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Solo at the Jersey Shore

When Philadelphians talk about going “down tha’ shore”, we mean any of the beach towns from the southern tip of New Jersey (Cape May), north through Long Beach Island. Any further north than that and you run the risk of entering a 7/11 and running into people wearing New York Giants and Yankees caps — enough to ruin any self-respecting Philadelphian’s vacation.

As newbie empty nesters, my husband, Steve and I bought a beach house in Brigantine, New Jersey. When we informed our sons about our purchase, they were dismayed.  “Why’d you buy a house in Brigantine?  There’s nothing to do there.”  Exactly!

Life Saving Boat on Brigantine Beach

Life Saving Boat on Brigantine Beach

Our beach house has turned out to be a wonderful place to get away from it all or, more precisely, to get away from it enough. Brigantine is only a 70 minute drive from our Center City Philadelphia apartment, but I can feel my husband relax as soon as we drive across the causeway onto the barrier island.  It’s close enough that coming down for long weekends during the summer is no big deal. Our house has a “poor man’s” water view — not of the ocean and not really of the bay. Whatever. We have a sunset view over the water —- not so easy to find on the east coast of the United States — what with the sun setting in the west and all.

Sunset Over St. George's Thorofare, Brigantine, New Jersey

Sunset Over St. George’s Thoroughfare, Brigantine, New Jersey

We’re a two lap top family, so on most days, even down tha’ shore, you can find one or both of us working away at our dining room table. Somehow it seems less like work when you can see salt water and boats if you look up from whatever very important thing you’re working on. There are breaks for bike rides, beach walks and dog walks.

I’m a recovering lawyer, self-declared blogger, so if there’s no aged parent crisis, I get to stay down tha’ shore while Steve has to return to the fort from Monday morning until Thursday afternoon to personally provide eyes-on guidance to the researchers in his lab and to attend a seemingly endless number of meetings.

I miss Steve, but I’m not sad and lonely.  I kind of like doing whatever I want to whenever I want to.  I can surrender to my phase delayed circadian rhythm disorder and turn into the ultimate night person. I can turn on my bed side lamp to read at 3:00 a.m. without feeling guilty. I can indulge my political junkie choice of TV shows without driving Steve insane. Meals are not balanced — and maybe don’t even qualify as meals (don’t tell my mother — or my kids).

Path to the Beach, Brigantine, New Jersey

Path to the Beach, Brigantine, New Jersey

Tonight was a perfect solo Brigantine evening.  I fed the dog and walked a mile and a half on the beach to Miss B’s. Miss B’s is the quintessential beach town ice cream place — only open in the summer, only window service and only icy treats. Tonight’s dinner was a Delaware Valley specialty, a “gelati” with chocolate water ice and vanilla soft serve ice cream.  A “small” was monstrous. (BTW, I am well traveled.  I realize that in Italian, the singular for Italy’s signature ice cream is “gelato”. But, in Philly and down tha’ shore, “gelati” is singular.  More than one is “gelatis”.)

Chocolate Water Ice and Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream Gelati

Dinner: Chocolate Water Ice and Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream Gelati

At 7:30 p.m. the lines at Miss B’s would be too long for my patience, but at 6:30, it’s just me. As I admired my gelati at one of the outside cement tables, a grown up couple walked by and looked from me to my gelati to their watches. I returned the stink eye.  “Whaat? I’m not ruining my dinner.  This is my dinner!”

I languorously enjoyed every spoonful of my gelati and headed back down to the beach for my walk home. The beach is almost deserted. It’s mostly just me, except for the seabirds feasting on the low tide fare.

Path Home Through the Dunes, Brigantine Beach, New Jersey

Path Home Through the Dunes, Brigantine Beach, New Jersey

I arrive home to a white fluffy face staring out the storm door, in time to catch the end of the sunset over the water. I feel content. I want to write about it. I’m not lonely. I might even indulge the dog in a game of tug-of-war.

Dino Hopeful That Someone Will Play With Him

Dino Hopeful That I’ll Play Tug-of-War With Him

Read more from Suzanne Fluhr on her blog, Boomeresque

Suzanne Fluhr, Travel Editor

Suzanne Fluhr, Midlife Boulevard's travel editor, is a recovering Philadelphia lawyer, empty nester, wanderer, dog person and Zentangle® enthusiast. She also writes about Baby Boomer travels for the body and mind on her personal blog, Boomeresque. Instagram: Boomeresque2

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Claudia Schmidt

Monday 4th of August 2014

Sounds like heaven! I would love to be all alone at the beach, for a few days. I love the water - it's so soothing. Enjoy!


Saturday 2nd of August 2014

Lots of time to make your Zentangles. I always wanted such a private, low-keyed get-away. Lots of time and room to unwind from the crazy, stressed-out life of the city. Thanks for letting me see what you see and giving me a moment of such relaxation. The view out your window is priceless and needs to be in a MasterCard commercial!

Maddy Resendes

Saturday 2nd of August 2014

Your piece/peace makes me yearn for some peace and quiet - somewhere easy on the eyes. Just visited Crater Lake in Oregon - that place qualifies, but, of course, had to zip in and out to get back to nagging responsibilites! Sigh....

Steve Albelda

Saturday 2nd of August 2014

Sounds like a great place to hang without your husband.

Suzanne Fluhr

Monday 4th of August 2014

Yes, Dear. But, I like it with my husband too. Without him, I'm pretty sure I'd be spending summers in some hot city somewhere.

Helene Cohen Bludman

Saturday 2nd of August 2014

When my kids were young they asked the same question. "Why here? There's no boardwalk." Exactly! Now they appreciate the low-key atmosphere as much as my husband and I do.

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