Tag Archive: Beach Haven

We have recently returned from a really great visit to England, which we will likely post about here. I have a conference trip planned for San Francisco planned for later this week. Jolie is joining me for this. So this is proving to be a busy, fast moving and well traveled summer. Some highlights from this past week, however, entail visits to places closer to home – specifically to two delightful beach locations, one of which is intimately familiar and the other a first time experience. So, accompanying a really great weather week (sunny, in the low 80s F and with relatively low humidity), a beach visit seemed like a must.

And that is a good thing, as I love the beach!

So, on Tuesday, I packed my overnight bag and made my way back to Beach Haven on Long Beach Island to visit with my mom, my sister Pat (who was also there visiting) and our good friend Barbara. I was looking forward to seeing them all, but also to seeing the sand and the ocean. And to walking along the beach and to taking a dip in the ocean.

So, here are some photos from Tuesday, the day of my arrival, I left home just before noon and made a few pit stops along the way (most notably,in Paramus, NJ for a burger topped with queso sauce,  roasted green chiles  and pickled red onions), I arrived at just after three pm. My family was out and left me a note to welcome me down.

So, down to the beach i went. I was very happy to be there.

P1870192 P1870202 P1870215 P1870217 P1870237

When I returned to my mom’s house from this quick visit, I sat out on the back deck with a cold summer ale and a copy of the local paper (“The Sandpaper”). Then, everyone came back and greeted me. my mom then went into the house, where she’d been going through old stuff that was packed away, and came out to show me some things from memory lane – some old clay figures that I had made when I was a child and also, likely from the same era of my childhood, a part of a GI Joe set, a plastic mummy’s tomb piece. How funny to see these things that I had completely forgotten about after all these years.



The next morning, I happened to wake up super early, just before six am. I could have rolled over and attempted to go back to sleep. On the other hand, I’ve become enamored in recent years of early morning visits to the beach at around the time that the sun is rising. There is nothing quite like the experience of the beach at that moment. Trust me on this!

P1870252 P1870257P1870269  P1870299P1870275P1870276


So many thoughts go through my head when i am here or as I look at these photos. One thought is one of gratitude to be able to experience such a place. Another is nostalgia and the memory of people who are no longer with us, but with whom I stood on these beaches. I am not especially religious. I consider myself something of a humanistic pantheist, theologically speaking. But I understand the impulse of my mom’s local Catholic parish to see these beaches as a piece of divine creation and to use them as the site for sunrise Easter vigils. I can respect that impulse.

The other thought is this. I become more and more concerned with what we are doing to our oceans, and in fact, to our entire planet, with each passing day. I try to follow the news, including the science news, and it is often not very encouraging. We may be at a point of no return. I hope that that is not the case. Time, of course, will tell. This is the same beach, after all and the same small barrier island that was underwater following Hurricane Sandy back in the Fall of 2012. I’ve already posted about this earlier and posted about LBI’s recovery. But thinking ahead, and to a future of rising sea levels, This precious island may, like a beloved family pet, have a limited lifespan. And the thought of this is very unsettling.

But, at the immediate moment, I was simply very happy to be on this beach and in this moment and to be enjoying this moment of connection with nature – the sea, the dunes, the sand, the sea birds, and the shells along the shore, as well as the feeling of my feet touching the soft sand and the warm water. That part of the experience felt truly blissful.



As did the tranquil quietness of the moment – very few people around: calm, quiet, and with the sounds of nature surrounding me.




And I’m not exactly a surfer (though I do like doing a bit of body surfing in the waves) but I do appreciate surfers’ athleticism and their inherent need for a clean, healthy environment (something they share with skiers, hunters, fishermen, hikers, trail bikers and anyone else whose leisure activities require a stable natural environment, regardless of their politics. Some surfers, in fact, who are explicitly environmentally minded, have even started up a surfing based environmental organization. Kudos to them. Anyway, I am thinking of this because, as there usually are, there were surfers out in the water, early, trying to catch a wave.


