Brief update: Cape May Eastern Shore Maryland volkssport trip

Today is the third and final day of the Liberty Bell Wanderers bus trip to Eastern Shore Maryland.

These trips include volkssport walks of 5 or 10K daily and some sightseeing highlights.

Unfortunately internet and free time have both been unpredictable so I’ve been posting more on YouTube and Instagram that blogging.

On Instagram, check out the hashtag #theadventuresofPJtheBear.

This is a tractor trailer at the grain mill at Purdue Chicken in Easton, Maryland:

https://youtu.be/cLMjk0Rol7E

This is a brief video of the weird little rail system in Cape May:

https://youtu.be/rpsziLk0vtA

Now, I am just starting to edit video on my phone so these are poorly & sloppily edited but this ferry might have been my favorite part of the trip:

https://youtu.be/FbJ4SkUyiAY

This cruise on the Patriot in The Chesapeake Bay and the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in Saint Michael’s are definitely my second favorite:

https://youtu.be/S0ZtdAtQnd0

https://youtu.be/3ZiQCLar6xM

On the road again…

I’ve meant several times to blog but PJ and I are on the road again, with Gayle and her niece/practically twin sister Bonnie (oh the joys of having a large family), on the Liberty Bell Wanderers weekend bus trip.

This three day adventure will take us to Cape May and the eastern shore of Maryland so stay tuned.

I woke at 4:30 this morning and some household snafus had me running at least ten minutes late. This bothered me as I am an extremely punctual person.

I am wearing my Wilson Warrior Marching Band t-shirt as red is the Liberty Bell Wanderers color and today is homecoming. I will be missing the big alumni band and halftime performance, featuring the song, “Africa.”

This group is part of the American Volkssporting Association, so we will be doing a series of volkssport walks.

So I’m almost to Cape May. I look forward to sharing PJ’s newest adventures.

State Parks Weekend with the Liberty Bell Wanderers

I have had a great month in October. My boot is off. I had a fantastic ortho who released me from his care on Wednesday (Thanks, Dr. Sacco.) I also have a team of physical therapists who have taught me so much in the four short weeks we’ve been together. (And I will probably have my final session with them on Monday.)

This weekend my family and I joined the Liberty Bell Wanderers in Willow Grove where we will visit four state parks. Today we walked 10 miles on trails and more around town.

We arrived at the hotel where most of the group was staying at 8 a.m. We were on the road fairly early for our first stop: a 10K walk through Fort Washington State Park. By about mile 4.5 my ankle had that mild soreness, but we came upon a playground so the swings, monkey bars and, no lie, FOUR WAY SEE-SAW soon made me forget a twinge of discomfort.

Oh! And we saw hawks swirling around at the Hawk Observation Deck.

Lunch was at Feliz Cantina. There we experienced a true culinary miracle: gaucamole with candied pecans, bacon and blue cheese. And I tried fish tacos. And I liked them!

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We went back to the hotel where we moved from (my friend and fellow walker) Gayle’s room to our room. She’s staying with us tonight. After a very brief respite, we headed out to Tyler State Park which reminded me of our local park, Jacobsburg.

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We only attempted a 5K, and to keep child happy we let her take photos of people’s dogs. I’ll have to do a count and perhaps a gallery of her dog photos.

Once again we found ourselves at the Hampton Inn in Willow Grove where child immediately hopped in the shower. I had brought cake pops from Starbucks, microwave popcorn and board games in my suitcase. Gayle and I went out for beverages (found a 7-eleven a half mile away) and somehow ended up with a pizza. On foot.

We had pizza, cake and chocolate milk and played Ticket to Ride (the board game). Child crawled in bed without a fight at 7:45.

Barnegat Adventure

  

My schedule suddenly opened up for a Monday— no plans for child or myself. The weekend had passed normally, which meant some of it was fun and some of it involved pre-puberty meltdowns every five minutes from my tormented eleven year old. My husband had to work, as usual, on Monday and I wanted to do *something* that would keep the child and I occupied. Preferably fun.
So, over my cup of coffee with my husband in the wee hours, I searched the AVA web site from my phone. We’re members of AVA—American Volkssporting Association, a group that sponsors self-guided walking tours of various points of interest— and our closest thing to a local chapter (Liberty Bell Wanderers).

I found walks in communities anywhere from an hour to three hours away, some in the mountains, one in Hershey, another in Lancaster, history-commemorating walks in Philadelphia, and many in New Jersey, including the shore points.

