Field Trip!

When I think back to my years in school, some of my favorite memories were the field trips. Venturing up to New York City to visit the United Nations for social studies when I was in the 8th grade. A trip to Baltimore to visit the Inner Harbor and the National Aquarium in high school. My elementary school class visiting the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, a “must see” destination for any young child interested in the sciences. These are just a few of the countless trips that students take every day across America for the purpose of expanding their learning beyond the classroom.

In my professional career in education, I’ve certainly seen no shortage of field trips! However, this past week I was asked to chaperone a trip near and dear to my heart: a visit to the wetlands and ocean off the coast of Cape May! The coastal areas of southern New Jersey teem with migrating birds, as well as fish, crabs, oysters, mollusks,  and countless other creatures that inhabit the land beside the sea, and the ocean itself. For a teacher trying to make classroom lessons come to life, living within driving distance of the ocean offers the luxury of taking your students to see marine biology in person, instead of trying to simply learn from a book, a slideshow, or a website. So at the end of September, I pointed my car toward Cape May and returned, once again, to my second home.


Before I begin, however, there are a few updates I wanted to pass along. First, a sad bit of news. Several weeks ago, my wife and I toured the Wings of Freedom exhibit at the Naval Air Station Wildwood museum and got to see several WWII military aircraft that were on tour. The Wings of Freedom travels across the country, offering visitors the opportunity to see, first-hand, the aircraft that enabled our nation to win the Second World War. Sadly, on October 2nd, the B-17 Flying Fortress from the tour crashed at Bradley Airport in Hartford Connecticut. There were several injuries, and even more tragically, seven fatalities. While the loss of a historic aircraft is unfortunate, the true tragedy is the impact of the people affected by the crash.

On a more lighthearted note, I recently came across two articles that speak to the longevity of Honda products. Not one, but two 8th generation (2006-2010) Honda Civics were in the news in the past few months for achieving big mileage… a million miles each! Darrel “Doc” Gould’s 2008 Civic sedan is still on its original engine, although its automatic transmission was replaced around 500,000 miles. Also, a 2006 Civic on its original engine and transmission was recently in the news for crossing the million-mile barrier as well. The secret sauce for both of these cars achieving big mileage? Careful maintenance (both cars were exclusively dealer serviced), and lots of highway driving. It’s cool to see what Hondas are capable of achieving!

A few more photo updates, as well:

Blue 1983 Honda Acty is service drive at Keenan Honda.
On a recent visit to Keenan Honda in Doylestown, PA for an oil change and tire rotation, I spotted an absolute gem parked in the service drive.
Blue 1983 Honda Acty micro van.
A 1983 Honda Acty! The Acty was a microvan that was only sold in Japan… and somehow, one ended up parked in the service drive!
Interior of Honda Acty.
Well, this is a sight you don’t see in the U.S. everyday – right-hand drive, straight from Japan!
White Honda S800 convertible on showroom floor with newer Hondas in background.
Keenan Honda is assembling quite the classic car museum, although the centerpiece remains this white Honda S800 convertible, which I wrote about during a prior visit.
Interior of Honda S600 convertible, badly decayed.
Since my last visit, several cars had been added, including this Honda S600 that is in need of a restoration. Given the shape of the other vehicles in the dealer’s museum, I’m sure this will be in top shape soon enough. As for my 2012 Honda Accord? Well, that future classic had its oil changed and tires rotated, the service advisor said everything else looks good, and to keep rolling!
2012 Honda Accord in single-car garage.
In other news, my wife and I recently moved! One of the benefits? A garage, so that we can alternate getting my Accord and her Jeep out of the the sun, rain, wind, and snow. While a two-car garage would have been ideal, I appreciate being able to reduce the amount of time our vehicles spend parked in the elements.
2019 Honda CR-V in gray.
I also recently got to test-drive the 2019 Honda CR-V! My wife and I had family visiting from out of state to help us with our move, and I got to take their brand new SUV for a test drive.
Dashboard and steering wheel of 2019 Honda CR-V.
I really appreciated the time behind the wheel! I was impressed with how car-like the CR-V behaved, handling corners much flatter than a typical SUV. The turbocharged engine is pretty peppy, and I was pleased with the acceleration during around-town driving. Chuck and Deb, thanks for the test drive!
Gauge cluster of 1994 Acura Legend.
And finally, Tyson Hugie, whose blog Drive to Five helped to inspire The Open Road Ahead, recently passed this milestone on his way to the National Acura Legend meet, which is being held this year in Florida. On his way from his home in Arizona, he passed this mathematical milestone in Texas – 567,890.1 and a trip odometer of 234.5. Pretty neat! (And the fact that this twenty-five year old car with over a half million miles is on a cross-country trip is quite impressive!).

