Living in a Beach Town in the Summer

In January of 2005, Susie and I lived our dream, and bought our beach house in Ocean City, NJ. Located in the north end of town, about 500 feet down the street from the beach, it was truly our home…except during the busy summer months, when we shared our home with some renters, to help pay the mortgage! In November of 2017, we sold our home of 31 years in Mineola, New York, traded our New York license plates and driver’s licenses for the Jersey variety, and the home we bought at the beach in 2005 became our one and only home, and we became full time residents of Ocean City, New Jersey.

Ocean City is the northern most city in Cape May County. Estimates put its 2020 full-time population at around 10,800, but in the busy summer months of July and August, the population of our little beach town is closer to 150,000 men, women, and children. Befitting its start as a Christian Summer Retreat, Ocean City is a dry community. No liquor sales in town, no BYOB at local restaurants, no kegs on the beach. There are, however, two huge liquor stores just outside the city limit, over the bridges on the mainland, in Marmora and Somers Point. We are about 12 miles south of Atlantic City, and we get off the Garden State Parkway at Exit 30, so we are 30 miles from Cape May and the end of the Jersey Shore.

What we love about the place is that for better than 8 months of the year, it’s a sleepy little town. The kind of place where people in the local coffee shop and hardware store remember you, and where neighbors look out for neighbors. In July and August, it’s a hopping resort town, full of families looking to spend their week or two at the shore in our town. Are they all wonderful folks? Not always, but the vast majority of them are long time repeat visitors, who consider Ocean City their home at the shore. For years before we bought in 2005, that’s how we felt. Back when we rented out our house, we had lots of folks that came back year after year, and noted in our guest book that they felt they were home when they moved into our place.

So, how do we adjust during those months when our little sleepy down gains over 140,000 residents? Obviously, with more walkers, bikers, and cars driving around, you must be more vigilant than in say, January. It really seems that for some on vacation, turning their brain to “OFF” is a part of the decompression process. People walking and on bikes may pop out in front of you as you drive down the street. When you’re walking, you run the risk of our visitors not stopping at crosswalks when you’re trying to cross the street. Occasionally you’ll find yourself stuck behind a whole family riding 5 or 6 bikes all the way across the street you’re trying to drive down. Some consider stop signs and parking rules just suggestions, while others will drive down the street at 5 miles an hour sightseeing all the way! So # 1 on our list of Summer Rules is Be Vigilant!

Rule # 2 we try to abide by is only going across town on streets with traffic lights. There are a lot of stop signs in Ocean City, and in the winter months, it’s very easy to go across town on any street you desire. There are also streets all across town that have traffic lights in every block. From about mid-May through September, these are the only streets we use!

The third rule is all about traffic control. There are two exits for Ocean City on the Garden State Parkway. Exit 30 is the main exit and Exit 25 is for the southern end of town. In 2012, a new 9th Street Bridge opened up, replacing the 1932 bridge. Exit 30 leads to this new bridge which in turn leads right on to 9th Street in Downtown Ocean City. As such, it’s the main gateway to our town, and because of that, is avoided at all costs on Saturdays in season! House rentals in Ocean City typically run from Saturday to Saturday, starting between 2 and 3 PM the first week, and ending at about 10AM the second Saturday. Both the bridge at 34th Street (Exit 25) and the 9th Street Bridge need to be avoided Saturday morning as folks leave, and Saturday afternoon as people arrive. If you don’t have to leave Ocean City on a Saturday, DON’T, but if you do, take one of the two secret resident bridges into town! (They’re not really secret, but rather not bridges that most visitors know about or use…all the better for us!) So rule #3 would be to think twice before leaving town on a Saturday!

Ocean City has a great 2.5 mile boardwalk, filled with family friendly stores, places to eat, amusements, and mini golf! On a typical summer evening, it is THE thing to do in town if you are a visitor. However, there are lines to get food, back-ups at the mini golf courses, and lots of people trying to get on and off rides at the two amusement parks. If you’re a visitor to our fair city, it’s a wonderful way to spend the night, but for residents, not so much. The summer of 1983, oldest son Billy’s first summer on earth, we stayed in Ocean City for a week and did the boardwalk. For the next 30 plus years, we came with all three kids, and others, stayed in Ocean City and did the boardwalk. Even the years both before and after we bought the house, when Susie and I came alone to Ocean City, we did the boardwalk! Now, unless we have visitors that need to be on the boardwalk, we just don’t go! I guess rule #4 would be avoid the boardwalk unless necessary!

