Happily, the weather pretty much dissipated fairly soon, and we were able to make fairly decent time. We jogged east on I-70, then up I-95. Unfortunately, there was road construction which closed all but one lane, which cost us quite a bit of time. And the weather worsened again. We continued on, at reduced speed. Eventually, we got to south Jersey and saw signs for Atlantic City. We followed them, only to find ourselves on a back road that looked like it might ice up any time. We did some pirouettes and got back on the Garden State Parkway, which looked like it had enough traffic and road treatmet to dispell the ice. A little after we took a better turnoff for AC, fizzygeek announced it was her turn for food. We saw one flashy diner, but didn't see how to get to it, but soon found another one, the Phily Diner (yes, just one L for some reason). It was actually a pretty nice joint (even the restrooms were pleasant). We again discussed spending the night. As we were near Barrington, I figured we could get some rest, go visit Edmund Scientific, then head for Atlantic City.
But we decided to continue onward, as we didn't have that far to go at that point. Calling the hotel let us know that the could put us up a night early, so we would have a place to stay, and wouldn't have to unpack and change hotels. The weather refused to co-operate, however, causing us to poke along pretty slowly. We were also getting tired, which caused some driver swaps, and some irksome misunderstandings on places to pull over to do so. Then we almost got sideswiped by some idiots blowing by at some insane speed, and apparently barely in control of their vehicle (they slewed off onto the shoulder for a while next). It looked like they spent an unusual amount of time at the toll gate, so hopefully the attendant noticed that they were drunk/high/crazy and did something about it.
That shook us both up, the weather was really deteriorating, but we were very nearly to the hotel by then, so we continued with extreme care. We finally got to the hotel, but the mumbling desk attendant had given up on us (it had been a while). Their computer was down, so it took a while to accomplish anything. She eventually found us a room, and we headed over there, but the door wouldn't accept our key. fizzygeek trudged back to the front desk, and eventually obtained another room (sure enough, the first room had already been occupied). So, at around 3:30AM, we could finally get some sleep in Somers Point, not far from Atlantic City. Unfortunately, the accumulating snow leaked through the roof and ceiling and started dripping on the floor, which made it difficult to sleep. Additionally, a friend I'd emailed about visiting on this trip called early that morning, which also cost us some sleep. We slept as best we could, and when it just wasn't working any more, fizzygeek had a long shower and called the front desk. I figured I'd have to take a quick shower and dress so we could let the maintenance people in, but it ended up being more brief than I planned for. It turns out the rooms have individual water heaters, and ours was already pretty much tapped out, so when the water started turning cold, I shut it off, finished washing, and rinsed with the lukewarm dregs. The maintenance people never turned up, and eventually the room we'd reserved became available.
We made a lazy day of it, as I had very little energy. We had a nice breakfast at the Point Diner, and did a little shopping. We found you could get some pretty good soft pretzels at the Acme, so we brought some back to the room to enjoy. We found a nice big garden center and had a nice time roaming around there. There was also a cute little bookstore where we found several fun books. There was one I almost bought about answers to kids' questions. I opened it at random, to a question as to where words for things (like "pencil") come from, and the answer was a really good one, explaining how people invent terms (like one family that referred to parmesian as "shake cheese") and some become widely adopted. We saw one book a friend would really enjoy, and picked up a copy for him. I burned through the $14 remaining balance in a gift card I'd gotten as a bonus from work, so the books seemed even cheaper.
Some research on the web revealed that Edmund Scientific, as I remembered it, was, alas, no more. The Barrington location was now Edmund Optics (a fine outfit, and the supplier for many of the parts for my homemade UV lense, but not the goofy surplus place it once was). The Edmund Scientific name had been absorbed by an education supply company based in New York. They sell a variety of interesting things, including an odd Egyptian style game based on lasers and mirrors, but were out of trivial visiting range.
