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“Not All Who Wonder Are Lost”

by Karen Fucito
by Karen Fucito

I like to be outdoors. I can spend all day, any day, hot, cold, rainy, windy, or snowy, outside.

My best memories growing up are of things I did outside: all the sports I played, doing kid stuff with my brother and sister, like exploring the woods behind our home in West Caldwell, our weekends in the Poconos—we did everything outside—snowmobiling, skiing, swimming, camping, riding dirt bikes, water skiing and hiking. My mother used to tell us to go outside and “blow the stink” off ourselves. That phrase still makes me laugh.

Today, my outdoor activities include gardening, taking care of the
yard, my job as a journalist (I can’t even begin to count the number of
snowstorms, hurricanes and heat waves I’ve documented over the years), kayaking and swimming in the lake, and walking.

I like to walk. And, I like to walk with my dog, Riley.

She and I have logged a lot of miles together in the woods, at various parks and on the streets. We enjoy hiking around Mahlon Dickerson in Jefferson—the Saffin Pond path is a nice quick romp in the woods for her. Sometimes we head to Horseshoe Lake in Roxbury. A great park for both people and canines. The walking path skirts the entire park, which lends itself to lots of socializing for both species.

But mostly we walk around our neighborhood in Nolan’s Point.

I’ve been living in this area for 12 years now. Before Riley, there was Macy, another great companion on my walks. Macy has been gone for quite some time now and Riley and I have been pounding the pavement together for about six years. Thanks to both Macy and Riley, we’ve met lots of neighbors, both two-legged and four-legged. Without the walks, and without the dogs, I don’t think I would know anyone in my area other than my immediate neighbors. Dogs and walking are a great way to make new friends.

I met Glen and his dog, Phoebe, when Macy was alive. Every morning we’d see each other somewhere in the neighborhood. Glen always had a couple of plastic bags with him. One he would use to clean up after Phoebe. The other he would use to clean up after the rest of the world.

He and Phoebe would stroll through the neighborhood, collecting bag after bag of the trash that came to rest on the sides of the roads. Some of it left behind by the local critter population, some of it blown from open garbage cans and some of it deliberately discarded.

No matter the source, Glen bagged it. And the neighborhood was clean.

Phoebe is gone now and Glen doesn’t walk nearly as often as he used to and the neighborhood shows it. It’s painful to say, but my neighborhood is strewn with trash. Like Glen a few years back, I now find myself picking up garbage while Riley and I are out for our morning walks. I find garbage in the woods, along the sides of the streets, even in front yards. There is more out there than you think.

In November the Lake Hopatcong Foundation that is spearheading a massive lake cleanup effort late this fall, taking full advantage of the 60-inch drawdown that begins in late September. The Foundation is looking for volunteers, people like Glen, who are willing to spend a few hours on a Saturday in November improving the quality of our larger neighborhood, the lake itself. For information click on the story located in the IN BRIEF section of the website or go to the Foundation’s website at www.lakehopatcongfoundation.com.

The last printed edition of Lake Hopatcong News for 2013 now in over 200 locations around the lake. Thank you to all who have read along this year. We will continue to post important and interesting stories on the website. The next magazine will be published in February, and in 2014 we will publish six times, including four over the summer and a new fall edition. See you around the lake!

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