After our disappointing impression of Atlantic City, Heinrich and I decided to travel farther north up the New Jersey coast and explore that side of the infamous Jersey shore. Embarrassingly, we had watched a train-wreck episode or two of the MTV reality show during its heyday, and we were hoping to at least see a few “guidos” in their natural habitat (that admission probably makes me a terrible person.).

Along the way to the Barnegat Peninsula (where all the crazy young-people shenanigans supposedly take place), we stopped for breakfast at a diner in Toms River (apparently spelled without an apostrophe. My inner editor cringes each time I read that.) called Shut Up and Eat! Despite its no-nonsense name, the diner was actually very homey; the wait staff were all clothed in pajamas, and after taking our seats, we were instantly presented with coffee and boxes of water.

Hello! Even the water is friendly!

Hello! Even the water is friendly!

After a delicious breakfast, we ventured onward along the picturesque seascape. It wasn’t even 10 o’clock yet, but the sun was already hot in the sky, unobstructed by even a single cloud.

We stopped in Seaside Heights, where the MTV show was actually filmed (there appear to be about 32 boroughs and townships that are part of Ocean County, so it was actually kind of random that we stopped at precisely this one), and headed toward the boardwalk and beach.

Unfortunately, Heinrich and I then encountered one of the greatest drawbacks of being early birds: almost everyone else was apparently still sleeping. Although it was practically midday for us (it was already 10:00 by this point!), for a party town, it might as well have been 5 a.m. (actually, there was probably more activity at 5 a.m.!). We strolled up and down the lonely boardwalk, peering into the T-shirt shops (yup, that stupid “I Pooped Today” shirt was being sold here too!) we passed along the way and imagining what it must be like later in the day, with people riding the skilift-type cars above the beach and crowding the beach and boardwalk.

When I started looking through my photos, I realized that the boardwalk wasn't quite as deserted as I remembered it! (I had images of tumbleweeds blowing across our path!) Interesting fact: look at the wooden benches on the boardwalk. You can flip the backrest to face either direction, depending on where the sun is or what you want to look at! Genius!

When I started looking through my photos, I realized that the boardwalk wasn’t quite as deserted as I remembered it! (In my mind, there were tumbleweeds blowing across our path!)
Interesting fact: look at the wooden benches on the boardwalk. You can flip the backrest to face either direction, depending on where the sun is or what you want to look at! Genius!

After doing a few laps of the boardwalk in the oppressive heat, Heinrich and I decided that we were too sweaty had seen enough. Since we were no longer the party animals we were many moons ago, the Jersey shore apparently did not have much to offer us (conversely, had we been there with children, there would have been a plethora of activities for us to do too!).

So, merely a few hours after arriving, Heinrich and I were back in our (thankfully, air-conditioned!) car on the way back to Atlantic City. The shore had not quite lived up to our expectations (neither AC nor the supposedly raucous Ocean County), and it was time for us to head cityward. Next up: Philadelphia.