10 Strangest Things That Have Washed Up On The Jersey Shore

A boat made news when it ran ashore on an Atlantic City beach this week. But this isn’t the first surprising thing to wash up on the Jersey Shore, and it’s hardly the strangest. Here are ten weird things that have washed up on the Jersey Shore.

1. Dead Dolphins: Dolphins continue to wash ashore, sparking discussion about what’s killing them off. Most recently, four dolphins turned up on the South Jersey shore.

2. Syringes: 36 syringes washed up on an Island Beach State Park beach this summer. And lots of other syringes have been found in the sand around here before.

3. Rockets: When a rocket warhead was found on an Atlantic City beach last summer, newscasters informed viewers that discovering rockets on the beach is relatively normal.

4. Seals: Five seals washed up on the shore in Atlantic City on the same day last spring.

5. Sharks: A dead hammerhead shark drifted ashore in Atlantic City last year.6. A Shoe With A Human Foot Inside: This washed ashore south of Atlantic City earlier this month.

7. Mystery Flesh: Chunks of flesh or organs from an unknown creature appeared on a New Jersey beach in 2009.

8. Whales: A whale that had been dead for a while washed up on the Ocean City beach in 2012.

9. Love Letters: A collection of World War II love letters floated onto a beach in Atlantic Highlands after Hurricane Sandy.

10. Tampon Applicators: Check out this 1981 newspaper clipping warning beachgoers in New Jersey about tampon applicators that washed up by the hundreds.

Human Remains Found in Shoe on New Jersey Beach

Photo Of The Day: New Jersey Shore

photo of the day - New Jersey shore post-Sandy
David Elwood, Flickr

Last year’s Superstorm Sandy devastated much of the East Coast, especially around the mid-Atlantic coastline. New York and New Jersey beaches were hit hard, with scores of houses and even towns wiped out. Many places are rebounding, such as Coney Island, which opened officially for the season in April. Today’s Photo of the Day was taken this weekend in New Jersey by Flickr user David Elwood, who also took a shot of Coney Island’s Cyclone that we featured last summer. The roller coaster remains are a sad reminder that not everything is back to normal six months later. Many other beach towns have rebuilt and will be open for business this summer, so don’t count New Jersey out of your travel plans, they need visitors now more than ever.

Add your travel photos (Creative Commons, please!) to the Gadling Flickr pool to be featured as a Photo of the Day.

UPDATE: Several commenters have noted that the roller coaster was removed this week as part of the ongoing clean-up of the Jersey shore. A photograph captures a moment in time, and while this scene may not exist anymore, it’s still a powerful document of history.

The Jersey Shore Is Back, Sort Of

If you’ve written off the Jersey Shore as a summer getaway, please think again. Though Sandy did grievous harm to Jersey’s 127-mile coastline, most of the damage was done to the northern coast; the southern Shore was relatively unscathed.

To the north, the beaches are significantly narrower than they were before Sandy; one survey puts the number at 30 to 40 feet. But in spite of the fact an estimated 10 million cubic yards of sand were lost, most of the northern towns plan to open their beaches by May, even if repairs and reconstructions have not been completed.

Unfortunately, in good-as-new Atlantic City, where all 12 casinos reopened about a week after the storm, post-Sandy surveys showed that much of the public believed that the boardwalk had been destroyed (thank you, Al Roker). Competition from Pennsylvania’s casinos had already triggered a six-year decline in gambling revenues; consumer perception that A.C. was seriously damaged cost even more precious business.

To attract visitors, the city’s top properties are offering bargain basement prices. The drop-dead-gorgeous $2.4 billion Revel is showing rooms at $129 a night, with a $50 food and beverage credit (with restrictions); the Vegas-sleek Borgata is close behind at $119 (or less on daily deal sites), while other properties are offering nightly rates between $60 and $100. As before, the casinos are booking headliners like Beyonce, Rihanna, Jackson Browne and Sting.

