Wildwood, New Jersey (2008)

Paradise Ocean Resort

Though we’re not usually beach people we were pleasantly surprised when, a few months ago, we were invited by a few of Rick’s cousins to join them in Wildwood, NJ for a Scully family reunion. Rick had not communicated with them much in the past 20 years, and I had never had the pleasure of meeting them. So we booked a room in the hotel they had selected and planned for a trip to the beach.

Driving down was pretty easy. We left the house about 7:30 on Friday; zipped through Vermont, Massachusetts, and Connecticut; had to wait for about an hour in New York to cross the George Washington Memorial Bridge; then made our way through the toll-road slolham on the Garden State Parkway, only getting a tiny bit off track just as we were crossing into Wildwood Crest. Rick’s excellent intuition and sense of direction quickly got us to the hotel just as Tami and Ed arrived.

The hotel looked like a beached cruise ship, white with tropical details and a multi-level porch/patio area off the back overlooking the ocean. Thankfully it was not one of the new over-done highrise hotels, but one of the many remaining theme hotels from the 1960’s. The themes reminded me of a more subdued, beach version of Las Vegas; an interesting combination with the ocean.

We were quickly (re)introduced to Colleen and Jamie and their kids (and one grand-daughter) and joined them on the ocean. We chatted for a bit before returning to the hotel patio for some grilling. After our food settled a few of the kids (myself included) decided to jump in the pool. I had forgotten how much I love swimming.

After the sun went down we moved up to the second-floor patio overlooking the pool. Exhausted after a full day’s drive, we retired at a reasonable hour. The next morning, I rose early hoping for a morning swim, only to find pool didn’t open until 10:00 a.m. So Rick and I headed to the nearly deserted beach to have a look around the tidal pools. I was surprised to see evidence of sand crabs and even a little beach grass on such a crowded beach.

The rest of the group rose and we headed to breakfast at the noisy and overpriced Flip-Flop Cafe, which seemed quite popular. Then we returned to the beach with Jamie, Cyd and Shannon, taking pictures and looking for shells.

The kids had made a speedy recovery from breakfast and wanted to go for a swim in the pool. I decided to wait a bit and parked myself by the pool with my knitting. Tim and Gina were giving Leanna a swimming lesson and I had a blast watching her jump from the side of the pool into her dad’s arms. Eventually I couldn’t resist and I joined the pool crowd for a few minutes, before we relocated back to the sand. By this time it was around noon and getting hot. We rented a couple of beach umbrellas, which were quickly erected by a very helpful teenage beach umbrella dude.

Rick and I were quickly roped into helping Forewoman Shannon build sandcastles Little did Rick and I realize at this point that we had failed to get an even coating of sunscreen on our legs and feet.

Meanwhile, Leanna had been playing with her parents and was eventually due for a nap, so the three of them went back to the hotel for a rest. By this time, I was hot and covered in sand, and Tami had been gently baking herself in the sun for good while, so we decided to join Cyd for a dip in the ocean. I had not been planning to swim in the salt water, but I was so hot and the water so cold at this point that I couldn’t resist. I had a shock getting into the water but once in it felt refreshing. I was surprised how far out Tami and I were able to wade and still reach the bottom. The tide was really coming in at this point and so even though it was a bit rough I felt comfortable. Tami and I were having a great time when we spotted dolphins about 50 yards further out from us. Though we never were very close, it was my first time swimming anywhere near larger sea life, and I understood why people like to snorkel.

We finally dragged ourselves out of the sea and I lay out under one of the umbrellas reading Sheep! Magazine. Rick returned and he and I had a catnap on the beach while Jamie and Cyd headed to the surf shop. Shannon returned and once again enlisted our help, this time in setting a trap for her brother. She devised a rouse by which she would invite him to sit beside her on a beach towel, only to trick him into falling butt-first into a pit. Rick tried to convince her the retribution she might face from Cyd would be worse than the joy she would have at tricking him. But I tried some reverse psychology and, while Rick went to cool his burning feet in the ocean, I dug in with enthusiasm to help Shannon make a deeper hole. After about 20 minutes of eager preparation and gleefully imagining Cyd’s expression as he fell into her trap, Shannon began to doubt the wisdom of her plan. Eventually she talked herself out of it and we backfilled the hole just as Jamie, Cyd and Colleen returned from the surf shop.

