For months leading up, the Beloved would ask me, “What are your family traditions for being at the beach?” And I would tell her that we had zero experience with spending a week together at the beach as a family (PLENTY of experience with day-trips) but very little in extended stays. In some ways, we were going to have to establish our own.
We got to the East Coast with very little problem in which we stocked up for supplies and had a birthday dinner for me at my favorite cheesesteak place in NJ and took a leisurely drive on Saturday to Sea Isle City, where we convened with my brother, his family and my sister to begin Down The Shore—2009.
I hadn’t been to Sea Isle probably since I was 17 and I thought it looked great. Our house was a stone’s throw from the beach and really comfortable – and it’s clock set the correct tone for the vacation.
We had great weather — warm with a calm warm ocean early in the week, turning cooler and rougher as Hurricane Bill passed by out in the Atlantic.
Our days were pretty easy… we’d all trundle out of bed for a slow wake-up with coffee, cereal and the paper. By 10 or so, the first wave of folks would head down to the beach. I would tend to stay back on the deck under the umbrella, choosing not to expose my pale, SPF70 slathered skin to the sun and surf until after 2 pm. We’d hang on the beach, watch the waves, seagulls and people, go for a swim and head back for happy hour and dinner. (As you might have guessed, I was in charge of happy hour… ). It was all very civilized. We ate out a couple of nights, walked the promendade, played games. It was great.
One day, the fam went up to Atlantic City to see an airshow – and while I love my family dearly, standing out in the sun for 5+ hours was not a choice I was willing to make. As an alternative, the Beloved and I took a tour of the other southern shore towns – Avalon, Stone Harbor, Wildwood and Cape May. It was a great trip and highlighted how different each of the towns were.
One of the reasons for the trip was so that the Beloved could see Wildwood – probably the last remnant of “tacky boardwalk” left in The Garden State. I’d last been there after graduating high school – some friends and I rented a house for a week. There were still lots of crappy t-shirt shops and amusement piers and tram cars.
We stopped and got pizza and drank it all in. We finished up by driving over to The Villas, the town on the Delaware Bay side where my grandmother had a house for so long. Not nearly as upscale as the seaside towns, the Villas was a great place to end the trip – really bringing the week full circle.
At last, the week was at an end (how quickly it goes by) and we all bought souvenir shirts and gathered on the slightly-Bill-touched beach to say our farewells.
We all thought we would do it again – perhaps a new tradition in the making!