Shops and restaurants are open, so is the iconic Steel Pier, with new attractions including The Mix, a thrill ride that spins like a propeller and swings riders out over the ocean.

The barrier island communities known as the Wildwoods, with their sprawling (free) beaches, 8,000 hotel rooms and 3,000 condos are open for business, along with the two-mile boardwalk and the roller coaster. A major campaign – “The Wildwoods – Think Summer & Join Us!” – targets the New York Metro area with billboards and television spots.

Sea Isle City is also advertising its beaches and other attractions on billboards in the New York area. While the undamaged towns of the southern Shore need to get their message out, they are doing it discreetly, so as not to seem crass or insensitive to their hard-hit neighbors to the north.

It will be summer-as-usual in Victorian Cape May, which was ready for visitors almost immediately after the storm. Unlike other Shore towns, which hibernate during the winter, Cape May has a year-round calendar of events, including a Dickens Christmas Extravaganza and a Valentine’s Weekend. So for that little town, the problem this year was not Sandy damage, but the cold winter weather.

In Ocean City, which did suffer significant damage, the boardwalk is intact and city officials say the beaches are ready for summer visitors.

Seaside Heights, which had been famous/notorious for the fist-pumping crowd from Jersey Shore, became the symbol of Sandy’s power when its JetStar roller coaster slid into the ocean. Removal of the coaster and work to rebuild the boardwalk are underway. Though only about half the borough’s rides will be open by Memorial Day, Snooki’s favorite Club Karma had a grand reopening on March 9, just in time for the city’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

In Point Pleasant Beach, Jenkinson’s boardwalk, including the aquarium and some arcades, is open. Most of the kiddie rides, which had been stored when Sandy hit, will be back. However the popular train ride, one of the arcades and a miniature golf course were lost; work continues on those.

Belmar bravely held its annual St. Patrick’s Day parade and party on March 3. Beaches will open by Memorial Day; officials expect boardwalk repairs to be completed by that date, though rebuilding of restrooms, pavilions and other structures will not. Neighboring Avon is making no predictions.

In affluent Spring Lake, aka The Irish Riviera, reconstruction of the two-mile boardwalk will be complete before Memorial Day weekend.

According to the Ocean Grove Camp Meeting Associate, the beach and some sections of the boardwalk will be ready by Memorial Day weekend. The fishing pier will not be rebuilt this year, but a temporary roof on the Great Auditorium means the annual summer concerts, featuring such acts as the Beach Boys and Tommy James and the Shondells, will go on.

In Asbury Park, the Shore town beloved by Bruce Springsteen, Mayor Ed Johnson has declared that, while full recovery has yet to happen, the beaches and boardwalk would be open this summer, with an elaborate ribbon cutting ceremony on May 18.

Long Branch’s beachfront will be open by Memorial Day; however, a one-mile section of lost boardwalk, from Melrose Terrance south to Brighton Avenue will not be repaired by this summer. All the restaurants and shops at Pier Village are open.

Little Sea Bright, which saw all its beachfront facilities and most private beach clubs destroyed, will open its beaches Memorial Day; since restrooms were also destroyed the borough will bring in temporary facilities.

Gateway National Recreation Area at Sandy Hook sustained severe damage to roads, concessions, utilities, the wastewater treatment plant and the potable water system. The goal – not written in stone – is to open the park for summer, with temporary restroom facilities.

The Keansburg Amusement Park, which the storm left under up to 6 feet of water, is open, though the Wildcat roller coaster is gone and not all rides are operational. A new looping steel roller coaster may be in place by Memorial Day weekend, and the damaged carousel should be ready to ride.

Tourism is a $38 billion industry in New Jersey, and the four coastal counties – Monmouth, Ocean, Atlantic and Cape May – account for half of the state’s annual tourism earnings, so a successful summer 2013 is critical, not only to the communities still struggling to rebuild, but to the entire state.

