I guess not all pictures are worth a thousand words. Last night I posted a video of 18 seconds of my idea of paradise: ocean waves at the Jersey shore. Apparently that was an insufficient post. Let me supply some context. It was day 8 of the current heat wave, temperature at 95F. My meetings were done at 1:30 pm. There were no contractors in my house (that’s not really a good thing, imho). My car is always loaded with beach chair, umbrella & blanket. Obviously I was meant to go down the shore. As a further validation of that action the friendly park ranger let me in for free. 🙂 It was a slice of paradise that I share with you here.
My sister and I snuck in one last trip down the shore while it was still (nominally) summer. There was a craft show and farmers’ market down in Ocean City, NJ. One of my favorite artists/vendors was going to be there and I wanted to see if she had any new tops for me. I was taking the whole week off as vacation, so driving the 2 hours to Ocean City was do-able.
It was a tiny market, but Gretchen was there. My sister and I both ‘scored’ new tops, as well as some new face masks, and some produce. The market is only a few blocks from the boardwalk. We moved the car closer and walked up. Ocean City has a HUGE boardwalk, with marked lanes. It designates direction, and lanes for bicycles and for joggers. It was quite impressive. Of course I have to add that the vast majority of folks on the boardwalk were NOT following the lanes. 🙂 On the other hand, there weren’t that many of us that it was a problem. Although the calendar said summer, it felt more like early fall, it was the middle of the week, so folks were either at work, school or doing some fall activity. You can see that there were still hardy souls enjoying the sun, sand and surf.
We strolled the boardwalk, people-watching and stopping into some of the stores that were open. Many stores and restaurants were closed, both because of the season and because of the pandemic. We had lunch outside at a small restaurant. Everyone had masks except when eating. There was a lovely breeze off the water and warm air despite the clouds. We decided to splurge on dessert and go find an open ice cream stand. 🙂 Yum!
There is wild life down the shore, despite all the people. We had a lot of fun watching the rabbits. I don’t know what variety of rabbits they were, but there were a lot. Amazing how 2 grown women can act like young children who have never seen a rabbit before. We watched them for quite awhile, taking lots of pictures. 🙂 It’s a bunny!!!!!
Other than lunch and our farmers’ market purchases, there wasn’t too much that tempted us in the way of souvenirs. One store was selling “mask chains”. These are the same concept as eye glass holders – a necklace that lets you remove your glasses/mask from your face, but leave them hanging around your neck for easy access. When we went in to check on this, they were sold out. That was a little disappointing as we’d been dropping and replacing our masks all day as we strolled about, getting close to others, and then being socially distanced.
On previous trips my sister and I have gotten matching ankle bracelets, and other little souvenirs. We saw a shop with the same kind of chains as our ankle bracelets. We stopped by to check out the chains, and began chatting with the proprietor. We mentioned the mask necklace and he told us he could make them for us, that he had some already. We each picked out the beads we wanted and he made them right there, for considerably less than the other store was charging for the ones they DIDN’T have. (That reminds me of a joke. Mrs. G went to the fish store looking for a “nice piece of cod”. Mr. R, The proprietor, said “Here it is, $7/lb.” Mrs. G exclaimed “SEVEN dollars? Mr. Y up the block is only charging FIVE dollars a pound!” Mr. R. said “So go buy from Mr. Y.” Mrs. G. replied “Mr. Y is out of cod.” Mr. R. said “When I’m out of cod, I only charge $5/lb as well.” *grin* I LOVED that joke when I was young and first discovered it.)
We did it! We snuck away last weekend on a SUNDAY night to have dinner down the shore. Now if you know my husband, you know that he NEVER does anything anymore on a work night. *grin* I remember when we used to go out bowling with friends on Monday evening, starting at 9pm once the leagues were done. Hard to imagine that now. We were both going to be working from home on this Monday, because we had a kidney stone follow-up appointment. When he suggested heading to Inlet Cafe in Highlands, NJ, I was thrilled.
