(2012) Peapack NJ

It had been a very long time since I’d taken the bike out for pleasure. The weather was changing and our time would soon be filled with last-minute things to do before our big move (we’re moving to Switzerland after the first of the year). Dan decided to stay home while I got out the camera and the BMW. I didn’t know where I’d go, but I thought that I should at least wander around for a few hours.

September 16, 2012
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I headed southwest from home, making time on the interstates before jumping off to explore some back roads. The area I was in was evidently prosperous: the houses were huge and ornate and the lawns the sat upon were the size of neighborhood block my house is on. It seemed tedious and wasteful to cut that much grass. Eventually I found my way to some narrow little back roads, a lot fewer houses and more forests. It was beginning to be a pleasant ride.

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There were a number of bicyclists out today and I can’t say that I blame them: the weather was prefect. Deep blue skies, a cool breeze and a warm sun. It was the perfect day to be out and about. I rode through the charmingly named village of Peapack-Gladstone and continued along some more back roads and farmland. The sign for “Pickle Rd” was too enticing to pass up and I peeled off from County Rd 512 to see what wonders it held. I was pleasantly surprised to find some smooth gravel under my wheels as I climbed the ridge and passed some equestrian jumps. Then I saw the barn.

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I have a thing for barns. Old Lancaster barns are the best, but just about any 100-year-old barn will catch my eye. This one was unique, with a handsome coat of red paint, arched windows, ivy delicately climbing to the roofline – and the silo! I was surprised when I got off the bike to see that the silo did not have a standard dome top but instead a beautiful shingled top with a dormer window. What was this magical place?

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No one was in sight as I walked around the well-landscaped yard and tried to get a better angle. The architecture was so incredibly unique and I really wanted to know more about it. Then I noticed a white tent set up in the yard next door. I surmised that perhaps this was the arboretum that I had seen signs for a while ago, advertising garden tours. Yes, that must be this place!

I got back on the bike and rode down to the next drive way, pulled in and parked on the gravel drive. I could barely believe what I saw: an exquisite green house with a very exotic looking building and manicured pool. I could see antique sculptures behind the glass and the vegetation was lush. What was this place? I took off my helmet and removed my camera from the tank bag.

Just then a small group of people came out of a door at the side of the main building. Something in the way they all looked at me made me hesitate. I looked around, looked at them and immediately felt like I shouldn’t be there. I asked the woman nearest me if the property was public or private.

“Private.”

Whoops. I apologized, hesitated and then asked if I could take a couple of pictures anyway. The woman was ok with this and I snapped a couple of shots before their barking Dalmatian made me feel even more self conscious. I packed up my stuff and left quietly. After I got home I did a little bit of research and found that the property is associated with Tendenze Design. I would have loved to have learned (and explored) more of their property.

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It wasn’t very long after leaving Tendenze that I found my next point of interest: an abandoned house. This was an old stone structure right on the edge of the road and hard to miss. I turned the bike around and got off to explore. There was the basic square of stone block, but I could discern at least two later additions to the building, including a balcony of sorts on a second floor window.

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What surprised me the most about this structure, however, were the couple of items still attached the house that would have normally been salvaged or stolen long ago. In addition to that, I found that the modern electric meter at the back of the house was still moving, albeit ever so slowly. There were also the remains of a decorative pool further across the yard – this must have been quite the place in its day! I thought about checking out another building further in from road, but I saw that there were some people in the yard, and they didn’t look like they were the friendly type. I slipped back out to the bike and continued on my way.

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Actually, there isn’t much more to this trip. I was heading north and closer to more towns and traffic. There was still the option of continuing north into more farmlands, but honestly, it didn’t appeal to me. I realized that I was bored. I made a quick stop at Five Guys for some burgers and brought lunch home for Dan and I. And there ended my “last NJ fling”.

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