As the early morning continued on the beach, I had another goal, and that was to look for sea glass. Jolie and I have been collecting sea glass for the past few years. Jolie is hoping that we can eventually collect enough pieces so as to craft a sea glass bowl with them. She is hoping to do something along the lines of this example, crafted and described on a blog called Debi’s Design Diary. 

sea glass bowl

To me, that sounds like it will be really nice. Since Jolie was not able to be joining us for this mid-week beach visit (because of work; I’m off for the next few weeks) I was especially wanting to bring her back some sea glass. I looked along the shore on several beaches. Eventually I found a beach that had a lot of shells and other debris from the ocean washing up to the shore. I knew that this would be the place to look.


I’m happy to say that after two days of intensive sea glass hunting, I was successfully able to find a number of pieces, including a somewhat rare blue piece. Here is my “haul.”


I was really happy to be able to bring these back to Jolie, particularly the blue one. When I first spotted it, it eluded by grasp. It was under the shallow water, but sea glass in that location is challenging to grab because of the water being in motion.

In addition to this activity, I also got to enjoy taking a quick dip in the water and also catching at sunset at the bay. The beach had a lot of different activities going on. I was also happy to have my sister join me for my afternoon beach visit.

IMG_3928 IMG_3941 P1870437 P1870468 P1870477 P1870481 P1870490


The next day was more of the same – up at the crack of down, and back to the beach, 7/11 coffee in one hand and camera in the other.

P1870509 P1870538 P1870582 P1870601


After a while, I thought I’d might go down toward Holgate, that is the southern end of the island. When I got there, however, I learned that the beach continued to be closed because of erosion, a situation that has continued following Hurricane Sandy’s wrath. The area remains a bird sanctuary. Here is the view.





Finally, after my beach time was done, I made my way into town, where I saw these really cool retro bikes, bought an “elephant ear” pastry,  and picked up a plant for my mom. I also paid a visit to a few favorite shops, including a local craft shop and a novelty store that has been there forever called the “Parlor” (formerly the “Dollar Parlor”)

IMG_3946 P1870692 P1870695 P1870706 P1870712

The next day – starting out for some really amazing old school brick oven pizza at Frank Pepe’s in New Haven. Truly a memorable lunch of pizzas, one topped with pepperoni and other with clams. The place had a real old school charm. There was even another food scholar there standing in line and taking a photo, obviously charmed by the place as much as we were.

P1870725 P1870726 P1870727 P1870728 P1870735 P1870738

Finally, to our final destination: Hammonasset Beach State Park, in Madison, CT, to look for more sea glass.


starting with the nature center, and then – leaving our shoes behind – making our way toward the beach. Here, by the way, is a larger map, courtesy of Google Maps showing the beach’s location on the Long Island Sound.

hsp map


The beach, as you can see, was sizable, sandy, and facing out toward the blue ocean waters of the Long Island Sound. Jolie and I were truly happy to be here. Here we are, exploring for sea glass.


P1870789 P1870784  P1870771 P1870749


After looking for about an hour, we were relatively successful, finding a total of six smallish brown sea glass pieces, along with a number of small, very smooth glass like sea pebbles. We kept a few of those, as well.


Before we left, I continued walking a bit further along the beach and out onto a very sizable jetty. A lot of people were out on it some walking and some using it as a sort of dock for fishing.


Once past the jetty however, the next beach featured a variety of rock coverings as well as thousands of small mussel and clam shells washed up to the shoreline. It was an amazing sight.

P1870839 P1870843 P1870846 P1870871 P1870875 P1870895 P1870899

Overall, then, this was a really enjoyable week of beach time. I was glad to be able to get into the water, and glad to also get a beach day with Jolie. Now, I’m looking forward to us getting a bit more beach glass and to seeing her craft a sea glass bowl. I’ll be sure to take a photo and to post it here when this occurs.



