“Cause down at the shore everything’s alright
You and your baby on a Saturday night
Nothing matters in the whole wide world
When you’re in love with a Jersey Girl
-Tom Waits Sung by the Boss

My wife Janet is a Jersey girl. Even though she was born and raised in Pittsburgh, she spent a lot of time at the Jersey Shore. As a kid, during high school and college, she spent summers working on the boardwalk selling crabs and Ziggies, doing other summertime part time jobs, and being a waitress. She stayed with her aunt and uncle who insisted that Janet and all the cousins got summer jobs to augment their fun times on the beach and on the “boards.” beachwater
While working as a waitress, she had a boss who said,” fugheddabaddit” for everything. ” Hey, how is the Pastrami today?” ” Fugheddabaddit. ” Hey, can I have a day off tomorrow? ” Fugheddabaddit” ” Hey what is the weather like tomorrow?” ” Fugheddabaddit. Don’t you just love the Jersey accent and demeanor? It is no wonder that we go every year on the annual pilgrimage to Avalon, NJ. We just can’t help ourselves with the tradition and the feeling that you get when you cross that bridge into New Jersey and then smell the salt air in Egg Harbor. IMG_0254
A lot of Pittsburghers have gone elsewhere in the summer. The Outer Banks, Myrtle, Florida. But most of the hard core Pittsburghers still make the pilgrimage to the Jersey Shore for a myriad of reasons. We go with two other families and have done so for years. So many traditions have been established down there like Mack and Manco pizza on the boards with Johnson’s caramel corn. It is now Mack and Mack but basically the same pizza on the boardwalk in the evening watching the show of visitors and tourons that frequent these parts in the summer. As I previously mentioned, the local folks who have businesses down there who survived the hurricanes and just keep working and rebuilding, are typical of the New Jersey mindset. My knuckles get white from squeezing the steering wheel when I enter the state and I always remark that these people aren’t good enough to drive that fast. But you get guys like old man Moran at Moran’s Dockside who will sell you blood worms, clams, shrimp and every other kind of bait in the world every day with a deadpan look on his face. When I told him the last time that I am having no luck with all the bait that I have purchased each and every day, he looks at me and says,” Too hot to fish.” ” Bad time of year.” So I say,” Then why did you sell me the bait? ” He says ,” You wanted to fish.” Gadda love these folks!!! So I am relegated to fishing with my buddy Dean Denmead and on occasion coming up with Satanic catches like eels, horshoe crabs, turtles, dogfish and the occasional snow tire. But it is all part of the tradition. Even when the land breeze flies bite your legs so hard during the baiting of the line. It is like they sense that you are trying to get ready to fish and therefore are distracted enough to allow for them to feast on your flesh. downsized_0715091352
For me, the only way I maintain sanity is to ride my road bike with Mike King from Avalon to Cape May in the mornings. The early morning sunrises, seeing the crabbers under the draw bridges, and smelling the salt air is intoxicating. Part of the visit is to stop at Nun’s Beach in Stone Harbor and get the new T shirt for the year that commemorates another season at the beach with the pending surf contest sponsored by the nuns at the convent on the beach. Don’t tell me the Catholic clergy has it tough. Dinners at Sylvester’s with the fantastic fresh seafood eaten from paper plates on a picnic table may not be haute cuisine but it sure is Jersey. The corn, the tomatoes, the lazy days on the beach- people watching, are some of the things that Janet talks about all year. Fugheddabaddit.

So, in a few weeks, we will pack up the vehicle, bungee the beach chairs and fishing gear to the roof, put the bikes on the rack, and head east. And the reason you do it every year is because everything’s all right when you are in love with a Jersey girl. Thanks for reading.

A Really Fast Week of Cycling

beachwater ” OK- the diaper is changed, Janet is asleep, it is o dark hundred Monday morning, I am out of here. Wow! what a glorious day to ride at the beach.” ” Stop at Kohler’s and order the sticky buns, pick them up on the way back.” ” Nice tailwind- feeling pretty strong surprisingly after that brutal drive.” ” Looks like the crabs are coming in pretty good for the folks on the bay.” ” Ok- up over the drawbridge- hi there Mr. Drawbridge keeper.” ” Wildwood came pretty fast, maybe I can make it into Cape May and turn around quickly?” ” Whoa- what was that? A quarter pounder with cheese just missed my head. I think that guy in the car just called me a forking icehole? Not sure what that meant but better keep riding.” ” Oh man- what a headwind!” ” Wow- this is harder than I remember.” ” OK- here I am at Stone Harbor. Crank it in the headwind a little more. Ahhhhh- Avalon- Cooler by a Mile sign.” ” Hi Jan- I will be just a minute. Lets get all the gear, the stroller, Pack N Play, cooler, chairs, I feel like a Sherpa.” ” Nice evening- Jack is down. Relax.” ” Good night dear.”

