Jersey Shore, Part 7 (Leftovers)

The Jersey Shore trip came to an end all too soon.  I still had a few things to talk about, though.  Some topics didn’t fit neatly into the earlier categories so I lumped them all together in this final article.  After that, Twelve Mile Circle will hibernate once more until I find something else to write about.  I’m not sure when that will be.  Currently I don’t have any travel plans so it may be awhile.

Rutgers Half Marathon

Half-Marathon Route as recorded on my GPS watch

After the unexpected, miserable ten hour drive to our initial destination where I could barely make it through dinner at a local brewpub without falling asleep, I didn’t feel very confident about running the next morning.  Oddly, I felt great when the new dawn arrived, as if the previous day never even happened.  The course felt pretty comfortable too.  I finished the Rutgers Half Marathon with a time of 1:43:32 in pretty decent shape.

That put me in 180th place overall, although surprisingly it was good enough for third place in my age group.  Sometimes getting older doesn’t suck and I got an extra medal for my effort too.  I kept pace for an even faster finish until we hit the last two miles with a couple of strenuous uphills and had to slow down.  Seriously, what kind of sadistic race director puts the hills near the end?  I still enjoyed the race and I’d probably do it again if I found myself in the area.


In the Casino

I’m not a gambler.  I could probably move to Nevada and live in one of the two towns that ban gambling without any issues.  Of course, avoiding gambling in New Jersey would be a lot easier since it’s not nearly as ubiquitous.  We were in Atlantic City though.  How could I not visit at least one casino?

That said, I had no idea where to stay.  I knew nothing about the wide range of casino hotels available there.  The Super 8 wouldn’t do, naturally enough, although that hardly limited the choices.  A co-worker familiar with such things suggested the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino so we stayed there. Hotels were dirt cheap, subsidized by guests’ gambling losses, no doubt.  We paid half as much at the Hard Rock as we did at any other place during our entire Jersey Shore trip.

My wife gambled double her usual amount… $2!  No worries.  She let me count my counties so I could hardly begrudge a couple of bucks.

Lucy the Elephant

Lucy the Elephant

I love roadside attractions, the cheezier the better, and Margate City included a true icon of the genre.  Various sites on the Intertubes described Lucy the Elephant as the oldest surviving roadside attraction in the United States (map).  I couldn’t prove that claim although Lucy dated back to 1881 so it was genuinely old. Thank goodness local activities saved Lucy from the wrecking ball in the 1960’s when she fell into serious disrepair.  Now she continues to tower over the beach in her original splendor.

Lucy should have been closed that day like the lighthouses.  I stopped to take some exterior shots and found her open for business!  Our lucky streak continued.  We got to go inside and climb the stairs in Lucy’s back leg, and discovered a surprisingly room interior, not cramped at all (photo).  It felt like the cross between a church and a social club.  Then we climbed more stairs to her howdah for great views up and down the beach (photo).  What a fortunate opportunity!

Southernmost Point in New Jersey

Land’s End

I also managed to capture a genuine geo-oddity, the southernmost point of land in New Jersey.  This didn’t make it onto any tourist maps.  I tracked it down all on my own in Cape May (map).  The boulder on the far left marked the actual spot.  For one brief shining moment, nobody in New Jersey could claim to stand any farther south within the state than me.  Not that anyone else cared.  I knew better though.

Cape May – Lewes Ferry

The Ferryboat Delaware

We left New Jersey on the Cape May – Lewes Ferry, crossing the seventeen mile mouth of Delaware Bay (map).  This remarkably large ferry carried about a hundred vehicles; cars, recreational vehicles and even trucks.  I’m not sure it really saved any time even if the overland route followed a large U-shaped detour around the Delmarva Peninsula. That wasn’t really the point.  I’d rather take a relaxing boat ride followed by an easy drive down a lightly-traveled highway on a more direct route any day.

I rode this ferry once before.  In fact, I’m pretty sure this may have been the very first ferry I ever experienced (certainly the first I remembered).  We took a family trip across the bay sometime during my early High School years.  This sparked a lifetime interest in ferries and began my relentless collection of them ever since.  I welcomed the opportunity to return to where it all began.

