The other day I finally fulfilled my desire to spend a day down the shore. I get anxious and antsy when summer weather kicks in and I have yet to see the ocean; summer is already so fleeting, and I feel like once Memorial Day hits, a countdown clock to doomsday (cold weather, dark nights) starts ticking. I have do everything NOW!

I feel very fortunate to live in such an area where I can grab a few dollar bills, spare quarters, hop in the car, and in just over an hour be surrounded by surf and sand. I was giddy on the car ride down, my anticipation and excitement doubling once I hit the rest stop on the AC Expressway.

Signage that tickles me pink. The beach beckons!

Going over the causeway...the final gate to Ocean City!

The causeway, which links the shore points to Jersey mainland, is like the rainbow to Oz. Once you cross over the bridge, only good things lie ahead.

I made the mistake of taking off my sandals to walk from the boardwalk to the ocean. I was expecting the sand to be hot but not scorching. It was like walking on burning coals, and I nearly collapsed onto a stranger’s blanket just so I could save my feet. I could feel the heat rising from my soles to my knees to my thighs; it was an awful, awful feeling, and I thought I was going to need medical attention.

Save my feet!

Relieeeeeef. I made it to the ocean just in time.

Bad sand!

One of my most brilliant decisions of the trip was to wear running shorts for the day, the kind with the built-in underwear. It was so stinkin’ hot and humid that day, even down the shore, so I felt pretty relaxed and comfy. 🙂

Smiles all around!

I was by myself that day and didn’t have my photographer husband on hand to snap shots of me by the ocean. So I was so happy when I found a woman lying on the beach who volunteered to be my interim photog. It turns out we live only minutes away from each other! She was so friendly and encouraged me to “work it” for the camera!

In fact, I had a really great time connecting with people that day. I struck up conversations with shopkeepers, a guy playing a djembe on the boardwalk, a teenage boy who didn’t want sprinkles on his custard (“That’s so un-American!” I said), a group of seniors who needed help taking pictures with their cell phone, the owner of a hippie clothes/jewelry store who told me fascinating stories about sweat lodges and a customer from Nepal, a girl who was cheering to a group of friends on the beach:

and a group of teenage girls eating ice cream on the boardwalk:

I loved them so much that I asked to take a front-facing shot of them. They were all giggly and honored.

I took LOTS of people shots over the course of the day. The boardwalk and beach is a smorgasbord of photo-worthy individuals.

Girl on beach gets happy text message.

Looks like it could be a cover of a Baby-Sitters Club: Beach Edition book.

"I like long walks on the beach..."

Half and half.

One fancy beach chair!

Even scruffy guys eat custard.

I was a bit obsessed with taking photos of older couples too. They are cute and romantic, and it made my heart swell for my own husband.

This could totally be me and Bryan in the future. "My aching hips!"

It didn’t help that I had PMS, and I was passing all of these “memorial” benches on the boardwalk. They all seemed to be dedicated to older couples and dead spouses. I got really choked up at times!

The boardwalk really is a perfect “resting” place, though. It’s nice to just sit down and observe the sights, sounds, and smells around you.

That's Atlantic City somewhere behind the haze.

Don't get caught walking in the bicycle lane on a busy day. You'll get run over!

Even the TV stations find the boardwalk worthy of broadcasting:

She flubbed up her lines several times. It was fun to watch her keep re-doing the scene.

The insides of the shops along the boardwalk are also entertaining.

All the jewelry you need, and then some.

Christmas 24/7/365.

Need to hang this in the bathroom at work!

Pseudo shout-out to my blog!

Fudge making!

...at least I HOPE that's fudge...

Finished fudge.

Bizarro cheap clothes and junk shop.

Salt water taffy heaven.

As you can see, one of the BEST parts of being down the shore is the food. Sometimes a trip to the boardwalk really isn’t so much about catching waves or feeling your toes in the sand as it is about deciding what treat to eat next.

My eating adventure began with lunch at the Bashful Banana. It’s tucked off the main drag and is one of the only places on the boardwalk where you can get vegetarian, vegan, and clean, healthy eats.

Veggie burger on multi-grain bun with mushrooms, onions, Swiss, and turkey bacon. Side of fresh fruit.

Relaxing lunch in the shade.

I returned to the Bashful Banana a few hours later for my second treat: their famous “Banana Whip” dessert. It tastes like custard, but it’s only frozen banana + water. No dairy, no binders, nothing but fruit. I ordered a banana + strawberry whip with peanut butter chips, walnuts, and fudge sauce made from fruit.

The bottom was nothing but the peanut butter chips and fudge sauce. Mmmm...

For dinner I hit up Mack & Manco’s. It’s sacrilege to visit Ocean City and NOT get Mack & Manco’s pizza.

My final treat was Kohr Bros. custard. Although I love the vegan options that Bashful Banana serves, I do not follow a vegan diet and do not hesitate to get a classic vanilla custard with chocolate sprinkles/jimmies.

My visit down the shore lasted from noon till about 7:15, when I reluctantly decided to walk back to my car. I passed an older couple on their cell phone, talking to a friend: “It’s a little breezy right now, but the sun is shining. It’s beautiful. It’s just a beautiful day down here.”

A day at the shore contains so many stimuli, and driving home proved just to be as engaging. I swerved to avoid a giant turtle crossing the highway, and then I drove from blue skies to what looked like the end of the world. Black clouds–not even gray–loomed in front of me, and every time lightning flashed I could see the sunny sky behind all the doom and gloom. It was wild–and scary! An intense ending to an otherwise peaceful day.

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