As many here know, I grew up in New Jersey and maintain close ties to this state. I have family and friends who remain there, and my mother lives there, year round, just a short walk from the ocean. A number of our previous posts here have referenced New Jersey, and in particular, its delightful shoreline and its beaches. There is good reason for why its beaches are so beloved.

Anyway, following a busy summer this year,  I spent a pleasant shore weekend in late August visiting with my family back at the end of summer. The weather was very nice, and as I made my way to Long Beach Island, I decided to check in on a shore location where I hadn’t been in a long while. I’m talking about Asbury Park, the shore town made rather famous by this landmark LP

Walking around on the boardwalk, I could see that Asbury Park has been going through a building boom, and a lot of what was there seemed quite a bit more upscale and Manhattan-y. Nonetheless, a few things were familiar to me.

Paramount Theater

The Wonderbar, featuring an image of “Tillie,” Asbury Park’s iconic image

And the following two places – both of which are part of the Springsteen legend.

Madame Marie’s – a spot that is featured prominently in this song

And of course, the legendary Stone Pony, a place where Springsteen and his friends (like Southside Johnny) still periodically show up and play.

My boardwalk stroll and lunch of fried clams done, I made my way back to my car and toward LBI, my mind filled with thoughts, images and memories of the Jersey Shore, and what was, what is, and what was to be in this part of the world.

The weekend at my mom’s was basically chill out time. I arrived in the afternoon, said hi to everyone, and walked down to the bay to catch a sunset.

I was pretty tired that night, which was a good thing, because after turning in early, I also woke up super early the next morning, around 5:00 am, just in time to catch the sunrise at the beach. I don’t do that very often, but it is something that I highly recommend to do, at least once a summer, especially if you are at an ocean that the sun rises above.

So, here is the beach as you approach it as the sun is rising. This was at 5:33 am. I love the beach this time of day, as it is as calm and peaceful as a place can be.

Thank goodness for 7-11 and their hot coffee.

It was blissful to be able to walk along the cool sand as the cool air started warming up under the sun and to take in the beach’s calm, natural beauty. I was glad to have my camera with me.

I also managed to scoop up a bunch of nice shells and bits of sea glass. I have a bunch of ocean shells in a jar at work, reminding me when I am there of my beloved beach. Jolie has a growing collection of sea glass that we have both found;  eventually she will probably do something creative with them.

Anyway, after heading back to the house for a while, I would return later that afternoon, with members of my family, for a bit of family beach time. Here I am, sitting with my mom, in our beach chairs.

She and I have been enjoying the beach together for a long time!  😉

During this afternoon beach visit, in addition to taking a dip in the ocean, I also had, while taking a walk, an encounter with someone I instantly recognized – Chef Michael Proietti, who, as I recalled, had been a contestant on the Food Network’s show, The Next Food Network Star. This was his promo clip from that show.

And here I am, happy to be photographed with him. He is as nice and as cool in person as he was in his run on this show, and I wish him nothing but the best. I still hope that the Food Network decides to give him his own show.

Speaking of food, I also got to play chef that evening, offering to make what my brother-in-law once said might be my “signature dish” – steamed little neck clams and mussels, cooked with corn and chorizo sausage. It’s a wonderfully hearty dish, and I decided to also serve it with pasta and a pan sauce. I was happy to serve this meal to my family (mom, my sister, her husband and their daughter, and our uncle Lou, who was also down vacationing at the shore).

The next morning, I was up again pretty early, so again, I decided to do another morning beach walk. This time around, I threw on my swim trunks just in case the urge to go for a morning swim hit me. Again, it was very captivating and pleasant to be early to the beach.

So, a nice beach weekend this was. Before heading back home, I picked up a new pair of flip-flops, which happened to be somewhat reggae themed. 😉

Also, on the way back, I stopped for a visit with my pal Jim, who lives in Point Pleasant, another legendary shore town. It was great seeing him and also seeing the Point Pleasant boardwalk; as with Asbury, it had been a long while since I had been there. I am also eager to meet up  again soon with pal Jim, as he is a good friend.

