Challenge Complete!

Earlier this summer, while leafing through a copy of New Jersey Monthly, a magazine that explores life in the Garden State, my mother-in-law came across the The Great New Jersey Scavenger Hunt 2021. The challenge? By September 15, 2021, visit thirty-six locations throughout my home state, taking a selfie at each one. The scavenger hunt was broken across six categories: Central NJ, Down the Shore, Historic Sites, Northern NJ, Southern NJ, and Urban Murals. The challenge began in April, but my wife and I did not learn about it until late June. So could we, your humble travel writers, complete the activity? Were we able to devote a significant portion of our summer to criss-crossing the state, at times waiting in line with other contestants to take a selfie, or hiking through forests and cities to find our destination, or exploring little-known back roads, or driving down dirt paths, or even holding up traffic (whoops) to grab our shot?

You bet we did! Challenge complete.

While I am not going to share every location from the challenge, I thought it would be fun to give an example or two from each category. As I have written previously,  I also created an “automotive selfie” category for the blog, where I took a photo of my Accord or my wife’s Jeep in front of as many of the locations as possible.

Some come along, then, on our summer scavenger hunt adventure. In addition, I have a slew of automotive updates from readers near and far that I want to share.

Let’s begin:

The Great NJ Monthly Scavenger Hunt 2021

Map of New Jersey with blue route running along edges of state.
The challenge involved driving. A lot of driving. This is a route map for only 8 of the 36 locations from the scavenger hunt.

Central NJ

2012 Honda Accord parked in front of Green Sergeant Covered Bridge.
Readers may remember when we stopped in the middle of Route 604 to take a photo of Green Sergeant Covered Bridge, the oldest surviving covered bridge in NJ.
Exterior of The Orchid Range glass hothouse.
Some sites did now allow vehicle access for a “car selfie,” such as the Orchid Range at Duke Farms.

Down the Shore

2012 Honda Accord in front of Emlen Physick Estate
The New Jersey shore figured prominently in the challenge, such as when we stopped by the Emlen Physick estate, a historic Victorian mansion in Cape May.
2012 Honda Accord in front of statute of Fender Esquire guitar.
Or our visit to the statue of Bruce Springsteen’s guitar in the town of Deal, on the corner of E Street and 10th Avenue.

Historic Sites

2021 Honda HR-V parked in front of Peter Mott House.
We visited six historic sites, including the Peter Mott House, an important stop along the Underground Railroad.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee in front of Monmouth Battlefield State Park Visitor Center.
Our travels also took us to Monmouth Battlefield State Park, the site of a Revolutionary War battle in 1778.

Northern NJ

2012 Honda Accord coupe parked in front of Hot Dog Johnny's.
Some of the destinations involved satisfying our taste buds as well as crossing items off our checklist… such as our visit to Hot Dog Johnny’s.
2012 Honda Accord parked in front of Demarest Railroad Depot.
Our trip to Demarest Railroad Depot would be the northernmost stop along our route.

Southern NJ

2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee parked in front of the Walt Whitman House.
We swung by the city of Camden to visit the Walt Whitman House, the 19th century poet’s only home.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee parked in front of NJ Tea Party Monument.
Did you know that a year after the more famous Boston Tea Party, New Jersey residents also expressed their dissatisfaction with British policies toward the Thirteen Colonies, and held their own protest?
Small park with monument to NJ Tea Party.
In 1774, residents of the town of Greenwich took possession of tea owned by the East India Tea Company, moved it to an open field, and lit it on fire in protest of excessive taxation by the British rulers (via Cumberland County).
Monument with names of "Tea Burners" inscribed on side.
The small monument was erected in 1908, but the town still embraces its history today with events like the Tea Burner Race. The scavenger hunt taught me a lot about my state, and introduced me to hidden gems that I had never seen before… for instance, I had no idea New Jersey had its own tea party!

Urban Murals

2012 Honda Accord parked in front of Whitney Houston Mural on side of building.
Perhaps one of my favorite photos from the scavenger hunt – my Accord hanging out with a mural of one of my favorite singers: Whitney Houston.
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee parked in front of Raritan River Ways mural in public park.
Although we did a lot of driving, some of the sites were close to home, such as the Raritan River Ways mural in Boyd Park in New Brunswick.

