This past Memorial Day, we set out to find a treasure hidden in the New Jersey woods.
We drove an hour west of the city to a pleasant area of New Jersey, then turned off into an unassuming residential neighborhood and parked at the end of a cul-de-sac.
Just off the street, we found a trail into the woods and began our hike, following a GPS coordinate that quickly took us far off the beaten path…
As we bushwhacked through the thick foliage, we could practically feel each poison ivy leaf brushing against our bare legs…
…while many a shoe were nearly lost to the swampy mud, freshly soaked from a night of heavy rains (good thing we came so well-prepared for this!).
And then, we saw it up ahead, nestled in the fertile overgrowth: the wreckage of a crashed jet plane.
>>>Continue reading “My Memorial Day: Searching For A Crashed Jet in the NJ Woods”
In 1895, a man named Joshua Slocum decided to be the first man to ever sail around the world alone.
Slocum was 51 years old. His formal education ended in 3rd grade, and he didn’t even know how to swim. His ship was a rotting shell of an oyster boat named The Spray. He left Massachusetts with almost no money and no navigational equipment.
Three years later, Joshua Slocum defied all odds by sailing into Rhode Island bay and achieving his goal, having traveled over 46,000 miles. Several years later, he would document his adventures in an incredible travelogue simply titled Sailing Alone Around The World.
I came across Sailing Alone Around The World a few years ago totally by chance. Barnes and Noble was having one of those 3-for-2 Classics deals, and I was desperately searching book #3. I found Sailing, thought it sounded interesting, and checked out. Little did I know that of three books I purchased that day, Slocum’s would be the one I’d never forget.
>>>Continue reading “Summer Reading List! Sailing Alone Around The World”
One of my all time favorite theaters isn’t located in Times Square, or even Manhattan. To find it, you have to go waaaaay down Queens Boulevard to the heart of Elmhurst, where you’ll come across the old Elks lodge #878.
Built in 1924, this Elks lodge was once one of the largest on the East Coast, with, according to Forgotten NY, “60 rooms, bowling alleys, billiards, a ladies’ lounge, and a 50 foot bar, built in the teeth of Prohibition.”
Much has disappeared over the years, but thankfully, the lodge’s crown jewel has managed to survive: the multi-level Aztec meeting hall/theater.
Like something out of an Indiana Jones movie, the room is absolutely dripping in beautiful Aztec-themed molding:
Above the stage, a pair of warriors…
…centered around a clock (note the face covered by the speakers):
The intricacy of the molding just blows me away – look at how many different patterns can be found in just the row of small squares in the picture below, which are nearly impossible to distinguish from the ground:
Before we continue the tour, you might be wondering why such beautiful design work has been covered by a such a boring paint color that does nothing to accentuate it. As it happens, THIS is how the room used to look:
A few years ago, the Elks sold the building to a Christian church and sadly, a new paint job was adopted to tone down the theme (according to Forgotten NY, some of the church’s congregants apparently felt the imagery was too Satanic). A pair of warriors on the sides of the stage are today covered in banners:
>>>Continue reading “The Incredible Aztec Theater Hidden in Queens”
This is the final installment of our look at Camp Wishe, a children’s sleepaway camp that has been abandoned for more than 15 years. Click here for part 1 and here for part 2!
At this point in our tour, you’ve hopefully come to know Camp Wishe as a classic American sleepaway camp, a warm and welcoming place to send your kids over the summer. In a way, that’s what makes the next part of the story all the more eerie.
Photo courtesy Campe Wish Memories - Click for More!
Probably the strangest bit from Camp Wishe’s history concerns the man who owned it from 1995 to 2010, the years it was allowed to fall into ruin. During that period, the only piece of the property he maintained was this building at the camp’s entrance, which at one point was a hunting lodge.
The man is said to have been a 32° degree mason, the second highest Masonic rank attainable.
When the new owners purchased the property in 2011, they were startled to find the main room of the old hunting lodge painted a brilliant red.
Stranger still, mounted above the fireplace…
…was an enormous 3-foot tall marble Masonic cross:
>>>Continue reading “Outdoor Rec, and an Eerie Side to Camp Wishe:
Scouting An Abandoned Children’s Camp – Part 3″
This is part 2 of our look at Camp Wishe, a children’s sleepaway camp that has been abandoned for more than 15 years. Click here for part 1!
Camp Wishe is located on what used to be old Route 6. When the Wishe family purchased the property in the 1940′s, it consisted of a run down inn, a defunct gas station (which we’ll see in the third installment), and an old ice house.
The family decided to try their hand at a summer camp, and in the late 40′s, began clearing the land by hand – cutting down trees, moving rocks, and building the initial structures.
In the first year, Camp Wishe boasted 12 campers and 3 counselors. Within a decade, that number rose to over 100 campers, and by 1951, the first cabin was built. Below, a picture of a cabin in pristine condition taken decades ago…
Picture courtesy Camp Wishe Memories - click for more!
…and today, after 15 years of abandonment.
Frankly, they’re in pretty good shape all considered – and I challenge you to not imagine spending nights here in a bunk as a warm summer breeze blows through, the trees creaking outside…or better yet, curling up in your sleeping bag as a thunder and lightening storm rages outside, with only mosquito netting and the overhang of the roof to keep out the elements.
I love the Camp Wish cabin names, posted beside each bunk’s door. Below, signs for Bunk II: Lettuce Inn, and Bunk III: Shangrila.
Bunk IV: Twilight Zone (would’ve been my choice):
>>>Continue reading “Into The Cabins: Scouting An Abandoned Children’s Camp – Part 2″
Driving by, you’d only know it as a horse ranch, offering boarding services, hay, and horse trailers.
But go up a dirt road in the back, and you’ll find a magical secret…
An entire children’s sleepaway camp, dating to 1950, that has been abandoned for more than 15 years.
Camp Wishe had everything you could want in a classic American sleepaway camp: a beautiful mess hall building (above) flanked by two towering pines, numerous cabins for the kids…
…An enormous pool, basketball courts, a lake, streams, and plenty of forest, covering over 100 acres.
And yet sadly, for the past 15 years, this incredible property has been left to rot.
>>>Continue reading “Scouting An Abandoned Children’s Camp – Part 1″