My Bicycle Ride at Duke’s Farm in Sussex County.

My Bicycle Ride at Duke’s Farm in Sussex County by Barbara Dexter

As the rain continues to come down, I am remembering the bicycle tour I had at Duke’s Farm in Sussex County yesterday.  The farm encompasses about 2700 acres of land. It has it’s own power that is generated from a “sun farm”. A system of photovoltaic cells that harness power from the sun. They offer many environmentally friendly or green educational programs. The vehicles the farm uses are all powered by electricity.

Enough of that and ow to the pictures. The scenery is incredible.


The right side of the welcome center.
The entrance to the welcome center.
The left side of the welcome center.
A sign for the bike share program.
The coach barn and clock tower.
One of the coaches.
The Duke family car.
Inside the coach barn.
The bull statue that stands outside the coach barn.
As close s I could get on a bicycle to the Duke family house. It has restricted access due to the state of disrepair.
The old mansion foundation.
Part of the landscaping near the foundation.
A water fountain near the foundation.
The sign depicts what the proposed mansion would look like.
This photo and the next two are of the lawn meadow.



The greenhouse where the orchids are raised.
The next few photos are of orchids and plants seen in the green house.

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The plants are incredible considering it is off season.

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A beautiful waterfall and lake. The waterfall is turned on twice a day. You can see there is an algae problem in the lake. Well at least something grows there, I guess.

Can you believe how perfect this tree looks for climbing. Of course, there is a sign asking people not to climb the trees.
This photo was taken at the pet cemetery.

I thought the cat should have at least been given a name. I think I will take it upon myself to call him Tuck. The first three letters stand for the unknown cat.

A sign for the environmentally friendly “jiffy john.”
There is a lovely statue garden in the remnants of the hay barn.
A beautiful old tree.
The sycamore trees lining a portion of the bike path.
A scenic portion of the lake taken from the bike path.
I’m not quite sure what this statue is depicting.

There are all sorts of animals depicted at the base of the statue. The statue can be seen near the hay barn.

Taken near the welcome center.

There is a farmer’s market that sells the crops produced at the farm just beyond the banners. I personally like the owl banner.

The farm was fairly easy to access as it is located off route 206. Route 206 connects with Route 202 and then route 287. If you can find your way to route 287, you are almost there.


Is this Essex County? A Short Walk Around the Reservoir.

A paddle boat in use on the Orange Reservoir.
Swan paddle boats available for rent.
Prices and rules…
A swan boat in use on the reservoir.
An educational opportunity.

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A lovely family of mallard ducks.


The Turtleback Zoo entrance
The path around the reservoir id paved.
The reservoir at sunset.

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I will not be riding my bicycle here. What a pity.



Is This Essex County? A short walk around the reservoir.  by Barbara Dexter

I decided to take an after work and check out the recently opened pathway that circles the Orange reservoir.  There is ample parking across from the paddle boat entrance on Cherry Lane. The path is about 2.5 miles in length. The scenery is beautiful. This is a good, relaxing, and well lit walk.  It is close to the Turtleback Zoo and mini golf.  If you don’t want to bring a snack, there is waterfront dining available. Well the waterfront dining will cost you.

Privacy Seating-Not

Privacy Seating-Not by Barbara Dexter

In my personal quest for a clean an functional public restroom to utilize when I am out and about, I stumbled upon this one. Well I guess I should say two in one restroom. Of course the door indicates that there is some modicum of privacy allowed in the restroom.  Did they not realize that it is a “two-seater?” I guess privacy is a relative term.  You only invite those you are closest to to see your “personals?” I enjoyed a laugh over this one and hope you do as well.

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My Personal Quest for the Perfect Soda

My Personal Quest for the Perfect Soda by Barbara Dexter


Well now, recently Coca-Cola has embarked on a new ad campaign. For lack of better explanation, the soda bottles simply say “Share with ______.” The blank was filled in with both names of individuals as well as the generic family or friends.

I started looking for a bottle with my name on it, thinking to myself just how cool it would be to have my first name printed on my soda. Well perhaps Coca-Cola never anticipated the my geeky self would stand in front of the soda cooler, with the door open, searching each bottle for my name.

