Apr 302014

We just received this detailed account of our April 5th stroll from Marjorie:

This 13+ mile hike in New Jersey covered the area from Cranford, Union County, known as the “cock pit of the Revolution” to The Railway Town of Dunellen in Middlesex County. We walked through townships which had seen better days, townships which were obviously on the up-and-up and historic areas which had stood the test of time well. We paid homage to 4 of the libraries, which presented as well stocked, comfortable and welcoming community centres. The bathrooms were especially user-friendly and there were even book bargains for those who were able to carry them.

The day started promptly with the hotel shuttle to Newark Penn Station and the train to Cranford. Cranford is an historic commercial centre which had recently been designated as a ‘special improvement district’ and had made some attractive ‘Victorian style’ renovations. Most importantly it had a Starbucks and we had an essential caffeine stop – at the special request of Louise, before walking to the cosy Cranford Library in glorious sunshine. Much encouraged we were soon in Garwood, known locally as the “small town with a big heart”. It seemed a pleasant township and was notable for the school building with the ‘trompe d’oeil’ fake windows and doors, and very pretty décor in the library.

First Methodist Church

First Methodist Church in Westfield, NJ.

En route to Scotch Plains we walked though Westfield, where we had an impromptu talk from one of the members of the First Methodist Church. He told us that the township was being regenerated by an influx of wealthy people. There was certainly evidence of this in the up-market shops, memorials set in attractive gardens and a general air of prosperity. Scotch Plains did not look so prosperous but had a good pub where we had lunch and managed to pay the bill in cash thanks to high finance from Annie and Harry. Our route then took us via the Scotch Plains Library through Plainfield where we strolled though fine streets of lovely period houses. Originally a Quaker settlement, Plainfield still has some 18th century buildings including Nathaniel Drake House, 1746, known as George Washington’s headquarters during the Battle of Short Hills in June 1777.

Unfortunately for the last part of the walk to Dunellen we headed into a strong cold wind which hit us as we plodded for 3 miles along a long stretch of road bordered by derelict and semi derelict industrial buildings. For me this was the only low point in the whole walk and I did briefly question my sanity in being there! On reaching Dunellen Station there was a dash for the train and not only did we miss the last library but more than half the team were left behind in the scramble for tickets. Among the lucky ones, who did make the train, were the 2 team captains who had somewhat ‘red faces’ since they had abandoned most of their flock!

Thankfully Team Liberty Bell is made up of resourceful people and the abandoned ones took the time to practise their singing and zumba skills as well as sourcing coffee outlets and bathroom facilities for the next day’s walk. Real boy scouts.

Marjorie (with a little help from Harry) Clasper

 Posted by at 9:13 pm
Apr 282014

I expected noise; I expected traffic; I expected cityscapes, but instead our group found secluded trails, green belted waterways and historic buildings during our walk through New Jersey largely parallel to route 29.  Being unaware of the historic water transportation system that linked the Pennsylvania coal fields to industrial centers of the next two states, I was surprised and delighted to find paths and cannels had been turned into a wonderful foot trail.  This was the Delaware and Raritan Canal, the path of mules and tugs that moved barges of raw materials over 50 miles of waterways.  The D&R was built across central New Jersey to provide an easy route for freight from Philadelphia to New York.  Early boats could navigate the Delaware River to Bordertown and the Raritan River to New Brunswick.  These cities were selected as the start and end points and in 1830 a cannel was dug between the two cities by the hands of Irish immigrants.  It was finished in 1834 with a complete system of water feeder cannels and locks to control water levels.  For 100 years, the D&R was one of America’s busiest commercial avenues but by the end of the 19th century, the cannel had lost business to the railroad and finished operation in 1932.  The State of New Jersey took over the cannel and changed it into a water supply system replacing locks with dams and filling sections.  In l974, over 60 miles of the canal and a narrow strip of land on both banks were make into a state park which was designated a National Recreation Trail in 1992.  This was the historic path that we enjoyed for two days of our long walk.

Reflections on the  Rarian

Reflections on the Rarian

We first encountered the beauty of the cannel at the 6 Mile Run Reservoir located at Somerset, New Jersey.  The area is filled with 18th century Dutch farmhouses, agricultural land, open space, forests, small towns and many things bucolic.  On day one we hiked about 12 miles on the old towpath constructed for barge pulling mules and we appreciated this soft footing after our days on concrete.  We ended our first day of walking along water at Blackwells Mills Cannel House, the site of a bridge tenders house and a picturesque wooden bridge which allowed use to cross the cannel.  We returned to Blackwells Mill for our second day of walking moving toward locks #8 and Carnegie Lake, the wide water enjoyed by the Princeton rowing teams.  We covered about 14 miles ending our day in the city of Princeton.  This part of the long walk was a pleasure to the eyes, ears, and feet and was a welcome surprise to someone expecting mainly urban experiences.

Cheryl Johnson, Co-captain du jour

 Posted by at 3:35 pm
Apr 282014

Most folks will never receive a birthday card as nice as this one!

