Family Firsts, Beach Vibes, and Cranberry Bogs in New Jersey

Oh the places you’ll go” – Dr. Seuss

This past weekend I took a trip to New Jersey to visit my aunt. While we were there, we decided to explore the area and found some amazing places. Our first stop was to Seaside Heights.

Best Burgers in town!

Along the Seaside Heights Boardwalk, we discovered Spicy Cantina. This was the best burger I’ve had in a long time. It’s a “can’t fit the entire thing into your mouth” avocado cheeseburger, and yes, I added the bacon. I eat a burger maybe once every six months so that’s one really I enjoyed. I ordered a side of hummus, which was also fantastic, and even got some celery to go with it. After seeing the size of the burger, there’s no way I was eating the hummus as well. My sister and I shared it but didn’t finish it all.

Seaside Heights 6 w sig

New Auntie

I’ve been loving this job of being an aunt to my nephew, Joseph. He’s growing up so fast and he really makes me smile. I never knew I could love someone so much and just want to show them everything! I’ve thought of ideas for our trips together and places we’d explore. This moment, his first beach trip, watching and capturing on my camera and with the GoPro, his first experience with sand, it was a moment I’ll never forget.

Waves, water, sun, sand, and JP. He was fascinated by that crystalized granules that most of us take for granted. With each grasp, he attempted to grab as much as he could and watched it fall out of his hands. It reminded me of the simplistic things in life. Spending an afternoon with my family was priceless. It’s in these moments I will remember as one of the most joyful times of my life. The sun was shining, and I was standing on a beach looking out into the ocean. Check out the video I made.

Seaside Heights 26 w SIg

“It’s a magical world, Hobbes, ol’ buddy… Let’s go exploring!” – Calvin, Calvin, and Hobbes

Being a new aunt, I wanted to help as much as I could. It feels like he’s the only chance I get to help in raising a kid since I don’t have any children of my own and don’t plan to in the future. I also love building a relationship with him that will grow over time. Right now it’s about his needs, and learning what he wants. I spend one Saturday a month with him and my mother has been helping me since she’s been spending a few days a week taking care of him. It’s been challenging at best, sometimes, but this past weekend, I really feel like we have connected. That could’ve just been from the scratch mark he etched into my neck when I was holding him. It’s ok, I don’t believe it will leave a scar.

Exploring Trails in New Jersey

Sunday I woke at 6 AM to hit the trail early. I had researched Double Trouble State Park and was intrigued by its diversity and history. The Pine Barrens, also known as the Pinelands or simply the Pines, is a heavily forested area of coastal plain stretching across more than seven counties of New Jersey. The name “pine barrens” refers to the area’s sandy, acidic, nutrient-poor soil. The Double Trouble Historic District occupies over 200 acres and includes the village and surrounding bogs, according to the website.

Double Trouble SP NJ 2 w Sig

Check out the video from the hike.

The natural environment of cedar forest and rapidly flowing stream provided both raw materials and water power for an extensive lumber industry from the 1700s to the 1900s.  As timber was cut, the cleared swampland created a bog habitat ideal for growing cranberries.  Cranberry culture began at Double Trouble Village in the 1860s.  By the 20th century, the Double Trouble Company was one of the largest cranberry operations in the state.  The farmers who maintained the Double Trouble cranberry bogs have retired. The State is currently seeking a farmer to maintain and harvest the bogs.

Double Trouble SP NJ 32 w SIG

What a wonderful weekend, truly. I was so inspired by the twists and turns of the trails, it reminded me of life, in visual form. The path (hopefully) is long, with many unexpected adventures. While walking in the woods I traveled down roads that lead to a dead-end. I also traveled paths that lead me to beautiful views along the water. I met a fellow photographer who guided me towards the parking lot, once it was time for me to leave. I’m glad he was there to guide me.

My aunt told me something that made me laugh. She said “Never get old” and I thought it was funny because it’s not like I can stop it. But it’s great to live life to the fullest. To experience it, being mindful. And that’s what I enjoy now. Remembering each moment. Working to be present. Grateful for family and friends along this journey.

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