” Tuesday- another great day. Yes- Jack. I won’t be long. We will go to the beach buddy. Daddy just needs to get his ride in.” ” Oh yes- we will build the castle.” ” I will be back soon.” ” Man- another tailwind. Good thing- I have to hump it down to Wildwod and probably turn it around. He wants to hit the beach and dig. Spend about 4 hours straight in the ocean. Man- that kid likes the waves.” ” Got to get back- dig in man.” ” The headwinds are brutal today. Come on Pat- you are dogging it. Dig in against the wind. Buddy is waiting to go to the beach.” ” Ok- Jack- here we go!!” ” Yikes- I feel like a prune. All burned and wrinkled.” ” Got him down dear- yea, I will bet he is tired.” ” OK- see you after your walk. I have him – no worries.”

” Wednesday- ” Rain- oh hell. Well it can’t be nice every day. Just get your jacket and go.” ” Oh- Jack. Did you get something to eat?” ” OK- when I get back- we will throw the lines in.” ” What- oh yes- we will get something better than dog fish today. Maybe Mr. Denmeade will go with us and give us his good luck?” ” Yes- Mr. Denmeade is a better fisherman than me, Jack.” ” I know- I will be back.” ” Head north today Pat. Ocean City- wow the headwind and the rain.” ” OK- over the bridge to Sea Isle.” ” Careful- road is slick.” ” This is brutal with the wind. Wonder if I will make O.C?” ” Oh man- this flat. Wonder what all those people are doing? Still sleeping I will bet. Oh well- even though I am getting pelted with wind and rain- it is still a good day on the bike. Every day is a good day on the bike.” ” Is this the road? Ahh yes- ok- Ocean City. Wow- crowded. Way too many cars.” ” Turn around Pat. Ahh yes- the tailwind.” ” Oh cool- some other riders. Hi guys…………no response. Oh well- I will just suck their wheel for a while. They deserve it.” ” Good ride- yea- I am from Pittsburgh. You guys? Oh NYC. Cool- thanks for letting me suck your wheel, I mean ride with you guys. Yea- thanks . It is a vintage San Rensho frame with Dura Ace. Yea- thanks – I like it.” ” Ok guys – see you again.” ” Thanks ”

Thursday- ” OK you clowns- get up. Joseph? Jack? You can’t sleep the day away. Get the ball and go shoot some hoops will ya? I will be back- your mother and I are going for a ride. Yea- here is 20 bucks. Will that cover you. You hope?” ” See you in a bit and we will go to the beach. Get the stuff ready ok. Just don’t sit here all morning.” ” OK dear- here you go. Lets go to Avalon Coffee Company. Relax a bit and then ride to the causeway ok?” ” They will be fine. Teenagers! What can you expect.” ” Yea- I wish they would ride too but what are you going to do. At least we can ride together. It is a nice morning.” ” OK guys- home by 11 ok?” ” How much? Geez you guys are going to put me in the poor house.” ” Hey- lock up our bikes will ya? Thanks” ” OK – have fun.”

Friday- ” Jan- headed out. See you soon and then we can ride. I may try to make it to Cape May today. Yes- the Masi is still a nice ride. Campy is always reliable and precise.” ” Yes- I will pick up some stickies on the way back.” ” Another sunny day in Avalon. Wonder what it is like to live here? I will bet Janet would like that. Not the same without Jack though. No schlepping of gear, no teenage worries, but miss him here with us.” ” Now don’t get weepy Pat. The bladder is always behind the eyeballs with you. Come on man. Enjoy the ride. Great day and the fisherman are killing them on the bay.” ” Hi guys- how is the catch this morning?” ” Oh cool- lots of flounder but I am not sure I want to haul in one of those rays.” ” Keep moving Pat. Maybe go to Sylvesters tonight. Not the same without Jack.” ” Don’t start Pat. Quit it.” ” He is fine and doing well at school. Think about the good time he is having with his friends.” ” Hi dear- yea good ride. Miss Jack though. Give me a hug.”

Saturday- ” What a glorious day. No wind- strangely calm.” ” I can see a long way down the road. I am not sure I have ever seen it so clear!” ” I think Cape May is not out of the question. Maybe the lighthouse?” ” Can I still do it? No wind. Go for it old man.” ” Hey riding pretty good for a guy long in the tooth as dad used to say.” ” Great just to sit here and have a coffee right?” ” No need to kill yourself.” ” I should be glad to be riding.” ” Wonder what time Jack and the family will be here? Man- it will be good to see them and spend time with those grandkids. Wait till they see the first horshoe crab or dog fish that we catch. Never was good at catching the good fish. Maybe take them on the new Miss Avalon today for some tourist fishing?” ” Oh well- better get back. wind is starting to pick up.” ” Come on old man- head down. Keep grinding. Remember the time Mike King killed you on this stretch?” ” He was a tough rider. I remember sucking his wheel for a while.” ” Hey Jack- great to see you. There is the bride. Don’t hug me honey? I am a sweaty mess.” ” Hi kids- yes, we will hit the beach. Grandpap has boogie boards for all of you. Don’t worry Jack- the old man can still hang.” ” Hey- I will race you to the beach?” ” Sorry dear- a little crazy this morning. Must have been the Avalon Coffee talking.” ” We will get our ride in too dear.” ” Jack- wait up.” “Wow- that week went fast.”