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After tiring of waiting in vain for my schedule to produce a real "beach day," my family and I decided to take what we could get, and headed to the Jersey shore after church on Sunday May 16th. (As in, play the postlude, hang up the choir robe, throw the kids and beach umbrella in the car, and HIT THE GAS! :)
This will probably only be of interest to others coming from the Mid- Hudson region, but I decided to try the "other" route south to NJ: Taconic, Sawmill, Tappan Zee, Garden State. This seemed about 20 minutes faster overall than the Mid-Hudson Bridge, Thruway, 287, Garden State route which LOOKS just about equally good on the map, so this will probably be my preferred method in future. (Some friends of mine prefer to avoid the parkways, so your results may vary, but I used to make weekly trips to Westchester county, and nearly always use the Taconic route for drives into New York City, so I'm accustomed to the parkways' bat-out-of-Hell traffic. :)
We were there about 2:15pm-5:15pm altogether, and when parking, I was astonished to find spaces available in lot G -- I've never gotten in there before! Air temp near the shore was lower 60's, water temp mid- 50's, with a persistent sea breeze to remind you of both temperatures, so that no doubt accounted for the lower turnout. I'd say there were perhaps 200-250 at Gunnison in the afternoon, but these consisted almost entirely of the most determined nudists, of the sort who says, "I'm going to the beach TODAY even if it KILLS me." (: Over 90% of the beachgoers were either nude or had just thrown a T-shirt over their lack of swimsuit because the wind was just too much. I guess this confirms any suspicions one might have had that nudists, like surfers, are a more intense and devoted class of beach bum than your average beachgoer. ("Who ELSE would be at the beach on a day like today?" :) My own son, the budding polar bear, was determined to attempt a dip in the ocean even though my wife and I had repeatedly warned him that the water wasn't warm enough yet to swim in. He believed us after about two and a half seconds. (:
The sunlight was quite consistent though not at 100% full intensity, shining through high, thin and wispy fair-weather clouds. Standing or lying out in the sun, the temperature was actually pretty bearable (though remember that I am probably in the "determined nudist," read "crazy," category myself :), especially with some physical exertion to stoke one's internal body heater, to which end I joined the volleyballers. Actually I was initially just standing around watching, and then was pressed into service to fill in one side. There were a few small kids in the game, so it wasn't at all serious. Even WITH liberal "house rules" like play-off-one-bounce, two service attempts like in tennis, and a shortened court to accomodate the small number of players, we were hilariously bad. I was reminded of why my college scholarships did not have the word "athletic" in them. (: We were joined at one point by a European lady with bronchitis who ended up being pretty much the best player, if that gives you any idea. She was at first rather astonished at how much we were "cheating," but she caught on to the spirit of the thing. Actually, we were lucky if we could even serve the ball into the court given that the wind would blow it halfway towards the boardwalk on the slightest excuse. The "team" I was on ended up losing one game, winning one, and we all had lots of laughs. By the way, though I have played volleyball in the ancient past, this was my first experience with actual nude v-ball at a beach, and as I'm sure anyone who has tried it would agree, it is the only way to play!
Beach was quite sandy as always, but there seemed to be quite a bit more broken shells, driftwood, and dried seaweed residue around than I remember being usual. Not sure if this stuff simply gets trampled into the sand once there are higher numbers of walking feet, or if some kind of beach cleanup is done before the big Memorial Day kickoff. I was pleased to see that the small snack trailer located directly on Gunnison Beach was open! I spoke to two of the operators, who confirmed that they will indeed be open again this entire season. I mentioned to them the nasty rumors (which appeared on rec.nude if you recall) that they were going to be closed down, and they said, "Yeah, they hit us with that possibility every year, but it hasn't ever happened yet." A while ago someone was inquiring about dogs on the beach. There was a sign at the Gunnison boardwalk entrance saying "No pets after March 15, shore birds nesting." I assume this to apply to the oceanside beaches, since the bayside beaches normally allow pets (?), but it certainly rules out that fellow who wanted to bring his dog with him to Gunnison before Memorial Day rolled around.
We stopped at the Perkins on Rt. 36 near the Garden State Parkway entrance for dinner on our way home. I haven't been to a Perkins in years, but I used to go to one all the time when I lived in Rochester, so we decided to try it. Perkins is kind of like an upscale Denny's. Big dinner portions and a nice-looking selection of fresh-baked desserts. I had a nice lemon pepper chicken which was QUITE lemony and QUITE peppery even by my "they-just-can't-make-it-spicy-enough" standards. So there you have it, a bit on "Spring Conditions" at the big G. I hope for and expect many more visits to come this summer. --JMF
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