Highway Madness: Holiday Travel In New Jersey

My family decided to brave the state’s highway system one recent Thanksgiving by traveling the New Jersey Turnpike south to my sister’s house off of Exit 7A. We started on Exit 18, knowing full well that we would hit some traffic before we arrived at her home some 70 miles later. Little did we know that our trip would be a bit of an adventure: not the type we would have liked to participated in either.It was shortly after the noon hour when our car passed through the EZPass booth. We soon found ourselves traveling past Newark Liberty Airport and the “bucolic beauty” of industrial Linden, NJ. Choosing the car-only lanes seemed most sensible; with enough big rigs and buses on the road we didn’t want to subject our midsize car to the wake of a tandem trailer whooshing on by. Soon after making that decision we noticed brake lights more than one mile down the road and a helicopter hovering overhead. Uh oh, this did not look good.As we arrived near the stopped traffic, police cars and emergency vehicles screamed by along the shoulder. Within ten minutes we were upon the scene: a green minivan had gone off the road and flipped on its side. We didn’t want to stare too closely but it did look like as if a small tree was sticking out of the windshield. We all said a prayer for the inhabitants and were thanking God that the rescue workers were already there doing what they do best. Moments later the traffic broke and we found ourselves once again heading south on the turnpike with not a little bit of thanks to God on our part that we were safe.Holiday travel in New Jersey is fun. Okay, barely tolerable is more like it. If you have family more than 25 miles away, more than likely you will be on one of the major roadways at some point in your trip. It seemed, at times, that the entire New Jersey populace was going where we were going. I only hoped that my sister had a large enough turkey for everyone.By Exit 8A, traffic had slowed again so we decided to exit the turnpike and follow Route 130 south. Not a great choice as Route 130 is a four lane roadway desperately needing more lanes and less traffic lights. Still, we felt that it beat the turnpike parking lot syndrome.Near Cranbury we began to experience deja vu all over again as the saying goes. Stopped traffic. Sirens. Emergency vehicles spotted in front of us. The entire highway closed and traffic rerouted. Unlike the previous accident, we weren’t going to witness the rescue attempt. So, we said some more prayers for the victims, exited Route 130, and found ourselves following other cars through the town of Cranbury.At this point, we were in unfamiliar territory, but I didn’t mind it. Cranbury is a lovely historic town that seems set in the mid-19th century. Nothing is new, everything is preserved. If you must be detoured somewhere in New Jersey, this town is the place to visit. Tastefully decked out in Christmas splendor, Cranbury looks nicer than Walgreen’s town of Perfect. It isn’t perfect, but it is real!Somehow by following signs — there are places in New Jersey where signs will get you where you are going — we arrived at my sister’s home. We shared our stories of accident scenes witnessed, a detour taken, and a town admired. The highway madness of earlier that day soon faded away as we enjoyed the company of family and our Thanksgiving feast.In the early evening we decided to take our tired children and head home. Traffic was much lighter and it moved quickly. Heading north on the New Jersey Turnpike, we decided to exit the road and travel north on the Garden State Parkway, which would bring us closer to our home. What had been a two hour trip down was looking like a 75 minute sprint home. Everything was clear and seemed uneventful. How soon that would change.We noticed in the vicinity of the Union tolls that traffic was slowing down. At first, we chalked it up to the usual bobbing and weaving one must do in order to find the correct toll lane. However, as we made the approach to the tolls we looked over to the southbound lane and saw the all too familiar scenery of emergency vehicles. Not again.This time the scene seemed even more horrific. Pulled off the road just south of the toll booths was a public transit bus. A police officer stood outside shining a light through the broken passenger windows. We could see all the windows were blown out by a fire that appeared to have consumed the bus. None of us wanted to imagine what happened; we simply grimaced and said yet another prayer to Almighty God for mercy.The remainder of the trip home found our car engulfed in silence.

Looking back, I certainly can give thanks for not being involved in any one of the three accidents. We don’t know if any produced fatalities, but we do know that lives were changed that day. Whether people were speeding, cut off, falling asleep behind the wheel, or for whatever other reason the accident happened, we will never know. Quite frankly, it no longer mattered.What we do know is this: even under the best conditions and in the best weather, road trips cannot be taken for granted. New Jersey roads are crowded, but serious accidents occur all over the country. That is why our family prays for traveling mercies before we take an extended trip and why we are quick to hold victims up in prayer when we come upon an accident scene.