So if you have fond memories of walks on Jersey Shore beaches, boardwalk food and drunken evenings at oceanfront dive bars (just kidding), don’t assume you can’t enjoy the same unique-to-Jersey fun this year. As Governor Christie has said: “No one is conceding the summer of 2013 to Sandy. My commitment is to try to restore the Jersey Shore stronger than it was before but with the same character that it had before.”

Greetings From The Jersey Shore

I’m one of the lucky ones. No power, no heat and no phone service – but I have a (damaged) roof over my head, a bed and blankets, sweaters and coats to keep me warm, food to eat and potable water to drink. Yesterday, spotty cell service returned, so I could phone loved ones and friends to assure them that I was safe. (I even got a phone call from Bill Clinton, urging me to vote for Obama.)

Thousands, I don’t know how many, are not so lucky. They are still in shelters, in motels, scattered refugees, their homes either swept away by a ferocious ocean and swollen rivers or damaged beyond repair by trees uprooted and turned into deadly missiles by Sandy’s savage winds.

Everywhere are the empty shells of homes, restaurants, beach cabanas, boats; miles of broken boardwalk; shattered pieces of amusement park rides – everything that was part of the “old normal” at the Jersey Shore that I’ve loved since I was a little kid.

As the storm approached, I was ordered out of my 70-year-old oceanfront apartment building. I had weathered Irene at home with very little damage. But this time, I believed the dire warnings and went to my daughter’s house, about a mile inland. As we hunkered down on Monday evening, Sandy began battering the towns and villages along Jersey’s 127-mile shoreline. All around us, power lines fell, sizzled and arced, looked like cartoon lightning against the blackness of the sky. Lights went out, furnaces died, power was gone.

When the winds subsided into an eerie stillness, we ventured out to see what was gone and what had been spared. My building was still standing, though a cascade of broken roof tiles scattered the street and destroyed a car in the parking lot. A giant tree yawed crazily toward my second floor apartment. On the oceanside of the building, the idyllic grassy knoll where my neighbors and I had picnicked was gone, swallowed by the ocean, and all that remained was rubble and the rusting skeleton of the destroyed bulkhead.

Driving around, trying to assess damage was difficult; fallen trees and downed wires blocked almost every thoroughfare; yellow police tape limited access to the worst areas. So much bad news: the Asbury Park boardwalk, the Ocean Grove fishing pier, Seaside Park boardwalk, Point Pleasant Beach – on and on. Deaths from falling trees and other storm-related causes.

I found an old battery-powered radio, and listened for hours to 94.3 FM, “The Point,” heard Governor Christie and President Obama assure us that help was on the way, listened to the concert that Bruce and Bon Jovi and others gave in NYC to benefit the Red Cross and victims of Sandy. “That’s us,” the announcer declared. I didn’t feel like a victim. I was one of the lucky ones. The victims were the dead, the disabled, those who were suffering the kind of tragedies that I had been spared.

As always happens during and after disasters, Sandy brought out the best and worst in people. My son-in-law, a nurse who worked 12-hour shifts at a nearby hospital, came home and helped clear branches and tree limbs from the homes of older neighbors. He filled cans of gasoline and gave them to neighbors who had generators. Neighbors shared food and firewood.

Wegmans supermarket remained open after the storm, using generator power to prepare hot food, to bake bread and pastries and to welcome one and all to use their Wi-Fi, to charge phones and laptops – and to get warm.

The worst: fights in stores over limited supplies of batteries, fights at long gas lines – so many of our stations were closed, either because they had run out of gas or because they had no power for the pumps – looting in some areas, dangerous cowboy driving because traffic lights were out. Power has been coming back, slowly, but not here in Interlaken. This town of 400 homes is a low priority for JCP&L, which is necessarily focusing on bigger towns and commercial areas.

Traffic on the Turnpike and Parkway has been bad, even on the weekend, as New Jersey Transit train service to and from NYC is suspended, the tracks badly damaged, with no estimate of when service on the New Jersey Coast Line will be restored. The traffic problem is compounded by the long lines for gas along both major roadways.

