Over Christmas, we went back to visit my daughter, who lives in New Jersey. When we lived there, I remember thinking initially that New Jersey as the “garden state” had to be a piece of false advertising. But there are sections in the Garden State that are actually quite beautiful, and plenty of gardens. I really enjoyed the farmer’s markets. We used to enjoy going to working old fashioned farms, where things are done the way they were years ago. Or we’d go to Washington Crossing Historic Park for the annual days when they demonstrated spinning, weaving, plowing with draft horses, and such. Oh, and the reenactment of the Revolutionary War Battle of Monmouth was great.
There are other things that one can only get in a populated area – great shopping, and the Wegman’s supermarket chain, for example.
The problem lies in getting to all those places. I don’t mind driving, in fact I rather like it, but I finally caved in and got a GPS after getting lost going “down the shore” as they say there, and also coming back. The traffic is horrific. Any time you have roads with 10 lanes, full of traffic, and special roads for cars only, you know you have trouble. People have no compulsion about cutting a driver off. Also, if you stop at a yellow light, the person behind you will rear-end you, so you’re basically forced to run all the yellow lights.
Another thing that got me when I lived there is the area is so heavily forested that you can’t navigate by line of sight. Of course this is more for the summer months, but there would be an entire shopping center, hidden behind all the trees. Being from Colorado, I’m used to be being able to say – oh, look, the gas station is just there, even off of the interstate. It is funny, what you take for granted, and later, what it turns out you miss. Who knew I’d miss being able to see where I was going?
I was reflecting on this over the weekend, when I drove to watch my son in a wrestling meet. It was an hour-and-45-minutes away, and I probably saw 20 cars on the road up to the main road, and then just the traffic was just moderate, at best. I’m driving along, listening to Willie Nelson, watching the scenery without being in a panic about the traffic. Lovely views over the Flint Hills. Then, a nice little town, then more Flint Hills – the occasional cow or farmer on his way somewhere. You may have to stop for the coal train, however. Oh well. It’s worth it.