The following weekend was Labor Day weekend and given the holiday nature of this time, Jolie and I returned to LBI for one last summer hurrah before the Fall was to start-up.

As we did earlier in the summer, we got in a visit to the norther tip of Long Beach Island and its iconic lighthouse.

But, mostly what we did was what we usually do at the shore – take long walks, hang out at the beach, swim, and generally enjoy ourselves and our time there.

Anyway, cut to late October, 2012. Tropical storm Sandy took place, starting its destructive path in the Caribbean and in making its way north and west, hitting New Jersey and New York particularly hard.

While we were spared Sandy’s destruction here in Beacon, seeing what was happening elsewhere, to places so familiar to me, was deeply painful. I was glued to the television news coverage and gasped several times while watching it. It felt a bit like the 9/11 attacks of eleven years ago. My immediate concern was with my loved ones and with their houses, but I also instantly felt deep sorrow for everyone who was seriously affected by this storm. And I started worrying that this is a sign of a permanently altered climate, a byproduct of industrial society and our steady production of greenhouse gasses. This will all need to be further examined. In the meantime, there was the need for some initial recovery to take place.

My mother, with my sister, brother-in-law and our dear family friend, Barbara (who is like another sister to me) got to return to my mom’s house, one week after the storm, so as to do some initial damage assessments and to remove what could be removed from the house. It was exhausting work, and brought everyone up close to the aftermath of disaster. A week later, I went down to the island to pitch in with the cleanup, and saw many scenes such as this.

or this (a corner pizza joint down the block from my mom’s house)

One of the most dramatic images was of these two houses, near the beach in the town of Ship Bottom, that had essentially collided into one another, given the blowing winds and water.

So, this is what a house that has been torn from its foundation looks like.


My observation now is that a few weeks after Hurricane Sandy has passed, the NJ shore and the NYC metropolitan area are in a slow, steady recovery process. While down on LBI, I saw a number of homeowners and business owners doing damage assessment and beginning the repair process. Things are slowly reverting to normalcy there, but there is still a long way to go. That said, the long-term challenges for a warming planet, particularly for those who reside in low-lying coastal areas, remain with us and are urgently in need of a large-scale concentrated effort by business, science, government and citizen activists and local communities as we attempt to meet such challenges. We are, literally, all in this together.

I also want to add that I was struck by both the awesome power but also the sheer beauty of nature during a quick visit to check out the beach. The beach was much cooler and windier than it had been in August and September, but it was still a happy occasion to be able to walk on it. Here are a few images of what it was looking like.

What a difference a few months make in nature’s grand narrative!

Finally, I wish to end this with two more videos; one, a bit more about LBI’s recovery.

And one more reference to the Boss, and to his song that seems very appropriate for this occasion.  My eyes filled with tears when I listened to this a few weeks ago, just as it did the first time I heard it.


This year, 2013, has not been much of a beach year for us. In case anyone is wondering, the Jersey shore as well as my mom’s house, are all in a recovery process. We haven’t been down much, but we were down at the end of July for a family wedding. I had an opportunity for a quick visit to the beach, and it was a really nice feeling being back. Here are a few images of my short visit to the beach.

