Tag Archives: New Jersey

New Jersey Balloon Festival by Barbara Dexter

New Jersey Balloon Festival by Barbara Dexter

It was a lovely 2 and a half hour ride to the festival.  I was expecting an additional twenty minutes for parking but just plain wow is all I can say for the traffic.  The crowd was friendly on the whole but the lines were very long for food and beverages.  Don’t try to bring your own,  as bags were searched on the way in.

The ascension of the balloons was worth the it.








For the geeks or the geek lovers at heart there were balloons in the shape of Yoda and Darth Vader.






For the folks like myself that grew up with the american diet there was the Wonder Bread balloon.


It was very picturesque and very crowded at the same time.










The New Jersey Balloon Festival continues for it’s final day of the season today. For information go to balloonfestival.com or simply get in the car and head for the Solberg Airport in Readington, NJ.


Grover Cleveland House on July 4th by Barbara Dexter

Grover Cleveland House on July 4th by Barbara Dexter

These are some photos from the ice cream social with live musical entertainment on July 4th at the Grover Cleveland House in Caldwell, NJ.

The front of the house.

Above is the Grover Cleveland House. They offer free tours every few minutes on this busy day. You are welcomed back to the house for individual tours at a more leisurely pace during their regular hours. They are closed on Mondays ans Tuesdays as well as holidays.

The address is:

Grover Cleveland Birthplace
207 Bloomfield Avenue
Caldwell, NJ  07006
Phone: (973) 226-0001

Take a step back in time and marvel at the simple life that we all long for in today’s busy society.  There was no running water in 1832 when he house was built. All water had to be hauled in from the well that is directly off the kitchen at the rear of the house.


The house was used for both business and family affairs. This limited the family’s space in the home.  Most family matters were conducted in the kitchen or the small family room to the rear of the large receiving room.

Flea circus

Celebrate the fourth with an old fashioned flea circus. This is a real humorous treat for children and adults alike.



Learn about history, present day activities, and the memorial association.





Buy a gift to help support the historical house. Don’t forget to sample from ice cream or enjoy a burger during the live musical performance.

This event is held yearly at the Grover Cleveland Birthplace on the fourth of July.

Welcome to Montclair, NJ by Barbara Dexter

Welcome to Montclair, NJ by Barbara Dexter


Montclair New Jersey is “where the city meets the suburbs” or so they say.  Montclair has the Iris gardens, the Monclair Art Museum, and of course Montclair State. It is also  the home of many coffee houses and cafes. There is live music of every genre at the local clubs.  For those that lead an enlightened lifestyle there are any religious houses and of course yoga to help you achieve inner peace.

I have yet to achieve inner peace in my travels within this town. I say welcome one and all to the fast pace and confusion of Montclair. Welcome to the land of contradictory  parking signs. Here is an example of what I encountered while trying to park so I could go to a local coffee house and relax.

The parking lot in downtown Montclair.
The sign clearly stating there is free parking in all spaces after 7 pm.
The sign in front of my parking spot, clearly stating “any permit required between 7 pm and 2 am.”
Another sign on the meter that clearly reads 2 hour parking until 7 pm but says nothing about after 7 pm.

If you go to the township website. The confusion increases because we move into legal jargon. II feel like I’m learning a new language while still attempting to read English. Inner peace may be gained if parking can be avoided. If you must park here I wish you luck trying to understand the contradictory signs. I spend a good deal of time in Montclair and I still get confused.

A Winter Hike at South Mountain Reservation by Barbara Dexter

A Winter Hike at South Mountain Reservation by Barbara Dexter

Once again it felt like the four walls of my home were closing in on me and I just had to get outside and do something.  It was a cold winter day this day. A hike in the winter needs a little preparation, but is not undoable. Think long underwear under your regular comfortable clothing. Proper footwear and socks for warm, and dry feet are also a must. If it is icy outside, adding ice gripping attachments to your shoes goes a long way to keep you from falling and injuring yourself.

The trail through the woods.


A fallen tree covered with a blanket od snow.


Check out the root ball on this fallen tree.


Washington Rock
Description memorializing the rock


Cannon shot and powder statue
View near Washington Rock
The viewing platform
Yet another view

South Mountain Reservation has a plowed road (Crest Rd) that is available to walk on year round. It is a frequent place for families with children just learning how to ride bicycles, or with baby strollers. It is also a favorite of dog walkers.





Recent Ice Storm in NJ by Barbara Dexter

Recent Ice Storm in NJ by Barbara Dexter

I took these photos of the effects of the recent ice storm in New Jersey.  The layer of ice and snow creates a beautiful effect on the scenery that has no equal.





The trees are coated with a white, shiny layer of ice and snow. This shows how wonderful mother nature can be even in the suburbs of New Jersey.  It was a blustery, cold day on this particular day. Not to mention it was very slippery outside. I generally find it is best to wait until the roads are salted before venturing out after an ice storm. When you so, dress appropriately so you have plenty of time to see the scenery before getting too cold.

