This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on August 23, 2004 3:01 AM. The previous post in this blog was Dear Sen. John McCain. The next post in this blog is It's all fake. Many more can be found on the main index page or by looking through the archives.

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Monday, August 23, 2004

Jersey Shore vacation, Part II

You know you're Type A when you find yourself describing a vacation in terms of what you got accomplished. But I must say, our two-week stay at the Jersey Shore did bring about everything we wanted it to, and more.

Family. My wife and I each have many relatives in New York City and surroundings, but none of them live in quarters big enough to put up a visiting family of four. Moreover, they're spread out around that metro area, and so picking a hotel location isn't easy, either. Taking a hotel room in Manhattan means that a rental car is not realistic, but without the car there's no way to see the folks over in Jersey. Hotel it in Jersey, and you've got to get in, around, and out of the city with two kids. Again, a car is dead weight against you in the city, and mass transit back there isn't really cut out for the double stroller set.

I've always said, One of these summers we'll get a house at the Shore, and invite everybody down to see us. And so we did. The New Jersey Transit train station was a block from our beach place, giving denizens of the city the option of driving down the Jersey Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, or taking the train for $10. One guest had to take a quick, unplanned train trip back to the city to audition for a play -- she did it with aplomb and was back to the beach house in time for dinner at the house that evening.

In one fell swoop, we saw my mother, my sister, my brother, his wife, three of his four kids, my sister's two close friends, the two kids of one of the friends, my wife's niece, her aunt, two of her cousins, the cousins' husbands, and the one cousin's two kids. (The latter would be my first cousins once removed in law.) Most of the foregoing stayed at the house for a couple of nights with us. We definitely tested the sleeping capacity of the place, and we had some spectacular visiting time as a result.

My brother cooked dinner for us twice -- capably, masterfully, nonchalantly. Delicious stuff, and in each case the leftovers provided the base for two additional meals. One evening the most ambitious member of our Brooklyn crew (who knew his way around the Shore) went out foraging and brought back the makings of a feast for 10 hungry adults, including live lobsters, steaks, shrimp, scallops, fresh corn, and about a case of wine. Good wine. We didn't have lobster tools, but my spouse improvised with a tiny hammer out of a portable tool kit, and a pair of pliers borrowed from the neighbors across the street. She shelled the lobster, and our chef served it over pasta. The place rocked with laughter much of the night. It was unforgettable.

I've got a few long-lost cousins in that general vicinity, two of whom read this blog from time to time, and I'm sorry to say we didn't work them in. We had only one full weekend, and it was like Grand Central Station at times, and so we couldn't accommodate them. But that moves them to the top of the guest list for next time, and we're hoping that will be next summer.

Beach fun. As mentioned here earlier, we partook of a lot of what the Shore has to offer -- sun, sand, surf, great food (particularly seafood), amusements for the kids, and a serious change of scenery from Portland, Oregon. Our kids are avid beachgoers, and they'll even splash around in the surf a little. I got to load up on the SPF 30, put on the garage sale Oakleys, grab a $20 boogie board (which my wife picked up at a drugstore), and get my a*s knocked around in the surf for long stretches. I can't think of too many other things in life that I enjoy more. And when I took one of my daughters on the kiddie ferris wheel, and we looked out over the nighttime boardwalk scene, it was a spiritual moment.

Work. What prompted this adventure in the first place was a speech I was to give, in the middle of our stay, to a group of estate planning accountants from all over the country. The conference in question was held in a big hotel in Philadelphia, about an hour and a half away. I headed over in the rented Ford Taurus and delivered my hour-long address to a couple of different sessions of this friendly group, and I thought it went over pretty well. We were then treated to a fine speakers' dinner at a nearby Italian restaurant that was really humming.

On the ride over to Philly from the beach, I drove roads that I'd never been on before. This is central Jersey, places like Freehold and Jackson, which, along with the beach towns along the ocean, produced such great figures as Jack Nicholson and Bruce Springsteen. Bruce still lives in those parts, and I kept looking around on I-195 to see if he'd cruise by. I wondered what kind of vehicle to look for -- probably some SUV, van, or other rig big enough for his wife and kids.

