Central New Jersey, February 6, 2015

I drove in a rental car up to Princeton to stay with my sister Betsy, and see my brother Alex and his band perform in Brooklyn.

My major plans for a huge New Jersey ride went out the window.   The weather, in New Jersey style, was just too unpleasant, and I scaled it back to a day trip.   I biked out on a Saturday morning to see what I could find of the real New Jersey, if such a thing even exists.

Betsy and George live in a nice house in a conventional looking neighborhood of Princeton.



Being Princeton, looks can be deceiving.  They have told me that their neighbor across the street in an even more conventional looking house is always on the short list for the next Nobel Prize in some scientific discipline.  Like Chapel Hill, there are a lot of Volvo station wagons and Priuses.

Just down the block from them, there are about twenty almost identical small tract modernist houses, built in the 1950’s.


Some have had additions to them as real estate values in the area have gone through the roof.   The neighborhood recently rejected a proposition to declare these houses historic, fearing loss of property value.


To bicycle out of Princeton and go east,  one has to find a road that crosses both the massive U.S.1 highway, and the Northeast Corridor rail line.   Google Maps helps a lot with that.  Once across those barriers, until relatively recently much of this was farmland.   Now housing developments are growing like weeds.  This is the epicenter of the recent controversy in the local majority Asian school district, which is separate from the Princeton school district.   The administrators and many “anglo” parents felt their high school children were under too much pressure.  The Asian parents did not agree.   Just study harder.

While there may be a lot of recent immigrants, the developments look All-American.



This farmland is now a tract development; I guess they just kept the name.


It was at this “farm” that I saw a lady in a Toyota Camry making a left turn into the very conventional looking housing  development.   She was wearing a niqab, with only a slit for her eyes.

Biking further out, if you looked across the cornfields you could see houses coming up.


Both in the morning and later in the day, I passed lots of construction.   Much of it is large houses.



Eventually I got into open farmland.   Because this is New Jersey, even this does not happen automatically.    There were a lot of signs about agricultural easements, where the farmer sells development rights.



Even further out, I crossed another major barrier.  As Simon and Garkunkel said  “Counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike, they’ve all gone to look for America.” 


Pretty much standing by itself along a cornfield was the East Windsor Deli.    The chain sandwich store Jersey Mike’s is all over North Carolina.   The East Windsor Deli must be the kind of place that Jersey Mike’s tries to replicate.  I had corned beef on sub roll with lettuce,  tomato, oregano, oil and vinegar, no onions.


On the way back, once I got into developed areas, I weaved through housing developments.   I guess there must be a lot of artists who live around here.


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