North to South.

There’s no other way of saying this – New Jersey is small. At 7,417 square miles, it is the fifth-smallest state in the union. The state is twenty-one times smaller than California. At its widest point, it is only 70 miles from west to east. From north to south, the Garden State measures 170 miles, approximately one-tenth the length of Alaska, the longest state in the nation (1,400 miles). Tri-States Monument, a small stone marker in Montague Township, denotes the northernmost point of the state. The southernmost point is found in historic Cape May township along Beach Drive. While driving the entire length of the state in a morning isn’t feasible for many states, it is certainly possible in New Jersey!

With the worldwide spread of COVID-19, public health officials have recommended that US citizens avoid gathering in groups of 50 or more and maintain a distance of at least six feet between other people so as to minimize the risk of transmission (from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). Obviously, in such an environment, road trips pale in importance to helping to maintain good public health. But what if there was a way to see some cool sights while minimizing the people that surround you, yet also getting out into nature to help your own well-being? With all of these factors in mind, my wife and I planned a drive this past weekend to several sites that would be cool, but would also minimize any potential person-to-person interactions. We drove… north to south.

The North to South Road Trip

Map of New Jersey with blue route from Tri-States Monument in north of state to Cape May in south.
Our Saturday drive: from the northernmost point in the state to the southernmost in less than four hours.
View of I-287 in New Jersey, with few cars, on a sunny day.
We set off toward our first stop in my wife’s Jeep Grand Cherokee. My Accord is spending the weekend at the body shop to have a small rust spot fixed (more on that below). With growing numbers of businesses closing over the weekend, traffic on Saturday morning was pretty light.
White 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee parked in front of Nelden-Roberts Stonehouse.
Our drive took us into the Delaware Water Gap. The Water Gap is an area of New Jersey and Pennsylvania where the Delaware River cuts through the Appalachian Mountains in both states. Filled with amazing views and recreational activities, my wife and I made plans to return to the Water Gap in the future. We stopped for a photo in front of the Nelden-Roberts Stonehouse. This stone building, originally a one-room schoolhouse, dates to the early 1800s.
Entrance to cemetery, with sign on right saying DELAWARE RIVER HERITAGE TRAIL and another saying PEDESTRIAN ENTRANCE ONLY.
After approximately 90 minutes of driving, we came to a stop in front of Laurel Grove Cemetery in Port Jervis, New York. From here, it would be a brisk half-mile hike to our destination. In our time in the park, we saw only one other couple.
Beneath a bridge is a monument, inscribed with NEW JERSEY BOUNDARY MONUMENT 1882.
Beneath the I-84 overpass at the southern tip of the cemetery is a stone marker from 1882, but this is the Witness Monument, not the Tri-States Monument (more on the Witness Monument’s role is below). Scrambling down an embankment even further south, we came to another marker near the water’s edge.
Stone marker with copper nail in middle. Side of marker says TRI STATES MONUMENT. Top of Marker is divided into three sections: NJ, PENN, and NY.
We reached our destination! Standing on the New York border, I reached out and placed a finger into the copper nail in the middle of the monument, thereby being in three states at once!
Top of monument, divided into three sections, inscribed with NY, NJ and PENN.
Except I didn’t, really. The Tri-States Monument, established in 1872, is slightly in error. According to the 1882 Witness Monument (above), the meeting point between New Jersey and Pennsylvania is 475 feet further south, in the middle of the Delaware River. Historical inaccuracies aside, my wife and I were able to stand at the northernmost point of the state!
Empty picnic bench beside Stony Lake. Trees line the far shore.
Heading south, we stopped to eat a picnic lunch beside Stony Lake in Stokes State Forest park. While there were other visitors hiking in the woods, we had the entire lake to ourselves for the duration of our lunch stop. We were treated to an air show- an eagle swooped out of the sky to go fishing in the lake (although sadly, my camera was back in the car!). After enjoying a peaceful half hour of solitude by the lake, it was back in the Jeep for our drive to Cape May.
View of sand dunes and entryway to beach, with Delaware Bay in background.
After driving for several hours, we stopped for a quick photo break at one of our favorite beaches along the Delaware Bay, just slightly north of Cape May (photo credit: my wife).
Row of Victorian houses along street in Cape May.