Life is too precious to do anything less.This article originally appeared on Townstead.com, a defunct site managed by Matt Keegan. It was part of his “Life in New Jersey” series of articles.

NJ Towns: What’s In A Name?

When you think of “Paramus” do you automatically think, “shopping malls?” If you do, you are not alone. On a recent trip to the west coast, I was asked, “where in New Jersey do you live?” When I mentioned near Paramus, the person nodded her head in recognition. She knew that the town was a shopping mecca on the east coast.Paramus’ origins and even recent history, belie the shopping mecca label. As recently as the 1960s, the borough was dotted with farmland; indeed Paramus is derived from the Lenni Lenape name Perampsus, meaning: “where there is worthwhile or fertile land.” Where there was fertile land, maize or corn was grown and wild turkeys were also found in abundance. Thus, the meaning of Paramus . . . “A fertile land where corn was grown attracting wild turkeys”. For kicks, go to the Paramus Park Mall and observe the Indian riding the turkey [Route 17 entrance near Macy’s]. It looks odd to the visitor, but with your new knowledge of Paramus’ name origin, it explains much.Clifton could easily be called Cliftside or Underclift due to its proximity to Weasel Mountain, now called Garrett Mountain. Acquackanonk Township was an earlier name for Clifton, which at one time also included the cities presently called Passaic and Paterson. Acquackanonk was part of Essex County until its residents, unhappy, with the preferential treatment Newark was receiving, asked to leave the county and be joined to Passaic County.In Essex County, the name Bloomfield suggests bucolic farmland. While the farmland part may have at one time been true, Bloomfield was named for a New Jersey governor who served from 1803-1812; Gov. Joseph Bloomfield also served as a U.S. Senator. The present day township of Bloomfield was originally part of Newark, which was settled in 1666.

The Ghan – A Great Australian Train Journey

The Ghan is a living legend in Australian history and offers the ultimate journey through the heart of the Australian continent. Named after Afghan cameleers who originally helped open up the desert interior of Australia in the late 19th and early 20th, the Ghan is at once a luxury railway train and a 3000 kilometre railway journey that meanders from the fertile Adelaide countryside through the rusty red hues of Central Australia to the tropical splendour of the Top End.The railway line began its colourful life as the Northern Railway in 1878, at the height of a national railway boom, in the hope of developing the pastoral and mining potential of the Australian interior. Soon becoming known affectionately as The Ghan, by 1891 the line reached from Port Augusta to the outback town of Oodnadatta in northern South Australia. Oodnadatta remained the end of the line for the next forty years.In 1895, in an effort to advance construction of the line, it was stated that “the interior was not all desert, but had extensive areas of good land fit for cultivation and a variety of tropical products”. The line was finally extended to the Central Australian town of Alice Springs in 1929, and remained there until 2003 when a major project to extend the line through to the Northern Territory capital, Darwin, was completed.Until 1929, almost all goods to Alice Springs were transported by camel trains driven by Afghan tribesmen adept at handling these hardy ‘ships of the desert’. The camel trains would meet the train at the railhead in Oodnadatta and carry goods ranging from pianos, motors, and furniture to food supplies, mail, newspapers and clothing on to Alice Springs. The arrival of the camel trains was always a time of great excitement. The camels remained a viable means of transport in Central Australia for so long because the development of motor transport was hindered by a lack of well formed roads and the reliable availability of fuel supplies.Part of the Ghan’s legendary reputation derives from the many mishaps which occurred during the early years of its operation. The 1520 km journey from Adelaide to Alice Springs passed through some of the driest and most difficult country on earth. Normally dry rivers would frequently flood after a downpour and run several kilometres wide, sweeping railway tracks, bridges and other infrastructure away in their path. Sometimes the train would not arrive for weeks or even months. At one point during the 1970’s the Ghan was not sighted in Alice Springs for 3 months and essential supplies had to be flown into the town daily.By 1980 the Ghan’s route had been relocated a considerable distance to the west, and the line upgraded from narrow gauge to the wider Australian standard gauge. In the process, many new bridges and earth works were completed, and the Ghan’s reputation for unreliability became history.Today the modern Ghan is a world-class luxury railway and renowned attraction for travellers wishing to experience the real Australia in comfort. The 3000 km journey from Adelaide to Darwin via Alice Springs takes two days, and passes through just three other towns of any size, Port Augusta in South Australia and Tennant Creek and Katherine in the Northern Territory.

