Category Archives: Follow me to the Jersey Shore

Follow Me to the Jersey Shore: Boardwalk Babies

Point Pleasant Boardwalk Train

Yesterday, we did one of our most favorite Jersey Shore things. We went to the Point Pleasant Boardwalk, played in the arcades, and put the kids on some rides. Growing up here, going to the boardwalk was a favorite family activity. I remember heading up to the boardwalk with my family, my parents would give me some money to spend at the arcade or on wheel games. And when you won something it was total elation! Then we would go on a few rides and get cotton candy or ice cream. Once we were teenagers, we’d spend summer Friday nights on the boards. It was a favorite hangout spot, a favorite date spot, and just a part of life here.

4 kids need lots of tickets! Easter weekend is 2 for 1 ticket weekend too!

The coolest thing about the boardwalk is that, although the rides get repainted and maintained, not much really changes. Yesterday, I stood near the kids balloon ride and closed my eyes. The sounds have not changed in the 30 years that I have conscious memories of coming here. The ringing of the train signal as the train passes through the walking areas, the bells of the wheel games and water-balloon stands, the hum of Jersey families all talking about which ride to go on next, the occasional loud outburst of a North Jersey mom, accent and all, yelling at a kid to stop whining. The smells are the same too-the salty air mixed with an intoxicating blend of cotton candy and funnel cake. Yes, the boardwalk is a place we can bring our children and know that they are experiencing, for the most part, exactly what we experienced at the same age.

Some of the rides are just a rite of passage. There are the boats, the crocodiles, the motorcycles, and of course the ferris wheel and the carousel. Our kids are getting bigger now, and are graduating to some of the bigger-kid rides, which hold a little less nostalgic value for me. ¬†Although, when I see them on the Super-Himalaya, with it’s loud music blasting, I am 14 again with that cute guy I used to ride it with ūüėČ .

Wow, nostalgia

We had so much fun bringing the kids to the boardwalk this week. We loaded them each up with quarters for the arcade, which they mostly spent on the crane games and skee ball. Then they got to cash in any points they had won for prizes, which are always less valuable than the quarters spent to win them, but it’s all about the experience! They were a little bummed they didn’t get to go on all the rides they wanted to, but it leaves something to look forward to. We love that they are growing to love this place as much as we always did.

Follow Me to the Jersey Shore: My Ocean

My Ocean’s Treasures

As a little girl growing up at the Jersey Shore, I never really understood the treasure I had access to. I didn’t realize then that there are people that have never touched an ocean, felt the softness of real sand on their feet, sat and listened to the rhythmic crashing of waves, or sniffed a salty ocean breeze. I grew up taking for granted the joy of hunting for that special shell, seeing it in the water at low tide, and trying to catch it before it was washed out to sea again. How many times did I find just the perfect clam shell to take home and paint for my mom? Yes, living here at the Jersey Shore I understood the pure bliss of standing at the water’s edge, while the foamy waves washed over my feet, eventually burying them in the wet sand; the joy of getting in the water and jumping over waves, or riding one back to the shore. I learned how to battle it out with a seagull who wanted to steal my french fries as soon as I looked away. I was a beach girl, and I thought, wasn’t everyone?

Hunting…Point Pleasant, NJ looking towards the Manasquan Inlet

Now that I have moved my children 1,200 miles from the ocean, I understand how unique my experiences were. What an awesome thing to grow up knowing the ocean. Every time we come back here, it feels like the ocean calls to me. And all I can do is think about getting there, to touch the sand, to hunt for shells, to feel the breeze. We have been to the ocean all three nights that we have been here, and each time I leave wondering if I will get one more chance to go back before we drive back to our land-locked Minnesota.

