NJWILDBEAUTY readers know that I am partial to time travel. Give me a town or a region, a landscape or seascape that’s frozen in time, and I could move right over or down there. You also know how much timelessness matters to me. I hope, over the years, that my blog images have conveyed historic or even non-historic, as in unspoiled scenes, matter to me. My current time travel destination is Fleecydale Road (closed to cars, open to locals and walkers), below the Carversville Inn in Bucks County.
Recently, on two different occasions, I took dear friends over to Carversville, Pennsylvania, in Bucks County. We go across the Stockton (NJ) bridge and straight up the hill. Take Aquetong Road right til you come to the Carversville Inn, seemingly unchanged since the 1800-and-somethings, at the corner of Aquetong and Fleecydale.
Go inside, having made a fireside reservation if the fireplace is working. Otherwise, sit in the sunnier upper room, and feast. The chef is a wizard with sauces, — subtle, authentic, nuanced, and never overdone. I have friends who call up to be sure their escargots with the little poufy pastry hats are on the menu, before they set out on the journey, often in a snazzy little white Triumph, top down, fur hats this time of year. The car is named Murg, and she loves back roads. It doesn’t get any ‘backer’ than Fleecydale. But I am ahead of myself.
If they have oyster ‘stew’ – liquid gossamer – go for that alone. Then, I am always torn between the DIVER SCALLOP, yes, singular, and about the size of a filet of beef, wrapped in applewood-smoked bacon or prosciutto, served on tangy julienned root vegetables, and delicately/heartily framed with artistic doodles of sauce that could be Cumberland or could be some essence of citron. “Torn between” this superbly undercooked scallop, and the Wild Mushroom Ragout. TBD. All desserts are made in house, and their ice creams and sorbets give Princeton’s ‘bent spoon’ a run for the money – as in salted caramel… There is a flourless chocolate cake with house-made (of course!) caramel that is “worthy of the journey”, in the renowned Michelin Guide term.
O, Fleecydale, you ask! What about Fleecydale?
Well, it’s been closed since Sandy. Don’t ask.
It winds about like Lombard Street in San Francisco. But it’s far more beautiful, natural, and, YES, OLDER!
Fleecydale is studded with buildings from the 1600s, 1700s, 1800’s you already know: Mill this, tanner that. Each house remarkably individualistic, from the tiniest to the grandest. A handsome bridge. A tranquil creek now, that raged in Sandy. Broad fields, resplendent with wildflowers in summer and autumn; a remarkable rock wall on the left as you walk away from the Inn, which is festooned with ice sculpture by the greatest artist of all, Nature Herself, in January.
The neighbors are always out walking, and they welcome you to their haven.
The vile pipeline has metastasized even onto Fleecydale (where no one seems to drive but locals, but the pipeline has eminent domain). No one is safe, anywhere, in the Era of the Pipeline, not even sacred Fleecydale! Do what you can, WHEREVER YOU LIVE, to STOP ALL destructive PIPELINES!
Even in late November, new ferns are sprouting. Spiky, tough though delicate witch hazel adorns otherwise empty shrubs. Mill wheels lean against trees of other times.
Each yard is subtly tended, and now decorated for Christmas.
Five of us took the Fleecydale Challenge on November 29th. Four of them treated me for my impossible 78th birthday. Then we trekked outside and down the ‘closed’ road, into timelessness and silence and wonder. Of the five, three of us had seen whales that week — two of us at Island Beach, one while fishing off Barnegat Inlet. No one but yours truly had ever strolled Fleecydale.
Trust me that it is glorious in all seasons.
The legendary Max Hansen Caterers (of Michener, of Bowman’s Hill Wildflower Preserve events) manage the general store now. Get Max & Me smoked salmon, if they haven’t sold 14 packages just before you came. Wondrous hefty breads await, and the lavender products of Carousel Farm. Note the copy of Van Gogh’s postman in the lobby, for this was (is?) a post office not long ago.
Whatever you do, get out onto Fleecydale after your sumptuous feast.