It’s been about two weeks since we made it back from our vacation to the New Jersey shore…so naturally, I’m just now getting around to writing about it. 😉
Justin’s sister and brother-in-law used to live near Philadelphia, but they moved to New Jersey last summer to be closer to the beach. They visited us last August and we showed them around Knoxville/Pigeon Forge/Gatlinburg, so we took a turn visiting them this year.
Spending 12 hours with two very young children in a car isn’t great…
My brand new car made the long ride infinitely more enjoyable. (Along with the magic of a portable DVD player and an Amazon Fire tablet 😉 .)
While we were visiting the shore, we did spend one day at the beach playing in the sand. But the real magic of the beaches up there are the BOARDWALKS. We visited a few different ones while we were there, and they were all magical.
Doesn’t this image just make your heart sing? I was walking around taking in the rides, smelling the lingering aroma of funnel cakes wafting through the air, and listening to the screams of the thrill seekers, and I just felt the anticipation and excitement of a child.
My childlike wonder was checked just a little as the sun went down and correspondingly, the girls walking down the boardwalk seemed to wear less and less clothing (am I the only one not jumping on the crop top trend this summer?). I remembered that this boardwalk in particular, Seaside Heights, was the famous home to the likes of Snookie and “The Situation.” (In fact, Justin’s sister even pointed out the famed T-Shirt shop where they all worked during that first season of the show. Maybe they worked there longer, but I never really made it past the first few episodes of season one). 😀
We did our best to avoid the rowdy Jersey kids (how is it that they are constantly running into people they know? And how is it that I’m calling these 20-somethings “kids”?) We ate lots of unhealthy food and stayed out past our bedtime and had a wonderful night. 🙂
On the following day, we visited a “classier” boardwalk–Asbury Park. The people were a little more modestly dressed and…how do I put this?…a little less “Jersey.” The boardwalk wasn’t quite as crowded with cheap/gaudy little souvenir shops as Seaside Heights (actually, it was mainly populated with fancy overpriced restaurants and food trailers) and we were shocked to find that we’d need to pay $8 a person if we wanted to step off the boardwalk and onto the beach. “That’s New Jersey for you!” my sister-in-law quipped. “They would charge you to breathe if they could!”
We ate some really delicious Korean tacos (Justin didn’t care for the kimchi…but then again, does ANY non-Korean really like kimchi?), did some shopping, and indulged in some treats.
We stopped at this adorable ice cream shop/soda fountain nestled in one of the nearby historical neighborhoods. It all looks very picturesque in my photos, but honestly, everyone was getting a little bit grumpy. We’d been out in the hot sun all day, the boys were getting tired, my nephews were shoving each other and exchanging rude remarks, and I was internally dreading my own boys growing to be the age when they will really start fighting like that.
Our visit to Nagle’s was the very last stop before getting into the car and heading home for a nap (and a shower!). And while Justin was standing at the window ordering something delicious, and my nephews had momentarily stopped arguing, and I was just taking a moment to sit at the outdoor table and enjoy some peace and quiet, I realized something was wrong. It was too quiet. Where was Jake?
The situation quickly escalated from me casually looking around for Jake to jumping up out of my chair and wandering around looking for Jake, to screaming his name in a panicked voice. I was so sure he was close by, but I couldn’t see him anywhere. And there were quite a few people milling around Nagle’s and the adjoining shops, so I didn’t really have a clear line of vision. I just started aimlessly walking and shouting his name, and the nice thing about that is…everyone else started to worry about Jake, too. When people hear a parent yelling for a child, they all feel a sense of obligation to help with the search. An older lady caught my attention and asked, “Is that your boy down there?” I looked where she was pointing and thought, “Jake couldn’t be ALL THE WAY down there!” But sure enough, that was my little redhead making a run for it at least three blocks away from where I was standing. I started running and shouting for Jake to stop. He heard my voice and that seemed to fuel him to run even faster, as if we were playing a game of tag. I watched helplessly as he crossed the street (thankfully, it was free of cars at the moment) and my heart stopped. I ran faster than I even knew I could and I caught up to him about five blocks down.
When I finally got to him, I grabbed him and wrapped him up in a tight embrace. I was overwhelmed with relief, fighting back tears, so grateful that he was okay. Then I immediately felt the urge to swat his behind. What was he thinking?! He could have been snatched by a stranger or hit by a car! Jake’s explanation, in his own words: “I just wanted to go this way.”
It seemed like all eyes were on us as we made our long trek back to Nagle’s. Our little incident caused quite a stir. We *tried* to enjoy our ice cream and make sure that Jake understood the lesson from all of this.
What was the lesson? Teach Jake a code word, like “FREEZE,” that he must obey at all times? Or maybe stop playing tag? 😉 Or maybe, take my mother’s advice and keep him strapped into a stroller until he’s seven years old. 😛
The rest of our trip was a little less dramatic, thankfully. We spent a day playing in the sand (not the water, because it was just SO FRIGID. I was almost surprised there weren’t icebergs floating in the surf). And, of course, more ice cream (though technically, it was custard) at Kohr Brothers.
On Memorial Day, we visited a third boardwalk (and if you can believe it, we haven’t even scratched the surface on New Jersey boardwalks. There are TONS of them!). We wasted a good bit of money in the arcade, playing carnival games, and of course, eating junk food. We won a prize for Jake playing the squirt gun game, we reunited with some old friends, and we tested our bravery on some amusement park rides (Jake rode the Tilt-a-Whirl–can you believe that?). It was a lovely day, and I couldn’t help but get a bit nostalgic and remember the last time we visited the New Jersey shore.
Justin and I had just shy of two years of marriage under our belts. We’d been living in Savannah, GA and we flew to Philadelphia to visit our brand new nephew, Christopher. While we were there, Justin insisted on taking me on a side trip (borrowing his sister’s car) to the Jersey Shore. We went to Wildwood, and while it’s obvious from the pictures that it was a gloomy, gray day, I just fell in love with it. Childlike wonder to the max.
I also can’t believe how much Christopher has changed since then. He is eight years old now, and his own little person with a unique quiet confidence. It’s funny, but looking back on the old photos, I found a few where Justin was playing guitar hero with John and little Baby Christopher was just hanging out in the background. During our most recent visit, I found the Guitar Hero game and wanted to play (it was really the only game they had on the shelf that appealed to me in the least). But I guess I’m a bit old school, because I didn’t realize how old Guitar Hero is. I tried to stick the disc in their brand new Playstation, and there was a read error. Christopher came to the rescue, explaining that it only goes with the OLD Playstation. He set up the guitar for me and showed me the ropes, and then watched quietly as I failed so miserably that they ended my song early. “Can I give it a try?” he asked shyly, and I let him show me how it’s done. “I think I’ll try that same song on medium,” he said quietly, which is as close to bragging at he would get. And then I watched him rock his performance, and couldn’t help but think that he had a LITTLE bit of an advantage after watching his dad play for all those years. “It’s kind of a hard song,” he said, handing the guitar back to me. “Maybe you could try one of the easier ones.” Which would sound like trash talking his opponent, except that he said it in his sweet, shy little Christopher voice. How did he grow up so fast?
And how old will Jake and Teddy be next time we make the trip to the New Jersey shore?