There’s really no better way to spend a day off from work midweek than taking a long drive. It’s especially nice on a beautiful pre-Fall day, and if it’s the first day your car has been out of the shop after an overnight stay for repairs, it’s even better. I’ve long extolled the wonders of Bucks County, Pennsylvania with all of its wineries and covered bridges, but the towns running parallel to Bucks along the Delaware River on the New Jersey side offer their own rustic charms and often get overlooked. Quaint historic towns running along the Delaware Raritan Canal in Hunterdon County and stretching across gorgeous wooded back roads into Mercer County (home of Princeton University) are more an extension of the small-town meets gentrified rural setting of Bucks County than they are a connecting strip to the New York-influenced North Jersey and Philly-influenced South Jersey megalopilises.
Last week I ventured up that way, stopping off at Washington’s Crossing State Park on the Jersey side before spending a few hours strolling through Lambertville. The sister city to the more famous (and tragically hip) New Hope, Lambertville is a bevy of historic architecture, tree-lined streets, art galleries, antique shops, and restaurants. It’s like New Hope without the obnoxious and trendy bustle.
I went there specifically to do some research for a short story where I may use Lambertville as the setting and to check out some of the used book stores. One such store, Phoenix Books, proved to offer a treasure trove of used, rare and out-of-print volumes. It also boasted a most surprising 1st Edition copy of Graham Greene’s 1st novel, The Man Within, which when doing a little research with the shopkeeper, is apparently unheard of Stateside. The price was a bit steep for an impulse buy, and the 1929 edition was in bad shape…but it’s just too unique of an item for me not to think about and give a call back for further discussions and negotiations. In the meantime I left with a very nice collector’s set of Shakespeare’s complete works and will be sure to return.
After walking across the bridge briefly into New Hope, I ventured back to Jersey, and then headed out to Hopewell in Mercer County to meet up with a friend I hadn’t seen since grade school for dinner. We dined at Nomad Pizza (at her excellent suggestion), an extremely popular spot where they boast the freshest ingredients (many grown in their own garden) and signature dough cooked in a huge wood-fired brick oven straight off the boat from Italy that is on display in their tight indoor space. Offering diners indoor and outdoor settings, Nomad Pizza is a welcome respite from your typical greasy pizzeria. Bring a bottle of wine, a good friend, and enjoy.
Ah, yes…and here are some snapshots I took…
Written and Photographed by David H. Schleicher