#2,076 NYC to Monmouth Beach.

We started off the day by meeting for breakfast at The Smith with Jackie Greaney, a recent instagram friend whom I’ve admired for a long time because of her incredible photos of the coastal northeast and her collaboration with L.L. Bean. We hit it off so quickly and easily, and I hope when she finally makes the trip down south to visit our mutual New Orleans friends from The Grove Street Press she’ll swing through Laurel for tiny porch hang.

And then, we spent an entire gloriously unscheduled day walking the entire city. I’m in so much pain right now from walking through Central Park from 72nd Street all the way to 8th Street, but it was worth it. The weather felt like Mississippi in late October, and the sunshine was endless. It didn’t feel real.

We stopped for a late lunch in Greenwich Village at Il Cantinori—a place that’s been on my list for a couple years that we’ve never been able to get to. The food was rustic, simple and hearty. I’ve never had Tuscan Italian and it was so very delicious and fresh. I now understand what all the fuss has been about in the magazines and websites.

We walked (slowly with SERIOUSLY aching feet) around Greenwich Village and took a bench in Washington Square Park and people watched for a while, just wasting the afternoon feeling perfectly content and tired, but rested if that can be a feeling. Soon it was time to start heading back to our hotel to get our bags and meet Lindsey for the last leg of our surprise birthday trip, all 100% thanks to her generosity.

We boarded a ferry…

 And saw New York from a perspective we’ve never seen before—the harbor. It was breathtaking!

 I’d never seen the Statue of Liberty until today!

We said goodbye to New York for now…

When Lindsey and we first connected last summer, we sent her a little care package in the mail tied up with white and gold baker’s twine, which she made a bracelet out of that day and still wears, which makes me feel a little like we need to go ahead and get one of these necklaces.

And just 40 minutes later, we were pulling up to a little dock in a small harborside town in New Jersey that immediately stole my heart.

And we took a car to Lindsey’s friend Kim’s beautiful home on the shore.

Where I saw the most sunset I’ve ever seen in my life.

The only picture I got of Kim and Ben, and it’s a GREAT one.

The neighbor’s house is like something straight out of a Diane Keaton movie.

And tonight I’m feeling unworthy, undeserving of such gracious friendships, and utterly thankful for experiences like this one that we could have never ever imagined. New Jersey is really so lovely.