Our Final Stop

Exterior of Chicken or the Egg restaurant
Our final stop was the Chicken or the Egg restaurant in Beach Haven, located on Long Beach Island. Sadly, all the parking spots were taken when we arrived, so the Nissan SUV in the foreground will have to act as a stand-in for our Jeep.
Glass of orange juice and cup of coffee on table.
And what better way to celebrate completing the Great New Jersey Scavenger Hunt 2021 than by sitting down to breakfast!
Egg and avocado on toast, with bacon and home fries.
That’ll be a Sunrise BLT (egg, bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado) on a gluten-free bun for my wife (pictured) and an egg-and-sausage sandwich on an English muffin for me. The sandwich was good… but the home fries were out of this world.
Barnegat Lighthouse.
As we went to leave the island, traffic was at a standstill. Any vehicles heading to the lone bridge that connects Long Beach Island to the mainland were stopped, and no traffic was entering. A passerby told us to check the news – a suspicious package had been reported under the bridge, and the police closed the bridge until the bomb squad could inspect it. Trying to make the best of it, we parked the Jeep and decided to explore, including a return visit to Barnegat Lighthouse.
Pathway through woods on beach.
We also explored a wilderness path through the woods on the island. After a good amount of exercise, we headed back to our car and learned that the police had given the all-clear and re-opened the bridge.
View of Route 72 bridge, with traffic in opposite side at standstill.
The traffic jam at one point extended several miles from the island, across the bridge, and out onto the Garden State Parkway. When we left, the bridge was open, but traffic attempting to reach the island was still at a standstill (if you look closely on the opposite side of the bridge, you can see countless vehicles parked on the road). It was a memorable way to finish our selfie challenge, that’s for sure.
Car odometer reading 71400 miles.
And while we didn’t get a “car selfie” at our last stop, the Jeep certainly deserves an odometer photo for its part in transporting us to our scavenger hunt locations. Now at 71,400 miles, it’s just getting broken-in. Onward!

Updates

There are so many fun updates to share in this post, I almost don’t know where to begin. One of the highlights from the past five years of running this blog are the photos and text messages I’ve received from family and friends who read my posts and send their own automotive updates my way. I have a few recent and noteworthy ones to share:

Nokian WR G4 tires on Honda CR-V wheel.
Readers Chuck and Deb sent me a photo of the new shoes they put on their 2019 Honda CR-V: a set of Nokian WR G4 SUV tires! A Honda AND Nokian tires? Day made. I’ll look forward to a write-up on how these tires perform in the first Midwest snowfall!
Odometer reading 100,000 miles.
My Dad sent me this milestone – his 2015 Honda Accord EX-L V6 sedan recently crossed the 100,000 mile mark! Congratulations, Dad. Of course, that means you’ll get to celebrate with the timing belt and water pump service soon, but after that, your car will be ready to give you another 100,000 miles on service. Onward!
Odometer reading 850000 TRIP A 430.8
Meanwhile, my friend Justin recently passed yet another milestone. His 2003 Honda Accord coupe has racked up astronomical mileage, and the million mile mark is inching closer and closer. He passed 850,000 a few days ago, and his journey continues. C’mon Justin – you’re getting into the home stretch now!
2017 Honda CR-V parked in front of lake and mountains.
Finally, reader Chris sent me this photo of his Honda CR-V, parked at Montgomery Reservoir near Alma, Colorado. It’s like Chris somehow knew that this kind of photo would make me happy… how could he have guessed? (Great shot, Chris!)

Last, but not least, I have some other photographic news to share. After learning all I could from my beginner Simrex X900 drone (and crashing it more times than I care to admit), I took the plunge and upgraded to a DJI Mini 2. DJI is a major drone manufacturer, and their devices are popular with photographers and videographers. Although the Mini 2 is considered an entry level drone, the reviews all gave it high marks for image quality, flight stability, and maneuverability. I took a quick test flight with it at Cooper River Park in Pennsauken, NJ, and thought I’d share the results: 

Wrapping Up

The Great New Jersey Monthly Scavenger Hunt 2021 was a fantastic way to learn more about my home state, explore destinations I never would have come across, and make plenty of memories with my wife. The contest is now closed, but if you are a New Jersey resident and would be interested in giving it a try, keep an eye out for the 2022 selfie challenge next spring.

As always, thanks for coming along on another adventure down the open road ahead.

‘Til next time.

 

8 thoughts on “Challenge Complete!

  1. Cool recap of your challenge!

    I really liked the drone footage. Sounds like this new one is very capable. I’m surprised it’s considered entry level. You can provide another perspective to your travel adventures with this.

    Liked by 1 person

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