Next, at Tim's tennis lesson in Manasquan, I was shocked to see his usual fieldhouse partially demo'd for reconstruction. It took extra time to walk him to another fieldhouse for his lesson.
Then we headed up the Parkway. The road was familiar but different. It felt counterintuitive to be heading north late on a Friday afternoon when everyone else seemed to be coming "down the shore" for a (mostly) sunny weekend. I zoomed through the highspeed EZ-Pass lane at the Asbury Park tolls and took the Express lanes. We stopped at the Cheesequake rest area to eat dinner at Burger King. Kenny spotted a souvenir coin press with images of the Twin Towers. He said:
"That must be old!"and I found myself saying, "Not very old."
It wasn't a huge place but I wanted them to recognize that we weren't in Kansas anymore. This is "big city" to them. So Chris wasn't allowed into the rest room with Kenny. In fact, I thought twice about Kenny, especially when I heard him describe the graffiti on the walls. I got an uncomfortable feeling when a man dressed as a janitor patted Ella on the top of the head when we passed him. I realize that there are cultural differences regarding young children and girls in public but, as I say, a stranger touching her even kindly made me uneasy.
We continued up the Parkway and I warned them about the Driscoll Bridge. I used to be nervous going over it: ten lanes of terror. Well, it's larger than ten lanes across now - Wiki says 15 lanes and I would agree - but it's segmented real nice with lane barriers so there isn't more than five lanes in a bunch. I guess construction was completed a year ago. This video doesn't quite capture the finished experience. After passing the intersection with the Turnpike, it occurred to me that I hadn't been up this way since the morning of the funeral.
The Relay for Life was at one of the many public schools in town.
We found parking in the school lot, met up with our "team" - family and friends - and my kids played on the school playground for an hour before Jeff showed up with Tim. The Relay - which is a body-breaking 12 hr. event - kicked off an hour late. Enthusiasm ran high for several hours until darkness fell. I read the book I had brought with me while Jeff and the kids took turns walking the course with family and friends. We weren't official team members but the course seemed open to anyone.
The lights were dimmed for the luminaria ceremony around 9pm. I didn't realize that the lights would dim and I needed to know where my children were. Jeff had Ella in his arms and Chris ran to find me. Tim was on the playground and Kenny had stumbled into one of the many tents our team had propped up.
I took this video of Chris after the luminaria ceremony when the flood lights were up again. You can probably see how tired he is. And it was cold. We left shortly after this, just after 10pm: