Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Let's go down to the shore...

...there's so much to explore, when you find yourself beside the sea!

OK, thanks Moose (gotta love NOGGIN) I'll take it from here!

After a WONDERFUL night sleep at Days Inn, we headed to the Jersey Shore. With the map in tow we found our way with ease. Literally from our motel we were stepping foot on the beach within 5 minutes.

Some very beautiful beach houses line the streets.

We wanted originally to find Bradley Beach, but settled on Avon-on-the-sea because of the "child-friendly" beach with playground that we knew Taylor would want. This was Matt and Taylor's first time to the Atlantic Ocean, so I definitely wanted to get in the water and enjoy it.

The beautiful boardwalk extends for miles along the Jersey Shore.

I didn't get my camera out much, we were too busy playing in the water and building sandcastles, but you can imagine how much fun we were having. I could hardly keep Taylor out of the water. I was getting a bit concerned when the waves started to even unsettle my footing, let alone a 3 year old light weight. The more I waded in the water, the deeper I wanted to get in. According to the reports, the water was a very brisk 69 degrees, but it really didn't feel that cold.

We're heeeerrrree!

After an hour or so, Matt was getting tired of babysitting the stuff, so we switched. I took Taylor to the blanket to build a sandcastle and dry-out for a bit while it was Matt's turn to go swimming. He had a blast! He even found me a sand dollar to bring home. Here I was searching high and low for something, anything and he takes 5 minutes, lol.

The sun, the sand, what a beautiful day!

At the time we couldn't tell, but the sun was really baking us pretty good. The breeze was blowing, the sun peeked in and out of the clouds all day, and we were bobbing in the waves every chance we got. It really was a nice relaxing day. But as you know, all good things must come to an end. We still had more lighthouses to see, and nowhere, once again, to stay the night.

Gathering up our belongings we headed to the boardwalk to the changing rooms. Taylor had sand everywhere! It was even packed in her belly button! After trying to clean as much as I could, we trekked back to the Jeep and headed south.

Taylor "hanging around" the boardwalk.

Just a hop, skip and a jump away from where we were was the Sea Girt Lighthouse in Sea Girt, NJ. This Victorian style lighthouse was tucked away on the corner of two one-way streets. Imagine the frustration trying to follow directions from a GPS that doesn't know the meaning of one-way! Matt and I were nearly ready to chuck the thing out the window when we finally got there.

Sea Girt Lighthouse, finally!

When we finally seen it, Matt told me to jump out and get a couple of pictures while he circled the block again (for the 3rd time) to find a parking spot so we could all get out and maybe stroll in the gift shop. As I finished up a series of photos, I then noticed the sign...Sundays 2-4 pm. Well you guessed it, it's only Thursday afternoon! I could hardly control the hysteria when I pointed out the sign to Matt and he then parked in a parking spot (the same spot he was parked in the 1st and 2nd circle around). This was going to be a GREAT day I could tell!

Maybe we could stay here, lol, I bet this hotel is a bit pricey!

So off we were, continuing south on the Garden State Parkway. We're cruising a respectable 75 MPH or so when all of a sudden...."Mommy, I gotta go potty NOW, I gotta go potty, I gotta go potty..!" So what is a mother to do? I start looking everywhere to find a toilet, and NOW! Matt thankfully pulled off at the next exit. Of all the exits to find, here we are on the worst exit imaginable. Not a restaurant, gas station, business ANYWHERE--it was all residential. I was almost ready to find a nice looking house and see if they could accommodate us when all of a sudden we started seeing medical offices and treatment centers. I told Matt there has to be a hospital nearby, sure enough it was two blocks away! Works for me, hospitals are public places, right?

Well who knew what was coming next would really get my blood boiling. As Matt was pulling up to the main entrance, I hopped out quick to unbuckle Taylor out of her booster seat in the back. A process that takes, what, at the most 7-10 seconds? Anyhow, I notice behind us an older elderly couple pulled in the drive behind us. As I'm pulling Taylor out, the couple start throwing up their hands and cursing at me because I held them up. OK, this is WAR! A word of advice to the world, never, NEVER get between a mother who is taking care of her child, we will fight to the death for our children! So kind, respectful me proceeds to yell back and throw daggers with my looks and gestures telling them in not so many words that they could "SUCK IT" and if 10 seconds is too much to ask for me to safely carry my child across the drive they should have went in the emergency exit or gotten an ambulance. Needless to say they then zoomed off behind me and around Matt once I crossed the crosswalk. So you'd think someone was dying, right? Turns out they were in such a hurry to get to...the last handicap spot that was at the end of the aisle! Now that makes perfect sense...lets put a mother and child in direct danger in a crosswalk, cursing her for taking care of her child, just so we can snag the close parking spot. WHATEVER!

OK, calming back down. I was still charged from my brush-in with the inconsiderate A-holes when I noticed this hospital has a security check-point to go through if you want to pass beyond the main lobby. Of course, the men's restroom is right in the lobby, but the ladies is just past the security. Very thankfully, security must have thought I was convincing enough playing the part of the distraught mother trying to get a toddler to the potty in time (it also helps Taylor is still chanting her battle cry). The nice gentleman gave me a nod when I walked up and we quickly made our way.

When we finished and made it back outside, I asked Matt where the speed-racers parked. He then filled me in on how they got the spot and are still just sitting there. Here they are, not even handicapped, but just using the spot to wait (I'm assuming) for someone to come out of the hospital. LOL.

So now we are heading South again, all emergencies are taken care of, and we should be arriving on Long Beach Island very soon, but that will have to wait!

Until next time...

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Sandy Hook, yes it is.

After leaving the Navesink Lighthouse, we headed across the bridge over to Sandy Hook. The traffic leaving the state park was backed up over a mile, everyone by this time of night was trying to leave. We on the other hand, were trying to get in!

