Look at me experiencing new things in reality. From July 3rd-8th I had the pleasure of visiting The Great American State of New Jersey on a first time leaving Canada vacation adventure (TM)!
Not gonna lie, those now long passed few days in the USA were some of the best days of my life. Getting away from my boring routine in lil ol’ Nova Scotia and seeing people in reality did wonders for my depressed old soul. The biggest highlight of the entire trip was meeting two of my closest blogger buddies offline for the fist time: Athena of AmbiGaming and The Shameful Narcissist. I can now confirm that these two are total badasses in reality! Definitely give their online blogs a follow.
Wow, though. The whole trip is something I never want to forget, and my terrible memory is already shedding details like crazy. I’ve decided to do one of those fancy travel blog thingys and here it is:
LightningEllen’s Adventures in New Jersey, and New York City. It’s like one of my video game babblethroughs except it’s real life stuff. Enjoy!
Day 1 (July 3rd) – “Gracefully” Entering the USA
Did I mention I don’t get out much? Because I don’t… Here in Canada, we have something called “US Customs Preclearance”, meaning we have American border agents at our airports who clear us to land as domestic passengers on US soil.
As soon as I got to the airport my anxiety level was way over 9,000 making me a nervous freaking wreck when interacting with airport personnel. That led to an amusing (but not at the time) incident where I almost climbed into the baggage drop off thingy… “Ma’am! You can’t do that!!” Oops. Thankfully, she didn’t call for security and smirked at my recovery remark: “Well, I’d probably get through security faster this way.”
Yeah. In my defense, being a n00b traveling alone is extra stressful. At least I had no issues with the official American Border Agent Guy. He WAS NOT amused by my nervous sarcasm, but he granted me access to his country anyway, so yay!
The flight itself was mostly uneventful. Directly from Halifax, NS to Newark, NJ in about 1 hour and 50-ish minutes, and with a little more turbulence than I’d care to experience, but whatever. I was staring nervously out the window for most of the journey, minus snack time. OMG!! The free waffle cookie was amazing. Thank you, United Airlines!! Take notes, Air Canada… your free pretzels are pathetic by comparison.
I’ve been told by many to avoid everything in Newark except for the airport so I was grateful my New Jersey BFF picked me up and drove me to my hotel. Eating at a real life American diner was on my To Do list, so that’s where supper happened. I was a bit shocked to see poutine (a Canadian delicacy of fries, gravy, and cheese) being passed off as something called “Traditional Disco”, but it was tasty nonetheless.
Day 2 (July 4th) – Sailing and Sangria
The 4th of July is a big patriotic holiday in the USA so it was really neat to see the celebrations firsthand. We have something similar in Canada (calling July 1st “Canada Day”) but I usually don’t partake in any festivities here.
Anyway, the day started off with me going sailing for the first time ever!! It was quite an experience, to say the least, and thankfully I was with an awesome experienced skipper. Yeah. Remember how I tried to climb into the baggage drop off thingy? That’s a great thing to remember as I explain my sailing, um, shortcomings. In my defense, I’ve never sailed before.
I started off trying to row our boat backwards out of the canal (oops!), couldn’t for the life of me remember how to tie one simple knot (never been good a knots… took me forever to learn how to tie my shoes as a kid), I failed to free a stuck sail on the way back, and probably some other blunders I can’t remember now. Oh well!
The actual smooth sailing part was amazing. Just drifting on the lake and feeling the wind carry the boat along was so freaking cool. It’s so peaceful, yet you have to keep on your toes in case something needs attention. I helped tack a few times too, which was very exciting. I’m definitely going to be looking into local sailing clubs here in Nova Scotia next year (I do need to learn how to actually swim first though 😅).
After sailing was a badass BBQ! I had tons of food, including yummy American apple pie, so much Sangria (lost count of those… hic), and got to play croquet with the family I was visiting. They were very welcoming to this quiet Canadian n00b and it was overall a super fun time. Oh and I kinda remember a blurry fireworks display at the end of the night (the Sangria was really good, by the way).
Day 3 (July 5th) – Arcade Gaming and Inked Again
The day started out in Morristown, NJ – “the military capital of the American Revolution”. I walked around and take in the historical sights of an area called “The Green”. It was sad to see that some idiot cut the left thumb of the George Washington statue. People are idiots. What can I say? Anywho, random picture gallery from that area incoming!
After taking in the neat historical sights, my friend and I hit up an arcade in the area called Game Vault. They had, like, every game there!! A big bonus was no need for quarters. All the old machines were equipped with buttons to bypass that and you paid by the hour with a bracelet system. There were no arcade places near me as a kid so adult me jumped at the opportunity to check out this place with my friend.
The great gameplay highlights were failing at lightsaber battles in a Star Wars trilogy game, getting pwned a lot playing as Sub-Zero in Mortal Kombat (why didn’t I pick the thunder god Raiden?), and beating an X-Men beat ’em up game (I may have pressed the quarter button too many times and walked away with my Storm having 118 lives left… oops!).
