A few weeks ago I woke up about six and  went to the National Weather Service River prediction page.  It had rained heavy during the night and the gauge at Trenton showed a straight line up several feet.  The prediction had been a gradual rise to about 16 feet.  Would it continue to rise? So quickly.    I check some upriver gauges but it’s hard to tell. About seven a new prediction showed the rise stopping, going down, and the over the next few days going back up slowly to about 16 feet.  More rain expected and the reservoirs in New York were spilling (which they had been for weeks).

With the sun up I noticed the low land along Morgan was flooded.  The water was from Garlits Pond, which is feed by a ditch running along the canal.  The canal may have overflowed just enough to fill the pond to overflow but not enough to flood the neighborhood.  A walk on the canal in the morning showed that’s exactly what happened.  Canal overflow was in a small 4 feet strip.

Living between the Delaware River and canal makes us very aware of weather conditions, rainfall, and potential flooding.  It can happen with the Spring snow thaw, a hurricane, breaking ice packs that are damming river water, local rain flooding the canal.  Many  in the flood plain believe that the major floods of 2004, 05 and 06 were increased due to overflows from upriver reservoirs — Cannonsville, Pepacton, and Neversink. Frequently all three are at or close to 100% capacity forced to release.  Prior to the early 2000 floods, the reservoirs were frequently at 80% capacity and could hold back some heavy rain, instead of spilling and  releasing water.

The Delaware is part of the Wild and Scenic River system.  330 miles of the main stem through New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware flow free.  If I understand correctly, the three dam/reservoirs previously discussed and others are on tributaries. These dams  were created to provide drinking water for New York City.  Not wanting to be without clean water, NY wants to keep to reservoirs filled.  The Delaware River Basin Commission, which oversees the reservoirs, after the 2004-06 floods, claimed that 100% filled dams spilling water did not contribute to flooding.  Since then they have instituted minor flood control measures accepting some responsibility.

In 1965 there was a proposal to build a Delaware River dam at Tocks Island.  The federal government began to condemn land for the project.  Supporters of the dam cited the benefit of hydroelectric power and flood control.  In 1955 there was a major flood on the river.  Protests against the dam grew strong.   Abbie Hoffman, a 1960s anti-war activist,  arrived in the Delaware Valley.  Supreme Court Justice William O Douglas led a thousand people in protest.  The Tocks Island Dam was defeated by 1975.  The Delaware would continue to run free. But not all rivers run free.

E0D33988-F528-4426-AD4E-5A19522603F5I just finished rereading “ Northwest Passage: the Great Columbia River” by William Dietrich.  What a story; what a river.  Unlike the Delaware, the Columbia has been dammed, and dammed again, and again.   There are dozens of dams on the main stem and tributaries.  Why?  Some were to provide irrigation water.  And then hydroelectric power. Maybe flood control.   I recognize the dam names Bonneville and Grand Coulee.   Among the many side effects is the impact of dams on the salmon fisheries and Native Americans. Obviously not positive.  Ladders, seeding may help but the historic salmon runs on the Columbia have ended and will not return.

Ten years ago we had a trip planned to explore the Columbia River with my sister Marylee and Norvel.  It didn’t happen as planned.  Recently I’ve been thinking of my “must visit”  places.  Maybe the Columbia.  Until then I’ll continue to monitor the Delaware. No salmon; some shad.



River Road: Bristol to New Hope



“River road”  — conjures up a shaded, tight two lane, winding road running parallel to a scenic River.  There must be hundreds of river roads. Growing up in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, our River Road follows the Delaware River.  Many associate it with Yardley or New Hope.  I’ve actually followed the river from Philadelphia — past industrial buildings, parking lots, railroads, parallel to interstate 95 —  Delaware Avenue, Tacony Street, then State Road to Croydon and Bristol.


