Harold N. Peek Preserve

Over the weekend I received the news that my uncle had passed away, and though my mother informed me he was in the hospital due to lung cancer when she came to visit, I was still upset and felt the utmost empathy for my aunt.  There will be a small service from what I am told, as he did not want to have a whole bunch of people coming round to stand there at his funeral or something like that.  My mom said he wanted to be cremated and have a simple memorial, which I greatly respect though likely will be unable to attend due to my husband’s work schedule, but it sounded as though she understood and said I shouldn’t feel bad if we couldn’t go.  At least I am going to send my aunt a card, though finding encouraging words to include with those that came with it has been difficult and I am trying not to get lost in my feelings.

To distract myself from all of that, my husband let me choose a new park for us to explore, and for no particular reason I found my way onto the website for the Harold N. Peek Preserve.  [An alternative site can be found here; all information in this entry has been cited from one of the two].  Described as 256 acres of property located along the Maurice River in Millville, it is home to wildlife such as Bald Eagles, Osprey, Hawks and Owls, which can be viewed from various lookouts located on the various trails that wind through the park.  Their habitats are spread out among the habitats that include pine barrens, a cedar swamp, a hardwood swamp and a wild rice marsh said to be one of the “largest and healthiest in southern New Jersey”.

abandoned_55We were following the directions obtained from Google and must have missed a turn or something, as we wound up by the downtown Arts District.  In fairness, it is close to the river but not where we wanted to be, though thankfully our trusty GPS helped us out of that situation.  However, it did not prevent us from driving past a sign for the preserve which happened to be low to the ground and about the same color as the leaves surrounding it.  There were some abandoned buildings down the road, one of which had a small lot in front of it, so we used that to pull over and figure things out.  We also took the opportunity to wander around the buildings a bit, and that was when I realized there was a a house hidden underneath the bushes and trees growing next to it.  From the front it was almost completely obscured, but we could still see the porch and what was once a white picket fence.  If it wasn’t for the loudly barking dog in the neighboring yard, I would have gone round the right side for a photo, but learned that sometimes its better to be satisfied having seen it at all and got back into the Jeep instead.

A vigilant eye guided us to the small dirt lot the sign had been posted by, and after parking we saw a few more that indicated we were in the right place.  It was a little weird leaving the vehicle so far away, but once we made it up the main access road to the map we understood why it was necessary.  Though listed as a Delaware Bayshore Trail on one of the sites linked above, it is also part of the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail – something I would like to research more of and pay a visit to in the future.  It is apparently still under development, but the purpose is to preserve the natural habitats of New Jersey’s coastal regions while also providing information about their historical heritage.  Fairly exciting stuff for us natives who are constantly seeking out the hidden treasures of the Garden State.

Moving south from the road, we picked up the Cedar Swamp Trail and immediately noted this was unlike any of the others we have hiked.  The sandy path was incredibly narrow and eventually disappeared, so we were left following trampled grass along with these small green and white signs that let us know which way the trail went.  After walking through the wood a bit, we came upon a solar farm – there are a number of them scattered around the area, but to see one on the edge of a preserve was quite curious.  Then it was back into the woods and climbing uphill as strands of webs from who knows what were caught on our faces over and over again.  For the most part the only noises we heard were birds and insects, but there was also the distinctive roar of engines that we figure must have been the speedway.  It certainly made for an interesting contrast to the serene setting we came to, peering through trees to see the sun sparkling on the river.  Being high on a cliff, there was no way we were going in for a closer look, so we continued on the trail and agreed to find another.

harold-n-peek-preserve-13The second trail gave us a much better view of the river and brought us to the boardwalk that brings you right into the wild rice marsh.  This was probably my favorite part, as it allowed us a moment of rest and river gazing while I shot some video.  We took the trail back to the access road which brought us to the field house and restroom where we refilled our water bottles.  Our hike lasted about two hours and it felt great but also tiring, so I was not bummed that we had to leave.  Summer is coming to an end soon, so I am sure this will be one of many places we revisit in Autumn and I am very excited since the trees always put on a good show.

Would also like to note that following our adventure in these woods, I developed some sort of itchy rash.  It was poison something, though whether that thing was ivy, oak or sumac I have no idea since I never had anything like that happen before.  The point is that you do need to be careful and I definitely have to acquire some proper clothing for future hikes.

