Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Report from Frogtown, Wickecheoke, and Ship Inn

My birthday was spent by visiting old and new places in New Jersey, this state of the union (USA) that shows the most amazing diversity from the armpit-like areas around the abandoned landfills near Newark Airport to virgin forests and singing Baltimore orioles in pristine landscapes. The motto of the state is 'Shore to please', I think, but that only goes for some areas, like these ones we saw this Sunday. Wickecheoke Creek Preserve is a long, very narrow nature preserve in Hunterdon County, which runs along, you guessed it - Wickecheoke Creek. It is an Indian name, and it probably means something interesting that I don't know (yet). We saw a pickerel frog here (thanks to PJM for the ID), with leopard-like spots on its back. Poison ivy was rampant, but so were also blue birds, a merganser, and many spring flowers. We will be coming back here.

Lunch was spent in the wonderful little town of Milford on the Delaware River, and its very English pub Ship Inn. We ordered fish and chips of course, which came with the standard very mayoish tartar sauce (unhealthy and delicious) and smashed green peas. PP had a locally made beer (Ship Inn is a brewery), and I had hard cider - extremely good. After lunch and the obligatory ohs and ahs over 5 tiny ducklings swimming after their mallard mom (sorry, no pic), we headed for Frogtown, a place that we had passed several times on rubber wheels but never walked a step in.
Frogtown (aka Frenchtown - note to Frenchtown webmaster: you are two months late with updates), has the feel of a small Lambertville (another town more to the south in the Delaware river valley). Here you see old-fashioned history in a little town along the Delaware river, bending and buckling wooden houses that have been flooded many times over their lifetime, as well as more sturdy brick structures. Crazy house colors, and some abandoned areas, and mixed in with this, the new age opportunists (at least two Yoga salons) and ex-New Yorker's stores and galleries with expensive, unneeded things, old or new. We did see some cool things, but we didn't buy anything except for a coffee at Bridge Cafe in the old train station, and some candy at Minette's Candies (licorice!). The galleries had mostly very expensive, garish things, that looked like they werefor sale for rich people, not the locals (unless the locals are rich, which happens often in Hunterdon county). Not much was in my taste, except for a few paintings and a glass art object with japanese koi fishes. In one photo gallery we were met by Yubba the Hat (he had a cowboy hat on) and you could pick up a pamphlet on Famous Quotes about Gun Ownership (I did, will be sent to OK for philosophical analysis). Scary stuff.

The antique store was trying to sell not so old junk for many dollars and the cutest thing in there was the two real dogs. Oh, I forgot - in the interior design gallery they sold framed pressed plants for $200 each. The plants were part of a Swedish herbarium, with all labels in Swedish ("växtsläkte", etc.), and looked like a school project by a 15-year old from the 1950s, which is most likely was. The paper was brown, the plants were brown, it was just ugly. And $200! It was reduced with 50% to $100, so maybe some other people realized it was overkill too. Maybe I need to go and make some fake antique herbarium collections so I can earn some more money?

But despite all this, Frogtown was really nice. They have an inn that serves lunch and dinner near the river, and as long as you don't visit when the Delaware is swelling, you will not get wet.

When we came home I made a birthday tart of rhubarb and almond paste. It was a recipe from Rosendal's cafe in Stockholm, from a cookbook my mom gave us. Delicious!!!! Thanks mom!

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