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Hiking Watchung Reservation

Recently I was in Watchung Reservation. The weather wasn’t ideal for hiking, but I was in the area and have wanted to go. Because patience is not a virtue I have, I decided to hike anyway (instead of driving back up the following day).

There are plenty of trails in Watchung Reservation. The most famous is the History Trail.  It’s about 6-miles and visits sights of historical significance. The Watchung Reservation, itself is about 2,000 acres.

On the site, there are several posts, benches, and historical markers.  It starts and stops at the Trailside Nature Center. It’s not a strenuous hike and was rather enjoyable when we went. Parts were flooded out to rain but no big deal.

It starts on a smooth dirt trail.

Watchung Reservation

There were a ton of trees down, as you can see!

Watchung Reservation

Watchung Reservation

When we went to cross the reservoir, it was completely flooded out. I had to hop across branches, and stones, which to be honest not falling was one of my biggest accomplishments of the day.

Watchung Reservation

Watchung Reservation

On the other side, there were plenty of historic sites and small huts and houses that were almost completely gone.

Watchung Reservation

In all, it’s a beautiful and peaceful hike. It’s perfect if you just want to relax with something not too rigorous.

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:

Do you like hiking in the rain?

Are there any historic hikes near you? 

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Hiking Los Robles Trail and Open Space

Hiking Los Robles Trail and Open Space

It feels like this was forever ago.  While in California, we hiked five different locations between 2-9 miles.  Nothing was overly strenuous but each was fun and challenging in its own way.

Los Robles Trail and Open Space is located at the southern portion of the Conejo Open Space.  It’s located near the highway, and you would never guess there are over 200 acres in the park.

We were traveling north from Carlsbad to San Francisco and wanted to get out and stretch your legs.  When I googled short hikes, I found the Los Robles Trail and Open Space. One commenter wrote: “perfect for when you’re stuck in traffic and want to get out of the car for a short walk.”

What I didn’t realize until later was the trail’s historical significance!  On Feb. 28, 1776, Juan Bautiste de Anza and nearly 200 settlers came through the Conejo Valley on a similar trail while traveling from Mexico to San Francisco.

While we were out, we saw several other hikers as well as plenty of mountain bikers too. Hiking Los Robles Trail CA

The Open Space

Hiking Los Robles Trail CA

Lots of mountain bike trails too

Hiking Los Robles Trail CA

A very old tree

Hiking Los Robles Trail CA

Views

Hiking Los Robles Trail CA

The end of the trail to a neighborhood

Hiking Los Robles Trail CA

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Trying to catch a sunset and eating hair. Typical.

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You Can See More Hikes here.

California Hikes:

Hiking Marin Headlands (San Francisco)

Hiking Calavera Hills Community Park

Mini Trip to Los Angeles

Questions for you:

Are you good at road trips? Can you drive for a long period of time without stopping? (not me LOL)

Where is your favorite spot to hike? 

Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands

Exploring Hartshorne Park in the Highlands

As part of my “spring and summer” NJ bucket list, I want to go to more local parks.  Last year we went to a lot of northeast parks, but we’ve been feeling the shore this year!  I’ve already been to Turkey Swamp in Freehold as well as Cattus Island in Toms River.

Anyway, one park I’ve wanted to go to was Hartshorne Park in the Atlantic Highlands.  It’s a little bit of a treck (about 80 minutes), but one random weekday last week, we decided to drive up there.

Hartshorne Park is a lot hillier than anticipated.  I thought, oh it’s along the shore it will probably be flat.  That was not the case and my Garmin said I climbed about 80 flights of stairs.  Not that it matters, but don’t go in expecting a flat shore park.  Hartshorne is 794-acre site and overlooks the Navesink River.  After some research, I came to find out it’s one of the highest elevations along the Atlantic Coast.   If you are looking for a great park for walking, hiking, and even mountain biking (we saw many bikers), this park is for you!  No, the park is not paying me to tell you that, parks are free fun.

One thing drew my husband, and I here was the history of the park:

During World War II, batteries for artillery were built in Hartshorne Park to modernize coastal defense.  You can view several of the bunkers in the park.

With the rise of Airpower (go Air Force).  Military bunkers were not needed as much. During the Cold, War Hartshorne served as a missile defense site and command center.  It was equipped with radar, computers and electronic plotting devices.  All of these structures have been removed, but the bunkers are still in place.

The Hartshorne Park site is now listed officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Anyway-

As I mentioned, I hadn’t done a lot of research about the hiking in the park.  If I had, I would have known all of the historic sites are in the parking lot, and the park is much hillier than anticipated.  We got there around noon, and it took us just about 4 hours to hike 8 miles.  We stopped, we took photos, we looked at the history.  It was a beautiful park with many different views from the woods and deer, to the shore, as well as the military site.

We ended up hiking about 8 miles around the trails and then finished up by viewing the military site.

I didn’t expect so much green, but we did about 6 miles of hiking through that.  Before we came, I expected it almost to be on the water since that is what people took photos of!

Hartshorne park

A very large treeHartshorne park

Another large treeHartshorne park

Most of my photos are from the military site which is within 200 yards of the parking lot.

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

A Map of the site

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

The Bunker

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Now onto the hiking portion.  With the hiking, it goes deep into the pines as well as near the water.  There are so many different views!

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

Hartshorne Park atlantic highlands

In all, it was a beautiful hike in the forest as well as along the water.  I’m glad we finally made it up there!

Other Spring hikes I’ve Done:

Hiking Turkey Swamp in Freehold

Exploring Cattus Island in Toms River

You can see all hikes here.