The Field Trip

Map of New Jersey with red pin in location of Wildwood Crest for Starlight Fleet Cape May & Florida
After a summer spent in and around the Jersey Shore, it was a nice treat when I was given an unexpected chance to return to Cape May – I was asked to chaperone a high school biology class trip to a science field trip to study marine biology!
View of tree-lined Route 347, clear of any traffic.
I departed for Cape May after work on Monday. The weather forecast called for sunny skies and warm temperatures on Tuesday, the day of our trip. Monday, however, was gray, overcast, and cool. This is Route 347 – on any summer weekend, this road will be jammed with vehicles heading to, or returning from, the shore. In the off-season? This is “traffic.”
Tent frames on beach, with sunrise breaking through clouds.
I awoke a little before dawn and walked down to the beach, where I was greeted with a beautiful sunrise.
2012 Honda Accord parked in front of beach.
A two-door coupe with the soul of a beach buggy.
Interior hallway of Congress Hall, with flags lining the hallway
It’s not every day that you can grab a coffee in a nearly two-hundred year old hotel… so that’s exactly what I did. Nothing like starting your day with a cup of joe at Congress Hall!
2012 Honda Accord parked in front of Starlight Fleet dock.
Our students would be taking a trip offered by the Wetlands Institute. Based in Stone Harbor, NJ, the Institute provides educational programming to teach about coastal and wetlands ecosystems. Our tour ship would be departing from the Starlight Fleet dock in Wildwood Crest.
Blue, orange, and red storage huts on beach.
I arrived a little early, and so spent some time wandering the beach before heading back to the Starlight Fleet dock to meet up with the students for their voyage.
Large fishing ship with the word STARLIGHT on the side.
Upon boarding the Starlight, students and staff were divided into three groups. Each group would rotate through various stations where they would learn about the coastal ecosystems that thrive along the New Jersey coast.
Bow of ship, with bridge in background across harbor.
It felt great to once again be heading out to sea!
View of coastal wetlands and marshes, with blue skies in the background.
Anyone who has spent time around the coastal regions of New Jersey will recognize this view – salt marshes are tidal zones that are frequently flooded. These marshes are a major source of food for plants, fish, and animals that inhabit this area.
Bald eagle sitting atop power pole.
While the students would learn about the birds, animals, and fish of the coastal wetlands once we were in the open ocean, Mother Nature didn’t feel like waiting to begin her lesson – this bald eagle was sitting atop a power pole as we sailed past.
USCG cutter docked in front of Coast Guard water tower.
On the way out of the Cape May Harbor, we passed several sites that will be familiar to readers of this blog, such as the US Coast Guard Training Center…
WWII Lookout tower, with buildings in foreground, and then the ocean.
…the WWII Lookout Tower…
SS Atlantus wreckage in the ocean, with a water tower on the beach in the background.
…the wreckage of the SS Atlantus, the ill-fated concrete ship…
Cape May Lighthouse with beach in foreground.
…and the Cape May Lighthouse!
Horseshoes crab, being held up by instructor.
The instructors took turns discussing different forms of marine life that live in this part of the state. My group spent some quality time learning about horseshoe crabs! These creatures are considered “living fossils,” as you can find fossils of these creatures from hundreds of millions of years ago! Another fun fact: although called a “crab,” they are more closely related to spiders and scorpions.
Trawling net behind ship, in ocean.
Once we were in the open water, our students, directed by the boat’s crew, dropped a trawling net into the water. Extending for almost a football field, the net remained in the water long enough for us to bring up some really interesting things!
Blue crab on top of net.
All kinds of fascinating creatures emerged from the deep, including this blue crab.
Tub of water with horseshoe crabs.
The specimens were immediately transferred from the net to pools of salt water, where they could be examined more closely.
Fish in smaller tank.
The fish and crabs were divided into separate tanks to keep predators separate from ones that would otherwise become prey.
Sea creature living in conch shell.
Check out this guy hiding in his conch shell!
Hermit crab being held in hands of instructor.
We also got up close and personal with a hermit crab.
Drawbridge up over harbor.
After three fun-filled and educational hours on the water, we began to make our way back to port.
Car odometer that reads 139876 TRIP A 379.0
After a fun day learning about marine wildlife, I pulled up to my house, nearing the 140,000 mile mark!

The Next Mile Mark

Car odometer that reads 140,000 TRIP A 92.6
A few days later, yet another milestone fell – 140,000 miles! Onward to the next ten thousand!
2012 Honda Accord
As I’ve said before… it’s the best car I’ve ever owned.

The opportunity to chaperone a trip to the Jersey Shore, and to learn so much about the natural world that exists right in front of us, as a wonderful way to spend a work day. The Wetlands Institute is open during the summer seven days a week, providing educational programming. During the fall months, the Institute runs a special schedule, offering trips and classes out of the main office in Stone Harbor. We participated in the SEAS program – Science Education at Sea, which is specially designed for school groups, with different programs depending upon grade level. It was certainly one of the best field trips I have ever taken, as a student or chaperone!

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

‘Til next time.





3 thoughts on “Field Trip!

  1. Thank you so much for the shout-out! By the way, I arrived in Key West tonight! Ending mileage was 2,743 since I left Phoenix on Friday. And my odometer is now 569,312. Now, time to relax for a couple days 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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