Thursday, August 13, 2009

Misadventures Down The Shore

By Molly McGrath

Since I was six I have spent one week each summer in Wildwood. This year’s vacation began like any other—wake up at the crack of dawn, load the car, pile in, and head for the Garden State Parkway. Here, my misadventures began.

Misadventure #1: The philosophy of “wake up early to beat the traffic” has become a farce. By 8 a.m. the traffic was backed up just to get on the parkway and our E.T.A. of 10 a.m. was quickly pushed back to 11:30. A minor setback in the grand scheme of things, but a pain in the butt nonetheless.

Misadventure #2: Attempting to walk on the Wildwood Boardwalk between 9 a.m. and noon. One morning my mom and I decided to go for a walk. Minutes after arriving a loud “BANG!” rang out. A gun shot? A car backfiring? Oh, no. No, no. A rental-bike-tire-blowout. I kid you not. One second this man is having a great time riding his adult-size trike down the boards and then suddenly he’s swerving uncontrollably and trying to regain his balance. It could happen to anyone. It could happen to you. And if it doesn’t happen to you, you could still be the poor pedestrian who gets his foot run over. No one is exempt from rental bike misadventures between 9 a.m. and noon.

Misadventure #3: Attack of the killer salps. Ok, so they weren’t “killer” exactly, but they sure were gross. Cape May County was inundated with what seemed to be baby jellyfish—salps. The problem got worse and worse each day until they were piled as thick as slush in the winter and you could leave footprints in them. One man on the beach even suffered from salp-infested chest hair (uh, ew). And how about the thousands of mussels that washed up in Ocean City last week… sorry I missed out on that one.

These misadventures happen to us all—seagulls attacking us for our food (my own grandmother once took a wing to the back of the head and lost her sandwich in the fight), small children driving into us on their bikes, drivers from *insert-least-favorite-state-here* slowing us down… and yet we keep coming back. The traffic gets worse, the crowds get bigger, the salps attack… And yet every summer there we all are.

The Jersey Shore is an undeniably magical place. Why? Because it’s where we’ve all grown up. It’s possible to overlook the misadventures because of the things that always stay the same: the way your heart beats a little faster when you see the ocean for the first time in a year, the smell of salt and the sound of the waves crashing when you first set foot on the sand, the way the lights on the ferris wheel and the sounds of kids laughing instantly make you smile and remember that… down the shore everything’s all right.

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