A Day in Asbury Park

My daughter asked to go to the beach for her birthday outing. So as a family, we decided on Asbury Park, one of several Jersey Shore points that host Volkksport walks. Last year, my daughter and I did a similar day trip to Barnegat.
We didn’t arrive until close to noon since we didn’t alter the morning routine and then we hit traffic. It’s an easy 90-minute drive from my home to Asbury Park. Their on-street metered parking was extremely reasonable and easy-to-use. 

We first went to the Twisted Tree Cafe, keeper of the Volkksport “walk box” where I had iced dirty chai, child had iced chai, and I also bought a very, very scrumptious vegan ginger cookie. (The total for two chains and two bottles of water was $13.70 and the cookie was $1.50 which I found amusing since six hours of parking cost me $12. But the chai was so good the child kept asking to go back for more and was willing to spend all of her birthday money on chai. So, if that’s not an endorsement I don’t know what is.)

The only complaint I have was that for some reason the café smelled so strongly of onions that my eyes burned. My family noticed it too.
But before we went on our walk, we had to do some potential shopping. You see, there was a paranormal and curiosities shop next to the cafe and a store called Fetish across the street. My husband bought a glass with a ouija board on it at Paranormal. The owner of that shop keeps her merchandise so beautiful and organized it’s a joy to walk through. She has each of her crystals nicely labeled in mason jars. She refers to it as her apothecary system. 

Fetish had some gorgeous clothes, jewelry, collars and lingerie. I fell in love with some brown cowboy boots with laces up the side. Functioning laces. As someone who wore cowboy boots for several years, they enticed me because of my attraction to cowboy-booty and my fascination of things that lace and tie. 

From there we started the volkksport walk with the hope to do the 10K. It was lobster fest at Asbury Park today and some other bridge festival too. The walk is an out-and-back on the boardwalk. Sadly, we made it about a half-mile from the turn-around point on the 10K before we were all a little cranky. And we missed the drawbridge!

But my husband bought me a floppy sun hat. And I would have had a $5 tarot card reading but the lady looked really unapproachable. 

We had massive sandwiches at Vintage Subs: roast beef, salami, turkey and capicola with provolone, oil, vinegar and oregano.
Then, my daughter got to swim in the ocean and I read half a Cosmo magazine. Life is good.

My husband had to drag her from the water (perhaps not literally) and in a quest for water, they somehow managed to score a free full size pizza from a vendor at one of the festivals. 
She picked what appears to be a mussel from the beach and it isn’t dead. It keeps cracking open its shell and doing something. She grabbed it at low tide and now, out of guilt, tossed it in a tupperware container of water. 

Barnegat Adventure


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.)

This allowed us to see how much admission to the lighthouse would be. We stopped at the visitor’s center to use the bathroom and meandered back to Kubel’s as we were starved and thirsty.

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.

We decided to do the 10K. Our adventure took us to see the boats at the High Bar Harbor yacht club. 

 We deviated from the path to enjoy a 1/2 mile walk along the tip of the Atlantic Ocean, then back to the main drag. 

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.

We also stopped at the post office to mail our start cards to the Princeton Area Walkers. 

We finished the day with a climb to the top of the lighthouse. 

After walking about 8 miles before the 217 step staircase, I have to admit my thighs protested heavily at the bottom. Might be the first time I ever had thigh cramps. They still ache a bit today.

 The day was fabulous and I didn’t even get that much sunburn.


Photo: The Magic of Cape May

November, 2006.

My husband and I traveled to Cape May, N.J., for our first vacation that didn’t involve staying in the home of a friend or relative since the birth of our daughter.

The weather had turned cold, so we bought her the hat she’s wearing. Plus a frog raincoat. She refused to take either off for the duration of our trip. This photo summarizes the fantastic adventure.

The sun. The sand. The child’s fascination with touching and exploring. She called the Victorian where we stayed “The Fancy House.” We took her to an arcade and played Skeeball and encouraged her to play a game where she danced on the blinking lights. Her prizes? Some dinky vampire teeth and a finger trap.

A man saw us together on the beach, as the wind whipped us around. He offered to take a family portrait. I displayed it in the living room for years.

Our daughter in the sand at Cape May.

Our daughter in the sand at Cape May.