A Travellerspoint blog

Day 65 (11.05.07) - NJ Beaches & Birds

We take a side road to Long Beach, NJ and then visit the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge right across the bay from Atlantic City.

sunny 65 °F


Miles Driven - 126
Weather - Absolutely Fabulous! (Sunny, mid 60's, little wind until late afternoon)
Camped at - Lake & Shore RV Resort, Ocean View, NJ (20 miles south of Atlantic City)


It was cold last night, mid to lower 40's, but we were snug enough in the rig. While there are all sorts of political issues and valid concerns about Wal-mart, I SO MUCH appreciate their RV friendly attitude! I'd often be willing to pay for a campground - but can't find many open this time of the year in the northern states. I'd probably just park on any old side street, but Mom seems to get stressed thinking some policeman might wake us up and tell us to move in the middle of the night (so what, we move then) - so anyway, it's nice to know we can park someplace relatively safe (lighted, with security camera's, and where overnight parking is allowed).

Anyway, I digress. Again this morning we found ourselves driving through strip malls for the first couple of hours - then I saw a sign saying lighthouses and beaches were out on Hwy 72. Mom pointed out that it would be at least ten miles out of our way, but I figured I was tired of just driving through strip malls so I just turned, no plan, just did it.

We drove over a long bridge over the intercoastal waterway and onto an island. It was very heavily populated with large, two and three story houses packed in fairly tightly - but this was clearly a seaside community. The Chamber of Commerce had a nice visitors center with a very helpful staff who gave us a map of the island and pointers on what to see. At the far north (nine miles away) was the lighthouse (the island is about 18 miles long and can be as narrow as 1/4 mile wide). The bridge connects the mainland to the middle of the island. I decided we wouldn't have time to drive both directions, so focused on driving to the north end.

By the time we got to the lighthouse, the weather had warmed up considerably and was just incredible for November - mid 60's, no wind, clear and sunny. If you don't go to a beach (or someplace nice) on a day like today it's almost a shame. This is the Barnegat Lighthouse on the north end of Long Beach, New Jersey:


At 165 feet, it is by far the tallest lighthouse we've seen yet. It was built in 1858 by George Meade, later of Civil War fame. It was retired in 1944 and is now a state park. As with any seaside area (and most of the inland area's as well we've learned), there were plenty of seagull's looking for something to eat. I thought this was a little unusual lunch fare however, but maybe not for seagulls:


We spent some time enjoying the lighthouse, fishermen, and shore area at the state park, then drove on to look for the lighthouse museum the visitiors center had told us about. The museum was closed for the season, but guess what - they had a nice little garden outside. Yes, I finally found a garden in 'The Garden State'. Of course this time of year there isn't much in bloom, but it was still a lovely little spot (especially on such a lovely day). (I'm not too happy with the pictures I got, but since it's the first garden we've come to in the garden state, thought I'd better prove that there actually was one.)


Mom said she wanted to actually visit a beach on the Atlantic Ocean since we were close to it again. (I was trying to hurry along a little bit), but I didn't mind going to a beach again either - so we pulled over (it was at least 1/2 block out of our way!) We were both a little surprised at how soft and white the sand was here. The tide was out and there were lots and lots of shells, real atlantic ocean waves (vs. ripples in the more protected bays and coves), sand dunes and even a butterfly!


Finally, I couldn't leave Long Beach without taking at least one picture of the quaint, seaside ambiance we found there:


I'm not sure why we ever left the beach, maybe because there was no RV camping allowed? Oh well, we headed back inland and south again towards Atlantic City. Even though I'm not the least bit interested in the whole Trump Towers thing, the Boardwalk & Park Place connection should be fun given how much Monopoly we've played over the years.

At least as we drove south from Hwy 72, the strip malls finally started thinning out and we started seeing older, more historic villages and some rural scenery again. We were both interested to see the forests in eastern NY, PA and now also New Jersey don't seem to have much underbrush. I suppose they looked this way during the Revolutionary War, which wouldn't provide much cover.


We continued to look for interesting places to stop and investigate, but most had closed for the season. Just before we got to Atlantic City however was a sign for "Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge".


We both joked about how every time we stop at a wildlife viewing area, we don't see a thing - but we see plenty of wildlife away from the marked stops. I had a bunch of cars stacked up behind me however, so pulled over to let them by. Somehow, when I pulled back onto the road I had decided to check out the NWR (maybe it's because we hadn't seen much else to stop at today).

