A Princeton Afternoon.

After the American victory at the battle of Trenton on December 26, 1776, British forces moved from New York City toward Trenton to crush the outnumbered Continental Army. Knowing that a superior force was moving toward the American position, General George Washington decided to attack the British reserve force which had been left in the town of Princeton, New Jersey. Leaving a small unit to harass the British and deceive them into thinking the Americans lay straight ahead, Washington ordered his forces to sneak around the British army, aiming the full might of 4,500 Continental Army soldiers against a British force of approximately 1,200 soldiers. On January 3, 1777, the Americans, in a series of pitched battles, defeated the British soldiers. With American forces now occupying a key strategic location, General Cornwallis, the British commander, was forced to retreat to New Brunswick and pull his soldiers from outposts around New Jersey, effectively ending British attempts to control the colony. Despite the British viewing the loss as a minor setback, the Battle of Princeton was a monumental victory for the American colonies (via Wikipedia).

Before it was the site of a battle of the American Revolution, Princeton was first a Native American settlement, and then a colonial town settled in the 1680s. Since then, it has achieved fame for being home to Princeton University. It is home to numerous historical sites, museums, and famous homes. Nassau Street, the main thoroughfare through the town, has numerous stores and restaurants. On a cold Sunday in early March, with a winter storm bearing down on our area, my wife and I decided to spend a few hours in Princeton before the snow arrived.

Before I begin my latest photo essay, however, I wanted to provide a few automotive updates:

2016 Acura RLX black on rain-covered road with mountains in the background.
First, I’d like to extend a congratulations to my friend Tia, author of the running and fitness blog Fit Following 50. Tia recently took ownership of this drop-dead gorgeous 2016 Acura RLX. Tia, best wishes for many happy miles behind the wheel of this car! And if this photo is a preview of what’s to come, I think she may have a side hustle as an automotive photographer.
Magazine with photos of cars from the 1900s and 1920s on left, with car ads on the right for Copper City Chrysler Dodge Plymouth on top and Paolozzi Mazda on the bottom right.
I received a wonderful gift from some dear readers – “Magic and Memories of Early Motoring,” a booklet that was offered to subscribers of The Daily Press and The Observer-Dispatch, newspapers based in Utica, New York. This issue, from 1986, details the automotive history of upstate New York. Equally as fascinating to me were the ads from the 1980’s, filled with cars and brands that I grew up seeing on the roads. I especially enjoyed the ad for Paolozzi Mazda, with a first generation RX-7 (right-most car) featured.
Gauge cluster of Honda Accord with check engine light illuminated.
Something no one likes to see. Unfortunately, the Accord has been fighting a recurring check engine light, which each time has been for code P1454 – fuel tank pressure sensor. Something was causing the fuel tank to not pressurize correctly. The problem showed up after long drives, only to disappear within a day. I finally decided to take it to the Honda dealer to be addressed…
Work order for car maintenance that says CUSTOMER STATES CHECK ENGINE LIGHT IS ON AGAIN. LIGHT KEEPS GOING ON AND OFF. CODE P1454 KEEPS COMING UP. SEEMS TO HAPPEN ON LONG TRIPS. CHECK AND ADVISE. $138 TECH INSPECTED SYSTEM AND FOUND SPIDERS NEST IN EVAP SYSTEM. CLOGGING SYSTEM. TECH REMOVED SPIDERS NEST AND CLEANED OUT EVAP SOLENOID VALVE. INSTALLED NETTING AND COVER ON EVAP LINES TO PREVENT INSECT NESTS. CLEARED CODES AND REINITIALIZED SYSTEM. PERFORMED FUNCTION TEST. SYSTEM PASSED AT THIS TIME.
…which led to one of the strangest diagnoses I’ve ever seen. I’ll let the work order speak for itself. The check engine light is now gone, but to quote Ripley from the movie Aliens, “I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It’s the only way to be sure.”

And now, onto our Princeton adventure:

