The adage “the world is at your doorstep” may not be mentioned in the four books that arrived at the office, but each of these “get up and get out” themed publications reflects that truth. And while one goes global, all focus on the terra firma right beneath us and provide some good ideas to enjoy the season — and get a healthy start to the year.
“Walking, A Moving Experience” is Princeton-area writer and WHWH radio station founder Herb Hobler’s personal account of creating a habit of to get out. He says it started in 1981 when a friend rebuked an invitation to jog with him and suggested a walk instead. The result? “A whole new world of touching hearing, smelling, meditation, and creative thinking opened up before me, one that totally had escaped me as an intense never-stop jogger. Walking was a new adventure,” writes the 95-year-old Hobler in his recently re-issued book.
From then on Hobler has made a pre-breakfast, several mile walk a daily ritual and shares both tips for getting into action and some of his adventures here and there. Those tips include getting the right footwear, advising that investing in comfortable shoes will provide an “extra spring” that makes all the difference in the world. Getting clothes to match the season and the weather — hats and boots are mentioned. Then have the outfit ready “so you never have to think about what to wear.” He also advises taking a notebook and pencil “to retain a treasure of trove of captured thoughts, plans for the day, and reminders of this and that.” Other good things to bring include a form of identification in case of stumbling, some cash (but no wallet), and if traveling something to help him find his way back to where he is staying (address, hotel key, hotel matchbook).
As for adventures, Hobler says he has kept pace with his habit when he traveled and has gotten out of his comfort zone walking in 26 states and 26 foreign lands, including England, New Zealand, Norway, and China. Yet most walks are in the Princeton area, where he made it a point to go into new territory on a daily basis.
And while Hobler cites walking’s health benefits — it helps prevent heart attacks and stroke, reduces cholesterol, lowers blood pressure, lowers weight — his affection for it can be summed up with the simple, “It’s fun.”
Walking, A Moving Experience,” Xlibris, $19.99.
“Discovering Princeton: A Photographic Guide with Five Walking Tours” is by Princeton-based fine arts photographer Wiebke Martens and museum education consultant Jennifer Jang. Focusing on an approach that combines “town and gown,” the duo say they traveled Princeton, in every season and time of day in search of images, like the campus in snow, Morven in spring, Marquand Park in autumn, and the Palmer Square Christmas tree.
The book is divided into five chapters or walks: “Historic University,” “Downtown Princeton,” “West Around Mercer Hill,” “The University in the Twenty-first Century,” and “From Seminary to Institute.” Sites mentioned include the historic homes of Albert Einstein, Richard Stockton, and Woodrow Wilson and such well-known area landmarks as the Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton Battle Monument, Nassau Hall, and more.
In addition to the helpful maps and scores of images, the 160-page book features both a brief history of the town and a compendium of other attractions in the region.
“Discovering Princeton: A Photographic Guide with Five Walking Tours,” published by Schiffer Publishing, $24.99.
“Walk the Trails In and Around Princeton” is Princeton author and environmental advocate Sophia Glovier’s updated version of her popular pocket-fitting, spiral-bound publication of 16 tours first printed in 2012. While the revised version includes the region’s newest trails, the original intent is the same: a way for area residents to explore wonderful paths in their own backyards.
Glovier says the book was born with a dog that wanted to take walks. “I don’t like to jump in the car and wanted to go to places nearby,” says the writer. “Then I started taking friends. After we would go on these long great walks, they would say that they would like to do it again, but they would never go without me because they may get lost. So there was a need for the guide.”
The book is divided into seven sections: “Greenway Meadows and the Stony Brook,” with a walk on the Scott & Hella McVay Poetry Trail; “In the Institute Woods,” where visitors can visit the Princeton Battlefield park and follow the path of George Washington and his Colonial army; “Along the Lawrence Hopewell Trail,” with its newly completed paths; and “Other Great Walks in Nearby Towns,” including St. Michaels Farm Preserve, Griggstown Native Grassland Preserve, and the D&R Canal in Rocky Hill.
“I pick walks by what kind of day it is, what time of day, what season, because they all have their pleasures. The lily pond in spring is beautiful. The Mountain Lakes area is stunning when you are at the top of the lake and looking down at Princeton. They’re all so pretty. It just depends what mood you’re in,” says Glovier.
And if one has trouble deciding where to go, the helpful maps and images by photographers Bentley and Nathan Drezner of Princeton will certainly help. No matter, the idea is just to slip the book into a pocket and go.
“Walk the Trails In and around Princeton,” Princeton University Press, $20, available at the D&R Greenway Trust, Labyrinth Books, and other area locations.
And “Ghost Towns of New Jersey: A Tour of Our Forgotten Places” is Timothy Regan’s exploration of 18 lost or forgotten communities throughout our state — and may be a good place to start a series of strolls around the state.
A fire chief and founder of the Keyport Fire Museum in Monmouth County, Regan calls his book “a journey to the glass towns, romantic iron furnace villages, and sleepy hamlets that simply faded away from our memories over the centuries.” His argument for getting out to explore is simple: “We in New Jersey have the luxury to drive, hike, and even canoe to these places, all within an hour or two of home — some on the road, some off the road, and some way off the beaten path and through the thorny thickets. But any way you choose to get there, those Jersey ghost towns are waiting for you to explore and enjoy.”
Regan’s destinations go as far north as the town of Bevans in Sussex County’s Water Gap region and as far south as Greenwich Landing in Cumberland County. Of the former, the writer explores an 18th-century farm village that changed little over 200 years, then saw its demise in the 1960s with the government-sponsored project that “chased many from their homes.” By 1969, writes Regan, “Bevans was just another Water Gap ghost town. This was all about to change with the creation of the Peter’s Valley craft center created by the National Park Service in 1970s.” And today the location is a draw for craft students and collectors.
The South Jersey town of Greenwich was founded in 1684 and was the site of New Jersey’s own Revolutionary War-era Tea Party protest of the British Tea Party, inspired by the Boston Tea Party. Now Greenwich “is home to about 400 people all living on just a few shaded streets along the banks of the Cohansey River. Walking the streets of Greenwich is akin to feeling as if you have been transported back in time to a Charles Dickens novel — and unlike anything else in New Jersey,” writes Regan.
Between the two extreme ends of the state are more familiar and accessible places, such as Whitesbog Village, a hub for cranberry and blueberry farming; Allaire Village with its sawmill and furnace; Batsto, with its Colonial iron furnaces; and others.
With an introduction that includes a brief history of the Jersey Devil, the book with drawings, photos, and maps is a nice addition to a Jersey-centric library and a handy book to plan a day trip.
“Ghost Towns of New Jersey,” Schiffer Publishing, $24.99.
So take a tip from the authors and another from another adage: Take a hike.