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Broadway Theatre and Alcyon Park

Friday was one of those late Summer afternoons where the sun is a blazing ball of light hanging in a mostly blue sky, warm enough to casually dress in a mostly cotton outfit, yet accented with a breeze that warrants wearing tights.  Or I just don’t like showing off my legs and was hesitant about rocking my new high-low skirt purchased from Wal*Mart some weeks ago.  As usual, the destination was selected by searching the map for towns within a half hour driving distance and seeing what sort of attractions they offer.  To me this is one of the best ways to discover new places and all of the hidden treasures many people overlook when passing through, and it as constant joy to be able to take in these sights for the first time with my husband.

broadway-theater-pitman-new-jerseyWe drove along familiar highways though the towns were unknown to us, filled with mostly trees and farmland occasionally accented with a cluster of houses.  There were plenty of abandoned buildings, testaments to the way things had been when traffic rolled past at a steady place and their services were useful.  Now they sit quietly, staring at the roads with busted out windows that either eerily empty or covered in wooden boards, neglected lawns overgrown as vines, bushes and trees slowly surround decaying structures.  Many of them are former businesses, surely popular in their heyday but no longer needed, they become forgotten and generally ignored by those who drive by without giving them a second look.  There were a few neighborhoods where forclosed homes with lot numbers spray-painted on the exteriors were just a few blocks from recently built developments where prices start in the hundreds of thousands of dollars for a townhouse that has zero personality.

Arriving in Pitman, we parked in the free municipal lot and strolled down the sidewalk to see the Broadway Theatre, originally opened in 1926 as an operating movie and vaudeville theater created in a French revival motif that fills the space with plenty of architectural opulence.  While I would have liked to view the interior, I doubt they give free tours and there may have been a play going on, but standing in front of a building that is nearly 90 years old was pretty cool in and of itself.  From there we wandered into Pitman Grove, following the signs that pointed towards the Historical Society as I pointed out all of the lovely houses.  At one point, they were small structures set along a narrow path with even smaller alleyways between them, set in a circle surrounding what appeared to be a church or some sort of social center.  Each one had its own unique details, the color schemes complimenting lattice-work and the carved wooden accents that made them stand out from the other homes.  The Historical Society was closed, so we walked back toward the parking lot, stopping in a few shops before making our departure.

alcyon-park-pitmant-njWe rolled down to Alcyon Park where we did more walking, following a path that brought us to the side of a lake and around to the athletic fields.  There was a group of people at one of the picnic pavilion’s having what looked like a party and a few others also jogging the path that wound around the whole park, but there was still plenty of space for us to enjoy ourselves.  By then the sun let me know just how warm it was, so I suggested we walk by the sprinklers on the way back to the Jeep.  The cooling mist was exactly what I needed, and with hunger slowly building in my belly, it was time for us to shake some dust.

However, we became distracted by the stone monument that sat outside the fields, which commemorated a number of sports which had taken place there.  If we had parked in a different spot, we probably would have never seen it and taken the park as one of those that was more about recreation than hiking trails.  Upon inspecting the inscriptions, we learned there had been sanctioned auto races that date back to the early 1900’s.  This piqued our curiosity, and so we did some Google investigating when we returned.

Some highlights about Alcyon Speedway include the fact it was a 1/2 mile track with five turns, the prevalence of harness racing from the 1920’s until 1935, high school football and baseball games during the 1930’s and 40’s, at which point thrill shows became popular and drew in big name drivers from the Midwest and Northeast.  Then things started going downhill as the last harness race was held in the early part of the 1940’s, and the ban on use of rubber tires and gasoline in the thrill shows during World War II reduced the number of events there.  As the decade came to a close, the first stock car race was held at the speedway, and the next ten years saw drivers come from as far away as Florida to showcase their skills in Alcyon.  In fact, it is noted that many of NASCAR’s popular and most successful drivers chose it as one of their tops spots for racing in the Northeast, and even the Women’s Stock Car Auto Racing Association held their first “Dollie Derby” on that track.

Though the future of the speedway seemed promising, Alcyon was purchased and then closed by the owner of Vineland Speedway in the hopes of drawing dedicated dirt racing fans to the paved track.  The lease on that speedway was lost in 1965, which brought stock car racing to an end in South Jersey up until Bridgeport Speedway opened in 1972.  My father-in-law remembers going to races every weekend when he was younger, and I know I have read stories about other speedways that were once scattered across the Garden State.  It is sad that these pieces of history become replaced, but I am always grateful to have the opportunity to learn about something new and find yet another reason to love being a Jersey Girl.

