This weekend I was able to drive up to New England and surprise my family. I kept this one really close to the vest. Outside of my iHeart coworkers, and a couple of friends here in Jersey, nobody else knew. This time of year is definitely a busy season for us in radio. Friday we're doing our Christmas Kick Off Party at Industry in Sparta, and the following weekend is our annual Stuff The Bus food drive radiothon. I'm probably not going to have another day off until Thanksgiving Day when I can go back home to see my family, but it's well worth it. Knowing that you can play even a small role in helping support folks going through tough times, it's a humbling and great experience. Last year for example, we broke a record and collected 75 THOUSAND pounds of food. Simply unbelievable, the support we get here in Sussex County, New Jersey, and our surrounding Tri-State area.
Due to some scheduling conflicts and timing, I haven't been back up home since 4th Of July Weekend. My family was able to visit me here in Jersey Labor Day Weekend, then September, October, and November have just been action packed with events.
I was able to take a half day vacation from work Friday getting a head start on my drive to Mansfield, Massachusetts. My grand master plan? Surprising my Dad Padre and sister Suzanne at Bog Iron Brewing in Norton, Ma. They typically go there Friday late afternoons for a happy hour beer. They're like family at Bog Iron. They are always so sweet and excited to see me when I go. I arrived at 4:34pm, 4 minutes after my family is usually there at Bog Iron. I didn't see their car anywhere. I went in, and bartender Liz remembered me immediately. She asked if I wanted a beer while waiting for Mike and Suzanne, and I asked her to please pour their beers first. I explained how I had just arrived from New Jersey, and they didn't know I was there. Total surprise. She then got excited for the big surprise moment. Other friends, like a new friend Courtney exclaimed that she loves surprises. I warned them all to lower expectations. My family is not the best at giving or receiving surprises. We don't mean to be, we just are. I'm also 100% guilty. It's like you can see us thinking and being confused with a wonderful, heartfelt surprise.
By 4:40, Padre and Zannie showed up. I immediately offered them their beers. They were definitely surprised and stunned that I showed up. They were confused and concerned. I haven't been up there to surprise them without letting them know anything at all very often up here. Only a couple of times over the past 9 years. Normally I keep them in the loop of my plans, even checking in with them when I'm on my way up there to help them gauge my ETA. They were worried that something was wrong. Once I assured them that nothing was wrong, everything was okay, I just came up to surprise them, then they relaxed and were excited to see me.
We had fun enjoying our happy hour beer together. I did two Jump Back beers, which is a nice IPA. I'm hopeful they'll have my usual go to Soul Cellar, a more New England style IPA, when I'm back for Thanksgiving Weekend in a few weeks. The clock struck 6, which is apparently the usual time that they're just getting home at the same time as Madre. This time they were distracted, likely because they were thrown off by my surprise, and we left Bog Iron at 6. They called me on our way back home to make sure they got out of the car and inside home first, that way they could help with me surprising Madre. Their plan was cute and fun.
They went in apologizing to Madre for being a few minutes later than usual, and it was because they ran into someone they haven't seen in awhile.
Then they had me come in. Madre was also very surprised and happy to see me after the first few seconds of surprise wore off LOL.
Saturday I had fun going to Gillette Stadium and seeing the newly completed massive lighthouse. It was also my first time at Harp, a sports bar that took over from the old CBS Scene there. They did a great job doing that sports bar over, that's for sure. My new bartender friends Kaileigh and Adriana were psyched to make their Epic Weekend In Pictures debut. They loved working there and also were interested in learning about my fun radio career.
Saturday morning I was able to go visit Grammy and see Aunty Donna while seeing Grammy in Mansfield. It was great to see her. Since she just turned 90 in June, I figured it was a much safer bet to let them know ahead of time that there was a visit in my future. After all, with how my track record of surprises tends to go, better safe than sorry!
Saturday afternoon my Uncle Buck swung by to say hi after hearing from Grammy and Aunty Donna that I was in town. It was great to catch up with him and share our mutual golfing trials, tribulations, fails and fun.
Saturday night I was able to go to Geno's in Mansfield (where their New England Clam Chowder is FANTASTIC,) and see Uncle Jeff (JDawg,) Uncle Paul, Aunty Donna, Matt, and of course enjoy dinner with my parents and sister too. Great time with some laughs for sure!
Sunday it was a planned early exit. I was on the road by 9am and back here in Jersey by 1pm on the dot. 4 hours door to door is about as good a time as you can do. I'll take it. I then ended up watching my Patriots game at The Irish Cottage Inn. I could've watched it at home, but after the driving I knew once I hit my couch I'd be on there for hours. I wanted to go somewhere where I could walk around a little more, keep the circulation going.
Football was brutal. Tough loss for Patriots again, Giants again, and my fantasy football team, again. Ah well.
Overall it was a great weekend getting to see my family! Time to start planning next weekend, and it'll start with us flipping to Christmas Friday at Industry in Sparta 5pm! Santa will help me light the tree like he does every year. Let's go!