Tag Archives: new jersey

It’s 1:00 in New Jersey…

A.M.?  P.M.?

Actually, it doesn’t matter. Want a cheeseburger at 5:30 in the morning? Waffles for lunch?  A Taylor ham, egg and cheese sandwich for dinner? Well then, you’re in the right place.

I’ve heard that outside Jersey the diners don’t stay open all night. The rumor is that in other regions of the country you must order breakfast at breakfast time, lunch around noon, and dinner in the evening.  I don’t quite understand those restrictions, as I’ve lived my life in a state where all items listed in extensive menu are available at any hour of the day or night. I’ve read that the Garden State boasts more diners than anywhere else in the nation, many of them gleaming vintage stainless-steel classics with glass blocks, porcelain enamel and neon signs.

Soup of the day, daily specials, and all the while pastries rotate enticingly in a display case by the counter. The food is great and the price is right. It’s just one more thing I love about New Jersey.

So, whether you’re in Jersey, Oklahoma, Maine,  Texas or anywhere else, what’s your favorite diner, and why?  Do the diners stay open all night in New Mexico? Do they serve breakfast at midnight in Ohio?

It’s a Jersey thing…

I’ve always known my home state has a bit of an image problem. For years, whenever I’d say where I’m from I’d be met with smirks and replies of “Oh, you mean JOISEY.”


Let me repeat that: NO.

I’ve never met a single native who pronounces it ‘Joisey.’ Period. And as for the ‘What exit’ routine, give it a rest. The entire state doesn’t reside three blocks from the Turnpike, and no, my book’s title isn’t a play on that overused expression either

New Jersey has been called ‘The Armpit of America” and the butt of countless jokes. Sadly, it’s unlikely we’ll be shaking perception that anytime soon. The U.S. seems to need somewhere to laugh at and it looks like we’re it. We get that. We’re from Jersey, we have a sense of humor. When your home is the punch-line for constant depreciating jokes, a thick skin and the ability to laugh it off are vital. Most everyone I know thought South Park’s ‘It’s A Jersey Thing’ was brilliant, especially because it ripped into the very shows we all detest. But between The Sopranos, The Real Housewives of New Jersey, Jerseylicious, MTV’s Jersey Shore, the media seems to be profiting quite nicely on making us look bad.

We’re a proud state for good reason. We’re a state of diversity, both in population and geography, rich in history and heritage. Such notables as Thomas Edison, Buzz Aldrin, Frank Sinatra, Anne Hatheway, Meryl Streep and Kevin Smith all hail from NJ. But these days we’re more associated with Snooki, and that little train-wreck is, in fact, a New Yorker. People snicker at the title of ‘Garden State,’ unaware of New Jersey’s miles of woodlands, marshlands, mountains, farmland, creeks, rivers, lakes and barrier beaches. I live 25 minutes outside of New York City and regularly see eagles flying overhead. Foxes are common, deer even more so. Seal sightings on the Hudson River are not unusual this time of year. Yet much of the U.S. insists our state is one giant stretch of needle-strewn beaches, oil refineries, chemical plants, and toxic waste dumps.

I’m not the only one speaking out against my home state’s negative image these days. Others are voicing this sentiment as well. And I’ve noticed that my site draws in many visits from people searching things “New Jersey” related, so I’d like to call out to my fellow residents to speak up about what you feel makes your corner of this state great. If you have a Jersey-positive site, Facebook page or blog, let me know and I’ll add a link. If you’d like to guest-post I’d love to hear from you. Let’s fight the bad stereotypes and show the world what we’re really about.

The real places are real…

There’s one comment I’ve heard on occasion from readers: they love the locations I created in Last Exit In New Jersey. Most of these remarks are from beyond the Garden State borders, though even a few natives think I’ve made up some of these towns and places. I’ve even been asked how do I come up with this stuff. I mean, seriously… Bivalve? Cheesequake? Really?

Yes, really. Every location in my story actually exists, pretty much as described. There is in fact a Bivalve, New Jersey, a Maurice River, a place called Cheesequake. There is indeed a Holy Sepulcher Cemetery and it is in fact divided in two by the Parkway. The numbers in the chapter headings are the actual latitude and longitude for each specific location; if you plug them into Google Earth or any GPS navigation you’ll find yourself at the Route 9 White Castle or an empty stretch of beach… or twenty-three miles offshore. Or one of these places:

Bivalve NJ
Brielle NJ
Point Pleasant NJ
Piermont NY
Paramus NJ
Parlin NJ
Millville NJ
Trenton NJ
Rumson NJ
Elizabeth NJ
Camden NJ
Little Ferry NJ
Hillsdale NJ
Maurice River
Hudson River
Harlem River
Spuyten Duyvil Creek Bridge
East River
Hackensack River
Cheesequake Creek
The Pinelands
The Meadowlands
Sandy Hook
Vince Lombardi Service Area
Cheesequake Service Area
Montvale Service Area
White Castle
Great Adventure
Newark Airport (Okay, now they call it Liberty.)
Teterboro Airport
Raceway Park
Route 9
Route 46
Route 4
Route 17
Route 80
Route 9W
Route 1 and 9 (NOT Route 19!)
New Jersey Turnpike
Garden State Parkway
Holy Sepulcher Cemetery
Nike Missile Base (located on Sandy Hook)
Paramus Park Mall
Garden State Plaza
…and so much more.