Cruise Night at the Circus Drive-In

The first time I discovered the Circus Drive-In was during one of my many road trips to the southern shores of New Jersey to hang out with my then best friend, who apparently still makes appearances in my stories seven years after his death.  Anyway, I was cruising down Route 35 when I spotted the unmistakable red and white stripes, a giant grinning clown holding up the letters that spell out the name of this unique food joint.  Then I saw all of the cars in the parking lot and knew I had to spend a few minutes checking them out.  For whatever reason, it never occurred to me that this was an annual event and so I appreciated the experience for what it was in that moment.

Several years later, I find myself relaying this story to my husband with excitement as I mention how we have to take a trip to visit the Circus Drive-In, so that he could see the circus clad eatery for himself.  While searching for car cruises, I discovered that they had one a month from May through August and we had planned to attend back in July, but the weather had been unpleasant and we decided against it.  The date had originally been set for the 13th, and just as we were getting ready to leave, my husband called to ensure it was still happening since there had been harsh storms earlier in the day.  It seemed the event had been rescheduled once again for the following Tuesday, though we agreed no matter what we were going to take the drive to at least eat there and snap some photos.

circus-drive-inAs it turns out, the evening was quite beautiful with clear skies and comfortable temperatures, the sun descending towards the horizon as we crossed the parking lot and made our way inside the restaurant.  Opened in 1954, the Circus Drive-In is family a family owned business in Wall, New Jersey that provides nostalgic car hop-service and a dining experience which puts you under the big top in a literal sense.  The structure is circular and as mentioned above, covered in a canopy of stripes that are topped with metal cut-outs of clowns and a huge sign that says “CIRCUS”.  Seating outside can either be in your own vehicle or at picnic tables which also happen to be in wooden frame grove that is draped in more red and white stripes.  Continuing this theme to the inside, there are tables covered in checkered cloths and wooden benches in lieu of booths that follow the curve of the building, while tall high-backed stools are lined up at the tiled counter and more tables are fitted with retro style chairs to accomodate diners as needed.

The service was as good as it could be with nearly every space inside and out occupied by hungry people, but I do appreciate when they are polite.  Should note here that even before we sat down there was a gentleman who complimented my outfit, which was nice considering he sat with four friends who made their staring very obvious.  Despite being aware of my appearance I still carry myself with confidence since dressing up is not an every day thing and I like to make the effort for certain occasions as has been a tradition for longer than I care to recount.  There were stares I received in the parking lot, and I am pretty sure the people who sat next to us were constantly glancing in our direction, which I may have loudly mentioned to my husband to successfully get them to stop.  It should not have to come to such a point, as neither of us generally care what people wear or look like – there are better ways to spend our time and much more interesting things that I want to burn in my memory than what some stranger had on their body.

Unfortunately the food did not impress either of us – it was tasty and all, but my husband is a cook who has worked in enough high end restaurants to know the difference between fresh and frozen.  The quality failed to justified the price, though it was really more about the experience than anything else.  We were also there for the cars, which had been coming in to fill the parking lot while we ate, giving everyone a good show and something to talk about to take their mind off waiting for their orders.

What a show it was, where sleek muscle cars sat next to hot rods, polished chrome and smooth paint jobs gleaming in the slowly dwindling sunlight.  Do I have the ability to point out makes and models by sight, rattling off numbers about horsepower and torque and all that other stuff?  No, but that does not detract from appreciating their aesthetics and the fact they exist in such great condition when others have been claimed by age and rust.  It is difficult to pick a favorite, though the cherry red Nova brought smile to my face, the 50’s Impala was a prime example of how beautiful the lines of car can be, and plenty of vehicles had tags or stickers indicating their owners belonged to local car clubs.  Even though there were plenty of other people milling around, I managed to get a decent amount of photos, which I feel were naturally enhanced by the setting sun.  The first car that had caught my eye when we were making our way up to the parking lot had a swan on the hood, and later on I learned it was a Packard, which is far more luxurious in person than crammed onto a screen, as it makes an appearance in a few episodes of HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.

In all we spent about two hours there and headed back just as dusk approached, the moon full and glowing slightly orange-red.  Stopped at a custard stand for desert, though I only had a few bites of the mango water ice and stored the rest in the freezer for later.  While it may have taken a while for the opportunity to visit the Circus Drive-In to arrive, I also feel it was well worth the wait and could not have asked for a better evening.