Articles in the Jersey Shore Series:

  1. Huh?
  2. Boardwalks
  3. Lighthouses
  4. Brewery Renaissance
  5. Positive Signs
  6. A Little History
  7. Leftovers

See Also: The Complete Photo Album on Flickr

Jersey Shore, Part 6 (A Little History)

It seemed like we spent an inordinate amount of time chasing lighthouses, boardwalks, and breweries although we found other things too.  I’ve always been fascinated by historical sites and I scoured the area for targets.  A lot of notable events happened in the northeastern United States.  The Europeans arrived there early so I suspected the Jersey Shore would be promising.

However, oddly enough, it seemed to fall within something of a void.  Europeans did settle there from early Colonial times.  Nonetheless maybe they just concentrated on farming or sitting on the beach.  They saved important matters for Philadelphia and New York and such.  Even so, I found a handful of things worth mentioning.

Fort Hancock

Officers’ Row

The original fortifications at the tip of Sandy Hook dated to the 1850’s,  just prior to the Civil War.  They protected the southern entrance to New York Harbor.  Fort Hancock came later, towards the tail-end of the 19th Century.  Its gun batteries remained in place until the end of the Second World War.  Shore-based batteries became obsolete in the modern era and Ft. Hancock then housed Nike missiles.  That lasted until the 1970’s with base decommissioning.

Many of the structures haven’t been maintained since that time and now seem to be falling into disrepair.  Notice the wooden beams keeping a porch from tumbling onto the lawn on a home along Officers’ Row in the photograph above.  That level of decay appeared typical.  Superstorm Sandy in 2012 didn’t help either.  One former residence has been fully restored though, a lieutenant’s quarters known as History House (map).  It reflected daily life for a young officer and his family in the 1940’s.

Ocean Grove

The Great Auditorium

Ocean Grove, just south of Asbury Park, revealed its pedigree even though I hadn’t been looking for it ahead of time.  I figured it out when I saw the town’s most prominent structure, “The Great Auditorium,” with its large Christian cross.  I assumed it must have originated during the Methodist camp meeting movement of the 19th Century.  Back then, it became fashionable for people to gather each summer — often at a beach — for several days of church services and devotional activities.  Their camps started with modest accommodations.  Those grew into permanent year-round structures and finally into towns.  I described this evolution in 12MC’s “From Camp to Town“.

Sure enough, when I looked up the history of Ocean Grove, it followed the typical pattern.  It dated back to 1869when a group of Methodist clergymen formed the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Association to develop & operate a summer camp meeting site.”  The camp meeting association still owns all of the land in Ocean Grove according to the local Chamber of Commerce, and leases it to residents and businesses.


James Garfield Memorial

I check the 12MC index map whenever I go on the road to see if I might be near any places mentioned in previous articles.  My earlier analysis of Presidential Death Locations showed that James Garfield died on the Jersey Store.  I needed to see that spot in person for some odd reason.

Without going into too much detail, a mentally unstable job seeker shot Garfield at a train station in Washington, DC in 1881, barely four months into his term.  An infection grew in Garfield’s wound, possibly caused by physicians poking and prodding him without washing their hands.  Then they decided to move him to the Jersey Shore to where cooler ocean breezes might do him some good.  Garfield finally died there after suffering pretty horribly.

Anyway, I stopped at the memorial marker in Long Branch, New Jersey, just north of Asbury Park. (map)  Never mind that one of the reviewers on Google Maps said they “thought this was going to highlight a cat.”  Garfield didn’t get  much respect.

Battle of Monmouth

At the Visitors Center

I’ve been to lots of American battlefields over the years.  It’s hard to move anywhere in the Mid-Atlantic region without bumping into the site of an armed conflict, some of them significant and others just little skirmishes.  Still they almost always seemed to date to the Civil War.  Monmouth offered an opportunity to explore an earlier conflict, the American Revolution.

The Battle of Monmouth in June 1778 pitted George Washington and the Continental Army against the British Army under General Sir Henry Clinton.  British troops had abandoned Philadelphia and started marching across New Jersey, hoping to evacuate to New York City by boat.  Washington trailed behind and inflicted some damage along the way.  The battle itself didn’t accomplish much although it allowed the Continental Army to look courageous and Washington to save his job.

It rained heavily the morning we arrived so we couldn’t walk around the battlefield like we’d hoped.  I couldn’t complain too much.  Really, we experienced very little inclement weather the entire trip other than this.  We toured through the visitor center and went on our way.

Double Trouble

Double Trouble State Park

Who wouldn’t be intrigued by a state park called Double Trouble?  The name derived from a cranberry farm that operated on the site around the turn of the last Century.  Apparently cranberries grew well in New Jersey’s Pine Barrens.  Double Trouble included the site of an old company town (map) with bogs covering the rest.  Scenic trails ran throughout the acreage.  We probably spent an hour or two hiking through the woods.

