Thursday, September 22, 2016

Summing up Connecticut

Slashing around in the Berkshires
With our time coming to an end in Connecticut, we had a couple more adventures lined up before we headed out. Also a couple of trips and visits from friends before and after the wedding as our couches saw their fair share of visitors.  The first of them was Simon, coming from Christchurch, NZ to do 'Camp America,' he was at home on our couch for a good week. Allowing him full range on the beer in the fridge, he was pretty easily pleased. We took him out and about to show him the adventures of Connecticut. He wasn't impressed, so we took him away from the hustle and bustle on a nice drive up route 7 all the way to Athol, Massachusetts. A beautiful few hours drive north through small Berkshire towns and forest draped roads, no interstates required. We made a stop in the lakeside town of Hinsdale right near where Simon and our friend Sean, also from Christchurch, would be running camp. Taking a look at a local waterfall, it was the perfect opportunity to ignore some "No Swimming" signs and do some mad jumps off rocks into the fresh water. On to Athol to Brady's birthday party, though Children' parties are not so much our thing, Simon and I parked ourselves up on the back porch with some beers and it was happy days. A cool afternoon with the rain patting away on the forest, it was a relaxing old time.
The Kiwis at Two Roads
We were lucky that Oktoberfest actually falls in September, because we didn't miss the annual Two Roads Ok2berfest. It was quite the mad weekend, but we figured we might as well work and get paid, and have a few beers while we were at it too. A busy Saturday of three or so thousand attendees meant a non-stop service of beer for us out from the Hop Shed in the Hop Yard. A truly unbelievable volume of beer must have been consumed in total that day. With Sunday being a bit quieter, we were up in the main bar, having more of a chance to enjoy a beer ourselves. Now Amy had made herself a bit of a permanent fixture in the Two Roads Crew, working at the bar, in the Airstream in the beer garden and giving amazing brewery tours. That brewery truly was our world for the year. 

After all our guests had left, we were looking forward to a couple of quiet days, but of course the text came from Sean looking to terrorize our casual plans. We are however always happy to return the favor for the many couch stays we have be privileged to over then years. Other than the regular visits to the brewery and the beach, we headed an hour or so north to Sleeping Giant State Park for a bit of a wander. A steep and boulder-y park, it was a fun clamber up through the forest to a hilltop with a fair view to wooded suburbs, motorways and power lines, hey that's a quality view for CT.  

Amy and her dad had scored some VIP tickets to the America Gold Cup International Show Jumping, a fancy equestrienne event through connections at the jewelers her dad works for. Including breakfast, lunch, custom made cocktails, front row seats and the sort of treatment one could get used to. Oh and the horse riding was divine, I'm sure. Continuing with the plush, we ate very well for a few weeks having received a gift voucher for a local farm stand for our wedding. We bought all sorts of great looking and tasting locally raised veggies and meats from the Shelton farmers stand. I always say the uglier, the tastier. We had tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, yellow watermelon and the sorts that were all manor of funky shapes and colours and they were delicious. A gourmet dinner out to the local Karma Sushi in Stratford, another gift, left us full and satisfied after sampling a through spectrum of sushi and dumplings. 

Amy at the horse show
On our last week in Connecticut, we made a trip up the Hudson to Bear Mountain State Park with Ted for a day hike. I think he got more than he bargained for with the walk being a steep clamber, especially when we crossed the road at the top and he exclaimed that we could have driven! It was worth the effort though, as a view always looks better when you have earned it. We could see pretty far into the horizon, with a faint outline of the skyscrapers of  NYC in the far distance. And of course after the return trek, a well deserved beer and burger was had at the near Peakskills Brewpub.
Ted (Dad) climbing up the trail
Of course now all that was left to do was pack up our apartment and say goodbye to all our new found friends and colleagues. I had a fun night out in New Haven with my shift from work, having dinner then beers out all around town on them, good fellas. That led to on my request arcade games at Barcade, which led to me missing the last train home by seconds. No worries, a short hike through the rough part of town and I crashed on Steve's couch. 
Sunset over the Housatonic River in Stratford

Now for a small apartment we sure packed it full of things, along with good memories. Memories are easily transportable, however big old couches and the sort are not and a flustered last few hours before handing over the keys was had trying to get rid of some of our hand-me-down big old items of furniture. This required Steve and I to drive all around in rush hour with couches strapped to the roof and chairs poking out sunroofs, but we eventually managed to give it all away. So there it was, one last beer at the brewery, some hugs and a bunch of high fives to all we had met and known over the last year in Connecticut and we were out of there. 