I grew up on Mill Street in Bristol Borough about 70 miles from Delaware Bay, 22 miles from center city, Philadelphia.  The river was our back yard.  Let’s start our River Road tour in Bristol at Mill and Radcliffe, heading upriver. On our right is the King George, a colonial era inn and tavern.   Yes, General George Washington was a guest, as well as Presidents John Adams, Madison, Tyler and Filmore.  We’ve had many family dinners at the King George.  The enclosed porches in the rear have great river views. Although I thought it overpriced for a few years, the current owners have restored the qualily at acceptable prices.  During my high school years, the parents of a close friend managed the Inn (it was called the Delaware House for many years, Americans not wanting to hear “King George).  The family lived in rooms on the second floor; an invitation to dinner and we were served by a waitress.  John’s mom and dad were working, kitchen and bar.    We liked playing pool in the historic bar.  It was there that I last saw and talked my grandfather Profy. He was having lunch.


Next door to the King George is the Bristol Riverside Theatre. Growing up it was the Bristol movie theatre.  I saw my first films there.  By 1970 it had become an “adult” movie house catering to a gay audience.  Diane and I home from the Peace Corps were living in the family apartment two blocks away.  Weekends there were frequent disturbances between straights and gays.  As I called the police I assurrred Diane, “it wasn’t like this when I was a kid.”  The Grundy foundation bought the building in the 1980s and a great regional theatre was born drawing New York talent.  I think the first production we saw was Pearl Bucks’s “The Good Earth.”  More recently, “Lost in Yonkers” and “Workings” based on a Studs Terkel book.  Anything we’ve seen has been a solid production.

Across the street is Annabella’s Italian Restaurant.  It’s very good Classic Italian, recently featured in the “Main Street — Small Business Revolution” program.  Another place for family celebrations; in fact the Profy’s are related to the owner, Robert.


In Bristol, river road is Radcliffe street.  There is about a mile of historic houses.  My first introduction to local history, was reading Doren Green’s “Old Homes on Radcliffe Street.”  I knew families and had friends that lived in some of the homes.  It’s a book I need to reread.  One of the nicest homes is the Grundy mansion.  Joseph Grundy was the owner of a large woolen mill in town (the distinctive clock tower, a Bristol logo) and a United States Senator.  When he died in the 1960s, he established the Grundy Foundation which immediately built the Margaret R. Grundy Memorial Library.  Situated next to the Grundy mansion on the river, the library is a fantastic community resource for the town and county.  In addition to its collection of material, the library sponsors a variety of community programs.


Continuing up Radcliffe we pass St. Mark’s RC Church, established in 1846 I thought the oldest Catholic Church in the county but recently learned it’s the second; the first in Ottsville.  Up the street, on the left is Cesare’s Restorante, a family classic Italian, another place where our family has had many gatherings.  Pizza is fantastic but also check out the homemade biscotti.  On the edge of the borough line at Green Lane is industrial property — ship building during WW I and airplane construction during WW I.  Nestled in the complex is the Radcliffe Cafe, a classic local breakfast hangout.


Leaving the Borough we continue through Bristol township, the village of Tullytown into a desolate area at a bend in the river.  US steel was located here in the 1950s; now its Waste Management with huge mounds of fermenting trash and garbage.  It’s also the location of Pennsbury Manor, William Penn’s country estate.  As a kid we would visit the historic property but interpretation was extremely limited.  I do remember that there was a brewery.  Penn made beer.  Today the State does a better job of interpretation; there are several “living history” events including Holly Nights in early December — with crackling fires, candles, carollers, and mulled cider.

There isn’t a road close to the river but it’s possible to continue north-west to Pennsylvania Avenue which goes into Morrisville Borough.  The “Trenton Makes; the World Takes” bridge is on the right.  Here Route 32 is truly River Road although the Road name will depend on the municipality.  The next bridge is the 1884 Calhoun Street bridge construcked by the Phoenixville Bridge Company.   It’s about five miles to the Yardley Inn on the corner of Afton Avenue and downtown Yardley.


Since 1977 we’ve lived on N. Delaware Avenue (River Road) several blocks above the Yardley inn. Founded in 1832 as the White Swan, the Inn is an award winning Bucks County restaurant; survivor of the historic floods including three in the early 2000s.   In recent years, Chef Eban Copple has started a restaurant garden, foraged wild plants like ramps, and buys local when possible.  We eat at the Inn several times a year.