Sandy Hook Lighthouse

We traveled about 3/4 of the way out the peninsula and finally found the light. Wouldn't you know it, the same family we met up in the Highlands were following us to Sandy Hook as well! We couldn't believe the traffic, wonder how long it was going to take us to get out? (keep in mind, we still have no place to stay tonight!)

More of the Sandy Hook light

We stayed a bit and snapped a few photos before we decided to move along and try our luck on one of the beaches. We came across these "battery" is what the sign said. They really peaked our interest. If you'd like to know more information about the Sandy Hook Lighthouse and surrounding area,
please click HERE or click HERE!

battery, I think?

We really struck gold on the tip of Sandy Hook. Wow. It was a long, long trek in some very soft sand. In the words of Taylor, my 3 year old, "Mommy, this is like exercise class!" It was horrid trying to walk through that, but boy was the view worth it! From the beach we got some awesome closer views of the NYC skyline, as well as two more lights, the Romer Shoal Light, and the West Bank Lighthouse.

Romer Shoal Light is only located 2.4 miles due north of the northern tip of Sandy Hook in Lower New York Bay.

West Bank Lighthouse is west of the Romer Shoal Light in the Lower New York Bay.

While enjoying the view, we were surprised by an unexpected visitor that came passing by...

...this HUGE Ocean Liner came cruising by, nearly 100 yards off shore! The wake alone created a tsunami effect that sent us running back from the water's edge.

We gathered some shells, but left this "shell" alone. At this point we didn't know what we had found yet, but we would learn later on the beach in front of us was loads of Horseshoe Crab. As much as Taylor wanted to pick them up, we had no way of transporting that thing.

A female Horseshoe Crab Carcass on the beach.

Time was slipping away, and we had the task of finding a place for our heads for the night, one last shot of the beautiful bay, then off we went.

The calm before the storm.

If you refer back to my post about the Navesink Lighthouse, this lighthouse and surrounding military base is definitely in the same category. It is on my list of places we need to visit again! Maybe if (or when) we visit NYC we can make a stop back here?

So now we're driving into the night. GPS both helps and hurts. No matter if we used it or not, we could not find the motel we were planning on staying at for the night. When the GPS said we arrived, we were in the middle of a mall parking lot. Humm, maybe its under that asphalt?

Plan B, find a different motel. After getting the jerk around by Red Roof Inn* (litterally, the "boy" was a jerk!)we found our haven....Days Inn in Neptune, NJ.

*ok, side note...why publish coupons when you are NOT going to honor them?? I had 3 Red Roof Inn coupons and the "dude" behind the counter didn't know how to use the computer, so he didn't know how to enter the codes in to give us the discount. Come on?? The only code he said he knew was the AAA discount. He was such a tool, I took my coupons and left, thank goodness I did!

Drum roll please....THIS was WAY better than Red Roof Inn!

Days Inn...our #1 pick, look, our room was so cute!

The staff, the price, the location, brand new rooms...all were an A++ here! It was late, almost 9:30 pm, we haven't ate since lunch at noon, and we are DEAD TIRED! The woman behind the counter gave us a super great rate and even pointed us in the direction of our favorite pizza splurge..Papa John's! She even gave me a great map and directions for the following day on short cuts to the best beach!

Papa John's Pizza...the good ole' days.

Hands down, Days Inn in Neptune, NJ. If we're in the area again, we will look you up! I even told the woman we'd see her next year as I took a business card. So the end of the day, all is well that ends well.

Up and at them at 7 am for a super breakfast, and it was free! Off to the beach we go for a relaxing day in the sun, but that's for later!

Until next time...

Friday, July 24, 2009

Jersey, am I seeing double?

Hi guys! Long time, no see! How's life been treating you? I told you about an upcoming trip a few weeks ago, and now I'm here with some cool photos of our first ever trip to the Jersey shore!

So without further ado...

Our first stop after a LONG 11 hour drive was the Navesink Lighthouse or Twin Lights as it is more commonly known.

Taylor did very well with the long trip.

These lights are definitely on our list of favorite lighthouses that we have visited. The area itself was very breath-taking, and I really wish we would've arrived earlier in the day to be able to properly tour them. I found a really good website with more information, if you'd like to check out the Twin Lights, please click HERE.

The first sight up the VERY steep hill was the north tower. The massive lights look very fortress and somewhat intimidating. Matt said by far these are his favorite. To me they look more for protecting and defense other than guiding, but what do I know? Whatever your feelings, wait til you turn around. Across the harbor from the lights is New York City! NYC is very visible, and depending on the day (it was a bit hazy when we were there) you can see all the way up the Long Island coast!

A look at NYC from the Twin Lights, yup, that's the Empire State Building! You could almost touch it!

We walked around, seen two baby fawns, and helped a family get a group picture of themselves in front of the NYC skyline. I look back now and wish I would've gotten a few more shots. I really think I was too excited to finally be in Jersey that I was rushing myself.

Matt and Taylor standing in front of the Navesink "Twin Lights" Lighthouse.

We also played around a bit, this was the first "extended" time out of the Jeep the whole trip, so we all wanted to stretch our legs.

Taylor sitting on the "Mystery Canon".

The lights were so massive, I could hardly get both towers in one shot! They really do look neat on their own though.

My artsy B & W shot of the South Tower (it's a new feature I found on my camera, lol).

I really loved this lighthouse; the view, the history (what we learned on our own), the lights themselves, I was impressed. If it wasn't so late, we would've stayed longer. Unfortunately though, it was a long travel day and we hadn't yet found a motel to stay for the night. We definitely will stop again, maybe if we ever plan that trip to NYC? Moving on, our next stop was Sandy Hook Lighthouse....but that will have to wait!

Until next time...