No sighting of the Boss, but on the trip back to the Shore, I did manage to catch an hour or so of WMMR, the legendary Philadelphia FM radio station that supported him so strongly in his early career, just before I moved out of that neck of the woods and he took off for stardom. The station is still offering classic rock fare -- in fact, it seemed like every other station on the Philly dial was classic rock -- but the music was interrupted by live cutaways to a local bar where the station was sponsoring something akin to a wet T-shirt contest that night. The voices at the bar all sounded like they belonged to 20-year-olds; what that had to do with the classic rock, I couldn't figure out.

Downtown Philly looked pretty good on a bright, sunny, not-too-muggy summer day. I crossed the Ben Franklin Bridge and got caught in a little downtown traffic before arriving at the hotel. I found my way around with the help of Mapquest, never once stopping to ask where the heck I was. It was about a 15-entry list of Mapquest directions, too, so I was pretty proud.

While I waited to "go on" with the speech -- always a nerve-racking time for me -- I walked over to a place called the Reading Station for lunch. This was an old train station, I assume, converted into a gigantic indoor market, including all kinds of food. I ordered a turkey sandwich made out of fresh turkey, carved before my eyes. I took it over and sat down at a nice table near the sandwich stand, and got all the way through my lunch before realizing that I was sitting in another restaurant's space! O.k., I'm back east, I just did a very stupid touristy thing, I expected to be read the riot act by the manager of the establishment. But she didn't say a word. Finally, I told her, "I just realized I wasn't supposed to be eating food from another stand in here. I'm sorry." She was so gracious about the whole thing. Indeed, everybody I encountered in the City of Brotherly Love lived up to the name that day.

Nostalgia. Perhaps the greatest benefit of the whole trip, a benefit that has provided a major alteration of my consciousness, was getting back in touch with my youth. There are enough layers to that aspect of the vacation that they merit a post of their own. I'll get to that one shortly, and then I promise I'll stop boring you with my Jersey Shore stories.

At least for a while.

Comments (7)

keep on with the jersey shore stories! I've only been in that part of the country once, in '76. We started in Newark and drove up to New Hampsire and then back down, catching family the whole way. I was amazed you could drive through so many states in one day.

If my own 20-year old son is any indication, classic rock has a lot to do with 20-year olds.

Several years ago I was driving some boy scouts back from Mt. Hood, and I asked one of them what he was listening to on his headphones. "Lynyrd Skynrd" was the reply. He said that he didn't like newer music - preferred classic rock. So we turned on 92.3 and all the boys listened. When "Do It Again" came on one of them asked what the band name "Steely Dan" meant. Since all of them were 16 or 17, I decided to tell them. I got quite a few snickers out of that one, and more importantly, they must not have told their parents, because I didn't get any angry calls later.

down the shore, ah yes. only problem is NJ is the most densely populated state in good ole USA. best ocean is off the NC coast. Outer banks, specifically Ocracoke island(look for Ocracoke realty on web). Perfect family spot.
Also, best fishing in the US and cleanest fish. wish I could provide Mr. Link, which is a US EPA doohickey.Every year for past 12 yrs. have caught yellowfins ranging from 40-70 lbs. It's cool to catch this handsome endothermic fish.Clean her on the dock for sashimi, crack a can of old milwaukee and it doesn't get any better.Beauty, mate.
Versus- eating a bluefish from the Joisey shore, I mean C'mon. Even, Bruuuuuuce would agree.

Next summer. I'll bring the axe. Like Gary said, it would be great to all get together without someone being in a a coffin. :-)

I left Staten Island 6 years ago for love in the great Northwest. Sometimes I really miss my youth and fun times at The Shore. Thanx 4 sharing.


If you are back in the area give me an e-mail, would love to get together. and "G" Bugs is a cook too?


