I don’t know if it was the darkness from the tree cover and overcast skies or that she just needed to catch up on some sleep, but PJ slept until after 9:30 this morning. I was up at seven and took the hounds on a 2 mile hike into the forest. They sniffed every bush and did their morning business. We enjoyed the stillness and greenery. The dampness of the place gives rise to all manner of moss, lichens and fungi. The trees are starting to turn and the colors really catch your eye.
Returned to the van for some breakfast and tea. When Pam still didn’t stir, I walked up into the camp ground. Met the neighbor, Curt and his large pit bull. He is originally from the area, but retired last year from UPS, sold the house, and bought an RV. He has covered most of the southern and eastern U. S. and is looking to see the rest. He returns every year to visit the kids and stays at this camp. He gave me some great tips on places to stay on the way down the coast including the idea to visit Barnegat Lighthouse..
When PJ arose, we took off for another hike, a 3.2 mile loop through the trees. We let the dogs off their leashes and they went ripping all over the woods. There was a small creek they explored and lots of rock outcropping and large trees that had fallen from the saturated, wet ground. Oddly, there was hardly any life to be seen. No birds, rabbits, raccoons or other varmints. Just one lonesome squirrel. The hike was the perfect way to round out our morning.
We had a little pow wow and decided that, although this place is serene and beautiful, we really want to get down to the beach. We rolled up the big top and plugged in the coordinates for Long Beach Island on the GPS. Had to navigate a bit of traffic in a few areas and then cruised down the six lane Garden State Parkway. I had thought the camp we looked up was near the beach, but it turned out not to be. We took a spot anyway, then drove down to the beach.
When we got onto the island, we turned left and followed the road down to the end to visit the Barnegat light house. We parked in the lot and discovered that the water bowl had slid off the mat and spilled onto the step with the leashes. We took a few minutes to clean things up and hung PJ’s beloved ‘Let your troubles drift away’ mat on the bikes in back to dry up.
We took the dogs along to explore the beach in front of the light house. You are able to climb to the top of the lighthouse on the spiral stairs inside. We put the pooches back in the RV then ascended the 217 steps to the very top of the circular building. Amazing views in every direction, bayside, Atlantic side and down the narrow barrier island that we are on. We were the last visitors up, so on the request of the ranger, we closed the little red door that opened to the catwalk behind us before going back down.
Out on the jetty, we walked along the concrete walkway that ran the length of it checking out fisherman, families and other tourists like ourselves. Boats of every description were plying the waters at the entrance to the bay; tugboats, commercial fishing boats, sailboats and pleasure cruisers. The afternoon had turned out sunny and calm and people were making the most of it.
We were eager to go check out the beach and get our toes in the water, so we hurried out of the parking lot and drove down towards Surf City. We randomly pulled down a side street and ended up checking the surf at 30th Street. A surfer was getting out and loading up his board, so I asked him about the water. 71 degrees he said and some small waves to boot. We climbed the small dune and were greeted by miles of wide, white sand beach with nary a soul in either direction.
Unleashed the hounds and let them have the run of the beach. Waded in the water and it felt o.k., not exactly tropical but not freezing either. Maybe tomorrow. There were a few bumpy two footers crumbling through, but no one was out. The shadows were getting long so we decided to hunt up some dinner. When we walked back to the RV, we noticed the two leashes we had left to dry on the bikes and realized we had lost our mat. We jumped in the van and retraced our steps, but no doormat to be found. PJ was saddened by her loss, somewhere a Long Beach Islander is enjoying his new nautical mat. We headed back towards camp stopping along the bay to watch the sun drop behind some clouds.
We picked up a few groceries and decided to set up house and eat at camp. We were a little tired and edgy as we set things up and fed the recalcitrant dogs. They are back to not eating and it’s a real pain trying to coax them to take a meal. We lightened up, ate a light dinner and reviewed our day in pictures, then read and wrote while listening to the drunks a few sites over enjoying their cocktails. Cali and Koda are dog tired and crashed hard.
We want to wish a very happy birthday to our nephew Brendan. Best to you big guy. We love you and miss you. Hope you had a really excellent celebration. Cheers Matey