For nearly six years, this blog has existed to chronicle my road trip adventures. Most of the journeys have involved careful planning, research, and mapping. From completing the
2018 Lighthouse Challenge, to exploring filming locations of The Sopranos, to driving to the top of Mt. Washington, many of these adventures have been planned out well in advance, with plenty of notes and maps to guide us along our way. Once in a while, though, a random roadside sign will lead us to a new, exciting destination!
My wife and I were driving down to Cape May, New Jersey, for a short weekend getaway when she said, “Hey, that looks interesting! It’s a sculpture garden. Want to turn around and check it out?” I have taken Route 47 countless times to go to the shore, but not once have I ever seen a sign for a sculpture garden. No sooner had my wife asked the question then I made an abrupt u-turn and headed back toward the entrance.
So come along, then, on our journey to a cool outdoor art gallery. Along the way, we’ll also eat some great food, catch an awesome sunset, explore a favorite wildlife refuge, and share some automotive updates.
Another Jersey Shore Adventure:
Our (unexpected) destination for the weekend: the Sperlak Gallery and Sculpture Gardens, located in the town of Goshen near Cape May.
Our first stop was a quick lunch with my Mom. My wife and I picked up takeout from Que Ricas, a South American takeout restaurant in Westmont, NJ.
Mmmmm… Venezuelan food! Looking clockwise from the top, that will be a Curvy Queen arepa (shredded chicken and avocado salad, sweet plantains and smoked gouda stuffed in a corncake) for Mom, two shredded chicken and two shredded beef empanadas (a baked or fried pastry filled with meat) for my wife and I, and an order of yuca fries (fried cassava) for the table to share. A bonus – almost everything on Que Ricas’ menu is gluten free.
We departed my Mom’s place and headed down to the shore. With sunny skies and temperatures in the 60s, it felt more like April than mid-February!
As we drove down Route 47 toward Cape May, my wife spotted this sign for Sperlak Sculpture Gardens – intrigued by a new destination, I made an immediate u-turn!
Had I known that the driveway to the sculpture garden was a dirt-and-gravel road, I may have thought twice. I tried my best to ignore the sounds of rocks kicking up from my tires to hit my car’s freshly waxed paint, and trundled down the road. Off-road mode: engage.
Sperlak Gallery and Sculpture Gardens is located in Goshen. First settled in 1693, Goshen has a long history of farming, crab processing, and shipbuilding (via Wikipedia). The gallery itself was once a farm. Stan Sperlak, the current owner, purchased the property in the late 1990s and established the art gallery in the early 2000s. The centerpiece is The Barn (pictured), constructed in 2012 by an Amish construction company from Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
In The Barn, we met Stan, the owner and founder of the gallery and gardens. He gave us a map and asked how long we had to visit. He outlined a tour that would highlight some of the coolest works on display. The art gallery in The Barn is free to visit. To visit the outdoor sculpture gardens, a $10 per adult donation is requested.
Our journey began here, on a path guarded by Korean Shi Shi Lions.
We quickly encountered sculpture after sculpture – no matter where you looked, works of art were everywhere!
Having hiked our fair share of trails over the past few years, my wife and I have become fairly comfortable in recognizing trail emblems. However, this was our first time encountering trails marked by painted water bottles.
This forest trail was literally lined with works of art.
This is part of Tipi Camp, an installation highlighting the tent dwellings that were used by Native Americans inhabiting the Great Plains. Speaking of Native American peoples, the town of Goshen was frequented by the Lenape people, who would often interact with the earliest European settlers in the area. The Lenape were an important source of trade and commerce for the settlers (via the Sperlak Visitors Guide and Wikipedia).
Several of the works incorporate mirrors. My favorite was this installation, which reflects the Dennis Creek Wildlife Management Area.
Needless to say, the sculpture gardens were a photographer’s dream.
Perhaps one of my favorite shots from our stroll through the sculpture gardens.
Stan Sperlak’s career as a landscape architect merged perfectly with his approach to art – his works seem to emerge seamlessly from the ground, becoming part of the landscape.
Although I typically avoid putting photos of myself into this blog, I call this photo “Self-Portrait in a Silver Sphere.”
After a fun afternoon spent exploring the gallery and gardens, it was time to get back on the road!
We reached my family’s shore house a little before sunset. With an overcast sky, I didn’t have high hopes for a good sunset. However, Mother Nature had other plans.
