the loneliest place in new jersey

Our destination was Cape May. With its Victorian homes, seafood, long stretches of beaches, and lots and lots of people; it’s hard to get more New Jersey than Cape May. But our first stop was a place that was quite the opposite: quiet and abandoned and lonely. The town was Shell Pile, NJ.

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the indian cave

In the early 1900’s archaeologists surveyed a small cave known as the Fairy Hole.  In it they found pottery pieces, flint, and arrow heads; evidence that the cave was once used by the Lenape Indians.  The Lenape were the native people who lived in Northwest New Jersey.  The cave is thought to have been used as a resting spot for the Lenape as they traveled or hunted.  It is also in close proximity to several burial sites, so it could also have been a religiously important site. Continue reading “the indian cave”

adventure on snake hill

The space between Christmas and New Years was gloriously empty! Nothing on the calendar, just empty days waiting to be filled.  So I decided it was time to take the kids on a little adventure.   But, our outing ended up with a little more adventure than I attended it to!

Secaucus, New Jersey.  Located in Hudson County just miles from New York City, it’s not exactly the wilderness.  Yet it is located within the New Jersey Meadowlands, a large area of wetlands.  Our destination was not the marshes that surrounded the town nor one of the factories that we passed.  Our destination was Snake Hill (aka Laurel Hill or Graffiti Hill or Fraternity Rock), a massive hill of diabase rock jutting 150 feet into the sky from the banks of the Hackensack River.  It’s a familiar sight to anyone who travels the NJ turnpike as it protrudes out over the eastern spur of the turnpike.

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a hike of legends and death

Last month, on a beautiful fall day, we decided to go on a hike.  The day was perfect: bright blue skies to serve as the perfect backdrop to the reds and oranges and golds of the changing leaves.  The day was unseasonably warm which was a good thing because we were headed to a corner of New Jersey known for its history of death and mystery.

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an elephant on the jersey shore

 

The Jersey Shore!  Home to sun, surf, sand, and elephants.

Elephants?!!

That’s what I thought when my sister asked me if we wanted to join them on a visit to Lucy the Elephant on our way down to Cape May.  “It’s only the oldest example of Zoomorphic Architecture out there”, my brother-in-law said. I can’t resist anything old and unique so of course I said yes! Continue reading “an elephant on the jersey shore”

a little dirt never hurt: a mud run for kids

It was early morning and the day was already warm.  I walked around the empty field, enjoying the stillness of the morning, yet nervous because everything had to be perfect.  I looked down and breathed a sigh of relief because of what I saw in front of me.  Soupy, wet, thick mud.  Perfect!

It all started when I convinced a bunch of my friends that we should sign up together for a mud run.  A mud run, in case you don’t know, is a race involving obstacles and, of course, mud!  These are extremely popular events right now!  In just 2 years these events have gone from 41,000 participants to 1.5 million! Most events are for adults only or have a kid version of the event before the actual event, but I realized there are virtually no for kid only mud runs.  And who loves mud and obstacles more than kids?  I decided to change that and create a kid’s mud run! Continue reading “a little dirt never hurt: a mud run for kids”

slow fade

On a warm spring day this past year we went on a short hike to explore another forgotten building.  We hiked up an old rutted road that was slowly being reclaimed by the forest.   The road climbed and twisted and soon we found ourselves staring up at a whitewashed tree with a huge white owl on a branch!  Had we wandered into a magical wonderland?  No, we had found Outlook Lodge! Continue reading “slow fade”

ski. new jersey?

Going skiing seemed like a great idea at the time.  There were two snowfalls within a week and all of the local resorts were finally open.  It sounded great on December 30th anyway when we made plans with friends to go skiing on New Year’s Day.  It was another story on January 1st.

After not getting to bed until 2am on New Year’s Eve, morning came all too quickly.  We groaned as the winter sun began to filter into our bedroom and wondered if skiing really was such a good idea.  But, we were meeting friends, so we were committed.

We headed 15 minutes down the road to Mountain Creek in Vernon, NJ.  Yes, I said  New Jersey.  Please don’t laugh.  There really are mountains in New Jersey…kind of.

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where the family tree don’t fork

I live in New Jersey.  Now I know what you’re picturing when you hear “New Jersey”: big cities, lots and lots of people, gangs, the Thruway, garbage, the mafia, etc.  This is not the New Jersey I live in.  I live in rural New Jersey.  No, this is not an oxymoron, it really exists!  Way up in the Northwest corner of the state is farmland and mountains and lakes and…people without teeth!??  You see, while the rest of the country laughs at New Jersey, New Jersians laugh at us!  According to them, my county has more cows than people, family trees that don’t fork, and the dirt roads are full of lifted pick-ups with gun racks and dead deer hanging out the back.  In other words, we are a bunch of rednecks! Continue reading “where the family tree don’t fork”

hurricane…nor’easter….what’s next… locust?

Today I drove down a road that cut through a large section of pine trees.  At least 75% of the trees lay on the ground, snapped by the winds from Hurricane Sandy.  Electrical wires were everywhere, entwined in the branches.  It was a very strong reminder that we have a long way to go.  “Normal” is a long way off.

Snow covers the ground today.  Snow!  A Nor’easter a week after a hurricane.  I heard someone joke that next week is the plague of locust.  It can feel that way.  Many many people still do not have power.  Gas lines are still long.  Schools are still closed.  Yet I have witnessed a lot more positive than negative. Continue reading “hurricane…nor’easter….what’s next… locust?”