Ted, Amy and Thomas at Bear Mountain

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

After the wedding lazy CT days

At a beautiful Connecticut beach, where no swimming, wading or touching the water is allowed.
It was good to know the fun wasn't over even after we had to leave the beach. Mum and Dad were off to Washington DC and John and Kel headed to ours for a few days. It was a bit of a manic exodus from the island, but after a relaxing morning at a New Jersey State Park with the Clark family they made it to JFK and Kel and I managed to get the RX7 restarted after a short breakdown on the most congested interstate-95, right in the heart of the busiest city in the USA. After that, we tried to keep it as chilled as possible, but with any drive in the North East, traffic is always the obstacle.

John with his successful catch.

Back in Connecticut, we had a good drive through the country side up the Housatonic River across open roads and dense forest finding ourselves at a legit dingy old road side diner for a malt shake. The big destination however was Captain Scott's Lobster Dock in New London. A seafood fueled lunch that was worth the trip around the work for John. Lobster rolls, shrimp and clams in all their New England goodness. With full stomachs, we took the scenic ride home via some coastal towns and antique shops. But the day wasn't over, meeting Mum and Dad off their train in New Haven, we went to Barcade. You heard me, a Bar-Arcade. Craft beer and Pac-man, Tetras, Pong and every other racing or joystick operated game imaginable.

A cool little adventure John, Kel and I had was a cycling tour of NYC. Walking from Grand Centralto the High Line with a pizza break, then along the High Line finishing at our bike rental shop. John started us off in style with a dismount over the handle bars, while finding out the break levers are on the opposite side here I guess. It was a truly mad day. We circled down the West Side to Battery Park, Wall Street and South Street Seaport. And hey, I knew of a decent pizza place for a bite too. Up the East side and over the Brooklyn Bridge and back across the Manhattan Bridge. Continuing up the East Side with a good stint riding the streets through Midtown eventually crossing for a lap of Central Park right up into Harlem. Managing not to melt and dehydrate, we made our way all the way back down the West Side. With most of the riding on separated cycle lanes, it was fun, safe and provided a complete city tour easily and from a rider's perspective. A quiet couple of beers were well deserved in a small local park before a last couple slices of pizza and the train ride home.

Now probably the highlight of everyone's trip to the US was a visit to the Pass Bro Shop. A place of unbelievable American-ness. It had everything a red blooded American could ever want: pistols, bows and rifles, to camo print handbags, lazy-boyz  and bedding sets. Not forgetting the waterfall fish pond and countless taxidermic animals hung from the walls and celling. Thinking we couldn't get any more American, we then went the the local Bridgeport Bluefish baseball game. Everyone was so positively Americanized at this point there weren't even any complaints at the $8 beers at the game. Considering Thomas the Beer Barron from Two Roads had plentifully supplied the beer for the previous three weeks, they weren't doing bad. Although I had to leave every to head off to another 10pm work shift, John got a foul ball and everyone had a blast.  

Amy playing tour guide for the day.
The next day, everyone but me headed by train into NYC, where they parted in Grand Central with John and Kel to the airport, and a final day for Mum and Dad in NYC with the luxury of a personalized private tour, care of Amy. I was fast asleep that day as the working life grind had resumed for me, at least my last couple of night shifts. Amy took them back to the New York Public Library to see the original Winnie the Pooh dolls that live there, then up into Central Park to see the Dakota, Strawberry Fields John Lennon Memorial, up the Belvedere Castle with a nice view over the park and on to the Boat House for lunch. Unfortunately, this is when it started to rain. They were hoping it would pass, but it turned into a full on downpour. With nothing to do but stand under an awning, Amy opted to venture out, as she was the only one with a raincoat, to try and find ponchos for the rest. No luck, she returned as the rain started to stop, and they decided to make a break for it and see the special spot where we got engaged. They then bounded into the subway station and made it out right at Madison Square Garden, and finally on to the Empire State Building, which my parents chose to go up to the observation deck. Eventually they made it on to the to the High Line and at the end of the line stopped at a Biergarten for German beer. As they later walked around to find some food, I was very humoured to hear later of my dad getting to the point where he just stopped dead and said "No, I'm not walking any further," and then demanding to go home. Classic Dad.

We spent our last day together in New Haven. We took my parents to East Rock State Park, where we drove to the top for a view of the city. We then drove off to a state park to view a lighthouse, and have a bit of a play on the playground. We stopped for a seafood lunch and then had a casual night of board games at home. We headed back down to Stamford on my parent's last day to have lunch with Amy's parents, and then drove them to the airport, again reciprocating all the times they have done the same, always with a few wet eyes as we say goodbye. 