At 7 a.m., I roused the child and told her if she wanted to take a road trip and do a Volkssport Walk she needed to rise and shine. I consider volkssporting educational (reading maps, following directions, filling out paperwork, and learning about new places) and a good source of exercise since I push for the 10K walk whenever possible. Anything to keep the family moving. In my daughter’s mind, volkssporting means an interesting day, usually with a meal in a restaurant, and the chance to buy drinks at convenience stores. 

In other words, a win-win. 

I let her pick the destination. This avoids the pouting that eventually happens if “we always do what Mommy wants to do.” The first part of the equation was to narrow down the distance she wanted to travel. She told me she was willing to drive as far as D.C. That pretty much meant anything I might be willing to drive. I thought she’d want to stay a little close to home. But no. She is an adventurer at heart.

She picked Barnegat Lighthouse on Long Beach Island. The fact that she selected a beach did not surprise me, but it did somewhat surprise me that she picked Barnegat when I had offered shore points much closer to home. She opted for the 135 mile car ride. 

We didn’t set out until 7:50 a.m., and we had to stop for gas so I suppose our true start time was 8:10 a.m. We hit a bit of a travel snarl on 78E, which could be anticipated at such an hour on a Monday. It kept moving and we only “lost” about ten minutes. We hooked up with 287 and headed down to the Garden State Parkway, making our only potty stop at the Cheesequake Travel Plaza. Having never visited before, we didn’t realize there was a commuter lot and ended up parking— no exaggeration, I clocked it on FitBit— a half mile from the building. Honestly, after the first leg of our journey, the walk felt good.

We arrived on Long Beach Island about 10:30ish. We drove down the island for what felt like forever. Passing beach upon beach was like a tour in itself, like an endless array of possibilities. My daughter turned out to be an excellent navigator. 

We arrived at Kubel’s Restaurant at 11:07 a.m. The restaurant had the official walk box. It didn’t open until noon, but we didn’t exactly know that. We couldn’t find any info on the door or online so we decided to walk out to the lighthouse because the official walk had to pass the lighthouse. 

It was at this point that I realized I didn’t have my ATM card. This shouldn’t have been a shock as I never carry my ATM card. But usually I am with my husband who has his ATM card. And we were in a tourist area, heavily cash-based. I had something like $29 in toll money left and an additional $9 in our walking binder. I knew, if we climbed the lighthouse, I wanted to reward my daughter with the $15 t-shirt that required cash. 

After a quick tour of the area around the lighthouse onto the jetty and back. We happened upon a man fishing at the exact moment he caught a fish. We watched him unhook the fish and toss it back because it was too small. (We also saw a man with a prosthetic leg.)

  
This allowed us to see how much admission to the lighthouse would be. We stopped at the visitor’s center to use the bathroom and meandered back to Kubel’s as we were starved and thirsty.

We arrived at 12:01, got the walk box and a table and had the most amazing mac and cheese ever, baked lobster mac and cheese.

  
 It featured those thick spiral noodles with gooey cheese and a crisp top, with some grated cheese on that, and the innards had peas, cherry tomatoes and get this— diced tiny green beans. Delightful. Truly.

  
We decided to do the 10K. Our adventure took us to see the boats at the High Bar Harbor yacht club. 

   
 We deviated from the path to enjoy a 1/2 mile walk along the tip of the Atlantic Ocean, then back to the main drag. 

  
At some point we stopped at White’s Market for cold drinks. I even let the child have a black cherry Stewarts. The lady in the market gave us a paper with favorite things to do on it, and I have to say, the list tempts me to return. It’s an awesome list.

  
We also stopped at the post office to mail our start cards to the Princeton Area Walkers. 

  
We finished the day with a climb to the top of the lighthouse. 

  
After walking about 8 miles before the 217 step staircase, I have to admit my thighs protested heavily at the bottom. Might be the first time I ever had thigh cramps. They still ache a bit today.

   
 The day was fabulous and I didn’t even get that much sunburn.

  

And we’re walking

Since my trip to Niagara Falls with the Liberty Bell Wanderers, my family has joined me as official members of that group and the American Volkssporting Association. With their help, I recently finished my initial 10-event book and will now have my own walker number.

I am thrilled with this activity. Volkssporting is non-competitive walking or bike riding, typically for 5k or 10k distances, though sometimes 6k or 15k. The local group that sponsors the walk will have a start location posted on the AVA website. At that location, usually a hotel or a YMCA because of the flexible hours of the facility, there will be a “start” or “walk box.”

