Review: Mountain Creek Ziplining

When I told my husband we were going ziplining, he said “In WINTER? Don’t they offer it in summer?” I started having second thoughts, thinking about the cold wind in our faces and the waiting time in the snow. But it was a little late to cancel. At the worst, I figured we’d have something to laugh about in our holiday letter -how stupid were we to zipline in the winter?

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Turns out we had nothing to worry about. The skies were blue, and even with temperatures in the 30s, it could not have been a nicer (winter) day to be “flying.”

We arrived at the Zoom Zipline office at Mountain Creek’s Cobblestone Village (across the street from the Red Tail Lodge) at our starting time. Inside they had waivers to sign and the harnesses and helmets laid out. They helped us put them on and adjust them, going over a few rules.

ziplining harness and helmet? check. copyright deborah abrams kaplan

 We headed over the pedestrian bridge to the right of the Cab Ride (the lift at the lodge base). The first zip line was a practice one, low to the ground and only 200 feet long. We learned about the correct flying position (seated in our harness, legs straight out, hands wherever you want them) and the landing position (knees pulled in to the chest, hands on the bar above) and we all had a turn. There were 13 of us, so it took awhile.

 

The intro zipline - 200 feet long. copyright deborah abrams kaplan
The intro zipline – 200 feet long. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

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A Night at the Races – Horse Races that is

Touch and Go. Trend Spotter. That’s Justice. The Pokester. Tricky Jakeskyscape. Get Jazzed. Marjorly Bad. Dinner Guest. Nathan Feelsgood. Ol’ Man River. He Rocks It. Get it Now. Golden Receiver. Betterthanlynx. Bullet Bob. Boiler Bob the QB. Bakin on the Beach. Fiftyshadesdarker. Fiveknuckleshuffle. Fool of Ideas. Fresh Dream. Midas Blue Chip. Musselsfrmbrussels. Mysterious Moment. Western Tsunami. Versado. Voice of Truth. Sonic Dancer. Sheer Desire. Sea Me Now. Saywhatuneedtosay.

Losers.
Losers.

Do you know where I’m going with this? Roller derby? Nope. Horse racing. We went. Should you?

Jockey Debbie sitting in a sulky. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan
Jockey Debbie sitting in a sulky. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

I didn’t really think that New Jersey would have horse racing – in JANUARY – at night, no less. But they do, at the Meadlowlands Race Track. We went a Harness Meet. Those of us not “in the know” called chariot racing or cart racing. Why? Continue reading “A Night at the Races – Horse Races that is”

Treat of the Day: The Chocolate Bar

Our favorite dessert spot in Westfield is the Chocolate Bar, and we’ve been there many, many times. They sell gelato and all sorts of chocolate items, including chocolate covered brownies, chocolate covered pretzels, chocolate covered graham crackers, chocolate dipped pizzelles, chocolate dipped biscotti, almond bark, chocolate covered strawberries, truffles, gourmet coffee and more.

The Chocolate Bar (they have no website) is at 112 Quimby Street in Westfield.

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Review: King Sauna (King Spa Fitness)

A few years back, I read an article in New Jersey Monthly about King Sauna in Palisades Park. And my interest was piqued. I love trying new spa experiences, especially after going to one in Turkey. So when the kids were off in camp and I didn’t have to worry about what time to pick them up, I drove to Palisades Park.

When you check in, you get a wristband with your locker key and a bar code you use for any purchases. They give you a toothbrush, large shower towel, and a smaller hand towel which you bring with you as you sauna. They also give you a “uniform,” pink for women, white for men. They were like scrubs material, but shorts and t-shirt. They flattered NO ONE.

Unfortunately the women’s locker room and spa was under renovation, so we were in a much smaller locker room, and the spa (hot tubs, showers, bathing area, steam room) wasn’t as nice as the one in the pictures online. That said, they’re supposed to have the changes finished this weekend. Continue reading “Review: King Sauna (King Spa Fitness)”

Day Trip: Sterling Hill Mine in New Jersey

I went to the Sterling Hill Mine and Museum as part of a school field trip, but you can go on your own as a family.

The Sterling Hill Mining Museum. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

ROCKS

We learned that there are 3 types of rocks.

-metamorphic (created by pressure – heat turned it into something else). Examples: slate, which used to be shale. Marble, which used to be limestone

-sedimentary (silt, sand). Examples: coal, sandstone

-igneous (magma, lava). Examples: basalt

The mountain that’s mined is a marble hill, with white and gray stone. Continue reading “Day Trip: Sterling Hill Mine in New Jersey”

Day Trip: Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

If you can manage to find the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge in Basking Ridge, NJ, you’ll have a great time there. We’ve been twice now, to different sections. The swamp is one of more than 500 wildlife refuges administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. You’ll find about 8 miles of marked trails, though there’s 3,660 acres of off-trail hiking.

Last weekend we hit the boardwalk area (note: there were restrooms but no water fountain or garbage can). You’ll find maps at the trail head/parking lot. The wildlife observation center is on New Vernon Road (aka Long Hill Road – depending on the address).

I regretted not bringing my better SLR camera with its telephoto lens. In the hour or so we walked on the boardwalks, we spotted baby and adult turtles, lots of birds, dragonflies, chipmunks, though there are a ton more animals we didn’t see.

If you stand still long enough, you’ll see lots of animals in here

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Lakota Wolf Preserve – With Kids

Did you know that those magazine photos of wolves in the wild usually aren’t taken in the wild? They’re not, because wolves can smell you a mile away and they want no part of you. Those photos are usually taken at a wolf preserve, like the Lakota Wolf Preserve in Columbia, NJ.

We stopped by there recently for a tour, chock full of interesting information not only about wolves, but bobcats and foxes, which they also have there. I thought the 1.5 hour tour might bore my 10 year old daughter, but she paid rapt attention, possibly because the caretakers told us interesting stories and facts about the animals, and she got to watch them being fed.

Lakota Wolf Preserve. Copyright Deborah Abrams Kaplan

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New Jersey – What to do with the kids this Summer?

As school draws to an end, I’ve been collecting lists of places to go and things to do this summer. Here are a few links to get you started:

Summer Family-Fun Guide – fairs and festivals in the Garden State this summer (Star Ledger)

Summer Camp Guide – in case you are still making plans (Star Ledger)

New Jersey Summer Beach Guide (New Jersey Monthly)

Jersey Shore – Guide for Summer Fun Activities (New Jersey Monthly)

–Shore happenings – Jen Miller’s Down the Shore with Jen blog. The second edition of her book Explorer’s Guide – The Jersey Shore: Atlantic City to Cape May is being released now.

–I recently heard Kevin Woyce speak about Jersey Shore history – totally interesting stuff. He has a book out, Jersey Shore History and Facts – check it out.

–Head to a New Jersey State Park

–Go to a small amusement park (Mommy Poppins)

–Read Jersey Kids’ review of Land of Make Believe

Any helpful links you love? Add them in the comments!