For a brief moment, the sun poked out from behind the clouds, treating us to a gorgeous scene!
Despite having seen countless Cape May sunsets in my years of visiting the Jersey shore, this view never gets old.
After enjoying the sunset, it was time to focus on dinner. Fresh seafood takeout from Fish & Fancy? Yes please!
That’ll be crab cakes for me, the seafood combo (flounder, scallops, and shrimp – not pictured) for my wife, and an appetizer of calamari. Delicious, as always!
I mean, my wife and I probably should explore some other breakfast spots in Cape May… but as long as Uncle Bill’s Pancake House is close by, why bother?
We ordered our usual – pecan pancakes for me, and gluten-free pecan pancakes for my wife. Yum! Yum! Yum!
After breakfast, we decided to go for a walk through the South Cape May Meadows. Located in southwestern Cape May, it’s one of our favorite local spots for hiking and bird watching.
Unfortunately, aside from some ducks and geese, there weren’t many birds to watch!
Bottoms up! I did enjoy watching these ducks diving for food.
These geese gave me opportunity to continue practicing my focusing skills. I’m trying to work on improving my tracking of birds in flight, and these geese were great test subjects.
The Cape May lighthouse made for a cool subject, even on an overcast day with snow showers in the forecast.
I was a bit disappointed with our bird-watching until we spotted this red-shouldered hawk sitting on a power line.
Found anywhere along the eastern seaboard from Mexico to Canada, the red-shouldered hawk is typically found in the depths of forests, making this one an unusual visitor to the coast.
After posing for me for seemingly an eternity, the hawk apparently had enough of my photographic antics and took flight. Our time with the hawk made for a fun end to our hike.
Before starting our drive home, we swung by Sunset Beach in Cape May. Although we were beneath gray skies, the waters were calm, and a decent portion of the remains of the concrete ship SS Atlantus were visible during low tide. We said goodbye to Cape May. And about an hour later, we’d also say goodbye to my nicely washed and waxed finish…
A winter storm passed through our area, covering the grass and trees in a blanket of white. Temperatures were just warm enough that the roads were only wet. However, by the end of the drive my car was covered in a layer of salt and road spray. Ah, the joys of winter.
The Accord once again brought us home safe and sound. Now with 192,000 miles rapidly approaching, the goal of 200k is getting closer and closer. Onward! Automotive Updates
Before closing, I wanted to share a cool bit of news from a friend and reader of this blog, a mileage update from a family member, and finally offer a quick bit checkup of my own high mileage Accord.
Longtime readers will remember my friend Justin, who owns a 2003 Honda Accord with nearly 900,000 miles on its odometer. His household recently gained another Honda acquisition – this beautiful 2017 Honda Accord Sport Special Edition. However, Justin’s 2003 Accord isn’t going anywhere – this beauty is for his wife.
Even cooler – buying this car involved a road trip! Justin and his wife found the car at a dealer in Louisiana. As they live in Texas, it was a 1,000 mile round trip adventure to pick up their new car.
Look closely between the seats… it’s rare to see one of these beasts in the wild: a manual transmission! Justin and Lisa prefer to shift their own gears, and specifically sought out an Accord with a 6-speed transmission. Justin reports that his wife is loving the new vehicle. Congrats to both of you! Best wishes for many, many happy miles ahead with your new ride.
You can tell my interest in automotive mileage achievements is starting to rub off on my family and friends… my Dad texted me a photo of the odometer of his 2015 Honda Accord sedan after it crossed the 105,000 mile mark. Woohoo!
Meanwhile, my Accord recently went to a local Honda dealer for a four-wheel alignment. The car wasn’t tracking straight on the highway, the result of one too many New Jersey potholes. The alignment brought the Accord’s handling back to perfection. Even better? The mechanic also did a multi-point inspection and all systems received a “green” grade for satisfactory. Excellent! Wrapping Up
One of the reasons I appreciate this blog is that it keeps pushing me to find new places to share – and despite its small size, New Jersey keeps coming up with great locations to visit! The Sperlak Gallery and Sculpture Gardens is open Saturday and Sunday year-round from 10:00 am – 4:00 pm. The art gallery in The Barn is free to visit, and those wishing to tour the sculpture gardens are asked to make a $10 donation per adult (children under 18 can enter for free), and there is no charge for parking. If you’re in the area of Cape May, I would highly recommend a visit!
As always, thanks for coming along on another journey down the open road ahead.
‘Til next time.