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Zion Crossing Park's Hidden Gem

Zion Crossing Park is a lovely little park at the end of Hollow Road in Montgomery Township.

On April 30th, I decided to resign from my position at the bank. Why? Two years ago, I joined the bank as a consultant focusing on enhancing the security architecture of their internal and cloud-based applications. It didn't take long for my leadership qualities to catch the attention of the director, and I was soon promoted to a team lead role. It was an exciting opportunity for me but also a new challenge.

Managing a geographically dispersed team across Texas, Florida, Alabama, Arizona, and Mexico was a first for me. Not only did I have to oversee the team, but I also had to juggle the expectations of internal stakeholders. While I enjoyed working with my team and had a supportive boss, I gradually started feeling disillusioned with my role. Most of my technical responsibilities were delegated to others, and my days became filled with back-to-back meetings. I spent around thirty hours a week in meetings, often munching on my lunch at my desk.

In the spring, I was offered an Associate Director position to formalise my existing responsibilities and transition into a full-time employee. At first, I was thrilled about the promotion. However, as I contemplated the travel, my excitement waned.

The new role required me to report to the office in person, meaning I would have to commute to New York City twice a week on a hybrid schedule. I experienced this commute between 2018 and 2019, and I knew I didn't want to subject myself to it again. The whole commuting experience is incredibly stressful.

In the end, I made the tough decision to decline the offer. I realised I needed a change to a less hectic work schedule. It wasn't an easy choice, but deep down, I felt it was right for me. So, starting from Monday, May 1st, I technically became unemployed.

I look forward to exploring new opportunities that align with my aspirations and provide a better work-life balance. It's an anxious and uncertain phase, but I'm optimistic about the future.

Zion Crossing Park Waterfall · Monday 1 May 2023 · FujiFilm X-T3 at 17 sec, ISO 160 · XF27mmF2.8 R WR at f/8.0

It was raining that morning, but the weather cleared by 10 AM, and the sun shone. I grabbed my camera gear, including my X-T3, XF27mmF2.8 R WR, XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR, XF150-600mmF5.6-8 R LM OIS WR, MCEX-16 macro extension tube, URTH ND64, and Peak Design 6L sling, and headed out to Zion Crossing Park. I planned to take photos of the waterfall and wildflowers and hike in Sourland Mountain Preserve if I had time.

Hollow Road is a scenic route from east to west and passes through wooded areas, farmland, and historic sites. It's popular with bikers, hikers, and nature enthusiasts who enjoy the peaceful surroundings. Zion Crossing Park is a lovely little park at the end of Hollow Road in Montgomery Township. The park is situated on a plot of land once occupied by two homes, which have since been demolished. The forest grew back once the houses were taken down, and the land was left vacant. The Montgomery Friends of Open Space contributed a grant of approximately $100k from Green Acres toward the purchase of this parcel and created a park.

The park has a picnic table, bench, parking area, and an interpretive sign to help visitors learn more about the area. The property is a crucial connection to preserved lands in Hillsborough. There are plans to construct a pathway through the property that could someday become a link in a trail along Rock Brook, extending from the northern township boundary with Hillsborough Township down south and east toward Skillman Park. This exemplifies how organisations can work together to preserve and protect natural resources.

Rock Brook, a tributary of the Millstone River, runs alongside Hollow Road and is around 7.4 miles long. It starts in the Sourland Mountain range and flows through several parks and natural areas, including Montgomery Park, Skillman Park, and Zion Crossing Park. Long ago, Rock Brook was used for water power, and you can still see the remains of a dam in the stream as a picturesque little waterfall. Aside from its recreational value, Rock Brook is an essential part of the ecosystem in Montgomery Township. It provides a habitat for various plant species and helps regulate water flow and quality in the area.

Zion Crossing Park is one of my favourite places in the township. It was my go-to spot for peace during the COVID pandemic and when I struggled with my health in 2018 and 2019. The sound of the water rushing over the rocks drowned out the negative thoughts in my head, and I found it to be a calming place. After several days of rain, Rock Brook had a lot of water, which made for some great photos.

I used my URTH ND64 filter on my XF27mmF2.8 R WR to capture the motion blur in the water. The filter provides six light-reduction stops, allowing me to get shutter speeds between 12 to 1 second. I edited the photos in Adobe Lightroom and used Luminar Neo for cropping recommendations.

One of my entries for Lens-Artists.

Isolation Photo Project, Day 2

Monday's weather put me in a gloomy funk. Today the sun appeared again, but the air was cold. I read a blog post by Mary Anne Borge about her walk on the Rockhopper Trail in West Amwell. Mary Anne encountered birds and plants and wildflowers. She mentioned that the warmer weather may have brought on some early budding and flowering. Normally the native wildflowers will appear in mid to late April in the Mid Atlantic.

With a bit of FOMO, I felt the urge to be outside in nature. My goal was to hopefully capture photos of round-lobed Hepatica or rue-anemone.

My first stop was at the Rock Brook along Hollow Road. I have encountered numerous specimens of native wildflowers here but today, the flowers I found only Ficaria Verna and invasive plant from Asia and West Africa.

Ficaria verna commonly known as lesser celandine or pilewort is an invasive species from Asia and West Africa | 24 March, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR | f/5.6 | ISO 400

It was sloshy along the trail in the Sourland Nature Preserve on East Mountain Road. I didn’t find as many plant specimens as Mary Anne, but I wasn't in the mood for bushwacking. Perhaps it's too early for Rue Anemone. I found no hepatica. I had no problem finding Spring Beauty.

Claytonia (spring beauty) | 24 March, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR | f/4.0 | ISO 200

There were other couples out hiking, and I encountered one family with four boys blowing of anxious energy. After ninety minutes walking around, I circled back to the trailhead. I was determined to find something. A few yards in I spotted singular bloodroot among the dried leaves.

Harusaki is early spring in Japanese.

rocks | 24 March, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR | f/4.0 | ISO 200
In the distance | 24 March, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR | f/6.4 | ISO 500
24 March, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR | f/8.0 | ISO 1000
24 March, 2020 | FujiFilm X-T2 | Fujinon XF16-55mmF2.8 R LM WR | f/2.8 | ISO 200

This is my entry for Jeff's isolation project.

Submitted as part of the 100DaysToOffload project.