I have always loved Easter. It is my favorite holiday even over Christmas. It is a more relaxing time of year and there is not the rushing around that the Christmas holidays bring. Both work and graduate classes were taking up so much of my time that it was nice to just relax on Easter and have dinner with my family. It didn’t really turn out that way but I got a lot accomplished and it ended up being a productive weekend.
Classes at NYU have been tough as there have been so many projects to do and the semester ends the second week of May. I have never seen time fly by like this. I would have thought the semester would have ended closer to Memorial Day Weekend but it ends much earlier and everyone is scrambling to get their work done. I was able to sneak down to Washington DC last Sunday to see the Cherry Blossoms in bloom and this time around I got to see them.
My blog on “Visiting the Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC Day Two Hundred and Thirty-Two”:
The Cherry Blossoms in Washington DC the week before
They bloom so much earlier than the festival (almost two weeks) and last year the basin was loaded with people looking at bare trees. Everyone was taking pictures under the dozen or so trees that were the last species to bloom (the same ones in the Brooklyn Botanic Garden) and you could barely take a picture without a dozen people pushing you out of the way. At least this year the storms did not disrupt all the petals.
The Cherry Blossom at the basin and the crowds following them
Even though it was for one day, the trip to Washington DC is always a treat. I was looking forward though to seeing the other great Cherry Blossom displays in both Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens in Brooklyn, NY. Those always follow this display and are just as spectacular.
It was Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ that was in full peak bloom this week. I was able to get to the park later in the afternoon around 4:00pm when the crowds started to thin out. I did not realize that the Visitors Center and parking lot were closed for renovation. That really backed up traffic in the park and there were wall to wall people by that section of the park. I parked toward the entrance (always a good move) and was able to walk all sections of the park with no problems. What surprised me but didn’t shock me was the behavior of people towards the Cherry Trees.
Branch Brook Park in Newark, NJ at Park Avenue & Lake Street
Just like in DC the week before, people were climbing all over the trees, tugging on the branches, pulling off the blossoms and sticking in their hair and pockets or just taking the branches home. Even with all the signs, people just don’t listen. I never really thought about it until I started taking classes at NYU and was learning about the concept of over-tourism. People really have no consideration for the world around them and abuse the very things that they are there to see. I was constantly walking into someone’s picture from every angle.
The brilliance of Mother Nature in full bloom
Still the park was beautiful and the trees and shrubs were at the peak of bloom and that made it special to me. I still remember coming here with my dad every year and then we would go to Rutt’s Hut in Clifton, NJ for a hot dog after our visit. I never remember it being as busy as it is today but this was before 2010 and the IPhone was not as prevalent as it is now. It is amazing how social media has really changed this park.
The crowds in the late afternoon in Branch Brook Park
I just walked along the paths by myself enjoying the Spring day and admiring the trees and flowers of the park. I had never seen it at its peak and it was truly brilliant. I had never see the blossoms so vibrant and the colors so strong. It was Mother Nature at its peak and it only lasts for about a week.
With all the rain we have had lately it knocks the petals off the trees quickly. Branch Brook Park is one of the most unrated parks in the New York area and Newark does get knocked a lot but still the city offers its treasures to us if we seek them out.
How beautiful the river was running through the park
I spent about two hours exploring all parts of the park, watching baseball games, watching parents jump around with their kids and watching couples just holding hands and admiring the trees. There were so many Sweet Sixteen and Wedding pictures being snapped that again you had to maneuver correctly.
It’s always best to park by the entrance so that you can get out of the park easier when it is busy
After about two hours of walking around the park and enjoying the sunshine and the beautiful views, I had to get something to eat. Not in the mood for a hot dog as tradition states I stopped at Pizzatown Pizzeria in Newark for a slice of pizza. I had been there a few times over the years finding the pizzeria in pre-COVID days when all the food trucks were mobbed and not much options on the Bellville side of the park.
Pizzatown is one of those old Newark, NJ businesses that existed when this side of the city all around Branch Brook Park was all Italian up until about the early 1980’s when the last of the elderly Italian families either moved out or had passed away. It is the only business left from that time. Still the pizza is fantastic and I look forward to coming here every year when I am looking at the blossoms. I had a slice of Sicilian pizza that was delicious and it was just nice to relax and eat. I had taken so many pictures of the restaurant before I walked in that the owner asked if I was a relator. In that neighborhood? I thought he was kidding. I guess not too many 6:3 white guys go walking around this place.
Pizzatown Pizzeria & Restaurant at 883 Mt. Prospect Avenue in Newark, NJ
The inside of Pizzatown harks back to the 1960’s when this was an Italian neighborhood
The Sicilian pizza here is so good!
After lunch was over, I took on last look around the park and admired all the trees that were newer that were planted in the park towards the entrance. It is interesting how they just keep planting more trees around the park. I heard that this is the largest collection of Cherry Trees in the world.
The Cherry Trees right by my car on the edge of the park
It was a nice afternoon of walking around and enjoying nature. I had never seen the Cherry Trees this brilliant and so vibrant in colors before. This is what it means to see the trees at their peak!
In between classes before the Easter weekend started, I walked around the City after my classes were over on Friday and walked into Macy’s for the Annual Flower Show at the Herald Square store. I could not believe it has been thirty five years since my interview that started my job at Macy’s in 1988. I had gone in for my interview on a Saturday morning and was mesmerized by the store and Flower Show which lead to my second and third interviews and my seven year career with the company. It dawned on me how long ago that morning had been.
The entrance to Macy’s Flower Show in the Herald Square main store
The Flower Show on the first floor of the Macy’s store is always a treat. There were a lot of interesting displays this year but not so many flowers on the tops of the display cases. At least not the ones that I had seen in the past. It seemed more scaled down from the flowers on the upper displays and more the hanging displays that lined the main aisle.
The entrance to the Flower Show from the Broadway side of the store
Most the displays were hanging from the main aisle of the first floor so it was a much different display from those of the past but still it was very creative and people stopped every three feet to take more pictures. I was just as annoying but the store looked so nice.
The first floor by the escalators that did not exist when I worked there
The Floral Display by the Cosmetic Department
Not quite the hanging gardens of the past but still nice
The hanging floral arrangements by the escalators on the first floor
It was not the show that I remember as there were many more floral arrangements that were much more detailed and elaborate as there was more space on the old tops of the display cases. This was a more modern view of the Flower Show. I thought it was fun and they did a nice job. New Management and a new way of looking at the show.
Macy’s Display windows-My favorite
Macy’s Display windows
The display windows outside were a lot of fun and the display people did a great job on the them. It was really funny though. I was not in the City for class on Good Friday so I did not see the full extent of the show until Monday morning when the store reopened (the store is closed on Easter).
Macy’s Display windows
When I returned on Tuesday for my next class, the windows were already closed and we being dismantled and the whole show must have been taken down Monday night after the store closed. Everything was gone by Tuesday afternoon. Another Flower Show had passed.
Macy’s Display windows
Easter morning was really nice as I got to spend it with my cousins and my aunt at a wonderful restaurant in Red Bank, NJ. It was a bright and sunny Easter but a bit chilly. It was the first time in years that I had not been to church on Easter morning but I would go another day. We had an 11:00am reservation for brunch and I got picked up at 9:45am.
The weather was really windy when we got the Oyster Point Hotel where we were having brunch. I could not believe the winds off the water but by the time we were finished, it ended up being a nice warm afternoon. I guess it rough in the morning.
The bay right next to the hotel parking lot
The bay area of Red Bank is so beautiful and everything was just coming into bloom. We were able to walk around the docks for a bit before brunch. People were just getting their boats serviced and ready for the season. It was a spectacular morning looking over the water.
We were one of the first tables to arrive that morning so I got some great shots of the buffet and all the delicious and creative displays at all the stations of the restaurant. It was a very nice presentation and there was so much to choose from.
Oyster Point Hotel Pearl Room Banquet space where the brunch took place
The Dining Room
The food and the service were just amazing. I could not believe the view of the bay and the dazzling blue water in front of us. Thank God though our table was not by the window because the buffet line stretched in that direction when we were eating.
The Seafood on Ice Station
I could not believe the choices at brunch. There was a complete salad section to make your own salad, a seafood display on ice, an omelet and waffle bar with potatoes, bacon and sausage on the side if you wanted to start with breakfast. The baked good section for breakfast was extensive with fresh doughnuts, pastries, muffins, bagels and cookies. There were also slices of white and coffee cake if you wanted those as well.
The Breakfast Pastry display
There was a pasta station with ravioli and penne with chicken and broccoli, a carving station with turkey, beef and salmon, a complete lunch bakery section and fruit display. The Candy station was really unique with a display of chocolate lobsters and peeps in a tree.
The display of candy was very clever
The Candy display was really unique and very creative
The Pastry Chef really has a a sense of humor
The best was that they had a complete crab cake station with all sorts of sides such as mac & cheese, mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. They were all served in champagne glasses. The portions were small but you could go back as many times as you wanted.
The Lunch Bakery table
The Fruit Dessert display
There were also chafing dishes of wild rice, mixed vegetables, chicken piccata, roasted potatoes and a beef dish. The quality of the food in the chafing dishes matched all the stations and nothing was soggy or tepid. Everything was perfectly cooked and spiced. There was so much to choose from that I must have made twenty trips to the buffet line to the amusement of my family.
Being in the culinary arts and working in a soup kitchen for almost twenty years, I know not to waste food, Watching people pile their plates high is so silly when you can go back as many times as you want. I walk around a buffet, survey what is offered and then go back for many small tastes of everything. I think it is a sin to waste food and throw it out when there is no reason for it.
A little taste of the pasta section, the carving section, the chafing dishes and those marvelous crab cakes. The food was excellent!
After brunch was over, were were there for almost three hours eating and talking and watching the people on the bay in their boats, we made an early afternoon of it. I had wanted to go to the cemeteries and had some yard work to do (I can’t believe I had that much to do as I was in the yard for two hours) and then had some writing to finish. My life never sits still. We took some pictures around the hotel and walked around the dock for a bit. We said our goodbyes to my cousin and his wife and then toured the town of Red Bank, NJ. What a pretty downtown. It really has some nice stores and restaurants.
My cousins, my aunt and I at Easter 2023
I always enjoy spending time with my family. I hope every had a wonderful Easter and Passover!
I do not know where time went. One day I am cutting the lawn in 70-degree weather and the next day it is 32 degrees, and everyone is freezing. The weather has been going up and down like a yoyo and everyone is getting sick right before the holidays. Every other day the weather was changing, and this is the way the temperature would be every day for the month of December. One day it is Spring or Fall and the next everyone is bundling up.
Don’t be fooled by all the pictures and activities. There were a lot of late nights, a lot of driving and a lot of arranging to pull the holidays off this year. Teaching three classes and taking four classes in Grad school on top of volunteer work that I was committed to and getting ready for the holidays and all its expectations I had a lot of nights where I did not go to bed until two in the morning. I would study on busses and in hotel rooms and I never worked like this before in my life. Still it was a Merry Christmas and I consider myself a lucky person to see all these wonderful things.
All I did was run in and out of New York City every week for classes and work. There were so many historical sites that I wanted to visit over the holidays to update previously blogs that every moment of my day was taken up with touring. Still, I enjoyed taking my time to walk to school through Greenwich Village. The residents and merchants here know how to celebrate the holidays.
Christmas in Greenwich Village. I saw this home after class and I knew Santa was on his way
Walking past the train station on the way back to Port Authority was even festive.
With Grad School taking up so much of my time and I just finished all my presentations at Bergen Community College where I work (please see all three Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. projects), it’s now the final project for Grad School and getting ready for the holidays that are taking up my time. It is only two more weeks.
Thanksgiving with my cousins and aunt at the Lambertville Inn
Christmas started for me right after Thanksgiving with my family when the next day we had Christmas Tree delivery for the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association. We had 390 Christmas Trees delivery and we emptied the truck in one hour. By 10:30am, we sold our first Christmas tree and by the end of the first weekend, we sold 134 trees and 8 stands. We just missed last year’s numbers. It had rained most of Sunday so we missed that afternoon and evening of that day.
Christmas Tree drop off is right after Thanksgiving at 8:00am the next morning
The guys on the Men’s Association after we finished tagging and unloading the trees
Friday was a busy day selling. It often amazes me how many trees sell that first weekend. Last year we sold out in 11 days and people were disappointed that they had to wait. Many said that this year, they arrived early to get the tree they wanted. Even with the rain on Sunday, we did very well and were anticipating another get year (we sold out by December 9th on the morning shift).
My blog on Christmas tree drop off for the Men’s Association:
I knew it was Christmas when my neighbors set out all their decorations
The next evening after Thanksgiving was the Annual Parade and Tree Lighting ceremony in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights. Since we were opening the tree stand and I was on leave from the fire department this year, I did not go. Instead I stayed at the tree stand that evening and sold trees on my first split shift. We sold 44 trees on the first day of sales.
The Christmas Tree at the Circle in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
The Gazebo at the Firemen’s Circle Memorial in Downtown Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
I have to admit, Thanksgiving weekend and the subsequent week were all about grad school. We would be wrapping up classes in two weeks (classes ended on December 14th) and I had three major papers due, one for each class. With the exception of my Data Analytics class, I had one partner on each paper I really did not know if I could count on so there would be a lot of extra work to do.
Heights Bar & Grill at 163 Boulevard became a place to relax and unwind with a pizza and a drink
Heights Bar & Grill was very festive during the holidays
My post birthday dinner became my pre Christmas/post class dinner
The next weekend was Sinterklaas weekend, and I knew I had to be in Rhinebeck and then Boonton, NJ for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Christmas Party that I committed to last month. When you’re on all the Executive Boards of these organizations, you have to be there.
Still on the way back and forth to classes starting from mid-November until classes ended, I enjoyed my walks from the Port Authority to the NYU campus in the Village to admire all the decorations, display windows and Christmas tree setups all over the Village. Even before Christmas started, this section of the City is very traditional ‘Old New York’ and when it is all ready for the holidays it puts you in the Christmas spirit.
Christmas in Greenwich Village really kept my spirits up between classes
Selling Christmas trees in New York City was not difference from us but in prices.
The window displays in the Greenwich Village stores and boutiques were really creative. I loved walking all the side streets to discover what shop owner did that was so different from the others and these are some of my favorites. They really cheered me up as the pressure of the assignments built up.
