I think I was 18 the last time I trod on New Jersey sand and, truth be told, it was probably more of a stagger. Where I grew up (downstate), Seaside Heights was the epitome of beach party nirvana and the place to go after prom, or any other occasion that demanded to be punctuated by beer balls and sunburn. Good times.
Maybe you’ve heard that the Jersey Shore is experiencing a renaissance of sorts and since we CivMixers are all about keeping you up to speed on what’s happening, I set my sights on reaching the beach for the first time in decades. When a friend mentioned a music fest that coincided with my birthday, I was all in. Personal Day requested, airbnb booked and bicycles stowed, Mr. Fun and I headed south mid morning last Saturday for an epic adventure.
The drive was painless with little traffic and I was surprised by how quickly it went, accustomed as I’ve gotten to the long haul to the beaches of Wellfleet. We bypassed “our” house in favor of heading to Point Pleasant, which had more options for lunch than Manasquan, and the Atlantic Offshore Fishery, where we enjoyed a great lunch of mac and cheese, scallops, salad and fries washed down with a couple of cans of cold Sauvignon Blanc (BYOB). Delicious!
With bellies full we headed to our conveniently located house, described accurately by our friends who had arrived the night before as being a “step above camping.” Many homes in the area had been severely damaged by Superstorm Sandy and seemingly repaired, but ours was a throwback and came complete with faded plaid upholstery and an odd wood smoke smell that permeated the interior. Whatever. The goal was to spend as much time as possible outdoors and the weather was cooperative with sunshine and temperatures in the 80s.
IIn theory, music was the draw so after settling in we made our way via Lyft to the festival site in Asbury Park. This was the second year for Sea.Hear.Now and probably the last for me. Don’t get me wrong, the lineup was awesome and the performances we caught were enjoyable, but it just felt like too much work. Looking at the schedule, figuring out which stage was which, navigating through tens of thousands of people, mediocre acoustics, long lines for refreshments…I felt as if it was a lot of effort for a limited return.
I’ve seen quite a few of the bands before, in more comfortable settings, but there was a fair amount of new stuff to take in as well. The highlight musically, for me, was St. Paul and the Broken Bones. Man, did they smoke the stage with Paul Janeway’s vocals and an impressively large and extremely capable band backing him up. They’re playing the Egg next month and I scored a ticket for that show, but if you’re interested, you’d best call the box office ASAP because that show will sell out.
Music was what brought us to the beach but the best parts of the weekend didn’t have anything to do with bands or beats. We hadn’t made meals a priority, however what we ate was pretty basic, yet enjoyable. The cycling, though, was terrific with bicycling allowed on the boardwalk (after September 15th) if Ocean Avenue proved to be too busy for your comfort level. The real attraction, though, was the beach and the wild waters of the Atlantic. Being able to grab a towel and walk to the ocean across unoccupied sand was a definite treat. While the waves were pretty gnarly with the surfers patiently waiting offshore to catch a ride, we were still able to take advantage of the relative warmth of the water and escape the heat of summer’s last gasping breath.
Just like me, the Jersey Shore was back.