And then there’s the beach! We are very fortunate that we like going to the beach early in the morning (9-10 AM), while most visitors seem to do things in the morning, and come to the beach later in the day. Some wait till they’ve had lunch, some bring it with them and dine with the sand and the seagulls! By about the time the beach starts getting crowded, we’ve been there 3 or 4 hours, and are ready to head home for a cool drink and some lunch of our own. So, I guess part one of Rule #5 would be to go to the beach either early or very late (like 3 or 4 o’clock) in the day. We also use the behavior of renters as a rule of thumb. For most folks who arrive on Saturday afternoon, Sunday will be their first beach day, and at the other end of the week, Friday will be their last beach day. We find that Sunday and Friday are the most crowded beach days, so part two of Rule #5 is no beach for us on Friday or Sunday!

Rule #6 is simple…take your business elsewhere! While we love supporting our local businesses during the off season, during the summer months there are limited places to go to eat or shop, and lots more folks eager to experience the local businesses. We just find it easier in the summer to head off island for everything from hardware to bagels! Since we bought our house in 2005, we have discovered more things off the island that we never knew existed in all the years we’d been coming to Ocean City since my first year in 1955. We now consider our neighbor across the bridge, Somers Point, to be part of our community, and find it’s easier in all ways to shop there. While we may still run to the local Acme on 8th street from time to time, it’s far easier to shop at the Shoprite in Somers Point, a store that most visitors have no idea exists!

The pandemic that hit in March of 2020 did change things up. Starting almost immediately after we came home from Florida mid-March, we saw more folks moving into their second homes. Many stayed through the summer, and many more than usual were with us all through this last winter. The real estate market in Ocean City is nuts, with very few properties for sale, and the ones that do come on the market, stay available a very short time and sell for sometimes more than asking. Rentals are also very tight, as we hear that more and more new buyers are planning on using their houses, rather than renting. What this will do for the economy and for our Summer Rules is yet to be seen, but whatever it takes, we will adapt and find a way to make it through the summer, counting the days till our beach town turns back into our sleepy little hometown!

Sunday, March 4th, 2018

As I warned you might happen the other day, you didn’t get a post yesterday, so here it is!

We woke to a pretty, if chillier day than we were used to, at the Hampton Inn in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. The temperature was in the 30s when we got out of bed, so we knew that the socks and sneakers were destined to make a return. Our toes were not happy campers! It was the last day of our trip (Day 24), and now that a great trip was almost over, we were looking to get home!

Speaking of the trip being over, we’ve come to the conclusion, that when a trip is over, a trip is over, and nothing you do can change that fact. Something clicks off in your head, and your desire to do any more sightseeing, or make unnecessary stops, is just gone. To be honest, in our original plans, we had two more hotels reserved, and stops at several Atlantic Ocean Island points, but on reflection, we just wanted to get home, so we changed those plans and were looking forward to being home tonight, rather than mid-week.

As we talked about in Saturday’s blog, one stop that we did plan to make, was in response to a text we got on Saturday from Paula and Jerry Mikowicz, Krissi’s boyfriend Mike’s folks. They live in Columbia, Maryland, and wondered if we might like to make a stop off to have lunch with them on our way up I-95. They were supposed to be in New York this weekend, visiting with Mike and Krissi, but the nor’easter on Friday canceled those plans. We had a very nice lunch at Clyde’s on the Lake in Columbia, and enjoyed the conversation we had with Paula and Jerry.

(Lunch Picture – As you can guess, there should be a picture of the 4 of us having a very nice lunch in Clydes, but as we often seem to do, we forgot to take a picture of the food, of each other, or to have the waitress take a picture of the four of us. We are bad at remembering that)

We traveled a total of 391 miles yesterday, staying on I-95 until we crossed the Delaware Memorial Bridge and joined the New Jersey Turnpike. Traffic wasn’t bad, except for a construction delay approaching Washington, DC. We lost about a 1/2 hour there, causing us to meet up with Paula and Jerry just in time for our 1:30 reservation. Speaking about the delay, why is it that so many morons on the road just increase the traffic delay, because they don’t read or follow signs? A big digital sign, more than a mile before we lost the right lane said, “RIGHT LANE CLOSED AHEAD”, but still there were people in that lane right up until the last minute, making the rest of us stop, so that they had someplace to drive! Don’t get me started!!!

Again yesterday, we saw a number of utility trucks heading north on I-95. Saw in the news this morning that there are still a lot of areas without power, so know our friends from the south will be a welcome sight in many neighborhoods!

