Touch the Sky.

Did you know that New Jersey has the highest population density of any state in the USA?  That NJ has the most dense system of highways and railroads in the nation? That Atlantic City has the longest boardwalk in the world? That the largest port in the US is in the city of Elizabeth? That the first baseball game was played in Hoboken? That the nation’s first drive-in movie theater was located in Camden? That the first college football game took place in New Brunswick, between Princeton and Rutgers? That the first complete dinosaur skeleton discovered in the US was found in Haddonfield (actually, readers of this blog would know that)? That New Jersey has the most diners in the nation, and is referred to as the diner capital of the world (via 50states.com)?

Did you know that the highest point in the state is located in High Point State Park, in the northwestern corner of New Jersey? That the park is located on 15,000 acres in the Kittatinny Mountains? And that the top of the High Point Monument, built in 1930 on the highest place in High Point State Park to honor the state’s war veterans, stands 1,803 feet above sea level? On a cloudy Sunday in late September, my wife and I set off to explore a section of New Jersey that neither of us had ever visited.

Before I begin my recounting of this week’s trip, however, some automotive and travel updates are in order:

 

Map of New York State, with a pin in the location of Raquette Lake.
A few weeks ago we headed back to the Adirondack Mountains to visit my wife’s grandmother. She had a special evening planned for us…
WW Durant river cruise ship docked along Raquette Lake.
A three hour dinner cruise aboard the W.W. Durant on Raquette Lake. Since 1991, Raquette Lake Navigation Company has been operating this dinner cruise service yearly, from Memorial Day until around Columbus Day. It’s not uncommon for snow to be falling during the last cruise of the season… in October.
Red Caboose gift shop, with plastic chairs lined up in front of it.
Arriving for the cruise a little early, we stopped into the End of the Line Gift Shop, which is housed in a renovated caboose.
View of the bow of the WW Durant, with Raquette Lake beyond it.
On a beautiful late summer day, the cruise took us around Raquette Lake. Raquette has 99 miles of shoreline, and the cruise explores almost all of the lake. Beautiful forests and mountains make for a stunning view. The shorelines are also dotted with what are known as the “Great Camps.” The Great Camps were complexes of cabins built in the 19th century for the nation’s elites who would summer in the Adirondack Mountains. Many of these Great Camps still exist and can be seen during the cruise.
Sunset on Raquette Lake. Trees and mountains are in the distance.
As dinner was about to be served, the sun began to set. Eat or take photographs? It was a difficult decision.
Chilean sea bass with lemon barre blanc on a plate.
I ordered the Chilean sea bass with lemon beurre blanc. It was sublime.
Maple creme brûlée.
The maple creme brûlée made for a terrific end to the meal.
Sunset on Raquette Lake.
Despite the excellent food, the truth is, I was up and down from the table during the entire meal as I tried to capture some of the scenes unfolding in the distance.
Sunset on Raquette Lake.
I had left my camera at home, so I only had my phone with me. Still, I was happy with how the photos came out. The cruise, and the meal, were simply amazing.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee in the foreground, with Kayuta ice cream in the background.
As always, a trip to the Adirondacks isn’t complete without a stop for ice cream at Kayuta. My wife’s Jeep Grand Cherokee handled the drive well.
Clean interior of 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee.
Despite rain and overcast skies for much of the last month, I was able to spend some time detailing our cars. My wife’s Jeep cleans up nicely. Now over 27,000 miles, it continues to roll along without complaint.
Interior of 2012 Honda Accord coupe.
Despite being six years old and having 115,000 miles on the odometer, with a little elbow grease my Accord can still look like a new(ish) car.
Inspection sheet from dealership for 2012 Honda Accord. All inspection items are labeled green for Checked and OK at this time.
I did have to take the Accord in for a little more work, however. The front suspension was making noises, which the mechanic at the dealership traced to worn-out sway bar end links (the sway bar, or anti-roll bar, helps to keep the car flat during cornering). One upside to the repair work? The car handles like it’s brand new… perfect for a trip to the mountains of northwestern New Jersey.
Map of New Jersey with a red pin in the location of High Point State Park in the northwestern corner of the state.
Our destination: High Point State Park in the northwestern corner of New Jersey.
Mural painted on a white grain silo. Beside it is a sign that reads HISTORIC LAFAYETTE.
I always enjoy spotting unusual roadside attractions during my drives. The mural on this grain silo was painted in 2017 to celebrate the history of Lafayette, NJ.
2012 Honda Accord in front of sign for High Point State Park.
After nearly two hours of driving, we arrived at High Point State Park’s Visitor Center. We took the trip on the recommendation of my wife’s mom, who grew up in New Jersey before relocating to the Midwest
Red sign that reads APPALACHIAN TRAIL.
The Appalachian Trail runs through the southern end of the park. Almost 2,200 miles long, the Appalachian Trail stretches from Spring Mountain, Georgia to Mount Katahdin, Maine. Hiking the entire trail takes anywhere from 5 to 7 months.
Two pairs of hiking shoes in the bottom of the image, standing on leaf-covered ground.
After sitting in the car for almost two hours, my wife and I decided to hike a little of the trail before heading to our ultimate destination.
2012 Honda Accor on parking lot at high elevation.
Leaving the Visitor Center and driving up a steadily elevating mountain road, we arrived at the High Point Monument parking lot. 
Delaware River and Matamoras, Pennsylvania.
Looking down at the valley below, we could see the Delaware River and Matamoras, Pennsylvania.
Panorama of view from top of High Point.
The view was terrific. The temperature at the top was in the high 50’s when we arrived, almost 20 degrees cooler than home.
High Point Monument.
High Point Monument. This 220-foot tall tower, constructed of granite and quartz, was erected to honor war veterans in 1930. From the top, you can see the Pocono Mountains of Pennsylvania and the Catskill Mountains in New York.
Plaque at the base of High Point Monument.
At 1803 feet above sea level, High Point is not as tall as some places I have visited, including Mt. Washington in New Hampshire. However, given how flat New Jersey is, the view from atop High Point is spectacular.
View of High Point Monument, looking up from the base.
I came. I saw. I photographed. There’s no way I’m going to climb UP that thing, right?
Feet in foreground of open staircase.
Remember Indiana Jones’ line about snakes? Well, I’m pretty sure I muttered, “Open stairs? Why did it have to be open stairs?”
View of staircases from below.
After several flights of open stairs, however, we arrived at a larger concrete landing. Looking up, we saw this stairway to heaven. Flight after flight after flight of stairs. At least they weren’t see-through anymore, right?
View of mountains through a window in the tower.
Every so often during the hike upwards, you pass small windows that let you see just how high you are ascending. Despite it being a cool Fall day, the tower was still warm. We aren’t sure how comfortable High Point Monument would be to climb in the height of summer.
Vista from the top of the monument. A lake is in the foreground.
Despite my racing pulse and clammy hands, I arrived at the top… and the view was absolutely worth it. We counted 291 steps, total. Feel free to visit the park and check our math.

