Tag Archives: nj

AJ Meerwald: The NJ State Boat…Who Knew?

In reference to the title of this post, who the heck knew that the great state of New Jersey had its own state boat?? You see, as corny as it sounds, you do learn something new every day. Cliches are cliches for a reason folks…

I had the opportunity recently to take a 3 hour cruise on the AJ Meerwald which is, in technical terms, a Delaware Bay oyster schooner. In layman’s terms, it’s a fishing boat. She was a very majestic, classic boat…one similar to the ones you probably saw in Pirates of the Caribbean.

Before the sails went up

Before the sails went up

We (my girlfriend and I) went on a nice 3 hour evening cruise up the Delaware River, leaving out of the  Trenton Waterfront. The evening was full of enriching educational talks, live music on the boat, and all the wine, cheese, grapes and crackers one could ever hope for (if that’s something that people hope for anyway). The waters were calm, the breeze was gentle, the temperature was balmy and comfortable. Can’t ask for much more than that.

Sails flying high

Sails flying high

On to the boring history stuff…I know, I know…bare with me. As stated before, The A.J. Meerwald is the state ship of New Jersey. She is a restored oyster dredging schooner, whose home port is in Bivalve, Commercial Township, New Jersey. Launched in 1928, A.J. Meerwald was one of hundreds of schooners built along South Jersey’s Delaware Bayshore before the decline of the shipbuilding industry which coincided with the Great Depression. Today, A.J. Meerwald is used by the Bayshore Discovery Project for onboard educational programs in the Delaware Bay near Bivalve, and at other ports in the New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Delaware region. (Thank you Wikipedia for this beautifully succinct and detailed history)

Heavy duty rigging

Heavy duty rigging

Okay, done. No more history. Now, on to a little free plug (and I mean free…I get nothing for doing this) for the Bay Shore Discovery Project which runs the AJ Meerwald cruises. They have cruises going on throughout the fall season leaving from all different ports throughout New Jersey. Tickets are decently priced anywhere from $15-$30 for different types of cruises. Support these people! Without stuff like this, life is boring! Go check them out and support New Jersey culture…see their website below.

http://www.ajmeerwald.org/index.htm

Incredible sunset to cap off the night

Incredible sunset to cap off the night

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Waterfront in Weehawken

I went with my buddy Bandit yesterday to Hamilton Park on the waterfront in Weehawken, NJ. It was so disgustingly, ungodly, sweltering hot outside that in hindsight, it was a terrible idea going. Bandit was weezing and thirsty (I did bring water and a bowl for him so don’t go calling doggy-DYFS on me) and unenthusiastic to be there. So, I spent a whole 20 minutes over there, shot a couple of photos and then split. Here are some photos I shot for your enjoyment…

Fish-eye shot with Bandito sniffin' around

Fish-eye shot with Bandito sniffin' around

NYC...in case you didn't know
NYC…in case you didn’t know
NYC again...just in case you've never seen it (yes, sarcasm)

NYC again...just in case you've never seen it (yes, sarcasm)

This park is nice.

This park is nice.

War monument

War monument

Weehawken is pretty

Weehawken is pretty

Random shot of bumblebee on flower in park

Random shot of bumblebee on flower in park

If you’re ever in the area, check this place out for a nice, leisurely stroll and some good photo-ops. Peace.

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Gettin’ High in Jersey…Sort of…

This past Saturday I went with my folks to a park that sits at the tippy tippy top of the great state of New Jersey. It also happens to be the tallest point as well…a whole 2,000 feet. Citizens of Montana, Washington or Alaska may let out a hearty chuckle at the thought of 2,000 feet being high but for us, that’s pretty awesome!

At the entrance

At the entrance

Highest point in NJ

Highest point in NJ

So anyway, there wasn’t too much to this place. There was a lot of trees, grass, rodents, birds…ya know, the usual. There was a pretty large lake too but park officials had only a small section roped off where humans could swim and it didn’t look to appealing. There were a bunch of little rascals running around in 2 foot deep water and God only knows how much urine and baby poop were let loose in there. So needless to say, I took a pass.

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We decided to bring Bandit with us which in hindsight, wasn’t too smart of an idea considering we walked about four miles. I will say though that this 18 lb. ball of fur and cuteness was quite the trooper. Aside from a few times where the heat got a little intense and we had to carry him, he trucked it the whole way with us. This dog’s got spunk. Body of a Shih-Tzu, heart of a Lion.

