I was in the womb the first time I came to Seven Mile Island in New Jersey. And I’ve come back every summer, ever since. Except maybe one when I lived in Texas, if I’m remembering correctly.
When I was a little girl, my mom’s whole side of the family would come – my grandparents and all their offspring: aunts, uncles, cousins, all of us packed into one house. Sometimes for as long as three weeks.
Ironically, Adrian grew up coming here as well. Oh, how I love to sit around imagining that we may have met at the arcade as kids.
Coming here feels like coming home. Even the sulphury smell of the marsh when we drive over the bridge triggers instantaneous relaxation. The seagulls cawing, the wind blowing, the sun shining, the bustle of shoppers and diners making their way down 96th Street.
The island is comprised of two iconic beach towns — Avalon and Stone Harbor — that are sort of frozen in time. Overall, there’s a very quaint, 1950’s feel to both of them (save the way that the beach bungalows and Cape Cods are giving way to newer, larger homes). Picture two adorable, beachy main streets peppered with mini-golf, ice cream and pizza. Bikes with baskets parked out front. Beachgoers trudging to and from the beach at all hours. Flip flops required.
This place is so steeped in tradition that we can’t think of any other place we’d rather take a beach vacation. It’s nothingness is everything. When it comes to relaxing and recharging with my family, there is no place else I would rather be. This place is in my bones.
These days, we get to make new memories with our kids. We watch them toil on the beach for hours, take them to ride the rides on the boardwalk in Wildwood and, of course, get ice cream or fudge at least every other day. For the last few years, we’ve come with my parents and enjoyed our beach vacation in September. This was glorious; it gave this feeling of an endless summer. Plus, when you come after the summer rush has ended, everything is a little sleepier, significantly less crowded and far more affordable.
This year, my parents decided not to join us since they have a house in Florida now. And with both kindergarten and Pre-K on the horizon this fall, we had to slide our trip back so it occurred before Labor Day. It was tempting to book it for early August to ensure we had enough time to get ready for the start of school. But, in the end, we decided that the Sunday and Monday of Labor Day would be enough time…it’s only kindergarten, after all. And, with me not working, I could tie up any loose ends during the first week of school.
I love that he’s finally old enough that we can walk and talk and marvel at the shells together.
Our view from the top of the ferris wheel in Wildwood, NJ.
It took hours, but this was our huge and awesome drippy castle!
We even got to sneak out one night to celebrate our twelve year anniversary thanks to Adrian’s sweet cousins.
Even knowing that we’ll go back with T-minus 48 hours until school starts, taking this one last week to slow down…to savor the sights, smells and sweetness of summer…to sit idly on the beach with the ones I love…is completely, and totally, worth it.