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.
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.