Then I realized that there are other people I could share a beverage with.  I decided I should pick a male name for my yet to be determined boyfriend. Well now I have shared a soda with Mark, Chris and Rob. None of which I am acquainted with. That is okay since I never know when I will be.

Just this morning I found myself thinking, I would like to locate names of people on soda bottles that have guided or helped me in some way at different times in my life. It would be very cool to sit down and share a beverage and a thank you.

Coca-cola is a registered trademark of the Coca-cola company.

Sights Along The Morris and Sussex Trail

by Barbara Dexter


A view from the parking area.

Another view from the parking area.
Those friendly reminder signs warning you to clean up after yourself.
The entrance sign for Kittatinny Valley State Park.
The trail entrance.
The warning yield or be run over sign.
The trail is packed gravel in this section.
More packed gravel and plenty of trees and fresh air.
My favorite sign. Warning me of the poisonous plants if I decide to go off the trail.
A sign marking the place of the Jersey Boys CAMP.
Part of the park trail that snakes past the lake.
More of the trail that runs past the lake.
A plane taxing near the lake.


Well I was tired and my body was still and aching after driving back to Jersey from Virginia. I decided I just needed to get out and enjoy the air and sunshine. I decided to try a trail that I had heard about when I was kayaking at Lake Aeroflex. I mapped out the directions using my google maps app.  I had a lovely journey over the hills and through the woods to arrive at gods country. I had no idea where I was, just how to get out of there. Finding the trail was a bit of pulling the map up from the internet via my android phone and seeing which roads came close to a bike trail. I realized I wasn’t too far from the trail, but to get there would take another five miles of driving the back country roads. Well I figured why not. I had never seen this area and usually I pick up something I had see previously, well that was my hope. As it turns out the trail entrance was just a couple of miles from Lake Aeroflex. I did not realize this until I was actually biking the trail that goes near the lake.  I ride along and ask some nice people the question-just where is the trail. I feel like a moron for not realizing where I was. I took the lake loop. Part of which was a steep hill, which I may avoid next time. For you advanced bikers, it was flat land. The hill was just enough to sap my limited supply of energy.  I made it back to the vehicle and relaxed for a couple of minutes. Then I realized, hey I drove all the was out here I might as well see all that there is to see. So I went about three miles down the Morris and Sussex Trail.  I will have to go back when I have more energy. The first hill and the slow incline of the trail along with my stiff and aching body held me back from a longer ride. I was able to do a respectable five mile ride altogether.

Sights Along the Mount Vernon Trail

by Barbara Dexter

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Well there I was an evening off in an unfamiliar area. My work was done for the day and it was time for some fun. Luckily I planned a well deserved evening beak. I researched the local bicycle and hiking trails online. Well of course I had to ask the opinion of the local unnamed exercise enthusiasts as well. I found myself heading to the Mount Vernon Trail.  It was an adventure just getting to the trail. To quote Mainer’s frequent saying, “you can’t get there from here.” Which I interpret to mean it is going to take forever and a day to get there. Well I had enough time, barely. I tried searching the on board GPS in my vehicle by the name, then by an address, and then by recreation or sport type. I had no success in narrowing down the exceedingly long list of options. I gave up using the GPS. I moved on to the google maps app I have on my cell phone. It found the trail, but in Alexandria, VA. I was hoping to start at the Mount Vernon Estate.  But no worries, since I found the trail.  After a 40 to 45 minutes drive in rush hour traffic, I manged to see the trail and then had to find a parking space. I pulled in a spot located on the street in the center of town and I’m off. One geeky fat chick in a helmet, on a yellow mountain bike, with the “old lady seat” heading down the main drag toward the trail.  What a site to behold, I was-not. The first thing I noticed is that I was afraid of getting run over by one of the expensive cars that were zooming past me. The next thing I noticed was I was on the wrong side of the road. I needed to cross the busy street to be able to ride the trail. Well okay then, I will walk this thing across the street in the cross walk. Well I’m waiting for the walk signal  that never occurs and looking a little out of place. I finally decide turns green again. I made it across and I’m riding on the trail, finally. I figured I had about one and a half to two hours before dark. I head in the general direction of the Mount Vernon Estate, thinking it cannot be too far down. I am at the speed of me. Which by the way is not the speed of light. I find it is much better to observe one’s surroundings at a more natural pace. I really appreciated this when a well muscled man in spandex or lycra biking clothes zoomed past me. Some how I didn’t really care about making it all the way to the Mount Vernon Estate. I was seeing the sites as I trudged along. I stopped noticing the distance signs along the tail.


