Tuesday, July 14, 2009

What a Racket!

You may have noticed that I was missing over the last week, I was off enjoying a family vacation. It was great to spend some time with the family and do some new things. This year, we decided to focus our vacation around family and headed towards New Jersey, where my husband's family lives.

My daughter had never been to the beach and my son had only been to the beach of the Delaware Bay on a previous vacation, so one destination that was a must for me was the beach. In New Jersey, of course, it's not the beach, it's the Shore.

Having only lived in New Jersey for 7 short months (can it be that it really was 12 years ago already?), I guess I never fully understood the workings of the Shore. I knew that it thoroughly messed with my commute home from Philadelphia on Friday evenings and made North/South travel a challenge on Friday and Sunday. Many of my months in New Jersey were winter months, but I did make it to the beach (sorry, the Shore) a couple of times with friends while I lived there.

Tuesday was the day we selected for going to the Shore. We headed to Point Pleasant. When we got there, the first thing we encountered was parking - you had a few choices: park at a meter and return to feed it coins, park in a pay in advance for the day lot for $15 or more, park in a prepay lot at an hourly rate of $2. We went with the last option, which was cheaper than the pay for the day lots and less work than feeding a meter and conveniently located right across the street from access to the boardwalk.

The next encounter floored me...we got to the boardwalk and the beach access and - did you know that they charge people to go to the beach!!! Okay, I knew that it existed for private beaches, but I have in all of my years, I have never paid to access a beach. Sure, we rented condos and hotels and houses near the beach, which you can argue was my "fee" to access the beach, but to actually pay a fee to enter the beach? It was unfamiliar territory. The person that collected our money pointed out the bath house for this particular stretch of beach, located across the boardwalk. Okay, so at least we get access to the bath house, I thought.

We spent some time playing on the beach and jumping in the waves. The kids were a little intrepid of the waves at first, but with a little bit of time, they were jumping in the waves and loving it. At one point, my daughter was trying to race the waves and run away from them. We built some sand castles and buried our feet in the sand. The time quickly passed and we decided to call an end to the beach adventure and we headed up to the boardwalk. They had a great time playing on the beach.

My husband ran to take some stuff back to the car and get clothes for changing into. In the meantime, I decided to take my daughter to the bathroom. I had my shorts on my shoulder, as my swimsuit was wet. When I got to the bath house, the attendant told me I could go in to use the bathroom, but I needed to leave my clothes at the desk. Excuse me? Well, as it turns out, the bath house usage included in our beach admission was just the bathroom facilities, if you wanted to change (it's illegal to change in a public restroom in Point Pleasant - it was posted everywhere), there was another fee for the shower, which of course was per person.

Wow! I finally was starting to understand why my husband was never a lover of the beach...if I had to pay to park, pay to access the beach, pay to shower/change after the beach, I can see where he always thinks of the beach as a hassle.

We wound up changing in the car - which was quite an experience - before heading up to the boardwalk for lunch and some games. As we walked on the boardwalk, we quickly learned that we should have "shopped" around for beach access. Just a few feet from the beach we were on was another beach that was $1 / person cheaper and a little further down the way was one where both kids would have been free. Who would have thought that there would be that much variation in beach access.

Lunch wasn't bad. They offered the standard fare - slices of pizza, hot dogs, fries, and more. Prices weren't great - but I actually expected that. We timed our lunch well, as it rained the whole time that we were at lunch. After lunch, we hit the arcade. My son really took to Skee Ball. He was having a grand time and even managed to hit the bonus level and get the 100 ticket bonus twice. Unfortunately, unless you had played for hours and had 10's of thousands of tickets, the prizes were a little disappointing. We selected some plastic cups, some jibbitz for their shoes, and some color your own puzzles. Again, it was raining, so we stayed captive for a little while until the rain stopped. Then, it was a walk down the boardwalk to get some ice cream and head home from our day at the beach.

All in all, it was a fun day and the kids really enjoyed their beach and boardwalk experience. I love this picture we captured: Seeing the two of them holding hands watching the waves come in, makes me a little less bothered by all the crazy costs and challenges of our trip to the beach and glad we took them. I think next year we might have to head to a beach for vacation - maybe rent a house nearby.


Stacy said...

What a great picture of your kids. That makes all the hassles worthwhile, doesn't it? Doesn't surprise me that they charge for the beach in NJ. Heck, in that area of the country they charge for everything. When I lived in Buffalo on Grand Island I had to PAY MONEY every time I left the island, even though I lived there. Talk about a racket!! Anyway, glad you had fun.