My New Adventure at the YMCA by Barbara Dexter

My New Adventure at the YMCA by Barbara Dexter

My chronic pain in my right leg has limited my biking, hiking and kayaking. I am forced to attend physical therapy sessions in which my leg and ankle get a brisk rub down to decrease the swelling, followed by some twisting and pulling, then it’s time for the electrical stimulation along with ice therapy. When I have a completely frozen leg and ankle it is time for some simple rotational exercises and some simple weight bearing exercises.

I feel as if the rest of my body has or is in the process of going to pot. I am limited by both my leg and my cracked rib. I deem the only thing I can do is to go to the pool and start walking, stretching, and slowly swimming. I decide to join the YMCA, for obvious financial reasons, in other words it is the cheapest and closest to home. This is my story of my experiences at the local YMCA.

It is Friday afternoon when I finally joined the YMCA. They were on the last day of their new membership drive. I saved $69.00 on the joining fee. I have about 40 minutes left to swim in the adult swim session before the swim team takes over. I ask to join in with some older ladies that appear to be going rather slowly. I tell them that I hurt my leg and need to stretch and swim to help exercise it. I am welcomed and told I could join them anytime. It is odd that I am available in the early afternoon, so I told them I would join them on my next day off.  They seem to swim with flotation devices and some things that look like foam barbells. I let it go and just go around them, letting them have their space. In the locker room I was introduced to all the ladies. Then one of them said “you can swim.” I replied, “yes I can swim.” Up until that moment I hadn’t realized that they could not swim. Thought I guess the flotation devices should have given me a clue. One of them replied that they didn’t know how to swim and didn’t want to learn at their age. I suggested that if they did want to learn, the find a place that was shallow and calm so that if they needed to they could simply stand. This was met with deaf ears. I politely thanked them for allowing me to swim with them, while I was blow drying my hair. One of the ladies lagged behind the others and just kept talking. The only thing I remember her saying was that I should not use the machine to spin dry my swim suit because everybody uses it. I just thanked her and went about my business.

It was Saturday morning at 7am. I succeeded in changing into my suit and I was on my way to the pool when I encountered a pleasant young woman that was trying to strike up a conversation with me. I spoke for a few moments and found out she had once lived in Massachusetts. I am being bad and thinking “if I don’t get out to the pool I will not get a lane to swim in.” Since the pool is small this can be a challenge. I decide to politely excuse myself. By the time I make my way to the pool, I get the last available lane. The local YMCA has many swimming programs and a swim team. This is great for them but severely limits the adult lap time. Early morning is about the only time available.

Sunday morning there appears to be a chlorine issue with the pool. So the YMCA posted a sign at the entrance way. I ask when the issue will be resolved, and I was told the pool would be open later in time for the swim team. I think so much for getting out of bed at 6 am and driving over to the pool.

It is now Monday at 5:45 am. I am entering the pool to take a swim for a half-hour before I have to get ready and go to work. It is just the right time before the mayhem of the crowds come for the morning swim handicapped shower because it has a seat where I can sit to take off my swim suit. I grab my bag from my locker and proceed to the shower. On my way to the shower I could not help but notice the young woman I had a short but pleasant conversation with on Saturday, was using the hand dryer to blow dry her underwear. She had apparently just finished washing her laundry in the shower stall. I said hello and she balked. She obviously forgot I was nice to her on Saturday. I decided to go about my business and let it be.

It is Tuesday morning at 5:45 am, I arrive at the YMCA for my morning swim. It is surprising that it is not busy. I get a lane to swim and stretch. I take my time and let the warm water wash over my body. My leg is soothed by the warm water. The exercise in the pool takes the weight off it. I feel I can do more stretching. I am relaxed swimming on my back very slowly. Soon other swimmers join in and swim like machines. I admire the strength and swiftness of their strokes as I amble along in their wake. I am thinking I really need a pair of goggles if I am to deal with all the splashing. The crowd thins and I am able to just move along slowly without disturbance once again.

I mentioned this woman to the small group of women I meet with on Tuesday nights. We decide that the best approach to possibly help her would be to leave a religious journal that contains contact information, in case she wished help.

It has been a week since I have seen the young woman. The last I saw of her she was talking with a lady at the front desk. I think to myself, I hope she is not in trouble as she does need a place to remain warm for a few hours. Today she seemed to occupy the handicapped shower on purpose. That left me to use one of the smaller stalls. As I predicted, she was in there for some time. I believe she was washing her laundry but was trying to disguise it. I got myself dressed and pulled out the religious journal out of my bag. I limped over to her shower stall and left the journal on the stool just outside the door. Well I did it, I left a religious item for a total stranger. I feel like a Jehovah’s Witness.