Branch Brook Park Lake

Day 318

Today’s (pretty damn witty) GUEST POST is from my son, John Albanese. He was kind enough to walk with me in Branch Brook Park on Friday the 13th to help with my first weekly MyBigWalk-BARISTANET feature.  Here’s how the walk looked through his 16-year-old eyes….

My mother was the gal with the plan. A pleasant scoping of Branch Brook Park in Newark, notorious for drug deals, prostitution, and a recent fatal shooting. We left slightly later than intended due to my sister’s chaotic cooking, and tensions were running high. Phones were ringing from every direction, and we we unclear as to where exactly we were going.

Needless to say the gal had a solution. She appointed me the navigator. I reached for the GPS but before I grabbed it she had thrust a 75-page map into my lap.

My confidence plummeted. Being a child of the 21st Century, asking me to read a map is comparable to asking your grandmother to text you her secret pie recipe. My mother spent several uneasy minutes outlining how to use a map, and our course was eventually set.

A pleasant surprise awaited us when we entered the park. It was green, and gigantic. We were led to the parking lot by a long twisty road along the lake. The second we got out of the car it all became so simple. The only task in front of us was to walk and observe. The path was clear and everything seemed peaceful. This sensation was reinforced bychildren walking with their mothers, fishermen eager to talk about their recent catch, and an elderly couple sitting

The gal took a picture of this stuff!?

by the lake. Other than the occasional scattered paraphernalia — presumably from after dark activity — the park did not display any signs of its infamous reputation.

Our walk was accompanied by the view of an enormous church. We braved a walk in Newark and discovered that we were looking at Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart, the fifth largest cathedral in the country. Branch Brook Park is clearly a neglected treasure and a perfect place to walk. My only grievance is that in order to walk there and experience the sanctuary the park offers, many will have to endure the pressure of driving to Newark– and maybe even of reading a map.