P1760244 P1760251 P1760254 P1760260 P1760269



In Praise of Road Food

One of the things that we have come to really enjoy about both multi-day road trips as well as simple day trips or overnight getaways is the opportunity to try some road food and/or local specialty cuisines. Our sources for finding places to eat include various search engines, the Food Network’s show Drive-Ins, Diners and Dives, some guidebooks, the website Urban Spoon, and the website Roadfood.com.(Also, for me personally, I am inspired by the  TV programs of Anthony Bourdain and the Village Voice food columns by musician-turned-food critic Robert Sietsema.) Along with the website Roadside America, the Road Food website truly inspires the desire to get on the road, particularly on an empty stomach. I had not known about these websites, but Jolie found them for us and has been using them whenever we set out for some fun travel. So, here, working more or less backward, is some commentary on a few select recent road food adventures, starting with this past weekend and represented via me with my Dottie’s Diner coffee container.

following the return from Dottie's Diner

Dottie’s Diner – in Woodbury, Connecticut. We were there this past weekend after visiting with my sister and her family, who live there in the state. Nice visit. On the way home, we originally planned on a return to Pizzeria Lauretano in nearby Bethel, CT and place we had eaten in and enjoyed once before, but they wound up being closed. Luckily, the backup plan which Jolie suggested turned out to be terrific.

I didn’t have my camera, so I don’t have photos. But, the place looked fairly nondescript from the outside, and on the inside, it was a smallish dining room with  about a half-dozen booths, a few small tables and a number of counter seats. We opted for the counter, so that we could sit and order quickly. The room looked fairly retro, and had a light blue color scheme. The waitstaff all seemed like college kids, and were friendly and efficient. I enjoyed a lunch of a really tasty grilled chicken pesto sandwich with a side of very crispy fries; Jolie had the grilled cheese and a side of fries. We both enjoyed every bite. Thankfully, when we were done, we had just enough room for dessert. Knowing  Dottie’s reputation for donuts, we got two to go (and I also got my to-go coffee). We enjoyed a pair of truly delicious donuts – one chocolate dipped and the other cinnamon.

Jolie and I both agree on this; donuts are often delicious, but not the healthiest thing in the world to eat. We both value having good health. But, when the occasional urge for a tasty donut occurs, one should seek out a good quality donut. Dottie’s definitely delivers big time! We were also toying, while making our dessert choices, with checking out the bread pudding, but they were all out.

Next up – a roadside hot dog mecca.

Earlier on this still young year – JK’s (Original Texas Hot Weiners)in Danbury, CT

We’d been here a few times before, and each time, it has been a feast. For me, the idea of a Texas hot weiner is very evocative, as we had them in my NJ neighborhood growing up and I always loved them. Through a bit of sleuthing, we found this place, and it being not that far from our house, we decided to give it a try. It turned out that we liked it a lot.

As Roadfood says,

JK’s Texas hot wieners are plump little sausages, split lengthwise and cooked until slightly crusty on the surface, loaded into a big spongy roll, then topped with mustard, onions, and hot sauce with a chili-pepper kick. Some connoisseurs order them with cheese, chili, and/or bacon in addition to the usual condiments; it’s also possible to get a heap of excellent house-made slaw on top or to get the bun toasted.

That is a very accurate description.  And as far as the atmosphere, JK’s has a pure authenticity about it. There is nothing pretentious about a place that looks like this.

or this

And while there are other items on the menu here, I could not imagine ordering anything other than a hot dog (or two) and a side of fries. 🙂 This is our table when the food arrived. I should add that we also ordered a side of gravy with which to dip the fries, but it arrived a short while later.

A chili dog at JK’s – with a very generous hand in ladling on the chili

Do we look excited/content as we wait for our food to arrive?

A word of advice for those who might go here; if ordering two hot dogs, go light on the second. Two dogs with heavy toppings is literally a lot to digest.

Next up, it’s back to late 2011, and a visit to Pennsylvania, featuring a burger meal at Gino’s Burgers and Chicken

We happened to be in Pennsylvania in early December to check out the Christmas displays at Longwood Gardens in Kennett Square, PA and afterward, grabbed a late night meal at Gino’s,  a re-established local institution from the 1960s, now attempting a comeback. The place essentially had the look of a fast food place, but the quality was significantly better. As with places like In and Out Burger, Five Guys, Red Robin, Bobby’s Burger Palace, Lucky’s Famous Burgers, New York Burger Company, and Culvers, I cannot find fault with a burger chain when they dedicate themselves to quality; Gino’s belongs on such a list. While cooking a good quality hamburger or cheeseburger is not necessarily the hardest thing in the world to do, making a mediocre product, particularly when you are producing relatively cheap mass burgers is probably all too easy t0 do.