In the walk box, there’s a registration form, a start card and a stamp. You fill out the registration form, stamp your book(s), and fill out a start card. Also in the box are directions and envelopes. The envelope allows you to mail your completed start card and payment to the walk administrator (otherwise known as point of contact.)

From there, it’s like a walking tour/scavenger hunt. I usually ask my 11-year-old to read the directions and the map because it’s a good skill for her to practice.

We have recently done North and South Bethlehem, New Hope PA/Lambertville NJ, and Doylestown, PA.
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In Bethlehem, we visited the grave of poet HD.

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In Doylestown, we hob-knobbed with the history.

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Apparently, Doylestown has concrete castles similar to the Edison-inspired concrete house neighborhood in Phillipsburg NJ.

New Hope had lots of artsy views.

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Not to mention a mansion that could have belonged to one of my husband’s relatives…

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But Lambertville NJ had the most amazing falafel and kufta…

My daughter, who’s struggling to transition from her active elementary school years to a more sedentary middle school life, is outside again and moving so that makes me happy. My husband likes to walk and likes our adventurous day trips. I am so thankful for such a fun family activity.

And unlike bowling, it doesn’t require heavy equipment or ugly shoes.

O Canada

I can’t believe the trip with the Liberty Ball Wanderers has reached its final night in Niagara Falls. A tad sad really. Today I hit my 35,000 steps in one day milestone from Fitbit. I’ve gotten close many times but never made it…

But let me take a small step back. We went to Bollywood Bistro last night, a vegetarian-Jain Indian restaurant (one of nine Indian restaurants nearby), for dinner. I ate about $30 worth of food by myself I was so hungry after the 14 miles I covered during the day. The food was scrumptious.

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After that meal, we went on a 5k around Goat Island. I collapsed in bed around 10 and woke up still stuffed from dinner. I wandered down to the lobby for my first cup of coffee and managed to eat another oversized breakfast before embarking on the boarding crossing walk into Canada. We walked about 4 miles along the Canadian side of the falls, exploring various gardens and historical markers in addition to the breathtaking views of the falls.

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We came back to the hotel to play the Hampton Inn version of Mr. Potato Head.
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Then back onto the bus we went to visit Cave of the Wind (otherwise known as the place where you get dressed in a yellow garbage bag, wear cheap sandals, walk along some wooden steps and stairs to be sprayed with ice cold water). All kidding aside, the views of the falls were amazingly majestic. I think it may have been more fun than Maid of the Mist.

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We reboarded the bus for our long awaited border crossing into Canada as a group. Our first stop in Canada was the gardens near the Butterfly Conservatory. My husband and I visited here about 15 years ago and we adored the Butterfly House. But time did not allow it today. From the gardens, we traveled to Niagara on the Lake which I heard compared to New Hope and Cape May. It was cute.

We did a 5K that took us down to the waterfront, to the park across from Old Fort Niagara (which I visited once with my grandmother probably nearly 30 years ago), along Queen Street and back to the main drag.

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We bought butter tarts (a local dessert) and wine. We had to buy the wine after we had an amazing wine flight and cheese platter at Shaw’s Café and wine bar (named after George Bernard Shaw the playwright).

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Not to mention our waiter Andrew was a sweetheart and easy on the eyes. Okay, so the restaurant was gorgeous too, with winding stairs and a path through the kitchen to get to the washrooms…
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I’m so tired right now I have to postpone any further thinking… We leave at 8 am for another town and another 5k before we head home. Hopefully I can post a gallery of some of the pictures I have here, including phone booths and mail boxes.

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Eating Ice Cream with a Fork

While I was in Russia, I received a small group email from my friend Gayle. She and two of her family members were booked to travel with Liberty Bell Wanderers on a bus trip to Binghamton, NY; Buffalo, and Niagara Falls.

A seat had opened up and they needed to fill it with someone who could get time off work and had a passport for some travel in Canada.

I fit that criteria.

I got up at 3:30 am to drive to Gayle’s so we could drive down to the Philly suburbs and meet the bus before 7 am. We stopped at Wawa and I got some watermelon, always a good start to the day.

  
We started our day with snacks on the bus while we journeyed to Binghamton, NY, where we met the local walking club reps at the YMCA for 5k or 10k walks.

  

The architecture in town was fascinating. They had mosaics frequently on display. They also had a Boscov’s department store downtown.

  
Our group had lunch at Uncle Tony’s where we enjoyed the juicy marinated local sandwich, the spiedie. Delectable.

  
Then when we returned to the Y, they had BIG bowls of vanilla ice cream for $1. They ran out of spoons so I used a fork.

  
We’re currently on the bus, watching a documentary on Niagara.