Once we’re on the New Jersey Turnpike, it’s an easy trip up to Exit 3, where we join Route 168 for a few miles (and a cheap WAWA Gas Station) to get to the Atlantic City Expressway. In less than an hour from there, we transition to the Garden State Parkway, and made the short ride down to Exit 30, and home. A brief stop at the Acme on 8th Street to get some half and half for the morning, and we were backing into our driveway.


We unloaded the trunk into the garage, had a nice relay going up the stairs with our stuff (really could have used Disney’s Boardwalk Resort’s Bell Staff), and we were home!! In case you’re wondering, no Chinese take-out after our lunch in Maryland, but it was good to be home, changed into comfy clothes (or PJs), and started hitting some DVRed shows we’d missed (NCIS and NCIS New Orleans). As great a trip as it was, we are happy to be home!

Susie and I were talking over some highlights of the trip yesterday in the car, and we will probably have a recap post for you this week, but know that we loved just about everywhere we went, everyone we met, and everything we experienced. It was indeed a great trip!

See you soon….

On The Road Again

Well, we are on the road again!! No, not in any shape or form like the way we were a couple of weeks ago, but none the less, we were on the road again today..on our way to Ocean City! We left Ocean City on Saturday, August 6th, and haven’t been back since! It’s the longest time we’ve been away from Ocean City since we bought the house in 2005, and as you can imagine, we were very desirous to get back, but first there were things to do!

As you recall, we got home last Saturday, after being on the road for 9 weeks. As you can imagine, there were lots of tasks that had to be done before we could get back to Ocean City, and that’s what we did the last week.

First, there was laundry! Although she did do laundry on the road a couple of times, nothing had been done since the day we got on the Liberty of the Seas! Susie had 5 loads, which she originally figured would run into the early part of the week. Surprise, surprise…she got it ALL done by cocktail hour on Sunday! Job #1 out of the way!

img_6681Then there were food desires. Twice on the trip, we’d had Chinese..once at PF Changs in El Paso with our friends Mike and Nancy, and a second time in Moab, Utah, at a converted Mexican Restaurant. We were due, so after getting home Saturday, it was Chinese take-out for dinner, along with a bottle of Prosecco! We’d had a lot of pizza on the trip, but not New York Pizza. So Sunday it was time for a Meatball and Mushroom Pizza, Fried Zucchini Sticks, and an Encaldo Salad from Mineola Pizza! Food desires quenched!

Monday it was off to the cleaners. Most of this stuff was summer clothes which we wore on the cruise, but they needed to be cleaned before being put away, so off we went with arm loads! $86 later, and we were ready for the summer of 2017!

Monday, we also stopped by the Mineola Post Office and picked up our mail, that they’d held for us for 9 weeks. They had it very organized in a mail bin, which we dumped into two reusable grocery bags. In addition to bills that I’d already paid, there were a lot of magazines, regular mail, and more election flyers than you’d believe! To be honest, piles were made on Monday, but it took me most of the week to go through it all, pay the bills, and file the rest! This also necessitated that we do some banking too! A couple of trips to various banks, and we were up to date! Every bill was paid on the road, except the landscapers. Although we thought we’d arranged to have them email us the bills, we found two when we got home. Paid that bill, and we were current!

Oh, and did I mention that when I flushed the downstairs toilet the day we got home, water rushed out of the bottom of the tank? Thanks to Susie’s brother Don, it got fixed in a couple of days! Turned out we lucked out and it was the gasket between the tank and the bowl, and thanks to Donnie, it was $8 in parts from Home Depot, rather than a $300+ bill from the plumber! It’s always handy to have a handy brother-in-law! Thanks Donnie!!!

img_6684Then there was the Sonata. She’d faithfully carried us 9,773 miles without a stumble or a whimper, and she deserved to be taken care of. We’d changed the oil in Las Vegas at Terribles about 5,000 miles ago, but she deserved a visit back to see Mike and Mike at C&S Automotive, and a little pampering! Turned out that all she needed was an oil change, and off we went! Oh, and after 9 weeks, she needed a car wash too. I mean a real car wash, not the kind I’d given her on the road! Of course, after I had that done, it rained!

