Not so Shore
For the first time since last September (which is way too long), I had a chance to visit "my island." (AKA: the section of the NJ shore where my parents reside.) With my father's health issues and all the cold and ice we had this winter, I hadn't had an opportunity to go "down to the shore."
It will be three years this October since Sandy. If anyone tells you the Shore is Restored, I'm going to flat out tell you they are lying. The shore is NOT restored. That's not to say progress hasn't been made since the super storm devastated the area, but things are still a LONG way from "normal" or restored.
Driving down Route 35 is still a sad experience. While heading south you can't help but notice the "gaps" in the landscape. Where homes once were there are no more. Certainly there are homes that have been repaired, but it seems that there are at least half that are "missing" or in disrepair.
The road itself is still a mess. Road repair has been going on for nearly 3 years. Although I'm not sure what repair has actually been done? It's less of a highway (not that it ever was much of one) and more of a "cone zone." If I had a dollar for every cone or barrel that lines the highway I would be a very wealthy woman. It sometimes feels like every cone or barrel that has ever been manufactured currently resides on Route 35, as you stay to the right of the road, then are forced to the left and then back to the right. I'm not sure that there is a part of the road that is NOT under construction! It's not pretty now and the season starts in just a little over a month. I don't see that much getting fixed in time for the summer season, which means another nightmare for those who want to travel to this little island for some fun in the sun.
Going to the beach is sad too. I'm not sure how one gets to the beach. The entrances that I knew from the time I was a child until 2 years ago are still for the most part closed. I found one opening, but there was no way to get down to the water as the wall that has been erected to protect the land leads to a shear drop. It is not yet finished so I was able to walk on the "top" until I found a section that had not yet been "walled" and was able to carefully walk down to the water line. While I understand this wall will protect the island (and I'm all for protecting it even though I am pretty certain that before the century is over it will be no more), I saw no evidence of how people could "get down" to the water. Again, summer is only 2 months away and Memorial Day is even closer. (Which we all know is the true start of the "shore" season).
Saddest of all is walking around town. Again there are houses that are missing; torn down and not yet rebuilt. (More continue to disappear every time I visit.) Homes for sale that have been damaged. Homes that I know have been part of families for longer than I have been alive. Homes that they can no longer afford to keep or repair. Home that will be sold (eventually), torn down and replaced with elevated McMansions leaving nary a grain of sand undeveloped.
I must be getting old; I miss the NJ shore of my youth. Small summer homes on the bay or beach where kids played and swam. "Back in the day" you could swim in Barnegat Bay. Of course you didn't want to touch the "yucky" bottom. Entire days were spent at the beach; maybe you went home for lunch because there was no food allowed on the beach. (This was back when people actually paid attention to the signs and rules were enforced.) The scent of salt air and Coppertone was everywhere. (And the "highest" SPF was 8.) We shopped at the five and dime. (One of which thankfully still exists and still only takes cash.) We ate at the pizza joint (there was only one or maybe two around.) There was no watching TV at night because the reception was always lousy. Outdoor showers were the rule.
Some semblance of those days DID exist into the 21st century. But now, like everything else, they have eroded away. I realize things must change, especially in the wake of a Superstorm like Sandy, but it's sad to see the landmark Catholic Church which took up "huge" plot of land between Rt. 35 N and S by 7th Avenue being turned into a parking lot for construction vehicles. (With the eventual plans of the building being torn down and 21 homes being put up.)
I grew up at the Shore. I love the Shore. I miss the shore that I grew up on. With all this "restoration" I'm no longer sure about the NJ Shore.