Jessica’s Beach Vacation

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: *Happycry* 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: *Happycry*. Let me share. I’m speechless, but *Happycry*. I added this series to my Happiness Box for 2020.


Album: Jessica’s Beach Vacation

Tattoo #3: Calvin and Hobbes | Old Glory Tattoos | Asbury Park, NJ | 19 July 2020

So, I did something on Sunday night that I’ve wanted to do since November, when a coworker at my full time job told me that whenever her son travels, he gets a tattoo of a symbol of the place.

I love Calvin and Hobbes, thought this was fitting for me and since I love Asbury Park, I decided to get it done there.

I had to make an appointment well before my trip. I decided to get it my last night in town.

5pm, tattoo time at Old Glory Tattoo Company in Asbury Park! Marz, my artist, ended up taking me back at 5:30.  Marz was an absolute joy! I was going to take a video, but I only managed to take a few selfies since I was engrossed in talking with Marz and watching him do my tattoo (since I couldn’t for the other two).

In Basque Spain, Hobbes is called Harold since Hobbes doesn’t translate. My choice made him nostalgic and it was happy chatter. He also taught me some of the Basque language as we listened to Basque and some Spanish punk rock. The shop was nice since they had their own rooms and he had control of the music. I also loved watching him create. At 6:30pm, I had Calvin and Hobbes and I was all smiles. I found my artist and every time I go back to Asbury Park, I will go to him.

Jared and Michelle, my host, were impressed. I shared the tattoo on Reddit and Reddit was impressed. I’m impressed, I’m verklempt and he charged me what was charged for my 2nd, with minimal work. With all the work that was done, I got a bang for my buck. I love quality at an affordable price. I’m just so in love with my Calvin and Hobbes tattoo.


Thankful Thursday 16 July 2020

V-A-C-A-T-I-O-N in the summertime! Tomorrow I leave for vacation; 3 days of quiet, peaceful bliss. I’m uninstalling Instagram, muting Reddit, Gmail, Yahoo and – no social media while I am away. It’ll be a time to focus on myself and hopefully see a friend or two.

Since our daily Zoom mindfulness meetings scaled back to once per week, on a Monday, Avi and Joel started a Torah and Bible Study Zoom group on Wednesday. I’m so grateful they did because it’s growing my faith. I asked Avi and Joel to pray for safe travels for me and they did. They also wished me a great vacation. We prayed for others. COVID-19 has been a difficult road for all of us, but there have been some beautiful moments to come out of such darkness.

While I was on my walk yesterday, I ran into my aunt’s old neighbour. Before he retired, he was a photographer for the Inquirer, and in 2014 and 2015, he let me borrow some of his equipment and some books. I’d say I haven’t seen him since 2018 and it was so nice to see him. He asked me if I had been photographing lately, I told him it has been hard with the quarantine, but I was heading to Belmar, Spring Lake and Asbury Park on Friday. He smiled, said they were great picture locations and he hopes I can get some of the sunrise and sunset. It was so nice running into him, he was walking one of his greyhounds.

This morning when I woke up, I watched the sunrise and it took my breath away. I was so grateful for the simple beauty. I turned on Bob Ross and he was painting a sunrise, which also took my breath away. I probably won’t get sunrise on the beach, but I hope to get sunset.

I reached out to my photography group from work – it has been a few months – but I asked for some help with my GoPro. I’ve pulled out my GoPro and the last time I used it was last summer, when I still had my old phone. I’m trying to sync my GoPro with my new phone, but I forgot the WiFi password I had to set up. I Googled it, but it doesn’t seem to work. Unfortunately, no one owns one, they weren’t sure, but sent some directions that I’ll try later. I had a nice back and forth with both Linda and Suzanne, it felt great to be chatting, and I was thankful they took the time to respond, even if they could only send a link. They both said, “be safe and don’t forget the sun screen!” Typical moms, but I appreciate them.

Deborah Lew Harder also played my request for Schubert’s The Trout yesterday and wished me luck with the packing, plus a nice vacation. I love At Your Request on both the classical and jazz portions and I love how the DJs make it feel like they are talking to you. I’m going to put together a classical playlist for the beach. Let me share it with you:

I’m really excited for my trip. Dad will drop me off at the train at 6 AM and I will leave Philadelphia at 7:15 AM. I’m thankful for dad, just as I’m thankful for my family and friends. I’ll be back Monday afternoon; I took Tuesday off from work and I will return to blogging on Tuesday.

What are you thankful for today?

10 Years!

A decade of being a nose pierced beauty! I’ve always wanted to have a nostril piercing and on Thursday, 15 July 2010, mom and I were coming home from a business trip in Brandywine, MD and before we stopped off at Main Line Tattoo and Piercing, I called to see if they took walk-ins and they did.