After some more beach time we made our way back to the swimming pool, where Shannon and I played at shouting to each other under water and trying to understand one another. We didn’t have much luck. The pool was very crowded so we didn’t stay long.

For dinner Tami had planned a special belated birthday meal for her sister Colleen, with fillet mignon for everyone and a birthday cake. All the family pitched in with various side dishes, and I saved the day with the lettuce we brought from our first CSA basket.

After dinner we decided to head down to the boardwalk. Cyd and Shannon played a few games on the midway and won a couple of prizes (Sonic the Hedgehog and a lovely pink gorilla). Then it was time for rides! Cyd spotted a terrifying ride: basically a small human hamster ball attached on the end of a bun-gee line which launched passengers into the air and left them swinging and bouncing for some time. Meanwhile, Shannon wanted to go into one of those 3-D horror houses and I was elected to join her. While I was happy to be Shannon’s wing-woman those spook houses always give me the creeps and I was glad we weren’t in for too long. Rick then joined Shannon on the carousel.

By this time Jamie and Cyd had determined that the line for the human hamster bun-gee ride was going to be over two hours, so they decided to ride the “Screamin’ Swing” (a very large, hydraulic-powered number). Realizing they would have a bit of a wait for that ride as well, Tami, Rick and I decided to try the “Great White” – an old fashioned wooden roller coaster, while Shannon hung out with Colleen and Ed. The Great White lived up to it’s name. The drops were spectacular, the curves spine-crunching, and by the time we were released we were definitely a whiter shade of beach-tanned.

We joined up with the rest of the group just as Cyd and Jamie were getting onto the swing, and we had a blast watching their faces and listening to their screams. Then it was time for a round of boardwalk food, including waffle/ice cream sandwiches, funnel cake, and soft-serve. We headed back to the hotel about 11:00 p.m.

The next morning Tami and Ed decided to sleep in while the rest of us trucked over to the restaurant in a nearby hotel for a big sit-down breakfast. The food at the Coronado was delicious and we took our time eating it. Rick and I had already packed up the car in anticipation of check-out time. After saying our good-byes the two of us decided to make a quick detour down to Cape May before hitting the road for the long ride home.

If you’ve never seen it, Cape May, New Jersey is a quaint Victorian beach town at the southernmost tip of the NJ shoreline. The architecture is beautiful and the townsfolk have done an excellent job of preserving the old houses, churches and municipal buildings. We were happy to find this community tucked away from the buzz and development of the beach. After strolling about and taking pictures, we stopped in at a dog-breed-fancier’s gift shop where we picked up a Boston Terrier flag for the garden, as well as some note cards. Then we hit the yarn shop that I’d spotted on the way in to town and I bought some beautiful hand-painted cotton yarn which I intend to use for baby sweaters for a couple of friends. (Side note: Why do babies come in waves? We have several friends who had babies about a year ago, and now I have a few more who all seem to be due this year between October and December.)

After the light shopping excursion we piled back into the car and headed towards the parkway. Traffic was heavy and by the time we reached New York City it was at a standstill. Thunderstorms were rolling in and as we neared the George Washington bridge the sky opened up. It took us over two hours to get across the bridge, only to encounter more delays on the other side. Eventually we made it into Massachusetts, the storm clouds parted, and we were able to drive the speed limit again. We high-fived when we saw the “Welcome to Vermont” sign, only to realize that home was still an hour and a half away. I put some moe. on the iPod and we grooved our way home through the dark, foggy night. When we finally pulled into the driveway, we noticed that our friend Justin had started building the sheep barn.

It was past 10:00 p.m. when we got home, but I was antsy from the long car ride and we were expecting a lot of contractors the next day, so instead of going to bed I decided to make some cinnamon rolls for the crew. Rick put some aloe lotion on his burnt ankles and feet and we finally hit the hay at 1:00 a.m. We had an awesome time at the beach and look forward to the next Scully family reunion. Next time we’ll just have to make a couple of modifications: find a way to avoid New York City, and remember to put sunscreen on our feet.

Published by Sarah Scully

Sarah is the owner/operator of Vermont Natural Sheepskins. She is an avid knitter and knitwear designer. She also enjoys cooking and gardening.