NJ Left, Delaware River, PA Right
It took me and Spanks two days to get here from Tennessee (can never remember how to spell that – thank god for spell check). We managed to score (aka freeload) lodging, food, and much entertainment for Spanky with my friend Peeter and his wife Anu in Waterford, Virginia - approximately 50 miles west of Washington, DC.
Driving into the little village is like traveling back through time into America’s colonial origins. It’s a real blast from the past. A mix of brick and wooden colonial style homes and businesses, many of which are more than 150 years old, line the narrow tree shaded lanes of this little Quaker hamlet. And of course, it almost goes without saying, on the edge of town lies the requisite mill. There had to be a mill to process the corn and grain from the surrounding farms.
We finally make it through the hustle, bustle, and congestion of Waterford’s rush hour traffic (maybe saw a dozen cars) and enter into yet another world – Virginia’s lush, fertile, verdant, rolling hill farm country. It’s an iconic American colonial farm setting. Split rail fences, wide open green fields, tree lined roads, it doesn’t take much to let the imagination run wild and picture colonial farmers at work or perhaps Union and Confederate troops clashing in mid field.
Peeter and Anu’s place is a really cool old brick home, sitting on 3 acres of mostly grass with big old trees cleverly thrown in for good measure. It’s surrounded by farmland that has been zoned so that it can’t be developed – can’t beat that. Here’s the part that Spanky likes – they have five, yep count em, five dogs. There’s Karu – a 150 pound Swiss something or other who I first met 10 years ago when he was a pup in Estonia, there’s Daisy the boxer, Cookie – Pete’s mom’s little dog, a chocolate lab that we didn’t get to meet, and Spike – the pit bull pup (6 mos old). And if that’s not enough, Peeter and Anu also have two kids, Kai (7 I think) and Mark (15) – great kids.
We slowly introduced Spanky to all the dogs (you never know who’s gonna get along). Before you know it, it’s dog soup in the back yard. No problem. Spanky and Spike (the pit pup) are playing fox and hound, chasing each other all over the huge yard, Karu is getting old but enjoyed trying to gallop with them a little bit, Daisy jumped in for a few laps but in the end it was the Spike and Spanky show. If we hadn’t eventually gone to sleep, I think those two would have kept bounding and leaping about, wrestling, and continuing their doggie steeplechase all night long. Spanks and I thank you for your hospitality – we’ll be back! To see pics of the “Dogs Gone Wild” go to Pics from Peeter and Anu’s
New Jersey, the Garden State. People often find that amusing. I’m originally from NJ so watch it! The problem is that a good portion of the population thinks of New Jersey based on what they’ve seen from the north east section of the NJ Turnpike. Oil refineries, Newark airport, suburban sprawl, the landfills of Secaucus, dumped chemicals, pollution, a veritable wasteland. Not so quick. NJ has a lot to be proud of (and some things not so proud). Frank Sinatra, Bruce Springsteen, the Meadowlands (final resting place for a few unsavory souls), Jockey Hollow (Major encampment for George Washington and the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War), Princeton University (ever heard of Einstein), miles of beautiful beaches, and believe it or not, some pretty darn nice countryside once you get off the beaten track.
Northwestern New Jersey, especially has its own unique and distinct character. Sparsely populated, dappled with little old towns, mountainous (by Jersey stds), rhododendron and mountain laurel forests, farms, a lot of stuff that the average non NJ citizen would not expect to see.
So without any further delay, let’s talk about the summit of NJ, shall we? The highpoint of NJ is actually called “Highpoint.” Must of taken a think tank of rocket scientists to come up with that one. On June 15th, 2007, me and the Spankster hung a right off I-84 at the Port Jervis exit in New York (adjacent to where PA, NY, and NJ meet and next to the Delaware River) and dropped down into NJ.
Within a few miles, we entered Highpoint State Park and wound our way up the mountain to the summit. Hey, it’s really quite nice up there. The mountain laurels were blooming, the forest is nice and green, lots of moss and lichen covered rock out croppings, a couple of small lakes, quite a pleasant place to go hiking or just picnicking with the family.
Remember last time we tried this, mid April, the damned place was closed due to snow – a lot changes in a short time. The top of highpoint has a stone observation tower, reminiscent of the Washington Monument (smaller of course). Well……the tower is under construction (renovation actually) and closed. Why is it so much stuff in this country is “under construction?” Will we ever stop? Maybe then we’ll have to put up signs that say “closed due to completion?”
Spanky has been sleeping in the truck all day. His little lark in VA with Spike has left him pretty well tuckered out. But……..the little fella rises to the occasion and we walk the last few hundred feet to the top, 1,803 ft to be exact. You know, I really don’t care that the tower is closed. Turns out the actual summit and USGS marker are on some rocks away from the tower anyhow.
Spanks proudly strikes a few poses for the shutter and proceeds to lie down and rest some more. The views are actually rather appealing. The Delaware River can be seen in the valley below, hills of NJ, PA, and NY in the distance, and it’s a darn nice, blue sky, clear sunny day. And we have the place to ourselves! Me and the boy take it all in, chill for a while and head back down to our trusty white steed and covered wagon. I don’t think that truck is ever gonna quit (knock on wood).
I don’t have to tell anyone about the craziness of gas prices. We all know it far too well. We needed some petrol for our beast – just about out. For whatever reason (as far as I’m concerned it’s all bullcrap in the end), gas, at the moment, is cheaper in NJ than NY. So…….people cross into Jersey to fill up at the 4 or 5 gas stations on Highway 23 just off the interstate resulting in lines at the pumps, with cars and trucks jockeying for position and acting like jerks. Compounding this foolishness is the fact that NJ does not allow pumping your own gas. The particular purveyor of petrol that I picked had two kids running around doing their best to keep eight pumps pumping, processing credit cards, and making change at the same time. Not real efficient.
So it took us a little extra time to fill up, so what. Before you know it we were on our way to our next temporary home, in the woods of the Catskill Mountains of New York.
Thanks for checkin in!
The Highpoint Observation Tower
View West Into Pennsylvania
Checking It Out
Time To Rest Some More
Looking North Into New York
The USGS Marker