When I bought my airline tickets to South America, it turned out that it was actually cheaper to fly over and stay on the East Coast for a week rather than going directly back home (saved me a little over $200!). So since I have family and friends who live in that part of the country, I decided to take advantage of this option. 🙂
The flight back to the U.S. was pretty comfy. In fact, it was probably the best flight I’ve been on so far. All of the flights I had with LAN were awesome–good food (probably as good as airplane food gets), great service, comfy seats, and the entertainment system is exceptional…and it’s all included with the fare! Would definitely recommend flying with them to anyone who plans on traveling to South America in the future.
Anyway, I took off from Lima just past midnight and touched down at JFK in New York around 8am. Some of my relatives came to pick me up at the airport and we drove back to my grandparent’s house in New Jersey, stopping at an IHOP along the way to get some breakfast. It was so nice to have an American breakfast again. I didn’t mind the food I had in South America, but I did miss all the culinary wonders of home.
Speaking of food…it’s honestly one of the best things I love about visiting family in New Jersey! There’s so much good stuff: New York-style pizza, Rita’s Water Ice, Tasty Kake, WAWA hoagies, Philly cheesesteaks, diners, Chick-Fil-A, Shriver’s, soft pretzels, Johnson’s Popcorn just to name a few. It’s definitely not a healthy list. With all this, combined with my grandma’s cooking, I managed to gain the 8 pounds I lost in South America back in just a few days. 🙂
Other than eating, I spent most of my time with my grandparents. For the most part, we just relaxed in the living room and watched TV. But I still really enjoyed spending time with them. Especially since I only see them once a year (if I’m lucky). I also visited my other relatives (aunt, uncle, and cousins) who live in the area and we all had dinner with my grandparents a few times. Unfortunately, I didn’t take many pictures while I was in NJ, but here’s one of my cousin and I:
When I wasn’t with family, I was spending time with friends who also live in the area. I was hoping to visit my good friend Justin, whom I grew up with back home and now lives in NJ (got military orders to go out there and just so happened to move only 4 minutes up the road from my aunt & uncle’s house). Unfortunately, he was on deployment…but I did get to hang out with some of his friends from church on a few occasions. They were a fun bunch. I went to a Bible study with them and we ended up playing some crazy random board game (I think it was called Quelf?). A good way to break the ice. 🙂
A few of us also spent the day at the shore in Atlantic City, which was fun. We mostly just chilled on the beach. Of course, we all left our bathings suits at home since we didn’t plan on going in the water…but it was so warm and refreshing and hard to resist! So we also walked around looking in the shops for some. We also went into one of the casinos, where I tried my hand at the slot machines (first time since I turned 21). None of the machines took my bills though, so I just took it as a sign not to gamble. 😛
On Sunday after going to church with my new New Jersey friends, we all piled into the car and went out to Six Flags for the rest of the day. I had never been to one before and I have never ridden big roller coasters either, so that it was a new experience. It just so happens that this particular park has the world’s tallest and fastest roller coaster, which I managed to ride twice. I didn’t have a camera to take a video of my own, so here’s one from YouTube. Front row is definitely the only way to ride this one–what a rush!
On the last day of my visit, I woke up to the sound of rumbling thunder and rain pattering on the window. It was nice to get at least one big thunderstorm during my visit. I really wish we had more of them in Washington. Later in the day I went out to lunch with my grandparents for one last time before getting dropped off at the airport in Philadelphia. From there, it was on to Dallas for a short layover and finally back to Seattle!