Tuesday, August 5, 2008

On Beaches

Jan: I grew up with a house on the Jersey shore - a great house with a waterview and only a block from the beach. I also spent an entire summer working at an ocean front beach club -- checking badges (a Jersey thing) by day and serving seaside cocktails (also maybe a Jersey thing) by night.
So I think I know beaches. And while I I love the white sand and great body surfing of the Jersey shore, my favorite beach is on Martha's Vineyard. The one above. It's called Long Point and its in West Tisbury. I like it because it has both a terrific ocean beach (that you can see) and a fresh water pond (not pictured) and when you go from the ocean to the pond, the pond feels incredibly warm. At the same time, it's refreshing, because it's washing the salt off.

You go to the Jersey beach for action, you go to Long Point for peace. At sundown, the view across the pond and marshes is incredibly tranquil. I used to picture it in my head during plane takeoffs to try to get me to stop hyperventilating. Sometimes it even worked.

There are downsides to the beach, the first being, you have to be a member of the Trustees For Reservation -- which is actually a terrific environmental organization -- or pay the day fee. And you have to get there before 11 a.m. or after 3 p.m. because its very limited parking. But that also means, the beaches are NEVER crowded. And although I don't think there's an actual rule about it -- no one ever brings a boom box. All you ever hear are children laughing (okay, sometimes crying) and the waves.

Anyway, EVERYONE has a favorite beach. Come tell us about yours.


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  2. Well, I grew up in Brooklyn NY and although it's known as the City of Churches, it's also got lots of beach. Not gorgeous, not glamorous, but I have wonderful memories of Coney Island! The Knish man walking up and down the beach with his greasy shopping bags(how did they stay hot? I have no idea..) Ageless men playing handball and giving the kids a run for their money. The Parachute Jump which I was always too terrified to ride on, but always loved for its architectural beauty. Nathan's french fries - responsible for more heart attacks than any other substance known to man, but oh so good. Never rode the Cyclone, but one night I rode the Thunderbolt rollercoaster three times. I've never been on another..I don't know what possessed me.

    That's my sentimental favorite. My new favorite is on Jost van Dyke. At Ivan's Stress-Free Bar where there's an honor bar and all sorts of flotsam and jetsam land..including me.

  3. Hey Rosemary,

    I LOVE Jost van Dyke - i danced there on the beach during my honeymoon and have been back three or four times. Although the beach itself wasn't the biggest draw....

    The BVI does have fabulous beaches, with the worlds most beautiful water... but I never think of them because I'm always on a boat....

  4. Well, I'm a California girl. My family used to rent a house in Malibu for a week during the summer (I hear Dick Van Dyke owns it now--it had 8 bedrooms on a double lot with about 100 feet of sand between it and Malibu's great waves.) Spent lots of time at Manhattan Beach. I love the waves of the Pacific, love to body surf. Hold the jellyfish, hold the seaweed, hold the rocks.

    Now, I confess, about 15 minutes of "beach" and I've had enough, unless I'm swimming and then I'm good for hours.

  5. Cannon Beach / Haystack Rock, Oregon.

    Wild and moody and beautiful.

    The Silver Sands of Morar beaches in NW Scotland:

    As a landlocked Texas girl, I have to admit to feeling grateful for pretty much any beach time I get.

  6. Beaches, beaches oh... how I love beaches!

    I used to go to Ocean Grove, New Jersey, just north of Asbury Park, when I was a teenager. My girlfriend's mother said it was safer there. It was an old people's town that my girlfriend and I nicknamed 'Ocean Grave'. Not exactly a hot spot, you might say. Of course then there was Asbury Park itself, right next door. The Boss, Bruce Sprinsteen, lived about 10 blocks from the boardwalk. I had heard stories that he was very accessible and would come out to his porch and jam with the neighborhood kids. Of course that was years after my teenagehood.

    'Den der was "Seaside Heights" down by Toms River (Toms Riva - need a Jersey/Brooklyn accent heer).

    The boordwaulk was definitely happen' heer. It was a continuous summer carnival that I always loved to be a part of after a day of swimming at an impressively crowded beach. The only place I was in recent history that reminded me of the New Jersy beach crowds was Copacabana Beach in Rio, just next to Ipanema Beach during a Brazilian holiday! Of course, there was lots more of the female anatomy on display in Brazil where fashion is the passion!!! Didn't I love it :-)!!

    My memories of New England beaches are slightly sad. On my one trip to Cape Cod, my then wife was coming to a crossroads in her life. She and I wound up separating just after our return. The other thing that sticks in my mind was the 68 deg. water temp. I thought my feet would turn to ice. Well, it is a good metaphor for the occasion. In part, my life did turn to ice, but of course, after the divorce, I got over it!!

    Then, as Rosemary said, there was Coney Island and Orchard Beach. I went there only once or twice being a mostly Jersey kid. Of course you have to remember, I grew up in the East Bronx. The very neighborhood Mario Puzo set the 'Godfather'. I even ate a few times at 'Vera Marios' where Michael 'capped' the lieutenant. 'Nother story tho'.

