Monday, November 21, 2011

Boardwalk Stomp

We’ve spent the past two days in lovely sunny Seaside Park New Jersey, a lovely seaside town on one of the many barrier islands along the East Coast. A small strip of land measuring four blocks wide in some of the narrowest areas, it is a small beach community that swells to a large tourist population in the summertime. The beaches are beautiful here and people have been capitalizing on that beauty in a big way since the tourism boom in the nineteen twenties.
Just about two miles away lies Seaside Heights, a booming and colorful boardwalk centered culture with an amusement park, bars, restaurants and one of the best people watching spots I’ve ever been to. Several evolutions have occured to create such a carnivalesque culture that would bloom into an  entertainment capitol of the region. In ninteen fifteen Joseph B. Vanderslice opened a steam driven merry go round at the newly built Amusement Palace. It had an imported German organ, drums, and cymbals that made the music to accompany this new tourist attraction less than a few hundred feet from the ocean. Home to the baby parades where prizes were awarded to the "handsomest baby, cutest baby, and chubbiest baby," Seaside Heights has been catering to the creative and fun seeking for decades.
 After the summer ends so does the season for most restaurants and businesses catering to the influx of people in the summer, so this time of year the carnival and boardwalk are shut down. save for the faithful few. Much of the boardwalk feels eerily quiet in the way the wind moves through the corrugated metal doors that shut up the gaming vendors. The normal summer sounds of arcade machines, pumping bass speakers from boardwalk bars, and the ever entertaining solicitations from the carnival game operators are totally absent now in November. In their place are a family of stray cats who’ve made a home underneath the piers that hold swings and roller coasters and a vast array of rides. Groups of fishermen driving their trucks up onto the beach and the locals who take their walks are the only people left now. We have been here at peak season and off season, and we kind of like it when it’s empty, just as many locals seem to.
 Pat has grown up coming to the island with his family and knows this place well. We’ve gotten to spend time with family while we’ve been here which is always a real treat. We always enjoy getting to hear about the local history and how it came to be.  From the railroad bridge that used to span the distance between the mainland and the island that is now just remnant of what it was, to the murder mystery of Lavalette, we love all the historic details of this Oceanside town
 The Island is also home to the amazing Island Beach State Park. Beautifully preserved beaches and sand dunes were scattered with scores of people this particular weekend, due to the abundance of striped bass this time of year. The fish are in!  We saw tired fisher folk walking away early in the morning with long gills in their hands and tails sweeping the boardwalk, wearily carrying the mornings catch. One of Pat’s relatives caught nine twenty pound fish today! In the experienced club of fisherman he resides. Out at Island Beach State park you can drive out about ten miles to the end of the island and hike out to see the Barnegat Lighthouse just across the water, or if you have four wheel drive can take your vehicle out onto the beach. These two sections of land were connected at some point, but now you have to go the long way around by car, or not so far if you’re lucky enough to have a boat.
 Patrick and I were here back in June and saw a humpback whale, which is unusual for this area.  That was a real treat. In the summertime one can watch the daily commute of dolphins up the length of the island. You can’t run fast enough along the shore to stay with them as they glide along at top speed!
 This morning we took a lot of pictures up on the boardwalk where we joined the discontented statues of clowns and giraffes, while eating doughnuts and bagels from two of our favorite bakeries. The real deal as far as doughnuts go, the Boston Cream from Fumosa Bakery can’t be beat! Later on we drove up through the State Park and did some bird watching and sand trudging. We were graciously taken out to dinner at our all time favorite Klee’s pizza. What a wonderful kick off weekend to begin our trip onward. We hope your enjoy our photo essay to follow.
Seaside Heights Boardwalk Beach
Our favorite new game "Pile up People"
Barnegat Bay at sunset

No comments:

Post a Comment