Articles in the Jersey Shore Series:

  1. Huh?
  2. Boardwalks
  3. Lighthouses
  4. Brewery Renaissance
  5. Positive Signs
  6. A Little History
  7. Leftovers

See Also: The Complete Photo Album on Flickr

Jersey Shore, Part 5 (Positive Signs)

I have a thing for signs and I noticed that the Jersey Shore had plenty of interesting things to tell us.  They displayed a tale of my week-long visit down the coastline in words and pictures.  I didn’t intend to search for signs, nor did I have any particular plan to remember them.  They appeared at random intervals and it just made sense to capture them for posterity.

Spiraling Situation

A Long Way to Go

An earlier article discussed the many lighthouses we climbed.  They all featured claustrophobic staircases that corkscrewed ever higher towards the top of the tower.  We’re in pretty good physical shape and it took some effort even for us.  Imagine getting stuck behind people who could barely walk across a parking lot.  Yeah, that happened a lot.  I worried about medical emergencies.

The staff at Barnegat Light seemed to have a wicked sense of humor though.  The first 16 steps didn’t feel particularly daunting although I’m not sure I really wanted to know I needed to go another 201.

Turtles Everywhere

Turtle Crossing

I didn’t saw a single turtle at any point during the week.  Maybe it was still too cold and they were hibernating?  Whatever the reason, signs all along the shore reminded us to watch out for them.  No two signs seemed alike either.  Each community put its own spin on the theme.  Some featured faithfully realistic renderings while others bordered on the cartoonish.  This one seemed particularly cute so I had to stop.


Do Not Pass Go

Twelve Mile Circle once featured an article about the streets of Atlantic City that served as squares on the original Monopoly board game.  I figured I should see a few of them in real life.  Boardwalk seemed the most obvious and of course I went there first.  I only had to walk through the back door of our casino hotel.

Actually, I cared most about one specifically; Marven Gardens.  It wasn’t a street, it was a neighborhood just southwest of Atlantic City.  I liked if for its portmanteau name (because I have a thing for portmanteaus), formed from its location on the border between Margate City and Ventnor City.  Marven Gardens also got extra points because the sign used the same yellow color scheme as its assigned space on the monopoly board.

Special Events

Welcome, Indeed

We encountered an even more interesting sign later that evening about a half-block from the Atlantic City Boardwalk.  Things get pretty low-budget even steps away from the shoreline, with glittering skyscraper casinos giving way to, well, the “special late night rate” at the Super 8.  Maybe the hotel catered to people who imbibed too much and wanted to avoid drunk driving convictions.  They could grab a couple of hours of sleep and then drive home.

Who am I kidding?  I’m sure it appealed to something a little more salacious.

A Little Grabby

I didn’t want to get too close

This sign probably described the Super 8 situation more accurately.  I found it particularly funny on the Wildwood boardwalk because the town promoted such a family-friendly atmosphere.  Nobody could buy a beer in this town although it didn’t seem to have any issue with a pretty obvious double entendre.  More accurately, I supposed, it didn’t have an issue with adolescent humor.  Who other than a ten year old kid would laugh at this?  That didn’t stop me from taking a picture though.  I guess in some respects I still have the maturity of a ten year old kid.

Beach Nutrition

Deep Fried Everything

One doesn’t generally go to the shore for healthy eating.  Here, if something can be covered in batter and deep-fat fried, undoubtedly someone will buy it and eat it.  I ate plenty of funnel cakes at carnivals and the county fair during my youth.  Deep fried Oreos sounded intriguing too.  I wanted to know how someone could deep fry ice cream though.  Wouldn’t that melt the moment someone plopped it into a fryer?  It seemed like such a paradox.  I wanted to know the secret.

Most Welcome

Arriving by Ferry in Lewes, Delaware

Eventually the journey had to end.  We left the Jersey Shore on the Cape May Ferry.  The “Welcome to Lewes, DE” greeted us at the ferry terminal on the Delaware side of the bay.  No more holiday.  Time to go home.

Articles in the Jersey Shore Series:

  1. Huh?
  2. Boardwalks
  3. Lighthouses
  4. Brewery Renaissance
  5. Positive Signs
  6. A Little History
  7. Leftovers

See Also: The Complete Photo Album on Flickr