He's a champ

He's a champ

So, after a three or so mile slightly uphill trek, we reached the point where we could actually see the famous (or not so famous) Washington-look-alike monument. After another mile, we finally reach the top of this hill to realize that we had to climb about 300 steps, give or take, up the most humid, wet, stuffy and uncomfortable man-made monument known to human-kind. My Dad and I went up first and the higher up we got, the worse my anxiety became. I could feel the air getting thinner and more humid and along with the claustrophobia, it made for an unenjoyable climb. We get to the top of this damned concrete monument only to find a pretty disappointing dungeon with a few foggy windows to look out of it. It was certainly not worth the effort in my opinion.

If this doesn't make you queazy, nothing will.

If this doesn't make you queazy, nothing will.

The view from the top

The view from the top

Overall though, not a bad time. I had fun with the parents and my dog and it provided some good, old quality time. Yeah, yeah call me corny if you want.

Here are some random shots for your enjoyment, including some cool fish-eye shots.

I saved this little guy from sure death

I saved this little guy from sure death

 

Stairs to nowhere?

Stairs to nowhere?

Lone flowers

Lone flowers

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Ocean Grove, NJ…Off the beaten path

Considering that I haven’t been to a beach ALL summer, I decided it was time. So I went to Ocean Grove, NJ (a Monmouth County beach) with my partner-in-crime Danielle whom it seems I do everything with. Ocean Grove is the quaint, little town that you read about in novels and magazines but you never think exists. It’s just too perfect. Hidden gem is an understatement.
Picturesque sand dunes at OG

Picturesque sand dunes at OG

As the title of this post states, OG is most definitely off the beaten path. It’s walking distance from Belmar (another hoppin’ Monmouth county spot) yet it doesn’t attract the same “crowd” that you would get at Belmar…you know the crowd I’m talking about. It’s very family-oriented and very clean. This is the place to go if you want to truly relax and not have to deal with snot-nose teenagers playing frisbee, kicking sand all over you and your stuff, and dropping expletives at every opportunity (there are a few exceptions here and there where said teenagers will show up). The beach is usually filled with alot of locals as well which adds to my liking of this beach because I know that locals are going to treat their beach right and most likely won’t be ‘acting a fool’ for a lack of more sophisticated terminology.

Absolutely gorgeous colonial beach homes

Absolutely gorgeous colonial beach homes

Horse-drawn carriages roam the quaint streets

Horse-drawn carriages roam the quaint streets

It did cost $7 per person to get onto the beach and while it is cheaper than most other NJ beaches, it makes me rehash my grief with this great state. Why in the hell do we need to pay to get onto our beaches???!!! We pay the second highest taxes in the nation and yet we still have to shell out $20 or more to get on them….ugh. It disgusts me but hey, if all beaches were as pristine as OG, I wouldn’t mind as much. End rant.

Underneath the OG Pier

Underneath the OG Pier

I found a sand dollar

I found a sand dollar

But if I had to rate OG on a scale of 1-10 comparing to other New Jersey beaches, I would give it a 10 easily. It’s clean. It’s scenic. The streets are almost too perfectly lined with trees and antique streetlamps.  It offers a quaint little downtown-esque street full of shops, restaurants, cafes and quite a few antique stores if you’re into that sort of thing. If you’re hungry, thirsty, or nature’s calling, all you have to do is thrown on a t-shirt and your flippy-floppys and walk a few hundred feet to Main Avenue and you have everything at your disposal.

Water rolling in

Water rolling in

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Well, that’s it. The secret is out. If you’re looking for an above-average New Jersey beach experience, check out Ocean Grove. Enjoy.
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Night in Hoboken

On Thursday night my girlfriend Danielle, who revels in spontaneity, decided to drive up and surprise me after I got out of work. Of course, I wanted to reciprocate and take her out on a nice dinner. At first I thought, what the heck, let’s just go to Chevy’s and keep it simple. Nooooo, not me…not Andy. I decide to take the 15 minute drive over to Hoboken and go out to a cool restaurant. So that’s what I did.

