Cool Off Man!

This is a shameless plug, but only because we really use these things and they are fantastic! These Cool Off Towelettes are available in various quantities.  If you buy them in bulk the price really goes down.

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They are a small towelette in a little foil packet, not unlike the ones the BBQ joint gives you with your rack of ribs, except cooler. They are infused with a combination of witch hazel, aloe vera, alcohol, and numerous other ingredients that cause an immediate cooling effect on your skin when you wipe it on. When you are all hot and sweaty after a few hours on the beach, or just from strolling around or doing whatever on a hot day, tear one of these open and wipe it around the back of your neck, behind the ears, crook of your arm, behind the knees – wherever you like. The sensation is similar to wiping down with a cool towel and stays with you for 10 or 20 minutes. It won’t change the weather but it can really help you transition from the beach to the restaurant, or a hot walk in the sun to a cooler ride home in the car. We don’t travel anywhere in hot weather without a few of these handy. read more

Ventura Highway

Sometimes an interesting travel experience can be had on foot not far from home. Yesterday was a beautiful summer day, maybe 80 degrees with just a few clouds against a bright blue sky. In taking an afternoon walk around my neighborhood I saw this lovingly cared for late ‘60s Pontiac Ventura parked on the street. Looking at the car from across the street in front of this perfectly manicured yard and neat little twin house, it all just made a pretty picture that for me reached back into a distant past of perfect suburbia full of Detroit steel. Not necessarily my past mind you, but a real past for many I’m sure and one that I could still feel on this summer day. read more

Cape May in July

We spent this past long weekend visiting family in Cape May, NJ, and it was a great time as always, though we endured a bit of a July heat wave. Rumored rain did not appear and it was HOT! I like the summer heat but Mrs. Working Stiff is not so enthusiastic in that regard. The first picture is a view of the marsh (the back yard in effect) from the deck.

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Cape May is a beautiful town at the southern end of the Garden State Parkway and is in fact the southern tip of New Jersey. The historic center of town is frequently referred to as either the largest, or at least one of the largest – standing collections of Victorian architecture in the US. The concentration of these wonderful old buildings has to do largely with the aftermath of a huge fire that destroyed much of the town center in 1878.   One result is that in the decade or two following, the town was largely rebuilt in the popular Victorian style of that era. Many houses are very ornate and have lots of fancy gingerbread trim and porches sporting hundreds of spindles. Brilliant and sometimes gaudy color combinations are common. read more

Roadside Americana – New Jersey

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A brief post to point out some “Roadside Americana.”   I have always enjoyed those books like “Weird America,” and “Weird New Jersey” that show all kinds of crazy local stuff and report on local folklore and legends, this happened here, people have reported seeing this there, etc.

Mr. Bill, on Rt. 73 south of Berlin, NJ (top.)   Looks like the old ice cream joint is closed.  Boy – for those of us who are familiar with Mad Magazine – Doesn’t Mr. Bill look a lot like Alfred E. Neuman? read more

Island Views – Block Island, RI

Block Island 2010 133Just sharing a few representative photos of Block Island from a family trip a few years ago.  Block Island, RI, is about 12 miles south of the Rhode Island mainland.  You get there by boat, generally a ferry service from one of a handful of locations on the mainland.  (My family has always taken the ferry from Pt. Judith.)  There is also a fully functional airport that serves smaller planes only.

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My father always believed that the relative quiet and beauty of the island is due in part to the fact that the airport runway can never be made long enough for large jets and also there is no port deep enough for large cruise ships. read more

Six Degrees of St. Augustine?

Last month I was in Florida for a few days visiting my sister.  I had flown into Daytona which is about a half hour from my sister’s house so she picked me up there.  Much easier for her than if I had flown into either Jacksonville or Orlando.  What a great airport is DAB to fly into or out of if you can find a ticket that fits your needs!  Basically, SMALL is what I mean, which generally equals great in my book when it comes to airports.  Easy to get to, tucked just next to the famous speedway, parking is all on street level, and you walk right into the one terminal – easy as Florida pecan pie.  You go through security and then there is just one concourse with 6 gates, 3 on either side.  Sure, dining choices range from minimal to your stash of almonds and power bars, but I’ll take it! read more

Hello!

Block Island 2010 073And welcome to the “Travel and Life with the Working Stiff!” blog.  My wife and I are regular working people who have had the good fortune to be able to take some great trips and have taken lots of pictures of some wonderful locations.  We hope you are entertained by these short stories and we also hope that you might find some valuable information to complement your own adventures!

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All of these blog entries will be based on our real travel and other experiences and all photos appearing on this site were taken by me or by my wife unless otherwise noted. read more

New York City River Cruise

We had a great long weekend in The Big Apple this past April.  There is just nothing like the energy of a big city and we just love to be in New York when we can.  This time, we did a wonderful touristy thing – a lower Manhattan “Architecture Cruise.”  We boarded our boat at Chelsea Piers and it took us south from there down the Hudson and past Liberty Island (with pause for photographs of Lady Liberty of course.)  Passing Governor’s and Ellis Islands, we rounded the southern end of Manhattan near The Battery and then North up the East River as far as passing under the Williamsburg Bridge.  The theme of the tour was that it was hosted and narrated by a charming and very knowledgeable architect who told us all about the history of many buildings along the way, not only right on the water but in view within the city as well.    It was fascinating to see the city from the water, which is not something I had ever seen before.  (A very young Working Stiff probably took the Staten Island ferry long ago but we can’t be sure at this point.)  It is fair to add that the fact that the small refurbished motor yacht on which we rode was serving wine by the glass was an important and welcome part of the overall experience!  It was particularly nice to see the new look of the World Trade Center area up close and we took many pictures of the awesome Freedom Tower.  Fortunately no planes did emergency landings on the Hudson while we were there! read more

St. John Villa Rental

St. John, US Virgin Islands –  so much to say about that place and I will have numerous posts on the topic!  I have had the privilege to vacation there about 10 times as of this writing.  In general we have rented villas from an island realtor who has been super helpful and just great to work with.  I have noted over the years that many people just don’t realize that renting a villa is an option in many places but it can be a great way to go.  Essentially, you have a house for the duration of your stay, and that house may have a pool, or a hot tub, (sometimes both,) cable TV, gourmet kitchen, multiple bathrooms – all the comforts of home and probably more!   There are plenty of villa rental firms that also offer maid service, chef or catering service, spa sessions, and other high end amenities.  (The Working Stiff and his wife do not generally travel like that!)  With a villa rental you can save vacation money by preparing some of your own meals to whatever extent you like.  With a full kitchen for example you can make your own toast and coffee in the morning and then pack up the jeep and head to one of the spectacular beaches.  On St. John, where the houses are largely up in the hills (not convenient to town,) we have found over the years that we eat most breakfasts at the house, most lunches out somewhere after the beach, and then  dinner is either in town or on the grill back at the house. read more