|Date||August 29, 2004|
|Hosts||Helen and Bob Bird|
|Where||Bird's nest, Colonia; to Eagle Rock Reservation|
|Who (else)||Susan and Greg Adam, Judy Allison and Malcolm Boyd, Marji Brandriss and Dave Kristol, Christina Chan and Rich LeGrand, Debbie and Alan Cudworth, Michelle and Rich Dittmar, Michelle Emerson and Dan Dodson, Claire Hamanaka and Walt Willard, Brenda and Larry Isherwood, Cheryl Prudhomme and Mark Cook|
Route Slips [PDF] [outbound] [return]
The Birds got a terrific turn-out for the first -- the first real -- summer DOGS riding day. You know what I mean: warm, humid, sunny. Twelve teams gathered to do an out-and-back from northern Middlesex County, through Union County, to Essex County's Eagle Rock Reservation and the 9/11 Memorial there. The ride was followed by -- what else? -- the (now) usual DOGS feast and fest.
We all gathered at the Birds' house, got ourselves organized, and headed out. The first few miles took us through typical central NJ suburban territory, with frequent traffic lights helping to keep the pack from breaking apart. Once we crossed Rt. 22 and got to Papermill Playhouse Way in Millburn, the terrain got a little hillier and a bit more bucolic. The road through South Mountain Reservation sways back and forth and climbs gently. The shade afforded by the trees was most welcome.
Early in this portion of the ride, the Birds suffered a mechanical mishap, wedging their chain and bending a few links. Larry and Brenda headed back to lend a hand, and the rest of us waited beside the road to decide what to do. The decision finally was for the rest of us to proceed. Later we learned that Larry was able to get the Birds bike ridable enough, and they headed back to Colonia while the rest of us headed toward Eagle Rock.
After crossing South Orange Ave. and Northfield Ave., we reached Old Indian Rd. and the only sharp climb of the day. A bit of huffing and puffing got us to the top, and we continued north on Prospect Ave. past the Essex Green Shopping Center, reaching Eagle Rock Reservation after a few more turns.
The Reservation offers a commanding view (as they say) of the plain leading to the Hudson and NY harbor. Needless to say it also has an awesome view of the New York City skyline, though the day's haze spoiled the view. Because of this vantage, Essex County has erected a memorial to honor those killed in the 9/11 attacks, especially Essex County residents, whose names appear on a memorial wall.
The Birds had left their van at the Reservation to provide snacks and drinks, and they had given Mark a key. Unfortunately, that key did not fit the van. However, all the riders were otherwise well-supplied, so the van's provisions would have been nice but they were not essential.
After we sat around and recouped and walked around to admire the view, we got underway again. The return route was the same as the outbound route. In the return direction, people were more confident of where they were going, and the traffic lights succeeded in breaking up the pack into smaller clumps.
The only excitement for us occurred just after crossing Rt. 22 on South Springfield Ave. We were supposed to pass E. Broad St. and turn right onto Springfield Ave., to head through Cranford. However, at the entrance to Echo Lake Park, some pranksters had turned the sign 90° so "Mill Ln." was relabeled "Springfield Ave." Dan and Michelle took that right turn along with Greg and Susan and us. Part way along, I became convinced that was the wrong way and honked our horn to recall Dan and Michelle. We turned back and then discovered the mischievously turned sign. The rest of the trip was uneventful.
Back at the Birds' we all gathered in the backyard to eat and schmooze. Christina obviously had plans to herd the DOGS into another game-playing session. But, of course, the first order of business was food and drink, and, as usual, there was an impressive spread. There was a street vendor-style cooler filled with soft drinks and wine coolers, and there were other picnic coolers with beer. Bob fired up the grill and turned out hotdogs, hamburgers, veggie burgers, and chicken. There was also a crockpot of pulled pork. Other DOGS contributed salads and fruit and other goodies. Well after we thought we were done eating, Rich LeGrand brought out a birthday cake for Christina (33 on Tuesday). Then some cookies emerged. And, finally, Helen brought out ice cream sandwiches, ice cream cones, and ice cream pops. No one leaves a DOGS event hungry!
Now, about those games. Christina failed to get the games going, at least while we were there. But Walt, Larry, Bob, and Rich Dittmar did enjoy a couple of spirited games of horseshoes.