Friday, June 25, 2010

Kudos to New Jersey – Actually Rebuilding a Long Stretch of Highway, Interstate 295.

June 25th, 2010

For the first time that I can remember since I was a child, I have actually seen a long stretch of highway being rebuilt / built. When I was a child, I remember seeing the older generations building interstates from the road bed up. Since that time, I have never seen any real highway construction in the United States that included actually building a road. However, leave it to the State of New Jersey to surprise me. Because, approximately twenty miles of the northern portion of Interstate 295 is totally torn-up and it appears a new road bed is being laid.

The only times that I can remember seeing any road beds being set in modern times would merely include very short replacement segments on the I-10 freeway near Palm Springs and maybe some very short segments of the I-405 freeway on the west side of Los Angeles, some (one) bridge surfaces on Belt Parkway (though, of late, maybe more now), some stretches of roadway in Mississippi, a major overpass near Riverside, and possibly some sections of the Staten Island expressway.

Its funny, because WPIX and Fox Channel 5 in New York just last week were airing reports that stated how most residents in New Jersey were becoming more and more disgusted with the roadway conditions in the state. Yet, only in New Jersey can one definitely see any significant amount of roadway actually being rebuilt from the roadbed up. I have not seen any long stretches of roadway being built anywhere else in the United States.

Due to the rebuilding of roads being such a rare occurrence, I had recently come to the assumption that the building road industries had also been shipped overseas to places like China and India. So I was quite pleased to see this section of I-295 being rebuilt – as it desperately needs it.

So, kudos to the State of New Jersey and whatever Federal entities might have been involved in this seemingly nouveau idea of actually rebuilding a road. Lets hope this sets a trend.

Adam Trotter / AVT

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Taconic Parkway, New York State.

Blog to be filled in later. Just posting the photo.

Body Surf Atlantic City….

June 22nd, 2010

To get here, wait until the wave starts to pick you up as you swim with the wave – try and stay out in front of the wave, btw. When it picks you up, go to the right or to the left down the line of the wave – try to get up into any tube if present, depending on wave shape or if possible depending on your ability. When your ride appears to be over, use your momentum to exit out and back under the wave – if you can. Typically, don’t go straight away over the falls and look out for the face-plants, they can be a real day / neck breaker.

Seriously though….

Atlantic City, New Jersey (AC) is one of my favorite beaches on the east coast. For starters, it is easy to get to and there are no fees for entering the beach. There is plenty of parking, plenty of room on the beach, and plenty of well-air conditioned and nice establishments to duck into every now-and-then. What’s more, there is no required and mandated swimming area, like some of the more ‘lame’ beach areas. [Lame is, in my opinion, when the lifeguards are telling swimmers exactly where they have to swim and/or do not allow swimmers to swim out as far as the break – the lifeguards are generally this way because there are typically so many poor swimmers that may not understand the power of the wave / surf – but like I said, the lifeguards aren’t quite so ‘dorky’ in AC.]

On this particular day, while the water was warm (approx. 68 degrees F) and the sun was hot with the occasional passing cloud, the surf was unfortunately somewhat flat. Consequently, there were no excessive side currents or rip tides either; so the conditions were great for the children and the less-than-proficient swimmers among us.

Nevertheless, I managed to catch a few good rights and a few good lefts. As I said, the shape was poor but it was somewhat of a shore break with the occasional nice shore bounder. Though, on the east coast, I don’t think most are accustomed to seeing swimmers [such as I] wearing fins, a rash guard, and webbed-gloves – like I enjoy wearing; but hey, its kinda’ what I’m used to. :)

Adam Trotter / AVT

PS. To give credit where credit is due, however, it is my west coast friend that taught me how to actually body surf. Thanks, Saint Mike. :)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Pine Barrens / Pinelands National Reserve of Southern New Jersey

June 8th, 2010

One of my favorite rides is driving through the Pine Barrens / Pinelands of Southern New Jersey. The contrast with the suburban centers of New Jersey is quite stark compared to these hundreds [or thousands] of square miles that maintain only a minimal number of inhabitants [the Reserve covers ‘more than one million acres’].

This is the reported home – and birthplace - of the New Jersey Devil. It is said that long about 1680, in a village alongside one of these roads through the Pines, local folks took it upon themselves to burn a witch at the stake – I’m sure after some amount of due process of law and the witch’s day in court, of course. But as legend has it, the villagers must have been correct. Because, during the roasting the witch turned into a demon and flew away into the Pinelands forest.

The legend continues, in that if anyone ever meets or crosses paths with the ‘Jersey Devil,’ the unlucky individual never lives to speak of the encounter. I can’t verify this, however, as I have never seen the creature. :)

Nevertheless, as one drives through the Pinelands, take notice of the thickness of the pine forests that line the road. One can see that back in the seventeenth century, most likely many an explorer/trapper was forever lost in these woods - for whatever the reason. I surmise that as these explorers disappeared, their loss was attributed to the Jersey Devil. Also worth noting, there have even been reports of Big Foot type sightings in these woods as well.

So, driving from Philadelphia, Cherry Hill, or Atlantic City, head to towns with names like Chatsworth, Batsto, and New Gretna and try to detour on one of the sand dirt roads. Stop somewhere and get out for a walk to really experience the scenery. From that point, try to make it on to Long Beach Island, that’s another cool place for a afternoon’s ride and beach excursions.

But, whatever you do, don’t blame me if you encounter the Jersey Devil. After all, I did warn you. :)

Adam Trotter / AVT