Window display in the Village after they changed from Halloween to Christmas
Window display in the Village
Window display in the Village
Christmas display inside and outside at Greenwich Village store
More Christmas trees for sale on lower Seventh Avenue
The Washington Square Park Christmas tree was so beautiful both during the day and night. It was so nice to pass every evening I was coming back from class. It really put me in the holiday spirit especially when I was stressed out on my last three research papers of the semester. I took the time to just walk around the park and enjoy the cool air.
The Washington Square Park Christmas tree by day
The Washington Square Park Christmas tree at night
In between classes and work, I had to decorate and get my own house ready for the holidays. I have never worked so hard trying to pull off the holidays with so much going on in my life. Still I thought the house looked very nice. I decorated both the living room and dining room and it looked really festive. It was too bad there was no time for entertaining. That and the fact that everyone else was so busy, it made it impossible to do anything.
I keep it simple but elegant in my house
For years, I used to have a Christmas dinner but with everyone’s schedules and COVID still around, I am finding more and more people don’t want to get together. Again my schedule was no better this December. Still I worked my own “Santa” magic with other things I did for friends, neighbors and family.
From December 1st to the 31st, my feet never touched the ground. From unloading trees for the Men’s Association to watching the ball drop to completing three major projects for my job at Bergen Community College to the three major papers at school, my laptop followed me everywhere and was prominent in each of my hotel rooms as a worked on every business trip for my work with this blog. Who says that life is boring? The fun began as it does every year with Sinterklaas weekend in Rhinebeck.
My blog on Sinterklaas/ The Snowflake Festival weekend in Rhinebeck Day Two Hundred and Fifty-Six:
I had to plan Sinterklaas weekend like D-Day. I had a major presentation on the Metaverse when I returned back on the next Monday night so I had to finish the framework for the paper the Friday night before the parade. I was visiting the Culinary Institute of American to interview one of my old chefs at the college but I was not able to get in touch with him.
Still I was able to leave a message for an appointment and then tour the campus. I forgot how beautiful the campus is and I never saw it during Christmas time. I had been on my Externship my first year at the CIA so I never experienced the holidays at the CIA.
Roth Hall decorated for Christmas
The Christmas tree in the outside courtyard
I did not have any plans that Friday evening and I looked at the papers and saw that there was a Snowflake Festival in Downtown Kingston, NY. So that evening after a nice nap at the hotel, I headed there for the evening. It was just what the doctor ordered. It was a cool but not cold evening full of activities and lots of Christmas decorations and a festive environment.
Downtown Kingston, NY the night of the Snowflake Festival
It was a nice evening of Christmas activities, horse drawn carriage rides, visiting the firehouse, beautifully decorated windows of the local merchants and people just having a good time amidst COVID problems and a bad economy. People ‘needed a little Christmas now’ (Please read the blog below on the Snowflake Festival and the Sinterklaas Parade).
The line to see Santa was impossibly long. I think everyone needed him this year.
The Christmas tree in Downtown Kingston, NY
My homebase for the weekend was the Quality Inn Hotel in Hyde Park, which is becoming a tradition with me. I love the location and the comfortable beds. If you get a room facing the field to the right, you can see the stonewall that lines the property. Plus, they have the best fresh waffle station every morning.
The Quality Inn Hyde Park at 4142 Albany Post Road
Sinterklaas morning was a really gloomy day. Even if the weather outside that morning was gloomy, the spirit of Sinterklaas was in full swing inside the Beekman Arms Hotel for the Opening Ceremony.
The Opening Ceremony at Sinterklaas with Founder Jeanne Fleming and the Pocket Lady
The animal being celebrated this year was the porcupine and this was his home in the courtyard in Downtown Rhinebeck. This wise woman told us his tale.
The “Into the Light” show at the local church
The parade is the highlight of the evening and we lucked out that night as the weather broke by the afternoon. The sun started to come out and it was a much nicer evening with a cool but not cold feel and you could see the stars out on this clear evening. The parade is always exciting especially as we walk down the hill into Downtown Rhinebeck.
The parade begins at the Starr Library
The serpents are always a big hit at the parade
The stars always lead the parade down the hill
I marched at the end of the parade so all I saw was everyone’s backs. The crowds were not the same because of the weather that morning but they were still pretty large once we got into the core of downtown. Because of the weather earlier in the day, I could tell we had a more local crowd which was nice because Downtown Rhinebeck can only handle so many people.
All the characters come together at the closing ceremony
I swear that this parade like selling Christmas trees goes by faster and faster every year. I come to Rhinebeck in the Spring and the Summer and it just seems like I am counting the weeks until it starts all over again. After the parade was over, I stopped at Village Pizza for a few slices with the last of the parade stragglers. There were maybe three families eating a late dinner. By the time I warmed up and finished my pizza I walked around the downtown one more time. It was so quiet and peaceful with the exception of the saxaphone player who plays downtown at night. You would have never known there was a parade that night.
My review on TripAdvisor on Village Pizza in Rhinebeck, NY:
After a very sound sleep, I ate breakfast and enjoyed the waffle bar. Then I headed down to Boonton, NJ for the Bergen County Firemen’s Home Association Christmas Party that we were hosting at the home. Again, the year seems to go by fast.
The Executive Board the day of the party (I’m third to the right)
Because of COVID, the party is more subdued and families are still not allowed back with any great crowds. Still we had a DJ and Jerry Naylis’s daughter and granddaughters entertained the residents of the home. We really had a nice afternoon.
The Naylis family entertaining the residents
After the party was over, a few of us went the Columbia Inn for dinner. There was only a small group of us this year because again many of the guys were worried about COVID and large crowds. Still we toasted in the holiday season and after dinner, it was right back home to do my homework for school and classwork for my students. It would be never ending for the next three weeks.
The week between Sinterklaas and the next weekend of the Mills Mansion Party and exploring the decorated mansions to update my blogs for work, classes in both schools took a frenzy of activity on. I had to finish papers on the Metaverse and complete my White Paper on the Travel Industry and we started our paper on Mapping the Rockaways. I don’t think I ever went to bed before 2:00am every night for the next three weeks.
The “Dining on the Metaverse” paper required me to run around and interview chefs on the what their thoughts were on the Metaverse. I first went to the Ivy Inn in Hasbrouck Heights and talked with the Chef/Owner Jack. His thoughts on the Metaverse in dining were pretty strong and I needed a second interview so back to the Culinary Institute of America I went to talk to my former Chef at the college. He just happened to reach out to me that week so I stopped in to see him late on Friday.
The Ivy Inn at 268 Terrace Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ decorated for the holidays
I had an offer to revisit the Brinckerhoff Homestead the next afternoon before they ran a Afternoon Tea fundraiser to take pictures of the home decorated for Christmas for work and was able to get a last minute invitation acceptance for the Mills Mansion fundraiser, I decided to spend the night again at the Marriott in Fishkill, NY. It would be another long weekend of running around. So I booked a room at the Marriott Courtyard Fishkill, where I had stayed twice before and it would be close to all the sites and headed Upstate.
The Marriott Courtyard Fishkill at 17 Westage Drive & Route 9
I got up to the CIA before 4:30pm and walked around campus and enjoyed the Christmas lights again. The campus was starting to wind down for the holidays as the students would be leaving for break in a week and a half but the restaurants were busy with weekend reservations and by 4:30pm, I stated my interview on “Dining on the Metaverse” with the last chef I had before I graduated in 1998. I had not seen the guy in almost 25 years. Still he was just as nice as he was when I had him as an instructor and we had a good interview for almost two hours.
The campus was at twilight and it showed its true beauty next to the Hudson River.
The Culinary Institute of America at sunset
The Christmas tree lit at the Culinary Institute of America
We had our interview and it was nice talking with a Instructor that I had a lot of respect for years ago. It was nice of him to meet me after almost 25 years.
My TripAdvisor review on my lunch at the Apple Pie Bakery Cafe:
We bullshitted for the first hour and knowing that I had to be at the Mills Mansion by 6:30pm (the party was only going to 8:30pm), we had to get down to business. We spent the next hour talking about the effects of dining on the Metaverse and what it could do to the business in the future. His thoughts were pretty much the same as the Ivy Inn but it was an engaging conversation and I was able to take notes and write that section of the paper before I left for the weekend. Then it was off to the Mills Mansion for the Masquerade Cocktail Party fundraiser. That got my mind off a lot.
I had not been to a fundraiser here for the holidays since 2018 (COVID and work stopped me from going in the past) and it was a last minute thing I was able to attend. The President of the Friends of the Mills Mansion graciously let me come since it was sold out. I did not get there until almost 7:15pm by the time I left the CIA and got to Staatsburg and then had to park all the way down the hill.
The entrance to Staatsburgh, The Mills Mansion at 75 Mills Mansion Drive the night of the party
I was not too keen on wearing a mask since I had to wear glasses but I still had a nice time. The band was excellent and the singer wore an outfit that looked like it was from the early 1920’s. The food was wonderful and they had nice passed appetizers and wine and champagne to drink. The mansion’s Dining Room was decked out with masks and everyone was dressed to the nines. I had not seen people so dressed up in years. It was so impressive to see how elegant the evening was like something out of the mid-1980’s. No one had dressed up this much in years and it made the whole event feel so festive and special.
The band with the singer with the 1920’s outfit
I was able to catch up to people I had not seen in two years (since the last Afternoon Tea lecture in February of 2020 right before the shutdown) and we had a nice time talking about what had been happening over the last two years. It was a nice evening to get my mind off school and work. I slept so soundly that night when I got back to the hotel.
It was a very elegant party that night
The Mill’s would have been proud of this party
The day after the interview and the party, off I went early in the morning to visit the decorated mansions and take the tours. The Brinckerhoff House was my first stop and I would not be there long because they had a fundraiser at 1:00pm and I promised to be there, take the pictures and leave because they would be busy for the rest of the afternoon. The house looked just as pleasant as it did when I visited it over the summer but the nice part was the fireplaces were going giving that house that winter smell of firewood and pine.
The Brinckerhoff House at 68 North Kensington Drive at Christmas
The house was set up and decorated for an Afternoon Tea fundraiser
The Christmas tree at the Brinckerhoff house
I only stayed for about an half hour as volunteers were showing up to assist with the event and then I was off to my next house which was the Vanderbilt Mansion. This was a big weekend for the decorated homes and I figured I should visit them since I would not have time in the future.
The Vanderbilt tour was booked solid as people had the same idea that I had. I got on the 1:00pm tour and off we went to tour the mansion. I had been there many times before but never to see the Christmas decorations. When I had visited back in 2019, they were taking the decorations down when I got there. By the time we left, most everything on one side of the house was gone. Today though, the mansion was in its full glory.
The Vanderbilt Mansion at 4097 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park
The house was tastefully but not over-decorated as Fredrick Vanderbilt and his wife never used the home for Christmas. They were in Manhattan for the Christmas and the beginning of the social season that would last from Christmas to about Easter when everyone would head to their Spring homes in the country or in Florida.
The entrance hall to the Vanderbilt Mansion
The Dining Room set for a formal Christmas dinner
The Living Room with the family Christmas tree
The full tour of the mansion was very interesting and you got to hear the stories of Fredrick and the last years of his life. He simplified matters, sold all his other homes and moved here until he passed away. He wife had died and he stopped the social swirl and concentrated on his job with the railroad.
After the tour was over, the tour guide told me that FDR Estate was having a big Open House that day and that I should head over before they closed at 5:00pm. Myself and pretty much everyone on my tour headed over to Springwood, the home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt.
Springwood Mansion at 4097 Albany Post Road in Hyde Park, NY
The first floor was decorated as it would have been for FDR and his family’s last Christmas when he was alive. The decorations were taken from old pictures of the house the year that he passed.
The entrance hall of Springwood decorated for Christmas
The library decorated for FDR’s last Christmas
The Dining Room was set for Christmas supper
The mansion again like the Vanderbilt Mansion was tastefully decorated but not overdone. The library had a tree with decorations and the many presents that the large extended family would have opened that day. The Dining Room was set for the family dinner with a children’s table in the back. It would have been a nice family affair.
We got to tour the rest of the house and head back to the Visitors Center for Hot Chocolate and cookies that they set up in the snack shop. That evening around 6:00pm, the Bard College music department was putting on a recital but I had to leave right after the tour as I had a tone of assignments and homework that I had to do for both colleges. At least I was finally able to see both mansions in their full glory at Christmas.
As I left the Vanderbilt and Roosevelt mansions, I passed Downtown Hyde Park, NY which has a small downtown with about two blocks of historical buildings and admired the lights and how the businesses decorated the lights and buildings. I stopped to take a picture of their Christmas tree which was ablaze with lights on this snowy night. It really did look like Christmas.
Downtown Hyde Park, NY
The Hyde Park, NY Christmas tree a block from downtown
I got home early that night to finish my papers on the Metaverse and my White Page on the visitors we had to our Travel Trends class. It was an uphill battle that night and on Monday for both presentations. We got a “B+” on the Metaverse paper and an “A” on the White Page and in both classes I got an “A”. The Mapping project would go on until December 22nd. It would take five revisions and a lot of late nights. We were able to pull out a “B+” on the Mapping paper of the Rockaways right as my own classes were ending.
That last week of school Monday classes ended and after the Tuesday class my classmates wanted to go for an evening of Karaoke. I had papers to grade when I got home so I declined and took a walk up to see the tree and clear my head before heading home.
Christmas in New York City is always a pleasure and with the City opened back up to tourism, it made it exciting again. The anticipation of Christmas in Manhattan is something to experience if you have never done it before. It all started for me when I declined a karaoke night with my classmates and went to see the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. I just needed a walk after my Data Analytics class. It had been a rough semester. Just seeing the tree put me in the Christmas spirit.
The Tree as we call it in Rockefeller Center December 2022
I walked around Midtown along Fifth Avenue, looking at Saks Fifth Avenue’s windows, admiring the lights and looking at the skyline. I forgot how beautiful this area of the City is at night. It was a mild Tuesday night when I was walking around and there were not too many people around. the tourists had not arrived in full swing yet. Being a Tuesday night, it was relaxing being able to walk around the Rockefeller Center area without the crowds.