Here, then are some images from Gino’s

Good slogan - It's all about the people and the food

Next, Chinatown in Philadelphia, PA and a visit to Joy Tsin Lau restaurant

Tom in front of Joy Tsin Lau

We were in Philadelphia in late October of last year for a conference that I was attending. On our first day there, before the conference occurred, we spent the day walking around and sight seeing.  As night fell, and hunger started to kick in, we decided to heard toward Chinatown. Philadelphia’s Chinatown is fairly small, but it is known for having lots of great restaurants (and I’ve eaten in the Chinatowns in Boston, NYC and San Francisco and love them all). We didn’t have a specific place in mind so we figured that we would simply go and see what we might find. I am truly enamored of all forms of Asian cuisine, so I was very excited. 🙂

We came upon an intersection (Race and 11th) that seemed promising and basically thought that we would take our chances with Joy Tsin Lau, which seemed to be pretty busy inside, making it seem like a safe choice.

Here we are, eagerly awaiting our food; notice the fish tanks and step ladder to the right of me in the photo?

and with the exception of a table near us, most of the other diners appeared to be Asian; I’m always happy to be amongst the people of the particular ethnicity (or a comparable ethnicity) at an ethnic restaurant – an experience we used to have on a regular basis at Dosa Hut  in the Little India section of Jersey City, where we used to live. I think that such food-ethnicity matchings indicate a promise that the food will be authentic and of good quality.

Anyway, back to the fish tanks. Turns out, they were filled with various forms of seafood, and at several points during our meal, some of the wait staff came over to scoop the sea life out of a particular tank and to deliver it to the kitchen’s cooks. Here is one shot of what appears to be some carp in one tank.

While we were waiting for our food to arrive, I also took note of the TV which was playing, at a low volume thankfully, some sort of Asian variety show, complete with boy bands. No one seemed to be paying too much attention to this.

some optional entertainment at Joy Tsin Lau

Finally, our meals arrived. Mine – a pan fried noodle with mixed seafood: hearty amounts of shrimp, scallop, squid and fish. It was excellent.

Eating with chopsticks – fun!

Jolie meanwhile was enjoying some nicely seasoned chicken fried rice. As you can see, hers was a big plate of food, so we wound up taking some of it back to the hotel with us. I tasted a bit of this, and enjoyed the taste.

We also split a plate of spring rolls before our meal.

Here’s a review of this place from one diner posting to Yelp.

I’ve been coming to Joy Tsin Lau since I was a small child. Coming from a Vietnamese family, we frequent Chinatown often for groceries and food we can’t find in our regular, small-town supermarkets. Celebrating every milestone event (or just because), our family would congregate here on Sundays for some quality dim sum. Twenty something years later, I find myself continuing to congregate at Joy Tsin Lau for their amazing dim sum. However, instead of meeting up with just family, I also meet up with friends to introduce them to this wonderful treat.

The staff at JTL are very friendly and will work to satisfy your needs. The ladies pushing the dim sum carts will always stop at your table, usually multiple times, to see if you’d like anything from their selection. They speak English well enough to explain to you what each dish is in case you inquire. What’s great, too, is that even with only two people, the prices are still affordable. I was just there on Tuesday with one other friend and with all of the dishes we ordered (about nine), our total was less than $30–that’s close to $15 for each of us and we both were really full. We also were able to bring some home in take-out containers.

I’m wanting to return here, specifically for the dim sum, which I love. I can imagine how good it is at this particular place.