Arrived! As I’ve remarked before, I love the late 19th-century Victorian architecture that can be found in Cape May. In the entire country, only San Francisco has more buildings in this style.
Red Coast Guard Buoy on rocks beside sand dune.
Thanks to my wife’s sleuthing, we located this red buoy beside the beach in Cape May…
Brass plaque on base of red buoy, inscribed with CITY OF CAPE MAY SOUTHERNMOST POINT IN NEW JERSEY LAT: N38* 55' 48" LONG: W74* 56' 00" USCG AUXILIARY FLOTILLA 8-2 CAPE MAY
…the marker of the southernmost point in New Jersey!
Beach and ocean water, with a man's pair of hiking shoes and a woman's pair of boots in bottom of frame.
Mission accomplished! Anytime a road trip adventure can end beside the ocean… it’s been a good day. 
Entrance sign for Cape May Zoo that says CAPE MAY COUNTY PARK & ZOO.
The next day, we headed to the Cape May County Park and Zoo. A public park that is free and open to the public, I have written about this fantastic zoo in the past. At the time that we visited, the zoo’s indoor exhibits were closed due to the public health emergency, but park itself remained open (although the park and zoo have since completely closed). With only a few people in attendance, it was easy to take in views of some of our favorite animals, while also maintaining a safe distance from other guests.
Two goats in pen. Left goat is black and goat on right is brown and yellow.
It was also an opportunity to further test out my new zoom lens. These goats seemed happy to strike a pose…
Close-up of head and neck of peacock.
The clarity and crispness of the images I can get with this new lens deeply impresses me.
Close-up of head of llama.
I loved this llama’s expression! Any ideas for a good caption for this guy?
Two deer, licking each other.
I was able to capture a tender moment between two deer.
Ring-tailed lemur, standing up and looking straight head.
However, this ring-tailed lemur was unimpressed with my photographic antics.
Leopard, asleep on a wooden plank.
It was nap time for most of the big cats in the zoo…
Leopard, walking, and flicking its tongue.
…except the leopard arose, and I was excited to be able to take some action photos with this magnificent animal. However, just like your cat at home, he was simply looking for a more comfortable spot in the sun, and quickly settled back down to continue his nap.
Lioness sitting on grass in the sun.
This lioness was also hovering between wakefulness and a deep slumber.
Cotton-top tamarin on a rope.
I always enjoy photographing the cotton-top tamarin… or as I call it, the “Einstein Monkey.”
Crested caracara.
The crested caracara is a member of the raptor family, and is most closely related to the falcon. It can be found in Central and South America. Due to injuries, this caracara is a permanent resident of the Cape May Zoo – it would not be able to survive in the wild.
Close-up of porcupine quills.
Any guesses what you are looking at in this photo?
Closeup of porcupine head.
Those are the quills of the porcupine! The white striping of the quills make the porcupine mimic the look of a skunk to deter predators. To defend itself, the animal will run backward at an attacker, impaling any aggressor with its quills.
Snow leopard, looking straight ahead.
I spent a few minutes with this snow leopard, who didn’t mind posing for some photos.
Red panda, eating plants.
It was snack time for this red panda.
Juvenile bald eagle, looking upward.
My favorite photo from the trip to the zoo. This bald eagle is a juvenile – its white plumage is only beginning to emerge on its head. Due to injury, this eagle is a permanent resident of the zoo – it would not be able to survive in the wild.
Concrete ship off Sunset Beach in Cape May, with setting sun in background.
After dinner, we made it to Sunset Beach to watch the ending of the day. Although there were other people on the beach, we all kept our distance. It was a lot less friendly and interactive than I’m accustomed to, but I think this may be our new normal, at least for a little while. Despite our “social distancing,” we all enjoyed a gorgeous sunset.
Seagulls landing on remains of concrete ship.
With my zoom lens, I was able to capture birds landing on the remains of the SS Atlantus. Although it has deteriorated greatly in the years since I first saw it when I was a child, the remains of the “concrete ship” still sit of sunset beach. If you’re interested in learning more about the folly of using concrete as shipbuilding material, you can read this overview on a website dedicated to preserving the history of these odd ships.
Birds flying over water with setting sun in background.
My favorite shot from the evening… good night from Cape May, NJ!
White 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee parked in front of path leading to beach.
After spending a relaxing few days at the beach, it was time for one last look at the ocean before heading home.
Car odometer reading 50019 miles.
Along the way, the Jeep passed its own milestone – 50,000 miles! It’s been a great vehicle for us, and I’m looking forward to seeing if it can reach the same mileage as my Accord.

