This weekend was the annual Lighthouse Challenge of New Jersey, a two-day celebration of shoreline sentinels during which every working lighthouse is open and staffed by volunteers. The truly committed drive hundreds of miles over the two days to visit the eleven lighthouses open to the public. Because of a scouting weekend for Theo, we just hit one on Saturday and three on Sunday. But these are the last four for our lighthouse-obsessed son Francis, who has been to the others over the course of the summer.
Tinicum Rear Range Light
The family looking off in different directions, of course
Francis goes full nerd talking about construction dates with the lighthouse volunteers.
The Tinicum light is closed because of some structural bowing.
The lighthouse is right in the middle of a bunch of ball fields. A neighbor has a great snow cone stand, a tradition in the town going back to his childhood at least.
The area where the Tinicum Front Range light used to be is now a sliver pocket park along the waterside. Pretty except surrounded by refineries.
Francis at Tinicum Rear Range
Sea Girt Lighthouse
The Sea Girt Lighthouses is house with a light on top.
The residence of the Sea Girt Light is incredibly homey and cute.
Climbing down from the light.
The lights of the Sea Girt light
Francis lectures on the fresnel lens.
Models of NJ’s lighthouse laid out on a map of the state.
Twin Lights of Navesink
Some family (Gregory is behind Julie here)
The giant 10 ton former lens.
Sign for the lens.
Beautiful workmanship on the bilding
Detail from light well
Looking through the window of the south toward toward the north
View from atop the light
Grill metalwork of the cage of the Twin Lights
Theo looking less wise-guy than normal.
Gregory tries the lock to the top of the south tower
The Twin Lights of Navesink are up a high hill, part of the Palisades perhaps, giving our kids a rare hill to roll down.
Francis looks out over the hill top.
The Twin Lights of Navesink
Sandy Hook Light
The Sandy Hook Lighthouse is on a former base.
The lighthouse house houses the museum.
The Sandy Hook is the oldest continuous light in the country, predating the country itself.
The original lighthouse was just the outer mortar. Later brick helped shore it up
Details of bricks
The setting sun coming into the Sandy Hook Light
Detail of stairwell.
Francis looks across the view
Two 1000 watt bulbs shine out over 19 miles because of the fresnel lens.
There’s a lot of cool old structures up on Sandy Hook.
Gregory unsuccessfully tries the heavy door.
Sandy Hook has pretty dunes
NYC skyline from an observation deck on Sandy Hook.
Sun setting, Gregory makes a mini sandcastle before we leave North Jersey.
We’ve gotten into the habit of visiting Howell’s Living History Farm up in Mercer County, N.J., a few times a year as part of homeschooler group trips. In the past, we’ve cut ice, tapped trees for maple syrup, and seen the sheep shearing and carding. Today we saw the various stages of wheat – from planting, to harvesting, threshing, winnowing, grinding, and baking. I love that there’s such a wide vocabulary of specific language for all this – words I barely know outside of biblical parables (“Oh wheat from chaff!”) and that there’s great vintage machinery (Howell’s operations are set around the turn of the twentieth century).
Grinding the wheat
I just love the lettering on the bottom of the grinder
Gregory on the crank
A horse- or steam-powered thresher had great lettering
Another piece of equipment had a great font.
Detail of the grinder
Stove in the kitchen
In the kitchen we made bread
Fields around the farm.
Wheat. This is a special kind of spiked wheat that discourages deer.
Horses coming back from the freshly plowed field.
Down near the tip of South Jersey is Cold Spring Village, a nineteenth century living history museum just north of the Victoriana of Cape May Point . We visited for it’s “Hands-On History” weekend. In August, our 12 year old Theo will be a junior apprentice in the broom-making shop. We also visited here about this time of year in 2013.
Francis liked sitting with Laura on these rockers and asked for a photo of the two of them.
Oink and baa
In the bookbinding shop, little kids can use fingers and ink pads to draw leaves on trees.
May 20th was Bike To Work week, which I rode for the third time in recent years. This year I rode 32.1 miles, from 5:53 to 9:00 a.m., for a total time of 3:07 hours and speed of 10.3mph.
I had a phone with Google Maps directions strapped to my handlebar but didn’t need it much as I’ve learned most of the route by now. Every time it feels less outlandish to do this ride, to the point where I might just spontaneously do it again this summer if I find myself awake early. This year I got an early start, never stopped for snacks, and only occasionally stopped for pictures, which together brought me in far earlier than I’ve managed before.
Ready to leave, 5:53am, mile 0 of 32.
Mile 10/32. This tenth of the ride is a mostly forgotten 18 century country road.
This is a very half-hearted bike lane.
The longest part of my route is also one of my favorites: a railroad avenue along the old Reading line going through cute old towns.
Mile 22/32: the oldHaddon Heights train station.
On the Ben Franklin bridge: almost there!
Passing by work a little before 9 a.m.
At work: time for a shower!
The route (minus the blocks right around my house for privacy):
My wife Julie heard that the Rowan University geography club was having an open hike at one of our favorite local spots, historic Batsto Village. Our kids are all geography nerds and we’ve been wondering if our 12yo Theo in particular might be interested in a geography degree come college so we came along. It was a grey, bleak, late winter day largely void of color so I leeched what tiny bits of green and red that remained to take black and white shots.