In the block before the Inn is Charcoal BYOB ( formerly Charcoal Steaks and Things) the local hangout that has gotten solid reviews from the Inquirer food critic Craig LeBan. A detour on Afton to downtown Yardley is worth the trip.  Enjoy Lake Afton, fishing and ice skating. The picturesque carpenter Gothic building is the “Old Library,” now the home of the Yardley Historical Association.

There are a number of downtown restaurants including the Continental Tavern and The Vault — a micro-brewery. The Continental offers decent pub food and a lot of local history.  Possible a station on the Undergroun RR, Frank Lyons, the current owner has been conducting some pretty sophiscated archaeology.  He’s unearthed a large hidden room filled with bottles (many from the prohibition era) and other artifacts.  A serious historian, he displays many findings in the bar and restaurant.


Yardley is also a good place to start an explore of the Delaware Canal State Park.  It began in Bristol and continues for sixty miles to Easton.


Back on River Road we’ll pass the Yardley boat ramp.  At the next stop sign, we will be in Taylorsville, Washington Crossing Park.  There is a visitor center with a replica of Emmenuel Leutze’s painting “Washington Crossing the Delaware.”  The original became controversial during WWII since Leutze was German and the river in the painting was the Rhine.  Displayed for a few years in the park it was eventually returned to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.  A copy replaces the original. There are a number of historic buildings on the 500 acre State Park, opened for tours and special activities.  Decades ago we had a colonial cooked dinner in McConkley’s Ferry Inn. Unfortunately the park service has been less ambitious in its offerings.  The big event is the reenactment of Washington Crossing the Delaware on Christmas.  We’ve attended several years.  Weather and river permitting, reenactors cross the river in reproductions of the historic Durham boats that the Colonials used.

IMG_2751Just above the Park is David’s Library of the American Revolution.  It was founded in 1959 by Sol Feinstone, an immigrant in love with the revolutionary freedom.  The library is used by amateur and professional historians.  I’ve had several interesting days with pencil and paper reading about the Revolution in Bucks County.  They also present lectures and field trips. I took one following Washington’s route to the battle of Trenton.  During our first year of retirement, Diane and I attended a workshop on using the library for genealogical research.  Of equal interest was a presentation by the owner- founder of Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania’s s rye whispery distillery which is located in the old Grundy mill in Bristol. Fascinating history and tasty samples.


We cross a red camelback bridge over Jericho creek, the crossroads of Brownsburg and arrive at the upper end of Washington Crossing State Park.  In the early 1900s there was a plan to create a greenway between the Crossing and Valley Forge.  What a grand plan but it never happened.  At this end of the Park is Bowman’s tower on a hill overlooking the river valley.  Growing up we would picnic in this area, climb the hill and then climb steps to the top of the tower.  Wow.  The state closed the tower for years and when it finally reopened about a decade ago there was an elevator and admission fee.  Some weekends in high school I drove an O’Boyles ice cream truck to the base of the tower and sold ice cream all day.

IMG_2740Also located in this section of the park is the Thompson Neely house, the house of decision where Washington made his decision for the Christmas crossing.  On the creek is a small grist mill — opened in 1976 for the bi-Centennial, closed for decades and only recently reopened.  Another great attraction at Bowman’s is the Wildflower Preserve, an interpretative center, trails, one of the best wild flower preserves in the country.  Diane and I frequently go to their annual native plant sale.

Growing up my close friend’s father, Doctor Romano brought us to bird banding programs at a house on the park grounds.  It was my first exposure to “birding.”  Many years later walking in the park I saw this large, yes, “woody” woodpecker.  My jaw dropped.  A park employee identified the bird, ” oh, that’s our Piliated Woodpecker.”  It’s my only sighting of one.


Recently we had lunch at Bowman’s Tavern at the base of the hill.  It was a favorite in the 1990s (I was reintroduced to pork cooked on a wood fired oven after many vegetarian years) but as happens it changed hands and we stopped going.  We had a great meal and put it back on our list of not far from home spots for lunch.