The side streets were particularly elegant
West 58th Street in its glory
The Plaza Hotel in all its glory that night
I saw this playful sculpture along with others on Fifth Avenue but it was near my old haunt FAO Schwarz
This was the best display window at Bergdorf-Goodman on Fifth Avenue
Still what stood out to me on that glorious evening was the beauty of Midtown Manhattan at night. Even though it was still early in the evening, it might have well been 11:00pm because the streets were so quiet that evening. This is why I love Manhattan.
The beauty of Midtown Manhattan at night
The Plaza Hotel and Bergdorf-Goodman shined that evening
This little trip to Midtown after class really cheered me up. It had been a long semester and I needed this little Christmas break from school. It really put me into the holiday spirit. On my way back to Port Authority to head home, I passed the New York Public Library on my way through Bryant Park to see the Christmas Village
Outside the New York Public Library where the lions were decorated for the holidays.
As the school year ended at Bergen Community College and classes were wrapping up, I was getting tired of giving the traditional quizzes so for Quiz Four I gave all three classes from Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. The students were asked by Corporate to arrange the company Christmas Party. They were asked to create the Invitation, the menu with an appetizer, main dish, dessert and a signature drink.
Then were asked to create a Christmas Corporate message and two classes were asked to create an original Christmas song. It is amazing what a group of students can accomplish in an hour. Everyone in all three classes got an “A” and I did not have to drag home quizzes to grade. I will remember this quiz in the future.
The Paramus Business 101 Team’s idea for the Corporate Christmas Event
The Marketing 201 Team’s Ideas for the Corporate Christmas Event
The original Christmas song from the Marketing 201 Team for the Corporate Christmas Party
The ideas that the students came up with in ONE HOUR were just fantastic. This is why I love being a College Professor when you can get this type of creativity out of your students.
This Christmas message won the competition from my Business 101 Lyndhurst Team
As we put the revisions to the Mapping paper for my Data Analytics class and I prepared the final exams for my students and graded my other classes work, I planned another trip to the Hudson River Valley to visit the rest of the decorated mansions on my list and update all my blogs for work. This was a long and very productive weekend. It would be capped off with a last minute Historical Christmas concert at the Bergen County Historical Society. I had not been to one of these in three years.
The Marriott Courtyard Fishkill is where the adventure began. I revisited Staatsburgh (The Mills Mansion) and Wilderstein and then on Saturday I went to the Meiser Homestead in Wappinger Falls for their Holiday Open House. I had to time everything perfectly because I had to be in Manhattan for a Christmas concert at Carnegie Hall at 8:00pm. I timed everything perfectly.
The Marriott Courtyard Fishkill was decorated nicely for Christmas
The Marriott did a nice job decorating the hotel for the holidays
I started my trip on a snowy Friday afternoon (it was funny that the weather was just cloudy down by us) and I made it for my 11:00am appointment to see Staatsburgh. I had been to the Mills Mansion fundraiser the week before but the whole house was not open that evening and I had only been there for an hour. Now I was able to tour the house at my leisure. I was even interviewed for the local papers by a woman who was doing an article on the decorated mansions of the area.
I returned to Staatsburgh on snowy cold afternoon so the mansion was pretty quiet for touring. There were only two people on the walking tour of the mansion that afternoon. The roads up to Hyde Park were not the best.
Staatsburgh-The Mills Mansion at 75 Mills Mansion Drive on that snowy afternoon
It was nice to tour the house in peace and quiet. The party the week before had been a lot of fun but you could not see the rest of the house. All the rooms were so beautifully decorated, and the Dining Room was decorated to the hilt with masks, the theme of the party the week before. Since there was only two of us touring around, I got interviewed by the local paper by a reporter doing the same thing I was doing, visiting these beautiful homes. Visit my blog, VisitingaMuseum.com to see all my stories on my visits to these beautiful mansions.
The article on The Mills Mansion:
Then it was off to Wilderstein
Wilderstein at 330 Morton Road in Rhinebeck, NY on that snowy afternoon
My last stop that evening was to Woodstock, NY. I had planned to come this year for the parade but with my brother coming in for Christmas that changed my plans. I figured this was the last time I was going to be able to come up before the holidays. So I braved the slush and snow and drove the long roads up to Woodstock. It never disappoints me.
The Village Square at Woodstock, NY during the holidays
The Woodstock, NY Christmas tree is always interesting
After dinner, I slept so soundly at the hotel again. The Marriott Courtyard in Fishkill, NY is in the perfect location with Route 84 and the mountains right behind it. Easy to get to the highway home but still the best views when you wake up.
The amazing view from my hotel room at the back of the hotel facing the mountains
I had to rush to go on the 10:30am tour of Locust Grove, the former home of Samuel Morse, that I wanted to photograph before I left for the Meiser Homestead. There was not time to eat this morning. Thank God I had some baked goods in the hotel room.
The Christmas tree in the formal Living Room in the Tower section of the home
The Dining Room at Locust Grove at Christmas
The Billiards Room at Locust Grove at Christmas
I toured the whole house in our private tour at 10:30am. There were so many people on the tour, they called a special docent in to run the tour and we had the house to ourselves. Ehtel lead the tour and we took time to enjoy each room. Then it was off the Meiser Homestead for their Open House.
The Mesier Homestead at 2 Spring Street in Wappingers Falls, NY
The Foyer at the Meiser Homestead decked out for the holidays
The Living Room with the Christmas tree
The Dining Room set for Christmas lunch
Downtown Wappingers Falls during Christmas
The Wappingers Falls Christmas tree in the downtown
After I returned home from the Meiser Homestead Open House, it was change clothes again and into the City I went. I did not have much time to do anything in the evenings when classes were going on at NYU so after the semester was over and my third class was finished for the semester at Bergen Community College, I got a last minute ticket to see NY Pops at Carnegie Hall with singer Ingrid Michaelson. What a concert!
I had not been to Carnegie Hall since 2019 in pre-COVID and this always is a tough concert to buy tickets for but I snagged a Saturday night ticket in Row H on the aisle (I have long legs) and it was fate.
The entrance to Carnegie Hall at 57th and Seventh Avenue on the night of the concert. Our concert is to the left.
The inside of Carnegie Hall decorated for the holidays. The crowds were getting settled into the theater.
The stage at Carnegie Hall decorated for Christmas
The excitement built when I entered the hall and it was all decked out for Christmas. It was a site to see. The surprising part was how casual everyone was dressed for the evening. I was really thrown by this especially at the holidays. My seatmate was also dressed to the nines and she made the same comment. She introduced herself and I thought it was funny that a recently married woman would come to the show by herself but there we were acting like two single people.
The beauty of the stage that night just as the NY Pops members started to come on to the stage
Ingrid Michaelson and her fellow singers on stage
The whole concert was amazing and Ingrid Michaelson was fantastic that evening. What I thought was funny was the end of these concerts end with a sing along with Santa on stage and that did not happen this time. She ended the show with one of her signature songs. Maybe her Friday night concert had that. Even though, the concert was excellent and I shared the two songs below that were my favorite from the show.
This was my favorite song from the concert “Christmas Valentine” a new classic. This was written by both Ingrid Michaelson and Jason Mraz who performed it that night on stage.
The other great song from the concert was “Christmas Time is Here”:
“Christmas Time is Here” by Ingrid Michaelson
Even though it was a almost a two hour concert, it just seemed to end very quickly. After the concert was over, I just exploring the area around Lincoln Center. What a beautiful evening it was right before Christmas. People were talking in the local parks, admiring the Christmas lights in trees all over the neighborhood. Christmas tree stands were running in full force as people were decorating their homes on top of the their busy schedules.
Christmas tree sales by Carnegie Hall
For both lunch and dinner I returned to Amore Pizza cafe at 370 West 59th Street, which is down the road from Carnegie Hall. I swear that their food is the best.
I stopped in for a slice of Meat Lovers Pizza which was more than enough before the show and after the show I was still hungry. I went back and had a Chicken Parmesan Hero, which was good but it had been made from chopped fried chicken breasts instead of a freshly fried breast. It was good but not as good as the pizza was that night. After dinner, I just walked around Midtown and down Fifth Avenue admiring the windows.
The Meat Lovers Pizza at Amore Pizza Cafe is excellent
The weekend was not finished yet as I had an early morning walking tour of the Philipsburg Manor in Sleepy Hollow and then I had a Christmas concert at the Bergen County Historical Society in River Edge. Since I had to extend my leave with the fire department, I missed the first “Santa Around Town” in eighteen years. This on top of the fact that I was supposed to run it. With my work and college schedule, I had to ‘cry uncle’ and give it up which really disappointed me. I had some really good plans for it. In the end only thirteen guys showed up out of fifty and they had a fire call before the event ended. Thank God it was just a block chimney.
I left for the last day walking tour of the Philipsburg Manor before the house closed for the season. I was on the last walking tour of the house. Since the house was not insulated and the weather gets bad for the winter, the house will not open again until April. So I was hoping to get some picture taking in and see the decorations. The house was not decorated for the holidays but still the tour was interesting.
The Philipsburg Manor house 381 North Broadway in Sleepy Hollow, NY
The tour was about an hour and we had indoor and outdoor activities that we got involved with cooking hardtack, touring the house and grounds and helping in the barn beating out the wheat seed. When the actors who worked at the site (who must have been freezing their butts off because it was cold that morning) told us and demonstrated the work that had been done on the estate, this was hard work! This was a working farm and business transport spot, not where a family lived and entertained. When Mr. Philips was on property, he was here for business and nothing else. The staff ran this farm.
Us making Hardtack at the outdoor oven
Our visit to the barn where were loosening the wheat seeds. This poor woman was out there all morning in the cold!
The tour was about an hour and I thought that the house would have had some Dutch Christmas decorations but again the tour guides and historians said that the house for business and visiting not for the day in day out lives of the family. Still it was interesting. After our tour finished, I toured the gift shop and then headed home to get ready for the concert.
The Bergen County Historical Society at New Bridge Landing brought back their indoor concerts for Christmas including opening the Blackhorse Pub (The Campbell-Christie House) for dinner before and after the concerts. It was so nice to come to this again. The crowds were a little light at the second concert at 7:45pm on a Sunday night but it made it more fun that we could still socially distance from each other and there was plenty of space to spread out.
I started the evening early at the pub eating my dinner before the concert. The pub had a limited but very nice menu based on what foods that may have been served at the time period (with a modern twist of course). There was Shepard’s Pie, a Ploughman’s Plate, Onion Pie, Trifle and Dutch Cookies and desserts on the menu..
The Campbell-Christie House at 1209 Main Street in River Edge, NJ at the Bergen County Historical Society
The Campbell-Christie House was used as the “Blackhorse Tavern” for the evening where pub food could be ordered for dinner. It was really beautiful that night with all the tables a glow from the candles and the room decorated with holly, garland and wreaths for the holidays.
The Blackhorse Tavern for dinner
After dinner was over, I had plenty of time to explore the gift shop and wonder around the property to see the other decorations. The other buildings on the property were closed that evening but still decorated so I followed the lantern filled pathway and looked at the decorations.
Before the second concert that evening that I would be attending at 7:45pm I wondered around the museum part of the Steuben House where the concerts were taking place. The exhibits were set up with a holiday/Christmas theme in mind. One display was on a candy maker who once had a store in Downtown Hackensack.
Bogert’s Candy Shop in Downtown Hackensack closed in 1934
Decorating the house both during the Revolutionary War and during the Victorian Age was a very extensive affair of preparing the house for entertainment. Garland, holly and pine would have been important to decorate with but it was the Christmas ornaments of the Victorian age and trimming trees with ornaments that would have made the tree very festive.
There were also displays on entertaining during that time period and soldiers lives while the war was going on and what would be needed. It could be lonely at the holidays.
We started to settle in as the second concert was about to start. The room was decorated for the holidays with a combination of Victorian and Revolutionary decorations.
The ballroom at the Steuben House
We were then treated to a concert by the great Linda Russell whose interpretations of Revolutionary Christmas songs is well known. We had a hour long concert of favorite songs, talks about the times and a history of the music itself. She shared with us her insights towards the holidays of New Jersey versus New England and their Puritan ways. Thank God we knew how to party then too.
Linda Russell (to the far left) and her group entertained us for the evening with songs, talks, a few jokes and a wonderful night of excellent music.
We were entertained for about an hour and got time during the intermission to talk with the musicians who shared their experiences with us and about the musical equipment that they were using that evening. It was an interesting talk and a wonderful concert. I highly recommend visiting the Bergen County Historical Society during this time of the year. They do a nice job with this concert and the site is so beautifully decorated for the Christmas holiday season.
Before my the last day of classes at Bergen Community College on December 22nd, I made one last trip into the City before I left for my mother’s. The house had to get cleaned and the laundry had to get done and I got all my errands done before I left. I just wanted to walk around and get my mind off both colleges. It had been a long semester and I was burnt out. The City could not have been more beautiful.
Christmas on Park Avenue
Park Avenue was lined with Christmas trees lighting up before it got dark
Homes on the Upper East Side were beautifully decorated for the holidays
Homes on the Upper East Side were decorated so nicely and some blocks there seemed to be a competition for whose house was nicer.
I went to Rockefeller Center one more time to see the tree and it was like a madhouse so I just looked at it from across the street and continued walking around the Upper East Side down to the Cornell Club where I relaxed for a bit before I went home. People would start taking their decorations down after the holidays and I wanted to take one more glimpse of the neighborhoods before that happened.
The Empire State Building from the Flatiron District
Christmas Eve morning, I visit the cemeteries and pay my respects to my family before I leave for my mother’s. I think it’s important to pay your respects. After fighting the crowds at Mills Bakery on Christmas Eve morning to get a Seven Layer Cake and breakfast cakes and doughnuts for the next day, I left for Rehoboth Beach. I swear the roads were really quiet and it was the first time that I got down to my mom’s in three and a half hours.
Mills Bakery at 275 Valley Boulevard in Wood Ridge, NJ had the most festive cakes, pies and cookies for the holidays
I had just seen my mother in September after the Firemen’s Convention but this was the first time since 2019 that we had spent Christmas together. COVID has really wreaked havoc on the holidays.
Christmas Eve and Day were spent at my mom’s which we have not done since the pandemic. It kept us away and it was strange not having a family get together for three years. It was nice to get together as a family again. On Christmas Eve, we went to a Chinese restaurant for dinner and the place was a madhouse.
My review on TripAdvisor of Confucius Chinese Restaurant:
Even with all the crowds, it was nice to just sit back and enjoy the meal and not have to do anything. I slept so soundly that night knowing that I did not have to be anywhere for a month.