We drove down with no trouble. I took the local way, not the Parkway, for those of you who know what I mean (and care about which road is which *grin*). Of course we took the convertible. We’d scoped out the parking the last time we were here, and I headed for the little municipal lot I’d noticed then. Although there were cars there were still spots. It only holds perhaps 10 cars maximum, maybe even only 8. What I hadn’t realized was that there was a BEACH behind the lot. There is a small gazebo, and a small beach. If you don’t mind swimming in the bay (as opposed to the ocean), there’s no reason to head over the causeway to Sandy Hook. All of a sudden the allure of renting in the Highlands became much clearer. There are a lot of cute looking restaurants and cafes in that area, as well as the Twin Lights (the historic lighthouse situated on the bluffs above the bay).
It’s only 2 blocks over to the Inlet Cafe. They have a corn hole game set up, 2 large lawn swings, some benches, and of course a great view of the water, in case you have to wait for a table. They have 3 dining areas – indoors, outside under a roof but with open sides (the bar was there), and then outside at tables along the water. Of course we opted for outside. We had a table right along the water and it was perfect. Like many of the restaurants there, they had a dock so you could motor up in your boat, moor, have your meal, and head out again. I always enjoy watching the boats come and go.
The drinks were great, the food extremely tasty. That is why I’m posting a food picture. I had the tuna tacos and Jim had steamers. That’s my ‘chick drink’ martini – vodka, chambord and pineapple. I do appreciate getting a good-size drink, but it shouldn’t be filled to the brim. Use bigger glasses so that I can have the proper amount of liquid without losing half of it every time I lift the glass. 😦 That’s probably my only complaint of the evening.
I want to call out the wait staff as well, and the hostess – both pleasant and professional. My husband had left his fork on his salad plate and so had no fork when his entree arrived. I was looking about for our waiter, wearing that familiar “diner in distress face”. 🙂 Another waiter went by quickly, arms full of dirty dishes. He might have been 2 steps past me when he stopped, backed up and asked if I needed anything. He brought a new fork in under 30 seconds. Now THAT is good wait staff.
Before we left I wandered down to the dock to get better pictures of the swans. I know they thought I had food, so they posed for me, hoping for a reward. Alas, I’d eaten MY dinner. As we were leaving, we wandered over to see the lawn swings, and the sign post and check out what else might be there. We were easily 6 feet from the hostess stand as we headed to our car, but she called out to us, thanking us for coming and wishing us a good evening. Again – she could have ignored us, as the waiter could have justifiably ignored us. But I went back to chat with her about how much we enjoyed the meal and how management should be aware of that waiter’s professionalism and concern.
We got back to our car and the little municipal lot was now full. As I was about to unlock the doors I felt eyes upon me. Next to us were 2 LARGE dogs. They looked like happy friendly dogs – a lot of snuffling the window and drooling – no growls or barking. I’m not sure they’d have FIT in my car!
I am not sure the restaurant is open all through the winter. I seem to remember being told that they close for a month or two. In any case, we really, really enjoyed Inlet Cafe and will be heading back there for the food, service and view!
I FINALLY made it to the beach!!! Complete and utter thanks to my friend Pam. She called Sunday night and said that her schedule had cleared completely (and unexpectedly) and did I want to go to the beach on Monday? I looked at MY empty schedule and looked at the forecast: in the 70s, partly sunny. That wasn’t exactly beach weather but it sure was a beach schedule. I told her to count me in! We agreed that we’d aim to leave around 10am, which is what I’d normally consider a late start. Ask my family. They’ll tell you that when the kids were little, and we’d head down on a hot summer day, I’d be trying to get them out the door before 8:30 am. There’s a lot to plan for a “beach attack”: beat the traffic, close parking spot to the beach access, perfect spot on the sand, staking out the perimeter of OUR spot to keep others from getting sand on us. If *I* didn’t worry about these things, who would??? Exactly!