At around 4, we arrived, a piercer and tattoo artist greeted us, I filled out the forms, he checked my ID, and 15 minutes later, he took me back to pierce my nose. He said, “keep still and don’t flinch because your nose will split if you move.” I told him I understood. He cleaned my nose, raised his hand and quickly put the needle and gem through. I had my nose pierced and after it was pierced, I passed out. It didn’t hurt at all, but I was hungry and the room was humid. He gave me a lollipop and I perked back up.

Mom and I left after I perked back up. She said, “wow, looking good!” Went home, took photos, and enjoyed my piercing.

15 July 2010

10 years later, I still love my nose piercing! I had the ring put in my nose in April 2016, before I went to Toronto. I had planned on taking it out and going back to a stud after my trip. However, I decided that I loved the ring and I still have it in! The only time I had it taken out was for my MRI and they put a plastic stud in instead. After, I had the ring inserted. I am still a nose pierced beauty! Also, while my 21 year old self was lovely, I’m digging my 31 year old self even more. Ü

15 July 2020

Contemporary Beach Playlist (And Pillow Packing Update)

I’ve been enjoying listening to all of the summer playlists that Amazon music has. Today I am going to share the contemporary beach playlist of pop and hip-hop favourites.

Released in 2005, I remember hearing this on MTV the summer I turned 16. Between watching Valley of the Dolls and Beyond the Valley of the Dolls with Nan, we would watch music videos and Nan’s responses to hip-hop was interesting. She liked the beat of some and she would like to dance to this tune. I was heavily into heavy metal, so I didn’t openly listen to Sean Paul or other hip-hop at that time, but it is catchy and I have no problem listening to this song now.

Well, well, well, I guess that is a good dedication. I miss hugs and the selfies with strangers. Maybe this year I’ll get socially distant selfies with strangers. 🙂


Admittedly, I like listening to this song when I’m both ice and roller skating. Bruno Mars has grown on me and I like working out to his music. I’m dancing in place as I type this. Aunt Marie also loves Bruno Mars, as does dad, so it looks like people from every generation loves him.

As I’m catching waves, I’ll think of his motivational speech on the Geico commercial. Surfing? Swimming under a big wave? What do you say DJ Khalid?


I guess when one packs early, they can see what works and doesn’t work. I’m bringing my pillow and mom gave me a bigger suitcase so it’ll remain safe in COVID times. I’ll pack it when I get up on Friday.


I’ll just have to find a bigger bag (but smaller than my beach bag) for the snacks and breakfast items. I think I have an idea! I’m really excited for my beach vacation. Three days of bliss!

Packing 5 Days Early

My trip is next Friday, a long weekend between Belmar and Asbury Park. I’m so excited to be travelling again that I packed 5 days early! My pillow isn’t pictured, but I’ll be dragging it on a train and bus!


My pillow can’t fit into the suitcase and I don’t feel like buying an extra pillow bag, so I Googled “travelling with a pillow” and apparently a lot of teenaged girls will carry pillows on long flights and bus rides. I’m not going to feel ashamed about carrying the pillow and I will be very careful with it.

Aunt Kathy gave me the mug cakes for my birthday and I’m going to bring them along for a snack. I’m going to pack some oatmeal, so I don’t have to eat out for breakfast as much.

I’m really excited for my trip! I know the Air BNB will be clean and I’m grateful that the home owner will let me use her kitchen. I’m only eating dinner out. I have my masks packed, hand sanitizer, and slips for the Happiness Box Project.

Thankful Thursday 9 July 2020

It’s a warm Thursday in Pennsylvania; we’ll be in a heat wave for the next week and a half. It’s supposed to extend into next weekend and it’ll be a perfect weekend for the beach. I can’t wait for next Friday-Monday.

Last June I bought a really neat shirt at Infinite Body Piercing. I wore it to Pride last year and I also used it in the pools and ocean, to protect my skin from the sun. I always have to wear a t-shirt into the water and keep covered because I burn to a crisp, I don’t really tan. Anyway, last August when I went to Knoebels with the Browns, I accidentally left it there. I was so sad.

I kept thinking about that for the past few days and I kept thinking, “that shirt would be perfect for swimming in the ocean!” I decided to go to Infinite’s website and sure enough, the shirt was back in stock for the summer. I ordered it and I’m proud to announce that my awesome shirt arrived in the mail today, along with a lovely, happy note, and a sticker! I love Infinite and I just love the staff.


I’m also thankful that the playground is opened and I can swing again. I can tell others are happy that the playground is opened too.

What are you thankful for?

It was an itsy bitsy teeny weeny plain black bikini (and other oldies)

Since last week, Amazon has transitioned into summer/beach playlists. I was happy to see that they had an Oldies Summer Beach playlist. I’ve been listening to it non-stop. Here are a few of my favourites:


(I’m not sure why it’s on a beach playlist… but I’ve been listening to it… Shady, please explain why this would be on a beach playlist)

(This one is my personal favourite)



(Motown is my instant go-to)









I’m going to wear my itsy bitsy teeny tiny plain black bikini with pride and love. I am a beautiful young woman and I love myself.