My mother really decorated the house beautifully.
The House at Christmas.
Jane set the table so elegantly.
Cooking this year like in 2019 is now a family affair. My Mom relinquish some control of the kitchen over the last couple of years as dinner was getting to be too much for her to do alone so we all help now. My brother and I coordinate the schedules and plan the menu with my mom and we each did part of the meal and cooked it. This is what the Team work produced:
The Appetizers and Desserts being prepped for dinner:
Mom should be hired by Nancy Meyers to do visuals for her films.
The Potato Croquettes that I prepared for dinner, the Broccoli Casserole and the homemade Apple Pie my mother prepared for dinner (my mom makes the best pies).
We were all getting ready to cook our portion of Christmas Dinner.
My mother preparing the Sauteed String Beans
Me preparing the Potato Croquettes (which by the way were a big hit I think I look like a French Chef).
My brother getting the Roast carved before the start of dinner.
My Mother with the final Christmas dinner that was the Team effort
Christmas Dinner 2022 and everyone loved it! The dinner was Roast Fresh Park, Potato Croquettes, Apple Sauce, Broccoli Souffle and Sauteed String Beans.
The Desserts were Homemade Apple Pie and a Seven Layer Cake that I brought from Mills Bakery. My brother also made all the Christmas cookies.
My family on Christmas Day after dinner (minus my younger brother and his kids).
We had such a nice time with my mother and her friends at dinner and it was a nice quiet and mellow Christmas. It was what I needed after a long school year.
The day after Christmas while my brother headed to New York City, I took the ferry from Lewes to Cape May to spend the night and admire all the decorations all over town. I only spent one night in Cape May but with how relaxing, beautiful and quiet it was that evening I felt like I had been there for a week. I always say in my blogs that the only town to rival Rhinebeck, NY at Christmas is Cape May, NJ.
I took the ferry the next day from Lewes, DE to Cape May, NJ and thank God the weather was nice. We had really light waves and the trip went by really quick. We got into Cape May in a little over an hour and a half. Since I did not have to check into my hotel and it was getting late, I decided to head over to Sunset Beach and watch the sun set. That really relaxed me. In any weather, I swear the beach is always full of people doing the same thing. It was relatively warm that day and when I got to the park, people were playing miniature golf at the little range they have there. I thought that was amusing.
The sunset was fantastic! The weather had really cleared that evening and the colors were so entrancing.
The sun preparing to set that night
The hues at Sunset Beach make this place very special
I just stayed until it got a bit dark and then I headed to the hotel. I stay at the Chalfonte in the winter time in their Souther Quarters (the regular hotel is not insulted and closed until May) and I always enjoy the rooms with their cheery shabbiness and the way the place is always decorated for the holidays. You have to like these old hotels.
The Southern Quarters at the Chalfonte Hotel at 301 Howard Street
I have been coming to the hotel for Christmas for the last several years and last year when COVID again shut things down for Christmas, I stayed here while visiting my younger brother in Rehoboth Beach when he came for a visit. I love Cape May at Christmastime.
The hotel has that festive home away from home feeling with poinsettias around the hotel, Christmas candies and chocolates at the front door and Christmas lights around the building.
I like the shabby chic of the place
My room was really nice and the bed was so comfortable
The room has just been renovated but still had a water spot on the ceiling. That is the charm of the Chalfonte. It reminds you that it is an old hotel. I ventured out to the downtown and the Washington Mall that evening to see the true magic of what makes Cape May a Christmas town. All the lights, trees and decorations make sure that Santa does not miss this town.
The town square with it’s Christmas tree in the bandstand and white lights all over the little part are whimsical and magically as you walk through them. It always reminds me of “Whoville” in the “Grinch that stole Christmas”.
Cape May Town Square at Christmas
The bandstand and Christmas tree are amazing at night
The Cape May Christmas tree
I spent a good part of the my evening admiring the lights of downtown and of Washington Mall which is the downtown section of Cape May. The whole neighborhood was ablaze with lights, decorations and beautiful Christmas displays in the windows. Cape May knows how to decorate for the holidays.
The Washington Mall at night
The Washington Mall in Cape May decorated for the holidays
Our Lady of the Star Sea Church at 525 Washington Street in Downtown Cape May
After a long walk picture taking everything in the downtown from every angle (I have pictures that I ended up using for other sites), I went back to the room to relax. I just sunk into the pillows and went out like a light. I woke up two hours later and got to bed. I slept so soundly again.
The next morning was rested and ready to go. I had my usual post-Christmas game plan. I started with breakfast at the Mad Batter, a local well known restaurant in Cape May and the food is always excellent. I have eaten here several times and I highly recommend it.
The food and the service are always very good. That morning there seemed to be only one waitress on the floor and I swear that this woman handled the dining room like a pro. The service was flawless and she never panicked.
The Bacon and Cheese Omelet with home fries was outstanding
After breakfast was over, I gathered my things at the hotel and dropped off my keys and then spent the afternoon visiting historical sites. Most everything I was surprised were closed so I took exterior shots to update my blogs.
While walking downtown, I saw that Our Lady of the Star Sea, the Catholic Church in the Washington Mall was having service at 11:00am. Since I did not go to church services on Christmas Eve or Day, I went in for the post-Christmas services. I was surprised how crowded they were that morning. I found out that a young new priest has just come from the seminary and started that day. I found him very inspirational and very enthusiastic.
The church was so beautifully decorated for the holidays
Our Lady Star of the Sea for the Christmas holiday season
After church services were over, I toured around Cape May. I had a noon time appointment at the Physick Mansion to see their Christmas decorations so I stopped at a few of the museum around the downtown area but again all closed.
The Physick Mansion tour at the holidays I have taken many times and it is one of the nicest homes decorated for the holidays. Many people would not have decorated every nook and cranny of the house the way this is but like Locust Grove, it gives you an idea of how the Victorians celebrated the holidays.
The decorations were amazing and the house was decked to the hilt for the Christmas holidays. We got to tour the entire house and every room has such festive garland and Christmas trees. The family seemed to know how to celebrate the holidays.
The Living Room at the Physick Estate
The Dining Room
The Parlor with the ‘Tabletop’ Tree in the corner
We went room by room with the tour guide explaining how the family would prepare for Christmas and the preparations that would have to be done by the staff for guests and for the family dinner. There would be many trips to Philadelphia department stores for gifts for the family. You felt on the tour that the family had just left for the day.
After the tour, I headed over to West Cape May to see the Cape May Lighthouse and was surprised that it was open that day. With everything else being closed, it was a treat to be able to climb it again. The drive in was nice as people decorated their homes nicely and being a warm day around 50 degrees (Christmas just seems to be getting warmer), I drove around for a bit to admire them.
The entrance to the Borough of Cape May Point decked for the holidays
The outdoor Christmas display in West Cape May
The Cape May Lighthouse and grounds were really busy with visitors and being such a warm day many were walking on the beach or admiring the park. Several passed me as I climbed the lighthouse which I had not done in a few years. The view on this clear sunny day was great.
The views from the top were so clear and beautiful and being so clear you could see the entire surrounding community.
The view from the top of the Cape May Lighthouse
After climbing up and back down, I passed more people who I could not believe were complaining on how hard it was to walk it. I got up in about ten minutes with a couple of stops and then was back down again once reaching the top. It is not that hard and is well worth the trip up.
Watching the time, I wanted to visit the farms in the area but Rea Farm was closed for the season so I headed to Beach Plum Farm, which has become quite the tourist stop since my first trip to Cape May. It is such a picturesque farm but it looks very planned. When I first started coming here is was a more local farm. Now it looks like a gourmet shop and it has gotten more expensive.
The entrance to Beach Plum Farm at 140 Stevens Street
I toured around the gift shop and admired the beautiful displays of gourmet foods. The place was almost empty as I could see that they must have had a very good Christmas. There was some serious restocking that needed to be done.
The wonderful gourmet items at Beach Plum Farm
I ended my afternoon feeding the chickens before I left the farm. God they were so excited to see me. I just had a little feed and they ran all around me like groupies. I guess this is how the farm feeds them. It was the best quarter I spent on the trip.
The chickens were a very excited bunch that afternoon
Before I left Cape May that day for home, I visited Sunset Beach one more time to enjoy the weather. The beach was pretty crowded again as everyone waited to see the sun set again on Cape May. Like I said before, you can see this a hundred times but it is never boring.
Sunset Beach on a warmish sunny day attracts a lot of visitors
From Sunset Beach, I headed home. I stopped for a quick slice of pizza on the way and then I had to leave Cape May (until the next time). There was a lot to do and I had places that I wanted to visit before the holidays were over. I could not believe how much work I got done on this two day trip to Cape May. I got to see a lot.
In the week between Christmas and New Year’s, I made another trip around the City. Since I did not have to return to classes until the end of January, I was able to take my time and explore around campus and the Village. Christmas was still in full swing.
Christmas in Greenwich Village
Decorations in one of the pocket parks on Greenwich Street
Homes decked out for the holidays
Townhouses decked out for the holidays
I also made a special trip to the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see the Christmas tree and decorations before the museum took them down after the Epiphany. I love seeing them every year. It still is a big attraction at the museum and you have to visit it before that first weekend in January is over.
The Metropolitan Museum of at at 1000 Fifth Avenue:
My last holiday event before school started again was Epiphany services at the Reformed Church of Paramus and visiting my father for his birthday. It can be sobering but I try to still celebrate his life and going to this church puts me into the Christmas spirit.
The Paramus Reformed Church in Ridgewood, NJ
Christmas services at the Paramus Reformed Church
The Paramus Reformed Church’s decorations by Route 17 are always tasteful
After services were over, I stayed and joined the other parishioners for Tea and snacks after the service and talked with other parishioners. It was nice to sit back after a long holiday season and just relax. After services were over, I went to pay respects to my father for his birthday (which is the reason why I come here for church as its on the way home). The cemetery was filled to the brim with wreaths and grave blankets so even though it was a cemetery, there was still a festive feel to the fact that so many people paid their respects to their families.
My aunt took me out on the last day of the Epiphany weekend for my combination birthday/Christmas present dinner to the Ivy Inn. What a nice evening we had and it was the perfect way to end the holiday season. The Chef/ Owner was not there that day but we were able to discuss with the staff the paper I wrote on the Metaverse. They seemed amused by it all (see my review on dinner on my TripAdvisor review above by the Metaverse paper story).
The Ivy Inn decorated for Christmas
The beauty of the dining room decorated for the holidays
The delicious salad I started with
The delicious Penne with Sundried Tomatoes and Sweet Sausage that I had that evening
My aunt and I shared this wonderful Zeppoles with Chocolate and Raspberry sauces
It was a magical evening with good food and company in a festive environment. I really needed this with all the running around with school, work, blogging and research that I had done from Thanksgiving to the Epiphany. It was a lot for one person to pull off and somehow I managed it all. I am lucky that I have supportive friends and family.
I had the entire month of January to relax before the whole thing began again for Spring Semester and that is all I wanted to do. It didn’t quite happen that way but I finally got time to myself which I needed.
My work for my blogs took me all over New York and New Jersey, visiting small towns, admiring Christmas decorations and supporting many community events. Please visit my other blogs DiningonaShoeStringin NYC@Wordpress.com, LittleShoponMainStreet@Wordpress.com and VisitingaMuseum.com to see all the updates, more detailed stories on the mansions and events and all my updated pictures.
I got my final grades by the end of the semester and it was straight “A”‘s. This was the first time in my life I ever did that! Don’t even ask me how I pulled this all off!
Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
The Empire State Building from the NoMAD section of Manhattan just off Broadway
*Note: There is no delivery and no Credit Cards-Cash Only(Note: Since COVID the prices have gone up one or two dollars).
There is not a bad thing to say about Barcelona’s Restaurant and Bar. It is classic North Jersey restaurant that has not changed over time. I once took my mother there for dinner and she said that it not changed since she was a teenager. This type of time warp has not affected the food or the prices or the service. All are still terrific.
The waiters here are such characters. It is so casual that you feel like you have known them for years. Most of the staff has been there for many years and they always treat you nicely.
I have been teaching “Marketing 201” at Bergen Community College for several years now and in the era of COVID, it has been especially difficult. With businesses shutting down never to reopen getting students to understand that business must go on and pivot is a difficult thing to do. You have to learn to adapt and survive or else everything fails.
This is happening in small downtowns all over the country. You have to learn to adapt, or you will fail. Things have gotten better though with the dropping of the mask mandates and businesses opening up.
In my live classes, I open my consulting company, “Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.”, for business and the whole class bands together and we have one big project. In the era of post-COVID and online learning, I was lucky that I was able to teach one of the live classes on the Bergen Community College, Paramus Campus. It was such a pleasure welcoming students back to campus with live lectures and conversing with them.
The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. corporate logo of the six trees
In the past, I have created these projects under the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. banner, the main consulting company, the Orion Malls banner, a Mall design company and the Buscomonzefi.com banner, my Tech Division. Each business does its best to be creative, forward thinking and have a thought producing presentations. I also challenge the students to top on another in their presentations and build on what they have seen others do in the past.
Professor Justin Watrel, CEO & Co-Founder of Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc.
This semester’s project “It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ: Being a Tourist in your own Town” was inspired by the success of the “Take me back to Paterson, NJ” project in 2019 and “Rocking it in Rutherford” in 2021. I loved how the students really had to learn about the history of the City of Paterson, the Borough of Rutherford and about New Jersey history in general. This is something not being taught in schools today.
The blog on Day One Hundred and Fifty-Five: “Take me back to Paterson, NJ” in 2019:
I chose Westwood, NJ this semester because of all the years spent shopping and eating in Westwood with my family who live in the Township of Washington the next town over and many of the long term businesses that dot the downtown shopping district. Downtown Westwood had more of a history to it and was picturesque with its old buildings, classic look of the train station dominating the downtown and a park with a band stand in Veterans Park in the heart of the downtown. It was a traditional downtown in New Jersey.
The town is on two major bus routes one into New York City as well as being a railroad head for New York City. The town has become more desirable for people moving out of New York City for more open space, better schools and the amenities that come with living in the suburbs. They still want a ‘citified’ atmosphere though with good restaurants, clean safe parks to relax in and a strollable downtown with lots to offer for both shopping and eating. Westwood, NJ has all of these.