Houseboat Manufacturers

Since the discovery that an entire house can be put on top of a boat and made to float up and down the river in leisure, boatyards have never been the same. Day in and day out, these yards have been trying as much as possible to surpass each other with elegant, sporty or royal deisgns to appeal to a wide range of individuals and boat renting companies.We take a lot at the big companies in this area and how each differs from the other in small or great terms.JRW Mfg. (http://www.adventurecraft.com/ ) offers boaters the opportunity to own luxurious yet affordable houseboats. Based in Palmetto, Florida , it has to date produced over 250 houseboats which are distributed through its dealer network.JRW has the 28.5 foot boat which costs $30,000 .Their flagship houseboat features two sleeping quarters, four cabin seating areas, a gallery, a head with shower and portable toilet, a fiberglass tri-maran hull, a walk-around deck, two dining areas, a lounge deck with molded chairs and a roomy 6-foot-4 headroom. Buyers have the option of a flybridge with dual steering, an A/C and heating package, an aluminum trailer, navigational equipment, a refrigerator, a generator and a hot-water heater.Catamaran Cruisers (http://www.catamarancruiser.com/) is another giant in the houseboat building industry.Located in Columbia, Tennessee it has earned a high reputation for producing user-friendly and low priced crafts.The company’s LiL Hobo trailerable featuring 56 gallons of freshwater storage, gas heater and tinted window and Aqua Cruiser lines are the most popular. Their boats range from 35 feet to 62 feet.Catamaran boats have fiberglass hulls which enables the craft to lift and effortlessly glide over water. They also have gelcoat fiberglass exteriors and non-skid fiberglass decks and roof.The company sells about 200 crafts each year.Destination Yachts (http://destinationyachts.com/) is uniquely headed by Sheldon Graber, a boat building veteran .Destination yacht has a great product line including houseboats with floor plans of 37×10, 45×14, 53×14 and 60×16.The company’s Destination Q-Series boats come with .125 aluminum twin hulls and exterior decking. The cabin exterior walls are made of fiberglass and all rails are powder coated.The company is found at Montgomery, IN and has to date sold about 80 houseboats.Houseboat building is an art of its own. Over the years, companies have included a lot of domestic luxuries into their product line in response to customer demand and partly as part of their own desire to outcompete each other. The trend to come is clear – more and more household utilities shall find their way into houseboats until apart from the engine whining, someone on board will never know he is living in a houseboat.

Houseboats Types

A houseboat is a recreational boat that is built in the form of a house. This boat is fitted with all the neccesities and luxuries of a home and can serve as living quarters for a group on holiday.

There are several types of houseboats notably Pontoon, cruiser or luxury cruisers.The pontton type is practically a floating house mounted on top of a pontton. They are spacious and ideal for a large group.

The cruiser houseboat is a faster type , small and can carry a few persons. They are ideal for single person holiday or occupation or business trips.Luxury Cruisers are high end boats with extravagant and superfluous amenities like air conditioners. They can be said to be 5 star hotels on rivers.Houseboat rentals can be calculated per trip or a week or month. In each scheme you choose, the type of facilities and size of boat will determine the final price you will pay.Typically, there are the 40 foot which can house about 6 people, 44 for 10 people and 56 10 people.Houseboats are designed to meet the standard regulations governing ordinary boats, So they are quite llike a home; they have the full safety of a boat. Government legislation govering this type of holiday facility ensure that safety precautions are enforced to maximize safety as the nature of the boat, that is its home appealing nature, makes it quite of a danger to peope especially kids.The houseboat comes with elegant living areas, dining rooms and bedrooms. Each trip or route of the houseboat is designed to offer you the most spectacular scenes of the river life. You have the opportunity to experience the birds , the banks and even the local people along the banks of the river. At each town, there is mooring for the boat at which you can disembark and interact with the local people as part of the trip. You can even visit the town for entertainment.Houseboats have several uses depending on the needs of the renter. It can be used for tourism. A single person can rent a small one and use it to explore the waterways and derive so much plaesure from the serenity of the up river and its banks.It can also be used for pure leisure – ideal for someone who would like to escape from the noisy city and relax in some serene atmosphre.

