Purchasing the Westy put us on a collision course with a place I never gave much thought to visiting: The Jersey Shore.
We live in Florida. We have the best beaches down the road from us. Why on earth would we go to the beach in New Jersey? The answer to that question for us was: a middle row of Eurovan seats.
The nice couple that we bought the van from spend their summers in Ocean City, New Jersey, and THAT is where they stored the middle row of seats to the Westy. They said, “If you’re ever in New Jersey, come by and get it.” And we said, “We’ll be right there!”
It also turned out that one of Monica’s marathoning friends has a place there. His name is Lou – which is so New Jersey, I can’t take it.
The Maligned Jersey Shore
I have a confession. My image of the Jersey Shore is largely formed by the MTV show of the same name. That is because I did, indeed, watch that terrible show (in a desperate attempt to hold on to my youth?). So I really expected to find a boardwalk filled with Snookies and The Situations stumbling drunk from boardwalk pizza joints, face-planting in the sand. It was nothing like that.
First, Ocean City, NJ, is a dry town. And not the “no liquor” version of dry, where they sell beer and wine coolers. It’s DRY, with package stores huddled beyond the city limit sign DRY. It’s like Bourbon Street without Bourbon. Sure, I like a beer now and then – but to not have to worry about a college spring break atmosphere around our kids was pleasant. Ocean City has a classic boardwalk with taffy shops, rides, and mini golf. The old fashioned wholesomeness of the place was rich.
I gotta admit, having a carnival adjacent to the beach is a great thing. Lou’s daughter and her friend were visiting from their respective colleges. For some reason, our kids think college students are about their age – so they became attached at the hip.
But sure, the beaches don’t hold a candle to Florida’s beaches. Yes and no. Florida has some beautiful, world-class, natural beaches. The Jersey beaches are urbanized (like many of Florida’s less picturesque patches of sand). But the milder summer temperatures, and the surf (which was strong during our visit) was a nice change. In Florida, you can’t really go to the beach until late afternoon in the summer because it’s just too damned hot.
We don’t get much surf on the Gulf of Mexico, so the kids boogie-boarded non-stop.
And Monica showed off her mad bodysurfing skills:
I think we should try to have our daughter stand on her and use her as a surfboard.
GTL! (Gym, Tan, Laundry)
GTL was a phrase coined on The Jersey Shore, to describe the more academic activities of the cast. How else do you maintain a good physique, a bronze hue, and clean threads? We took it to heart as Monica and Lou went on a couple of runs over the bridge, while I pondered bootlegging opportunities with the Westy. We all got sunburned, and we did a few loads of laundry during our stop. I retrieved the middle row of seats, which was welcomed by the kids, but is a bit awkward when it comes to cooking. It does give a second option for folding down a bed without unpacking the back of the van.
The alien/Sasquatch van gave me some ideas for a new motif for our ride.
New Jersey law mandates that meal portions be visible from space. I got a calzone that could feed Chris Christie.
Monica’s dress came with a built in golfball holder. My mini-golf game wasn’t strong, but I’m the master of the Skill Crane. There are three stuffed animals there – but what you don’t see is that two of them were pulled up in a single grab. It’s my greatest talent.
With my jacked-up arteries, I basically follow the rules for pregnant women, so I skipped the bumper cars. I ride with Monica enough.
Big thanks to Lou for hosting us in his awesome house. We’ll be back. We left Ocean City, again unaware of where we were going next. But this was the point we decided we didn’t have time to make it up to New York City – or Maine. We had a week to get to a friend’s house in Raleigh and so we turned our attention to Virginia again.
“Don’t make me turn this van around” is written by Jonathan Kile, and approved by Monica Kile. Jon’s 2014 thriller, The Grandfather Clock, is available free for Kindle on Amazon.com and other eReaders at Smashwords. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Monica is a marathoner, baker, freelance grant writer, non-profit consultant, tour guide, and prolific bath taker.