New Jersey’s Castle

[Originally written on this date in 2005]

Since the weather had been entirely dreadful for the past several days and the sun chose this particular one to shine forth and bring some warmth to my frigid little corner of the Garden State, the first thing that came to mind was to take a much needed road trip.  It goes without saying that Jon was ready and waiting for me by the time I pulled up.  After spending a significant amount of time together, I had grown comfortable waking up to see my best friend beside me on a daily basis.  However, I ran out of things to wear and we both had various errands to run, so we went our separate ways.  As mentioned above, there has also been a lot of rain so I have not been in the mood to drive.

Jon pulled out his road map, lit a joint and told me to pick our destination.  As small as this state may seem compared to others, there is much of New Jersey that we have yet to explore and it seems that we both enjoy doing so as much as possible.  Browsing all of the possible location for several minutes, I was eventually drawn to Mystic Islands, as the name sort of grabs you from the map and the curiosity bug bites.  Eager to set off on adventure, we stopped momentarily to gas up the Chevy and grab a few snacks for the ride.

We drove along Route 9 because the scenic route appeals to us more than the highway and we are hardly ever in a rush to get anywhere.  While it may take longer to get to where we are going, there are moments when we get to see some really neat things along the way.  Case in point, as we were sitting in some light traffic, Jon points out a castle to our left.  Now I have been down that way maybe once, so it is understandable that I had no idea such a structure even existed and was quite excited to set my sights on it.  Of course I had to insist on a small detour to check the place out and Jon was more than happy to oblige.

It was obvious by the boarded up entry-ways that the castle was abandoned, as was the aptly named apartment complex next to it.  Upon further inspection, it seemed there were “Structural Hazards” and “Life Hazards” that existed inside, as indicated by the bright orange signs stapled to the front of the castle.  Walking the grounds while I snapped some photos, we wondered who could have possibly owned such a magnificent building and allowed it to fall into such a state of neglect.  Though it seemed as though it had not been inhabited in quite a long time, there were indications construction was ongoing and we hoped that the building would be used instead of left to rot.  Before those eyesore apartments existed, one had a clear view of the lake from the towers and I can only imagine what an awesome sight that must have been.  Peeking in the windows, we could see all sorts of junk inside, which meant that it had been functioning as living space until quite recently.

Satisfied with the exploration and the numerous photos I snapped along the way, we climbed back into the Chevy and continued our journey.  The afternoon was rolling into evening and hunger struck us, so we made a stop at a diner, taking the opportunity to consult the map and ensure we were headed in the right direction.  Finally reaching our destination, we found only disappointment.  Aside from a shady looking casino neither of us wanted to go in, there was not much to Mystic Islands.  Of course I am no sure what I was expecting, other than perhaps some islands that were mystical or something.  However, the trip had not been a total loss, as we got to see an awesome piece of New Jersey’s random roadside attractions.

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