I’m going to jam to these hits while I’m going to Belmar, NJ. 9 more days!

Travel in the Time of COVID-19

I was an OCD child and teenager. Whenever mom, dad and I would travel, I would bring my own pillow and blanket. I was terrified of germs and I knew my sleeping supplies were clean. True story: I used to inspect silverware at restaurants and if I saw markings on them, I would ask for a new set of utensils. I was a joy to travel with.

I could get away with bringing my pillow and blanket because my parents would drive to our destinations. Whether it was New Jersey or Baltimore, it was easy to get back and forth. Even when I traveled with mom on business, I would do the same thing.

That all changed when I started traveling by myself in 2011. I don’t drive and packing my pillow became too much on flights, especially since flights would charge extra for extra suitcases. I probably could have gotten away with a pillow on a bus and train, but by 2011 I wasn’t thinking about it even though I was missing my pillow and blanket.

Dear readers, that is changing this year and I’m channeling that OCD younger me, the younger me that wasn’t ashamed of her OCD tendencies and wasn’t told to let them go like she was in college. When I go to Belmar in 11 days, I am packing my pillow, a light blanket, and extra towels. I’m only going for three days, so I don’t need to pack a lot of clothes. Mom is letting me use one of her bigger suitcases so I can pack my pillow. I won’t get charged extra on the bus.

When mom and dad went to Cape May last month, they did the same thing. My dad is OCD and usually doesn’t go that far, but they thought bringing their own pillows and towels was important. They stayed in a motel, I’m staying in an Air BNB.

I will be extra careful this summer. I will bring my cloth mask and I’ll bring paper masks for the beach. I am also packing hand sanitizer, along with my sunscreen. I will still have fun while being careful.

31 Candles, Picture Yourself at Jessica’s 31st birthday celebration

This morning when I woke up, I had two cards waiting for me on the breakfast bar. One from my parents and the other one from the Boy.


I began to listen to WRTI’s Classical Coffee House with Debra Lew Harder since I requested Stars and Stripes Forever on Wednesday. I missed the first two hours and although I had 4 more hours of the show, I only listened to a half an hour more since I went roller skating.

I went to the local playground and let’s just say, I’m going to try the skate park next time. I think Summerfest has been cancelled, so I’m trying to (carefully skate on my own). I brought my GoPro, but since I forgot to set it up on my new phone, I attempted at the playground and no luck. Another family was there and I asked the guy, but he had no idea. Dejected, I said, “today is my birthday and it seems like my day didn’t get off to a great start.” His 4 year old daughter must have overheard me.

But, I didn’t want that to define me. I put on my skates and skated to another bench. I brought my flag over and instead of using the GoPro, I put my phone on a timer. At this point, the four year old was on the swings and said, “Happy birthday! My birthday is next month! I’m going to be 5!” As I was skating back and forth for different poses, we kept chatting, until her dad said, “how about you leave her alone, she’s trying to do something.” I said I don’t mind chatting, which I didn’t. After the photos, I skated for a half an hour.

The playground is opened again! After skating, I decided to cool down on the swing set. It felt so nice to be able to swing again. Happy birthday to me!

Went home, watched You Bet Your Garden, then mom, dad, and I went out to lunch. We went to Habit Burger and had to sit outside.

After we got back home, it was around 12:30 and Classical Coffee House had ended. I decided to check the playlist and saw my request was last. I tuned into the archive and oh my, what a wonderful surprise.


I then noticed the mailbox door was opened, so I walked outside and I had a surprise waiting for me inside the mailbox:

It was a beautiful card from the Browns! They always remember my birthday and I’m so grateful for them! Next month Grady turns 30 and I’ll get him a little something. When I make the greens again, I will save some for the Browns.

We also watched the Nathan’s Hot Dog eating contest in Coney Island! What a site to behold, especially since the contestants were separated by plexi-glass. The announcers were in masks and there was no crowd. Eating contests in the time of COVID-19! Joey Chestnut won, again, and beat his record by 3 hot dogs. He was 72 last year, 75 this year. I was reminiscing back to Coney Island and can’t wait to get back again.

About an hour later, I heard a knock at the door and it was Aunt Kathy. Another beautiful surprise! She hung out for 15 minutes, and I’m so grateful for her as well. I’m glad she could stop by.

My birthday dinner was a clam bake, which was delicious. I ordered a gluten-free Angel Food cake from Amaranth bakery and yum!

We ended the evening with fireworks.


What a wonderful birthday and I’m so grateful for everyone in my life, even during COVID-19. I hope my American readers had a great Independence Day!