Yo, Joisey ... 'dja see my Bayonne baby? Hey, where's NY's A.G. from, anyway? So there was a whole beginning shovelin' manure, Farmplace, Oregon, before I got gone. And when I got there the interesting thing was this character in high-water slacks right out of Cosby's alley in Philly. (Actually, I guess it was out the main line past Maoli or whatever that place is called.) So we trade -- I host him half the summer hauling hay in Prineville heat, and he hosts me into August on his dad's boat - "it's a ketch' - in Beach Haven's Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club. Me, a manure scooper, bare-toed on sixty-foot of teak deck with bikini babes (some sort of marina accessories, before the mast, I mean fact), lounging topside, fifteen minutes, turn, bottomside, fifteen minutes, turn, now topless bottomless, fifteen minutes, turn, ooo turn again, in the mizzen wheeldeck where I was soaking up and groping around Fredrich 'there is no virtue in consistency' Nietzsche. Let's hear if for The Shore, because the oil-coated breakers themselves don't roar so much. Where this west coast kid learned to surf. Uh, learned that I can't surf. Hitched down one weekend to Atlantic City raceway for the first ever pop rock festival, two-and-a-half days of fun and music and nothing BUT fun and music, saw Joplin, saw Chambers Bros extend 'Time Has Come Today' (with the cowbell?) so long there was, I swear, a 50,000-long conga-line snaking on the track and infield. Monday, back in Beach Haven, some passing stranger stopped in the leather shoppe selling tix for a rock festival gig that weekend in Bethel, NY -- we'd already been but Felberg bought two anyway, feeling sorry for the guy, and thumbtacked them on the cork board with "whoever wants to go, go ahead" -- business card-size white ducats with a picassoed guitar neck as a pigeon roost, or maybe it was a dove or a seagull. Who's got time for NY Upstate -- Shore surf's up. After its overnight sensation Felberg took the tix himself, "for my scrapbook." Hey, big shout out to his sweet little sister, it's her birthday then, holler. Saw some group called Rhinocerous that summer, too -- could'a been a contender.
Jack, tell 'em about the scrub pines and Fort Dix. Hence the name, guardin' state. And Camden, it's part of Philly, too. Oh, almost forgot, (and people think I'm wacky), Mona ran me up to the train one day, (I forget where I was going), and she knew more about the state than anyone else I met but you had to listen real patiently because every sentence from her was non sequitor, hell the end of the sentence might be non sequitor with the start of the sentence, I mean serious stream of consciousness, but she came by it naturally ... wait for it: BOTH her parents were shrinks, in Princeton, one (her mom, I think) with tenure. Jack, you say Jersey, I say girls. Surf's up, cowboy up -- same same.
Did I mention Bayonne? And Patterson? ... BIG shout out to my main man -- showed me how to chase the clams in the sand, crack 'em, a splash of tabasco and sluurrrrp 'em live. I don't know, I still kinda like that dungeness.
P.S. Years go by. Coming home one day there are like three helicopters buzzing! me! and I get to my driveway finally and into the house -- hot, hot day, probably August -- and !ding-dong! here's some lady at the door in high heels walked up the gravel driveway, dripping sweat, says shes a CNN stringer and could she use our phone to file her story on the Lake Oswego getaway location where Springsteen and his fresh fiancee had hid out. I gave her the phone and told her this wasn't Lake Oswego it was Tualatin but she went ahead anyway. I never was as solid on Springsteen as everyone else was (especially Bayonners Born to Run, blinded by the light, wrapped up like a deuce another runner in the night ...), but Weinstein, now there's a hard worker, got it going impeccable rudiments and rattamaques. Comes Brucie's birthday next week or so, same day & year as Bill O'Reilly -- can you believe that! Okay, okay, not exactly, they're a week apart. Close enough for government work. Hope Bruce fills the Meadowlands or-anyplace-he-wants-to next week, gets the flock out of Manhattan while the nine-eleven goons go in to roost at the scene of the crime...'and they can all go down together, I swear they can all go down together.'

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