Friday night, we decided to make use of the fireplace in our new room. The sign explained that it was not a wood burning fireplace, and only used special logs that could be purchased from the hotel. fizzygeek grumbled that they should just give us a log after the dripping water incident last night, but went to pick one up. We lit up the log, and curled up for a nice lazy evening, enjoying soft pretzels and reading. I had gotten fizzygeek a new camera as an early birthday gift, and she was playing with it, getting to know it, and charging its batteries. Then we heard heavy footsteps stomping up the stairs to the room overhead. With a surprising series of thuds and crunches, the people noisily installed themselves in the room directly above us. Then they began a sort of game that seemed to involve stomping across the floor at great speed and flinging themselves onto the bed, making the headboard rattle against the wall. And they had a lot of enthusiasm for their raucous fun, as well as apparently unlimited energy. After a few hours of this, desperately needing sleep, we called the front desk, and asked them to entreat the upstairs neighbors to knock it off. Which they did. For a while.
Early next morning, the booming and thudding recommenced, and we realized that more sleep was a lost cause. We packed up our stuff and headed out. Happily, the hotel management took pity on us (they intimated that they were convinced the people in the room above us had quite a few people in their room, and had instructed the housekeeping staff to keep an eye our for evidence of this), and comped us a free night, which was awfully nice of them, as our travails weren't really their fault.
Reaching Atlantic City, we found the parking garage for the event site was full (unsurprising, really), so we ended up parking at a neighboring casino and hoofing it. We had scored some truly excellent seats (on the secondary market, as we were buying them late in the game), and the show was a total blast. The music was good, the announcer (a 37 year veteran mummer) was on the ball (he got a special award), the shows were fantastic. We took lots of pictures (I was glad I'd gotten the 2GB memory card for the new camera, there were over 300 shots on that card alone). I even got to dance with a mummer. They were selling CDs and DVDs, so we picked 'em all up. One of the captains was retiring that year, and they gave him an incredible sendoff. Each band gets twice the amount of time they get for the parade, so it was quite the show, even without the comics and fancies (the string bands are our favourite part anyway). We may have seen mummergirl, but I doubt we'd be able to pick her out of a crowd, what with the costumes and makeup and everything. The show easily made up for all the trouble we'd had getting there.
After the show, we headed out to visit some NJ area friends (ghibli_geek and a couple of folks that don't have LJs that I know of). We had a fine time eating Lebanese food, playing with a Wii (that's one bizarre video game system, you can use it to do anything from get weather reports from Abu Dhabi to playing a bizarre game (Endless Oceans) where you get to be a hot chick diving around tickling fish and trying not to let another hot chick show you her encyclopedia. We also watched a documentary about caves that involved an amazing amount of sticky goo (they actually used the term "snot hammocks" at one point) and other disturbing things. And there was another fire, which is always nice.
Then we headed out to fizzygeek's old stomping grounds to spend the night. The internet at that hotel was broken, but what we really needed was sleep, so that was no big deal.
The next day, we called some more friends to see if they were up for a visit, but they wouldn't all be back home for a bit, so we did some shopping to obtain more soft pretzels (to take home and freeze), as well as some locally available yummies we'd been craving (Bachmann's for me, Zitner's for fizzygeek). Not much joy on the Zitner's, but a good haul for the others. We had a lovely visit, but I was hoping to see yet other friends before we headed home, so I called 'em up. Happily, they'd be thrilled to see us, so we headed that way. It turned out to be via US 1 through Philly, which isn't a wonderful road, but we made it there fine. It was a bit of a whirlwind, with three young children zipping about, but a nice friendly household, and they even fed us a good dinner. They asked the kids if they wanted shake cheese, and asked us if we'd heard of anyone else calling it shake cheese. Always amused at synchronicity (maugorn calls it "the cosmic joke"), I told 'em how I'd just read about that in a book the previous day!
The trip back home, thankfully, was unremarkable (aside from one lout who tried to merge into us at Whitemarsh), and we arrived home to kitties that were quite glad to see us.
I was gonna post this with pictures, but time flies by, so fizzygeek or I will probably make a picture post later.