Cohanzick Zoo

cohanzick-zoo-01On Sunday my mother came down to visit so that we could treat her to an afternoon at the Cohanzick Zoo in Bridgeton for her birthday, as it was something free we could do outside together where there would likely be few people since the skies were slightly overcast.  She got slightly lost on the way, and I suppose if one is not used to driving the area, it can be kind of confusing – especially when many of the roads have a name and a route number.  The first time I ventured into South Jersey myself was a mess of frantic phone calls every time I came to another town and felt for sure I had got off on the wrong exit.  With the assurance that I had followed the directions and just had to trust my natural navigating skills, I came upon Avalon as the sun was beginning its slow descent below the horizon and immediately knew I had in fact found my way home.  Laughter and a loving smile were also waiting to greet me, but that is a different story I have yet to tell –  the point being I was glad we were able to help her find the turn she had missed.

Noted as being the first in New Jersey, the Cohanzick Zoo began in the 1930’s when citizens of the town thought a herd of deer it was in possession of should be put on display.  It was named for the Lenape Indians who occupied the banks of the Cohansey River which is supposed to flow through the park but is currently absent due to construction.  As I previously mentioned, there is no fee to get inside though donations are extremely welcomed as they are put towards taking care of the animals while providing them with comfortable surroundings that are familiar as opposed to artificial.  There is also a membership that makes you eligible for a number of perks, and you can even adopt an animal to help offset costs of providing services such as veterinary care.  Another unique feature is the fact it is set inside a city park and what I would consider a ‘open air’ zoo in that there are no heavy iron bars restricting the animals, but rather plexiglass windows and wired cages where bamboo and other plants offer plenty of shade.

cohanzick-zoo-02There is a warning in the parking lot that peacocks may attack your vehicle during mating season, and I am sure there are people who are wondering why they are even wandering around.  Well, it seems the majestic birds are resident natives of the zoo – my husband tells me stories of a neighbor who had them and would often see them lounging on the fence in the backyard, and there are other tales floating around tied to Jungle Habitat that suggest free-range peacocks are a result of the animals being set free when it was closed down.  Now most people associate them with tropical climates and envision them strutting around remote islands where bathing beauties sip cocktails out of coconuts, but they seem to thrive in the pine-filled forests of New Jersey just as well and I find that to be one of the many charming aspects of its southern regions.

While there were plenty of other families wandering around, it was not too crowded and I was able to not only see most of the animals advertised by the education signs posted in front of their pens, but had the opportunity to take out the camera and snap photos without being interrupted ever five seconds.  They were as active as they could be on a cloudy day, though I was finding entertainment in the amount of ducks that were waddling through the bushes in search of food.  The Fennec Fox was absolutely adorable, rolling on its back with paws drawn up to its belly as if contemplating which of its many toys to play with.  Other birds I saw besides ducks and peacocks included hawks, owls and parrots, each with a sizable cage adorned in perches and a nesting area that it could retreat to at any  time.  We got to watch a bear sit on some rocks as though we were just as engaging and I filmed some of the peacocks when my mom got a phone call.  There was a white one [not albino] that I wanted a picture of, but it was too far away and the feathers reflected too much light for a clear shot, so I thought a video would be better and a bit more fun.

A few hours later we were on our way out and my mom kept saying how nice everything was which made me really happy.  On the way back to the Jeep she made a remark about how she noticed all of the little girls looking at me.  It was endearing since I am sure she thinks it’s funny, but I had been enjoying myself too much and have a tendency to tune that sort of thing out anyway.  She stayed for dinner which was fresh salmon fillets my husband prepared, and we gave her a brownie cheesecake cupcake topped with mocha icing and sprinkles to take home.  We have not had the best relationship over the years, but at least she makes some sort of effort to stay involved in my life, even if she doesn’t always exactly understand why I like some of the things I do and prefer a low-key existence.  It seems that she would rather have sporadic contact that none at all, which is more than can be said about the other parent who continues to refuse to communicate on any level despite having stressed the importance of doing so when I was a child.  Funny how that works.

LUSH: Briny Banquet

lush-briny-banquet

While lazy days on the beach may be coming to an end as visions of candy corn and spooky decorations dance in our head, LUSH makes it possible to capture the essences of your favorite Summer memories so that you can revisit them any time of the year.  Each product has been selected for their sensational scents and promised performance to pamper your body from head to toe!  The aromas that will fill your shower or tub are specially designed to take you away on an exotic adventure without where relaxation is permanently on the menu.

1 – Submerge yourself in the soothing waters of Big Blue, a bath bomb that releases lavendar and lemon oil to ease your sensibilities as sea salt rids the body of toxin and seaweed softens the skin.