Given the weather forecast, given that it was a Monday (a slow beach day), and given that the last week in August either has children back in school or away on family vacations or shopping for school shoes and clothes, I didn’t think a planned attack would be required. I didn’t need to pack much food or drink. I’ve learned that I don’t really eat much when I’m on the beach, and I definitely don’t drink a lot because I hate the trek back to the rest rooms. It wasn’t going to be a hot sun so I didn’t need my beach umbrella. All in all for me it was ‘beach light’. I offered to drive and went to pick up Pam. Of course I was in the convertible and of course the top was down. Is there another way to go down the shore? No. We posed in the car so her husband could snap pictures of us. If there is no photo, it didn’t happen. I guess for ME, if there is no blog post, it didn’t happen. *grin*
There was no trouble getting down to Sandy Hook (Gateway National Recreation Area). There is a fee per car to get in, but I had packed my AARP card in case that would get me a discount. My husband has the National Parks card, but he wasn’t with us and it is not transferable. Pam has one too, but she didn’t bring it. When I asked the gate guard if AARP got me a discount he sadly informed us that it did not. But, he said, given that it’s the last week of the season, and given that I bend the rules sometimes, I’ll let you in for the discounted price. Yes!!! Lucky again! We thanked him, paid up, and headed up the hook. As you may have noticed about me, I have my “usual routine” of things I do and places I go. 🙂 We ALWAYS park at parking lot E. The parking lot entrances were a little different than I recalled, which tends to happen every season. There is sand and dunes on both sides of the road. Winter storms move the landscape regularly. We got down to E and – IT WAS CLOSED!!!! That was unexpected. We discussed turning around to go back to D or heading onward towards the North Beach and Fort Hancock. Northward it was!
I’ve been to the North Beach once, a few years ago, with my niece. It didn’t work for me. It was too far from the parking lot and the beach was too narrow. Look, a bad day at the beach is better than a good day most anywhere else, so if all there is is the North Beach, go. This will sound foolish but we couldn’t find the parking lot for the North Beach. I think, in hindsight, I know where it was, but given my lackluster view of that beach anyway, and the fact that we were having fun simply driving on the hook, we kept going to Fort Hancock.
Fort Hancock is a decommissioned army base. Stealing from the Wikipedia entry I can tell you that:
“The Sandy Hook area was first fortified as part of the third system of US fortifications. Construction on the Fort at Sandy Hook began in 1857 and ceased in 1867, with the fort serviceable though largely incomplete.
The initial design of the fort was by then-Captain Robert E. Lee of the Army Corps of Engineers.
The lighthouse at Sandy Hook is the oldest working lighthouse in the United States. It was originally 500 feet from the water, but given shifting sands over time, it’s now about 1.5 miles from the tip.
Many years ago my husband (who is a structural engineer) was working on a project that involved rehabilitating the old army barracks and buildings for commercial use. I don’t think anything came of that particular project but as Pam and I cruised through Fort Hancock, we saw a renovated building listed for rent. It was a home, not a commercial building. I would LOVE to get inside there and see what they have done. It would be so cool to live there – during the day. I’d be creeped out completely at night, to be there all alone. The Marine Academy of Science and Technology is there, but it’s not a boarding school. If you click through on the Gateway National link above, you can see that they are now accepting Requests for Proposals “to lease multiple historic buildings for any compatible use of historic buildings, (such as residential, lodging, or business use related to residential or lodging use),commercial use, or nonprofit within Fort Hancock”. How fantastic would that BE, to live/work at Sandy Hook? Oh, if I only had money to invest and an idea to propose.
I do actually have an idea to propose. Many years ago I invented something that every beach goer needs. Pam reminded me of this after we went back to Parking Lot D, trudged to OUR spot on the shore, and set up our chairs, blanket and her umbrella. This year I’ve been hearing a lot on the news about a NJ congressman who wants to propose some legislation or law or something to protect beach goers from fly-away beach umbrellas. I believe it was last year a woman was impaled and died from a fly-away umbrella, so this is a real issue. I don’t believe, however, that passing laws will address the situation. I “invented” my own umbrella anchoring system using just what I found in my car one windy, beach-going day. I had plastic bags and rope. I combined that with the plentiful beach sand and MY beach umbrellas do NOT fly away. Pam and I amused ourselves by designing the retail version of my system. *grin* Anyone out there with an entrepreneurial spirit want to help me copyright my system???
The other “problem” at the beach are the brazen seagulls. Like the deer in my hometown, which now roam the streets in gangs during the daylight hours, terrorizing the local gardeners and car parkers alike, the seagulls down the shore have no fear. They’d walk right up to our blanket. One of them pecked at my sandal. I guess birds don’t rely on smell, but only sight to determine what to eat. Two of them were pecking at my plastic bag filled with sand. As long as they keep their distance from me (and even clapping my hands at them was insufficient for some) and don’t defecate on me or my things, I do like to watch them swoop and soar and love the sound of their cries.