 

Panorama of surrounding countryside from top of High Point.
Once we descended the monument, we spent some more time wandering around the base, taking pictures of the surrounding countryside. Our only complaint about the park? There are no signs at the top of the monument to tell you which direction you are facing. We were able to check a map and figure it out quickly, but some signage would have been helpful.
View into the distance, looking toward New York.
To quote the rock band The Who: “I can see for miles and miles and miles and miles.” In the distance are the Catskill Mountains of New York.
A lake is in the foreground. High Point Monument is in the distance.
As we began our drive home, we spotted this scene… High Point Monument towers above the surrounding area.
Sky diver floating over road.
And while we’re on the topic of altitude… our drive home took us past a local airport that was holding a skydiving class. If you look to the upper left of the image, that’s not a bird. It’s not a plane. It’s one of a series of skydivers who landed in a field right beside the road.

High Point State Park is open all year. From April 1 through October 31, the hours are 8:00 am until 8:00 pm. From November 1 through March 31, the park is open from 8:00 am until 4:30 pm. From Memorial Day through Labor Day, the park costs $5.00 for residents and $10.00 for nonresidents during the weekday and $10.00 for residents and $20.00 for nonresidents during weekends and holidays. It is free to enter during the remainder of the year. High Point Monument costs $1.00 per adult to climb (admission is free for children). Despite the lengthy drive (and the fear-inducing climb!), High Point State Park is certainly worth the trip. We definitely would like to return to this area sometime, as we passed numerous signs for other local attractions that interested us.

Before I end, a quick note about this blog is in order…

Screen shot of blog stats. It reads ALL-TIME POSTS, VIEWS, AND VISITORS POSTS 98 VIEWS 5802 VISITORS 1259 BEST VIEWS EVER 106 AUGUST 26 2018
The stats of this blog, taken earlier today right before this post was written.

Today’s post is the 99th post of this blog. To everyone who has read, commented, provided feedback, and let me know that you have enjoyed this… thank you. When I started this blog in March of 2016, I had no idea that two-and-a-half years later I would still be writing it, and writing as enthusiastically as they day it began. For the 100th blog post, my wife and I have a special trip planned next month that I hope you enjoy.

Thanks, again, for coming along on another journey down the open road ahead.

‘Til next time.

4 thoughts on “Touch the Sky.

  1. Wow, congrats on the blogging success – you have some great momentum, so keep it up. Everything that you post is educational and informative as well as being fun to read. I had to laugh when I saw the open stairs – your favorite! View from High Point looks awesome, though 1,800 feet sounds so teeny to me as a Rocky Mountain kid! Haha. Glad the Accord suspension is back to 100% perfection too. Have a great week!

    Liked by 1 person

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