Let the summer soundtrack begin! Let the music set the mood as you follow along with Jessica’s adventures.
I started my trip early on Friday morning. SEPTA was virtually empty and when I arrived at the Greyhound Bus Station on Filbert Street in Philadelphia, I had to order my NJ Transit bus ticket from the machine. I’m glad I only bought a one-way ticket because when I got onto the bus going to Asbury Park, the driver told me to keep my ticket and use it to come home. NJ Transit is honouring all tickets for the entire summer. That saved me $22.50 coming back home! What a lucky day.
As I was riding the bus to Asbury Park, I switched on Amazon music and this was some of my playlist for the next 4 hours:
I arrived in Asbury Park at 11:15 am, checked into my Air BNB at noon, and was greeted by an adorable Husky and a cute gray cat that reminded me of my aunt’s old cat. They were both friendly and became my new furry friends during my stay.
My lucky day kept getting better! Once I arrived at Belmar Beach, I didn’t notice anyone at the badge booth, I asked the boardwalk patrol guys if the shack was still opened and they told me the beach was free today! Friday was overcast, so I guess that is why they gave everyone a freebie! There weren’t a lot of people on the beach, but that is okay because I enjoyed the water. The waves were rough, and the rip current kept pulling me to the rocks. I had to keep mindful and kept swimming back to near where I was sitting.
I had fun swimming and diving under the waves for 4 hours and after, I decided to take photos of the beach. Since the beach wasn’t really that crowded, the seagulls were pests. They were going up to people, sitting on their towels, stealing foods, you name it. The young couple I was sitting near told me they had to chase the seagulls away from my towel because they were pulling it, looking for food. They may be pests, but they make decent photo subjects!
I walked back to my Air BNB; a half an hour and it was so hot. When I finally arrived, Michelle, my host, greeted me and we chatted. I realized she had another cat, Twigs. Twigs wasn’t as friendly as Roots, and after some smelling, he welcomed me.
Dinner at Barrio Costero and all the food except the churros were gluten-free. I ordered chips and guac, then shrimp tacos. Delicious! I went back to my Air BNB and fell asleep. I was wiped out from the travelling and beach afternoon. I noticed I was burned.
Saturday, woke up and ate breakfast. Twigs greeted me and had breakfast with me. I was so happy that he warmed up to me! I walked down to Belmar Beach and ordered a smoothie from Playa Bowls. I also bought a surf shirt to protect me from the sun. Since I was getting a tattoo on Sunday evening, I didn’t want to get sunburned even more. While I put on 100 SPF, with how rough the waves were on Friday, I didn’t want to chance it. I did bring a shirt, but I wanted something else for protection. Eastern Lines Surf Shopped helped me and I got a shirt that was 50 SPF. Between the sunscreen and the shirt, I was in the water for 7 hours and my body didn’t burn. Only my arms and face were red. Woohoo!
Between a smoothie at Playa Bowls and the Surf Shop, then music I heard on the beach, my soundtrack for Saturday:
Saturday on Belmar Beach was fun and crowded. Full sun, heat and humidity, it drew a crowd. We were all able to socially distance, even in the water. The waves weren’t as rough, but I still enjoyed swimming and diving under them. I saw a crab swim by me and he hung out with me for five minutes before the waves took him further out to sea. That was a neat experience. I loved that. I also chatted with someone from Yardley and he was telling me the ocean was calmer than last week, last week the rip currents were extreme and pulling people out.
In photos the following photos, this family was camped out next to me. Their two year old just loved the water and didn’t want to stay on land. His energy was infectious and they were friendly to chat with.
The following photos are just the signs of the time:
After 7 hours in the water and the heat, I didn’t feel like walking back and ordered a Lyft. Got ready and at 5pm, I was off to Allaire State Park for Allaire Arts Alive. Allaire State Park reminded me of Valley Forge Park and the performers were amazing! It was a peaceful and serene evening. I ended the evening at Cavè Bistro in Avon-by-the-Sea. Another highly recommended place on Find Me Gluten Free and it was delicious. I experienced eating dinner at sunset and the experience was beautiful.
Sunday, I knew I couldn’t swim as long since it was Tattoo Evening. I went to Spring Lake and sadly, their daily passes were sold out. I went to Spring Lake with Taylor in 2012, we had such a great time and I wanted to go back. That’s the wealthy people beach (LOL!) and only had limited passes for COVID-19. I took a few boardwalk photos, then took Lyft to Belmar Beach. Bought a daily badge and swam for two hours. The waves were calm and even though it was an abbreviated day, it was still fun.
After, went to Playa Bowls, got my Mermaid smoothie and they made me apple juice. As I was waiting for Lyft, I was texting back and forth with Jared, trying to figure out where we were going to eat after my tattoo. All of the gluten-free places I suggested were booked, so I suggested Barrio Costero and our reservations were for 7pm. My appointment was from 5-6pm, but he wanted to make it a little later just in case.
Went back to my Air BNB and I hung out with Michelle for the rest of the day. I told her I was getting a tattoo and I also said, “I hope you don’t mind me hanging out. Usually, I would just go to Catsbury Park in Asbury Park, but since things are closed, it’s hard.” She said, “I don’t mind at all. Yeah, you don’t want to get burned before your tattoo.” We watched Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix, chatted and the cats hung out with us.
I’m glad Jared made the reservation for 7! After I was done my appointment, I walked down to Bangs Avenue and met Jared at Barrio Costero. Even though Calvin and Hobbes was covered, a little bit of the word bubble showed. Jared was impressed with Marz’s work. We had the waitress I had on Friday night and she was surprised to see me again, we laughed. I ordered the shrimp tacos again, Jared ordered pork and we split guac and chips. Jared ordered more shrimp tacos and we shared those.
Jared and I have been friends for 8 years, we met in 2012 at the Packers/Brown pre-season game in Green Bay, WI on 17 August 2012. We caught up in 2016 in Asbury Park, meant to catch up in 2018 and 2019, but schedules conflicted. Last night we were able to finally get together!
When we were first seated, Jared said to me, “you inspire me. I love how you just live life to the fullest, take photos and document everything. You’re not afraid to go anywhere alone and you have a wonderful sense of adventure.” He also admires how I document everything, how I capture memories and scrapbook them. He still has the first scrapbook I made him of his little girl (long story, but she lives in the Midwest and every time a photo was shared with him, he shared with me and I made him an album in 2018 for Christmas). I was speechless because sometimes I feel so self-conscious about my quirks. All I could do was this: and thank you.
After dinner, we drove down to Asbury Park beach and took photos along the beach and boardwalk. I’m so grateful to have him as a friend and it’s been an honour for the past 8 years. I just love the positivity and energy. It’s crazy that August will be 8 years since we met at the Packers/Browns game in Green Bay, WI.
Soundtrack with Jared:
At 9, Jared dropped me back on at my Air BNB. I washed up and Michelle was excited to see my tattoo. Michelle loved Marz’s work too and was just amazed with the quality. After, I walked downstairs and her new guests were watching Hamilton. They invited me to watch with them, I found out the young lady was from Lafayette Hill and her boyfriend was from North Jersey. Michelle’s living room was set up to allow social distancing, so we enjoyed Hamilton socially distant. I was grateful that they invited me to watch with them. It was a good evening.
I left at 8:30 am on Monday, got home at 1:45 pm. I had a wonderful vacation filled with joyful memories and it felt just felt wonderful. My soundtrack was a bit different coming home:
When I got home, I reinstalled Instagram, Jared tagged me in one of his stories and I did this again: . Let me share. I’m speechless, but . I added this series to my Happiness Box for 2020.
Album: Jessica’s Beach Vacation