Road Trip 2016: DC or Bust!

Well as it turns out when you work for money, full time and all, you get paid vacation. Pretty sweet deal. So the question became, where oh where to spend my precious time off. Obviously touring the golf courses of Scotland would make the most sense. But then I remembered I’m married and have two young kids. OK it’s off to Jersey to see the family, hit the beach, then stop for two days in our nation’s capital on the way home for good measure. Solid plan. Good plan. I’m proud to be a part of it.

What follows is the blogging version of home movies. An excruciating recount of a family vacation fun and interesting only to those who went on it. And I’m not sure about some of them. Anyway this is a two part series. Tonight you get the run to the mother land and our time at the Jersey Shore. Next up will be our decent on DC and our attempt to see the President (not really). Enjoy.

Road Trip 2016: DC or Bust!

Day 1: Escape Velocity

Trying to get anywhere from our house requires a herculean effort. Church, other kid’s b-days, school, swim practice, piano practice, soccer practice, parties, movies (what are those), you name it we’ll be late for it. Some destinations require more escape velocity than others. Going to church for instance, does not require the same gravity breaking maneuver that going on a week long vacation does.

To say I was not surprised we missed our Friday launch window for Jersey by almost five hours is underselling it. After 13 years I have come to expect a delay of that magnitude. In fact I dare time to stop ticking. I trash talk the clock with slanderous comments about it’s inability to slow down and keep us on time. I wish I was joking.

Still the delay set us up for a decent ride all the way to Front Royal Virginia. That’s about six hours from home base. That left us five hours to travel the next day and land at my sister’s house in South Jersey a little after lunch. On a side note my 4 year old daughter asked, rightly, Why don’t we fly on a plane. That seems like it would be so much easier. I’ll not survive this kid. I just know it.

Day 2: Golfers Remorse

Daddy, daddy we’re at a golf course! Well of course we are. We landed at our hotel in Front Royal around midnight after an accident on 81 North had a few miles of cars stopped in their tracks for an hour. Meaning it was dark when we checked in. I had no idea we were on the fairway of a beautiful golf course. I was already banned from bringing my clubs on this trip so there was no joy in Mudville for me. But the kids were only too happy to show me the course, being gently kissed by golden sunlight I might add, from our hotel window once we all woke up.

Photo-bomb level - Expert

Photo Bomb level – Expert (Sister for scale)

Taking one in the shorts from the golf gods aside, the final leg to Jersey was slow but uneventful. The traffic heading to the shore in one direction and to Philadelphia for the Democratic Convention in the other was keeping me from the breakneck speeds of which I’ve become accustom. No matter. Arrival in the mother land was followed by a kings welcome and a cold diet coke. Can’t get much better than that. Except for this righteous photo bomb by my mother.

Let the Jersey begin!

Day 3 and 4: Pool Daze

Well as some of you will read about in the next week, my kids were on the swim team at the Jewish Community Center this summer. The Fightin Salmon! Not kidding. Consequently, they can not only swim very well, but Frank actually competes in races. He swims in a pool half the length but equal depth of an Olympic pool. So jumping in my sister’s 8 foot pool doesn’t mean that much to him as he regularly swims 20 – 25 laps with 15 feet of water under his keel. And several of his practices were at the University of Tennessee aquatic center where the 2012 Olympians trained before the London games, so he can go 50 meters without stopping or grabbing the side or lane marker.

He’s damn proud of himself, as he should be. Not gonna lie, and you’ll read more about this later, but I was getting a little misty watching my son swim hard for the entire hour practice. I was also getting exhausted, but that may have more to do with me than him. Now look he’s no Michael Phelps but the kid puts in the effort. The only place he works harder is on the golf course. I have no delusions about his swimming, but he learned so much more than swimming being on that team.

Beatin the heat!

Look Ma! No floaties!

But he, and his little sister, did learn how to swim. So it was a little more fun than it should have been watching my sister take a stroke every time he went under water or jumped in the “deep” end, or swam the length of her pool, which was half the distance he does for an hour at practice. She really didn’t start yelling at me until I threw Anne Marie about ten feet in the air. And I’ll be damned if that kid didn’t bust my sister’s chops after one of my throws.

Instead of popping right back up after she hit the water, she threw her arms out and lay face down, just floating there motionless. I picked her up by her little floaty jacket thingy and she came out of the water with a huge grin on her face begging me to throw her higher next time. The sound in the background you might still be able to hear was my sister yelling at me, scream level set to kill.

Day 5: Down the Shore

Summer 2016 066

A touch of class to an otherwise uncivilized world.

I mean what 660 mile trip back to Jersey is complete without a day at the beach. We went full shoobie and lugged everything we had up to the boardwalk and down to the beach. Not a lot of bay watch, but tons of cholesterol watch if you get my meaning. But the kids enjoyed it and even got a little color. My whiter than white wife, well… red looks good on her really.