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“He’s Not For You”

“He’s Not For You” 

As seen online via photobucket.

By Barbara Dexter

I decided it was time to replace the “F.O.R.D.” as it is costing a lot of money to keep in working order. It seemed that once my decision was made my “F.O.R.D.” let me down again. I decided it was for the last time. I drove to a Subaru dealer that had a manual shift Forester in stock. I drove a few cars that day and then went home to think about it.  I applied for a loan with my credit union and when I received the approval shortly thereafter I called the salesman to let him know I wanted the manual shift Subaru Forester.

I didn’t quite have possession of the Subaru when I received a call at work from my younger sister, G.  I knew the call was important since for one my younger sister does not call and does not keep in contact with me and two she called during working hours. I found out my mother had been rushed to the hospital after what they suspect was a heart attack. Yes it is the dead of winter, January to be exact, when I rented a car to drive to Maine or as I like to call it the “frozen north”. By the time I arrived in Northern Maine, my mother had been released from the hospital. I was told she had a hole in her heart. My younger sister was at my mother’s place sitting at the kitchen table with her and talking. I asked what the plan was and if there was a special diet or something that she should be on at this point. My mother lost it and said she doesn’t know anything, in fact the doctor’s office doesn’t tell her anything and that she needs to wait for a letter. I decided it was not good to raise her blood pressure and decided to let it go.

G. went home a day or two after my arrival. It was at this time that my mother told me of her appointment in Bangor to get an oil change and new ignition harness on her car.  I told her I didn’t think she shod be driving, at least until she felt better. It was like her world had ended. She said she felt well enough to drive. Mind you driving distances in Maine are not short. That is probably why they coined the phrase “you can’t get there from here” to describe the area. I said I would go with her to her car appointment because I didn’t want to make her more upset and I didn’t want her to be driving alone. I figured if I was able to keep her from hitting another car or a person, I had done my duty by her. So we loaded Casey, my dog, in the car and took off for Bangor, we checked in and proceeded to the waiting area. A nice man asked to pet my dog and I said sure, because Casey is friendly and enjoys attention. I made small talk about my dog to the man. Then all of a sudden my mother leans over and states in a loud voice “he is not for you”. I see the man cordially back away and look bewilderingly at my mother. I look at my mother and tell her “that was not nice”. She states “I can say anything I want”. Well that put me in my place.  I felt a wise comment coming on and let it go. I said to my mother, “if I was going to pick up a man where was I going to take him your place?”

Well we returned home without any further events. When we arrived back we noticed a phone message on my mother’s answering machine. She plays the message, it was from her doctor’s office calling to check in on her and schedule an appointment. My mother says she is not going to call them back. I tell her the doctor’s office is obligated to check on her since she was just released from the hospital and she should call them back. Well she does call them back and decided to give them a piece of her mind. She states that they are “just a money making scheme and will not make an appointment with them.” I do believe I finally understand why they do not call her. She tells them off. My older sister, H., arrived a short time later. I told her about the doctor’s office message and what mom said over the phone to them. She said she finally understood what was going on and that she only gets little bits and pieces from mom. H. and I agree to share our little bits and pieces and hope to get the full story to decide how best to care for our mother.

A couple of days later, I return to New Jersey. I pick up my new car. I am enjoying the four wheel drive, but to be honest I haven’t driven a stick shift in at least fifteen years. I’m wondering what I was thinking. Yes I remember now, when the brakes failed on the F.O.R.D. I decided that at least if I owned a manual transmission vehicle I could downshift and be in more control. I gradually gained the control I was searching for as I gained more ease and confidence with the stick shift.


