8.03.2008

First few days

New Jersey is a strange place, as our outing to the Ashley furniture store clearly represents. We have no idea where anything is, and the problem with this is heavily compounded by the fact that there are so many streets, highways, and differently named cities around. Having decided we would like to visit the Ashley furniture store we set out after plugging in the address into our new portable, in car, gps system (whom we affectionately named Beatrice during our trip, named after a town we drove through). Beatrice occasionally has troubles with giving the most direct routes to and from places, and it seems she is not quite familiar with the New Jersey area yet, though we're giving her time to adjust. Ok, so go left out of our neighborhood, right on the next street, follow that down someways, make a left onto highway 1 (same as US 1 in Florida) and a left into the store. No no, not that simple Beatrice. Upon finding the store we subsequently had to drive a  good mile further down the street looking for a place to legally do a U-turn to then continue in the opposite direction on the same street to finally turn right into the parking lot. No left turns on major streets in New Jersey. To remedy this potential conundrum the DOT has installed what look like off ramps every so often that allow drivers to wait in front of another light to either make the originally intentioned left hand turn or a U-turn. 

Luckily, we did find a great furniture sale at Ashley's in their back warehouse and were able to buy a brand new nice looking couch for $150, discount due to a red streak mark on one of the cushions. Once the couch gets here on Tuesday it will fit in our living room nicely with the blow up mattress, camping foldable chairs, and dog bed that currently make up the sum total of our belongings in New Jersey. The moving company figured it would make them more money if after arriving in New Jersey a day early to then drive back out west, pick up somebody else's stuff and make us wait who knows how long for our belongings. It has been nice though to have the time to play around here, drive to the different towns, and visit campus. Campus is actually made up of four separate campuses strewn about New Brunswick area. The little pockets of campus are pretty with trees and green areas aplenty. My department's office is located on the Douglas Campus, so called because it was once named Douglas College and served New Jersey as the largest woman's college. I had been wondering why I was the only guy they accepted this year and why the department only has a few male students. 

Surprisingly living in Utah has prepared us for the liquor laws in New Jersey. Here we thought we'd be living it up once we got back east. As we were approaching the Pennsylvania New Jersey border, still on the Penn side, large signs on the highway let us know of the "Last exit in Pennsylvania". We pulled off and went to the gas station. Inside the walls and fridges were stocked with copious supplies of locally crafted microbrewed beers. I loved it! But come to find out this is probably a result of New Jersey's heavy taxation on the selling and distribution of liquor and beer. Not one single gas station, 7 Eleven, or grocery store sells wine or beer. You have to go to the liquor stores, which there seem to be a few around here. But they sell the usual cheap mass produced styles of beer. The governmental control over well, controlled substances, also extends to gas stations in which an attendant must pump your gas for you.

Those are just some of the more surprising differences that we've encountered. On a more positive note though, New Jersey is a beautiful area of the country. Just 10 miles or so from our house the countryside opens up, the ground becomes gently rolling and forests abound. Within the city trees are everywhere, ever more so than Florida or Utah. Also, and most importantly, the people here have been soo nice and friendly to us. Almost without fail every person has been outgoing and talkative. Our neighbor Yancey, a single woman (plus a cat named Meisha) and the neighbor on the other side (who with his wife has a new baby boy) have been so welcoming and willing to help with whatever while we try to get settled. Katrina and I both are so excited to feel welcomed and safe here and look forward to getting to know more people around town. 

So in the meantime, until our moving truck shows up we've been playing hide and go seek around the house with Shento (who loves being able to sit outside in our back yard), cleaning up the place, and going for walks. Katrina's job search will begin in earnest once we have more to wear than dirty camping clothes and sandals, and my studies will begin in September. We're way excited and happy to be starting this great adventure.

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