Friday, August 28, 2015


Since we have been in New Jersey we have been trying to connect with our friend Jody for a day of visiting and touring.  We were finally able to meet at Tuckerton Seaport, a small town just north of our location at Port Republic.  

The visitors' center/museum is the entrance to the buildings of the seaport.  The complex was assembled to highlight the rich natural resources of the Barnegat Bay estuary and its influences on the regional design and cultural heritage.  In the museum we learned about the importance of the  Barnegat Bay area, and the Pinelands, Great Bay, Barrier Ialand and open ocean ecosystems.  Tuckerton Seaport's local wildlife features four habitats--woods, wetlands, bay and ocean.

Jody and I are pirates at heart

mud flats, an important part of the ecosystem

Carver in the decoy carving shop  Duck hunting was key in this area

Tucker's Island hotel was blown away in a storm and the island followed suit not long after.

Carving of the infamous Jersey Devil

Lifesaving boat could hold 16 people.  A line was attached from the wrecked ship to the shore then the boat slipped along the line until all passengers were rescued.

 View of the complex from atop the lighthouse.  The whole 40 acre area encompasses a salt marsh, walking trail through woods, and 23 buildings housing several businesses, one restaurant, a boat ride along the creek, and the museum.  Each building on the site highlights a different aspect of the history, folklife and industry of the region.

Lighthouse the view above was taken from the right side of the tower balcony.

For lunch we skipped the restaurant and walked down the street to a Stewart's Rootbeer stand for real Jersey food.  Jody, a New Jersey girl, said I should get crab cakes.   Pretty good!

 After a fun visit we had to part company.  On the way home we passed wall around a private residence.  The whole top of the wall and most of the front of it was adorned with a weird eclectic mix of decorations.

At places there was a large animal behind the wall and a row of smaller versions of the same animal in front of it.  Here are elephants.  There were also giraffes, dinosaurs, and dragons.

Three gates sported soldiers of various time periods, plus whatever else the owners decided to put there.

A transformer and two religious statues framed by cannons

Interesting 400' wall
The Tuckerton Seaport was touted as an open air maritime village, but in our opinion it didn't quite measure up to the hype.  The whole place had a rundown, unused look and several of the exhibits were "temporarily closed due to Superstorm Sandy".  The museum was good, as was the lighthouse, but the whole place needs redoing.  In spite of this we had a good time with Jody and are looking forward to our next visit with her.  

The rest of our time here (three days) we plan to do a few chores and relax--unless, of course, we get bored and take another ride!

Louise and Duane  

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Touring A Big City

 We usually avoid large cities because we don't like constant noise, traffic, or crowds, but we had a chance to see Philadelphia with locals for tour guides, so we had to go.  We arrived at the home of our hosts, Rich and Jeannie Carpenter and their teen-aged daughters Amelia and Euna (all of whom we met at Stacy (our daughter) and Ruth Ann's (Rich's sister) wedding.  We were greeted by Stacy and Ruth Ann and settled into our room for the next two nights.  One of our reasons to tour the area was that Duane could view a lot of the artwork of Master Blacksmith Samuel Yellin.  With this in mind, the girls drove us to Bryn Mawr College.  We walked around the beautiful campus viewing the gates and sconce holders.

We found an open door and went inside to find a wonderful woman working in an office.  She offered to show us around inside Goodhart Hall.
Notice the knots tied in the iron ending in the tassel at the bottom. This is one of Duane's favorite pieces.

From there we drove to Valley Forge to the George Washington Memorial Chapel for a look around.  The chapel was closed but we viewed the exterior gate and wandered around the memorial atria. We didn't have time to drive the National Historic Site, so  we went back to the house to spend the evening with the family.
This picture was taken through the glass door. This is the slide bar handle to the gate.

Next day Ruth Ann, Stacy, Amelia, her boyfriend Justin, Euna and we took the metro train to the old part of Philadelphia.  Our first stop was Liberty Square.  This is a National Parks site but is free and open to the public.  The Visitors' Center provided really nice displays, two theaters with informative films, a couple of costumed re-enactors showing some of the hand arts of the day, and all of the National Parks Pass stamps for the other sites around the city.  Across the street form the Center is a display showing the site of the first federal capital building.  The federal government was headquartered here for two years before it was moved to Washington, D.C. 

In an adjoining building is the Philadelphia History Museum.  At the end of the building was the original Liberty Bell, crack and all.  

Across the street is Independence Hall.  The tours for this building were free but we had to sign up for a time.  We had a lot of other stuff to see so we moved on. 

When in Philly you need to eat cheesesteak.  We settled on a spot nearby and chowed down.  Left to right is Duane, Ruth Ann, Stacy, Justin, Amelia, & Euna.

Well fortified, we visited Betsy Ross's house.  This is the house she shared with her third husband (having been widowed twice).  In this house she kept her upholstery shop and secretly sewed the flag of the new republic.  

This woman was a real treat.  As Betsy Ross she stayed in character and showed us how she made the five point stars for the flag (Washington wanted 6 points originally) and talked about some of the materials and fabric she used in her business.   

 As we walked we enjoyed the numerous sculptures around the city.  This cat fountain is in the courtyard of the Ross house and the gift shop.

This Indian, a friend to the Quakers is standing on a turtle, symbol of Mother Earth.  On his shoulder is the eagle of freedom holding a wampum belt.  The whole thing symbolizes the unification of peoples and the natural world that existed at the time.

