I just recently found my first Northern Cricket Frogs! These frogs range from 5/8” – 1 1/2” in size, and are highly variable in color and pattern. As their name suggests their voice sounds somewhat cricket-like in nature. In NJ the Northern Cricket Frog population has been declining and must be monitored. The greatest threat to the species has been loss or destruction of habitat and the species has been recommended for a Special Concern status.
I live about 80 miles from this iconic dry-cleaning business in Lambertville, New Jersey, but I’m tempted to drop off my shirts here from time to time just to have an excuse to admire the gorgeous sign — and maybe do a little antiquing down the street. Now part of a local chain called Tirpok Cleaners, the evocatively named Del-Vue dates back to mid-century. That name is so very 1950s, the perfect portmanteau for the location — with its “view” of the Delaware River. This sign is an amazing view, too. 😍
On the banks of the Pequest River in a rural stretch of New Jersey, Hot Dog Johnny's has been an institution along Route 46 — the gateway to the Poconos — since 1944. There is so much going on here, and it's all wonderful. Firstly, the site is beautiful. The river, the park-like setting, the charming playground for the kids — it's perfect. Then there's the 1960s building itself, with neon signage, hand-painted hot dogs, a cozy, woodsy seating area with green laminate seating, where a photo of Hot Dog Johnny himself keeps a watchful eye. Right on the river, there's a shed whence the operation began 74 years ago. And then there's the simple but delicious menu, the birch beer and yes, the buttermilk. I had never tried buttermilk. It always sounded potentially delicious, an ambrosia waiting to be sampled. Well, I learned quickly (a sip is all it took) that it's an acquired taste. I'm grateful to the kind host, keenly aware she was dealing with a buttermilk neophyte, who let me sample it, rightfully concerned I wasn't ready for a frosty mug teeming with the stuff. Hot Dog Johnny's is a destination as much as it is a stop on a journey. If you've never been and find yourself out this way, carve out some time to take it all in, and savor that a place as special as this is still with us. And, yes, try the buttermilk. It's quite popular, or so they say. 🥛 🤷♂️
“Never apologize for being over sensitive and emotional when defending the welfare of wildlife. Let this be a sign that you have a big heart and aren't afraid to show your true feelings. These emotions give you the strength to fight for what is right and to be the voice of those who cannot be heard.” #GarterSnake
The Sunset Motel's vintage sign glows with a little help from the late-day sun. There’s even some neon tubing hanging on. The sign for this motel, in Branchburg Park, New Jersey, reminds us of how mom-and-pop lodging looked in the days before the chains. There were no doubt dozens of Sunset motels coast to coast — I've photographed a handful over the years — but they were each unique expressions of the entrepreneurial spirit of their individual owners. No decisions on signage were handed down from a corporate office thousands of miles away. Each Sunset — or Thunderbird or Stardust — was a little different. That made life on the road just a little more adventurous.
Some diners make you swoon at first sight – forget even tasting the grub, the building itself is a feast for the eyes. The White Rose Diner in Linden, New Jersey is one of the places, dispensing with delicious sliders and Taylor Ham delicacies for decades. (In other parts of the Garden State, you'd say Pork Roll, not Taylor Ham, but that discussion, my Insta friends, will have to be for another day.) This location has been in the same trusty hands for over a quarter century, and dates back to the 1960s, one of the original "White Rose System" restaurants founded and once operated by members of the Hemmings family. Everything about the look says crisp, clean, safe, delicious. That was the whole idea of the "white" name, the white paint, the stainless steel — to communicate cleanliness. It began with White Castle, the grandfather of these slider diners, which launched in the shadow of the publication of Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle," which gave Americans good reason not to trust ground beef. The architecture and branding helped address those concerns. Legions followed White Castle’s lead, and the Garden State varietals include White Diamond and White Manna (and Mana). At the White Rose Diner, like many of these places, very little has changed over the years, and that is part of the enduring appeal. The White Rose Diner makes you hunger — for another time.
Since 1932, Hiram’s has been serving up deep-fried hot dogs in this Fort Lee, New Jersey hut. The “French Fried” Thumann dogs have a fervent following, and once had a worthy competitor across the street, Callahan’s, which alas made way for a bank building more than a decade ago, its Sabrett dogs but a memory. Thankfully, Hiram’s survives — it was once a mandatory stop on the trip to the long-defunct Palisades Amusement Park (unless, of course, you were in the Callahan crowd). On a recent visit to Hiram’s, the parking lot was jammed and the hut bursting with satisfied road-food connoisseurs. The place had the blessing of Leonia native Anthony Bourdain, who stopped by for some nostalgic comfort food in 2015. Hiram’s is roadside Americana the way we all remember it, the way it should always be. #retrologist