First, thanks a lot to Rise and Roam for nominating me for the Versatile Blogger Award! Since I was recently nominated by Rory Alexander, I’m not going to write a whole new post on it, but feel free to check out my post, The Versatile Blogger, if you’re feeling inspired.
Warren, NJ: Good Friends, Good Food, and Washington Rock
After leaving Ottawa, the 8 hours to New Jersey were uneventful. I did notice, however, that Pennsylvania is a beautiful, mountainous drive, and also that there’s somewhere called Buttzville, NJ.
I arrived at my friend Maria’s house in Warren around 6pm and she showed me around their yard while her mom got dinner going. They lived in a fairly suburban area with neighbors close by, so I was surprised to see that they had a vegetable garden in their backyard. “We had to put a fence around it because deer and other animals kept getting into our vegetables,” Maria told me. Definitely not what I expected from New Jersey.
We joked and chatted for a while, then headed in when Maria’s mother called us for dinner. Maria’s family is Portuguese, and they told me about their parish in Portugal as we ate a delicious meal of steak, rice, black beans and salad.
After dinner, Maria told me about this ice cream place in a neighboring town (but still close by) that makes all their own ice cream. “We have to go there,” she said, “It is the best.” Not one to pass up dessert, I agreed, and we jumped in her mini cooper and headed to Zita’s.
I told Maria how I’d seen a couple of moose on the highway in Quebec and then in Maine, and she told me how she thought deer were attracted to her car. “Seriously, though,” she said, “I was sitting at a corner not moving, and a deer just jumped into the side of my car and bounced off. Apparently they just go crazy during their mating season.”
When we got to Zita’s, they were just about to close. We bought our ice cream and hung out on the picnic tables outside as they cleaned up. The ice cream definitely lived up to its reputation.
The next day, Maria had to work, but she gave me a short tour of her neighborhood before heading to her 9-5. We saw old farm houses and historical homes; she told me about a tour she had taken as a teenager during which the guide would point out a historical site, explain its significance, then say, “but unfortunately we couldn’t raise enough money to keep that one, so it’s being torn down and developed next year.” For the most part, though, Warren and its neighboring towns were not very developed (apart from weird traffic patterns that make it impossible for you to turn left), and the neighborhoods still had plenty of flora.
Our last stop before Maria had to go to work was Washington Rock State Park. From here, General George Washington had a 39-mile panoramic view of the valley during the Revolutionary War.