Yeah man. So cool.
So there you are, in Berkeley Heights, New Jersey, hiking through the Passaic River Parkway, and suddenly you see a bazillion big weird things that look like hollow candles.
“What the heck!” you say.
You lean close to peer at a label, and learn that these hollow-candle-things are TREE TUBES.
But what on earth are “tree tubes?”
These tree tubes protect native saplings from being browsed and damaged by deer and also act as a mini “greenhouse”, allowing light to filter through and moisture to become trapped within. Once the saplings reach the top of the tubes they (the tubes) will be removed by Parks staff.
For more information about our native plantings please call:
So that’s that.
Last year, I had a brief obsession with trying to hunt down the abandoned tracks of the Rahway Valley Railroad (which used to connect two still-existing commuter rail lines). As it turns out, I didn’t need to spend nearly so much time worrying about trespassing, or how to get to the tracks.
There’s a well-marked built-up footpath from Summit’s Briant Park bike path to the railroad tracks, right in the back of the park. The tracks are about ten feet from the path.
See, now, had I figured that out earlier, it would’ve made for some much easier explorations. But where would the fun be in that?
There was a story behind this at some point.
In the absence of any proof whatsoever, allow me to hypothesize:
Possibility #1: Someone found a lock and absentmindedly fastened it to the nearest tree branch.
Possibility #2: A mad scientist invented teleportation.
In his premature excitement to test his invention, he grabbed the nearest non-glass thing on his desk— a lock— and jammed it into the teleporter.
The teleporter exploded.
The mad scientist was never seen again, but an inexplicable pair of glasses mysteriously wound up on a chain-link fence.
The lock, or a similar one, was found fastened around a small pine branch. Most never questioned it, because the local Absentminded Lock-Fastener walked her dog through this neighborhood every morning.
This is outside of my established “radius” for the New Providence area, but it’s still New Jersey, and it’s kind of awesome.
The sixth annual Asbury Park Zombie Walk happened yesterday. I didn’t stay for the whole thing (shame on me!), but I did get some fun shots of the undead wandering around Asbury Park (which happens less often than you’d think).
More serious readers may ask: What’s the point?
I would answer: There is no point. It’s fun, that’s the point.
While I was at the library this past weekend, a shark walked in.
He sat in a comfy chair, and his photographer handed him a book.
They got the photos they needed, and both the shark and the photographer exited the library, waving happily at us gawkers.
“…Well that was weird,” said a librarian.
“That was awesome,” I said. “Do you… happen to have any idea why there was just a shark in your library?”
“I think it’s the mascot for the Summit Family Aquatic Center,” said one of the other librarians.
“Ah,” I said. “Cool. I’ve seen him around— like, I’ve seen him run a 5k.”
“Yeah! So, the Aquatic Center, huh? Thanks!”
As it turns out, this guy’s name is “Shark Diddy,” and he… I don’t know, builds morale at the pool.
If you’re ever bored at the Turtle Back Zoo [site], you may find yourself wondering why on earth they named the place Turtle Back Zoo. Did they used to ride on the backs of turtles? Is it an homage to some obscure turtle legends from the local Lenape indians?
No! None of this. None at all.
Right near the zoo, there’s a “bluff over Northfield Avenue that has extensive markings— grooved ovoid patterns that are textured like those on a turtle’s back, except larger (Sceurman and Moran 2005, 33).”
Hence: Turtle Back Rock, and subsequently… Turtle Back Zoo.
And these turtleoid rocks are all over the place! When I visited, I was expecting one big rock with turtle marks. Nope! Every boulder in a 20-foot radius looks like a turtle!
While the guys from Weird NJ speculate as to the markings’ potentially otherworldly origins, Turtle Back Rock was formed by pretty mundane geology.
Apparently, when the local basalt lava cooled into basalt trap rock, it split into hexagonal crystals (“blocks”). Non-basalt minerals filled in the cracks, and erosion deteriorated the mineral fillings more quickly than the basalt rock. So the grooves in the “turtle’s back” indicate areas where minerals filled the gaps in basalt.
Lord Elwood and RakeInTheCache. (2007). Waymarking.com. “A turtle’s back rock formation.” http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WM2BPK_A_Turtles_Back_Rock_Formation.
Sceurman, M. and Moran, M. (2005). Weird N.J.: Your travel guide to New Jersey’s local legends and best kept secrets. Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.: New York. ISBN 1402766858.
Maybe the local florists decided to wedge a plush crab between two air conditioners because the top one was dripping onto the metal surface of the bottom one, and the sound was driving them crazy, and the florists were like “look, I have this stuffed crab, it would be perfect for catching drips,” and Miss Yellow Crab ended up hanging out in an alley in Summit.
Or, more likely, Miss Yellow Crab was like “whoa, this is a totally comfortable spot, I think I am going to take up residence here for no obvious reason,” and that was that.
As you can imagine, one of the problems with floating hundreds of little rubber duckies down a woodsy river is that they get caught on things. Consequently, some bystanders tried to help dislodge the duckies that started washing up on the riverbank.
(The poor man standing next to me actually slipped on the mud and fell into the river in a failed attempt to do this.)
But we bystanders didn’t need to rescue the duckies. There were Boy Scouts in canoes!
“What are you doing?” they asked.
“Un-sticking the duckies!” the bystanders yelled back.
“You don’t need to do that!” the scouts replied. “That’s our job! Don’t worry about it!”
I wonder how long it took to clean up all those duckies.
Berkeley Heights’ 2012 Rubber Ducky Festival was yesterday! Have you ever watched a rubber ducky race? I hadn’t!
Festival-goers could “adopt” a rubber duck for $5. (They got a number, which was also written on the bottom of the duck, that labeled one of the ducks as “theirs.”) At the end of the festival, hundreds of rubber duckies were slowly but surely
floated raced down the Passaic River.
This little duck was the clear winner! I mean, we still had to patiently watch it float along, to make sure it bumped into the finish line before all the other ducks, but the other ducks were wayyyyy behind.