I assembled the project together in two days after walking the downtown several times getting inspiration of how to market it and ideas that I had seen in the past in other towns of what they run at various times of the year drawing ideas from towns in the Hudson River Valley.
I entitled the project “It’s Wonderful in Westwood: Being a tourist in your own Town”, a creative approach to market the downtown for tourists to come visit from all over New Jersey and New York especially the City, the way Rhinebeck and Beacon do for dining, shopping and special events like “First Monday’s” and “Sinterklaas”.
The Project “It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ: Be a Tourist in your own Town”:
BCC-Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. 2022 Project It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ
When I presented the project, I got the usual moans and groans from some of the students and excitement from the others (it all depends on their position in the company and their enthusiasm in group projects). I got the Teams organized, had them meet up with one another and exchange emails and planned my field trip to Westwood, NJ as part of the project. It took some doing.
Two weeks later, I took my class on a field trip to Westwood, NJ to walk the downtown business district, to see where the Westwood Heritage Museum was located and to visit the shops and restaurants in the downtown area. The week in between me presenting the project and us visiting Westwood, NJ, I started to make contacts in the town.
I started by dropping off a copy of the project with City Hall and hoping to get the Mayor and Council involved the way we did in both Paterson and Rutherford, talking with the head of the Chamber of Commerce and then talking to merchants who I wanted to visit that included Hartly’s, a well known Women’s Store and Conrad’s, a very well-known Ice Cream and Candy store.
We really lucked out the day of the tour. It was a beautiful day but a little windy. We started out at the bandstand which is a symbol of the town. I never realized the historical significance that the bandstand had played in the town and in it’s history. It had been an important part of the social fabric of the town during the turn of the last century and still used for concerts today.
We were joined by the Honorable Beth Dell, the President of the Westwood Town Council and I thought this was a very nice honor that the town wanted to get involved in the beginning of the project. We really had a productive afternoon.
The tour of the downtown started in Veterans Park with the Team trying to figure out on how to create some of the activities that we would be creating such as the “Halloween in the Park”, the “Nick in Time” event and the “Jazz Summer Concert” events. We used the parks layout and logistics to figure out how to configure the usage of space. Before we toured the historic train station, we took our first in a series of corporate pictures.
Our Group picture at the Westwood Bandshell at the start of the tour (Councilwoman Dell and I to the right)
We continued on to the historic Westwood Train Station, which is the home to the Westwood Heritage Museum one day a month. It had not been operating recently because of COVID but I wanted the students to see the potential in how the museum could be updated and advertised to increase traffic.
The Train Station marker in Veterans Park
We toured the station and looked over the architecture and location of the station to understand why the location of the station has helped shape the way the downtown has been built around it.
The next part of the tour, we met with the head of the Westwood Chamber of Commerce at his business, Westwood Gallery, Michael Fitzsimmons. Mr. Fitzsimmons and I had met the week before and I knew how busy he would be so we had to plan the whole visit on a timely basis.
Not only did he spend a lot of time with us but introduced the class to members of ‘Celebrate Westwood”, a group of volunteers who help organize special events in the town. Talk about a productive and very engaging conversation on what both organizations do for the benefit of the town. The students, especially the Executive and Marketing Teams, gained a lot of knowledge and expertise from it.
Our second stop on the tour was a quick one through B & S Kitchen, an innovative sandwich shop a few doors down. I had just eaten lunch there the week before and thought that the food and selection of homemade soups were excellent. With a lunch special of a half a sandwich with a side of soup for $9.95, I saw this as an excellent business decision considering the quality of the food and service. It was so busy that morning the owners did not have a chance to talk to us but I was able to share my experience with the students while visiting there.
Our third stop on the tour was Hartly Fashion women’s store, which I think is one of the finest independent women’s clothing stores in the state. For a small store, it has some of the finest merchandise for work, parties and weddings. The service they have does not exist in stores anymore where salespeople will call you when items come in and will work with you on a personal one on one basis. Hartly is in a league all its own.
Hartly Fashion at 104 Westwood Avenue
The manager, Jo and I had talked about the tour and I could tell she was a bit sceptical when I mentioned it but myself and the students came in, she captured the students attention on what quality and customer service meant to people. Especially when she described women travelling from places like Long Island, Manhattan and Connecticut to come shop in the store.
With pride, we walked through the store and were given a very detailed description on the type of customer that shopped here, what she was looking for in clothes and the attention to detail she would get in the shopping experience. It was a real eye-opener to many of the students who are completely online shoppers.
We walked the rest of the Downtown to Firemen’s Park and I discussed the pride that the town takes in its fire service and described my own time on the fire service and what a park like this means to the fire fighting community.
We toured the other side of Westwood Avene, the main street of the downtown and I discussed the amount of men’s and women’s clothing and accessory stores in the downtown area. You do not see this many clothing stores in one concentration in a downtown anymore being so close to the amount of malls we have in Bergen County. Westwood had become a destination for shopping and I discussed because of quality merchandise and good customer service these stores have thrived and propersed. To some of students, I could see this was alien to them. They were a generation where you pushed the button and it came to you.
I stopped by Pompilio’s Pizzeria at 223 Westwood Avenue to check on our lunch reservation on our way back to the train station. This is where I would be taking the Team for lunch that afternoon. With that taken care of, we made our last stop of the trip at Conrad’s Ice Cream and Candy store at 107 Westwood Avenue. I could tell for the students that was the best part of the tour. The owner Connie and the manager, Sue and the rest of the staff could not have been nicer or more accommodating to the students.
I just thought we would have a little talk on the history of the business and a small walk through but the ladies really gave the students a thorough talk on not just the history of the business but on how homemade ice cream and candy are both made (they are made on premise), how the family got involved in the business, how Connie’s son has now taken over the business and has been growing it, new product developments and how they handled COVID era shopping and how it changed the way the business is run (they now have food trucks for parties and events).
The ladies led a very engaging talk with the students, let them tour around the store and Sue ended the discussion with giving each student a small package of Conrad’s homemade caramel corn. I have never seen so many excited students! You would have thought they won the lottery. The students left so happy and I thought this was a very smart business move. Start to capture the customer while they are in the store. I found out later that many students revisited the store throughout the project.
The Conrad’s Ice Cream counter
The students used Conrad’s as the inspiration as for corporate gifts
We finished the tour with lunch at Pompilio’s Pizzeria at 223 Westwood Avenue. I have been coming to Pompilio’s Pizzeria since I was a freshman in high school when my aunt and uncle took us here for dinner when we were visiting them one summer. I also knew that they had ordered here a few times when we visited the house. Funny what you remember when you were a kid. The pizza is just as excellent as it was back in the 1980’s.
As tradition with the Town projects that make up the Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. umbrella, I break bread with the students and this is my way of getting them to know one another. I found this very successful when we went to the Lunch Box in Paterson, NJ (now closed) as a group during our walking tour of Downtown Paterson and found it effective in Team building. I also get to know the students as well.
I ordered six large Cheese Pizzas and pitchers of soda and we just relaxed and reviewed our walking tour of the downtown area and how to better promote it for the town. The Team sat with their groups and brainstormed ideas over lunch. In the middle of lunch, the owner of Pompilio’s came out and discussed his family business with us and how his father’s family came from Italy and how they started the business in Westwood. I thought it was nice of the owner to come out and spend time with us seeing that he was so busy that afternoon. It was nice to see the merchants support this project.
The students created this new logo for the Town of Westwood, NJ:
The logo that was created for Westwood, NJ for ‘It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ: Be a Tourist in your own Town”
During class time, I tried to give the students as much time as I could but much of the work was done outside the classroom. Being a Hybrid class, I had to train the students to realize that class was not just in the one hour and fifteen minutes that we had in the classroom. This was lecture time and they needed to understand the theory of what they were doing, why they were doing it and how to understand the outcome. Most of them did very well in the academic part of the work.
The Saturday before the presentation, I took the students on a optional tour of the Westwood Heritage Museum, which is located in the Train Station of Westwood, NJ the second Saturday of every month. The Westwood Heritage Society sets the station up for visiting from 10:00am-12:00pm and I met the students at 10:30am at the museum. My entire Historical Team showed up along with about five other students which meant about half the class showed up.
The displays at the Westwood Heritage Society Museum in the Train Station
Westwood Heritage Society displays
The members of the Westwood Heritage Society gave us a tour of the museum, explained how it worked and how they set things up each month. Then they gave us a talk on the history of the town and the historical attributes of the downtown. The students got a feel for how the museum worked and how we could better promote it to the outside community.
The tour concluded with visit to the WWII bunker at the bottom of the train station. Both myself and the students were equally impressed by this.
As we prepared for the final touches on the presentation, the student Executives were nervous about the presentation. I had a very good Executive so I was not worried. I just wanted a good representation from the town.
We had to delay the presentation twice. Once because the Town Council asked if we would like to present it at City Hall and the Council was going to a conference the day of our presentation. Then it was delayed again because the day we were supposed to present it, it was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and even I did not realize that we had the day off. So presentation day would be when we returned back from the Thanksgiving break, November 30th, 2022.
The day of the presentation I got there early so that I could set the room up for the presentation. I had the Reception to set up and make sure that everything in the room was working. My President and Senior Vice-President of Operations arrived early as well and then most of the Team showed up much earlier than class time. They wanted to get their groups settled in.
I also had to give the students their Dress Code grade and I have to say that I was annoyed when I saw two students wearing sneakers to the presentation. Trust me, they were graded accordingly. Every semester it is the same thing, the ladies always blow away the men.
We were joined that afternoon with Council President the Honorable Councilwoman Beth Dell, the Borough Administrator and another Councilwoman plus two members of the Westwood Heritage Museum whom we had met on a trip to the museum the previous Saturday. I thought it was very nice of all of them to come out and support the students.
The Town Logo
The Historic Walking Project
The Town Song that was created and performed by student/songwriter Arnav Sharma
This is the presentation that everyone saw that afternoon:
The Bergecco-Parc Consulting Inc. “It’s Wonderful in Westwood: Be a Tourist in your own Town” website and Powerpoint presentation:
The Marketing 201 Executive Team the day of the Presentation on the Bergen Community College Paramus Campus with the Council women from Westwood, NJ:
The Paramus Executive Team for “It’s Wonderful in Westwood, NJ-Be a Tourist in your own Town” with Council members and guests.
The full Executive Team with members of Westwood City Council and members of the Westwood Heritage Society Museum
CEO and company Co-Founder Justin Watrel receiving a gift of a Conrad’s Chocolate Champagne bottle presented to him by Team Leader of Talent, Eva Sipos, of the Paramus Team.
Here is the Team’s video Marketing the Town for Tourism in English and Spanish:
The Historical Team was tasked with creating a new video to promote the Historical Section of Westwood, NJ:
The Historical Team created this video to promote the Westwood Heritage Museum:
The Team created a new Town song for Westwood, NJ “The Hub”:
This is the Team Presentation of “It’s Wonderful in Westwood-Be a Tourist in your own Town” to the Honorable members of the Westwood Town Council and the Westwood Heritage Museum:
This was one of the smoother presentations that I have had in the last two or three semesters. The students did an excellent job with the presentation. We had enough time for a question and answer session before the students had to leave for their next classes. Being an one hour class, we had to stay on a strict schedule. This differs from my night classes.
Still it was one hell of a presentation!
The Team to finish out their project arranged a company Christmas party for Corporate Headquarters. The students had to create an Invitation to the Party, A Christmas Poem, the Party Dinner menu and an original Christmas song. Here are the ideas:
Haunted Hasbrouck Heights returns with the Second Annual Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Halloween Decorated House Contest 2022
It was a series of long drives around town, late nights looking at spooky lights, figures of fright and things that go bump in the night but the members of the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association Halloween Decorating Contest made a decision who had the best decorated house and downtown business in Hasbrouck Heights.
Decorations at 85 Woodside Avenue
Like last year the decision was tough but we chose 85 Woodside Avenue, the home of Matt and Lisa Fiduccia, last year’s runners up. The house was decorated to the hilt with ghosts, ghouls and figures that frightened the passersby. “We learned more from last year,” Matt Fiduccia said when they found out they won this year’s contest. “We added more to it.”
85 Woodside Avenue in Hasbrouck Heights Halloween 2022-Winner
The zombies and ghouls of 85 Woodside Avenue
The committee liked the theme of the property, the organization of the props and decorations of the doorway and the lighting of the house the night before Halloween which really showcased their creativity. The family was really excited about winning this year and the whole Fiduccia family joined Chairman Justin Watrel and Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association President Steve Palladino for the presentation of the plaque and official sign from the organization declaring them winner. It was an award well deserved.
Chairman Justin Watrel with the Fiduccia family at 85 Woodside Avenue
Winners Matt and Lisa Fiduccia with their children and the official sign from the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association
It was a tough decision to make this year as last year’s winner, Scott Vicario and runners up last year Frank and Mary Rose Blunda also created wonderful displays that would dazzle and delight trick or treaters the next night for Halloween.
253 Henry Street-The Runner-up this year
This is the second year Scott Vicario created a moving cemetery and ghoul fest all over his front lawn starting with a possessed woman climbing a tree outside the property and a variety of ghouls and zombies climbing popping and walking around the yard. “I keep finding new things to add to the display,” Scott told the committee when he was presented his award. “I look for professionally made displays.” Mr. Vicario who lives at 253 Henry Street said he “has more planned for next year” to win the award back.
Last year’s winner, Scott Vicario, was runner up this year
Some of the decorations were truly frightening
Ghosts and ghouls at 253 Henry Street
Scott Varicario in front of 253 Henry Street
253 Henry Street was full of zombies and ghosts
The other runners up last year, Frank and Mary Rose Blunda, keep creating frightening but friendly displays that dazzle their Halloween visitors. Trick or Treaters keep coming back for the displays of vampires and pumpkin headed beasts.
510 Henry Street
“We really love Halloween and we do this for the kids,” Frank Blunda said. “The families get such a kick out of visiting our house every year.” The Blunda’s love that families take a special trip to see their home.
The Ghosts, Ghouls and Pumpkin Heads of 510 Henry Street
Mary Rose and Frank Blunda of 510 Henry Street were runners-up again this year
Chairman Justin Watrel with Mary Rose and Frank Blunda at 510 Henry Street
The House Decorating Committee added a Merchant Division this year and we were dazzled by Heights Flower Shoppe, who always displays their holiday merchandise so nicely. Ray Vorisek, the owner of Heights Flower Shoppe was very thankful to the committee for the award. “We always like decorating the store to the hilt for the holidays.