The Devo Clan

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

"Honeymoon" week in Long Beach Island

Quizzing us on how well we know each other. 
What would anyone's perfect picture of their honeymoon be? To spend it with the whole family, including new in-laws and throw in some friends? Well, thats exactly what we did and it was one of the greatest weeks ever! We took the traditional Sierpina family beach vacation and gave it a New Zealand Devo direction. We planned the whole week out so as to have the silly fun of the bachelor/bachelorette parties on the first night followed with a recovery day including a rehearsal and dinner, then the wedding on an untraditional Monday. This left the rest of the week to be a plan-less, stress free time to enjoy the company of all those that had made it out to celebrate with us. The invitation was out, come for the wedding and why not stay for the whole week?

So the annual drive down to LBI was stressing me about a bit, due to it being an absolute cluster. Seeing as every man and his dog makes the drive from every direction on Saturday morning converging onto the causeway onto the island. Trying to partially avoid this, we took a few car loads down friday. It was still a stressful day and a bit of a cluster for myself. As I drove the RX7 down, along with Simon taking a load containing my parents and Gina and Sean. Once we got to Barnegat, I proceeded to empty the Honda and drive all the way back to Newark Airport to collect another car load of fresh arrivals: John and Kel from New Zealand via Texas, Marc from London and Phil from Colorado. It was a lot of traffic for one day, but man it was nice to be in a car with cruise control and air conditioning after the real 80's driving experience the RX7 offers.

The most PG photo of the evening
The next day was a breeze though, all we had to do was sit in traffic on the causeway for a bit and there we were. Running round to collect keys and right on 2pm we were in our houses. We filled the fridge to get the beers cooling, had a quick swim and it was time for the boys to celebrate my 'last night of freedom' in a typical fashion. A few beers, a BBQ, some classic yarns, a few more beers and a bit of music, and watching the All Blacks. Pretty low key stuff really. The ladies had far more sophisticated plans however, and when I say sophisticated I really mean the opposite. Going to the gambling capitol of the East to a hall of gaggling bridal parties, ogling over sweaty questionable males. Culminating in a cup full of vomit on the bus ride home for Amy, I left her to spoon with the toilet bowl for the night.

The night before the wedding, Steve and Margaret hosted a slightly weather affected rehearsal dinner. A few practice walks down the aisle by all involved and we were free to enjoy the evening, Kiwi BBQ styles. In typical NZ fashion it rained, classic. John manned the grill outside, as all our guests comfortably squeezed into the upstairs Deverson's holiday apartment. It was a great night for our friends and family to meet for the first time or catch up on old times. Mum's potato salad was a crowd favorite, John stealing the glory, because he made it! Otherwise, the Kiwi Dip, Watties Tomato Sauce and Lollie Cake were on point. We even were subjected to a "newlywed" how well do we know each other game, and although we didn't get many answers technically correct, we agreed we knew each other pretty well anyways.

The wedding followed the next day, best day ever of course!

The following days all melted together. Happy memories of beach days, adventures around the island, dinners and drinks. Earlier starts for the households with young children, and funnily enough, nearer to lunchtime awakenings for those in the friend's house. The general day would go: mornings at the beach swimming, body surfing, beach games, entertaining the kids till we were throughly melted, then lunch and activities over the island. We took the shuttle up and down the island to mini golf, the arcade, the island brewery, Barnagate Lighthouse, and Bay Village.

With Charlotte's birthday falling on the Thursday, the Deverson children and their spouses jumped on some jet skis for a an hour and blasted around the bay. Which was an absolute blast, in quite choppy conditions. All Amy could scream was for me to slow down and not turn so fast, but as soon as she got in control of the machine, it seemed like she was quite enjoying the speed, bumps and turns. This then made me ignore her pleas resulting in us catapulting off the jet ski in quite the dramatic fashion. The evening followed with a lobster and seafood feast, cake, and some home videos.

Ready to Jetski! 
A more bizarre night was going back to our wedding venue, the LBIF, to see a presentation on Wolves and getting to meet a few real live specimens. Not the usual beach activity, they were however impressive and didn't mind a scratch behind the ear.

With a wolf! 
Of course the greatest addition to the week was all the extra people. More people, more fun, more stories and more great memories. We are truly so thankful to everyone who was part of the week. We had friends and family come from all over the world, and it wouldn't have been the same without everyone there with us.

