When we moved three years ago, things changed a lot and we didn't have our not-back-to-school trip. I'm happy to say that yesterday we corrected that and went to the beach to celebrate the first day of school.
The beach in New Jersey is very different from the beaches in Oregon. This was only our second beach trip in the three years we've been here. That first trip was to Ocean City, a resort town with a popular beach and boardwalk. We were stunned and appalled by the beach there. My kids, used to deserted Oregon beaches, hated the crowds - umbrellas crammed so close together they were practically touching; a small swimming area with a lifeguard and no swimming outside the borders. No picnicking on the beach either! That rule was probably made to support the boardwalk businesses.
In any case, my beach-loving family has avoided the beach.
Then we heard about Island Beach State Park. It looked like our kind of beach. Quiet, secluded, concession-free. Dogs are allowed in certain areas.
It was probably one of our most fun beach days ever. We played in the water and sand, flew a kite, ran like crazy, and searched for shells. There were a lot of shells. I don't know why we don't have pictures of shells.
Even teens need to build sand forts.
It was the first time we took our dog to the beach so it was fun watching him react to it. He liked the water except when the waves were coming right at him. He can swim! And he loved it. He was one tired puppy on the way home.
Island Beach is great discovery for people like us who prefer a quiet beach. There is an interpretive center; the rest of the family visited it for a few minutes while I stayed with the dog. It wasn't spectacular, but we have been to a lot of beach interpretive centers so maybe we're a little jaded. There are a few trails to walk but we just engaged in beach play till everyone was tired and the dog was being driven mad by flies.
We hope to go back. But even if we never make it back there, it was a great not-back-to-school day.
(Linked to Outdoor Wednesday at A Southern Daydreamer.)