On a list of traditional family vacations, Hoboken is probably hanging out near the bottom of the list if it even made the cut at all. Not many families wake up on a Saturday and say, “Hey, let’s pack up the van and head off to Hoboken!” In fact, most families probably skip New Jersey in the whole vacation conversation. However, as is the case in this situation and in life at large, my family is different. My love for television that combines real people with real food spawned from somewhere, and that place is none other than home sweet home. So when my dad woke up on Saturday and said, “Hey, let’s pack up the van and head off to Hoboken!” my mom and I jumped into said vehicle because we knew exactly where it was headed: Carlo’s Bakery, home of TLC’s Cake Boss.

Look! There we are on our way to Hoboken. My mom is driving because my dad had some work to do and I was passengerizing because I was the only one who knew how to operate the GPS. And after a few wrong turns and a few rounds of pop culture questions (like whether or not that Nick Lachey fellow is in Train?), we arrived at the Promised Land.

And then we saw this…

Blocks of people who had the same nifty idea as we did. Turns out Hoboken is more of a tourist hub than we originally anticipated. But we pressed on (read: we made my dad stand in line while my mom and I went to go find lunch).

Here’s my mom, eating half of her lunch and throwing half at the birds.

I say “at” and not “to” because the size of the bread chunks she was launching were comparable to the size of the bird’s head. (Side note: lunch from Fiore’s Deli was AMAZING…prosciutto and sun-dried tomatoes and the freshest mozzarella in the world.)

When we returned from lunch to bring my dad his sandwich he had moved about ten feet in an hour.

I was jealous of these people at the front of the line.

And of whoever is getting this cake.

After the course of more time than I’d like to share with you, we made it here…

The front of the store. The gates of heaven. Synonymous.

Little did we know that when we finally made it into the store we would be sardined inside with about 50 other people in an expanse of space no larger than my former kitchen. It was close quarters, but when you’re sharing those quarters with cases of pastries and cookies and cakes and 50 other people who share your appreciation for such fine goods…you happily just go ahead and order whatever you can see. For us that meant cannoli, cream puffs, lobster tails, cupakes, and a tiramisu. (Don’t judge: we brought a cooler so we could bring some home. And we did…although there may or may not have been anything left by day’s end.)

Exiting the store was a feat in and of itself, but once we were successfully extracted we decided to take our treats to a more scenic location.

If I hadn’t been eating the best chocolate cannoli to ever grace the planet I would have said this park was my new favorite thing in the world. It was so, so beautiful.

But not as beautiful as what came next.

We packed up our remaining desserts and ourselves and headed eastward for home. That was until the skies parted and the angels sang and I saw this on the side of the highway…

Trader Joe’s. Or in my direction quotation, “OH MY WORD, TRADER JOE’S!!!” So we quickly about-faced and spent almost as much time inside of Trader Joe’s as we did in line outside of Carlo’s Bakery. And more products were added to the cooler. And the trunk.

And the front seat.

You’d think that would be enough, right? Lovely summer day, lovely summer drive. Picturesque parks and pies. Familial bonding for one and all. Who could ask for more?

Apparently, we could.

Tiramisu, I love you. Especially at the end of a day that also contained several other Italian desserts.

This trip will go down in single-day-family-vacation history. Which from the sounds of it may be a short history, making this trip it’s bright shining star.

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