The honeymooners 

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Mr & Mrs Deverson

All 49 wedding attendees
With all the planning done, the day was upon us. Not saying there weren't a few stressful moments with an additional last minute beach ceremony location change. We went from the beach with restoration works happening, to the gazebo at Barnegat Lighthouse State Park, to another beach in Loveladies Township, which we chose just two days before the wedding. 

But the morning of the wedding, I had a to-do list from Amy with only a few small check ups and deliveries that needed to be made, and I even had a moment to dash to the beach for a quick dip before me and the best man made our way down to the beach ceremony. With perfect timing just buttoning up our shirts and a helpful lady helping with our boutonnieres, just as the bridal party arrived. Short on seats, our friend and celebrant for the day, Phil got forgotten about for a good few minutes baking away squashed in the boot (trunk) of the Subaru. He did later emerge slightly cranky and a tad sweaty. 

We had organized a few kiwi blokes to be in charge of setting up the beach with chairs and a few decorations, and they also did a brilliant job of handing out bubbles and programs.

As a bride and her entourage do, Amy spent the morning with her ladies getting all pampered with beauticians and hairdressers and the sorts. Dressed in a shiny silk gown with the obligatory new initials AJD. Going against the tradition, they did emerge on time but of course looking splendid. 

The only small mishap that I heard of was with Grandma Louise ironing Amy's Dad's dress shirt and some rust residue came off from the iron. Nothing a fast turn around from a local dry cleaners couldn't sort out though.

A few pre-wedding photos with the famous local photographer Ann Cohen, chasing seagulls, jumping in waves and that sort of shenanigans and then Amy and the Bridesmaids snuck off across the dunes and through someone's private property in order to hide from the guests and get back to the top of the dune to make her walk.

The guests were seated, well minus the late cousins. Elliott, Brady and Juliet gracefully and playfully set the stage for Amy's entrance along with her father.

We worked hard to make this wedding fully about us, leaving out our family member's opinions, and having it completely represent who we are as a couple. It started when we asked Amy's cousin Jodi's partner AJ to play the guitar during our ceremony, and he had full creative reign on that. Having a great friend preside over the ceremony was the perfect touch, with his words being genuine, meaningful and so relevant to us. 

We also had Charlotte read the poem 'Love' by Roy Croft, which we had picked out, which was emotional for the two of us to listen to, but also meant so much to include Char in the ceremony. Everything could not have been more perfect, a beautiful day, with the ocean behind us and surrounded by our closest friends and family.

Now a few more photos with the family and we were off to the reception, driving the RX7 in style as our newlywed car. 

Graced with reggae and NZ-dub, guests sipped the signature cocktail: Blueberry Thyme Mimosas and sank craft beers. Our caterers Kate and Ally's passed hors d'oeuvres which we had selected months earlier and a mild wind off the bay kept the temperature ideal but caused a bit of havoc on some centerpieces. 

The friends we've met in New Zealand
Again, the venue was right to our dreams. Looking out over the bay and nature preserve, it was elegant but understated and truly represented Amy and myself. All of Amy's hard work was evident, with so many personal touches, from using my surfboard as a seating chart, our sign post showing where everyone had traveled from, centerpieces in pint glasses chosen from our collection, and many map and travel themed accents which she handmade.

The evening flowed casually with a premeditated playlist I created timed to the night. Amy and I had our first dance to our favorite song, Shapeshifter - One, with our nephews running laps around us. Later Amy and her father had a dance to Tom Petty - Wild Flowers. We even paid tribute to Amy's Greek heritage with a few Greek dances! 

The fantastic food kept flowing with a buffet dinner, but a shortage of beer required a bottle shop run by one of the venue staff. Taylor Swift songs were a crowd favorite but not able to compete with Pendulum or the wide eyed viewing by our American guests to the Devo and NZ-Crew throwing some huge moves to Nero -  Crush on You. Many of our guests who would had never witnessed such bass heavy and glitch zapping music and dance moves.

My brother John, my Best Man delivered a perfect Maori greeting and a powerful but humorous speech followed by some truly heart felt words from Amy's Matron of Honor, her sister Nicole. Less serious was my father's words in his usual fashion and Amy's Dad, Ted delivering a more traditional welcome to the family. 

Right at sunset we snuck out for a few final photos on the marsh, including acro-yoga, many many smiles, kisses and on my request a very posed shot with the RX7.

Of course the day flew by so fast, but thats just the way it is when you're having a blast. It was the day of our dreams and it was made only possible by all our family and friends who made the journey. Whether from far or near, by helicopter, plane, bus, train or car. It means the world to us, all those who were with us for the day. 

Capping off the night with a beer on the beach, it was a perfect cool evening with the sand, sea and stars.

Mr & Mrs Deverson