The weekend of Halloween brought my cousin’s wedding and some early snowfall, which prompted an overnight stay in Toms River, N.J. It was better to stay over regardless of the weather, since the drive back would have been a couple of hours late at night. On the commute to the Lakewood area, then from the hotel to the church and later to the reception venue on Oct. 29, there were a lot of interesting things to see on a future trip to New Jersey.
On the way to Toms River, the weather was already going sour and we saw one minor accident on the opposite side of the road. Later on, we were told by some relatives that they saw an overturned car; other relatives saw eight accidents as they made their way to the church.
I noticed some old, empty-looking buildings near Allaire Road. They must have been a part of an old fort, its entrance sign just past them. Once we were in the general area of the hotel, I saw another sign; this time for a Halloween attraction: Scary Rotten Farms in the town of Brick.
While picking up the hotel room key cards, I grabbed a bunch of area brochures for future New Jersey travel ideas. A guide to downtown Toms River, biplane rides over the beaches, Jenkinson’s Boardwalk, Barnegat Bay, Ocean County Historical Society, Laurita Winery and Vineyard were among the brochures I picked out. Then we went up to the third floor accommodations and left our overnight stuff behind before heading for the church.
St. Mary of the Lake Church looked like one you might see somewhere in Europe, with its medieval-style architecture. It was a great choice for the wedding, very ornate detail inside as well! Outside the church was a sign on one wall, stating the year 1925.
On the way from the church to the reception venue, I spotted an old white Victorian house standing abandoned among some trees just off the road. It was just past some views of a lake, straight down the road from the church and on the right. In the short glimpse I had of the old Victorian, I noticed one of my favorite architectural features: a witch’s hat tower on its right side if you’re facing the front door.
While the reception went on at Eagle Ridge Golf Club, the weather changed from sleet to light snow. It was falling rather fast at some point and toward the end of the event, we were told by a waitress that the governor had declared a state of emergency. We were concerned about some family members who had decided against staying at a hotel somewhere. This is what it looked like on the way to the golf club.
The next day brought some exploring of the Lakehurst and Lakewood areas before my mom & I headed back home to Pennsylvania. We started of with breakfast at the Lakehurst Diner, and I’m not really a coffee person, but they serve really good coffee there!
Looking for the famous air station where the Hindenburg went down long ago. As the passenger, I was trying to find the way around the general area using the map feature on my phone. That led to a back view of Hangar 1, with only a section of the roof visible from a road ending at a gate closing off the property. I opened up my Foursquare app and listings of nearby places included a middle school named after Christa McAuliffe, the teacher-in-space lost in the Challenger accident on Jan. 28, 1986. I know that there is a science center named to honor her in Massachusetts, her home state, but never knew of any in New Jersey. So that was the next stop, which took us to the other side of the naval air station at Lakehurst and down the road a few miles. I took a few photos of the signs reading, “Christa McAuliffe Middle School,” since she was and is a hero to me, along with career astronauts. It was nice to see that there was a school named after her in New Jersey, one sign having a space shuttle design on it.
Heading back the way we came from, we got a better view of Hangar 1 from the road as we passed the naval air station. I remembered also seeing Hangar 1 on an episode of SyFy’s Ghost Hunters and wondered about being able to tour the grounds one day. The entrance has a Blue Angel jet positioned as though it’s rocketing upward for an air show stunt.
After that, we stopped along two places where old and abandoned buildings stood. The first was the Chateau Grand. It didn’t look very old, although it had been left abandoned with numerous windows broken out and graffiti in various spots. While the building wasn’t entirely spooky by day, I’m sure this place takes on a much more ominous feel and look under nightfall. All I could find out about this place was its former use as a ballroom and wedding-related venue. Now it looks like a foreboding derelict, perfect for a local Halloween night scare-fest.
The other building looked to be a little older, also once used for a business. I took two photos with my smartphone, since all my camera batteries were dead and I didn’t have a recharger with me. One photo came out blurry and the other, nice and sharp. This was one case in which I didn’t mind the blurry photo, since it gave the old building an ethereal look.
We were pretty much on our way to Pennsylvania afterward and for a long time, we continued by driving through the Pine Barrens, home of the Jersey Devil legend. That reminds me of one time going home from a holiday gathering with family in another part of New Jersey. Before my mom, grandmother and I got to the exit for the Commodore Barry Bridge one night (either Thanksgiving, Christmas or New Years), a big gray-colored creature flew past in front of the car. It flew left to right, going so fast that it was a blur to me. We joked about seeing the Jersey Devil, but there are plenty of local birds to explain that encounter; most likely either a crane or a pelican.
Anyway, I have a lot of exploring of New Jersey to do later on. Cape May, to take photos of Victorian architecture; Lambertville, parts of the northern half of the state and I also want to go on the next Lighthouse Challenge. That takes place during the month of October.