Day 18 NYC to Somerset, NJ 56 miles 2,095 feet
We slept in a bit, as the first ferry from Manhattan to New Jersey did not leave until 10:20 AM on weekends. I left a few minutes before everyone else so I could stop at the Irish Hunger Memorial. The memorial was dedicated to raising awareness about the one million plus Irishmen that starved to death between 1845 and 1852 during the great potato famine. The crisis was exacerbated by British politics which incentivized the exportation of other profitable foods when the potato crop was decimated by a fungus. The memorial contains stones donated by the Slack family from their family’s 19th century Carradoogan cottage. The concrete base is wrapped with brass bands carrying many pertinent inscriptions. I believe this on says it all, “WELL-FED PEOPLE HAVE MANY PROBLEMS, HUNGRY PEOPLE HAVE BUT ONE.” The memorial is surrounded by spectacular gardens and many colorful dahlias were in full bloom.
We rode the ferry across to Jersey City and disembarked at the Colgate Center. We rode for a few miles, including a full mile on rough cobblestones, to Liberty State Park, where we viewed the Empty Sky: New Jersey September 11th Memorial. We followed the promenade south to view the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island before heading inland.
We rode through Bayonne, with it’s modest working class homes and over the Bayonne Bridge back into New York, this time entering in Staten Island. The only borough I missed riding through on this visit was Queens.
We rode through a fairly rundown section of Staten Island that fronted on a very commercial stretch of waterfront just south of Shooters Island. The water side of he street contained maritime companies, including a dredging company owned by a friend, and assorted construction companies or storage facilities. The opposite side of the street contained run down, and occasionally burned out shops. It was just past 11 and a half dozen very inebriated guys where hanging out in front of one of the bodegas, I did not stop to take a photo. I exited Staten Island over the new Goethals Bridge. In 1976 I commuted over the original Goethals Bridge twice a day for the entire summer, more on that later. Crossing the bridge back into New Jersey provided me with an excellent view of the Arthur Kill Vertical Lift Bridge, unfortunately it also showcased the oil refineries and chemical plants that many consider synonymous with New Jersey. I rode a short paved pathway through Mattano Park along the banks of the Elizabeth River where I saw picture perfect evidence for banning single use plastic bottles.
I entered Rahway, where I had worked as a research chemist at Merck & Company during the summer of 1976, and strayed off course a bit when my ears detected live music. I stopped in at the outdoor party getting underway at the Wet Ticket Beer Garden. I didn’t have any beer but I rocked with the tunes for a few songs before bidding adieu.
After grabbing some water from our van I headed off route to grab some lunch and visit the Edison Memorial Tower. Brooklyn Brothers, 9 Lincoln Highway, Edison had an amazing selection of pizza’s by the slice. I opted for one slice with chicken, barbecue sauce, and crispy fried onions, and a second slice with penne in vodka sauce, both were amazing.
Heading through Metuchen I noticed some finely kept homes and many trees beginning to show their colors.
I crossed the Raritan River into New Brunswick, home of Rutgers University, where old architecture blended well with modern additions. There where several fine chapels, including Kirkpatrick Chapel from 1873, one of the last Barnes&Nobles that Bezos has not put out of business, and the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital
When I finally reached my hotel in a deserted commercial zone, I realized that in just 4 hours of relaxed pedaling I had gone from the center of universe to the middle of nowhere. This was confirmed when I went to checkin and found that both the pool and bar were closed. This does not make sense to a sailor, for in a yacht club, if the door is open the bar is open.
I passed on the group dinner to join my best friend from Medical School and his wife for dinner in Somerville at Origin French Thai, 25 Division Street. I guess it was not to be my night as they did have a bar either. The food was spicy and fresh, the local band playing in the courtyard was too loud for us to talk so we did not linger over dinner.
Six states down, 9 more to go.
Miles 966 Feet Climbed 39,748
States Visited Maine, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey
For more details on my route, see my Strava link