I just wanted to give a quick thanks to everyone that has made December one of the best months of my life. A quick recap…
NYC (Manhattan and Hoboken)
Went up to NYC to visit one of my best friends, Ted Griffin. He lives in Hoboken which has, by and far, the best view of Manhattan. Hoboken is an old port town and accordingly, has the most bars per capita than any other place in the world (or so I hear.) Needless to say, the small city of Hoboken is a great time. Went over to Manhattan with Ted and met up with Erin, where we embarked on the endless (walking and subway) search for a Knish and the one-and-only “Dirty Water Dog.” We must’ve pounded over 17 miles of pavement that day, seeing the sites and enjoying cups of Hot Apple Cider and pit-stops for “pints” to keep us warm.
I couldn’t believe how beautiful this city has become. From the mean streets and dirtiness I remember as a child, Manhattan must be at the very top of the list for “Most Improved” over the past decade. Coming from San Francisco where homelessness is an epidemic, I only saw 2 homeless people during my entire trip. Here’s another bright idea. They have a trashcan on EVERY corner. Brilliant! And of course, to top-off an amazing 3 day stint we indulged in an authentic New York Pizza. Good times and a special thanks to Ted for putting Erin and I up for a couple days and giving us a great tour of NYC. Stay Free Ted.
A couple of friends I grew up with (Jay Arasim and Ryan McManimie) live in South Philly now and I was able to go and visit several times. Growing up in the ‘burbs, I didn’t really get to see the “real” Philly as a younger lad. Philly is such a cool, hip and unique part of the world! With tight streets (sometimes with cobblestone), the greatest football team in the USA (oh yeah, I bleed Green!), and more greasy and delicious food than you can possibly imagine, it’s no wonder this city has a population over 5 million. I also had a chance to go into a beautiful Brownstone home for New Years Eve and I’m guessing it was built in the early 1800’s. My friends Tracey and Todd bought it a couple years ago and have been busy renovating and voila, the place is big pimpin’. They say if you ever want a history lesson on the United States, then Philly is the only place you need to stop. I couldn’t agree more.
Speaking of history, New Years Day was spent relaxing with Erin and introducing her to the wonder’s of the Mummer’s parade. This is an annual Philly phenomenon that has been going strong since the mid-17th century! Rumor has it that the “Mummers” started after guys would be out all night for New Years Eve and would come home and put on their wives clothes and proceed to go door to door. This is what they would sometimes recite:
“Here we stand before your door,
As we stood the year before;
Give us whiskey; give us gin,
Open the door and let us in.
Or give us something nice and hot
Like a steaming hot bowl of pepper pot!”
And this started the tradition of the Mummer’s parade. Now it’s a pretty big production but the guys still dress kind of funny!
Family and Friends
Even after seeing these two amazing cities, nothing was greater than spending so much quality time with my family and reuniting with a ton of old friends. From chilling with my Pops to talking politics with my Mom and Dennis, it was always a good time. My brother Kyle is turning into one amazing musician and it was great having him teach me more and more on the guitar. I can only hope to be as good as him one day. We had some awesome jams and sing alongs and we just keep adding to our repertoire. He says we should go on the road like the Partridge Family. I can only agree. Brother Ryan is just a hoot. I can never get enough of him and he’s just great to be around. My cheeks still hurt from laughing so much! Even family from South Carolina and New York were in town, with young babies and lots of lovin’ and laughter. I’ll miss you guys while gone. Love ya!
It seemed like there was a party or some kind of gathering every other night, the most memorable being the annual Christmas Eve party and my Mom’s “Let’s get the neighborhood together for the Helluvit Party!” Great times, great food, and great people. A special thanks must go out to Kim and Jo at the Ephrata Rec Center for keeping me in somewhat decent shape while at home. If you’re ever in the area, be sure to stop in for one of their spin classes. You will love the music and the workout is intense.
I caught up with my roommate from the Netherlands, Dennis, a few times and all of his Russian buddies showed me a great time as well. Crazy Eleuteri was in town and him, Erin and I had a nice stroll around Philly and found this great restaurant called Tria with an amazing cheese, wine and beer selection. Hartman and Bosler topped off the self-dubbed “All-Star Reunion Night” down in Philly. Even my last night was great catching up with “Yaddy B, Bucky B, Smooth V, and Monk.” As kids we all had nicknames. And we all still do. They call me “Bimmer.”
So Long and Thanks for all the Fish
I’ll be uploading pics and writing stories about all of my travels and adventures. I’m extremely excited and am very grateful that I have this opportunity in my life as well as a girlfriend who is as adventurous as me. And I’m off…stay tuned for highlights from AROUND THE WORLD!