Now, to New Jersey and to the Frosted Mug

following the near miss of Hurricane Irene on Long Beach Island

This past summer, just after the massive Hurricane Irene made its way up the East Coast and near Long Beach Island, which was spared (though still evacuated as a precaution), labor Day weekend was truly glorious; sunny and in the upper 70s/low 80s, it made for a very nice way to close out the summer. Arriving in Beach Haven, on the island for the weekend, we had been out on a late Saturday morning for a walk, and decided to go to the Frosted Mug. As with Jersey City’s Texas Hot Weiners, the Frosted Mug is also a place that has a lot of resonance for me. As kids, we used to ride our bicycles there and have a cold soda in, you guessed it, a frosted mug. The food, as I recall, was so-so, but the place just had a sort of ambiance.

The look of this place hasn't changed much over the past few decades.

Our lunches? Jolie ordered the grilled cheese and it seemed to be nicely made.

I had the fried clam sandwich. It was okay, but loaded with cheese, which is not something I either was expecting or necessarily liked.

Essentially, though, this was the very essence of boardwalk food – hearty, sort of greasy, functional and filling. Perhaps an appropriate meal for a summer Saturday at the Jersey shore.

And here, of course, are a pair of actual frosted mugs, filled with our beverages.

Still as refreshing as they were when I was eleven or twelve.

Finally, we treated ourselves to some ice cream which they served there. The ice cream was, as I long remembered it, excellent. We thus left happy!

Then, after a short visit to a retro arcade and a game of  air hockey (USA vs. Canada), we were ready to head to the beach.

What a beautiful weekend to be at the beach!

A few weeks after these photos were taken, we returned to Beach Haven, where it was still summer like and warm

. The last place I will mention is a place in Bay Village, which contains various gift shops and attractions in the heart of Beach Haven.

Walking around, we decided to pop in at the Crust and Crumb Bakery and to split an order of their most famous menu item – the Elephant Ear. These are large, flat, crisp and cinnamony pastries and are also sometimes called “Palmiers.” But I’ve always only known them as Elephant Ears. As with shore taffy, fudge, hoagies, and cheese steak sandwiches, they are a shore staple on LBI that should be sampled at least once every few years. It had been a while, so we simply could not resist the sweet, sticky goodness of this taste treat. Crust and Crumb elephant ears are large, but also fairly flat, so their technique for making them is somewhat unique. And they have been making them in the same consistent way since I was a kid and perhaps even before then. Who knows? I do know, however, they they are fantastic.

Here is what their version of an elephant ear looks like.

an iconic Elephant Ear from the Crust and Crumb

When we were done, there literally were just some crumbs left on our paper bag

After enjoying her share of the elephant ear,

Jolie asked me what I thought of it; my reply

Two thumbs up to the Elephant Ear

This was also a weekend in which Jolie and I found a bunch of bits of sea glass; she”s now wanting to find a lot more of this. But that is probably for another entry at some other time.

As Jolie mentioned, this will be a Snooki free post about the Jersey shore, though I do have to mention that as we were heading down the Garden State Parkway on Friday night and stopped at a rest stop to pick up some cold waters, we had an encounter with a trio of tanning booth orange young guys who seemed very full of themselves and who were likely headed in the same general direction as us, i.e., to the beach. Such is life 😦  and we did our very best to just ignore them.

Anyway, it had been quite a week. I was in the home stretch of a 6 week summer “intro to sociology” course I’ve been teaching. On Tuesday, I had gone to see a dentist for some jaw pain I’ve been experiencing for several months – and on Friday, I was in the oral surgeon’s chair for a root canal, which thankfully went well. It had been a fairly hot, muggy week here in Beacon, so we were really looking forward to a shore weekend. My mom has a house there, in the town of Beach Haven on Long Beach Island (LBI) and has been there since 1994 (and prior to that, my family had been vacationing in Beach Haven since before I was even born). This is the house

And here is mom

And finally, here is a plaque in the back of the house, which is very inviting and pretty much says it all.

