As a kid, I never liked having a summer birthday (no exclusive classroom celebration, and everyone was away on vacation when we tried to schedule a party), but as an adult I love the fact that my birthday is at the end of July. That way, when I take the day off work, I can spend my time down the shore! Being by the ocean is like escaping to another world for the day, and there’s no greater birthday gift than being surrounded by blue skies, sand, the roaring ocean, and the bustling summertime boardwalk. So that’s where Bryan and I headed this past Friday!

View of the Atlantic from atop the Wildwood ferris wheel

Although it’s a bit of a longer drive than some other beaches, Wildwood (also known as The Wildwoods, a collection of communities) is quickly becoming one of my favorite destinations. As I mentioned in my previous post, it’s where my parents, little sister, and I used to go every summer in my youth, and part of my love for the boardwalk is due to nostalgia. But get this! The Wildwood boardwalk was named one of National Geographic’s Top 10 National Boardwalks, along with Atlantic City. New Jersey pride!

Wildwood's famous tram car

True to its doo-wop theming, even the Wildwood Wawa fits right in.

Due to my sensitive skin and high burn risk, I generally don’t like to lounge on the beach, so Bryan and I spent our time walking the boards and taking in the sights.

Stay classy, Jersey.

We love the 'Wa!

The shore is supposed to be cooler than the mainland, but that was not happening on Friday. It was hot, humid, and 100% disgusting. My skin was so slimy that putting on sunscreen felt like rubbing oil onto wet skin. We tried to cool off by catching a breeze on spinning rides:

Felt nice and breezy atop the giant ferris wheel!

Camera face off!

Gliding around the pier on a flying pirate ship

Trying to make it like “the good ol’ days,” I encouraged Bryan to go on some thrill rides with me. I used to ride the Condor all the time as kid; you sit in a hanging cage, it spins, and then–while boomerang spinning at the same time–the cars ascend a beam high into the air. “It’s like the Teacups in the sky!” I exclaimed.

The "before" face

What I soon realized as the cars began to climb several stories up is that I am not a kid anymore. As one who gets nervous walking too close to the balcony rail on the upper level at the mall, I should have known better than to willingly fly high into the sky in a suspended metal cage. Halfway up, I had to squeeze my eyes shut and attempt some deep breathing. The spinning was what was doing me in. Ugh.

White-knuckled death grip

I’m a roller coaster enthusiast, so Bryan and I patiently sat outside The Great Nor’Easter, waiting for it to open. The ride is a standard steel suspended looping coaster, the kind where your feet hang.

I love loops and corkscrews and all that jazz, and this is nothing new to me. However, what my body was not prepared for was the intense jostling this ride creates once you soar down the first hill. I wanted the ride to be over as soon as it descended, when it started to feel like I was in a car accident rather than on a roller coaster. My whole body was getting knocked around, and it was nothing like the smooth sailing of Medusa Bizarro over at Six Flags Great Adventure, which is one of the most pleasantly thrilling coasters I’ve ever been on. The only redeeming quality the Nor’Easter had was its spectacular view atop the first hill; at the last clackety-clack, you felt like you’d be dropping straight off into the Atlantic Ocean.

But no, instead you endure about a minute of violent shaking, exit the attraction feeling like your car has just tumbled off a cliff, and you wake up the next morning with bruises on the back of your legs.

Needless to say, traumatized by two childhood rides, I opted to skip the terrifying Dante’s Dungeon (which I never even liked as a kid, because it incorporates live actors who pop out of the shadows). Besides, the exterior is frightening in and of itself.

Me: “I used to ride this stuff all the time as a kid. What the heck happened?”

Bryan: “You realized that you are mortal.”

Me: “Well, there’s a nice birthday sentiment.”

OK, so maybe at 31 I can’t stomach the rides that thrilled me at 10, but one thing that doesn’t change with age is devouring boardwalk pizza for lunch.

In Ocean City, Mack & Manco’s is the #1 pizza purveyor; in Wildwood, it’s simply Macks.

And nothing washes pizza down like some Kohr Bros. custard!

After being out in the sun for so long, Bryan and I beat the heat by escaping under an old pier, enjoying the shade and cool lighting.

We rounded out the day with a game of air hockey (I lost miserably, 7-0), miniature golf (I beat Bryan by one stroke!), and take-out back home from IndeBlue for dinner (because who doesn‘t want hot and spicy Indian food after a 95-degree day at the beach and a broken air conditioner at home?!).

As for my actual birthday yesterday? I woke up feeling more tired than when I went to bed (most likely from being out in the sun all day), answered the ringing doorbell at 8:30 a.m. wearing short shorts stained with tomato sauce and a tank top without a bra (hello, Sears air conditioner repair man!), dilly-dallied around all morning before finally going to the gym for some swimming, and then put myself together for a family birthday dinner at Bertucci’s.

Looking for a party trick to make birthdays better? Have someone take your picture as you do “raspberry” lips. My sister knows how to entertain.