Anyone planning to travel to the Shore, perhaps to check on relatives and friends should be prepared for a long and possibly difficult trip. Drivers should fill their tanks before they leave, as gas is rationed, with purchases allowed on odd or even days, determined by the odd or even final numbers on license plates. (Vanity plates are odd, so are plates that have no numbers.) Some roads are still closed or only partly open.

Traffic will be heavy as residents try to get back to work. There is no train service to the Shore. Academy busses are operating between NYC and some Shore towns, though some busses will be rerouted due to storm damage. Check www.academybus.com for schedules (such as they are) and routes. Be aware that a curfew is in effect in all the coastal Monmouth County towns, with non-essential travel banned between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.

Tonight, when temperatures drop to the 20s, we will pile mattresses on the living room floor and sleep in front of the fireplace, and hope that pipes will not freeze or burst. Thanks to a kind neighbor’s donation of firewood, we will keep a fire going through the night. On Tuesday we will vote, using paper ballots if necessary.

And then we will pray that the Nor’easter that’s headed our way will not flood any more homes, will not knock down any more trees or power lines, will not batter people and places that are already down for the count.

[Photo Credits: Lillian Africano]

An off-season weekend getaway to Cape May, New Jersey

off-season cape may

A few weeks ago I felt the urgent, desperate need to flee New York City.

There was something about the city’s noise, its attitude, its frenetic pace that was driving me out of my mind. I felt caged in by the narrow tenement buildings of my Lower East Side streets. A taxi driver honked unnecessarily and I felt the irrepressible urge to slam on his front hood and yell “WHAT THE HELL DID YOU DO THAT FOR?”

It was clear that I needed a break.

My requirements were simple: a place outside of the city where I could unwind with a good book, a fireplace and maybe a bottle of Pinot Noir. My top priority was silence.

I found what I was looking for in Cape May, New Jersey. While in the summer it’s a hotspot for vacationing tri-staters, in the winter it’s close to deserted. I recruited my boyfriend, rented a car for the three-and-a-half hour drive and booked a room at Congress Hall, a charming Victorian hotel that once served as the summer residence for presidents Pierce, Buchanan, Grant and Harrison. With a friendly yellow exterior, a tiled lobby reminiscent of Havana and a daily schedule of events, the Congress Hall had the look of a coastal resort and the feel of a grown-up summer camp.

But most importantly, in a section of the hotel called the Brown Room, Congress Hall had a fireplace and in front of that fireplace were a scattering of leather armchairs and a bar with an extensive wine list. Behold, the resting place I’d been dreaming of.

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Turns out, the Brown Room and adjoining Blue Pig Tavern are among Cape May’s only hotspots during the off-season months of October-March, and by 5pm the area was bustling with locals taking advantage of happy hour. After a relaxing evening of reading, wining and dining on delicious mussels, I fell into one of the most restful sleeps I’d had in months.



The next morning, we woke early to explore the town. The streets were dead silent, except for the sounds of waves crashing on the shore. Further inland, quaint multi-colored storefronts advertised shop names from a different time: Good Scents, Just For Laughs, Whale’s Tale, the Cape May Popcorn Factory.



The only store open at 9am on a Monday was the Original Fudge Kitchen, where I picked out a selection of salt-water taffy and gulped what tasted like stale Folger’s coffee (even though it was a retreat, I am still a New Yorker, and I was desperate).



After the pit stop, we continued our stroll. The roads were deliciously devoid of cars, and only a handful of pedestrians shared the sidewalks. After ascertaining that nearly every shop had closed for the season, and that there was in fact very little to do, we made our way to the waterfront. The late winter day was fresh, and we had the beach entirely to ourselves. After tiring of splashing in the surf, we headed back to the hotel. A fireplace was waiting.


Visit the Cape May National Historic Landmark, New Jersey

[Flickr image via Alan Kotok]