Still making great use of our newly acquired family vehicle, we ventured out to Allaire State Park and Historic Village last weekend. I know I said we’d be going to the Poconos in a previous post, but during my research on New Jersey state parks I came across Allaire, a state park with a 200-year-old ghost town right in the center of it. I couldn’t pass it up. The idea of hiking in Monmouth county, which I’d been told by my upstairs neighbor is gorgeous, was too much to resist. Also, spending part of the day touring old buildings and milling around with re-enactors dressed in period costume and demonstrating blacksmithing, soapmaking and scrimshaw skills among other things reminded me of TN and the Dollywood days of my childhood.
So I talked Mr. T and Mr. S out of the mountains and into the Jersey shore, but after a few minutes on the Garden State Parkway that seemed to be a huge mistake. What were we thinking heading down toward the beaches on a weekend? There were a million tolls, and vehicular chaos ensued after each toll booth. Traffic crawled and drivers were rude and impatient, and what should have been a one-hour trip from Bayonne, took three hours.
We decided to leave Bayonne during Mr. S's nap time, thinking he'd surely fall right to sleep. But he was too excited. Most of the car ride went like this:
Mr. S: Are we there, Mama?
Me: Not yet. It will be awhile.
Mr. S: Why are we in a traffic jam? Why are the cars stopped?
Me: Everyone’s heading to the beach today.
Mr. S (pointing out the window): Is that the park over there? Are we there?
Me: No. It will be awhile.
Mr. T: Seamus, it will be a LONG, LONG, LONG time before we get there. Just relax and sit back, take a nap.
Mr. S: I don’t want to take a nap. I want a cracker.
Me: You’ve had enough crackers.
Mr. S: But I WANT a cracker.
Me: You’ve eaten almost the whole box. That’s enough.
Mr. S: But I WANT a cracker!
Mr. T (to me): Stop talking to him. Everyone just stop talking. Seamus you’ve had enough crackers. Sit back and take a nap.
Mr. S (screaming and crying): I don’t want to take nap!
Mr. S screams and cries. No one talks to anyone. Eventually Mr. S settles down, stops crying and then…
Mr. S: Are we there, Mama?
And the whole conversation starts all over again. Mr. S finally fell asleep half an hour before we arrived at our destination.
Allaire Village is beautiful.
The admission fee is only $3 to tour all the buildings and see all the neatly attired people performing their antiquated work. But Mr. S had no interest in touring any buildings except the general store, which had lots of toys. If it didn't involve sticks or digging in the dirt or looking for salamanders or feeding fish, Mr. S didn't care.
So we wondered around the village looking at everything from the outside.
Wheelwright and Carpenter Buildings:
Once a church, now an enameler's building:
Aside from the General Store the only building we went into was the Bakery, where we purchase sweet treats for all:
Mr. S is a cookie zombie:
Then we ventured off to the hiking trails, making our way first to the old blast furnace, where iron was smelted back in the day:
Allaire’s primary business was iron-working, and in the 1870s row houses were established for the families of the iron workers.
We did manage to tour the inside of one of these, which included a museum. There were also replica living quarters with the beds made and tables set just so. The row houses were small and usually occupied by one whole family, along with some of their friends, extended family and other bachelor iron workers.
The trails at Allaire State Park were nice, but there were too many people visiting that day for us to feel like we really got away from everything. There are also campgrounds, bike trails, playgrounds, picnic areas and a tour train that you can ride. It would probably be an even better place to spend the day in the Fall when the leaves are at their peak and the tourists are far, far away from the shore.
A little creek on one of the trails:
The terrible drive on the way down kind of put a damper on everything. We were all in awful moods and wondering if it wouldn't have been better just to turn around and head back home, but once we got there, our day improved and we enjoyed ourselves. It was nice being out in nature.
However, the most fun of all was the ride back home because we threw away our Google directions and purchased a real live paper map and took Highways 34 and 9 back to Bayonne. There was no traffic on these back roads, and it only took an hour to get home. Along the way, we got to see some beautiful countryside, farms and quaint towns. We stopped to eat dinner in the town of Colt’s Neck, and then relaxed for the rest of the drive back as we watched the bumper to bumper traffic on the Garden State Parkway through the trees that paralleled our route. This was the way to go, and the way we’ll always go from now on.