Spring in Belleplain State Forest, NJ

My favorite camping in New Jersey is Belleplain State Forest and my favorite time is when the mountain laurel are in bloom in late May / early June.  I try to see them every year, though I have missed them because of severe rain washing away the blooms or we just couldn’t manage a visit on the right weekend.  Johnnie and I did not have time for a fulll camping weekend but yesterday we drove to Belleplain for the afternoon in hopes the mountain laurel would be in bloom.  They were.

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We rode some of the paths that I take when I’m out on my bicycle with my camera.  I love the paths, the roads less traveled, that reveal thick stands of mountain laurel around every bend in the road.

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There were some other interesting finds, such as ferns and moss and lichen on bark — other signs of spring and new life after the long winter.

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We rode through the campgrounds on the other side of Lake Nummy which is mostly tents and smaller RVs of all kinds.  There were a few campers for the weekend.  Then we rode through our section, the CCC campground.  It was hard seeing someone else on our usual site, site 104.  That’s our home!  But, we persevered and rode through the rest of the camp.  Sparsely populated at this time because school is still in session in NJ and families aren’t on vacation yet, we meandered through.  Johnnie stopped at a vacant site for us to stretch our legs.  I recognized the site, site 132, as one that we used  when we had our first RV, a 30-foot Coachmen Mirada.  I remembered the site because it backs up to the forest which is replete with ferns, pines, and oaks.  This was my view from the rear window!

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The gold in these photos is sunlight highlighting individual spots in the forest, like spotlights.  What a sight!

So, I didn’t get a weekend of camping, but I did get a refreshing moment with my favorite campground.

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A New Experience

For this vacation week, Johnnie and I decided to try a new campground: Thousand Islands/Association Island KOA in Henderson, NY. The campground takes up the entire island which is in Lake Ontario. We arrived on Monday when the weather was warm and the wind was gentle, but there were small flies. Tons of them. Yesterday, the flies just covered the RV and the fellow campers who ventured outdoors were swatting the flies and dashing to their vehicles. The KOA staff said that the flies are ever present but usually over the water. Because it had rained before we arrived, the flies were over the grass. The flies don’t bite; they’re just annoying. Today, the wind is strong, the weather is chilly (high only went to 46 and it is May 20th), but the flies were gone. We ventured outside for a while and took some pictures. When we arrived on Monday, I spotted lots of birds — American goldfinch, scarlet tanager, cowbird, gulls,skimmers. But the wind has kept the birds away, only the gulls are braving the wind. We are here until Friday, so maybe we’ll get lucky and the wind will die down and the birds will return. For now, we are enjoying the beautiful view. I think we will return.

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Saguaro National Park

It’s the last day of August and I’ve been meaning to write this post since late May.  The intervening months have been filled with family and friends, but rving is always on my mind.  I haven’t visited Saguaro National Park in years and in May, Johnnie and I were able to visit.  Unfortunately, we weren’t in Arizona with our RV, but we were able to enjoy the park. The part is divided into two units.  We visited both, driving through the park.  The pictures below are from the east unit.  I look forward to visiting this park often.  Who knows?  Maybe, I’ll realize my dream.  When asked what I would have done if I had not been an educator, I always say a park ranger.  There’s still time!

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Belleplain State Forest in the Spring

Our camping season is in full swing. Johnnie and I had a few weekends in Belleplain during the spring (I just didn’t have time to write post!). Why do I love Belleplain State Forest? For the most part, it is quiet. This weekend for the 4th of July it will be crowded and throughout July and August, it gets filled. But for the rest of the year, it is quiet. I enjoy riding the roads within the camping area and going out into the surrounding community, back roads mostly. The rangers are friendly and stop to chat while doing tours or going to work.  But mostly, I love being in the Pine Barrens. Belleplain is on the southern edge of the Pine Barrens, but it is my favorite area of New Jersey.  The pines, the sand, the cedar water, the mountain laurel.  These define New Jersey for me.  Belleplain is also close to Cape May, Stone Harbor, and the Wildwoods, so going to the shore is always a possibility.  Then there are the beaches on the Delaware — Reeds Beach, Moores Beach, and a few others.  Plus the NJ Audobon Society has a few locations in the area that are excellent for bird watching during various times of the year.  Bird watching at Belleplain is also good.  I noticed for the first time this year hummingbirds.  This was a nice treat.  I wish I could have taken a better picture of them!

So here are a few pics from Belleplain in the spring:

 

 

 

 

Beginning of 2014 Camping Season: Assateague

It has been a very long winter in New Jersey, coupled with an early end to our camping season because of some needed RV repairs.  It’s been seven months since Johnnie and I were camping.  Seven months seemed like an eternity! But I am happy to share that we have started the 2014 camping season with a weekend trip to Assateague Island State Park in Maryland.  The park is connected to Assateague Island National Park and makes for a beautiful weekend!  On Saturday, the temperature was 73, the breeze was light, and wildlife was out.  It was a great day for a bike ride.  Thank goodness I had stayed in the gym on the stationary bike throughout the winter so that I could enjoy this first bike ride of the season.  Camping this coming weekend at Belleplain State Forest, my favorite place in New Jersey.  Johnnie and I need to plan for July and August . . .  September , , ,  October . . . Hopefully, the weather will be good and we can camp into November and December — a reward for the early end of last year’s season.  

Here are a few pics from this past weekend:

View from the Rear Window

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View from the Front Window

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View from the top of the dunes

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Two pics from my bike ride

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Delaware and Raritan Canal Trail

In celebrating the first day of fall, I am reminded of last Sunday’s autumnal weather and a beautiful ride on the Delaware and Raritan Canal Trail in the Titusville, NJ area.  We parked in Washington Crossing State Park, though there are many parking areas along the route of the canal path.  After walking our bikes up to the Canal Path, we enjoyed a ride on the level, gravel path.  The path runs parallel to Rte. 29 (at least the stretch we rode) but the road is only visible in small sections of the path.  You forget that it’s there!  We shared the path with walkers and riders of all ages, sizes, and fitness levels.  We shared the canal with turtles sunning themselves on tree branches in the water, ducks, and geese.  All in all, it was a pleasant ride and I look forward to doing more of the path.

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Swatara Rail Trail and Bear Hole Trail

Yesterday, we rode attempted to ride the Bear Hole Trail (5.3 miles) from the end to the beginning.  First was the challenge of getting to the trail.  GPS and directions told us to take Old Bridge Road which is closed because the Old Bridge is closed!  Of course, we rerouted and eventually found our way and got a lovely tour of parts of Jonestown that we would not have seen otherwise.  Once we got our bikes off and started the ride, I noticed that we were steadily climbing uphill, then it got a bit too steep and too often for someone who is overweight and moderately fit!  When we turned around, the ride was a fast-paced downhill ride and rather fun!  Instead we crossed the bridge and did another portion of the Swatara Rail Trail and rode along the Swatara Creek Water Trail.  I bet this is a beautiful trail to ride in the fall with the  ImageImageImage

 

changing leaves.  We’ll have to come back in October.  In the meantime, I have a date in the gym, riding the stationary bike on some incline settings, and maybe joining the spinning class weekly.  Also, the Delaware and Raritan Canal Trail calls.  I was in Lambertville, NJ for a workshop this summer and passed the trail — long and level.  Looks like a nice Saturday or Sunday afternoon ride. It has been a fun summer exploring local (3 hours away or less) campgrounds, riding our bikes, and relaxing! 


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