Heights Flower Shoppe at 209 Boulevard in Hasbrouck Heights, NJ
People come from all over to visit us.” Both inside and outside, the store was full of all sorts of merchandise to decorate the house and for creative Halloween parties. Ghosts and witches flowed all over the store.
The decorations of the windows at Heights Flower Shoppe
With winner and owner, Ray Virosek
Chairman Justin Watrel with owner Ray Viroske outside the store with the official Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association sign
The Runner-up was Spindler’s Bakery, owned by Bob and Ginny Spindler, whose family business has been in Hasbrouck Heights for over fifty years.
Spindler’s Bake Shop at 247 Boulevard was this year’s runner up
“We have a creative team that works together here,” Mrs. Spindler said as she accepted her framed award. “It is a team effort that got the store ready for the holiday.” Spindler’s Bakery not only decorated the windows with pumpkins and bears ready for Trick or Treating but the store had all sorts of delicious looking decorated pastries and cookies, perfect for any Halloween Party.
The inside of Spindler’s Bake Shop with decorations and Halloween treats
Chairman Justin Watrel with runner-up winner, Ginny Spindler and her co-worker
We also wanted to mention the Honorary mentions, whose decorated home made the first and second round cut of the contest and we wish you luck next year. These are 110 Central Avenue, 458 Jefferson Avenue, 415 Madison Avenue, 115 Ottawa Avenue and 310 Bell Avenue. Good luck and have a wonderful and safe holiday season from the Hasbrouck Heights Men’s Association.
110 Central Avenue
110 Central Avenue
458 Jefferson Avenue
458 Jefferson Avenue
115 Ottawa Avenue
115 Ottawa Avenue
310 Bell Avenue
310 Bell Avenue
415 Madison Avenue
415 Madison Avenue
We will see everyone when Santa arrives when we start Christmas Tree sales the day after Thanksgiving. We sell out fast!
I love this classic little Jersey food stand! Talk about character!
The one thing about Hudock’s Custard Stand is that it is a piece of New Jersey nostalgia to a time when things were just a little slower and when you visit, they still are. When people come here to dine, there is not a cellphone in site and people sit in the chairs or at the picnic tables and just talk to one another. Or admire the beautiful views of the surrounding farms. On a warm sunny day, there is nothing like a cup of ice cream or a footlong hot dog to make you forget your troubles.
Where you order food at Hudock’s
Hudock’s keeps things simple and friendly when you…
I passed Dim Sum Station many times on my way to work and I noticed it had finally opened. I was in the area on business and stopped for lunch. The food and the service were really nice.
The restaurant has the look of a fast-food restaurant and is served cafeteria style. You order your food at the counter, and you pick it up when the order is ready. All the items are pictured on the menu, so you have an idea of what you are ordering.
You order at the counter of the restaurant and pick up your food
I just picked up a couple of dishes of Dim Sum for a light lunch. I started with the Pork Soup Dumplings ($6.95). They were really…
The one thing I refuse to do on Father’s Day is to spend the day at the cemetery. I know that is some people’s idea of honoring one’s family members but it is not mine. I went on Friday and paid my respects to my father (whom this blog is dedicated to) and spent time remembering some of the good times we had in past. I dropped some cut flowers from our gardens (some of which he planted) and said a small prayer. Then I left.
My idea of honoring my father and spending Father’s Day with him is to do something that we would have shared together. We were always running around somewhere and exploring something new and doing something fun. That is how I wanted to honor him. By being active and giving him a toast at Sunday dinner.
I had gotten a pamphlet on the historical sites of Salem, Cumberland and Cape May Counties last summer when I was visiting Cape May County and the Jersey Shore for the NJ Firemen’s Convention that is every September (See blogs on Trips to Cape May for the NJ Firemen’s Convention and for the Christmas Holidays-the other historical sites are noted there):
The Chalfonte Hotel at 301 Howard Street in Cape May, NJ
I thought what might be a nice trip is to explore the southern part of New Jersey and spend some time learning about the history of this part of the state. There were so many sites to visit and they spread from Pennsville, NJ in Salem County to Cape May in Cape May County. There would be too much to try to see in two days plus I wanted to take a trip to see Woodstown, NJ, a small town that had an interesting looking historical downtown when I visited it two or three years ago.
I had seen almost all the sites in Cape May County (The Cape May Firemen’s Museum, the Cape May Historical Society/Colonial House, the Cape May Lighthouse, the Cape May Zoo, Cold Spring Village, WWII Tower, Sunset Beach, The Emil Physick Estate and the Wildwood Aviation Museum) with the exception of a few smaller places and figured that I could see them during my time at this year’s NJ Firemen’s Convention after the meetings were over at 1:00pm.
So I planned the remainder of those for September. There were a few small historical societies with very limited hours that I just could not drive to with enough time. This covers a lot of area and the roads are mostly one or two lane highways in this part of the state.
Trying to find a hotel room for one night during the college graduation season was trying at best. Most of the chain hotels like Holiday Inn, Hampton Inn and Fairfield Inn by the Turnpike which I expected to choose from had gotten horrible reviews online as dated and dirty so those were out. There were no Airbnb rooms anywhere in south Jersey and the only two B & B’s in the immediate area were both booked for the weekend.
I was ready to give up until I Googled small hotels in South New Jersey and I found The Inn at Salem Country Club at 91 Country Club Road, a small inn that was just south of Downtown Salem, which was my starting point for the tour that weekend. I called the innkeeper, Yvonne that afternoon and was surprised that the room that I wanted, The Meadow Room, was open for Saturday night and was listed as $125.00 a night. I immediately booked the room and planned the trip.
The one catch was they were hosting a graduation party at the inn and could I check in on Friday morning. That was perfect for me as I wanted to start my trip visiting Woodstown, NJ and walk around the downtown. So, finishing all my projects at home, off I went at 7:00am in the morning for my trip to South Jersey.
I had decided to get off the New Jersey Turnpike earlier and head down the local Route 45 and take it down to Woodstown and drive through farm country. It was such a spectacular sunny and clear morning that I decided to make a few stops along the way with enough time to check in.
My first stop was at Rosie’s Farm Market Stand at 317 Swedesboro Road in Mullica Hill, NJ. This small farm stand has everything you need for the perfect picnic or to bring to someone’s home for a party. There are all sorts of fruits, vegetables and snacks and beverages to choose from. It has that classic “Jersey Market” look even though it is now surrounded by development.
After I walked around Rosie’s looking for something I could not find in our own farmstands in Bergen County (same items), I headed down the road, turned the corner and headed south down Route 45. I drove through the cute little town of Mullica Hill. I did not have time to stop and explore the town but noted to come back this way so that I could walk around the downtown.
Then I continued the drive down Route 45 on my way to Woodstown and then onto Salem. Route 45 is one of the most picturesque roads that I had been on with its rolling farms and lush landscapes. Things were just beginning to grow, and you could see the fields of corn and plants with an occasional winery popping up here and there. It shows that crops are changing in New Jersey farmland. With all the TV and movies, you see about New Jersey, this is the part of the state that they never show. You can forget sometimes how rural the state really an hour from my house.
I reached Downtown Woodstown, NJ by 9:00am and stopped to look around. I had driven through Woodstown when I went to visit mom after the Firemen’s Convention and thought it a unique and interesting little town with all the Victorian architecture. I walked around the downtown businesses and walked around the neighborhood admiring the care families have renovated these old homes.
I walked through some of the businesses that opened early like the flower shop and independent bookstore. The owners were super friendly, and they were explaining their businesses to me. I thought that was very nice of them. Most of the restaurants with the exception of the diner were closed. It was nice to see all the beautiful homes and cultural sites so close to the downtown.
On the edge of Downtown Woodstown, I saw the Pilesgrove-Woodstown Historical Society that sits on the very edge of the business district. It was closed when I visited in June and September when I visited the area both times but in September is opened up on the promised Saturday and I toured the house with Trudy, who was one of the board members of the historical society and she gave me a personal almost two hour tour of the home.
The Samuel Dickeson House
The Mission of the Pilesgrove-Woodstown Historical Society:
To preserve and advance interest in and awareness of the history and heritage of the Borough of Woodstown and Pilesgrove Township by properly procuring, preserving and maintaining the art, artifacts and documents that relate to the cultural, archaeological, civil, literary, genealogical and ecclesiastical history of the local community. We welcome researchers and provide them with any available material.
On the site is the 1840’s one room schoolhouse that was moved from Eldridge’s Hill in the 1970’s and is open for touring during museum hours. The organization hosts quarterly presentations and participates with the Candlelight Tour on the first Friday of December.
Touring the house is a wonderful experience and I got an excellent tour from a member of the Board of Directors who took me on a full tour of the house and grounds. She explained that the volunteers take a lot of pride in the home, the displays and the artifacts and antiques that make up the décor of the house. The tour starts in the Library which is to the right of the entrance. This is where people can research their families and the towns’ histories. The house was originally owned by the Dickerson family and had changed hands many times over the years.
This display has the portrait of John Fenwick and the family tree
The collection of books and manuscripts is held in the library of the home. Patrons can do their research on their family trees and on the local towns here.
The Living Room:
The Living Room:
The Living Room:
The Living Room:
In June when I visited, I planned on coming back later that weekend, so my next stop was downtown Salem. Again you go from a downtown area to farmland again and it is so scenic along the highway with the large fields and watching cows’ feed. Here and there you see new construction but for the most part the area has not changed much since my initial visit six years ago.
The funny part of Downtown Salem is that it just jumps out at you when you cross the bridge. It goes from farmland to the small city of Salem. When you drive it, you start to see all the beautiful historical homes and architecture that reflex the city’s past. Most of the homes are either Victorian or Federalist in design but as you drive past City Hall and the government buildings, you see how run down the city really is now.
The last time I had been here was about four years ago on my way to see my mother and it is still rundown. If Salem was located in Bergen County, you could not touch these homes or any of these buildings for under a million dollars. People all over town assured me that this was not true here.
Downtown Salem, NJ by the Salem County Historical Society is the nicest section of the Downtown
I could not believe that the town still looked this bad when I drove through it to get to the inn which was located by the Delaware Bay. When you drove through the south side of the downtown, the further you got away from the downtown core, the better the neighborhoods got until you hit farmland and marshes closer to the bay. Off a very obscure road I found the Inn at the Salem Country Club at 91 Salem Country Club Road.
The Inn at the Salem Country Club at 91 Salem Country Club Road
I have to say that I was impressed by the entire stay at the Inn from the check in to the check out. My host, Yvonne, could not have been more welcoming and friendly and made the early morning check in easy. I got the key, got my luggage into the room, let her know that I would return after the party planned that evening was over and went on my way for the afternoon. It would an afternoon of a lot of running around. The one piece of advice she gave me was NOT to eat in Downtown Salem. She recommended either Pennsville or Woodstown for dinner that evening. I would discover later that evening what she was talking about.
The view from the porch of the hotel at breakfast time
After settling everything in at the Inn, I headed back up to Downtown Salem to my first three sites that I wanted to visit on the historical listing, The Friends Burial Ground and the Oak Trees, The Salem County Historical Society and the Salem Fire Museum plus I wanted to walk around the downtown area to see any progress in gentrification (there was none).
What surprised me was the Internet was wrong about all the hours and days. All the sites were supposed to be open by 9:00am and they were all open that day. The Salem Fire Museum which I had looked forward to seeing was not open that day, the Burial Ground’s gate was locked but I was able to walk in on the side of the cemetery and the Salem Historical Society did not open until noon. At this point it was 10:30am.
The Salem Fire Museum never seems to be open
Since the cemetery I could access by the side of an old house, I was able to spend the first part of the morning walking amongst the historic tombstone and graves of the ‘first families” of Salem, NJ. As I walked amongst the headstones of each row, I began to recognize the names of the families with the names of homes in the area and streets I had just traveled down in Salem.
Friends Burial Ground at West Broadway in Downtown Salem
The family names of Reeves, Thompson, Abbotts, Wister, Bacon, Griscom, Waddington, Sickler, Lippencott, Goodwin, Bullock, Woodnutt and Bassett were arranged by family plots and neatly buried in rows. Many families were buried by generation so that you could the transition from father to son and mother to daughter. It was sad to see so many children who passed before their parents.
The Salem Oak Cemetery in the Fall
The old Oak Tree that once dominated this cemetery fell in 2019 and all that was left of it was a stump where it once stood. Smaller offshoots of the tree that are now about 200 years old still line parts of the cemetery and hold their own natural elegance in its place.
The Salem Oak before it fell
I finished walking through the cemetery and walking through this part of the downtown (Downtown Salem is so impressive but totally falling apart), I still had an hour before the other museums opened. Having not eaten since 6:00am that morning, I needed another breakfast.
The family tombstones at the Salem Oak Cemetery
I stopped in the Salem Oak Diner at 113 West Broadway is a small diner across the street from the cemetery. I thought it looked a little dumpy from the outside, but it is the traditional diner experience when you go inside with the loud waitresses and the big menu.
The menu was reasonable, and the waitress was really nice. I ordered the French Toast and Scrambled eggs which was delicious. The eggs were scrambled in clarified butter and had that rich flavor to them. They gave me three big slices of French Toast which was loaded with Cinnamon and caramelized perfectly and served with plenty of butter and syrup. God, it hit the spot and I devoured the whole thing. I think the waitress was impressed on how fast I ate it.
After breakfast was over, I worked off the second breakfast walking this part of downtown. It was really quiet in the downtown area, and I could see why. There were no stores or other restaurants either open or there. So many store fronts in this downtown are empty which is so sad because not only is it a county seat but such a beautiful downtown.
My next stop was the Salem Fire Museum at 166 East Broadway, but it was still closed. I found out later that the museum was only open once a month on the first Saturday of the month. I confirmed this when I went to the Salem County Historical Society down the road, and they called for me. I guess for the next time.
My next stop when it opened at noon was the Salem County Historical Society at 83 Market Street which I had visited a few years before. This is such a wonderful historical society and one of the best I have ever seen. Their displays are so well put together and such interesting exhibitions. When I had visited it the first time, I have about a half hour to run around. I had plenty of time to visit on this trip.
The Salem County Historical Society at 83 Market Street
The Society is housed in two connecting homes with an interesting core of the house that was originally built in the early 1700’s. The Society has two floors of displays and an extensive library that people use in search of town and family history (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com).
