caitlin and Hailey, plus Caitlin's Awesome Fiance Robbie.  Great times with amazing friends.  We then went back to my place getting Meg back on Campus.  I had them watch a couple of Bar Rescue episodes with me, then took them to the pools at Minerals Sports Club while I had one of my fantasy football drafts.  Even though the weather was cool and cloudy, I loved that Meg and Zannie were able to bond at Tiki and enjoy a delicious Bacardi Rum Bucket together.  Then I picked them up, continued my fantasy football draft, and started grilling more delicious burgers.  I'll admit my Type A OCD got the best of me and I had a minor, brief hissy fit when the girls were trying to help me grill.  They know I'm new to grilling and had a lot happening at the same time, but I wasn't going to let them touch my grill and risk having my juicy burger become medium well instead of medium rare!  Thank god they both have patience of saints for putting up with me. 

Meg had to go back to Hackettstown.  Welp welp.  Zannie and I were able to enjoy another Bar Rescue episode, then gymnastics was on national TV!  My sister Zannie has been involved with gymnastics since she was 2 years old, and has been coaching for over half her life.  We are a proud gymnastics family.  Quite often at gymnastic meets, moms would ask me and my Dad for score updates because we always kept track.  The competition last night was ironically at the TD Boston Garden.  Drinking delicious beers with my sister, watching gymnastics felt just like the good old days.  Suzanne is driving back home to Boston.  I always stress a ton about making sure everyone has a great time.  When these kind of weekends are over it feels like I then finally breathe for the first time.  My sister Zannie is also my best friend.  I pray she, Meg, and our wonderful friends had a phenomenal time.  Our weekend was exhausting, terrific, and memorable, filled with so many laughs.  I hope your weekend was wonderful too.  Time to start planning our next weekend!

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