Thursday, October 2, 2008

It's a shore thing

My family has owned a vacation home at the New Jersey shore for more than 30 years, so I've been fortunate to have spent every summer in a beach resort town since I was a child. Soon after my father bought the house, he bought each of his three daughters a new three-speed bike. In this small town, it was as good as handing us the keys to a brand new car – what freedom we suddenly had! We could ride our bikes to the beach, the boardwalk, the shops “downtown”, or just go for a ride to cool off by creating a breeze when there wasn’t any. A few years later, we used our bikes to go to our summer jobs at the amusement pier and movie theaters on the boardwalk. Fast forward through drivers license, real jobs, marriage, child – the bike was sold somewhere along the way in “the great garage cleanout”. It wasn’t until this summer that I once again enjoyed the freedom that a bike gives you at a crowded beach resort – no need to drive around looking for a parking space; no returning to a ticket on your windshield because your meter ran out of time; no sweltering car interior after sitting in the sun. I traded all that for quiet rides on the bike path beside the bird sanctuary, morning rides on the boardwalk with views of the sparkling ocean, and family rides to breakfast at the tiny airport diner.
Riding to the airport (click to see planes upper left)

Last weekend we decided to take advantage of the beautiful fall weather and drive to the New Jersey shore one last time (until next spring). Since it was only a day trip, we didn’t bring our bikes, but we made the most of our time by taking the scenic route along the coast from Atlantic City down to Cape May Point. Most of the resort towns were rather sleepy now that the tourists have left, but Cape May was full of bird-watchers since it is prime migration season, and Cape May is the biggest migration rest-stop for birds on the East Coast. The beautiful weather brought many people out on their bikes, and the racks along the beach were full.

I wonder if the owner of this pink bike stood out on the beach as much as her bike did in the rack.

I miss the shore already. Especially my flip flops.

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