If we take a left on Aquetong Road at the edge of the park, we will pass the home and workshops of George Nakishima.  During WWII, Nakishima, an architect, was in a concentration camp for Japanese.  A Bucks County architect sponsored him and brought him to Bucks County where he opened a furniture workshop studio.  He became one of the foremost furniture makers in the country.  I discovered Nakishima in the 1970s and have visited his studio several times.  I’ve seen one of his altars —  a huge oak table — in Saint John the Divine in New York City.  There is a studio in Old City Philadelphia that carries his work.  Although he died years ago his style and tradition is carried on by his daughter.  I am the proud owner of a Nakishima piece, an irregular polished piece of wood with holes for pens or pencils. It was a gift to our New Hope friend, Ragna Hamilton, that I inherited when she died.


We can continue on Aquetong Road and enter New Hope from the back or return to River Road and on the New Hope.  The Aquetong route will take us past the old mill where Jim Hamilton lived in the 1970s.  Jim, a former New York set designer and owner of Hamilton’s Grill in Lambertville died several weeks ago.  For several years we rented a house nearby on Old York Road with John and Barbara Paglione.  It was our back to the earth, intentional, communal living years.  Hamilton’s Grill in recent years has been our go to restaurant for special ocassions.

There’s a lot  in the New Hope area and up river.  But we’ll end this explore here and return to this River Road trip another day.


Crossing the River: Exploring New Jersey




Years ago — actually several decades ago — I was teaching an undergraduate social studies class at Holy Family University.  One assignment was to develop a lesson plan.  One young woman submitted a lesson about the Delaware River.  I asked her to explain what she was teaching about the river.  She answered that “the Delaware River seperated Pennsylvania and New Jersey”  I responded “yes, what else.”  She drew a blank.  She knew nothing else about the river.  From then on, my lesson plan templet had a section labeled “content.”

I have lived along the River (PA side) for most of my life.  Grew up in Bristol in a Mill Street apartment that looked out on the river; since 1978 in a riverfront house in Yardley.  Most families in the Philadelphia area cross the river at least annually for a vacation at the Jersey shore.  Philadelphians may go to Atlantic City or Wildwood; most Bristolians go  to Long Beach Island — LBI.  Whenimy sisters and I were young, we spent a week at Beach Haven on LBI.  We rented a house with my Aunt and Uncle, Ellen and Frank Mignoni.  We shared a house with  4 adults and at least 5 kids.  I remember my father driving a truck over the Bay bridge, with all our summer gear, including a second refrigerator.  My Aunt and Uncle ever eventually bought a breachfront house in Harvey Cedars.  During my HS, college, and the years immediately after, I spent many days visiting.  They were always extremely generous; we would call for a key off season; in 1977, pregnant with Jenny, Diane stayed at Harvey Cedars with my Aunt, August through September.




This past year, Diane and I discovered the $75 NJ park pass.  A great bargain. We frequently go to Island Beach, not just summer trips  but off season.  Winter brings out the Island foxes.  This year there was a snowy owl which unfortunately we didn’t get to see.  Many days we find a secluded area and Moe can run free.  Our trips  to Island Beach are often on back roads.  What will we discover? On the way home we like to stop at a seafood market and bring fresh fish home for dinner. One of our favorite discoveries  is Shore Fresh in Point Pleasant Beach — a bit of a ride from Island Beach but worth it.  This summer we were pretty amazed at the continued recovery from hurricane Sandy.  On other trips, particularly on the bay side we have discovered restaurants, farms and seafood stops.  Or maybe, birding at Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge.

There were only a couple of NJ destinations when we were kids.  My father liked Batsto othe bog iron village in the Pine Barrens. We visited quite a few times.  Diane and I rediscovered Batsto and its hiking trails several years ago.  My parents also liked a shopping village in Rancocus.  They was a hardware/furnishings store; colonial style; a bit of an 1950s version of Restoration.  Seems like we visited frequently.  A few times Dad crossed over to Burlington, if for no other reason than to look across the river at Bristol.

During the late 50s and early 60s, I did some NJ explores with the Boy Scouts.  I remember camping at Lakehurst.  We were told the story of the Hindenburg airship disaster of 1937 and I think we got to go inside a blimp.  Most memorable on the trip, was breakfast cooked by Mr. Lodge on a huge iron grill.  He had been an army cook and took orders, a wiz short order cook.

