For the first time since we began this web site/blog site several years ago, we are pleased to welcome our first guest blogger, our friend Carrie!


Here is her perspective on pin trading in New Jersey!

Thursday April 7, 2011


I finally had the opportunity to go on a road trip with the famous travelling duo - Carol and Gary Cruise! For sure I was going to be a main character in this trip report.  Susan and I drove to Kingston on Wednesday night to stay the night at Casa de Cruise, so we would be bright eyed and bushy tailed for the road trip in the morning. We are all going to jump in the Cruise-mobile and head to New Joisey.  Yahoo!

We were up around 7 a.m. We had a quick breakfast during which Gary told me that I was going to be responsible for the trip report. I replied with a 'Ha Ha' and as I finished my coffee. (Well after many teasing remarks from Gary on the drive down I realized he wasn’t joking so, here I go)

We left the house at around 9:00 a.m. Gary had already dropped Zak and Blue at their grandparents house. 

Do I have to go to Grandmas?

Our first pit stop was just before 10:00 a.m. Carol had convinced Gary that he needed to gas up near the Cracker Barrel in Watertown, NY so we could take a look at their delightful gifts. We took a quick ‘boo’ but didn’t buy a thing.  

When Carol and Susan drive down to New Jersey they stop along the way at all of the Disney Stores, so we had a list of shopping mall parking lots that Gary was going to rest and read his books. Our first stop was the Carrousel Mall in Syracuse . The Borders we always stop in to check for the Disneyana magazine was closed which was a big bummer. Carol bought a Jack Skellington mug at the Disney store for $3 but that was it.  We had a quick lunch at the McDonalds in New Milford , PA. After lunch we had a long haul before we got to our next scheduled stop. Carol and Susan were concerned that the scenery did not look familiar but Gary knew his ‘Streets and Trips’ would not lead him astray.  Tuning out the clucking in the van, he just put the pedal to the metal and drove on to our next destination (no U-turns required) to the Disney store in Bridgewater NJ . This store was closed last trip but we heard rumours had it that it had reopened. Well there still was no Disney store so back to the car we went and poor Gary barely had the chance to read a page of his book.  

Wal-Mart and Michaels were next. We were on a mission to get oyster crackers and price out some canvasses for Bob and Juanita. We were successful getting the crackers and a bunch of other goodies at Wal-Mart, but the price of canvasses at Michaels was the same as at home.

Giant marshmallows at Wal-Mart!

Gary could only eat about a third of this Cobb Salad!

We arrived at the hotel around 5:15 p.m., checked in and dropped off our bags. Soon we were off to the last two Disney stores nearby at the Menlo Park Mall and Woodbridge Mall. Along the way Carol had picked up a few things but Susan and I left all three Disney stores empty handed. We were hungry so we went to the Somerset Diner just down the road from the hotel. 

The food was pretty good and they had diner-sized portions. Stuffed, we realized we had only a few short minutes before Grey's Anatomy started at 9:00 p.m.  We got back in time but phoohey! It was a rerun!

Friday April 8, 2011


We met for breakfast around 8:00 a.m. in the breakfast area of the hotel.  Delicious waffles were had by all - OK just Gary and I had the waffles. We met up with Gabe as he was going to NYC with us and planned a departure of 9:00 am. We drove to the train station in New Brunswick – bought our return tickets and only waited a few minutes for the train to arrive.

There were quite a number of police at almost every station so we wondered what was going on. The ticket man in the train said nothing had happened but we didn’t believe him. After about an hour train ride with quite a few station stops along the way we landed in Penn Station. Up a few stairs, we exited via Madison Square Gardens and started our walk up towards Times Square .

We stopped at a cupcake store and Carol and I bought a few cupcakes. I picked 2 red velvet cupcakes. 

Our main purpose of this day trip was to check out the new Disney Store that opened last fall. We all loved the World of Disney Store that used to be on 5th Avenue as it was just like being at Disney World, only it was in the middle of Manhattan . They had pins and a lot of the merchandise they sell at the Disney parks. The outside of the new Disney Store is pretty cool – it’s huge jumbo-tron screen. Inside, the main floor has NYC/Disney merchandise as well as merchandise from the Disney shows on Broadway. get it posted.

Upstairs it is a regular Disney Store. It was a bit disappointing because it no longer sells Disney World stuff and pins - but we knew that before we arrived. 

Then we hit the M&M Store and the Hershey Store to get our chocolate fix. We found some white chocolate peanut butter cups and Kit-Kats  -- yum!  

It was about noon, so we had decided it was time we did something Gary had wanted to do – walk about 10 more blocks further to Carnegie’s Deli. It was a great experience. It is a very busy place and they get you in, get your sandwiches to you in mere minutes, then when the last piece of sandwich is gone, they get you out of there so they can get the next people into your warm chair.  

Pastrami on rye and a BLT

WOW! That's a lot of bacon!

Don't touch my Reuben!

Carol and Gary jumped in a cab back to Penn Station. Susan, Gabe and I walked back just for fun. A quick trip to the Borders beside the station and we were on the 2:33 train back to New Brunswick .  