2 – Tinted a color reminiscent of centrally located oceans, Sea Vegetable combines the invigorating texture of sea salt with the cooling abilities of seaweed, its herbaceous fragrance mingling into lavender and lime to leave you feeling revived.

3 – Benefiting nearly all skin types, Ocean Salt is a cleanser I can stand behind and say it does what it is advertised to, exfoliating skin in a cocktail of avocado, coconut, lime, vodka and two types of sea salt.

4 – More than half of Big Shampoo is a base of sea salt infused with seaweed extract and blended with extra virgin coconut oil, avocado butter and fresh citrus juices that clean and nourish hair then give it plenty of shine.

5 – Ingredients gathered from far eastern continents come together in Seanik, a solid shampoo that has rich ingredients to make hair silky as the floral perfume of lemon, jasmine and mimosa oils stay with you all day.

6 – As a child I could not get enough of having hair styled by the sea, and now I have that option in the convenience of Sea Spray – sea salt, sea water and seaweed offers textured volume while orange flower, grapefruit, neroli and rosewood makes hair smell as though it was dried in a balmy breeze.

7 – Improving faces that have been damaged by Summer elements through a Breath of Fresh Air, casting nutrients from fresh sea water and seaweed extract onto skin to provide essential vitamins and soothing dry areas with rose absolute and aloe vera.

8 – Cover yourself in a tropical cocktail of Coconut, a deodorant powder made with four different types of coconut extract mixed into other natural ingredients and calming essential oils that will have you feeling like you are on a seafaring safari.

9 – Moisturize and cleanse using Enzymion, where astringent pineapple, papaya and lemon juices get rid of excess oil while avocado and evening primrose oils replenish vitamin and minerals; it can also be used as a primer and works best when paired with Ocean Salt.

Kitschy Variety: Luscious Dress

pinup-couture-luscious-dress-pink-and-black-swan

The prototypical baby doll goes through a grown up transformation and becomes the Luscious Dress by Pinup Couture, a high quality stretch cotton knit tinted a sensational pink that practically screams retro chic.   An embellished draws attention to the flattering wrap style bust, where charming black ric rac trim add a bit of contrast and coordinates with the embroidered swans and atomic starbursts on the shoulders.  Gathers in the skirt spill from the fitted waist into a sophisticated length that is not too long and not too short.  While the dress comes in a few other colors – each of which have a different design – I chose the swans as they represent artistry and grace, two key elements that are often required in Circus culture when presenting a successful performance.  In the classic children’s tale of ‘The Ugly Duckling’ it is a token of inner beauty, and for those who consider it to be their totem animal, the swan signifies you are empathic towards others.  Prepare for them to be drawn to you, especially wearing Betsey Johnson’s Makenna, snappy black suede slingback wedges that have  adjustable heel straps and peep toes that will leave an indelible impression.  Candidly express your love of impeccable vintage vogue by toting along the Floozy Purse by Sourpuss, where creamy pink vinyl is decorated in black polka dots, a black vinyl bow sitting beneath the kiss lock closure and black piping that makes it look like a piece of pop art.  Extend the theme to your legs by covering them in a pair of Reverse Polka Dot Tights, which are opaque tights with sheer spots from hip to toe.

When styling hair, I would suggest sweeping it up in a sophisticated bun or twisting it from the nape up to the crown and allowing tendrils to fall on the side of the head, elongating the neck to resemble that of a swan.  Then place a Cocktail Hat on top – this particular one is coated in hand-stitched sequins, a goose feather flower adorning the front and extending into dramatic fronds that curl into the air.  Perplexing accessories that lend themselves to formulating a story often make the difference between a look that is a cataloge copy and one which reflects couture characteristics.  Teaming up Cameo Key Earrings from Too Fast and an Oval Keyhole Necklace from Classic Hardware prompts the imagination to wonder which key opens the lock and what sort of treasure lies behind it.  Drawing inspiration from water drops, the Anzie Starburst Bracelet is a dazzling array of white saphires, clear topaz and pear shaped mother-of-pearl gemstones in unique silver settings.  Finalize the ensemble with a Swan Princess Ring, a magnificent piece of jewelry that captures the elegance of a swan in stunning silver and glittering diamonds, the detailed head and spread out wing setting the bar for a statement ring.