Map of New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania, with a red pin in the location for Princeton.
Princeton is located halfway between New York and Philadelphia.
Panorama of Princeton Battlefield.
Our first destination was Princeton Battlefield. After having visited larger battlefields such as Gettysburg and Saratoga, Princeton, only three square kilometers, was positively tiny. On this small strip of land, nearly 6,000 soldiers clashed.
Stone marker indicating where General Hugh Mercer fell. The Clarke House is in the background.
While the American forces achieved a stunning victory, the battle was not without casualties, including General Hugh Mercer, a close friend of George Washington. During the battle, Mercer was surrounded by British forces and bayonetted seven times. He was found later and was taken to the Clarke House (in the background) where he was treated, but succumbed to his injuries. Legend has it that he did not want to leave his soldiers and so rested beside a large white oak tree on the battlefield (the Mercer Oak, see below). In truth, he was wounded at a different location on the battlefield and later found by his men.
Exterior of Clarke House, a white two story home.
The Thomas Clarke House, built by Quaker farmer Thomas Clarke in 1772, became a field hospital for wounded soldiers on both sides after the battle. The house is now a museum for the battlefield, although it was closed for the winter season when we visited.
Tree, surrounded by wooden fence, in battlefield.
The Mercer Oak stood here for over two hundred years until it collapsed in 2000 of old age. A sapling grown from an acorn of the Mercer Oak was planted beside it in 2001, and now grows a few yards from where the original tree stood. The Mercer Oak is part of the seal of Mercer County, New Jersey.
The Colonnade, a structure of four columns and two stone pillars, by the tree line.
Erected on the battlefield in 1959, the Colonnade marks the entrance to the gravesite of 36 unknown soldiers. The Colonnade was originally part of St. George’s Hall, a private home in Philadelphia which was built in the early 19th century.
Grave marker memorial for unknown soldiers, surrounded by two American flags. A circle of stones surrounds the marker.
The marker for the graves of an unnamed fifteen American and twenty-one British soldiers who are buried on the battlefield.
2012 Honda Accord park in front of Princeton Battlefield. A large wooden fence is immediately behind it.
While I had driven past the entrance to Princeton Battlefield several times, I am glad we finally decided to stop and visit.
Interior of Jammin Crepes. A large series of chalkboards hang over the counter with the menu.
We headed into Princeton to see more of the town. Our first stop was lunch at Jammin Crepes, which serves only crepes. My wife had recommended this restaurant a while ago, and I was finally able to try it. To say it was popular was an understatement… despite the frigid temperatures, some customers chose to eat on the outdoor patio rather than wait for a table inside!
Crepe on white plate with checkerboard napkin. A jar with silverware is in the background.
I ordered the Jammin Turkey Club – oven roasted turkey breast, smokehouse bacon, mozzarella, house chutney, seasonal vegetables, and horseradish root aioli. My wife ordered the Vegan Veggie Kimchi, which featured a seasonal veggie blend, house-made kimchi, and baby spinach, on a gluten-free crepe. They were both terrific.
Nassau Hall in Princeton University. The university's main gate is in the foreground.
Our next stop was Princeton University. Founded in 1746 as The College of New Jersey, Princeton is one of eight Ivy League schools. Nassau Hall is the oldest building at Princeton, and in 1783 briefly served as the meeting site for the United States Congress.
Gothic archway through building, looking at campus beyond.
One of the hallmarks of Princeton is its Gothic architecture. Walking through campus, you might feel as if you are touring a European castle, not an American university. Famous alumni who have walked through this campus include Presidents James Madison and Woodrow Wilson, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, former first lady Michelle Obama, actors Brooke Shields and David Duchovny, and writers F. Scott Fitzgerald and Eugene O’Neill.
Exterior of Blair Hall, with towers and turrets in the middle of the building.
Perhaps no building best captures the feeling of the European castle as Blair Hall. This mammoth structure is a dorm. I can’t imagine staying here as a student… it really would be like living at Hogwarts.
Exterior of McCormack Hall, with a glass and brick facade.
Our final stop of the day was McCormick Hall, the Princeton Library Art Museum.
Stained glass windows in black metal panels on lawn outside of museum.
These stained glass windows were part of an art installation on the lawn outside the museum. These tree branches (foreground), made from metal, support the windows.
Panorama of ground level gallery, with a large drawing of an octopus tentacle behind a prison cell in the middle of the room.
The Museum is free every day.
Mummy mask, partially damaged.
The lower level features art from Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. This is part of the lid to an Egyptian coffin. Look at the detail, colors, and the artistry involved… this was created around 1500 BC… over 3500 years ago!
Warring State earthenware cup, covered in elaborate glass decorations.
A cup from the Warring States period of ancient China, which occurred during the 4th and 3rd centuries BC. This cup, made from clay and decorated with a glass paste, is one of only six known survivors of this technique.
Engraving of a winged deity on a stone tablet.
This relief of a winged deity once adorned the walls of the throne room of Ashurnasirpal II, who ruled Assyria (found in modern-day Iraq). This dates to the year 885 BC… nearly three thousand years ago. This relief was on the cover of a book a professor assigned in graduate school, so it was very cool to see it in person.
Tile of winged demon (left) and fish man (right).
These two tiles are from the city of Nineveh and were created in the 9th century BC. While the fish man (right) is noteworthy, I found the winged demon (left) more interesting. It reminded me of the beginning scene in the film The Exorcist, when Father Merrin finds a statue of an ancient Babylonian demon while digging at an archeological site in Iraq.
Three Roman mosaics on a red well.
I spent some time examining these Roman mosaics from Antioch (in Turkey). Their colors and details are impressive, especially since the mosaics are over 1800 years old! (Note: your eyes aren’t playing tricks on you – the mosaic is installed on the wall slightly crooked.)
Gallery with four impressionist paintings on the wall.
We left behind the Ancient Near and Far East and spent some time with the Impressionist artists…
Water Lillies and Japanese Bridge.
…including my wife’s favorite painter, Claude Monet. I had never seen Water Lilies and Japanese Bridge in person before. It was even more beautiful in real life.
Watercolor of Lake George, in a gold frame.
We then moved on to the gallery of American painters. Lake George, by John Frederick Kensett, reminded me of my own trips to the Adirondack Mountains.
Statue of man with large circle where head should be. Garment is made out of buttons.
Unfortunately, I did not find the name of this artwork. But the details caught my eye…
Multicolored woven thread.
…the large circle is covered in this woven thread…
Fabric covered in buttons.
…and the garments are made from nothing but a seemingly endless supply of buttons.
Academic building, with a lamppost in foreground. A sign says PRINCETON THEOLGOICAL
After departing the museum, our final stop was Princeton Theological Seminary. The primary institution of higher learning for training ministers in the Presbyterian Church, the school has seen noted alumni such as Biblical scholar Bruce Metzger, founder of Knox College George Gale, abolitionist Elijah Lovejoy, co-founder of the NAACP Francis Grimke, US Navy Admiral Mark Tidd… and also, most importantly, my Dad.
Honda Accord odometer reading 125015 TRIP A 5.2.
We beat the winter storm home, and along the way broke yet another milestone… the 125,000 mile mark. Now spider-free (yuck!), the Accord continues to roll along well.