Water’s edge

Last night, it was low tide, and my ocean had left me amazing treasures all along the beach. ¬†The kids and the grown-ups spent an hour just searching, collecting, enjoying. I laid on my stomach on the beach, where the waves had deposited a wealth of tiny shells and stones, and I searched for sea glass. It is such a treasure to find even a tiny piece. Most are in shades of brown or green, likely from beer bottles that have made their way to the sea and been broken up by the ocean’s movement. ¬†On occasion, you can even find a piece of blue glass, a real prize find, and I found one last night! As I laid there searching, observing each tiny shell and pebble, I felt completely and utterly content, like I could lay there for the rest of my life and be very happy.

Searching for sea glass

I do love that the ocean seems to be in my children’s veins too. ¬†They love being there as much as Chris and I do. ¬†They even go in the water when it is super-cold like it is this week. ¬†They just roll up their pants and get their toes right in. ¬†They play until their feet get numb from cold, and spend the rest of their time searching for treasures. ¬†Yes, somehow we have passed on our love for the beach to our children, despite the distance between them and the water.

Found it!

Leaving my ocean has been such a big loss, perhaps the toughest part of the move, besides the people we left behind. I wish all of you who grew up so far from the beach could feel what it is like to know and love this beautiful body of water, to have it in your veins. It is such a big part of who I have become and something I wish for my friends in far away places to know. I know it is something that ¬†pictures just can’t capture, but I hope through the joy in our faces you can experience it in some small way.

On the hunt
Looking carefully
The wave comes
Cold, cold toes
Waiting for the foam
Surfers’ Silhouettes

Follow Me to the Jersey Shore: Family, Friends, and Foldable Pizza…

Decked out in Twins gear for our arrival at home!

We finally arrived in NJ, all decked out in Minnesota Twins gear. ¬†Our family and friends are mostly Yankees fans and are horrified that we decided to jump ship and root for the Twins. So, we decided to harass them a little. ¬†We got several comments, the best of which was “What, do you all have stupid Twins shirts?”

Chris’s old stomping grounds…

Shortly after arriving at Chris’s mom’s house in Brick, NJ, we headed to Risden’s beach in Point Pleasant for pizza. We chose Risden’s because that is where Chris worked as a teen, so it has some sentimental value for him. ¬†The beach was a little chilly, but still delightful. It is always a great joy to go back to the ocean. ¬†When you grow up here, the ocean becomes a part of you. So going back is like visiting an old and dear friend, one who never changes, and is always there to bring you happiness. The smell of the salt air, the gathering of friends and family, the menu of amazingly good pizza, all against the backdrop of the sound of rolling waves made for quite a lovely evening. I will be doing a full pizza blogpost later in the week, so I won’t get into detail right here, but let me just say that the pizza we consumed, from PJ’s in Brick, was fabulous! And of course, we FOLDED our slices…

Our little Jersey Girl has been well trained and hasn’t forgotten how to eat it right!
White pie

It was a great ending to a terrific day. It was awesome to be with people who really know us and whom we really know. We shared some side-splitting laughter and it felt so good to laugh with them. Perhaps because we have laughed together so much before, but whatever the reason, it was effortless fun.

Follow me to the Jersey Shore: There’s a cowgirl behind the wheel…

On the road again!

We woke up near Youngstown, OH and had about 459 miles ahead of us, most of which were in Pennsylvania. We woke up late but were able to make it on the road by 7:30 AM. ¬†Of course we started the day with Dunkin Donuts Coffee, perfect road trip fare. ¬†When you get to the drive thru, you say “I’ll have a large coffee, light and sweet.” and they know just how to fix it! Then of course, all the sugar and cream is on the bottom, so you cover the sip hole with a napkin and give it a shake. ¬†Ahhh, sweet, creamy wonderfulness!

Ahhhhh…
Chris doing the Dunkin coffee shake
Pretty happy with my first cup of Dunkin for this trip! It was sooooo good.
Pennsylvania

This was my day to drive a long stretch, and I wound up bringing us all the way home. It was a perfect day for driving.  The sun got brighter and the air warmer as we headed east. There was no weather, no wind, and at times I saw my speedometer easily creep to 90, at which point I would promptly slow down, but I share that to illustrate how easy the driving was! Chris was nervous the whole time because he calls me a cowgirl  and says I drive too fast on the highway for his taste! I am actually an excellent driver, but I like to keep up with traffic, which out here is usually going 75 or 80. And we made it to Jersey before 4 PM, so in the end, I know he was secretly glad I was at the wheel.

