Ladies Join Oct. 17 2015 Drive Event, Everyone Survives

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History was made on Saturday, October 17, 2015, when the New York Mets (sorry, wrong blog) the Sunday Morning Driving Club went out for a ride, and changed all the rules. What exactly did we do? We drove on a Saturday (for the first time); we scheduled a breakfast AND a lunch (for the first time); we visited the Jersey Shore (for the first time); and we allowed drivers to invite their Significant Others along for the experience (for the last time; sorry, wrong blog – for the first of what we are sure will be many more times).

As best as we know, all the participating husbands and wives were still married to each other at the end of the day. Seriously, we think the ladies enjoyed themselves, and got a taste of the genuine fun we men have had for years, namely, riding through beautiful scenery in interesting cars, and sitting down for a hearty meal with affable and like-minded people.

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The formal part of the day started at the Bridgewater Diner in Bridgewater, NJ. Changing with past tradition, attendees arrived on their own between 9 a.m. and 10 a.m. and fortified themselves with good local diner food. By 10:30 a.m., after a few who skipped breakfast but were joining the group arrived, we were out of the parking lot, embarking on the first half of the day’s drive. This 30-mile-route, dotted with fall foliage, took us along the Millstone River, through the farmland of Monmouth County, into the historic village of Cranbury, and eventually to a Wawa pit stop, sorely needed by the men after all that diner coffee.

This deserved Wawa-stop allowed us time to hang and chat in the parking lot. Old friends caught up with each other, new friends were made, and Bill Whited bought gas. After sufficient time was given for life’s necessities, the lead Alfa driven by your humble servant (who assigned the 90-horsepower car to lead??), with 11 other cars in caravan, headed east on Route 33 for the second leg of our drive – a 25-mile straight shot to the seaside resort town of Ocean Grove.

We allowed plenty of time for folks to find parking and wander along the picturesque Main Ave. before our 1:30 lunch reservation at The SeaGrass restaurant. Our table was set and ready for us ten minutes early, and our rowdy crowd was ably handled solo by one young waitress who, to her credit, smiled through the whole ordeal. The food was excellent, and more than one person in our party remarked that while not expecting to be hungry after breakfast, the food at The SeaGrass was too good to pass up.

It bears mentioning that as the popularity of our drive events has grown, participants have told friends, who have told friends…. For this drive, we had two drivers who were with us for the first time. Several others had only made their first trips with us earlier this year. By my count, half of today’s drivers are people I’ve met through other drivers. It’s been rewarding to see the group grow in this fashion.

Lunch was over by 3 p.m. The shoppers delayed their departures so they could wander through the many gift shops in Ocean Grove. Others hit the road in order to get back home before the ever-earlier darkness closed the day. Overall, our many “firsts” combined to make this drive one of our most successful, read, enjoyable outings yet.

All photographs copyright © 2015 Richard A. Reina. Photos may not be copied or reproduced without express written permission.

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