    And, Jan, yes peaceful beaches are messages directly from spirit. One of my favorites was Holden Beach in the southern and eastern tip of North Carolina. It was billed as a family beach, where summer rentals are the rage - No crowds and fairly quiet. I gained much insight about life there.

    Yes, yes, I do so love beaches...


  7. Hey Mike,
    Did you ever go to the Pt. Pleasant boardwalk? That's where we summered and I was once detained by police... And I often heard the rumor that Bruce would come jam at the Stone Pony at Asbury Park. I never saw him there, but I did stand next to him once at a Heavy Trucking concert at Rutgers, and he got up and jammed with the band.

    The Oregan beach you describe sounds like my kind of beach. I'm more interested in the mood than the sun, actually. Like beaches best at sundown and midnight!

  8. Ah, then Jan, you'd probably like Cannon Beach. Here's a webcam link.

    At midnight this beach is just enchanting. I sat out there soaking wet during a winter storm once.


  9. Hi Jan

    I know you are Clifton girl, but you sure seemed to get around in NJ.

    I remember hearing about Pt. Pleasant, but I don't think I ever went there.

    Bruce was after the days I was wandering in the Asbury Park area. However, I had occasion to be in Asbury Park many years later, which is when I heard all the 'Boss' stories from friends who lived in that neighborhood.

    As you can tell, I've always loved the beach and would go to any beach someone mentioned just to see it. Recently, I was in St. Petersburg and went to this huge beach. As you approched the beach from the 4 mile long parking lot, it stretched like 300 or 400 feet to the water's edge. It's a sight I will not forget. A storm was coming in and it was awesome to walk along the beach with it's raging waters. Then, I stood on a fishing peer and took pictures of aquatic birds with my DSLR. Got awesome shots. Some where the white wings of an Egret were semi-transparent against a sullen sky. All this while the waters raged below the peer. Quite an amazing experience.

    Your growing years in NJ sound interesting.

    I lived up in West New York, NJ on top of the Palisades which overlooked the Hudson and NY. Neat area, although, I struggled with my seconday education. By many miracles I received multiple scholarships to Stevesn Institute in Hoboken, the town of Frank Sinatra.

    By the way that's why the visuals of that second movie I wrote are so stunning. I know this sounds funny, but ... It's the 'Godfather
    meets 'Angela's Ashes'!!!

    Can you tell? I just read it again and I'm getting cranked up about marketing it again!!!

    At some point we need to trade NJ stories.


    Cannon Beach sounds awesome!
    Will definitely check out the web cam!!!


  10. You all have made me so jealous that I've never seen the beaches you describe. Well, ok, Manhattan Beach. I love Pfeiffer Beach at Big Sur. Off season. You really have to want to get there, but when you do, esp. if the weather is wild, the experience is--well, I was wishing I was a tree and not a person, so I could sit down and take root and no one could ever make me leave. In the winter, there might be two other people besides yourself. Marvelous. Moonstone Beach, where a creek empties out, leaving behind multi-colored pebbles and you're allowed to pick up as many as you want--heaven for a crafter with kids. Many sea lions. Point Dume, where the whales came to greet us. They really wanted to make contact with us. Hunting Island, SC is a beach, or was in 1970, like the beginning of the world. Jungle down to a wide white beach, then the warm Atlantic Ocean. South Padre: I was lost there one night and a fellow came along, and I said, because I wanted to find a safe place to sleep and get some grub, "How far to civilization?" He pointed with one hand and said, "About six miles that way." Then he pointed with his other hand and said, "Or about two hundred miles that way."

    Like Susannah, I was landlocked in Texas my whole life till the Marines told me to go to San Diego. My first sight of the Pacific Ocean, at Mission Beach, was like, "Oh, this is home." Yeah. It's no wonder people cluster along the coasts.

    Thanks so much for the post and for the site. As You All Can Tell, I just really love what you've done with the place.

  11. we used to rent a tiny little cottage on the Jersey shore (Seaside Heights) and cram it with all my mother's relatives. We conserved money by not buying enough badges to go around. So when the checkers came around (was that you Jan?), those of us without badges would have to run into the water to avoid a fine.

    But then we also spent a lot of time at Hatteras, NC. I worked there several summers. The beaches are magnificent. I'm like Hallie now--bored with too much sitting in the sun...

  12. I love the Outer Banks, Roberta.

    My favorite beach is the Ocracoke Island, NC part of the National Seashore. I went there a few years back on my first-ever solo vacation, taking the ferry across the sound. I stayed at an inn in town, but spent my days on the lonesome, windy beach--it was late April, so it was almost always deserted except for the shore birds. What I recall most vividly are the colors: the white gulls and dappled yellowlegs dancing in the surf and on the blond sand, the blue-gray water, the vast, cool sky. I took pictures, but didn't really need to. I'd love to go back one day.

