Posts tagged Boardwalk Diaries

The Boardwalk Diaries: Avon-by-the-Sea

To begin, as Chandler on Friends would say, “Could the name Avon-by-the-Sea be any lovlier?” I think not. “Avon” conjures up Shakespearean sonnets (or coral-colored lipsticks, depending on your frame of reference). “By-the-Sea” is delightful in its hyphenation, and also sounds Seussical or e.e. cummings-ish. There is truly something in a name, and Avon-by-the-Sea wins name point galore.

It is winningly pretty, too. Witness the charm of the seafoam blue benches.

The boardwalk is a bit of heaven, with an unobstructed view of the beach and a feeling that you could be strolling one hundred years ago. Dr. Seuss might have written this about it:

To-be, to-be,

At Avon-by-the-Sea,

Where the pretty blue benches

Line up 1 – 2 – 3,

And the waves go back and forth,

Calling “Whee! Whee!”

Take-me, take-me

To Avon-by-the-Sea!

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The Boardwalk Diaries: Belmar

We can think “boardwalk” and be in Belmar forty-five minutes later.

After parking the car in front of a modest Victorian house on Tenth Avenue, we can choose to enjoy an ice-cream cone from Tenth Avenue Freeze-Out (the Jersey Shore shamelessly promotes its affiliation with Bruce Springsteen) before hitting the boards. The streetlights are a nice touch and always make me want  to stay until dark to see them lit.

Except for the car styles, it looks much the same.

As you head toward the Shark River Inlet, the ocean is to your right and parked cars are to your left. Inlets are one of my favorite things about boardwalking: it is bliss to lean against the railing and look down at the rocks on either side of the vertical body of water, and to witness that water’s meeting with the horizontal body of water, the ocean, that stretches out ahead.

The river water is familiar—slightly muddy, with stones and perhaps even fish visible in it—but in a moment it will join the ocean water, which is pure mystery—all movement and rolling, roaring sound.

The lucky members of the Belmar Fishing Club can walk to the end of this long pier and see the ocean’s mystery up close. Even without that privilege, simply looking at the pier is lovely. Again, it’s a vertical/horizontal thing, where the concrete and the abstract combine.

Belmar is pretty, not beautiful; picturesque, not stunning. And that is enough, especially if there is a good breeze, and considering the low, low price of a forty-five-minutes ride.

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The Boardwalk Diaries: Point Pleasant

The first thing that’s special about Point Pleasant is the little community where you park your car. Once you’re off the main road, you find yourself within a grid of streets dotted with small beach cottages—little homes, mostly with gravel instead of grass out front, and flower pots on the porches, and beach towels hanging over the porch railings. You drive up and down the streets until you find an empty spot, and then you begin the walk to the boardwalk. Stephanie can tell you that I always comment on how walking toward the ocean can look as if you’re walking toward the edge of the world: all you can see ahead of you is the sky, until you get close enough to see—ahhh, the ocean.

We usually begin at the most densely populated end of the boardwalk, where the amusement park is located. It’s a good amusement park for small children because it’s large enough to be exciting but small enough to be manageable; nobody’s going to get lost or overwhelmed here.

Photo courtesy of Dan Beards.

Stephanie and I skip the rides (although we often comment on her past fondness for the train ride that circles the park) and walk on to the part of the boardwalk that contains eating places and games. A stuffed banana-person with scraggly hair is a popular prize at the stands this year.

Photo courtesy of http://www.boblucky.com.

From there, we continue on to the less traveled part of the boardwalk. To our right is the railing that separates us from the beach and the ocean. We can see the sunbathers and swimmers and volleyball players, and we can watch the waves and the boats and the small airplanes dragging banners advertising local nightspots. The view to our left is equally tantalizing. Here’s an example:

Image courtesy of Vacation Rentals in Point Pleasant

These houses, and many more like them, are situated right on the boardwalk. Each little dwelling has its own personality. Some have small pools out front for toddlers to wade in, and some have patio sets. The owner of one locally famous house plays Frank Sinatra music all day long, and you can hear it as you walk by. Stephanie and I love looking at each “front yard” behind its low fence and deciding whether we’d like to stay there. I’d like to stay at any of them, actually, just to be that close to the beach.

Our boardwalk journey isn’t over yet. After the last little house, there is another eating/shopping area along the boardwalk and then, finally, the boards end with some benches facing an inlet where boats go back and forth from the bay to the ocean.

Photo courtesy of Dan Beards.

It’s a lovely place to stop and let the wind beat against your face, listen to the swooshing the pumping of the water against the boats, and watch the gulls (and people) walking on the rocks below. And then it’s time to turn around and walk the entire length of the Point Pleasant boardwalk again, with the ocean to your left this time. I always hope Frank will be singing Summer Wind.

*Thank you to Dan Beards.


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The Boardwalk Diaries: Introduction

Growing up in New Jersey, there was one summer destination: the Jersey shore. Just knowing it was there made the less blissful aspects of living in New Jersey tolerable. Actually being there made New Jersey a wonderful place to live.

The Jersey shore has many moods, and in an attempt to define them, two women will walk the boards this summer—mother and daughter, exploring the promenades of our fair state, feeling the heat and the wind, smelling the salty air, and looking all around us for the things that make each precious piece of the Jersey shore unique.

Look for blog posts marked “The Boardwalk Diaries”; you’ll wish you lived here, too, if only for an afternoon at a time.

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