The dress Sarah Hancock Sinnickson wore to George Washington’s Inaugural Ball
What I found impressive about the Society is the extensive number of important artifacts that the museum houses. I took a highlights tour with one of the members and he really pointed out some interesting items to look at in the collection that was on display.
They have an impressive collection of Revolutionary War items including belt and shoe buckles and a ring with a lock of George Washington’s hair. They were several artifacts from the locally prominent Hancock family including the dress that Sarah Hancock Sinnickson wore to the ball of George Washington’s inauguration.
There was an exhibition of local ice cream companies including an early Bassett family display of the family that still runs their ice cream company out of Philadelphia.
Salem Historical Society Ice Cream display
There was an early cylinder phonograph of Edison’s that still had all the cylinders.
Edison Cylinder Phonograph was an interesting addition to the museum
Upstairs there was an interesting clock display where I learned the meaning of why the Roman numerals were created for the clocks the way they were (they wanted the four to be IIII instead of IV because it looked symmetrical).
“The Keeping Room” at the Salem County Historical Society
Downstairs I toured “The Keeping Room” which was the original section of the house from the early 1700’s. This is where all the cooking and work was done for the house as it was not just the heat source for the home but the light as well during the darkest months of winter. When I had been there at Christmas a few years earlier, this was decorated for the holidays with a tree and garland.
I am just impressed with the work that the Society did during the lockdown to make this such an interesting museum. They really put a lot of effort into the displays and explanations of the artifacts.
The Revolutionary War artifact room
For Halloween 2022, I returned to Salem for the Salem Historical Society’s Annual “Haunted Halloween Walk”. The ‘Annual Salem Walking Ghost Tour’ which tours the historic homes of the Salem Historic District and the church cemeteries of the downtown.
At each stop, we got to hear tales of the haunted houses of the district and the owners in the afterlife still are involved in their current owners lives.
We started the night with a concert at St. John’s Episcopal Church with organist Erik Meyer, who played music that we relate to Halloween.
St. John’s Episcopal Church on Market Street the day of the concert.
The concert highlights:
Traditional spooky music associated with Halloween
The “Tunes from the Crypt” concert was right before the walking tour.
The concert featured five musical numbers that are classic to all horror films. The music being played is what you might hear in a popular horror film or something to do with Halloween. It seemed a little strange to be in a church but the organist told us that a lot of churches are using this for a fundraiser.
Erik Meyer who was the organist at the concert before the walk
He dressed like a vampire which I thought was strange for a church. These concerts have brought people back to these churches and even the priest said that he had not seen crowds like this on Sundays. The church was packed that evening.
The inside of the St. John’s Episcopal Church for the concert
The beautiful stained glass windows the night of the concert
After the concert, we walked down the antique store where the tour started. We stopped at various parts of the historic district to tales of woes, travels and ghosts still haunting the homes they loved so much.
One of the decorated porches on the Haunted Walking Tour
The Historic District of Market Street
A resident of the house talking about his haunted home the night of the walking tour
No walking tour is complete with a trip to the cemetery
The cemetery during the day
The cemetery looks less creepy during the day
The walking tour really was interesting and residents talked about their experiences in their homes that they say are haunted. The tour was about an hour but is really worth the trip. It was interesting to see how Salem, NJ developed over the years. The tour takes place before Halloween every year and tickets do sell out fast. This was one of the highlights of the Halloween season.
In the summer of 2022, after I visited the three sites in town, I went down Route 49 to my next stop driving through the outskirts of Salem, the city. I could not believe how run down the homes were in the neighborhoods. Such beautiful Victorian and Federalist homes just rotting away. The whole city looks so sad.
Just when you think you have seen everything, you cross this one road, and you are out in the farming community again. Then its rows and rows of fields and farmhouses. Talk about extremes.
Just after the turnoff to the Hancock House Museum that I was going to visit next, I stopped at the historical site of the old Quinton’s Bridge. The bridge had held an important place in transportation of goods for the area and into Philadelphia. The patriots had to hold this bridge to cut off supplies to the British. As small as the creek is today, you did not have the modern transportation of today back in the late 1700’s so controlling this bridge was important. We lost many people, but we held the bridge (See review on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com).
Today it is just a modern bridge in an isolated place in the middle of nowhere. There is a small town just south of the bridge, but you have to use your imagination back to a time when this was the only road in the area and the major hub of transportation in a vibrant farming community.
Video on the Battle of Quinton’s Bridge
I doubled back down a few country roads and visited the Hancock House at 3 Front Street in the small community of Hancocks Bridge. The town consists of a few roads of small turn of the century homes and surprisingly no businesses in what was once downtown.
The Hancock House used to sit on the busiest road in the area as it made its way through towns like Greenwich and Bridgeton. I assume before Route 49 was built; this was the only way to travel through this area as part of the home was a tavern for travelers.
The tavern part of the house faces the road and the home itself is across the street from the old Hancock Bridge. This once vibrant home and farm was an important part of the Revolutionary War history as the family played a big role in business and politics in the area.
The house itself needs a lot of work. The State of New Jersey runs the park and it needs a good painting and plastering. It also needs someone to come in and work with the decor and displays. There are some rooms that have period pieces and the furniture matches what would have been in the house but some of the rooms are barely furnished.
There are no family heirlooms in the house and the tour could have been a little more interesting as the state tour guide could not answer my questions. When another couple came in to take the tour, I took a guidebook and walked the grounds myself. I learned more about the family this way.
The Hancock House at 3 Front Street in Hancocks Bridge, NJ
I walked the grounds of the house and could see why this road was so important. Like any other area of the state, when a new highway is built, the old one and what was located on it become part of the past.
Halloween events at the Hancock House in October 2022
Outside the tourists and the people that live in the town, I am sure that no one ventures here. There was not even a restaurant in the area to eat at in town.
The Halloween Pumpkin Patch at the Hancock House at Halloween
After visiting the Hancock House, I took the small country backroads that were once a major part of transportation in the area down to Greenwich, NJ, a small town south to visit their treasure trove of historical sites and homes. There were a lot of twists and turns down these quiet roads before you get to Greenwich, a town of an interesting mix of historical homes.
I took my chances to see if the Nicholas Gibbon House would be open and I lucked out in that it had just reopened for tours that month (See reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). There was just myself and the tour guide, so I got a personalized tour of this statuesque home. Not only did Nicolas Gibbon and his wife live here but after them members of the Wood family moved in and were the family that founded the WaWa chain of stores.
Nicholas Gibbon moved to the area in 1730 when he inherited some 300 acres of land in the area and built his house here. According to the tour guide, he stayed until 1760 when he was trying to get a church built here and the local Quakers discouraged it. He and his wife moved from the area and the Wood family moved in and stayed in the house until the 1920’s.
Each room in the home is beautifully decorated with period pieces including portraits of Nicolas Gibbon’s nephew and his wife and silver from the Hershey family. The downstairs kitchen with the hearth and cooking materials was very interesting. Upstairs there is a “Everything Room” with clothing, hats, shoes, Civil War weapons and quilts. I took my time to tour the house and then the grounds before the home closed for the day. I was next off to the Greenwich Tea Burning Monument down the road.
Greenwich Tea Burning Monument at Ye Greate Street and Market Lane
The Greenwich Tea Burning Monument was fascinating in that I never knew this existed or even happened. About a year after the Boston Tea Party, a small handful of citizens, including a future Governor of New Jersey from Greenwich burned a shipment of tea that was being stored in the town. I had come to find out that there were five instances of this radicalism on the East Coast.
The dignified sculpture was dedicated in 1908 in honor of this heroic act before the start of the Revolutionary War. I took my time to study what happened and never realized what New Jersey’s role was in trade before the war. I opened the small gate and paid my respects to these brave men who risked a lot to protest the “Tea Tax”.
Just down the road from the monument is the Museum of Prehistory at 1461 Bridgeton Road, which I had a small amount of time to visit before it closed for the evening. This little museum was a real surprise because it was not even on my list of places to visit.
I just made it to the Museum of Prehistorical History after visiting the Nicolas Gibbon House. This small but unique museum is housed in one big room of the building and each section has a different artifact featured.
The was an extensive display of Lenape and Native American artifacts in one case line showing off the collection of arrowheads, spear tips and fishing and stone cooking equipment. There was a collection of fossils of fish, bone and plants and a selection of pottery. There were even fossils of dinosaur eggs.
The gentleman working there that day let me stay extra before closing and was a student studying paleontology, so he was able to give me an explanation on the specimens. From what he was telling me that the museum was looking for more space and may be moving in the future.
The Old Presbyterian Church and Cemetery at 54 West Avenue South in Bridgeton, NJ
Visiting the Old Presbyterian Church and Cemetery was an interesting experience. Trying to get from Greenwich to Bridgeton should have been a straight run but there were no names on the signs, and you just had to figure it out. I found the right road and it led me right to the cemetery.
The Presbyterian Church is only used now for special occasions and events but is an elegant building that sits on top of a bluff overlooking the downtown area. During the daylight hours you are allowed to roam around the cemetery looking at the gravesites (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com). So many famous politicians, war heroes, founding fathers of the City of Bridgeton and entrepreneurs at the turn of the last century are buried here.
What I found interesting about the cemetery was the family plots with the generations of people buried next to one another and their stories. It was sad when the parents buried their children and then died a few years later. Trying to figure the narrative of these families can be heartbreaking.
The really sad part of such a historic cemetery is that it is so overgrown. I was walking through in some parts a foot of weeds. I know that taking care of a cemetery this size must be hard, but I would think there would be more care of the dead considering this is a destination for historians.
When I finished touring the church grounds, I took a tour of the Bridgeton Historical Downtown. It was such a waste to see a bunch of old buildings falling apart and most of the businesses closed or small run-down businesses located in them. A block away was a more modern downtown with newer buildings. The shopping district caters to the very large Hispanic population that lives here and is great if you are looking for provisions for a picnic.
After I left Bridgeton, it was almost 6:00pm and I headed back up Route 49 to head back to Salem. I was trying to figure out where to go for dinner and taking the advice of the Inn, I planned on heading back up Route 45 to Woodstown to find a place.
On the ride back up the highway, I passed Hudock’s Frozen Custard stand and saw all the people outside enjoying hot dogs and ice cream and I had to stop. It was so classic Jersey that I had to see what it was all about and trust me, it is worth the stop. Their food is delicious and extremely reasonable.
I just wanted a snack to tide me over as I was traveling around and had no lunch. So, I ordered a foot long hot dog and a Coke. Trust me, when they said foot long, they meant it. The hot dog was really big, split down the middle and grilled and they topped it with mustard and relish. It was out of this world and just what I needed after a long day.
At Hudock’s Custard Stand, a foot long hot dog is A FOOT LONG!
I took my hot dog and Coke and sat outside with all the families enjoying their meals and just sat and watched the field sway by and enjoyed the sunshine. Talk about a perfect early evening treat. The hot dog was perfectly grilled and crisp when I bit into it.
When I went back again in September, the weather was just as nice, and I stopped again for lunch on my way to Pennsville to visit Church Landing Farm. This time I had a hamburger and French Fries with a Coke ($8.55). That hit the spot after a long day of driving. The burger was cooked fresh for me, and the fries just came out of the fryer and still sizzled. I just sat at one of the picnic benches and relaxed under the shade of a tree.
Relaxing and eating your lunch under the trees on the picnic tables at Hudock’s is wonderful!
It was nice watching the few cars drive by and admiring the farm that surrounded the hot dog stand. The restaurant is the perfect outdoor restaurant to just relax and watch the world go by. It takes you back to a time when you just stopped, ate and enjoyed the view.
The views of the farm across the street
Later that afternoon, I stopped back at the Custard stand they have and had two scoops of their homemade Peach Ice Cream. For $3.85, I thought that was very fair. You got two very large scoops of ice cream in a paper cup made with homemade peaches that were still in season. Yum! Hurry quick because Hudock’s closes the first week of October for the season.
The ice cream stand part of Hudock’s is a real treat. Don’t miss their homemade ice creams!
It was nice to just relax and watch the other people having such a nice time talking and eating. For a moment I felt like it was 1975 again and I was a teenager. This is how nostalgic the place makes you feel. When you see a free showing of “Jaws” coming soon I felt like I was stepping back in time. It was nice to just sit for an hour and just relax.
I agreed with the Innkeeper when I got back into Salem a little after 7:00pm. It was still sunny and bright but the crowds outside both the only Chinese take-out place and pizzeria in downtown Salem looked pretty shady so off I went back up Route 45 to Woodstown and decided on Papa Luigi’s at 39 North Main Street for dinner.
I was surprised on how both the restaurant and the downtown were so quiet that night. I know it was Father’s Day weekend, but it was not like a major holiday, and I would have thought people would have been out and about.
Papa Luigi’s at 39 North Main Street in Woodstown, NJ
I was the only one eating at the restaurant that evening and the waitress could not have been nicer. It was the two of us and the delivery person and one other person outside the two cooks that evening. I ordered a Cheesesteak with Cheese Wiz and one of the best I have had outside of Philly. They really loaded in the meat for me, and the Wiz is the best way of topping it. I just sat there reviewing my notes of the day and planning the next morning starting with my first lighthouse visit.
Papa Luigi’s makes an excellent cheesesteak with Wiz
As I was driving back from Woodstown to Salem at 8:30pm, the sun started to go down and I wanted to see it before it totally set on the Delaware Bay. What was breathtaking was as I drove down Route 45, I could see the sun starting its descent over the fields of corn and wheat and the sunshine against the farmhouses. I made it back into Salem and then driving south to the bay area, I got the last glimpses of the sun as the party was cleaning up.
I stood on the lawn of the Inn watching the last of the sun peek under the horizon of the Delaware and the dazzling colors that it made. The sun fully set around 9:00pm (God, I love the Summer Solstice time) and watched as the stars started to come out. What a view! With all the craziness in the world and all the radical strife, this is what should get people to think about how Mother Nature can still surprise us with her magic.
The dazzling Delaware Bay view from the Inn’s lawn
I did not stay up too long after that driving so much during the day and slept soundly all night. I could not believe it the next morning when I had slept over eight hours which I never do. I was showered, shaved and up and adman by 9:00am and got packed and ready for breakfast. That was another wonderful part of the stay.
