After one of the coldest and dreariest summers on record in Southern California, I was finally able to get to the beach this season . . . on the other side of the country! It was Labor Day weekend, and I joined some good friends out on the Jersey Shore, and no, it was not the Jersey Shore you are thinking of. This particular section of the New Jersey shoreline was about ten minutes outside of Atlantic City, and the atmosphere was that of a mellow tailgate party. I mean that in the most literal sense because we did, in fact, drive our cars out onto the sand and then set up our beach chairs right in front of our vehicle.
We found a small opening amidst the long row of other parked cars -- right in between the family who was barbecuing sausages, and the chef who had hauled in a deep fat fryer and was in the process of cooking up a batch of chicken wings that he graciously shared with everyone around him. (I don't even like chicken wings, but these were seriously delicious.)
For a moment, I felt like I was back at the Hollywood Bowl, sharing food with large groups of picnicking strangers -- except for the fact that I was on a beach in the Eastern United States, rather than in an amphitheater in the Hollywood Hills, but hey -- details, shmetails. The waves crashing in front of me were also reminiscent of Southern California, and the large silhouettes of casinos in the distance reminded me of Vegas; yet, this tiny little town of Brigantine Beach, NJ seemed to be a patchwork of all of them with its own unique vibe.
The water was warm and clear, and thanks to the residual effects of Hurricane Earl, the waves were rumored to be larger than usual that afternoon. As I dipped my head beneath the salty water and playfully fought with each wave as it came crashing towards me, I couldn't help but marvel at the fact that this was my first time swimming in the ocean all summer long. Here, on the Atlantic Coast, in a place where I rather snobbishly thought the beaches could never compare to my dear, Southern Californian ones.
Just for the record, they definitely held their own, and I couldn't have asked for a better Labor Day weekend.