My Bike Trip Along the Paulinskill Valley Trail Near Hackettstown

by Barbara Dexter

My awesome adventure to discover the  entrance or trail head for the Paulinskill Valley Trail began early one Saturday morning in late May. I attempted to obtain directions from the free app on my cell phone. I was hoping to find the part of the trail that ran alongside a lake. I was talking with a fellow biker and had received the recommendation. Now to try and locate the area.  I travel along route 280 west. Then route 287 north to route 10 west for a brief period before continuing onto route 46 west. I somehow find my way to route 517 north. Then I follow a string of back country roads until the cell phone apps exclaims,” you have arrived” and “your destination is on the left.” Apparently, according to the app anyway, I should park my vehicle in the middle of the road and cut across some farmer’s field. I made my way down Fredon Marksboro Road and on to Stillwater Station Road. I cfoollowed Stillwater Station Road until It continued into Stillwater Road. From Stillwater Road I turned onto Fredon Road. From there I turned onto Wall Street and then Old Staion Road.  I had arrived. Yes, I was a mere 200 feet from my original stopping point.

The trail was hard packed in places.
The sunlight was shining through the trees and onto the pathway.
A former railroad trestle.
A lovely creek.
Section of the trail that were partially washed out from the heavy rain.

As I was riding along, avoiding the patties left by horses, and through the mud and muck, I thought of a country song. I believe the lyrics were “I love you and I want to check you for ticks.”

A hard packed section of the trail.
My bike complete with “old lady seat” and a fresh layer of mud.
Horse horse patties provided adequate fertilizer for the blossoming buttercups.

My Lunch Break in Newark

by Barbara Dexter

It was an ordinary day. I thought I would go for a walk in hopes of tracking down an ever elusive working cell phone battery. Since there are a few electronics and cell phone re-stores, I did not think this would be a problem. I must note I previously ordered on online and discovered it no longer worked after it was too late to get a refund. Since my cell phone carrier has stopped selling a replacement battery for my phone, I am left with the “mom and pop stands.” I was able to”try out” a battery after explaining my predicament to the sales clerk. I leave with an extra working battery, but for more money than I would have paid online.  Well I figure at least I know it works for the time being and I can bring it back to the sales clerk.  (At least I hope so.)

I continue on my walk to discover all that the shopping area has to offer. The following items I thought to be strange. Each was strange in its own way.

A platform gellie.


A backpack that was crossed with a dinosaur.


Check out the green one.


Happy faces.

My Kayaking Adventure at Lake Aeroflex

by Barbara Dexter

It was a good day. It started out as a questionable weather day. There were flash flood warning cell phone alerts. It was supposed to rain all day. By nine am our event host was to issue the yeah or neigh for the day. Well we heard the all go, except we would not be picnicking before our launch due to the lousy forecast. I carefully strapped the new kayak to the roof of my Subaru and did a last minute safety check. I stashed my extra set of clothes, a couple of granola bars, and my water in the car. I also made sure I had my paddle, water shoes, and my gloves. I was off. Out of my complex and into driving mode. I traveled west on route 280 to meet with route 80 west. I continued on route 80 west until the route 206 north exit. Not too far, but just far enough, was lake Aeroflex. Of course, at this point I proceeded to get lost. I drove about five miles past the lake. Yes, I do believe you almost have to know where this place is located to find it.  Of course the first thing I notice is the following sign warning me to behave myself.

This translates to ..I must behave myself.

Then the clean rest room is pointed out to me.

Yes, a clean rest room!


A beautiful tree in the picnic area.
Some lovely cattails at the edge of the lake.
Nice picnic area with tables and grills.


A view of the lake from the launch area. Yes, those are geese in the distance.
A better photo of the geese.

I think of my recreational kayak as a cross between a kayak and a canoe. It has stability,  maneuverability, and a large opening to get in and out.  It is a ten foot model, but the small length makes it easy to store and to carry if you have to portage any distance.

Here’s my kayak, ready to launch.

The following are taken from my kayak while on the lake.

A beautiful water lily.
Remnants of a beaver house.
Crystal clear water throughout the lake.

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A double crested cormorant. Which was, I initially thought, identified as a double breasted co-moron. Then after some discussion I understood double crested cocomoron.
A great photo of a double crested cormorant as seen online via wikipedia.
The plane…The plane…

These are some photos of what I noticed on my trip back.

A beautiful victorian house that is used for the park service office.
The side view of the office.
Yep, you guessed it…more geese.