After I was packed up, I stopped downstairs for breakfast. Since there are no cooking facilities on the property and events are catered, they ordered in breakfast for me from the Diamond Grill at 534 Salem Quinton Road, a diner located down the highway from Salem. The order came in pretty quickly and I ate on the patio of the Inn overlooking the bay. Since there were only three rooms at the Inn and everyone else was gone, I had the patio to myself that morning.
I just had a simple breakfast of pancakes and fresh fruit with some orange juice (Yvonne lets you order what you wish off the menu provided in your room the night before) and had the table set up for me on the corner of the patio. The food was delicious, and the pancakes were large and had that nice, malted flavor.
While I ate, I got to watch the boats pass by and birds sway over the bay. I did not leave until the check-out time of 11:00am because it was so relaxing to enjoy breakfast and not have to rush anywhere.
My first stop the second morning was a trip down both Route 49 to Route 41 for my first stop, The East Point Lighthouse in Heislerville, NJ at the edge of Cumberland County. The lighthouse was located on the westernmost part of the natural preserve on the shoreline. Getting to it took a lot of twists and turns down the road but at the end of the road it offered the most amazing views of the ocean.
This little lighthouse is one of the best I have seen in a long time. There is so much care put into this historical site. When I parked at the end of the street, I noticed on all sides of the lighthouse were barriers protecting it on all sides from the advancing bay.
After you buy your tickets at the Gift Shop, you walk along the dunes that protect the lighthouse that are nicely landscaped with sea grass, tiger lily’s and black-eyed Susan’s. The gardens are really beautiful at the beginning of the summer. It is a short walk to the lighthouse from here.
The lighthouse itself is nicely furnished with period furniture and antiques and each room reflects what the family’s role was in the lighthouse function. There was a lighthouse keepers office, a complete kitchen with pot belly stove and a living room on the first floor
The second floor is the bedrooms where you can see where the family slept, and the children conducted themselves with their own social life. The rooms contained a lot of period furniture and clothing, and the children’s bedroom was loaded with all sorts of toys from different eras. There was even a handmade dollhouse with homemade furniture that decorated it and a picture of the man who made it.
In real life, no child would have this many toys in this era, but the tour guide explained to me that after they finished renovating the lighthouse, they put out the word for donations for furnishings for the lighthouse. They were over-whelmed with donations. People must have been downsizing their family heirlooms.
Each room in the lighthouse was nicely decorated and reflected the times. On the top floors were the functions of the lighthouse and an explanation of how the lighting worked. This is still a functioning lighthouse so educational to see how it worked and how it functioned today. The tour guides are really good at explaining how everything worked.
After the tour of the lighthouse and walking the grounds (See my reviews on TripAdvisor and VisitingaMuseum.com), I left as the site was getting busier and headed up the highway to Mauricetown (pronounced “Morristown” like its northern counterpart) and headed up to visit the Mauricetown Historical Society.
The Mauricetown Historical Society like many of the spots on the historical listing is only open for a few hours twice a month so you have to plan your trip here accordingly. Make sure to take the hour-long tour as they cover not just the history of the house but how it was furnished, decorated and the story of the people who lived here. It really makes the house come to life.
What is interesting about the town and the neighborhood is that it was an old fishing, shipping and trade village and all the homes on this side of town that faced the Maurice River were the Ship Captain’s so the homes are bigger and more elaborate than the ones further in town. Still after driving through the town, it is a picturesque and quaint looking town with rows of historical homes and colorful landscaping.
The Mauricetown Historical Society at 1229 Front Street
The tour of the Mauricetown Historical Society was very informative on the life of a sea captain and his family and the history of Mauricetown and its business functions for the area. This town was a big shipping area during and after the Revolutionary War and its location made it perfect for restocking and ship building. Sea Captains made their fortunes here and their homes reflected that affluence. This was the home of Captain Edward Compton.
When you enter the Mauricetown Historical Society, you are greeted into the parlor area of the home and a display of military items including uniforms, weapons, and equipment used for battle. They even had one of the earliest artifacts with a pair of sharpshooter glasses that had just been developed.
The Military display at the Mauricetown Historical Society
The living room had been redecorated to reflex the time after the Revolutionary War and its changes at the start of the Victorian era. Early wallpaper had been found underneath the paneling that had been placed on top and new one had been recreated to match the original. Period furnishings and instruments decorated the room.
The upstairs had bedrooms that were decorated to reflex the Victorian era with heavy furniture and a collection of quilts. Their collection of quilts was really interesting in that they had one they displayed with the names of the sea captains and their family members. Genealogists used the quilt so that families could trace their ancestors back to that time. They also had another quilt of all things found in nature.
There was a display to Captain Bacon, a local resident and his wife, Carolyn and their life together in town. There was another display of pictures of the town through the years and how it developed. There was a display of period clothing from the Victorian era to the 1920’s. I could see that even though it was a bit more formal, times have not changed that much.
They displayed the Oyster and Fishing Industry, and they had all sorts of equipment on display including the rakes and even had the bridge key for the old Maurice River Bridge to show how they turned the bridge to let the boats through. The last display was a wonderful collection of children’s toys and dolls (all of these homes have big displays of toys) and you could tell by the quality how lucky some of these children were because these playthings were not cheap even then.
In the backyard was a cookhouse that was kept separate from the house that was built in the 1880’s. A modern kitchen was not added until the 1940’s. Also in the backyard is the Abraham and Anna Hoy House, a small house that was considered an example of the average person’s home in the early 1800’s. Over the years it has been added to but the Society brought it back to its original early 1800’s design. You can see where the cooking facility was located and the loft sleeping space above it for the children of the house who used it in the cold months of the year.
The tour gave a very detailed explanation of life at that period and the tour guide gave a wonderful description of the time and life in the house. After the tour, I took time to explore the grounds around the house and of the surrounding neighborhood to admire the other old homes. It is an interesting town to explore.
On the first day of my trip in September, I stopped at the Dennisville Township Historical Society Old School House at 681 Petersburg Road in the town of Woodbine, NJ. This small one room schoolhouse is packed with all sorts of artifacts.
The Dennisville Township Historical Society Old School House at 681 Petersburg Road
There are displays on businesses that used to be in the area such as the Mason Basket Company, who used to make all the baskets for apples and peaches for the local farms, the local shingle factory that prided itself on making the shingles for Congress Hall in Philadelphia and the local cranberry blogs.
There are pictures of the historic Methodist Camp that was located here, a display on local Veterans and their artifacts, pictures of home management on the farm and in rural New Jersey, an antique pipe organ and pictures of the local renovation of the Ludlam family cemetery. There is a little bit of this and a little bit of that displayed at the museum and well organized in this former one room schoolhouse. The docents were also really nice.
The Museum of Cape May County at 504 North Route 9
The Museum of Cape May County changed their hours the week before and now it is only open on Wednesday and Friday afternoon, so I had to plan to visit it another time when I was in the area. I was a little bummed because it had nice grounds that I took a moment to walk. That is when I went back to the Cape May Zoo (see above) which was a madhouse that afternoon on a beautiful sunny day.
On my way back up Route 41, I debated stopping in Millville but there was no time if I wanted to get back to Pennsville to see the Church Landing Farm. I had tried twice to stop in to see the Potters Taven in Bridgeton but then double checked the guide and found out that it is only open on Sundays in July from 1:00pm-4:00pm so I will not be visiting it this summer, so I continued from Downtown Bridgeton to Pennsville.
Potters Taven at 49-51 West Broad Street in Bridgeton, NJ
Between the traffic and the distance and not being able to find the cross street, I did not get to the Pennsville Township Historical Society until ten minutes to 4:00pm and no one would answer the door. I knocked on both with four cars outside hoping that I would catch someone to give me a tour of the home but to no avail. I was able to see inside at some of the antique furnishings but that was it.
Church Landing Farm-Pennsville Historical Society sign
I was able to walk the grounds of the farm and it was spectacular. You really have to see the views of Delaware Bay and the fantastic views. The grounds have all the separate buildings on it that were closed as well but at least I got to view everything. For the next trip.
The Pennsville Township Historical Society-Church Landing Farm at 86 Church Landing Road
When I visited in September, I made it a priority to visit the museum and arranged my Sunday schedule so that the Church Landing Farm was my last stop on the way home. After lunch at Hudock’s, I made my way up Route 49 to the museum. What was nice was I was the only visitor at the time, so it was just me and the two docents touring the house and grounds.
The Farmhouse estate from the parking lot
What an interesting tour of the house and of the displays in the sheds that are on the property. The farmhouse was built by the Garrison family between 1840-1845 and was the home of lawyer and gentleman farmer, Donald Garrison. The house was lived in by generations of Garrisons until 1973 when the last living member of the family, Anna Locuson died. At this point, the house was in disarray.
The view of the Delaware River and the Delaware Memorial Bridge
In 1991, with the help of Atlantic City Electric, the Pennsville Township Historical Society was formed and has maintained the house since. The artifacts in the house are all donations and are of the period that the family lived in the house over the years with the exception of family portraits on the first floor. The upper floors are displays of a children’s room and the room of an adult. They also have a nice research library on town and family history.
On the grounds there is a series of sheds with different themes and displays to see. As they unlock each shed, they show you the magic of their artifacts. There is one shed with a Floating Fishing Cabin, one with artifacts from the fire and police departments and the military, another of high school memorabilia, another is a wash house and my favorite, one of the Pennsville Beach Park, a former amusement park that was located in the current park until 1969. It has all sorts of signs, rides and former parts of rides and attractions. These sheds were the highlight of the trip. Everything is so well maintained and displayed on the property.
The outer display buildings on the estate
I also walked the grounds again and admired the view of the Delaware Bay and the Delaware Memorial Bridge. It must have been something before all these things were built and it just had a view of the bay.
I needed to stop for a quick snack, and I noticed that on this Father’s Day Sunday not much was opened around the area. I came across Four Seasons Doughnuts, an old-fashioned doughnut shop on Route 49 and stopped in.
Four Seasons Doughnuts at 275 North Broadway
I got the most delicious sugar topped jelly doughnut ($1.50) and devoured it quickly. The doughnut selection that time of the day was not as big, but it was enough to tide me over until dinner. I was ready to see my last site of the day.
Four Seasons Doughnuts delicious selection of doughnuts
In September, I doubled back to Hudock’s to the custard stand for ice cream. It was only fifteen minutes away from the site. I ordered some homemade peach ice cream and just relaxed on the picnic tables again. It was such a beautiful day, and I did not want to leave that spot. Looking at the farms was just so nice (see prices and pictures above).
Hudock’s for ice cream is so nostalgic
I got to Fort Mott State Park by 5:00pm and it was still bright and sunny outside. I love these long summer days when it is light out until 9:00pm. By the time I got to the Finn’s Point Lighthouse, the Visitors Center was closed but it looked like it had not been open. The stairs were overgrown, the sign on the door was dated 2019 and the fence around the lighthouse had a lock that looked rusty. So, I only got to admire it from a distance. It really is an interesting lighthouse as it slender and further away from the water than the other lighthouses that I had seen before. I read that you cannot walk in if it is too cold outside or too hot. I traveled further into the park.
Finn’s Point Lighthouse at Fort Mott and Lighthouse Road
Fort Mott State Park was a real treat. I never knew this place even existed. I had never heard of the fort before today. Fort Mott State Park is interesting in that it was designed after the Civil War facing the State of Delaware across the bay and was designed to protect Delaware Bay. Most of the construction happened after 1897 and gun emplacements were located the below concrete and earthen embankment.
Fort Mott Welcome sign
There is also a fire tower, guard house, former warehouses and battery’s protecting the fort. By the end of WWI, the fort was considered obsolete and by 1943 was decommissioned. The State of New Jersey bought the land in 1947 and by 1951 it was opened as a park.
The Fort Mott Gun embankments
I was able to tour through the gun embankments and climb the stairs to see where the guns were once based on. The views were amazing of the bay, and it was a clear shot if boats tried to come into the bay. I passed the fire tower that was closed for tours that day and I visited what was the Ordnance Warehouse which is now the gift shop and a small museum of artifacts from the old fort. This includes equipment, pictures and photos of when the fort was in service. This part of the park should not be missed as it is fascinating to see how the fort was run and its role during the war.
The best part of the park is to just stroll along the long grass lawn that leads to the views of the Delaware Bay. The views are spectacular and on a sunny day, it is just a please to look out at the bay and enjoy the views. There are also nice picnic grounds that were full of families enjoying the early evening of Father’s Day. I spent time here relaxing before my long trip home soaking up the sunshine.
After my trip to Fort Mott State Park, since the sun was still high in the sky and it would not get dark until almost 9:00pm, I decided to double back through Salem, go back up to Woodstown to have dinner and see the farmland one last time before leaving the area. It is such a scenic trip home and I wanted to see all of it one more time before leaving the area.
Fort Mott views
After Fort Mott, I stopped in Pennsville again to try the Pennsville Custard Stand at 338 North Broadway for some frozen custard. I ended up have a small dish of their homemade ice cream. Their Pineapple Swirl and Cake Batter are delicious.
This is part of the Pennsville Farmers Market, which is part of the same complex. The Farmer’s market was open but at this time of the year had very little produce on the shelves. Still, it was worth the stop for the ice cream.
The Pineapple Swirl and Cake Batter Ice creams were amazing!
The Pennsville Farmers Market has just opened for the season
I stopped in Woodstown and walked around the downtown one last time. A lot was closed on Sunday, and I was surprised that more restaurants were not open. I decided on a quick slice of pizza at Gus’s Pizzeria at 14 Main Street. It was okay but I would not make a special trip to go there. There are other places to eat.
Downtown Woodstown, NJ
My last stop of the trip back up was stopping in Millica Hill, the quaint little town I first encountered when I got off Swedesboro Road to go down Route 45. I stopped and looked at all the old buildings and restaurants that they had. Most everything was closed for the day and only one restaurant was open and there was only one couple there. They also had a Historical Society in the downtown area that I noted for my next trip to the area.
Downtown Mullica Hill
As I finally got to the New Jersey Turnpike, the sun was setting in the distance. As I said before, it is so nice to have these long days to drive and explore. It was an eye-opening trip and I saw so many interesting places and got a better grasp of our state’s history and its place in both the Revolutionary and Civil Wars.
I was an interesting and relaxing weekend and the best way to spend Father’s Day. It was a trip that my dad would have enjoyed.