Monday, September 18, 2017

Ocean Grove

Last year, we made a few trips to the Jersey Shore. Really just enough to learn that we weren’t supposed to call it the beach. We tried a few more visits but after one memorable time when it snowed on us in April we gave up. This year, with advice from Royce’s friend, we tried again and found our beach/shore. Ocean Grove.
Just an hour away, it is perfect for us. A straight shot down the New Jersey Parkway (fine for adults to drive, not yet even thinking about allowing Tori to tackle it…). Ocean Grove was established in 1869 by Methodist clergy as a summer camp. There were tents and tabernacles back in the day, with folks coming out from the city to experience the fresh air. In 1894, the Great Auditorium was constructed and I think that is the same huge structure I see today, about one block back from the shore. Around the Auditorium, then and now, are 114 tents. People reserve these summer tents well in advance and must abide by various rules of behavior. We heard that rent today goes for one tent goes for anywhere between $4,000 - $6,000 for the summer season.
Today the boardwalk retains its Methodist feel. At every beach entrance (where in New Jersey, you pay a daily fee to enter the beach- about $8/day), a daily scripture is written on a chalkboard. Near the part of the beach we like, there is a covered meeting area with Christian music being performed most days. There is nothing for sale on the boardwalk, just a view of the shore, backed with beach umbrellas, the sky woven through with planes pulling advertisements behind them and in the water, lots and lots of swimmers. Once when we got there we saw a crowd of people on the beach but no one in the water. Someone pointed and we gazed out into the water and saw a crazy looking big flat fish; a sun fish, maybe six feet long. I for one am always encouraged to see wildlife in New Jersey, which seems so populous to me.
Our approach to the beach this year was to leave when done with morning sports but not to rush. We typically got to the beach by 2-3 in the afternoon and stayed until 6. Easy to avoid the crowds, the heat and to find parking. Phil and Adam on their first boys only beach dive found an ice cream place en route called “Cone Zone.” They stopped twice, coming and going. For better or worse, we always do that now. For a family still settling into Americana, we know that any ritual that brings a smile to all three kids faces is a ritual we are going to keep.


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