Another scout trip was canoeing on one of the Pine Barren rivers — Wading or Mullica? I remember moving through different landscapes — marshes, forests, open river.  I was in a canoe with Andy Romano and as we approached the end of our two night trip, his brother, Chris, attacked us, capsizing the canoe.  Several years ago Diane and  I, Taylor’s and Rosenthals rented canoes for a trip down the Mullica.  It was several days after heavy rains and the river was running fast.  Trees blocked clear runs and trying to slide under them was  a big challenge –trying not to get beheaded or captize.


Another High School  NJ experience was going to John Terrell’s Lambertville Music Circus.  I went several times.  First a dinner date at a restaurant in town — I think it was Riverside or River’s Edge?  Quick internet check, it was River’s Edge and post cards are available on eBay for $3.00.  After dinner, off to the the Circus, with its tent box office and huge tent outdoor seating.  In 1964, I saw the Rightous Brothers  (You Got that Loving Feeling) and the following year Dave Brubeck. The Music Circus closed sometime in the 1970s

In the early 1970s, Diane and I rented a house with John and Barbara Paglione, outside of downtown New Hope.  We crossed the New Hope-Lambertville bridge frequently to explore  NJ.  Lambertville was basically a working class town — the New Yorkers, galleries, shops and restaurants came later as New Hope turned into a T-shirt, tattoo, chain store, and tacky tourist destination.  The artist culture migrated across the bridge.

Our favorite Lambertville restaurant (because it was affordable) was, Phil and Dan’s.  The couple literally took the front room of their row house and turned  it into a dining room.  The pasta was always good and it was a BYOB.  A few years ago, the Paglione’s were visiting.  We decided to go to Phil &  Dan’s — now it’s called Rick’s.  A few weeks later, I mentioned this in a Holy Family class.    After class, a young teacher approached, “Mr. Profy, Phil and Dan were my grandparents.”  They were still alive but had  crossed the river and we’re living in Bucks County.

Today Rick’s has the same BYOB, red checked table cloth,  home cooked pasta and meatballs atmosphere.  We’ve been back several times.  Another Lambertville restaurant from the early 1970s was the Swan Hotel.  Anton’s at the Swan was and is a pretty up-scale expensive restaurant. We may have been there once but more often have  gone to the Swan bar – – more affordable, then and now — its  a delightful, intimate space.

We go to Lambertville quite a bit.  Sometimes we wander around town, taking in the galleries, many with local artists. Some years we attend the Shad festival.  Shad migrate upriver in the spring to spawn.  The Lewis Fishery in town still license and can be seen seining for shad. I have been told that Delaware River shad taste of mud and what’s sold locally comes from Connecticut.  The roe is prized but I can’t interest Diane.  Eating shad becomes a bit of a dream for me.  But the festival is always fun.  This year I won a historic walking tour of Lambertville.

Today many of our Lambertville explores are culinary.  El Tule is a Peruvian-Mexican BYOB.  Some  traditional but also quite a few interesting dishes.  They have outdoor tables.  Another Mexican we like is Tortuga’s Cocina, located in Mitchell’s bar.  But they may have closed.  Fairly new is Cafe Galleria in a Victorian house, porch seating, fresh, organic, health conscious offerings.  Refreshing comes to mind.  Brian’s is well reviewed and rated.  We’ve eaten there once.  The Lambertville House has been redone and we recently had nice lunch there — the atmosphere is classic.  In the early 1980s, we spent New Years with the Gallaghers and Chapmans (HGP staff) at the Lambertville House. Memories.

There are quite a few Lambertville restaurants on our check it out list — Bell’s Tavern, Siam Thai, and the French, Manon which always seemed closed.



Currently our favorite Lambertville restaurant is Hamilton’s Grill, located on a small alley courtyard.  Back in the 70s, owner Jim Hamilton and his family lived in an old mill around the corner from our New Hope rental house.  Jim was a NYC  set designer; his wife was French.  They hosted annual glitzy parties in the historic mill.  We weren’t invited but knew people who attended.  For us they were part of the New Hope art and culture scene. The Grill has been around for decades; Jim is now in his 80s.  One daughter, Melissa, publishes a series of cookbooks — “Canal House Cooking.” His other daughter, Gabrielle, is one of the better  known woman NYC chefs.  On a recent trip to NYC (with Pagliones) we had dinner at her East Village restaurant, Prune.  It met all expectations.  John and I had pigeon!  We also have a copy of Gabrielle’s cookbook, “Prune” and her 2011 memoir, “Blood, Bones & Butter: The Inadvertent Education of A Reluctant Chef.”  A interesting story, particularly as we feel we know her.

