A Breath of Fresh Air

11 Funtown post-Sandy 1

It had been a long time coming, but I finally got out for a nice weekend getaway. With school and work having taken over my life, any sort of fun – even a weekend getaway – had been a true luxury. Life truly has passed me by, with many of my peers travelling the world or even the country, among other things. Strangely, I’ve only begun turning the corner in this respect.

With six weeks of freedom between mid-May and June, main highlights were a friend’s wedding, getting summer networking going with my graduate school association, a brief trip to the Jersey Shore, and a 4th of July camping trip to the Hamptons. It may seem mundane to many people, but this is a breath of fresh air after years in the proverbial dungeon. Even then, work is pounding hard though, and although still lacking a full-out vacation for years and counting, the six-week reprieve from school is also the first I’ve had in at least 2 years. In my 12 years living in Philly, not once I’ve been to the Jersey shore. (I did go to Wildwood, NJ with my family when I was 11, but I have no recollection of that now.) That’s how ridiculous it has been.

Money was tight until only a few years ago, but lately now, time is the real problem. Because my family does not see me nearly all year, this also makes getting away during the holidays – my only break from both work and school – impossible. Twice in the last two years, I’d attempted to travel abroad, only to anger my parents (another story for another post). Even then, my mother is still livid that I am taking off to run the Walt Disney Marathon, but things have unfortunately come to a point I needed to put my foot down.

That said, WDW will be my first vacation in eight years, so I need to just hang in yet again until then. And even then after that, I get slammed with my capstone semester. Two prospective trips abroad are in the making, but they are more than a year off now.

So with all this in mind, I was incredibly excited to go to the Jersey Shore. Julie, a friend who I met through school, is from North Jersey and her mother has a beach house in Lavallette, NJ, just five minutes north of a more populated Seaside Heights, and about half an hour south of Point Pleasant. The area was greatly affected by Hurricane Sandy, and my friend’s mother spent easily thousands of dollars renovating and repairing the damage. Lavallette had not taken as much damage as Seaside Heights (pictures to follow) but flooding kept residents out for nearly two months.

Last weekend, we hit the road to the beach, much needed on my end, having come off a two-week business trip to Charlotte that was intense.

On Saturday, the very first thing we did was enjoy the sun, and no complaints. I don’t recall having been to a beach since running the Shamrock Half in March 2011. Before that my memories of Wildwood (age 11) and Ocean City MD (age 8) and OCNJ (right after high school graduation) are very distant. So the feeling of sand was something I was really enjoying, I think I had spent several hours getting my feet all comfy with the sand.

My friends probably thought I was weird, but after I told them I hadn’t been to the beach in ages, frankly after that I didn’t care.

1 SatPMrelax

After a few hours of sun, we all headed in to my friend’s house and started preparing for the barbecue. Of the 13 in the entire party only three of us were vegetarians, myself being one of them. Nonetheless, we prepared an extensive menu, one that easily accomodated us, between salmon and chicken sandwiches, mozzarella cheese on tomato and balsamic vingear, a host of grilled veggies, corn, and goodness knows what else.

5 more food prep

Julie’s husband proceeded to cook the meanest salmon he could, which we all thoroughly enjoyed.

6 Corys salmon masterpiece

Seriously, it was delish. And with the sangrias, I had no complaints. I also went for gusto and tried some of the beer. The Centennial IPA was profusely bitter but as he was a heavy beer drinker, they also tend to be heavily biased towards IPAs, so another one of our friends brought in a Bell’s Oberon mini-keg, which had an orange accent to it.

The best part of all this was the camaraderie. Everyone was easygoing, and just catching up on life and people talking about all sorts of things. From future vacation plans (needless to say, everyone was harping on mine!) to wedding plans and everything in between.

Unfortunately for me, my runner’s diet of very scant amounts of alcohol year-round did me in. I found myself crashing out sooner than expected that night although most of the rest of the party went to a nearby crab house that evening.

The next day, we hit the beach again and the boardwalk. Sunday morning as I was told, was completely dead. Completely.

10 Sunday morning

One thing I learnt about Jersey boardwalks – the boardwalk culture is very different from other beaches I had been used to or had heard about from my parents. On weekend mornings, there are swarms of bikers, joggers, and walkers getting up and getting active on the boardwalk. But here, I was told, no one gets up early in the morning and no one cites the boardwalk until the afternoon, and later on I could see why.

I also shouldn’t have been surprised as the hit-reality show Jersey Shore made these areas known for its insane nightlife, but then again of course, I wouldn’t have known this.

After a few hours on the beach, we hit the Seaside Heights boardwalk. To our right, we saw how badly the area had been affected by Hurricane Sandy the previous fall.

14 Funtown 4

The amusement park was still in tatters and some developments still had not been fully rebuilt.

19 Beach soccer 3

Nearby where the cranes were rebuilding, a beach soccer tournament was going down. I took in the boardwalk, but now I could see what Julie meant by a purely nighttime vibe. There was hardly a breakfast area anywhere near the boardwalk, it had a very nightlife/party atmosphere to it. Even in broad daylight.

20 Beach Soccer 4

Unfortunately our time seaside came to an end. I left with two of my other friends for back home but not without feeling so much more relaxed. Much needed for a crazy week at work to follow and I’m hoping I will be back soon.

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