And this glorious day was far from over, my friends! After a quick stop to try Dunkin’ Donuts for the first time (Confession: I like it a lot more than Canada’s famous Tim Hortons coffee chain… please don’t revoke my citizenship!), it was time to get inked for the second time. Just have to say this was planned months in advance as a way to commemorate my first trip outside of Canada. NEVER EVER get tattoos on a whim. Do your research on artists and make sure it’s a design you’ll want to wear for the rest of your mortal existence.
I won’t include a picture of the new tattoo on my right arm at the moment (it’s still healing and looks really, really gross), but I shall do my best to describe it. Ahem. It’s a pink with purple scales emoji dragon (the design Apple uses looks the coolest so I went with that), and the New Jersey motto written under it – “Liberty and Prosperity”.
I am beyond happy with how it turned out! Nothing to do with video games but it’s a great representation of the spirit of close friendship I feel for the cool friend I went to visit. New Jersey is a truly beautiful place so I’m going to wear that motto with pride, too, eh. Shout-out to Trent over at Expressive Ink for being awesome to deal with and a badass artist!
Day 4 (July 6th) – New York City, Baby!
Okay. So I was raised in a small Nova Scotia community with a population of 91 people, and I’ve lived most of my adult life in my province’s “big” city of Halifax (about 430,000 humans crawling around here). Imagine how I felt standing in New York City for the first time… I swear I saw more people in my first 5 minutes there than I had seen in my entire life before that point. Wow. Overwhelming and awesome is the best way I can describe it. The tidal waves of people… just.. never stop!!
And wow, my good friend and I had one hell of a trek through the city! According to my phone app, we walked a grand total of 15 km (9-ish American miles). Here are some random photos of neat things I saw along the way.
Yeah. The tall buildings were cool and all that, but my primary reason for wanting to brave the near-infinite strangers: Nintendo Store!! And it was freaking awesome (albeit hella crowded like everything else in NYC). I bought lots of swag (Charmander plush, Angry Kirby Plush, two Bowser key chains, and a T-shirt that all came in a Link bag). The store itself also had lots of sweet Nintendo themed things to gawk at.
What else must you absolutely see when you go to NYC? Yep. The Statue of Liberty! My friend and I lucked out and found a random tour boat launching from Battery Park that sailed us around the statue. That was a wonderfully relaxing voyage, and gifted me with some much needed sitting time. It seemed like a thunderstorm was rolling in when we set sail, but thankfully it held off.
And before jumping on the train back to New Jersey, I was honored to visit the One World Trade Center and the 9/11 Memorial site. I… can’t even imagine how awful it must have been when the September 11th attacks hit. So many innocent people lost their lives where I was standing. Being there and seeing the beautiful memorial to those who died was an intense feeling that’s hard to describe. I had to hold back a few tears. Yay for sunglasses hiding those emotion things I hate to admit I have.
Day 5 (July 7th) – Vertigo and Video Games
Whoa… I woke up with a scary case of random vertigo episodes, let me tell you. It was bad… randomly when I sat down, looked up, or looked down, it felt like the world around me was spinning out of control. This sent my medical anxiety through the roof since that could easily be a symptom of something worse.
Thankfully, the Charmander plush I bought was nearby to hug, and my friend took me crayon shopping which helped cheer me up (long story). It disappeared a few days after I got back to Canada. Maybe being in NYC short circuited my brain? I dunno.
Anyway, it was a pretty chill day (minus the vertigo scares). I had an epic chat with my two blogger buddies in Starbucks, and got to play Grand Theft Auto with my friend after eating delicious hamburgers. The perfect way to spend my last full day in New Jersey!
Day 6 (July 8th) – Smashing My Way Back To Canada
Alas! All good things must come to and end. I was kinda sad to say goodbye to New Jersey. But yeah, I used Uber for the first time to get to the airport. I have to say, my driver was awesome! He was super nice, had snacks, and skillfully avoided some idiots on the highway. I got through security no problem, but my bag of ground Dunkin’ Donuts coffee had to go for additional testing, which I thought was hilarious for some reason.
I like arriving stupidly early for flights, so I spent 5 hours playing Breath of the Wild on my Switch in the airport. “Welcome to Newark Liberty International Airport. Please do not leave your bags unattended. Please do not accept packages from other passengers. Do not park in the loading areas. Stand to the right on the moving walkways.” Yep. I heard that announcement on loop SO MANY TIMES. At least I got the Divine Beast Vah Rudania! Yay progress. I need to travel more so I can beat this game someday.
I got to see one last view of the Statue of Liberty from the plane, then it was back to Canada. I arrived in Halifax late at night, super tired and worried about everything. As a result of that, I accidentally scraped someone’s car in the airport parking lot on my way out, didn’t realize it until I saw the damage on my car the next day, and drove back in a frenzy the next morning to leave a note on the person’s car.
And that was the whole trip! I had a bad case of Post Travel Depression when I got back. My Nova Scotia BFF is awesome and helped me deal with that by taking me to a nice lake in my area. I’m happy to report I’m back to my normal levels of loneliness and depression now. Yay!
I definitely have a new perspective on things now, and I’m going to work towards finding a better purpose in my usual life. I think it’s time I take a serious look at where my path is going.
⚡Thanks for reading!⚡
If for some odd reason you want to read more of my posts, you can find a somewhat organized (and usually up to date) archive of my ramblings… I mean, articles here!