Though we’d already toured one esteemed educational establishment on this vacation, we weren’t in Princeton to walk the halls or grounds of Princeton University. While in town, though, we complemented our historical stop at Princeton Cemetery with a few quick examples of the art in the vicinity, which gave life to memorable moments in New Jersey history from the American Revolution through 20th-century rock music.
We’ve been to New Jersey before, but usually just passing through. It was a useful costar in our first trip to New York City in 2011. It made a cameo as a launchpad for our visit to the Statue of Liberty in 2010.
2018 marked our first time arriving in New Jersey for the sake of a distinctly New Jersey site. Again, we didn’t make time to dwell at length in any one city, but it was nice to pay tribute to one set of Garden State notables.
Flying to this year’s vacation destination had its advantages — faster travel time; free tiny snacks; no road construction delays; no rental car to return afterward while we’re all exhausted; and no danger of accidentally winding up in Newark again on our way to Manhattan. Sure, they could’ve diverted our plane to the wrong airport, but thankfully that didn’t happen. We also reviewed the New Jersey hotel options that we took advantage of in 2011, but price variances in both states over the past five years leveled the playing field in our absence. So this faraway glimpse is as close as we got to New Jersey this year.
[The very special miniseries continues! See Part One for the official intro and context.]
After the brief stopover in Harrisburg, the next two hours and the next four interstates were less invigorating than I would’ve liked. The Pennsylvania Turnpike must have a monopoly on the state’s best scenery. Mostly we passed the time scanning the local radio channels and learning that the Pennsylvania airwaves are made of top-40. Fifteen channels seemed to be playing the same six songs nonstop, a statewide revival in honor of Katy Perry and Lady Ga-Ga, America’s new First Ladies or whatever.
Next stop was across the state line in New Jersey, in a verdant, elegantly sculpted community called Whippany. Judging by the slanderous slings and arrows that New Jersey has taken over the decades, we expected something like an all-white Boyz n the Hood or a low-budget adaptation of Dante’s Inferno. On the contrary, Whippany was glorious, well-paved suburbia. I love seeing stereotypes busted.