Latsly, some people rent these boats for exploration reasons. People who need adventure can just rent a boat and go up and down the river seeking something unusual to experience.If you are sated with traditional cruise lines, camping and resorts, you can try out houseboating which has a lot to offer you pleasure in terms of scenery and tranquility.

Types of Motorhomes

Though there may be several designs and flavors of motorhomes, they are technically classified as type A, type B, type C or bus conversions. All the types are motorised homes but each has different features and capacity to suit different purposes and budgets. A motohome can measure 21 to 45 feet.The type A is the largest of all and comes loaded with facilities and high end equipment for long trips and can be used as permanet abode by any person. It is built on special chassis and may cost $57,000 to $1.4 m.It has a gallery, living area, sleeping quarters, permanent sanitary facilities. There is power, back up batteries, water holding tanks and an onboard generator.The class A is highly spacious and that allows it to have extra comforts like a refrigerator, washer-dryer, large-screen TV, computerized leveling system, satellite navigation system, satellite dish, slideout room extension and large storage bays.One major disadvantage of the class a type is that it is not manoeverable due to its length and bulkiness. Again, it is too low and therefore unsuitable for rugged environments.The type B is like a converted van and can be said to be the smallest in the range of self contained motorhomes. It is basically a truck which had been modified to have sleeping, living and dining rooms. The price range for this class is between $42,000 to $73,000 and measures 16 to 34 feet.The class B is easy to drive and therefore manoeverable. If you need to do a lot of turning and visiting small communities on the trip, this is the ideal one as it can driven around any corner and also manage sharp turns. It is suitable for short stay camping and smaller groups of say 3.The limitation is that you have less space, and a low ceiling which means you cannot transport objects that stand tall. You also have a small gas tank which will require refueling a lot.Type C is a small motorhome mounted on the chassis of a van. It also offers a living room, kitchen, bathroom and bedroom. Though they can offer all the comforts of class A motorhome, they look crammed. The type C cannot have full size beds but come with bunker types. They are easy to manoevre and can manage sharp turns or narrow roads.It cost about $48,000 to $139,000 and measure 20 to 35 feet.The bus conversions are full size buses converted to a motorhome. This type is most suitable for large group camping. Their large size enables them to have luxury sofas and most of the bulky comforts of a home.They scost between $100,000 to $1m and measure 35 to 45 feet.The choice of a motorhome will depend on so many factors including budget, your needs assessment and whether or not you ned manoeverability or not.

Making the Most of Motohome Parks

Motorhome camping has become one of the favorite pastimes next to resorts. It offers the convenience of a home in a camping site and with a low budget of say $120 one can have a nice motorhome with all the amenities of a standard home.Another great advantage of the motorhome is that you can easily move ffrom one place to the other without having to unpack or pack anything. You have all your facilities mounted aboard the vehicle and in a matter of minutes you are ready to camp or leave.Motorhome parks are ordinary camping parks but more designed to suit campers with motohomes. They have special parking lots and sometimes well demarcated plots to serve as parking lots and dweling places.We take a view at the top motorhome parks and the facilities they offer.Abbeyville RV Park located in Abbeville, LA , has excellent park facilities. It has 55 sites, all shady and therefore conducive for camping. They also serve a variety of cuisines to campers who may not bring along their own food.Abbeville allows you to explore the city of Abbeville and its surroundings to enjoy its shops, musuems and scenic byways.

Betty’s RV Park found at Abbeville, Louisiana offers enhanced features for campers in motorhomes. It has been rated as one of the top 25 RV Parks in America and the Most Fun Small Private RV Park in the United States.Betty’s provide a private atmosphere for campers and therefore suitable for researchers and people who need to have have some quite time as they camp in their motorhomes. From this park, you can easily access all the nieghboring cities. The park is only 20 minutes from Lafayette and 2 hours drive from New Orleans.

Internet users will love this park as it features a Free WI-FI.Natalbany Creek Campground & RV Park at West Amite, LA is another great place for motorhome owners who are seeking a serene place to make camp. Natalbany Creek Campground has large cabins to serveeas off vehicle accommodation for families who need to spend some time at the park. There are also single cabins that can accommodate 2 people. These rooms have baths, kitchens and beds.There are also kitchen cabins,bunk beds and sitting rooms.If you rent the cabin, you are entitled to the use of two bedrooms, two bathrooms, kitchen and sitting room.All the rooms have cold and water and linen and towels are provided. There is also AC, heating and cable tv.