Historic Lackawanna Station

Historic Lackawanna Station

We drove over in 10 minutes, no problems. Then came the problems. Parking. I drove around the mile square for just about an hour before I found a parking spot 6 blocks away from where I wanted to be. Oh well…we’ll live. It was a nice night to walk.  I decided to go to Teak on the Hudson which is right off the famed Sinatra Drive waterfront. I had been there about three times before but I decided to go back for their half price nights where everything on the menu is…you guessed it…half price. For three drinks, an appetizer, and four sushi rolls, the bill came out to $48 (including gratuity). Not too shabby for a New York City-esque restaurant experience.

Only photo I got inside Teak

Only photo I got inside Teak

As far as the restaurant itself, it’s at Hudson Place which is perpendicular to the waterfront which offers some second-to-none views of NYC (the waterfront, not Teak). If I had to pick three words to describe Teak, they would be artsy, innovative and gutsy. The decor is pretty darn impressive. There is a GIANT exotic fish tank behind the bar chock-full of all types of Koi and other types of colorful, Nemo look-alikes. However, as awesome as the atmosphere is, it can be sort of conflicting. There is quite an amazing and awe-inspiring juxtaposition of styles here. The one side of the place has a Zen-Buddhist feel but when you look across the restaurant, it feels as though you’re stepping into a Gothic/Rennaissance mansion filled with lush tapestries, gilded furniture, Roman-esque statues and tons of dark, aged wood. Honestly, I love it…it’s like a blast from the past. And I embrace the sense of ‘disorder’ if you want to call it that. I don’t feel as though a restaurant has to have one all-encompassing theme.

As far as service goes, there’s nothing too spectacular here folks. Everytime I’ve gone, the tip gets automatically added onto your bill which equates to mediocre (at best) service. I just can’t put my finger on it but it seems as though almost every waiter/waitress I’ve had here is just….indifferent I guess. What I’m getting at is, don’t come here if you’re looking for outstanding hand n’ foot service because judging on four times that I’ve been here, you’re not going to get it.

Overall though, I would say Teak is ‘Good.’ I always say I will only go on half-price nights (call me cheap if you want) but I feel as though it would not be worth it to pay exorbitant prices for food that is good, but doesn’t necessarily differentiate itself from the competition which is key in my book coming from a public relations/marketing background. Food is good, drinks are good, atmosphere is awesome (on a night that isn’t too busy).

My verdict: Go to Teak on a Monday or Thursday (half price nights) and try it out. See if you like it. If you like it, go back on a Monday or Thursday. Pretty simple right? I will also add though, that if you’re into going to restaurants for the ‘experience’ or the ‘ambience,’ then this would be the place to go. If you go to restaurants to eat a quick, decent meal and then skidaddle, this place might not be for you.

Food: 8/10

Drinks: 8/10

Service: 7/10

Ambience/Decor/etc: 10/10

Outdoor Seating: 1/10 (We tried sitting outside at first but they placed us at a table that couldn’t seat two infants comfortably, let alone two grown adults. Pretty ridiculous in my opinion. We then had to wait 20 minutes for an inside table which was right next to a bar full of annoying drunkards.)

 

Here are some other random photos I took while I was out on the town for those of you who have never been. It wasn’t a great photography night for me.

Crazy photo I took of Lackawanna Station

Crazy photo I took of Lackawanna Station

Skyline as viewed from Sinatra Drive

Skyline as viewed from Sinatra Drive

Maxwell's on Washington Street

Maxwell's on Washington Street

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Monmouth Battlefield State Park

This past Friday (8/7/09) I went with the girlfriend to Monmouth Battlefield in Manalapan, NJ to take in the sights and test out my spiffy new Nikon camera. It was a gorgeous day all around so I can’t complain. I’m loving the camera so far but I still have alot to learn…

To be completely honest, this park is amazing…a true hidden gem. For one, it’s free. Two, the views are second-to-none. Three, IT’S EMPTY. I can count on one hand the number of bodies that I saw throughout this 2,928 acre piece of majestic earth. The views are uninhibited and allow you to see for miles. The lands maintain a nice balance between being manicured and being rugged. The farm land is pristine and for the most part, untouched which is rare for the state of New Jersey. There are some remote trails as well and when you walk through them, you instantly get transported to a lush and seemingly tropical locale where plants, flowers and wildlife abound.

It was a nice change from the hustle and bustle of everyday New Jersey life. It’s clear to me that many people don’t know about this natural escape…and to a point, it would be nice if it stayed that way… unspoiled, untampered beauty.  So if you’re reading this, SHHHHH…

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