New Jersey and Statue of Liberty – Second and Third Weeks of September 2019

We left Rhode Island and drove through four states, all in one day: Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. We mostly stayed on I 95, even through the Bronx – except when the GPS directed us off into some side streets for a minute. We had no idea why- but were afraid not to follow its directions since our RV specifications were put in, and maybe it was keeping us from going under a low over pass. Even though our knuckles were white, we made it to Timberlake Campground in Cream Ridge, New Jersey.

The website says its in Jackson, but then it gave the address as Cream Ridge. The campground is right by Six Flags Great Adventure Theme Park. Once again, the GPS took us some crazy way and we ended up going down a road that had some wild animals on the other side of the fence. Maybe I was dreaming, but I thought I saw a giraffe.

The campground had seen better days for sure; it was a sprawling, untidy mess. But it was close to Princeton and within driving distance for a day trip or two. Even though I’m not sure I would recommend it, it was do-able.

We took the jeep and drove to Asbury Park ,a seaside community that’s on the Jersey Shore. It was founded in the 1870s next to a Methodist Camp, Ocean Grove, a place where a lot of Methodist families had summer homes. Later, it became a summertime destination for New Yorkers, who build Victorian Style homes in the town. After the 50’s it declined. It was the site of racial riots on the Fourth of July in 1970. Later, the gay community began buying up and restoring the Victorian Houses. Although some grand buildings from its glory days have been demolished, several interesting buildings still stand around the town’s beachfront.

 

This building housed a carousel. It operated from 1932 into the 80s. The carousel was sold to a park in Myrtle Beach in 1990.

The Asbury Park Convention Hall was built between 1928 and 1930.

This place, Wonder Bar, was having a yappy (happy) hour for dogs and their owners on the patio. The carnival face to the left is known as Tillie  and is the town’s icon/symbol.

Another bar in town is The Stone Pony which opened around 1974 and where Bruce Springsteen got his start.

The board walk sported murals on the north end and even more buildings in various stages of disrepair and renovation. On the day we were there, some restaurants and shops were open, but it looked like Asbury Park had a ways to go yet before it could be called thriving. I found an article where it named the town the third most dangerous city in New Jersey. I’m glad I didn’t know that before we visited!

The next day we decided to drive Princeton University and check out the town.

We walked around the Princeton University campus.

 

As you can see, it’s been around for a long time… since 1746.

The town of Princeton has that college town feeling.

The Millstone River meanders through town. At some points there is a  pathway that runs along side of it and we found a place to park the jeep while Roy fished for a while.

Nearby to the campus, is the old Clarke farm and house where the Revolutionary War Battle of Princeton took place on January 3, 1777. The Princeton Battlefield State Park has a small museum inside the house and the ranger on staff gave us a very animated informational talk explaining the battle.

The ranger suggested we drive to nearby Trenton to see the  Old Barracks Museum.

 

 

This museum has been open to the public for over a 100 years. The building was used by both the British and Americans at different times such as the French and Indian War and the Revolutionary War.

These guys above caught my fancy! I think they were modeled after John Travolta and Mel Gibson.

After learning about how George Washington was so close to failure one year into the Revolutionary War and how he was able to rally his troops which turned the tide, he has become my new historical hero. We decided to visit  Washington Crossing Historic Park in Pennsylvania. There is a Washington Crossing State Park nearby it in New Jersey, but the one in Pennsylvania was just across the river, right on the border between the two states.

The park has a really nice visitors center and museum.

This was the place- point of the Delaware River where Washington crossed from Pennsylvania over to New Jersey on Christmas night in 1776.

Washington’s back was against the wall. His men were set to be released from military service on December 31 and he hadn’t won a battle yet. He was desperate because if that were the end of the Revolutionary War, he would be hung for treason for sure. This is the inn where he ate dinner the night he crossed. His gamble paid off. He and his troops successfully crossed into New Jersey, won the Battle of Trenton and went on to win the Battle of Princeton. It turned the tide of the war.

These were replicas of the boats used. The park also has some living history type buildings. It was worth going.

We were ready to travel on to New York state, but while googling around, we found Liberty Harbor RV Park in Jersey City, New Jersey. It was actually RV parking in a marina just footsteps away from ferries that go into New York City and The Statue of Liberty National Monument and Ellis Island. Due to plans we had already set, we made reservations for just two nights. Below was the view looking out the door of the motor home.

We opted to use the day we were there to see the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island.

We walked just a few walks to blocks to take the ferry to Liberty State Park. We could have practically thrown a stone from the boarding pier to the island. Once there, we bought tickets for another ferry that takes passengers to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

The park has a September 11 memorial called Empty Sky. When people look straight through the middle, they focus on the spot where the twin towers were.

The park is the gateway to get to the Statue of Liberty from New Jersey. On the way to the boat, people walk past the old Central Railroad of New Jersey Terminal.

 

When immigrants left Ellis Island, this is where they caught trains to take them to locations beyond New York.

The immigrants weren’t allowed to wait inside the station. This is what’s left of their outdoor waiting room.

Here’s a few of the other side of the train station.

The first stop on the ferry was Ellis Island.

This is the inside of the main building where everyone was processed. Most people were quickly on their way to a new life, just a few were quarantined or hospitalized in the other buildings on the island.

The hallways that shot out from the huge hall had exhibits that covered several topics such as the history of immigration and which parts of the country were settled by which nationalities. We spent 2/3 of our day here, and could have been there longer, but we wanted to see the Statue of Liberty.

As we got close to the statue, everyone on the boat went crazy taking photos.

Roy and I got tickets to go up into the statue, but not tickets to go all the way up the crown- those have to be purchased months ahead of time. There are opportunities to go outside as different levels are ascended.

Here’s a view of the Statue of Liberty Museum. Brand new, it opened in May of 2019. It was definitely worth exploring; it told all about the history and building of the statue.

We took the last ferry back and left Liberty Harbor RV Park the next day. If we had known about it earlier, we would have planned to stay a couple more days and gone into New York City. But we were headed for New York State anyway, just not the city…

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