We never made it into the water, although we saw many children playing in the waves. We walked down and stuck our toes in, and that was sufficient. 🙂 The sun had come out and we were perfectly comfortable with the breeze off the water. We were close enough that we’d get the occasional sea spray as well. I never even took off my shirt and shorts, finally remembering to apply sunscreen after we’d been sitting for perhaps an hour. My knee felt ‘warm’ and I thought ‘oh oops’. I’m okay. I definitely got color but I’m not burned. I spent nearly all my time in my chair. I got to “test” my new beach blanket when Pam took a walk along the water. A little before 5 pm the breeze picked up and the sun had lowered over the bay sufficiently that it was getting more cold than cool. We’d had a good 6 hours down there so we agreed that we could pack up and head home.
I took Pam for quick cruise of the restaurants on the other side of the river. She said that she and her husband would be up for trying out the restaurant my husband and I scoped out when we were down at Moby’s the other weekend. Yay!! Another dinner down the shore if we can get compatible schedules! In the meantime, I brought a little ocean to share with you.
Literally. There’s been a lot happening with renovation and personal issues. I’ve started several blogs but have been too crazed to finish and post. The short summary is that I had some minor surgery on Friday – part of the being crazed and then being totally exhausted. My niece, operating from her own POV and life (do other people REALLY have lives that do not center on ME???? 🙂 ) contacted me and her mom (my sister) and suggested a beach day. The Jersey shore is my idea of heaven on earth so I “let” them “twist my arm”. We piled into the convertible and headed down the shore. *grin* Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer” blasting from the speakers, passengers singing along loudly:
“Woah, we’re half way there
Woah, livin’ on a prayer
Take my hand, we’ll make it I swear
Woah, livin’ on a prayer”
I said to my sister: We’re being filmed right now. We must be in a movie or a commercial. 🙂
We are spoiled Jersey Girls – we NEVER go down the shore on the weekend – we always take off during the week. So we were astounded at the backup to get into Sandy Hook. It must have been over 30 minutes to go those 2 miles. Of course I did NOT wait there. 🙂 And NO, I did NOT line cut right at the end. I headed south past the exit, found a place to turn around and come back from that direction. Much faster. We found a great parking spot, a great blanket spot. The weather was perfect, the neighbors were orderly, quiet, no cigarettes, no music, no screaming. It was all perfect beach sounds of wind, surf, seagulls, and happy people. Only 2 sounds marred the perfection. The first was a drone but mercifully it only went by twice. NOT a beach sound. The 2nd was the sound of the group next to us with their battery-operated blender (against park rules, btw). But everytime they crushed that ice, omg, I wanted to go over and make friends. 🙂 I’d consider getting one but I don’t want to have to shlepp the ice.
Anyway – I’m sharing my day of healing and escape with you. I don’t have a premium account so I can’t upload the video I made just for you.
Renovation recording will resume.
Are you creative? Are you artistic? Do you have an eye for balancing an image? My friend, the Fundy Migrant, 🙂 is taking a course on photography. I’ve always thought she took great pictures but I do see her skill growing rapidly. I think that supports the credo “Practice Makes Perfect”. Or at least leads to improvement. Those of you who only know her as the Fundy Migrant or “that woman” don’t know of her long history of creativity, but you will learn. My personal favorite, of course, were the Drama Dolls. And my very own special Drama Doll. But I digress (as usual). Because this post isn’t about her but about me (as usual). *grin*
I am very conflicted when I think about my artistic abilities. On the one hand, I think I’m creative. I’ve made and sold my own pottery (for real money to people who didn’t know me). I think I have a good eye for my gardens. I learned to make virtual trees (thank you Fundy Migrant) and I learned to script so items I created would move. I made virtual hair which people wanted. I bake well also – ask my brother-in-law about my sugar free rugelach. On the other hand, I was NOT considered the artistic member of my family. Museums exhaust me mentally long before physical fatigue sets in. I passed up visiting Florence to go back to spend more time in Rome. You might remember a posting about a picture in our family home – the picture that my mother declared separated those with an artistic eye from those without. I loathed that picture. So you know where I was slotted on the spectrum. 🙂
I have been very slow to renovate my house. The house is nearly 100 years old. We’ve been there 34 years. We still have the original kitchen cabinets, kitchen counter, upstairs carpeting, and upstairs bathroom. For most people of my acquaintance, this is little short of heresy. Almost taboo. We did an addition to the house. We repainted the kitchen and changed the lights, and we’ve done other repairs and such over the years. But other than the addition, which we did nearly 30 years ago, I’ve not done anything BIG. Several years ago it was time to repaint the living room and dining room and my big-breakout designer action was to paint the walls something other than WHITE. I used TWO strong colors in the dining room, and the ceiling in the dining room was the same faint pink-overtones of white that were the walls in the living room. I loved it. I remember my mother making “a face” at the end result. I, however, felt vindicated and still love my palette to this day.