Updates

I have long been interested in high mileage vehicles. When I come across stories of vehicles with odometers that read well into six figures, I enjoy sharing them here. One site I have been following for several years is The High Mile Club, a blog about vehicles that reach at least 350,000 miles. If you’re looking for an interesting read, I would highly recommend perusing it. In addition, I have been meaning to share an interesting feature about a one-owner 2003 Honda Accord with over 600,000 miles from Louisville, Kentucky. The article includes an interview with the owner – it is a fun and quick read.

Now, onto an update closer to home:

Rust spot on lip of rear quarter panel in wheel well.
As I have mentioned before, my otherwise trouble-free Honda Accord has a recurring rust infection in the right rear quarter panel (pictured). This is not unusual in the snowbelt, where salt, brine, and moisture wreak havoc on cars. I could just ignore it and keep driving, but that’s just not my style…
Rear quarter-panel focused on lip of rear wheel well, passenger side.
I left my car with a local body shop that does very good work, and they returned it to me all fixed up. It looks great! The technician who did the work showed me photos of the repair on his phone – apparently, the rust had spread far beneath the paint, so he ended up trimming out a significant section of the bodywork and welding in fresh metal. The previous rust spot (about halfway up the fender) this body shop fixed is still in great shape, so I expect the new repair will hold up equally well. After 8 years and 150,000 miles, if this is the biggest problem I have with my vehicle, I consider myself lucky.

Wrapping Up

A trip from the top of New Jersey to the bottom is a fantastic way to spend a day. Looking to the future, the reality of life in the time of a global pandemic is full of uncertainty, and taking road trips is low on my list of priorities. However, I have a few posts planned that, similar to my “Jersey Diner” post last week, have been on my mind to write for a while. Rather than new adventures, they will be posts about life on the road, photography, and musings on the future of the automobile. Hopefully, you’ll find those an entertaining break from our seemingly relentless new cycle.

In the meantime, please be well, stay healthy, and find time to take care of yourselves. And as always, thanks for coming along on a journey down the open road ahead.

‘Til next time.

 

 

 

8 thoughts on “North to South.

  1. Thanks for taking us along for the ride. I got a kick out of the historical marker being 475 feet off from its correct location. I see stuff like that happening a lot! In fact, I remember a documentary on TV a while back about the international border between the USA and Canada being out of alignment too. Great wildlife pics too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s really funny when you see it in person – there’s the original marker, and then there’s a bigger marker that basically says, “Whoops! Umm… here’s the real story.” The monument reminded me of your post about Four Corners (at least, I think that’s what it was called).

      Glad you enjoyed the post!

      Like

  2. Great journey with many personal connections for me, including the fact that my husband proposed to me at the Cape May Courthouse Zoo, in front of the capybara, which is basically a 200-pound rat. There’s a Hallmark script in there somewhere.

    Liked by 1 person

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