In recent years, Hamilton’s Grill is where we go for our anniversary dinner.  We have also attended what Jim describes as cooking classes.  They are really demonstrations in a small apartment near the restaurant.  We attended a seafood dinner and an Italian Christmas seven  fish dinner with guest chef, Andrew Abruzzese and his son (Pineville Tavern). Both meals were fantastic.

This past year we also went to Hamilton’s Grill for their New Jersey shore meal — clams, mussels, lobster, tomatoes obviously.  Wow.  And for Thanksgiving we sat at the counter watching chef Mark Miller grill shrimp and tuna.  What a meal and experience.  Not to be outdone by her father, Melissa hosted a Sunday breakfast in an apartment she maintains for test cooking and I guess parties. We have never had lighter, more delicious pancakes.  The Grill is a BYOB but in the courtyard is The Boathouse, a small funky bar, with outdoor seating — the place to begin your Hamilton Grill experience.  Oh, regulars also know that off hours, you can park in the nearby lumber yard, along the canal.

Another NJ city to explore is Princeton.  We have many associations.  In the 198os and 1990s we subscribed to McCarter Theatre and eventually McCarter Dance — when Jenny was enrolled in dance classes.  We went so frequently, we even contributed a few dollars.  By the 90s, most pre-show dinners were  at Teresa’s — a small, very busy,  Italian style restaurant near the Nassau Inn.  Reasonable priced and tasty pasta dishes, pizza, brought us back again and again.  Another Princeton tradition is Christmas shopping.  I hate malls  — refuse to go to them unless absolutely necessary.  Princeton is enchanting at Christmas.  Although over the years the shops have changed,  there are still some that are quite classy and interesting.

There are a lot of reasons to go to Princeton.  Great shoes stores — my Birkenstocks, Clarks, and other shoes have come from Princeton.   In fact my grandfather ran a shoe repair shop on Nassau Street.  Address in hand, I found the location this year.  This summer I sold 20 boxes  of books to Labyrinth Books.  I hope to return with more and eventually I want to sell some of my LPs to the Princeton Record Exchange.

We have also found some great food stops — on the way to Princeton there is Tehune Orchard.  A variety of crops and kid friendly activities.     On Route 206, don’t miss Lucy’s Kitchen.  Homemade  ravoli and pasta (fresh, dried and frozen).  Heaven.  Can’t believe we only discovered Lucy’s  a few years ago.  We also like to stop at Nassau Street Seafood.  Fresh fish and usually varieties that we don’t find locally.  Next door to the market is the Blue Point Grill.  Recently we had octopus — it was fantastic.  And we learned that the same could be had with pre-cooked, frozen octopus from Buckingham Valley Seafood (ops that’s in PA).  There are many other good restaurants in Princeton — check out Mediterra (same owners as Teresa’s) and Agricola.  The Nassau Inn is always a classic lunch stop.

In the past few years, our drives to Princeton are on back roads.  We avoid I-95 and wander through Pennington and Hopewell. These NJ explores have turned up a number of interesting discoveries. Food wise, we go to the Brick Farm Market in Hopewell.  Meats, cheese, some fresh produce and a small, expanding cafe.  A great find. We also enjoyed tea class and a few breakfasts in Paint the Roses — unfortunately I think it just closed.  Another farm market is Blue Moon Acres.  They grow a variety of micro-greens (also have a farm on route 413 near 202 in PA).  At the Pennington market in addition to their own produce they feature anything local — honey, meats, cheese, popcorn, just anything local.  You can get a Griggstown pot pie or Cherry Grove Farmstead cheese.  Both NJ farms.