We had one last stop at the K-Mart on the way back to the hotel. I take pictures of my travel partners in front of Kmart stores (I needed a picture of Carol and Gary for my collection).  Carol was on the hunt for a blow-up Mickey Easter ornament for her lawn. It was a successful stop! I got my picture and the Mickey was on sale.  Back at the hotel the pin traders were out and trading. Susan went over to Ruby Tuesdays to keep Ann and Mike company while they ate – Susan was still full from lunch. Her BLT had about 3 inches of bacon on it. Carol went down to the pin rooms to chat with her friends. I spent some time getting the trip report up to date so my pushy editor could get it posted.


(Gary writing now) Thanks so much Carrie for your contribution . . . it was great fun teasing you about the trip report.


Friday night was all about pin trading.  John Rick and his wife Sheila, Janis and her husband David do a terrific job organizing this event.  I don't know how many people were registered for the event, but there we 50 rooms at the hotel rented by our pin trading group.  Many others just dropped in for a while on Friday night, Saturday or Sunday so it was an ever changing crowd.  We took over three rooms on the ground floor; the dining room where breakfast is served and two nearby meeting rooms, the Franklin Room and the Board Room.  The event officially begins at 7:00 p.m. Friday evening, but many of us were there Thursday and some got a head start on the trading.


As soon as we got back from our Manhattan adventure Carol, Susan, Carrie and Gabe joined the assembled traders and I settled in the room to watch some TV and catch up on my reading!  I'm not a trader, I'm a chauffer for the weekend, but I dropped down every few hours to see what was going on!  They sure seemed to be having a good time.


The traders all display their items available for trade and folks wander from table to table and room to room scoping out the goodies!  There were pins, vinylmations and all sorts of other Disney collectibles everywhere.  Carol had had enough by about 11:30 p.m. so she invited Susan and Carrie up to our room for a snack . . . they had those lavish giant cupcakes from Manhattan to consume.  They yakked, drank coffee, munched and giggled until about 1:30 before calling it a night morning.

Saturday April 9, 2011


Saturday morning Carol rolled out of bed at about 8:15, complaining that she didn't sleep too well.  Apparently all that caffeine and sugar after midnight is not conducive to a good night's rest!  Who would have thought?


We got a slow start but by 9:15 we were down in the dining room for breakfast.  The traders were already in action in the Board Room and the Franklin Room, some had been up all night trading!  Yup, all night!  It's a real addiction for many of these folks.  They are not allowed to set up in the Dining Room until breakfast is over in the morning and the room has been cleared and cleaned.  So they line up in the hall outside the room with their boxes, bags and boards waiting for the hotel staff to give the "all clear" . . . then they rush in, get set up, and get busy trading!


The Breakfast Room before the trading started !!

Lined up in the hall, waiting for entry to the Breakfast Room.

Pins in bags, boxes, suitcases and on boards.


Early trading action . . . just getting warmed up!


Trading in the Breakfast Room


There are games, raffles, draws and plenty of other activities throughout the day in addition to the trading . . . there is always something going on!  Carol and Susan have been going regularly for several years so they have gotten to know some of the other attendees quite well and they've made some good friends, so there's lots to talk about as well.


The hotel lets them bring in their own soft drinks and snacks so everyone contributes something.  The counters are always full of munchies and there are several coolers full of ice cold soft drinks, water and juices.   Lunch is always delivered, typically a 6 foot long submarine sandwich with some salads, and everyone eats while the action carries on!


John Rick even does a live Podcast from the event.  You can find out more about Central Jersey Disney Pin Traders and their activities by visiting their website: 


Trading in the Franklin Room


Trading in the Board Room


Carol wrapped up her trading at about 4:30 p.m.  We hopped in the car and headed south to Bordentown, NJ - about a 45 minute drive - where we met up with friends John & Cathy and John & Erin who live in that area.  We all headed to a popular local diner, Mastori's, known for good food and huge portions.  John and Cathy were on the Panama cruise with us earlier this year but we had not seen John and Erin in a few years, so it was great to catch up!  They were good to their word with the huge portions, I ordered a Monte Cristo sandwich and could only eat half of it!  All too soon it was time to head back to the Hampton Inn in Somerset .  Carol went back to join the pin traders and I settled in the room with my book.  Saturday was "games night" and they had a very entertaining gift exchange where you could steal someone else's gift, followed by a pin-bag scavenger hunt.  She lasted until about 11:30 before the previous evening caught up with her!

Sunday April 10, 2011  


Sunday - it's time to go home!  We headed down and joined the group for breakfast and then loaded the car.  Carol had to go for a few last minute trades and we were on the way by 10:30.

John displays the gift he received Saturday night!

The drive home was uneventful.  We stopped at a deli and picked up some sandwiches to go and I ate mine while the ladies bought up all the cork in a nearby Wal-Mart.  A true pin aficionado must have cork sheets in their pin-bag!

There was a call from the back seat for a "relief stop" so we pulled off at Clark's Summit, PA    I think the ladies must have set it up ahead of time because what was the first thing they spied?  Why a Krispy Kreme shop!  So in we went and found the relief we sought!  Along with coffee and doughnuts!


Our last stop was the Christmas Tree Shop at Syracuse, NY for some Easter decor and then we were back on the road.  We pulled into the driveway at 6:00 p.m.


Within minutes Susan and Carrie were heading further down the road to their homes near Toronto.  Carol unpacked while I went and picked up Zak and Blue who spent the weekend at her parents.


It was a great weekend - Carol made 50 good trades!

Mmmmm!      Krispy Kreme!