Last year about this time we needed a new chandelier for the dining room. While we were at the lighting store, I saw a ceiling fan that captured my heart. It had 5 blades, shaped like fat rubber tree leaves. We bought it and replaced the ceiling fan in the sunroom. I thought no more about it until my niece suggested that I make the sunroom my “beach getaway” room, my own little tropics in NJ. I’d never considered redoing an entire room with a theme. I know OTHER people do these things, but I never considered it. But the suggestion took root, especially when my niece gave me the color palette she thought I’d like. I redid the entire room, piece by piece, idea by idea, slowly but surely. Everything was done except…. except…. I wanted a big seascape above the windows across from my reading chair. I didn’t find what I wanted at craft shows or online. I found wallpaper, however, that triggered some ideas. The wall is mostly windows. I wanted something more “ocean, beach” for the little bit of wall that remained. I bought wallpaper that looked like a weathered ocean fence, and a border that was ocean waves, sand dunes with beach grass and blue sky. I told folks that I was going to put the fencing down the wall and across the top of the wall above the windows, then put the border on top of that so it would look like I was looking out over the fence to the ocean. The reactions I received ranged from a slightly skeptical look to “that’s ridiculous, the ocean isn’t ABOVE the windows”. It looks great. I love it. It’s everything I wanted. People who see it love it too (okay, they might be humoring me but I don’t care. *I* LOVE it.)
I’m feeling much more confident about my ability to design a room and pull the various pieces together. I have much more faith in my taste in furnishings and color and concept. That is a very good thing, too. Because in 2 weeks we will gut our entire kitchen, widen a doorway, and redo the kitchen we have had for 34 years. Big changes are coming….
It happens less often now but I still have friends and family look at me “funny” when I talk about my time in SL. There is still a great deal of eye-rolling and smirking when I talk about my time in SL. Well, we started with a blizzard in December and we’ve had either an ice storm or a snow storm EVERY WEEK since the blizzard. The wheel came off my snow blower, my shovel broke, there was a water main break in town and we are still under a boil-water emergency, my sunroom window shattered from the extreme cold (it’s taped and I’m not dealing with it til the spring) and just for fun, one of the toilets broke and one of the cats had gastrointestinal difficulties in the basement. /me looks about. I think that covers the major issues.
But I am not the only one working and trying to make deadlines and submit machinima. The call went out from another group last week. “We are recording life in our virtual world, we need some bodies. Please come and join us.” I can’t resist an invitation like that. First, because to me that sounds like a party. And second, because I know the day will come when *I* will be saying “Help! I need bodies to fill my virtual world.” So I blocked out the time on my calendar.
I got there a bit early and settled myself at the checkers board I’d built last fall. I was joined by a friend but as you can tell by the pieces, we didn’t really play. We were too busy negotiating terms of the game, prizes for the winner, penalties for the loser. I tend to think of the two of us as the Immovable Object meets the Irresistible Force. *grin* Fortunately more folks arrived before we actually had to play. We wandered all over the world, sim to sim to sim. As the scheduled time drew to a close, people began logging out. Until just a hardy few were left. I took them to MY favorite places: the beach and the duck pond.
Someone has left a rocket launcher by the beach blankets!! We had a great time firing off the rockets, listening to the noises, watching the particle explosions. I was laughing aloud at my desk. It really was a wonderfully fun stolen moment in the middle of doing work. We tp’d to the duck pond so I could show them my ducks. Yes, those are MY ducks. I refuse to be mature or good-natured or a good corporate citizen on this matter. *grin* MINE MINE MINE!!! My team leader gave them to ME!!!! Oh. *clears throat* Excuse me…. Ahem. Okay, so I took them to the duck pond where we relaxed for a few moments more. Then it was time to go back to our desks – which are located in different states and time zones.