I’d had a beautiful ride heading south from Manahawkin along the edge of Bass River State Forest (where, incidentally, the gate keeper informed me she had to deny me entrance since the park had zero capacity left that day, even for one lowly cyclist). So I pedaled north on Poor Man’s Parkway, and then turned on county road 539 which cuts from Tuckerton through the heart of the pines all the way into Trenton. I passed scrubby pines, the bombing range, and lots of turn offs onto sand roads. The landscape has some texture here that I notice as a cyclist: some curves to the road, a few hills, and usually a fair amount of wind. The motorists zip past completely oblivious.
I pulled into Lucille’s Snack Bar in Warren Grove for a well-deserved break. I always feel myself channeling the Chatterbox Café from Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegone whenever I stop at Lucille’s. I plopped down at the counter, sweaty and tired. The guy next to me said, “I passed you back at the Parkway. You made great time!” and we proceeded to chat about my route, my bicycle, and what brought him to the area. When Donna Summer’s disco hit Bad Girls came on the radio, all the waitresses said, “Hey, Mary’s song!” I glanced down the counter to see Mary – white haired and about 80 years old – nodding her head in agreement, commenting, “Yep, that’s me, a bad girl.” As an aside, besides filling the need for a local place for chit chat, companionship and a bite to eat, Lucille’s also serves as a deer checking station. Oh and Mary, as far as I saw, paid her bill. Not really a bad girl at all. Every town needs a place like Lucille’s.
Back out in the heat I continued north, crossing route 72 and all the motorists heading east to the beach. I continued into Waretown, passing Wells Mills Park as well as many of the creeks that crisscross this part of NJ, including Cedar Creek (a great swimming spot, also popular with canoeists & kayakers), Waretown Creek and Oyster Creek.
Not long after that I picked up the rail trail for the last five miles before home where I met Vera Wang. I hope to meet her again sometime soon.
Route details have been posted at MapMyRide (but come with no guarantee you’ll see Vera).