A SUNDAY DRIVE TO FLEMINGTON, FRENCHTOWN, AND ALONG THE DELAWARE

As a Sunday getaway we drove up to Hunterdon County and left a few dollars at the Liberty Village outlets in Flemington. We had a really delightful lunch at the Canterbury Corner which is between the outlets and the older, original Turntable Junction. The latter used to be an interesting and fun destination with a variety of (non-outlet) shops, now closed, lost in the migration to the soul-deadening J. Crews and Brooks Brothers and Nautica and…and…and…

I gazed around Turntable Junction and I could see my young daughters running across the grass forty years ago and wandering through the shops with their many different delights. I remembered the times when we rented rooms over those shops and enjoyed a family overnight there. It was fun.

We then headed west on Route 12 towards the Delaware River and a bridge crossing at Frenchtown, NJ., a pleasant little town with a variety of interesting, some eclectic, shops, as well as a Walnut-Street-class gallery of splendid paintings (scenic, ducks and hunting themes) and decoys.

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Here’s a mix of Italianate, A Federal pediment, a Moorish porch canopy, an Oriental canopy over the double windows, and some Roman windows. (Five different architects?)

_mg_09155After a latte while overlooking the Delaware we headed home south on Route 32 in Pennsylvania. This is a charming, narrow, winding road between the canal and the Bucks County hillsides with lots of intriguing little houses tucked here and there._mg_09111

The bridge from Frenchtown to Uhlerstown PA

TONS OF TUNDRA (Swans) AT WHITESBOG


At last Saturday’s Pinelands Short Course I attended the lecture on Tundra Swans as a filler for that hour. It was however, interesting and well done. The presenter commented that there were still some of the swans out on the bogs at Whitesbog. So, Saturday morning Barbara and I set off to Whitesbog. Since the swans leave the area in March to begin their long journey back to the Arctic we weren’t sure what we’d find but we were fortunate. There were probably between one and two hundred of the birds still there, and it was thrilling to see them all. 
For a few pictures taken that morning click here.

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Pinelands Destinations and a Teenage Bust

One of the outstanding presentations at the Pinelands Short Course was that of Michael Hogan, a gifted photographer whose fine art large format photographs of the Pinelands and the Delaware River and Bay can be seen in some 26 corporate collections.  Michael is also an ardent and almost hyperactive Pinelands environmentalist.  As a part of that he serves as an advisor to many related organizations.  To fully appreciate his background, environmental activities and photography visit his web site.

His presentation was on Canoeing, Kayaking and Birding in Atlantic County parks.  As a part of that he handed out a sheet listing thirteen park areas in Atlantic County along with their individual websites and, a bonus, their GPS coordinates.  What a great gift.  With his permission I have uploaded it to my website from whence you can download it and print it out.  Click here.

One of the parks is Birch Grove in Northfield.  Long before it became a park these old water-filled clay pits were known to be a kids’ destination, to swim in the ponds and to just play in the woods and brush.  Indeed, I was part of a pack of high schoolers rounded up by the Northfield Police about 1948 and taken to the city hall.  I was packing!!!   It was my Daisy BB rifle.  I shoved it down my pants leg, the stock covered by my jacket; limped into the Sergeant’s office for questioning; and declined to sit down because of my “leg injury.”  I got away with it and was ever after dissauded by that experience from a life of crime.

THE 2009 PINELANDS SHORT COURSE

Yesterday I attended the Pinelands Short Course given annually in March by the New Jersey Pinelands Commission, held at the Burlington County College in Pemberton, NJ.  It was excellent! For each of five hours of lectures (with a lunch hour break) there were probably a dozen choices in such subject areas as birds, botany, hiking, canoeing, ecology, piney music, and ghost town histories. My own choices were Forgotten Towns, Tundra Swans, Birding, Botany and Canoeing, Ghost Towns, and The Pinelands Traveler. I could also have opted for an all day bus tour of the Pinelands, or a field trip to Whitesbog which Barbara and I had done before. The lectures I attended were done very well and were both entertaining and informative (Did you know that swans’ bones are largely hollow as are the bones of most birds? Who knew?)
Since reading Henry Charlton Beck’s Forgotten Towns of Southern New Jersey back in the 60’s I have been fascinated by the Pinelands. Beck’s books were published in the 30’s and much of what he found is long gone. Lecturers at the Short Course had many photos of what they had seen in the 70’s AND 80’S, and much of that is also now gone. (For my local friends, Henry Beck’s photographer for those books was the father of Dr. Howard Shivers.)
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 THE STORY OF A PENNY

 Motivated by the Beck books, I obtained topographic maps of the pine barrens which showed the various trails through it. Marty Lou and I set off on one of those (about 1960) with Kirsten bouncing along in a car seat. The trail ran (and still does as I understand it) from Atsion just off 206 to Batsto but it is probably not for the faint of heart. It was originally the main trail from Tuckerton to Long A Comin’ (Berlin, NJ) over which Quakers would travel to their summer meeting in Tuckerton, departing Long A Comin’ at 3:00 in the morning to get to Tuckerton. It is said that a group of them financed the construction of the original bridge in order to avoid having to ford what was then a more substantial stream, hence, Quaker Bridge. Well, we found and crossed the bridge, then parked to take in the scene. I noticed something glinting in the stream bed and I waded out to retrieve it. It turned out to be an early American large Liberty-head penny from 1802. Can you imagine how excited we were? We wondered who had been bouncing across the bridge by stage coach, and had been bumped hard enough to have the penny fall from their pocket and even out of the coach and into the stream for me to find almost one hundred and fifty years later.
 
 

 

 

A WINTER VISIT TO SANIBEL ISLAND

I’ve just returned from a few very pleasant days on Sanibel Island, in the high 70’s during the day and chilly at night and early morning requiring layers. I also lucked out in that there was no rain. I stayed in a beach cottage along West Gulf Drive, about midway between the east end stores and restaurants, and the Ding Darling Wild Life Refuge. A short stroll past some of the cottages took me to a beach pavilion where I could salute the sunset.
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My primary objective for the trip was the J. Norwood “Ding” Darling Wildlife Refuge. This is an outstanding facility comprised of over 6000 acres and named for Darling.   He was a Pulitzer prize winning editorial cartoonist of national renown who was also an ardent conservationist. In 1934 he was named as the first head of the forerunner of the Fish & Wildlife Service. Subsequently he designed the blue goose logo of the federal refuge system, and initiated the federal duck stamp program and designed the first duck stamp.
There is an excellent visitor’s center which houses many well done educational exhibits. Then, there is a four mile two lane, one-way trail through the Refuge, passing the shoal ponds and small bays
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and the mangrove-swamp-edged canals which allow for tidal exchanges with the interior ponds and bays.   The mangrove swamps, themselves, are a home for Refuge denizens.
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The herons, egrets, spoonbills and ibis stroll across the tidal flats and shoals to feed; the pelicans, cormorants, and anhingas will surf and dive the only somewhat deeper waters of the ponds.
The drive is open daily (closed Friday) from 7:30 to sunset. Early morning and low tide is a good combination to see the birds feeding. I went through two to three times a day and almost always captured a worthwhile image.
Nineteen images from my trip are in the Places Galleries of my web site. Click here to jump to the galleries.