Actually if you want to explore NJ farm products, go to the Trenton Farmer’s Market. Cross the river at the Calhoun Street bridge and head north.  The market has all NJ produce and a few speciality stores.  The butcher made pork roll from Cartlidge is amazing. There is a good baker and an Italian deli.  Olsen’s cheese was there until they moved to Palmer Square in Princeton.  I usually  buy a lot of my garden plants at the Trenton Market. My other garden plants come from  NJ — Dragonfly Nursery and Mazur Nursery and Garden Center.  The later family owned has a good selection of Fall plants.  A good place to know.

And there are still things to do in Trenton.  I went to a lecture about the gardens of Jefferson’s Monticello at the Trent House. There was a tour of their garden led by Charlie, a volunteer who lives a block away from us.  Diane and I also went to the Trenton Barracks, built for Bristish soldiers during the French and Indian War.  Both of these sites host a variety of activities.  One day after we read a book on the Battle of Trenton, we took a car trip attempting to follow the historic route.  Then  we saw signs, Washington’s March to Trenton.  They took us to the Trenton Battle Monument overlooking the scene of the historic battle, turning point of the Revolution.

On another trip, in  Cadwalder Park, we discovered the Trenton Museum with several interesting exhibits — one was on Italians (Porfirio’s pasta company was mentioned) and another on the Abbot Marsh which we always pass on the way to the shore.

Chambersburg, Trenton’s historically Italian community has shrunk as businesses move out to Hamilton township but I still want to explore it. My grandfather took us to several Trenton restaurants — I believe on was Marsilio’s Kitchen (still open).  And he went to the Italian People’s Bakery every Christmas for cookies.  When I  began teaching Local History in the 1980s, I used a fantastic documentary on the Chambersburg neighborhood.  And I haven’t done it yet, but Abbot’s Marsh is on a list of  this year’s explores.

In the past year we have been doing a lot of driving and walks exploring Mercer, Hunterdon and Somerset counties across the river from Bucks County.  We frequently drive to Stockton (an interesting if expensive Farmers Market), park and walk along the Delaware and Raritan State Park trail.  One destination north is Prallsville Mills, a small collection of buildings opened for special events. continue on to Bulls Island Recreation Area, the beginning of the D &R canal feeder.  Years ago we took HGP Explorer’s Club camping there.  It was part of a Delaware River canoe trip.  The kids crossed the foot  bridge to buy dinner at the Black Bass Hotel.  Next day none of them had money for a soda.

There is Washington Crossing State Park (NJ), we usually go in on back roads where Moe can run free.  Baldpate Mountain and the Ted Stiles Preserve is another great area for walking and dog running.  Our big NJ surprise this year was the Goat Hill Overlook.  It’s a small park area with fantastic views of New Hope and Lambertville.  Also very dog friendly. Moe’s favorite trip, however, is to Rosedale Park near Pennington.  There is a free, no permit, well maintained dog park.  Run Moe, run.

Howell Living History Farm offers a different type of experience.  Saturday activities may include sheep shearing, cheese making, maple syrup making, wagon rides.  Great place for kids.  One day at Howell, we took a tour with Larry Kidder, author of “Farming Pleasant Valley: 250 years of life in rural Hopewell Township, New Jersey.  Serendipitous drives in the area and you feel that you have stepped back in history.

Maybe a stop at Gravity Hill Farm for some fresh produce. Driving north of Stockton on one  trip, we saw a sign, Tullamore Farms, The Farm Cooking School.  In an funny coincidence, Jenny read about the school and for Christmas gave us a gift certificate.  I went to a cooking beer centric demonstration and dinner.  The school’s chefs, Ian and Shelly are fantastic.  In this particular dinner, Triumph Brewery provided beer in many of the recipes as well as beer to drink.  Some were brewed specifically for the dinner.  A month later, Eli went to a class, Latino breakfast. They made everything and then served it to parents who came to pick them up.  At events like this, there are always interesting participants.  We will return to the Farm Cooking School.

Back in the 1990s, I read a book “Looking for America on the New Jersey Turnpike.” It was a fun book.  The Garden State gets mixed reviews.  Is NJ chemical companies,  dying marshlands, a stop on the Interstate, an asphalt strip between NYC and Philadelphia.  I  think our NJ explores reveals more. These local field trip show just how much there is close to home in NJ.   I suspect there will be many more explores in Retirement, year two.


Goat Hill Overlook

Goat Hill Overlook