My schedule suddenly opened up for a Monday— no plans for child or myself. The weekend had passed normally, which meant some of it was fun and some of it involved pre-puberty meltdowns every five minutes from my tormented eleven year old. My husband had to work, as usual, on Monday and I wanted to do *something* that would keep the child and I occupied. Preferably fun.
So, over my cup of coffee with my husband in the wee hours, I searched the AVA web site from my phone. We’re members of AVA—American Volkssporting Association, a group that sponsors self-guided walking tours of various points of interest— and our closest thing to a local chapter (Liberty Bell Wanderers).
I found walks in communities anywhere from an hour to three hours away, some in the mountains, one in Hershey, another in Lancaster, history-commemorating walks in Philadelphia, and many in New Jersey, including the shore points.
At 7 a.m., I roused the child and told her if she wanted to take a road trip and do a Volkssport Walk she needed to rise and shine. I consider volkssporting educational (reading maps, following directions, filling out paperwork, and learning about new places) and a good source of exercise since I push for the 10K walk whenever possible. Anything to keep the family moving. In my daughter’s mind, volkssporting means an interesting day, usually with a meal in a restaurant, and the chance to buy drinks at convenience stores.
In other words, a win-win.
I let her pick the destination. This avoids the pouting that eventually happens if “we always do what Mommy wants to do.” The first part of the equation was to narrow down the distance she wanted to travel. She told me she was willing to drive as far as D.C. That pretty much meant anything I might be willing to drive. I thought she’d want to stay a little close to home. But no. She is an adventurer at heart.
She picked Barnegat Lighthouse on Long Beach Island. The fact that she selected a beach did not surprise me, but it did somewhat surprise me that she picked Barnegat when I had offered shore points much closer to home. She opted for the 135 mile car ride.
We didn’t set out until 7:50 a.m., and we had to stop for gas so I suppose our true start time was 8:10 a.m. We hit a bit of a travel snarl on 78E, which could be anticipated at such an hour on a Monday. It kept moving and we only “lost” about ten minutes. We hooked up with 287 and headed down to the Garden State Parkway, making our only potty stop at the Cheesequake Travel Plaza. Having never visited before, we didn’t realize there was a commuter lot and ended up parking— no exaggeration, I clocked it on FitBit— a half mile from the building. Honestly, after the first leg of our journey, the walk felt good.
We arrived on Long Beach Island about 10:30ish. We drove down the island for what felt like forever. Passing beach upon beach was like a tour in itself, like an endless array of possibilities. My daughter turned out to be an excellent navigator.
We arrived at Kubel’s Restaurant at 11:07 a.m. The restaurant had the official walk box. It didn’t open until noon, but we didn’t exactly know that. We couldn’t find any info on the door or online so we decided to walk out to the lighthouse because the official walk had to pass the lighthouse.
It was at this point that I realized I didn’t have my ATM card. This shouldn’t have been a shock as I never carry my ATM card. But usually I am with my husband who has his ATM card. And we were in a tourist area, heavily cash-based. I had something like $29 in toll money left and an additional $9 in our walking binder. I knew, if we climbed the lighthouse, I wanted to reward my daughter with the $15 t-shirt that required cash.
After a quick tour of the area around the lighthouse onto the jetty and back. We happened upon a man fishing at the exact moment he caught a fish. We watched him unhook the fish and toss it back because it was too small. (We also saw a man with a prosthetic leg.)
We arrived at 12:01, got the walk box and a table and had the most amazing mac and cheese ever, baked lobster mac and cheese.
It featured those thick spiral noodles with gooey cheese and a crisp top, with some grated cheese on that, and the innards had peas, cherry tomatoes and get this— diced tiny green beans. Delightful. Truly.
At some point we stopped at White’s Market for cold drinks. I even let the child have a black cherry Stewarts. The lady in the market gave us a paper with favorite things to do on it, and I have to say, the list tempts me to return. It’s an awesome list.