I did manage to bring a little Knoxville to Ocean City. My Sac cup, the vessel I and my neighbors use at our weekly Sac parties (read: we all sit in the street till wee hours on Friday and Saturday and drink, except me of course), made it to the beach. A little culture amongst the heathen if you will.

Pizza as God intended.

Pizza as God intended.

Besides fun in the sun, surf, and sand the beach means the Boardwalk and that means pizza, Jersey style. Look say what you want, there is just no substitute for pizza from Jersey. If you think otherwise then you probably cut yours with a fork and knife like Trump, or go, god forbid, deep dish ala Obama and Hill-dogg. Either way I got no time for ya.

After two days of fresh pizza and a day and a half of left over pizza it was time to start packing and head south. We figured we’d drop in on the President. Anne Marie has a few ideas she’d like to share.


I bet I can get through this daddy!

I bet I can get through this daddy!

First and foremost, What the hell is with this fence?

Check back tomorrow to see if AM makes it past the sniper fire from the White House Roof!



Diary of a SAHD: “Little Red Wagon” or “Hey, you gonna eat that?”

Editors note: This is the fourth installment of a multi-part series on our summer road trip to NJ. They are not in sequential order.  Some of this will be akin to eye wateringly boring home movies.  Anyway, you’ve been warned.

The title is a little homage to the old Tennessee Tuxedo cartoons, from way back in the day.  I think a lot of old toons used that format but the Tennessee Tuxedo opening always sticks in my mind for some reason.  The titles of those episodes never really seemed to match what the show was about.  This is not the case with Frank’s Place.  No sensational headlines here, we stay true to our readers… until we find it necessary to lie.  Then we tell some whoppers.

Anyway, I’ve decided I can stay true to the title and still make this one of those lazy posts with a lot of pictures.  Let’s face it, pictures of my kids are way more interesting.

Gratuitous cute family shot to start things off.

Gratuitous cute family shot to start things off.

So there is the happy family all on the beach.  Great looking group if I do say.  We rented a house with two of my sisters and my mom.  It was about 3 blocks from the beach.  Now my sisters roll to the beach in style. We grew up not very far from several beach towns so they know how to go beaching.  My wife and kids are all from the South. Tracy is from Huston Texas, although she did go to the beaches in Galveston.  But it’s not the same.  And of course my two kids are from right here in Knoxville, born right in the city.  Frank saw his first beach two years ago, and Anne Marie saw her first beach on this trip.

We were not sure how AM would react.  Turns out she loved the beach.  Also turns out she would only go to the beach if she was pulled in a beat up red wagon we rented from a local joint in Avalon.  She was adamant too.  There was no walking, no carrying, no riding in the car for three blocks.  She had to be ferried to the beach in this nasty red wagon.  And then she would sit in it for the first 20 minutes or so upon arrival.  She would get back in it to eat lunch, to have a snack, and when she wanted to signal us it was time to head back to the house.

There.  I said put me over there!

There! I said put me over there!

Hey!  Someone grease me up, the sun is brutal.

Hey! Someone grease me up, the sun is brutal.

Beach, Juice, Wagon.  Can it get any better?

Beach, Juice, Wagon. Can it get any better?

The wagon was a great idea, don’t get me wrong. Tracy’s idea by the way. (And yes that was a blatant attempt at brown nosing) When it was time to leave the beach and she didn’t want to go, all I had to do was start pulling the friggin wagon. She’d come running like she was missing the downtown train.

It was just weird how she took to it the minute she saw it.  I thought we might have to hook a tow bar to it and drag it behind the van so we could get her back to Knoxville.

Bottom line is she enjoyed it so I guess we can’t ask for more than that.

Know what else she enjoyed?  Eating sand.

She ate so much she might be responsible for a slight shift in the Jersey shore line. I would check google maps before your next visit to America’s playground just to be safe.  Sorry Governor Christie, you may be Stronger Than The Storm, but you’re no match for the Tough Girl From Tennessee.

Since it’s her first sand eating experience I don’t know if she’s partial to Jersey Shore sand or just sand in general.  Hard to say, but she ate fists and fists of it.  Must of been like 100 grit sand paper coming out the other end.  This might be one of those times we’re glad she can’t speak yet.  A few dirty diapers into some sand eatin and she might have conjugated some f-bombs.

Best sand this side of the Tennessee River.

Best sand this side of the Tennessee River.

Needs a little salt.

Needs a little salt.

Don't judge me bro. Gobby says you used to eat your own poop.

Don’t judge me bro. Gobby says you used to eat your own poop.









However, it’s probably not surprising to some of you, especially the posse on Montford Lane, that a few times she ate so much sand I didn’t need to feed her lunch.

That last sentence was just a hook to see if Mrs Frank’s Place actually reads these.  I like to do that from time to time.

Red Wagons and fists full of sand, it was a summer to remember for shore!

See what I did there. Try the veal and tip your servers.

One last shot of a girl and her buffet.

See this? I ate it all.

See this? I ate it all.