As a homeowner, few things are more exciting than making updates. However, the process can be stressful, especially when faced with delays and difficulty finding a reliable contractor. In early 2020, Bhavna and I were eager to begin updating our home after completing a kitchen upgrade project. Little did we know the COVID-19 pandemic would soon disrupt our plans.
Our home was originally painted in colours chosen with input from our elementary-aged kids. The main floor was painted a deep shade of blue, except for the family room, which was painted mustard yellow. The second floor continued the colour scheme, with the main bedroom in a lighter shade of blue. As we spent more time at home during the pandemic, we felt restless and wanted to make more changes to our space. As soon as the pandemic was over, we intended to hire a contractor to help us make updates, but we soon found it difficult to find someone reliable.
Luckily, my cousin Rohan had recently started a second career as a home handyman. We were thrilled to have him complete the updates we had been dreaming of for our home. The planned updates included a fresh coat of interior paint and new bathroom sinks, vanities, and mirrors. We decided to repaint the rest of the house the same colour as the kitchen, a soft and modern shade of grey, except for our bedroom and bathroom, where we opted for a calming blueish-green colour. The soothing colour was the perfect choice for our bedroom, which we hoped would help us unwind and get a good night's sleep.
Rohan completed the updates on schedule, with only the guest powder room left to finish. Then disaster struck.
Overnight, the toilet in the primary bathroom overflowed, causing water to leak through to the second-floor ceiling of the family room. This caused the second-floor ceiling over the family room to fill with water. The ceiling eventually burst, soaking the wooden floor, ottoman, and area rug.
We immediately contacted our insurance company, which recommended a reputable restoration company to assess and repair the damage. They arrived promptly and worked diligently to extract the water from the floor, dry the ceiling, and mitigate the damage. Our home was filled with noisy fans for several days as the restoration team worked to restore our space to its original condition. It was a frustrating experience, but we were relieved that the restoration company was taking care of everything.
The restoration process was long and noisy, and Bhavna and I needed a break from the mess and noise. I remembered the birding event I had planned to attend with the Cape May Audubon Society the coming weekend. Since Cape May is a two-hour drive to the southern tip of New Jersey, I talked to Bhavna, and we decided to turn my trip to Cape May into a weekend getaway. We wanted to relax and unwind for a much-needed break from the chaos at home.
I booked an Airbnb for us on a property near Willow Creek Winery & Farm. We planned to check in on the night before the birding event. While Bhavna would enjoy a good night's sleep, I would wake up early Saturday morning to join the birders. My objective was to wrap up the birding event before she woke up and began her day. Later we discovered the town and finally headed home on Sunday afternoon.
We arrived at our Airbnb Friday night, freshened up, and visited the nearby winery. We were both impressed with the variety of wines and the stunning scenery around the vineyards. I like wine. But beer is my drink of choice. What better way to kick off our mini vacation than visiting a local brewery? We searched Google Maps for breweries near our Airbnb, and lo and behold. Gusto Brewing popped up. We didn't know what to expect but were excited to check it out.
We were sceptical when we arrived at the strip mall where Gusto Brewing was located. "This must be the quietest brewery ever," Bhavna said, eyeing the empty parking lot. We walked in and saw the cosy interior decorated with funky artwork and industrial accents, and the smell of brewing beer filled the air. The brewery was quiet, and I chatted with the owner and the head brewer. Their passion and enthusiasm were contagious, and we couldn't help but get caught up in the fun.
Bhavna and I decided to split a flight of beers to sample a few different ones. The flight had pretty creative names like As the Crow Flies, Waiting In the Sky, My Very Own Theme Song, Pop Shove-It, The Machines Are Learning, and Vacation From Ourselves. As we sipped on each beer, we chatted about the flavours and tried to guess what kinds of hops and malts were used. It was fun trying to figure out all the different flavours and aromas. By the end of the flight, we had a pretty good idea of what we liked the most. Our top picks were The Machines Are Learning, a Hazy American IPA with lots of fruit flavours and aroma, and Waiting In The Sky, a German-style dark lager that tasted and smelled like a delicious espresso. They were just so dang tasty!
One thing that I love about the community and culture around small craft breweries. We can chat with the brewer like old friends and spend hours sampling beer. Our trip to Gusto Brewing was fun. We got to try some awesome beer, chat with cool folks, and hang out for a bit. It was a solid afternoon, and we both agreed that we'd come back again sometime. It was the perfect start to our getaway, and even though we were pretty wiped out by the end of the night, we were feeling relaxed and content.