Yes, I may have added a dock here, a building there, I may have fictionalized specific boatyards and homes, but other than that every town, highway, tackle shop and shopping mall I featured exists as described, both in appearance and any history mentioned. Even the nautical headings, speed and distance are correct and accurate and the specific buoys are the very ones currently rocking and gonging away along the coastline. There’s only one geographic detail I took a writer’s liberty with: the water depth in Piermont, New York. Sadly, Piermont has shoaled in further and further over the years, so docking a boat with any significant draft at anything other a high moon-tide is nerve-wracking at best.

In the coming weeks I plan to post details, pictures and the history of some of these places, as well as some of the locations I’ll be featuring in No Wake Zone. Get ready… you’re going on a tour of the REAL New Jersey! (And it’s not what you see on MTV.)

UPDATE 1/26/11: Check out Highlands Blog; it’s a highly enjoyable hyperlocal blog about Highlands, NJ and its surrounding areas.

Fun and affordable things to do in New Jersey…

Years ago I discovered a fun and surprisingly cheap way to spend a day, one that has left my family with years of memories and a few rather durable souvenirs. This was back when my daughter was smaller and all things prehistoric fascinated her beyond compare, and while she enjoyed museums I knew she might enjoy something a bit more ‘hands-on’.  That’s when I discovered an amazing but little known detail about certain regions of New Jersey: they’re brimming with Late Cretaceous era (that’s roughly 67-74 Million Years Old) fossils!  And not ‘bake in a desert with picks and brushes’ fossils, but wade in shady ankle deep brooks and pick them right up fossils. Yes, readers, it’s true. Spots such as Big Brook, Ramanessin Brook and surrounding brooks in Monmouth County, right off the Garden State Parkway, will provide small (and not so small) children more fossils than they’d ever imagine. The majority of these fossils are shark teeth and other marine fossils exposed as the brooks and creeks cut down into the fossil beds, revealing an ever-changing layer. It’s a wonderfully cool way to spend a hot summer day, peaceful and tranquil aside from the squeals of “I found another one!” and I can promise it will become a favorite tradition, one your children will remember even after they’re grown.

The only ‘tools’ we brought were plastic colanders picked up in the grocery store and large serving spoons for scooping river gravel into the colanders. Half the time we didn’t even need them, we spotted fossils right in plain view.  As with sea-shells and beach glass, the rule was we would each only take our five favorite treasures home, the rest were returned to the brook. Do use caution as some areas of these streams can become deep… just stick to the shallows, that’s where you’ll find the most. Bring a small first aid kit, there are overhanging branches and there can be sharp bits in the gravel and an occasional, unfortunate piece of broken glass. My advice: Wear comfy old sneakers you don’t mind mucking up, jeans to protect your legs and a tee shirt. Don’t forget your bug spray, some towels and a change of dry clothes for the trip home.

There are a number of resources online to guide you both in where and how to look and to identify what you’ve found.
For more information, here’s a start:

It’s the “Only in New Jersey Kindle Cover” Contest!

Straight from the highways of New Jersey, it’s the coolest, most unique Kindle cover out there! Take the tough, durable black sailcloth from the convertible roof of one genuine Garden State pedigree Ford Mustang; hinge it with the extraordinarily strong webbing from that very same convertible. Line it with luxurious red satin brocade, add one genuine state of New Jersey license plate, and you’ve got a Kindle cover that’s been down the road and back!  Not only will the N.J. Mustang Kindle Cover protect the precious contents within; it’s a Kindle cover you won’t find anywhere else!

click on image for larger picture

click on image for larger picture

There’s only one thing: it’s not for sale! The only way to get one of these amazing covers is to enter the “Only in New Jersey” Kindle cover contest!  It’s fun, it’s easy, and there’s no purchase necessary!  Simply email me the name of the song Annabel is singing along to in the beginning of Last Exit In New Jersey  — it’s not all that far into the free sample —  and you’ll be entered into a drawing for your choice of the amazing Mustang Kindle cover. If you prefer a more subtle style, the N.J. Mustang Kindle Cover is also available in an ‘Unlicensed’ version.

click on image for larger picture

click on image for larger picture

For anyone wondering what keeps the Kindle in, it’s secured by Command strips to a smooth plastic panel within the cover. This keeps the Kindle attached firmly, yet leaves it completely removeable with not a mark left behind.

All entries must be received by September 30th. Send your answers to: cegrundler(at)gmail.com; be sure to put “Only in New Jersey” into the subject line. Emails will be numbered in order of receipt and I’ll email you back with your entry number confirmation. On Friday, October 1st a random number will be selected though Random.org  http://www.random.org/  I’ll post a screen-shot by 12 noon and announce the winner.

But WAIT!    There’s more! 

If you are the lucky winner and you also emailed me which song is playing in Stevenson’s Mercedes, (yes, you do have to read beyond the sample for that one) you’ll also receive a special bonus prize. And finally, if you’re the lucky winner and you ALSO posted a review and/or mentioned Last Exit In New Jersey on your web-site or blog, you receive TWO bonus prizes!

Note: The actual New Jersey license plate the winner receives may vary; the one pictured here once graced a former car of mine. Your cover will be made for you and you alone to fit your specific Kindle, whatever the model. No Mustangs were harmed in the making of this cover. In fact, the Mustang that generously donated its top to this contest is now sporting a new roof and looking fine.

COMING SOON – The first “Only in New Jersey” Contest!

Free stuff is cool! Free stuff from New Jersey is double-cool! So bookmark this blog because over the coming days I’ll be announcing the rules and prizes for an exciting give-a-way, including an amazing ‘only in New Jersey’ Kindle Cover Contest!

Greetings from New Jersey…


… So be nice, or we’ll have to hurt you.