The first thing I found interesting is how the NWR is tucked in right next to glitz city, USA:


This NWR has an 8 mile one-way dirt road (Wild Life Trail) that takes you into the wetlands area over dikes. This is actually the preferred way to view the park, as less foot traffic (& human interaction) helps preserve the place for wild life. The speed limit on this trail is 15 mph, but we probably averaged a lot slower and stopped often. This time, we actually did see a lot of birds at a wildlife refuge (and a deer).

Because we saw so many cool birds, I'm just going to display the thumbnails below. You can click to enlarge these if you want - plus a bonus. I'm not a birder, but sometimes also get tired of labeling my photo's as 'Birds'. This time, I used the recent survey the NWR posts of what birds have been spotted and a lot of Wikipedia research to identify what most of the birds are in my photo's! (And Mom wonders why it takes me so long to update the blog every night!)





An finally, when we were almost at the end of the Wild Life Loop Trail, we passed this. I could have saved all that time and just posted one photo for a whole bunch of different birds!


After spending so much time at the beach and watching birds, it was too late to go to Atlantic City. I suppose must people probably don't even start out there until dusk, but I was tired and didn't want to mess with it until morning. So we located an RV park about 20 miles south of Atlantic City that was still open (Yeh!) and headed off. On the way, we stopped at a little, Greek family restaraunt - the Athena. It's worth mentioning. It caught my eye because the sign said they did all their own baking on premises, so we went in. At first, the prices seemed a little high to me (for a 'family' restaraunt). However, we soon learned that the prices were all inclusive, beverage, salad, and dessert as well as the meal. In addition, the food was excellent and way too much for either Mom nor I to finish - so we'll get at least two meals out of our dinner.

I probably should have bought some rolls for breakfast tomorrow, but was too stuffed to think about any more food, so took our 'doggie' boxes and drove on to the campground. (We used the GPS tonight, thank goodness - we were both too tired, and full, to mess with trying to navigate down here in the dark).

The weather is supposed to turn bad again tonight and the campground here is quite nice so I may stay over a day and try to get the things caught up that I didn't do Sunday (maybe even that section of the blog that never got updated, edit some video's, etc.) Tune in tomorrow and find out...

Posted by jl98584 20:45 Archived in USA Tagged family_travel

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I think "Garden State" refers to the gardens that fed NYC, not formal gardens. When NJ was named the "garden state" it had more farms. Have you seen the Pallisades? they are cliffs facing NYC.

by drque

Hi There, we met at Cape May Point State Park in the park office where I work! It was so nice talking to you, i hope the rest of your trip goes wonderful for your once in a life time trip! May your journey be blessed with many wonderful memories and warm sunny weather and safe journey! nice job on identifying the birds! just a couple of comments...the black ducks are cormorants.

The swans are Mute Swans (yes no voice) but you can hear sound as they fly, but that is the wind under their wings making the sound).

I love that last picture showing the changing colors, a great blue heron and snowy egret or great egret (hard to tell from a distance no scale) and mallards, perfect picture! Butterfly looks like a painted lady. Good luck on the rest of your trip! Your really seeing some awesome birds congrates!!!! You lucked out seeing the eagle, your in the right place (South Jersey) during the fall migration of raptors....eagles, hawks and owl's one of the best places to be in North America for this migration! Have a fun and safe journey! Come see us again!

Sincerely Janet at Cape May Point State Park

by cmpsp

beautiful pics

by rllomas

Thanks! This trip has sure been a learning opportunity in SO many ways. I have corrected the descriptions for the bird photos. Also, I looked up the butterfly in Wikipedia and couldn't quite make the match, but did find a perfect match to a "Common Buckeye", so editied the description for that also. It helps that I have the original, higher res photo here on my laptop - I have to drop down the resolution to 800 x 600 for uploading, so the online version might be harder to see the detail on the wings.

by jl98584

I forgot to mention, No - we didn't see the Palisades. I was trying to avoid the NYC area - nothing personal against NYC (I'd still like to see the Gugenheim someday), it's just easier to enjoy the trip by keeping the RV away from the big cities. Can't always do that, but no NYC or Newark area's this trip.

by jl98584

A few summers ago we visited my wife's family for a reunion on Long Beach, staying in a house at Love Ladies. We bicycled from there up to the Barnegat lighthouse. They had some good icecream near there then, but I don't suppose you were so lucky in November.

by TexasRTJ

I think the ice cream place was closed, but with the beautiful weather the day we were there (mid 60's and sunny) - in Nov, we had a treat enough as it was.

by jl98584

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