Thursday, June 28, 2007

New Jersey Country Roads and other ramblings

Today was my last day on the project in Princeton and it was my last day driving across the state (at least for the time being). When I first started working on the project I was taking the Garden State Parkway South to I-195 to I-295 to I-95. For the most part it is a reverse commute so it is not super crowded. However, the usual speed limit is about 75 miles an hour and you are usually in a line of other cars going just as fast. It can be kind of nerve racking.

The last time I went to Six Flags' Great Adventure I took Rt 537 and I noticed that it was faster. Since I passed Six Flags on the way to Princeton I decided that it might be better to take back roads instead of going out of my way on the faster highways. My new route to work became Rt 520 to Rt 9 to Rt 537 to Rt 524 to Rt 195 to Rt 295 to Rt 95. While I still had to drive on the super highways at the end (or beginning) most of the trip was on back roads that I could drive the speed limit (40 to 50 Mph) and only add 10 minutes to my trip.

One of the benefits was that Rt 524 is a real country road that is lined with large hay and straw farms. Certaintly the part of New Jersey that makes it "The Garden State". The first couple of weeks it was cool enough that I could drive with the windows down and take in the smell of the fresh cut hay. One of the other things about taking Rt 524 was that there always seems to be something to look at. There were deer everywhere since they obviously liked all the grass the farmers were nice enough to plant and cut for them. Another thing was the self propelled New Holland Hay Wagons that each farm was using. At one farm I counted 6 of these machines and I passed a couple on the road as well.

These are cool and most likely expensive machines. I was hoping to get a picture of them working the fields on the way home today but it appears that the current haying is all done. I saw two parked in a barn but I figured the farmer might get upset if I pulled into his barn yard and started taking pictures. I think there is either a straw or wheat crop that is going to be worked next (I am not sure what it is but it turned golden without being cut). I got the two pictures here off the Internet and the this machine is not fully assembled.

While this a relatively rural area the farms are being encroached upon by housing developers. I think the State of New Jersey and the local townships are doing what they can to keep some of these farms intacted. I know that the landscaping nurseries in Holmdel have been able to expand considerably even though the land is worth some serious money. Now that the housing bubble has deflated some it should be easier to keep the open space. In fact there is a Kara homes development on Rt 524 that states that there are only 3 lots left. However, Kara homes went bankrupt last year and are no longer in business.

Rt 524 is a popular riding road well. Not only are there lots of cyclists on the road but the Horse Center of NJ is also located on RT 520 so there are lots of signs warning of both cyclists and horses on the road. There is also a sign telling motorists to obey hand signals. I am not sure how Rt 524 fits into a ride since I have not scene any cyclists on Rt 537. I think there is a park or lot off of one of the other roads that feed in Rt 524 that folks drive to before starting their rides. I should check out NJ Bike Map to see how it would work.

Now that I am no longer going to be commuting by car I will no have to listen to the car radio on my way into work. Hopefully I will be using mass transit which means I will be riding the train with my Asbury Park Press, a cup of coffee and my iPod. Since Brian & Jen have left GROCK 106.3/106.5 I will not miss listening to the radio. I usually do not like morning drive time radio. In most cases it is too much talk and not enough music. However, I really liked Brian & Jen. It was an intelligent morning show and they played good music. I have given Kramer & Erin a chance but they are not as good as Brian & Jen. I will say I am pleased that GROCK did not hire one of the syndicated programs or a new Shock Jock. However, once I start taking the train it will not matter to me anymore.

No ride today. I got out of work early enough but when I got home my assistance was required to make dinner. Then my daughter decided to go to the movies with her friend and I needed to drive. In reality it was a good thing because a nasty storm just moved into the area. If it is anything like last nights store then it is nothing I want to be out riding in.

Since I do not have a project lined up yet I am on vacation next week for the 4th of July holiday week. I was hoping to get some good rides in. However, today I found out that I might have a project lined up to start on July 5. As much as I would like to have the time off to get some quality rides in it would be nice to have my next project lined up. Such is the life of a consultant.

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