explore · Overlanding/Off-Roading · Travel

Hiking South Mountain Reservation

blog 5

Hiking in South Mountain Reservation.

Today I decided to go for a short two mile hike. Nothing to long. Just wanted to get outside. I have recently purchase a Canon T6 DLSR(review will be coming) and I want to try it out. The only way I know how to is by just by getting outside and exploring.  Decided to go over to South Mountain Reservation in West Orange NJ.  I was only able to walk around for an about 2 hours because the weather started turning and I wasn’t prepared for rain. Ended up driving down Brookside Drive, to a point I know where I could park and get out and walking around. The first place I was able to get to quickly was this small creek with a very small man made dam. This creek or river is part of the Rahway River system. But today, most of the river was dried up and not really moving. Was able to take some good pictures. Ended up crossing over the rock bed onto the other side of the river and walking down a trail for about half a mile, before I came across another trail. This trail sparked my interest. This trail seemed wide enough for a jeep and on top of that I saw a lot of tire track. So I decided to follow it for about a mile or so. This place was complete silent. The most I heard was two squirrels fights over a nut or something.  I am pretty much a quite person when I am out walking in the woods. But this was strange. So I would about a 100 feet stop, look and listen. I did this for about three hundred yards. And still heard and saw nothing. Maybe I smelled bad, lol. So I followed this trail to a rocky river. Took off my shoes rolled up my pants and crossed it. I felt like I just wanted to see how fart this trail went or where did it go.  After I cross the shallow rocky river I came to a dead end.  However, after looking about, I did come across some animal tracks, some deer tracks and what looks like a coyote tracks.( look below at picture). So after look around some and not seeing any other way, of getting back to my Jeep. I knew I had to cross back through this rocky river again, but than I realized that the river had tire tracks running through it. So this meant that a jeep or truck had passed by here many times. After cross back through the river, I looked at the weather and saw that I didn’t have much time before the rain came in. So I started my way back to my Jeep. By the time I got back to my Jeep it started rain really hard. After getting myself together and with the help of google maps, I was able to figure out what trail I was on. The trail I was on was called Lenape Trail. The Lenape Trail was established in 1982. This is the fifth largest trail in NJ(please see link below for full history). So after doing more research. That tire tracks I did see, where mostly service trucks. But it would have been nice if there was another off-roading trail that no one really knew about, to explore.

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Cartagena de Indias, Colombia Day 5

Day Five 7/4 Tuesday

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We took a walking tour of the city. Meli was our tour guide, she took us to all the squares, convents, forts, theaters and every iconic spot while giving us the complete history of each spot. The tour took about two hours, and after we were all done we went for lunch to a different area of Cartagena called”Getsemani”. There we grabbed lunch at “La Casa de Socorro”. Cute place with great food, I had fish cooked in a tomato broth accompanied by patacones and rice. After lunch we walked around Getsemani in search for a famous park (which we never found). Either way, as we were walking around we saw this dinosaur looking birds and to our surprise they were Andean Condors. The wing span is about 10 feet, it was fantastic.

As we made our way back to the hotel, we stoped at one of the corner street vendors to get some sweets and replenish our energy to be ready for the night. After a well deserved nap, we went for dinner to “1621”, probably the fanciest place we went to. This restaurant is located inside one of the old convents (Convento de Santa Clara). They have a beautiful garden where you can enjoy a magical dinner with your loved one. Although it was a bit pricy and the ambiance was amazing, the food wasn’t as good as El Santisimo. They combine Colombian and French techniques, using all fresh local fruits and seafood. We tried the smoked octopus and oxtail. Both very tender and savory. Definitely worth the try, at least for the beautiful candlelight garden.

*Tip of the day. Be sure to call ahead to any restaurant and make reservations, most places require a reservation. If you don’t think you can get through a whole phone conversation in Spanish, ask your hotel concierge for help.

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Cartagena de Indias, Colombia Day 1

Day One 6/30 Friday

As we were flying into Cartagena, you could see the colorful streets all around. When we got off the plane, the hot summer Colombian weather greeted us with big open arms, it did not make me miss the New Jersey weather at all. At the airport we asked what was the best way to get to “The Old City”, one of the airport security guys recommended taking a taxi. He also recommended negotiating the price before getting in the cab. The cab ride was only a 10 minute ride from the airport to the hotel, which was located in what its called “The Walled City”, and it costs about $13,000 Colombian pesos ($5 US dollars +/-). At the hotel we were greeted by the staff who was so welcoming and helpful. After we settled in, we decided to go find something to munch on and explore the city. We walked down the beautiful colorful streets and ended up at “Mistura”, this place is located right across the street from Parque Fernandez Madrid, they had an amazing tender sirloin steak and fresh grilled octopus. We immediately made friend with the bartender who so kindly gave us a taste and a lesson on Colombian rum and moonshine. After a delicious taste of Colombian moonshine we met with our friends who landed in Cartagena a little latter. We were quick to make plans for that night to take a “Chiva” (local, doorless, super loud bus) for a night tour bus of the city. The Chiva is definitely something that even though is a cheese way to lure in tourists, its so much fun and you get a tour around the city, drinks, entertainment, a guide and a couple of arepas while on board. During this tour, one of the stops was at the wall the surrounds the city. While we were at the top of the wall, other Chivas stopped there too and it became a big party. A Ballenato (type of Colombian music) band played lived music while everyone danced around and drank. Local street food vendors were selling arepas, empanadas and other street food.  After dancing on the wall, we kept touring around the city for a final stop at a club. We continued the dancing and the drinking until we had no more energy left. Definitely a good start of this 7 day trip.

*Tip of the day. If you didn’t exchange money before traveling to Colombia. Only exchange a little bit at the airport, enough to pay for the cab and exchange the rest of the money at a hotel or one of the many exchange places in the downtown area. You will definitely get a better exchange rate.

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