The food highlight of our second day of driving was a stop at a Roy Rogers on the highway. Roy’s, as we affectionately call it, is a chicken and roast beef sandwich place that used to be much more common in New Jersey, but now is mainly found along the highways at rest stops. I love, love, love their fried chicken. It is not too crunchy, not too peppery and is served with a delicious, southern-style biscuit. Yes, Roy’s is always on the list of must haves when we head east.

Always a must…
Yummmmm…
Bridge to NJ over the Delaware River

We got to the PA New Jersey Border just before 3 PM, at which point we blasted some ghetto booty music, as a friend in MN so affectionately calls it and had a dance party in the car. I will blog more later about our first evening of family, fun and foldable pizza later today!

Welcome HOME!
New Jersey-the land of awesome food and LOTS of traffic! This is the NJ Turnpike.

Follow Me to the Jersey Shore: 817 miles later…

Off we go!

Well, we started our day at 4:00 AM. All the kids got out of bed nice and quick and we were on the road by 5:15, which is pretty impressive for us because we often don’t get out til 9:00, even when our intentions are to leave at 5! A quick trip to the gas station for fuel and…gulp…coffee and we were on our way!

Looking sleepy at 5:30 AM! No road trip starts right without a bad cup of gas station coffee.
Chris embarassed to be drinking his gas station coffee…Starbucks SNOB!

We hit some dicey weather in Wisconsin, nearly got smooshed by a semi, drove through slush and ice and eventually rain. We didn’t hit traffic near Chicago, which was unusual because Chicago is often a nightmare to get around. We didn’t run out of gas in Gary, Indiana, like we did the last time…CHRIS! And, we remembered to eat early in Ohio, because once you pass a certain point THERE IS NOTHING for miles! I did nearly reach a point of no return with boredom by the end of the trip, but it was pure bliss when we arrived at our hotel at 10 PM. ¬†(Thank you to my texting buddies who tolerated my incessant texts to get through those last few hours!)

Snow started falling in Wisconsin

The kids were great and did their own thing the whole time.  They are experts at road-trips. We have trained them from a very early age on how to do a road trip without whining! And we are reaping what we have sown!

The food experiences today were typical, but we did make one pit stop in Monona, WI where we bought Sprecher Gourmet Soda. We always like to try local products. ¬†We got three flavors: Root Beer, Orange Dream, and Cherry Cola. ¬†We haven’t tried the Root Beer yet, but if you like creamsicle flavor, the Orange Dream was dreamy, fer sher, and made without high fructose corn syrup. ¬†The Cherry Cola, made with real Door County cherry juice (Door County is a super popular Wisconsin tourist area) was delicious. It did have high fructose corn syrup, but was absolutely a cherry cola wonder and even got a thumbs up from Chris, who doesn’t generally like flavored colas.

Sprecher Gourmet Soda from Wisconsin
Giving the Cherry Cola a whirl
Thumbs up from the Soda Guy
My turn to drive-I usually do more driving, but today I got chauffeured around. And, by the way, I only wear glasses when I drive at night on highways or in bad weather.

Tomorrow, we set off to conquer Pennsylvania. 400 miles to go and at the end we will be rewarded with East Coast delicacies and I will share them with you as best I can through my pictures!

Follow Me to the Jersey Shore…

Whats Your Exit?…Headed to the Jersey Shore

Good afternoon all! In a few hours we will be headed east to New Jersey for the first time in almost two years. I want to share it with all my non-east-coast friends. So, I will be blogging our experiences with words and pictures-the food, the places, the people. Look for my first post early this week and Follow Me to the Jersey Shore…¬†

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