Thursday, July 03, 2008
What I did on my "staycation"
That's the new buzzword now, right? "Staycation"? The word for time off when you can't afford the gas to go anywhere ...
Well, I recently took a week off, having realized that I was going to max out my vacation time and stop accruing new days otherwise. J. took a few days off, too, and we did day trips. We didn't especially save on gas, but at least we could sleep in our own bed at night and save a lodging fee.
The first day trip was to Cape May, NJ, an old Victorian resort still largely undiscovered by the condo builders (shhh!...). This is one of my favorite places in the world. The "boardwalk" is made of concrete. The carnival rides are nonexistent. It's very quiet. The picture above was taken as a storm passed by offshore. I love the dark sky against the sea!
We had a nice lunch (far too much food, but what the heck!) in a restaurant located on a pier.
Later in the day, it cleared up a bit. J. doesn't much care for the beach, so he went blissfully to sleep on a blanket while I roamed the shoreline, picking up the inevitable stones. The shoreline is segmented by jetties, I suppose to prevent erosion of the sand, and some surfers were attempting to ride the (rather small) waves near one of the jetties. My image of the surfer-boys did not turn out, but here is one of the jetties.
The waves are, admittedly, somewhat minimal, even with the storm offshore. But that's the East Coast, I guess. Not too many Hawaii-style waves are to be found here.
A couple of days after this trip, I got it into my head to go canoeing, because I know how J. loves the woods and lakes. So I rented a canoe from a rental service in Chatsworth, NJ. After an hour in the car, we finally found the place. The canoe rental fee was quite reasonable, and they hauled us out to the launch spot and picked us up three hours later.
We were canoeing the Wading River in the Wharton State Forest, part of the Pinelands National Reserve. If you're interested in the history and ecology of the remaining wilderness in South Jersey, be sure to read The Pine Barrens, by John McPhee. I read this many years ago, when I first moved to the state. It may be out in a new edition.
In any case, the Wading River is aptly named, because under normal conditions it is never more than three to four feet deep. This is fortunate for me, because I managed to lean back to avoid an overhanging branch, and dumped myself into the water! I still have the bruise on my leg where I hit the edge of the canoe on my way out. It was an occasion of great hilarity for both J. and me, and in view of the heat, a great relief to be standing in waist-deep water (even with things -- snakes? fish?-- slithering around my ankles).
It was so quiet there. I could almost imagine myself a member of a Leni-Lenape tribe, paddling silently along. All we heard was birdsong. A large buck came down to the water to drink, but by the time I got the camera out, he had retreated in haste. He was lovely -- with a full set of antlers.
We canoed for the full three hours of the rental. I was surprised at how well I did, not being very athletic. I guess a little weight loss did not hurt! When we saw the second bridge, we knew it was time to beach the canoe and wait for our ride. This was the scene at the end of our journey.
Our ride back to the car came promptly, and before we knew it we were headed home. we stopped at a rural diner on the way, and talked about how we would like to have our own canoe, and do a lot more exploring of the Pine Barrens.