There are some few rules that you should observe at motorparks. Rememebr that the electrical power should not be overwhelmed so do not bring high wattage gadgets as that may consume a lot of power and lead to outage or drop in current.If you did a pit for any purpose, ensure that it is covered hard before you leave the place so no one falls into it.Keep noise to the minimum especially between 1 am and 7am when many people would be asleep.Before you leave the park, ensure that all fires have been put out and that there is no smoke.Lastly, try to avoid fuel spills as that can lead to a fire outbreak.Motorparks are interesting places to spend a vacation. They provide full scale amenities at half the cost and help you to enjoy the woods in the comfort of your home.

Motorhome Rental – How and Where to Find the Best Prices

If you have ever had the feeling of traveling wild and free across the country on wheels, then you must be considering renting a motorhome now.A motorhome is basically a house mounted on a vehicle. It is a vehicle and a home fused into one. A motorhome features all the comforts and necessities of a home including furniture, sleeping rooms, porch and kitchen. The vehicle is designed to be moved from place to place and sometimes comes along with a trailer to hold goods that may not be able to fit inside the main vehicle such as a generator.For most holiday makers, renting is the best option when it comes to the acquisition of motohomes for camping or leisure travel across the countryside. If you need a motorhome, you may have to do an extensive search through the various dealers or sites to obtain agood deal for yourself. On the average, expect to pay from $107 per night to $279 per night.Motorhomes offer campers a convenient way to enjoy their holiday as you have all the amenities needed at a camping site in one go. Consider how inconvenient it will be if you had to leave your car each day to eat at restaurants, find somehere to take your bath or cook your meals. A motorhome has all these facilities mounted for you so you can travel around the country but live like you are at home. If you travel or camp in a motohome, you make great savings on camping site fees, gasoline and food at restaurnats.A motorhmoe will typically cost between $25,000 and $250,000, some going for $35,000 to $80,000. The highly piced ones can be as long as 25 feet and look more like a home mounted on top of an articlulated trailer. This one is suitable for people who need a lot of facilities and more rooms or woud like to stay in the motorhome for much of the year. The lower priced ones for for people intending to make one or two nights at a camp and number from 2 to three persons.A used motorhome can cost about $10,000. Used motorhomes should be bought with great care as they may have some defects which may render them unsuitable for long journeys and active camping.Before making a purchase, it is essential to assess your needs which will determine the type of motorhome you should go for.

8 Things not to Forget when Traveling to the Tropics

Sometimes it is hard to pack for a place or climate that is new. When packing to go to the tropics there are some items that you don’t want to forget.1. Appropriate Identification: With tighter security these days it simply makes sense to carry a passport and photo ID. Also be sure to have identification for your children traveling with you.2. Contraceptives: Well… If you think you will be getting down and dirty on your trip you should bring contraceptives.3. Appropriate Clothing: Yes the tropics are warm but if a sudden storm rolls in it can get quite cool, fast. Always bring good shoes, pants and even a light jacket.I find it is better to pack lightly, You never know when you will need to carry your luggage for a distance. 3 or 4 full changes of cloths will often be enough.4. Sunscreen: SPF 30 minimum. Any less and you stand to get burned. A sunscreen should also contain either zinc oxide or titanium oxide.Before leaving on your trip it is a good idea to spend some time in a tanning bed. This can give you a good base to withstand the intense sun near the equator.5. Medication: Obviously bring any prescription medication but you should also think about Aspirin, Pepto Bismal and other pharmacy items.Be sure to carry any medicine in the original package and carry copies of your prescription as well.6. Guide Book: A guide book to the area that you are visiting can come in real handy. Besides showing you the attractions in the area it will also have important phone numbers in case of an emergency.7. Cash: Having a credit card and travelers cheques with you is a must. Also carry enough American cash for 2 days of emergency living. You never know when a storm will knock out the power.8. Snorkel: If you have any plans to go snorkeling you may want to bring you own snorkel and mask, or at least a snorkel. Rentals are shared by many people. If you are packing light a snorkel takes up almost no space.Copyright 2005 Dave Markel