As always, visions of relaxing on the beach danced in our heads.

So, after finally getting packed and ready to go, we headed out for the three hour journey to the Jersey Shore and arrived late Friday night. The ride down was relatively uneventful and pleasant, with minimal Friday night shore bound traffic.

After a good sleep in in a nice, cool air conditioned room, we woke up the next morning, and just as we were stirring, my mom was coming back in from a walk around the corner with nice bagels for us. Yum!

The bagel place there is really good, but it’s a tiny building which can make trying to push your way in and out through a large hungry crowd a challenge.

As is our usual practice, we sat for a bit in the living room and then enjoyed the really refreshing outdoor shower in back of the house (which is, of course, behind walls – but which allows outside air in) and then went for a walk. We had heard a rumor that the local bookstore, just north of the bagel place, had gone out of business, but thankfully, it was still there; we love going in to browse, and occasionally, to add to our book collection at home. We then continued north up toward Bay Village, a highly touristy but fun collection of eateries and gift shops, strategically located near a bay beach and also arcades, an amusement park, a miniature golf course, and a water park. It really comes to life at night and on weekends, but usually not until later in the day.

While there – an opportunity presented itself for Jolie to be the subject of a comedic photo image 🙂

I also managed to take what I think is a pleasantly abstract image of a series of bicycle wheels at a bike rental place; retro bikes are very big on LBI.

Eventually, after walking around  in the warm air, it was getting to be lunchtime and after discussing possibilities, we decided on a place that for us is a particular favorite – Buckalews’ Restaurant. Buckalews is an LBI institution. It was founded in 1949, well before I was born. I have specific memories of my dad taking us there,  when we were kids, for pizza. The pizza is pretty legendary. Anyway, interestingly, my mom got to be good friends with Tom and Muncie Buckalew, the owners (until 1995) who lived across the street from her and are very nice people. I am thankful that the later owners kept the name (and also these amazing neon signs).

Anyway, after toasting to the start of the summer

we enjoyed our lunches – pizza for Jolie and an assortment of raw clams and oysters (with a side of fries) for me.

It was all good, though the fries were a bit soggy. Nonetheless, we left feeling satisfied. It was now time to head to the beach. As we arrived, the beach was crowded but not overly so. We set up our beach chairs and went to check out the water. People were in the water, so that was a good sign.

The water – upon doing the toe test – was surprisingly warm, in the mid to upper 60s,  and given how warm the beach was, I knew I wanted to get in the water for a refreshing dip.

Ahh! So refreshing!

We then did a bit of walking, where we came upon this gull; like me, it was having some raw seafood – in his case, some crab – for lunch.

Walking along a bit further, here was the scene at the lifeguard’s chair – which seems to be a bit of a gathering spot, for some reason.

Basically, then, the beach was very pleasant, as usual, and it was nice just to sit and to enjoy the refreshing ocean breeze as a counter to the warm rays of the sun. So far, so good, then, for the start of a summer season.

Oh, and I was certainly doing some representing for my Boston University grad school alma mater!

As evening rolled around, we had decided that we would take advantage of the grill in mom’s yard so as to grill some meats and veggies.

We had sirloin steaks, lamb chops, grilled veggies, and couscous.

Later, Jolie and I went back out for another walk. We enjoy walking around Beach Haven, and do this at various times of day, including the cool evenings. After an excursion for a bit of dessert (ice cream at the “Show Place” – a place next to the summer stock theater that features singing waitstaff doing their best at belting out showtunes; we just went, though, as we generally do, to the take-out window out back). Then, a return to the beach, which has a very different, albeit equally pleasant , feel in the evening. We tried to take a photo of ourselves sitting in the night sand, but my camera has a hard time with darkness. Anyway, here we are.

So, that was our weekend – relaxing at the shore and welcoming in the summer – in a nutshell. A nice one. We hope everyone has had a good start to their summer so far!