Despite having spent most of my life within an hour of Princeton (and despite having a family connection to the town!), I had only visited a few times. I was glad that we took the time to explore Princeton yesterday and to see some of the highlights. Princeton Battlefield State Park is open from sunrise to sunset every day, although the Thomas Clarke House Museum typically closes during the winter months. There are no entrance fees to the park. The Princeton University Art Museum is open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm, Thursday from 10:00 am until 9:00 pm, and Sunday from 12:00 pm until 5:00 pm (the museum is closed on Monday). Admission is free, although the museum does gratefully accept donations. If you are in New Jersey, make sure to stop by Princeton to explore all that it has to offer. And if you are nearby in the middle of March, be sure to visit during Pi Day! March 14th is the birthday of Princeton resident Albert Einstein, and it is also the numerical equivalent of pi (3.14), the ratio of a circle’s circumference to its diameter. Pi Day in Princeton will include pie eating, pie judging, pie throwing, pizza pie judging, pi recitation, and cupcake decorating!

Thanks for coming along on another journey down the open road ahead!

‘Til next time.

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “A Princeton Afternoon.

  1. I still have to say, that’s the first time I’ve heard of the spider issue! Glad it was resolved, though, and you’re back to racking up some miles. Thanks for featuring the RLX in here – Snow Canyon State Park is definitely a nice backdrop, rain or shine! Looked like you had a nice outing this weekend. I can’t believe how nice the Thomas Clarke house looks for being almost 250 years old. And that wardrobe made all of buttons is kind of fascinating. Thanks for taking us along.

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    1. Those RLX shots are great, and the backdrop is simply terrific! Glad you enjoyed the Princeton ride-along. One thing that consistently strikes me out here in the east is how old and historic places are frequently right around the corner. Thanks for reading!!

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  2. Wow, to say ‘you have done your homework’ is an understatement! Over the years, I have had a fascination with button art, but clothing covered entirely with buttons? I never! I wonder what that thing weighs…

    My favorite part about your blog is that you take your wife on these mini adventures, which are both scenic and educational. Rather than sit around the house on the sofa watching television, you opt to explore…. and that is precisely what I wish more people would do with their time.

    Thanks for the shout out on my new ride. I am a hundred percent satisfied, though am still waiting for the owner’s manual so that I can figure out all the bells and whistles, which I will likely never use. Ride on! Write on!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed the post, Tia! I started the blog to keep me motivated to explore sites I’d otherwise pass by, to keep exploring what’s out there. What’s fun is that we both enjoy planning these trips – it makes it a great experience. Of course, I’m writing this as we’re sitting on the couch watching TV.

      The new RLX looks terrific. I’m looking forward to seeing where you take it in the coming years!!

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    1. True story: when I picked the car up from the dealer, the service advisor said, “When the mechanic saw the spider nest, his first instinct was to light the whole thing on fire. But he knew how much you like your car, so he gritted his teeth and cleaned it out.” 🤣

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