Questions for you:

What was the last historical place you went?

Do you plan to go to the beach this summer?

8 years ago…I ran a race

8 years ago…I ran a race

Since 2010 St. Patrick’s day has held a much more sentimental reason to me than drinking beer, wearing green, and pots of gold.  Although if you would like to send me a pot of gold that is fine too!  Eight years ago, I ran a 5k on my college campus that would change the path and direction of my life.

You can read my entire running story here or in the tab above.

When I was a college sophomore, I saw a sign at the gym that said if completed the annual campus 5k you would get a free long sleeve t-shirt.  As a college student, you can never have enough things to stuff in your dorm room.  My college roommates always appreciated my hoarding.  I had plenty of short sleeve shirts, but long sleeve shirts were something I was always looking for.  All I had to do was sign up for a 5k and complete it?

Okay, sign me up.

Sign me up, and I didn’t run an ounce beforehand.

Keep in mind my running history previous to March of 2010 was lackluster.  I barely passed the mile countless times in both middle and high school…Passing was 12:30 and my mile PR was 12:12.

At my high school, you didn’t have to take gym after 10th grade.  So after 10th-grade gym class, I avoided running like the plague.  Thinking out loud, the only two times I had run was to “impress” upperclassman on the swim team.  It wasn’t impressive, and I made a goober out of myself both times.

I wasn’t terribly athletic and certainly wasn’t coordinated through high school.  I did swim competitively and did enjoy that.  During the offseason from swimming, I went to the gym and used the elliptical or lifted weights.

It was nice to keep cardio and strength when I wasn’t swimming but I never (not once) used running as cross training.  Long story short I had no idea what I was getting myself with a trivial campus 5k into but the phrase “if it’s free, it’s for me” comes to mind with this race.

The race itself was a blur, and I finished around 24 minutes.  I don’t remember the exact time, but I remember not dying, texting my shocked marathon running dad, and picking up my t-shirt.  (of course, I didn’t tell my parents I was running this 5k…I didn’t want them to ask if I didn’t finish.

Of course, I didn’t tell my parents about this 5k, I didn’t want the embarrassment their daughter couldn’t finish a 5k.

After the race, I wore the t-shirt all around campus the following day.  I beamed with pride, smiling at random strangers also wearing our cheap cotton long sleeve shirts.

After the race, it wasn’t as if I magically became engrossed with running.  The race did make me realize running wasn’t all that bad.  I ran when it was nice out which ended up being 10-20 miles a week for a good portion of the spring.  When it was sunny, I would run the same 5k loop around campus.  When it wasn’t nice out, I wouldn’t run.  I would just go to the gym.

I mark St. Patrick’s Day as the official day I got my running start because at that point I considered myself someone who didn’t hate running anymore.  When you fail the mile test multiple times in grade school, it’s hard to like it.

I didn’t sign up for another race until the following July over break.  My dad had asked me if I wanted to run both an 8k, and 10k but I turned him down because it was too far.  From there, I slowly ran more and even walked on to my college D3 cross country team.  I never had a “stand out season” there, however it was what I needed at the time.  You can read my entire running story here.

One of my first collegiate cross country races.

After that, I began to consider myself a runner:

I didn’t run every day.
I didn’t run fast.
I didn’t log my mileage.
I didn’t run when it was the cold, windy or not perfect weather.
I had no desires to run with anyone or at a specific time…
I didn’t run any more races until July.
But I ran…and when I did I enjoyed it.

You’re a runner if you say you are and that is all that matters.

Questions for you:
When did you get your (workout) start?
How was your St. Patricks Day weekend?

Visiting the Thomas Edison Historical Park

Visiting the Thomas Edison Historical Park

Last week, my friend Cyd and I went to the Thomas Edison Historical Park in West Orange.  Cyd owns the website, New Jersey Isn’t Boring, so if there is something unique or interesting in the state, she’ll know. I’ve been enjoying traveling the state and learning new things.

To be honest, I didn’t realize Thomas Edison worked in New Jersey.  Many of his most well-known creations were all created in West Orange!  If you’re ever in the area, I highly recommend checking out the site.  It was one of the more interesting and historic sites I’ve seen.

At the very site we visited, he created the motion picture camera, improved phonographs, sound recordings, movies and the “nickel-iron alkaline electric” storage battery.

After eating at a diner, we headed over to the Thomas Edison Historical Park.

Here is a little bit of information in case you are interested. The Site itself hosts both Edison’s home as well as his lab site.  It was designated as a National Historic Site in 1955. It was closed for several decades, and it reopened on March 30, 2009. During its closure, it was in service and used to manufacture several of Edison’s inventions.  After renovations on the entire lab complex, it was completely reopened for visitors on October 10, 2009.

Here are a few interesting photos:

Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Lab Site

Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Behind that wall he created the first motion picture.

Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Ediphone Convention on August 12…1920 😉

Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Also important is where the first waffle irons were created. How would I have my prerunning breakfast (waffles) without it?

Thomas Edison National Historical Park

This is one invention perhaps the world did not need…

Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Another lab

Thomas Edison National Historical Park

A replica of where motion pictures were created

This is his desk exactly as he left it.  Thomas Edison National Historical Park
Thomas Edison National Historical Park
Thomas Edison National Historical Park

Thomas Edison Me New Jersey Isn't Boring

They even had a selfie station with Thomas Edison himself. As you can see, he prefers the Black and White option

The museum took about 2 hours to view.  I highly recommend it, if you’re ever in the area.

Questions for you:
What was the last museum or historic site you’ve been too?
Are there any historical sites in your local area? 

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