2019-05-18 - Freewalkers 2019 Big Walk
The Freewalkers 2019 Big Walk took place on May 18th, 2019. Around 30 of us started at 6:30 AM in the morning at the Metropark Train Station, Iselin, New Jersey. I loved seeing all the familiar faces and started following David Ascher on the Greenway path. I spent a lot of time just chatting with the other walkers as the miles ticked by. We passed through beautiful parks and at 11.5 miles in, we reached Cranford. We were lucky to receive the SAG support with drinks, donuts, and fruit. A few walkers joined here but most people were not able to keep up with David's pace.
David Ascher dropped off sometime after Cranford and Sharon and I took over leading our group on the walk. We stopped at Boston Market for lunch and then at Weequahic Park at mile 23 with SAG support one last time. I ate donuts and bagels; it's hard to beat free food. There was then a long stretch to reach Newark.
We did kind of a mini loop through Newark passing by cool architecture, buildings, and monuments. The sky and buildings were impossibly blue. The day and weather were perfect. We finally reaching the train station at mile 27 after losing a walker who we lost in Newark. Brian also left us here at the train station but everyone else stayed together. I drank a smoothie mix with the most calories that they offered and changed my socks here. We also all refilled our water before moving on.
After Newark, Ian helped me with the routing and we walked through the industrial sections of Newark and Kearny towards my home of Jersey City. Along the way, we crossed two bridges almost entirely devoid of traffic. Apparently, a chemical fire the day before had caused the bridge to only be open to local traffic. The air supposedly was not great to breathe, so we hurried on our way into Lincoln Park in Jersey City, an oasis of green in the industrial wasteland.
I'm always happy to show other walkers my beautiful Jersey City. We walked through the woods of Lincoln Park, on a stump path, across an overpass, around a pond, around a fountain, and up steps to the Lincoln the Mystic Statue at the eastern end of the park. We stayed on J. F. Kennedy Blvd, the cross-county highway of its day all the way into Journal Square near my home. We made a stop at the Apple House where George Washington and Lafayette was supposed to have met and stayed during the war. We picked up Oscar who would finish the walk with us and continued on our way towards downtown past the County Courthouse and City Hall. Ian left us near the Grove Street PATH station.
Turning onto Jersey Avenue, we walked past the historic district and entered into Liberty Park. We looped through the beautiful park with the best views of the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, Brooklyn and Manhattan skyline. I took a break on Tom's Island and ran to catch up with the group. Eventually we exited the park and reached Exchange Place where we waited 20 minutes for the ferry across the river for the last four miles.
I made the decision to leave the group a bit before the end to see my best friend one more time before she would fly over to California and then to DC. I ended up walking about 47 miles and the finishers Denise, Nakis, Gloria, and I believe first time finisher Francisca would have walked the whole way of about 49 miles finishing by 11 PM. Also, Charles and I think first timer Kate walked the 45 miles to Exchange Place. Congrats to everyone and thanks for the company!