New Jersey was a planned but unexpectedly nice adventure. From Tarrytown, New York, my husband and I drove down to New Jersey, and these are our experiences and my impressions of the Garden State.
Since my husband and I chose to cross the Hudson River via the Tappan Zee Bridge at Tarrytown, we didn’t enter New Jersey over any well-known bridge like the George Washington Bridge, infamous now for Bridgegate. We did, however, travel through the heart of Fort Lee, and it seems to be a nice residential area that feeds the work force of NYC.
Then, we made it to Newark, and it was the epitome of what I envisioned New Jersey to be: old, dirty, industrial areas. I did not like the Newark area, and even the road system in the Newark area was difficult to follow, which is why we ended up on a freeway when we wanted to travel roads that took us through communities. Certainly, Newark is a center of commerce and travel with the port, the trains, the airport, etc. Had I gone no further than Newark, though, I would have had no desire to ever return to New Jersey.
Lucky for us, we did not stop our exploration in Newark. For some unknown reason, I had felt drawn to make our hotel reservation for Saturday night close to or along the Jersey Shore, and since were wanted to use Priority Club points, it was to the Holiday Inn at Manahawkin we were headed. We could have booked closer to Atlantic City, but my step-mom warned me of the realties of that area, and we decided is was the Jersey Shore we wanted to see, not the gambling joints and slums.
To stay where we did was a good decision. After a quick nap, we went exploring and found ourselves on Long Beach Island. It was beautiful even if mostly cloudy, windy, and on the cool side. At the beach, we found people flying kites, jogging, playing in the sand, and walking their dogs. The tide was coming in, and the waves were magnificent.
Driving the full length of the island north to south (at least I think it was north to south), on the utmost end we found a lovely old lighthouse. Barnegat Lighthouse and the surrounding park were lovely. Then sun was fully out by this time, and we found people fishing, walking dogs, and tourists like ourselves exploring here.
We retraced our tracks and headed south the full length of the island. The whole time we had been looking for signs of Sandy’s damage. In the middle and northern areas, while it was obvious there was some new construction and some repairs, it was not enough to make us say, “This is because of Sandy.” When we reached the most southern third of the island, the opposite was the case. In fact, the most of the beach area was gone, and the bulk of what was left had warning signs and were barricaded.
We walked were we could, an too our surprise, when we looked off in the distance from this end of Long Beach, we could see faintly in the distance the high rises that we assumed belonged to Atlantic City. It may not have been, but it was some large city with high rises near/on the beach of the Jersey Shore.
As we had driven the full length of Long Beach, we watched closely for restaurants that were not only open but also busy as it was almost dinner time. We stopped at a seafood place. It was busy but small, and we were not wanting to wait for 45 minutes to be seated. Lucky for us, there was take out, so we ordered and took our food to the hotel to eat. My husband, the seafood lover, was thrilled with his “catch.”
Sunday morning, we began our drive back to Tarrytown, New York. This time we did not get on the freeway; we drove the road closest to the shore, and enjoyed this immensely. A diner caught our eye at Twin Forks, and we turned around to go back to eat breakfast. The food was delicious, and once again, we found that the servings were huge, especially for the price paid.
It was this drive that made my husband and me agree that perhaps New Jersey did deserve the title of Garden State. I’m so glad that we did not allow Newark “be” New Jersey for us because this state is much more than that city. I look forward to seeing New Jersey again now.