Needing further nourishment we visited Franklin Fountain, This tiny building (you see the whole thing here) is an old-fashioned soda fountain, serving the usual dishes of ice cream and sundaes plus 
soda waters and ices.  

Fully fortified we visited the home of Benjamin Franklin.  The house is gone but a frame structure shows where the building stood (in front of me, behind Duane who is taking the photo).  In the left corner is where the privies stood.  The buildings shown are five of the tenements Franklin built.  The one in the middle is actually three separated by inner walls.  Franklin' hobby was building.  He put a lot of thought into how to make his structures safer for his renters and pleasing to the eye.  Each tenement was three stories with a basement kitchen and storage.  One extended family rented each building.

Our walk took us through China Town and four of these dragons atop a wall.

All signs along this section are in Chinese except for street signs.

Contrast of old and new

This sculpture is a destination point for weary tourists and city dwellers.  The fountain was awash with children and the shady park was welcoming to many people, including us.  Here the teens left us to catch the train for their school and field hockey practice.  Stacy and Ruth Ann are playing tourist by posing under the sign.

My most favorite sculpture

After the teens left the four of us walked around a section of the city which featured more of Samuel Yellin's work.  Ruth Ann had contacted Yellin's granddaughter about a tour of his forge.  She replied that she didn't give tours any more but sent a list of places where we might view his work.  This is the Packard Building.  Behind this gate is an upscale restaurant.  The wait staff kindly let Duane wander around taking photos.

Details of the light fixtures and gate.

This is a dragon door knocker, not a handle.

This is the entrance door to St. Mark's Episcopal Church.

Door on Rosenbach Museum and Library.

Hot and tired we found our way to the train and enjoyed a quiet ride home.  I say that because the trains are electric and because the riders are encouraged to make no electronic noises. All conversations are to be carried on in a whisper, too.  A short walk from the train we found a nice little pizza place for supper, the walked the last couple/three blocks to the house.  We visited the family for a bit before heading to bed for our last night there.  Next morning we were once again fed a good breakfast before we packed up and headed out.  We are truly grateful to the Carpenter family for their hospitality.  They always make us feel welcome.

Our last trip in this area is coming up.  Unless of course we get bored in the next couple of days!

Louise and Duane 

Cape May, New Jersaey

After a couple of days of chores and rest we were ready for a new adventure.  We decided to explore the New Jersey coast southward.  New Jersey is a state with unusual boundaries.  It is connected to New York by land on the north end of the state.  The rest of the long narrow state is peninsular, bordered by the Delaware River on the west and the Atlantic Ocean on the east.  The east coast consists of a series of sounds and harbors connecting the mainland and the beaches.  Ocean Drive connects the cities, towns and villages along the waters' edge, and connects to the mainland by a series of low gracefully arched bridges like the one below.  This is the only one that had a pedestrian walkway/bike way alongside.  This one was busy this Sunday morning.

This is a typical street in the many resort town lining the beach fronts.  The houses in the residential areas are narrow three-story structures set close together.  This street doesn't show it, but people were out and about everywhere--out for a family bike ride, headed to the beach or breakfast, or both.

I included this sign for two reasons:  1. it is unusually tall, 2. it had a big nest on top--no activity, but a big bird built it!

We wandered through Ocean city, Sea Isle City, Avalon, and Stone Harbor, winding back and forth between the residential areas strung along the beach areas and the tourist family activities a couple of streets to the west, and avoiding the downtown business areas (farthest inland).  We stopped for a rest and a drink in North Wildwood, then breezed through Wildwood and Wildwood Crest before stopping for lunch in Cape May City.  

We enjoyed our sandwiches and fries and sodas (believe it or not we had no room for ice cream!).  We rode a little further to Cape May Point at the southernmost point of the state.  Side note:  Since we entered New England we have encountered many towns  that have repeat  names like the Wildwoods, and the Cape Mays, such as Upper Dover, Lower Dover, Dover Center, East Dover, West Dover, Dover on the Hill, etc. so that Cape May City, Cape May Point, and West Cape May didn't seem too unusual.

The beaches along the coast were mostly accessible to everyone with plenty of parking.  I looked at this line of cars and bikes and thought "the beaches are busy this morning".  Duane said," Look at all the shark bait!"

Cape May Point consisted of a parking lot, a nice long beach

a couple of little gift shops (I liked this fountain), a nice restroom,

 and more beach.

The area also was home to a few historic structures.  This is a fire/watch tower, the only one left of 11 that were built to support a fort built across the Delaware Bay in Delaware. The Delaware river forts were built to defend the river entrance to Philadelphia, from the Civil War through WW ll.  These towers were used to watch for enemy activity, and to use a method of triangulation to tell the big guns where to fire into the bays--hence the name Fire Tower. 

We stopped to visit Cape May Lighthouse State Park.  This is a nice little park with a little museum, a gift shop with displays of the animals that live in the area, a restroom, green space to rest and relax, and an historic lighthouse that is open to paying tower climbers.  I stopped to examine this unusual rock art and found that is is actually whalebone.

Visitors visible at the top of the lighthouse

On our way back home we took SR9 inland.  As we crossed this bridge we noticed this unusual swinging bridge in the water below.  It turns a quarter turn to allow boats to go through.
We enjoyed our riding tour of the Jersey Coast.  The sun was warm, the breeze was cool, the clouds gave us shade.  We weren't done yet, though.  Sunday is ice cream day  We found a little locally-made hard ice cream place for a treat before we headed home.

Next trip we brave the Big City, so  stayed tuned!  

Louise and Duane