  13. Yes, Roberta, that was me and you owe the township of Seaside Heights (where I rode, many, many rides and drank in some of the finest bars) some serious fines....

    I can see I'm going to have to expand my travel budget because now there are beaches in Scotland, St. Petersburg,NC, SC, and Big Sur that I definitely MUST see.

  14. Waving at Jan--we used to spend part of the summer at Bay Head, not far from Point Pleasant, back when Bay Head still had a boardwalk for strolling visitors (and, yes, required beach badges--and still does).

    Favorite beaches? Two, I think--one in the Yucatan, where my husband was doing research years ago. I had always had dreams of wandering undisturbed on a beach loaded with wonderful sea-shells (I'm a compulsive shell collector), and I actually found one. Imagine miles of sand and sea and shells with absolutely no one else. Amazing!

    The other was a tiny beach on an inlet in Ireland, in Castletownsend, Co. Cork. I took my daughter to Ireland the year after my mother died and we had settled the estate, and thought we deserved a boost. We spent a week in a tiny town on the south coast, and discovered the beach by accident. We liked it so much we went back another day, even though there were many other things we could have been doing there. There were few people, all local. A couple of fishermen. The biggest excitement was watching a determined dog grab an anchored mooring rope and try to drag a boat to shore. He kept at it until his owner called him away. The place remains my standard for perfect peace.

  15. Ok...now you've got me thinking and I'm going to have to add a few...Isla de la Piedra on Mexico, far away from the giant resorts in Mazatlan where I broke down and rented the atv, zipping up and down the beach and only stopping for sand dollars, Waterlemon cay on St John where there are so many starfish you can't count them all, and Wellfleet, where I go in September when most of the tourists and summer people have left. Now if I only looked good in a bikini like Jan does..!

  16. First of all, although I do actually own a bikini, I only wear it with the matching coverup. In fact, I bought it (on an awesome beach in Martinque as an act of rebellion on a recent, significant birthday)FOR the coverup. Clearly a sign of age....

    Secondly, Sheila, that beach in Cork sounds beautiful -- I love fishing villages, and I think I'm supposed to descend from ancesters in Cork long, long, go, if the family story is to be believed (previous blog). So now I really want to check out that beach!

  17. P.S. Sheila,

    I love Bay Head, which I think is so much more relaxing than Pt Pleasant because it doesn't have the big boardwalk. (Although my aunt and cousins still have a house in Pt Pleasant, so I still get the needed dose of Jenkinsons and the Tiki Bar from time to time.)

  18. AH, you've got me longing for Nevis, in the BVI. Nevis is tiny tiny tiny, and until just a few years ago, you had to get there by flying to St. Kitts, then taking a ferry (incredibly dangerous and risky) or a little four-seater plane (ditto).

    HANK (whispering): Sweetheart, do you think I should tell the pilot that the red light on his gas gauge is on?
    JONATHAN: It's not far to the airport now.
    HANK: Yeah, but the pilot's face is kind of green. And do you smell
    JONATHAN: It's not that far to the airport.

    Anyway, once you get to Nevis, it's all worth it. It's quiet, so quiet. Absolutely nothing to do. The beaches are white, and stretch out, empty, for as far as you can see. There's a resort or two that have their own beaches (but all are open to all) but we just find our own.

    We sit for hours, just us, on a long stretch of pristine white sand, reading and watching the pelican show. They float and soar, and then-ping! Just dive in. They find a fish, and then shake their little tailfeathers with glee as they gulp it down.

    We also love Truro in Cape Cod--clamoring with families sitting under bright umrellas, everyone reading the same books, turkey sandwiches from the deli, the smell of Coppertone, gin and tonics at sunset.

    I grew up in Indiana, so all this is very exotic.

  19. Can I just say one more thing? I just finished Nerve Damage, by Peter Abrahams.

    I can't believe how good it is. Literate. Clever. Very, very subtle. Textured. Layered. Amazingly seamless, and every end carefully tied. He follows all the rules, perfectly, then bam--breaks every one of them.

    Why is he not incredibly famous? I think Nerve Damage is basically perfect.

    'Scuse me. I have to go write a fan letter.

  20. Peter is one of my favorite mystery writers. Read END of STORY, its the best. He's also one of my favorite panelists, I always get something out of hearing him speak.

    He is sort of famous though. He wrote The Fan.

  21. Oh... I thought of one more beach that blew me away.

    Ilha Grande, an island in Brazil which you need to take a ferry to from either, Angra dos Reis or Mangaratiba. Mangarattiba is about 90 miles west of Rio. No vehicles are allowed on the island, similar to Mackanac Island in MI. There are small B&B's near the center of town. The beach winds along the island and as you venture inland you are greeted by rain forest!! Basically, hot steamy jungle. The beach was amazing with sights of old brightly painted fishing boats and various native birds. This is a somewhat well known vacation destination for Brazilians looking for informal fare.

    And, the beach near St. Pete, FL was part of the Ft. Desoto park.