April 20, 2008


We live in South Jersey. My husband likes to call it a "coastal plain." He's a geologist. If New Jersey is shaped like a squished number eight, the bottom section is basically sand & just a few feet above sea level, and the top section is rocky & has altitude (now, I didn't say attitude) - up to 1803 feet above sea level.

When I was a young adult I traveled up to Highpoint, New Jersey. There is a monument there, a 220 ft obelisk, and one can see forever. Into Pennsylvania, New York, over hill and dale, and mountainous to South Jerseyans. I was so impressed that this was actually my state. Someone standing nearby under the obelisk said loudly, "It's no Rocky Mountains." Captain Obvious. Recently I heard that our Governor Corzine is closing our state parks, or some gossip like that, so I thought we should take a trip up north and let the kids see the beautiful scenery from the highest point in their state. They've been as far west as Idaho, as far south as Florida and as far north as Maine, but they've never seen Highpoint, New Jersey.

This morning was warm, clear and sunny in South Jersey. As we drove up past Trenton...past Drumthwacket, the Governor's mansion, through beautiful Princeton and into the north the weather became overcast and even misted on our windshield. We soon realized there was no way we would be able to view the sites from Highpoint, but we drove on through the fog, through the traffic, through the rubber band stretching contests and empty soda bottle wars. When we arrived, I thought we'd made a wrong turn and landed in London. Zero visibility.

In case you noticed, yes, Stan and I were wearing our kids' jackets. It was much chillier than 1800 ft lower and 2 hours before. And in case you couldn't guess, no, this was not the highpoint of our day.

We wandered back down to the car and felt a bit disappointed and disoriented. Look! The kids found an interesting artifact and tried to plug it in. They're easily entertained.

And so am I. I began taking pictures of things I could actually see...

the ground in front of me...there is no rocky ground in southern New Jersey, we find shells in our sandy soil

a stand of birch trees...
a restroom...(pretty, isn't it?)
a weird tree with a gnome...
the side of a building... (I love rocks, even more than my geologist does)
That was a bust, but the day was not over. We had another mission. Back in the olden days, before we had children, Stan and I camped at Highpoint State Park. We camped on a lake and one evening right before the sun was setting we decided to run up the toughest trail in the park to a rocky outcrop and watch the event. Stay with me, here's where the story gets weird.

A couple years after we camped and hiked here, I was in labor with
Seth. I sort of became trancelike at one point, trying to deal with the
contractions and in this "trance" my mind began playing this hike over and over
again, coinciding with each peak and valley of pain. Running up the side of
the cliff was the mounting contraction and pain, reaching the top was the
peak of the pain and then collapsing down on the rock to watch the sunset was the
release. I do not know why this happened, it was surreal, but it seemed to
work for me.
So, naturally, I wanted to revisit this spot and make Seth climb it at a forced march to get him back. No, I'm kidding, but ironically he's had a very sore hip and was limping all the way up. I don't know what this means cosmically, but hey, it's our day. It's all I got.

So here's the path to the ridge. Seth, eagle eye, immediately found a red-spotted newt.
Here's the climb...

Yes, Stan was still wearing Sean's vest. Weirdo. I told him it would be blogged and he resigned, "Oh, I know."

And here is Seth resting on the rock after his painful climb.
He has no idea what pain is, why I...

The Boy...it was all worth it. The back labor, the giving birth alone while my husband was listening on the phone in the Pittsburgh airport...I'll leave it at that...

and then Lukey came along....

and then there were three.
Oh and the view here was...better. Sean skipped around like a forest creature, Luke found a small abandoned campfire sight. Seth noticed that his phone reception was primo, it was the first time he had all four bars.
Seth snapped a few of the happy couple.

Then we descended, but not without me turning my ankle on the rocky trail. It hurt for a minute then stopped. Then started again when I got home and it is now throbbing wildly.

We went to the ole campsite and the kids found a little stream.

And one fell in.

Before we left, we tried the point one more time and it was a little better, some fog had cleared. We could see the obelisk....
they got to see a little of the view.... they uttered the words I was waiting for
This doesn't even seem like New Jersey.
and we got to take a couple pictures to scare Gramom...

That's the view from New Jersey, this 20th day of April.

1 comment:

rosemary said...

Why is it that we tell the kids over and over...get a jacket....and we think ours are not needed. Stan looks....tight. Wonderful story filled with new and old highlights....

As for the painting...I wish you had remembered the camera.