Then there were two visits to Best Nails! On Tuesday, Susie and I went to have pedicures. Yes, I go with Susie and we get pedicures together! It’s nice to be taken care of, and frankly with my knees, it gets hard to bend over and clip my toenails. No nail polish for me, but everything else! Of course, after a visit to Best Nails, we had to go next door to the St. James, and have a drink with our favorite Mineola Bartender, Dennis. A couple of martinis, and a lot of talk, and we were caught up with the last 9 weeks! On Wednesday, we resumed Nail Night, as Krissi took the Long Island Rail Road to Mineola, and Susie had her first manicure in over 9 weeks! Of course, Nail Night also includes a visit to St. James, and this time we were joined by Krissi’s boyfriend Mike! We all had a great time meeting Mike, (he seems like a really nice guy, and makes Krissi happy!!) and it was good to see Mo and our other St. James friends after being away! That would be just the first of many times we’d see Krissi and Mike that week! Oh, and Wednesday morning, Susie also had her first visit to Laura her hairdresser since we’d left. Unlike her manicure, which she handled herself when we were away, Nancy had taken Susie to her hairdresser in El Paso, but it was good to be back to her regular shop!

Thursday afternoon, Susie and her brother Don visited her Mom. Her Mom is 91 years old, has dementia, and has been deteriorating this past year. She’s in a nursing home near North Shore Hospital, and each time they see her, she is a little worse. On Thursday she thought Donnie was me, and although she knew that Susie was her daughter, she had no idea of what her name was. The saddest thing was that she no longer remembers her husband Bob. Susie showed her pictures, mentioned his name, but she had no idea who that was. She’s ready to leave this life, and the truth is, that what she’s going through is really not living. It’s really sad that we are more compassionate with our pets, than with our loved ones.

So after they got home, it was time to return to TR’s in Williston Park for the first time in months! A nice cold beer, a couple of Rough Rider Wraps, and some good talk with friends from our old church made for a great night! We took Donnie to dinner in thanks for fixing our toilet and saving us a lot of money. A good night that I think both Susie and Donnie needed, after spending time with their Mom!

Then it was time for the celebratory time of the week, as our little Grandson Henry celebrated his first birthday! Krissi and Mike took the train to Mineola, and the 4 of us traveled out to Deer Park on Friday for Henry’s actual birthday. Just Billy and Lori, Lori’s Mom Kathy, and Henry’s big sister Layla, and we enjoyed spending some time with our oldest and his family! We’d see Krissi and Mike again on Sunday when we again were at Lori and Billy’s for Henry’s official Birthday Party. Another fun time, celebrating this little bundle of joys first year in this world, with our family and their friends! It was great seeing friends that Billy has had since kindergarten and others that showed up in college! The weather was great, and we had a great barbecue outside, with temperatures in the 70s, and the rain held off till the party was done! A great family weekend all around!

Henry wearing his coonskin cap from the Alamo and enjoying his birthday cake!

Between Henry’s Birthday Weekend, we had a nice quiet night on Saturday with our good friends Pat and Steve. Some vodka, a wonderful home cooked meal by Pat, and the debut of the Sue and Frank D’Elia Our Big Adventure slide show!! A nice relaxing night with good friends!

So that takes us to this morning, Monday, October 31, 2016. We picked up the cleaning we’d dropped off last week, and at 11 AM we were back on the road to Ocean City. A great trip down the Garden State, a stop at Acme on 9th Street for some shopping, and we were home. As I mentioned, it’s been 3 months since we’ve been at the house, and since it was rented for 6 weeks after we left, almost nothing is where it belongs! Today we did the minimum we had to do to get us back into the house, and we’re about to make dinner, and have a martini or two! Tomorrow we will push it, and get the house back in shape, and hopefully Wednesday will be warm enough so that we can take the porch furniture down and power wash it before putting it away! It’s great to be home, and even better to know that when we put the house back together, this will be the last time! That’s because the Summer of 2016 was the last time we will rent this house, so all the stuff that we use when we rent can go, and only our possessions will stay. It will truly be our home, and with any luck, it will be where we officially live by this time next year! A lot of work getting rid of stuff from the Mineola house, but we hope to do a lot of that over the winter.

So that’s what we’ve been up to this week, as we have passed the time between getting home from the road, and heading out again. Ocean City is only 150 miles away from Long Island, so it was a short trip, but when we are at the shore, it’s like we are a million miles away! We’ve already seen our neighbor Doc, met the new dog, Surfer Boy, and are starting to settle in! Time to go, mix the martinis, and help Susie with dinner. I could get use to this!!!


And finally, thanks to all the friends who traveled along with us via our blog.  So many have said nice things about the blog, and how much they enjoyed traveling with us.  It’s great to know that others were reading along with us, and that I was not just doing this for Susie and me, so we’d remember what we did.  I appreciated all the nice things you said about my writing, and I promise you all that I will continue to write, and I hope you will be with me then too!  We loved having you all along, and hope you enjoyed the trip as much as we did, because it was wonderful!

See you soon!