Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Disappointment and Redemption, Pt. 2


     Sunday was a new day, filled with hope and sun and fresh air.  In order to not allow the day to go by on the couch or fighting crowded supermarkets for the week's rations, I had concocted a plan from the previous night's disappointment.  The family would hop in the car and travel a short distance to a wooded nature reserve.  We would spend the day hiking, geocaching, picnicking, and enjoying the weather.  They were slightly worn out from Saturday's birthday party and shopping spree.  Last night's dinner was a forgettable memory and fading fast.
    We arrived at the first parking area of the state forest and readied ourselves for the day's adventures.  Our initial hike was a short jaunt down a fire road where we came upon an unused telephone pole and a puzzle for searching geocachers.  The whole "event" was wonderful, amazing, and truly well-crafted and thought out.  I will not divulge the details of this woodsy puzzle to keep the quality of the experience intact for any who should seek it out, but to get kids outside this is definitely a treat.  It also bode well for the rest of the day. 
      Throughout the day we traveled down dirt roads and leisurely back roads passing farms and woods and ghost towns and fishermen.  We sat by the stream and admired the water and the Spring colors blossoming and the fish outsmarting the kernels of corn on the ends of the hooks bobbing in the current.  We grabbed several small walks down short nature trails along the stream until we came upon Buttermilk Falls.  The climb is steep, but not oppressive, up NJ's tallest waterfall.  They have placed stairs now to gain the top.  One used to have to actually climb to the apex.  Our youngest adventurer wished to lead the way and she had us climb well beyond the top of the falls and probably would have had us climb to the clouds if she had her way.  We finished our day with a two-and-a-half mile hike that felt more like a forced march by the end.  The sun was setting and our legs were tiring as we made our way back to the truck.  Our feet howled from the long day but our bellies rumbled even louder.
     A nearby brewery would be our savior, and hopefully redemption from the previous night's disappointment.  Krogh's is shadowy inside, filled with cubby-hole booths and log-hewn tables.  The bar is separate from the dining area and has a different entrance.  For those wishing fresh air and scenery, there is a quaint patio outside in front.  The dishes are comforting, large, and filling.  The desserts are homemade mountains of sugary sweet goodness.  The staff is efficient, knowledgeable, and loyal (a plaque on the wall shows many employees staying beyond 20 years).  The sampler of their goods comes in a handmade wood platter holding seven different brews, a true treat.  The only thing better than the meal and the beer and the day would have been a nap in the fading glow of the afternoon.  But the road home beckoned and away we went, headed for home, feeling not only redeemed but quite happy.

(I do not usually write true reviews of places, restaurants, etc.  I may offer suggestions or opinions about certain things but normally do not attempt to steer a person away from experiencing it themselves.  However, in this case, the two brewpubs were so similar in style (local "dive" bar) but so glaringly different in overall experience, that I could not help but to see one so negatively while finding the other so satisfying.  I would easily steer anyone to Krogh's but I would be hesitant to give directions to the Gaslight.  If you are in search of beer try both just to say you did, if not follow the Krogh.)

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