We stayed in NJ nearly twice as long as we had intended. My parents had some health problems while we were there, so we stayed to help out a bit, but we also went out and did lots of fun stuff.
Living in Maryland for nearly 20 years, the woods here aren't as strange as they used to be, but the Jersey forests are right in a way that Maryland's still aren't!
It was lovely to hike Tillman's ravine.
It was exactly the right kind of rocky: challenging enough to make it fun, but doable with little kids.
The trees clothed it in cool shadow and dappled gold
The stream along the bottom arced and leapt playfully in little waterfalls and pools.
Zorg's comment was, "Things are much wilder up here!"
They were, too! We saw dozens of graceful deer and shy fawns. Twice we saw big black bears. We saw the resident flock of wild turkeys several times along with herons and bald eagles, bats, and rabbits (not flying).
It was great to spend time with my folks. Choclo decided that Mumpy was the bees knees (why walk with Mommy and Daddy when Mumpy will hold your hand?).
The long awaited day of having masses of kids able to do useful things arrived while we were up there. Do you have a large brush pile which needs to be cut into 2 foot lengths? With 6 people cutting and carting and 2 small people picking up stray sticks, we can chuck more wood than a woodchuck could... Oh, yeah, we saw a bunch of woodchucks and chipmunks. Anyway, the reward for the wood chopping was a bonfire and marshmallow roast with Pa! Yum! Yum!
Kicking off our big American History project, we visited Millville, a reconstructed village from the 1800s. We went early on a Monday and had the whole village and both historical reenactors/park rangers to ourselves! The kids had tons of questions about everything, and the rangers were really delighted by their interest.
One of the really neat things about Millville is seeing the rough log cabin a poor person lived in right next to the nearly modern looking clapboard farmhouse of a mill owner. Neither had indoor plumbing, mind you!