Although the nods to Circus may not be as obvious as previous style guides, it is important to remember that stripes, primary colors and other attributes which are often associated with ‘circus fashion’ do not always need to be present.  Here the not-so-subtle addition of polka dots retains a certain level of playfulness that is reiterated through the distinctive placement of pink and black, while tribute is paid to vintage tastes and piece can be utilized in other outfits.  The swan becomes a representative of the fluid ballets often executed in the air, as artists nimbly navigate their apparatus of choice in a display of skill and talent that leaves the audience breathless as they stand up to applaud.  Channeling this same determination through all aspects of life is what separates a Carny from those who just sit around wistfully lamenting about running away to join the Circus, signifying the dedication which is often lacking in pipe dreams.

Hiking in Wharton State Forest

wharton-state-forest-39A significant historic site located in the South Central Pinelands called  Batsto Village is part of  Wharton State Forest, a former bog iron and glass-making industrial center.  The post office there is the oldest in the state and the second oldest in the country, where you can cancel mail without a zip code.  We have been here once before about three months ago, and since the weather around here has it feeling more like Autumn than the middle of August, it was an ideal time to take another trip.  As much as we still want to walk through the village, our mission was to conquer the four mile Batsto Lake Trail that takes you on a tour through a portion of the 120,000 acres which make up the forest, home to unique species and open sandy roads.  It followed a part of the Batona Trail, a far more challenging fifty mile trail that extends into two other forests and is not for those who enjoy hiking as a hobby.

By now we have learned to bring proper supplies such as plenty of water and some sort of snack – my husband made a trail mix of unsalted peanuts, dehydrated blueberries and dehydrated blackberries, both of which were locally grown.  Sunblock is also applied to exposed areas just in case, and we coat ourselves in bug spray that contains the highest level of deet possible.   Though ticks may no longer be an issue, there are still plenty of mosquitos and other insects worth protecting yourself against.  On our last visit we had been faced with taking this trail or the two and half mile one; we chose the latter but were still challenged by changing terrain.  This time we at least had an idea of what to expect, and since it was a glorious Sunday afternoon there were plenty of other people wandering through the village to enjoy the sights.

wharton-state-forest-42We started in the parking lot and saw familiar sights, encountering a couple who were coming the opposite way.  The bushes around us were teeming with blueberries, quite edible though somewhat tart and occasionally a bit seedy.  Most people are not aware of the fact that blueberries are actually very abundant in New Jersey, grown on large farms and occurring naturally, and the Blueberry Capitol is only a few towns away.  In any event, we were amused by having a free snack [and plenty of it] as well as the pint sized pine trees that dangled branches in our path, tickling us as we passed them.  Trees that had fallen and been cut into logs were used as resting points along the way since there was much climbing of hills, something we are not used to when hiking in other places such as Estell Manor.

About an hour or so later we came upon Batsto River, having seen only five other people the entire time we were on the trail.  This is where the sun felt the warmest, though the shade of tall trees and a small breeze prevented us from being too hot.  We left the trail momentarily to follow a footpath down to the water’s edge where we watched a few people fishing.  Then the kayaks and canoes began drifting by, reminding us that was something we wanted to do before the season to do so was over.  Sitting on a bench that overlooked Batsto Lake, we appreciated the serenity of the scene even though there were plenty of insects and birds serenading us with their various sounds, the slosh of paddles carrying a canoe slowly coming and going.  We joked about seeing spray painted signs reminding us that we were in a New Jersey State Forest, but at the same time there are probably hundreds of people who live here and don’t even know such beauty exists.

wharton-state-forest-48Total time spent on the trail was two and a half hours, including the previously mentioned breaks, stopping to take pictures and a video.  We came out into the village where there were a few people wandering around, enjoying the early evening as the sun slowly sank towards the horizon.  The parking lot was a bit more empty than when we had arrived, but there still were visitors coming in as we were leaving.

There were signs advertising an antique show of some sort that is coming in September that we might check out, but I know for certain we want to take part in one of the Jersey Devil hikes they offer in October.  Hiking is not something I really ever saw myself doing, though I used to ride a bike along wooded trails in South Brunswick and have put some miles in on the  D&R Canal.  The trails we have walked in Estell Manor are generally flat and wide enough to walk dogs, ride horses or bikes depending on which one you take.  In Parvin we have hiked around both lakes and through parts of campsites, where some of the trails have more obstacles than others.  For some reason, knowing that we did four miles without being tired or winded felt as though we really accomplished something.

As I said, this is something we do more for a hobby, and yet actively trying to stay fit matters on a small level since we aware that our Eastern European heritage dictates we are of short, stocky breed.  We know that we aren’t going to be jogging any of these trails and that is just fine – we go at our own pace and never fail to have an adventure worth remembering.