Another from the summer fun list: The Pine Barrens

Every summer, I create a Summer Fun List of things I want to do by the time Labor Day rolls around. The goal is making sure I’m making memories and doing the things that make summer feel like summer to me. Sometimes the list nudges me to do things I might not otherwise. As readers of Off the Clock might note, it helps me privilege the anticipating and remembering selves over the experiencing one.

Anyway, this past weekend the list nudged me to go visit the Pine Barrens. I’d read John McPhee’s book on this region of New Jersey that — wedged between Atlantic City and Philadelphia — still manages to be quite wild. I put it on the summer fun list. And on Sunday, we went! I spent some time on Saturday night researching top hikes in that region of New Jersey. We decided to do the one by the Carranza Memorial (created in the spot where the famed Mexican aviator crashed en route from New York to Mexico City).

I enjoyed the landscape. An almost-all-pine forest is quite distinctive: sandy soil, wild blueberries, a lot of open space in between the narrow pine trunks. The sound of the wind swishing through the pine needles was lovely.

The kids were…the kids. They complained about walking and who drank out of whose water bottle. We were trying out their new hiking boots — purchased ahead of the Yellowstone trip — and there were some issues with those. The 3-year-old pretty much refused to walk, so my husband carried him in the backpack for the entire hike. We only made it about 3.25 miles total.

However, it was flat and fast and I have high hopes for going the whole 8-mile out-and-back route (to a fire tower!) in the future. And we added some spontaneous rustic-New-Jersey fun to the trip by stopping for lunch at a place called the Evergreen Dairy Bar that had been absolutely packed when we drove past it during the morning.  Diner food and ice cream put the kids in a better mood.

How are you doing on your summer fun list?

4 thoughts on “Another from the summer fun list: The Pine Barrens

  1. I was so excited to see the picture of the Evergreen Dairy Bar in your post! We live about 15 minutes away, and one of our summer traditions is to go there to grab a cone dipped in chocolate or a Typhoon (like a DQ Blizzard) once a month. After reading “Off the Clock,” I have been inspired to fold in little adventures like a trip to the Evergreen into my week.
    Thank you for the hiking tip-I have lived around here 22 years and am just starting to discover some of the great hiking trails in our area.
    If you are out this way again, you may want to check out the Rancocas Nature Center-great family (and adult-programs. I took a yoga dance class there this Saturday next to one of their frog ponds, and a very excited family witnessed a frog leaping out of the pond at the end of their hike. Nice, easy trails.

    1. @BethC – how fun that you go there too! I saw the Rancocas trails on the list as well, so that will probably wind up being a future family weekend activity.

  2. I instituted the summer fun list for the first time last year after reading about it here, but a major benefit for me has also been using it to tell better stories & banish summer working mom guilt. Despite having my kids in camps/summer school 40 hours a week while I’m in the office, there is still a quite impressive list of fun things that we manage to do! And I highly doubt the list would be any longer or better if I were home all those hours… there would just be a lot more screen time, brother wrestling matches, and whining. Our recent adventures have included a World Team Tennis match and plenty of pool time. And we are headed to Northern Minnesota and Canada in a couple of weeks!

    1. @Sarah – yep, that is definitely an upside of the list. When you can see all the fun things you’re doing, it’s hard to tell a story that you never do fun things with your kids.

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