The New York Times instructed us that “Jersey” was a disrespectful diminutive for the Garden State. We don’t feel offended if someone refers to our big city at home as “Frisco”, but not wishing to offend, we are looking for a cortito (nickname) for a state that has a lot of cool stuff going on. What’s not to like about the least expensive fuel cost we have seen yet…do you like $3.13 per gallon? Humm Baby!
We have enjoyed the Jersey Shore starting at Cape May, a thoroughly Victorian town with well-maintained “Painted Ladies” just like in “Frisco”. Our first taste of frozen custard (like a soft serve but richer, like mousse on a cone…yummmm). Not a wildly dog friendly beach, even in the dead of winter, but awfully nice to sit in a rocker and stare at the sea, and do a little bird watching at the far end of the Cape. There is clean-up from Sandy ensuing, as we will see throughout eastern New Jersey and Southern New York City.
A marked contrast is Margate, further north on the Jersey Shore, formerly mob real estate, now just high end beach houses and one silly elephant named, “Lucy” who lets you sleep in her belly overnight! We heard that Atlantic City had a skid row quality, overrun with pawn shops. Au contraire, bustling with shoppers for the outlet mall running behind the casinos, it is a jumping place for a bachelor party for sure, but it cannot hold a candle to Nevada gambling/shopping/spa/entertainment eg. save your money for a trip to Vegas. Otherwise, grab your pals and head into the New Jersey Pine Barrens, the first State Forest in the nation.
With only 8 campers in the 160 sites, the Bass Lake trails were empty. We didn’t kayak as the sign, “Beware: Thin Ice” was still posted and it was still very wintry. We headed on to Montclair, about 45 minutes from NYC to spend a wonderful week with our New Jersey Martins. Although we mostly sat around cooking and eating together, catching some of their favorite comedy videos and TV shows (Dr. Pol, the country vet show rocks!), they took time off of work to take us up to The Lakota wolf/bobcat/ fox preserve in Sussex.
These lovelies have all been raised in captivity and can never be returned to the wild. They live twice as long in captivity so there are many elderly animals among the 18 wolves (timber and arctic) in 4 acre enclosures, with room to run. However, the only wild energetic bursts of energy were from the adolescent wolves. As wolves have a pecking order and are always trying to climb the ladder, these pesky younguns had to be moved to their own large enclosure to keep them from beating up on their elders.
We also wandered around Hoboken, sitting magnificently on the water across from Manhattan. Great Seafood and Italian restaurants awaited us, along with a monument to the first professionally organized baseball game, between the Knickerbockers and New York. Just a ferry ride across the Hudson to NYC, and a fabulous view across the water. A cool place, made even more fun hanging out with family there.
Of course, much eating requires some walking, and we enjoyed daily walks with the dogs in the 406 acre Eagle Rock Reservation, a block from our family’s home. Lety chased a deer out of our sight, but the huge amount of deadfall caused by Hurricane Sandy created foliage easy for a deer to leap, and tangled the dog, who got frustrated and came back. Good deer! Good dog!