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?