The card was designed by Louise.

Kathy calls this “The most creative of birthday cards”, and would like all of you to have a chance to view it.

 Posted by at 3:16 pm
Apr 282014

Here we have some photographs taken by Louise during our walk:


 Posted by at 2:24 pm
Apr 232014

We just received a nice group of photos taken by Harry and Marjorie, who took the journey all the way from England to be part of our walk.

Thank  you Harry and Marjorie!

 Posted by at 8:53 am
Apr 162014
Well, Team Liberty Bell 13-strong made it! All the way from Central Park in NYC to the Liberty Bell in PHL. Nine days, 120+ miles. (Jury is still out on how many miles we actually walked. Stay tuned as Al and Annie check what their machines recorded as our actual mileage.)

Today Competent Captains du Jour Barb, Barbara, Kathleen (with help from Judy who was on her childhood turf) walked us from Holiday Inn Express to Market East Station for train ride to East Falls to begin, on this Loveliest of Spring Days, our walk to Liberty Bell destination. We walked along the Schuylkill River, past The Pilgrim, Boathouse Row, Oarsman John B. Kelly, Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia Free Library, LOVE sculpture, Ben Franklin.

We arrived at the Liberty Bell 3:35 pm, APR 12, 2014. Group picture of us by Cousin Steve outside Independence Hall, then on for The Grand Finale Lunch at City Tavern where greatness had wined and dined before us: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, etc. The latter dubbed City Tavern “The most genteel tavern in America”. We found it “genteel” enough but mainly it was just fun. See pics re history, menus, etc.

Great Big Thank You to Keith for making our journey comfortable and safe. He rented a van to scout our route, to transport our luggage to the next hotel, to be available for rescue if we needed him. (Fortunately a service we seldom needed.) He oversaw the lunch arrangements at City Tavern and even designed the Aries birthday cake. On one of his periodic checks on us on our route, when I ended the phone call with “I love you,” Team Liberty Bell yelled into the phone, “We all love you.”

We do! Thank you, Luv, for supporting and encouraging my antics all these years.

And, of course, how ever do Marjorie and I thank you all for walking with us to make our 75th so memorable?

When and if we ever “catch our breaths”, let’s add some more things (pics, funnies, observations, memories) to the blog. Send it all to Al to post or, I suppose in a pinch!, we ourselves could learn to post.

Stay tuned.

Enjoy the pics.

BestFeetForward, aka Kathy

*** Click on any image to open gallery and view full sized images ***

 Posted by at 9:05 pm
Apr 162014
Happy Birthday, Marjorie – Now we’re the same age.

Grand walk today with Barb, Barbara, Kathleen as Captains du Jour. Super sleuth Barb guided us to Elkins Park to see the only synagogue (called Beth Sholom) designed by Frank Lloyd Wright. What a treat. To me, with its tipi/pyramid shape, it didn’t look anything like a FLW design from the outside, but once inside, FLW was written all over: the open airiness, the light filtering through, geometric designs in glass in the chandelier, etc. If you want to learn more, it’s worth a trip to the website at bethsholompreservation.org

Enjoy the pics.

BestFeetForward, aka Kathy

*** Click on any image to open gallery and view full sized images ***

 Posted by at 8:55 am
Apr 162014

Captains du Jour Annie and Judy led us to good stuff today including Bucks County Public Library in Yardley where we were warmly greeted. So intrigued they were with our Long Walk that they want to put us on their website. Fun.

At the library Artist Cheryl discovered an Art o Mat. A what? See pictures and explanations. What it is is a cigarette machine repurposed to dispense objects of art. Cheryl and I each bought $5 tokens to get a “cigarette” package of earrings made from postage stamps (random). Cheryl liked her earrings made from stamps from Denmark and I was particularly happy with my earrings made from Bermuda stamps because of the memories of the fun trip there that I took my Mother on as a Mother’s Day gift.

Enjoy the pics.

BestFeetForward, aka Kathy

*** Click on any image to open gallery and view full sized images ***

 Posted by at 8:18 am
Apr 152014
Led by Captains du Jour Judy and Annie, we left our Clarion Hotel Palmer Inn in Princeton to walk to Yardley, PA today. Crossed the Delaware (again) this time on Calhoun Bridge from Trenton to Morrison, PA. Lunch at Cafe Antonio. Most of day along D & R Canal and Delaware Canal. Train from Yardley to Philadelphia. Arrived Market East Station  in PHL from where we walked to our new Hotel Holiday Inn Express. Some have views of the blue Ben Franklin Bridge.

Just after we crossed on the bridge to Pennsylvania, we enjoyed a grand lunch at Cafe Antonio, where Judy toasted: Welcome to my State. My Fettuccini Alfredo was enough for lunch for me and dinner for Keith and me. Keith heated the leftovers with the hair dryer. What a guy!

Enjoy the pics.

BestFeetForward, aka Kathy

*** Click on any image to open gallery and view full sized images ***

 Posted by at 6:13 pm