Sydney to Brisbane Road-trip: Don’t Put a Brick on the Accelerator

There are loads of road trips people take in Australia that look like a snap when looking at the map, but surprisingly translate into many hours when actually on the road.Sydney to Brisbane is one of those road trips. You could do it quickly – as long as you don’t mind strapping a brick on to your accelerator and spending the next 12 hours trying to avoid running into the other, more sedate drivers on the road.The other, more road-safe option, is to meander your way up the Pacific Highway, and stop off at your leisure. There’s all sorts of nooks and crannies dotted up the coast that you can drop in for a quick visit and wander.If you don’t have a car, you should think about booking a rental car online and saving yourself a bit of cash. Sites like www.vroomvroomvroom.com.au pool together all of the current prices and specials on offer from the most popular car rental companies in the country. You can directly compare all the prices available with one click of the button to make sure you get a brilliant car hire Sydney deal.Once you’ve piled into your motorised transport of choice, one of the first popular places for a stretch of the legs would be by the Hawkesbury River, which flows into Broken Bay, and is surrounded by, not one, but three national parks. If you only have time to tramp around one, Ku-Ring-Gai Chase is the most popular – plenty of lovely walks and interesting Aboriginal paintings scattered about at various sites. Or there’s always a spot of fishing and sailing to be had at Broken Bay itself.Just a little further up the road you’ll find the town of Terrigal. It has followed the tradition of the likes of Byron Bay where a residual alternative vibe has been frilled up to serve a relaxed and palatable mainstream holiday feel. Artsy-crafty shops and a good street-side café culture.Newcastle will probably be your next stop – although if you’ve paid any attention to word of mouth, you may not be eager to stay very long. But that would be a shame – Newcastle has its attractions. Like what? Well, its got five beaches (try Nobbys Beach, it’s the most popular and it has a bad name – what else do you need?), a huge student population (ie: thriving music scene), some beautiful architecture lurking in colonial buildings and terraced housing – and after a long walk you can head to Darby street to satiate your food and coffee needs.Ever onwards and upwards will find you pulling in to Port Stephens, which is barely an hours drive away from Newcastle. If you’ve ever dreamt of dolphin spotting, then this is one of the places to do it. There’s a local population of bottle-nosed dolphins which play in the waves near the coast. You can grab any one of the innumerable charter vessels available to take you out.From here on in, there are plenty of little towns and laid-back cities – you’ll be passing by the beach-laden Port Macquarie, the tiny resort town of Nambucca Heads, the big banana near Coffs Harbour. But you’re now fast-approaching one of the most popular corners of NSW.The farmers came for the soil, the hippies turned up and hugged the trees, and the yuppies – well yuppies always follow the hippies and make everything fashionable and launch the careers of many hundreds of professional barristas.The north-east corner of NSW takes in the truly picturesque towns like Bangalow, Mullumbimby, and Byron Bay; the alternative vibes of Nimbin; and tiny villages like Mooball – where the telephone poles and local servo are painted in the pattern of dairy cows. There’s rolling hills, odd communes, pretty beaches, rainforest, spectacular bushwalks and enough chilled-out vibe to make you seriously consider investing in a comby and a didgeridoo.The local pub scene is fantastic – try to check out Byron Bay’s Beach Hotel, the Nimbin Hotel (in Nimbin of course), and the Tumbulgum Tavern (Riverside Drive in Tumbulgum – just outside of Murwillumbah), just to name a few.It’ll be a bit of a shock leaving the area and driving through Tweed Heads, Coolangatta and the Gold Coast. Don’t worry too much about the first two towns – not much personality – all fibre glass and concrete. But the beaches can be nice.The Gold Coast – Surfers Paradise – is where the well-off go to spend money in Jupiter’s Casino, and the young dress in sparse clothing so they can congregate in the loud, vibrating clubs that muscle up against each other in Orchid Ave. Spend a bit of time here, and you’ll eventually be making your sorry way up to Brisbane penniless or hung-over, or both.Don’t worry, laid-back Brisbane can soothe away your travel wrinkles. You’ve got Southbank, South Brisbane and West End to chill out in, watch the river and the traffic and the people roll on by (although you can’t see the river from West End – you’ll just have to content yourself with people watching).