Thursday, September 4, 2014

"the Island"

In my last post, I shared with you the first part of my summer vacation (visiting my parents in Vietnam).  In this post, I am sharing with you the second part of my summer vacation: visiting my husband's childhood playground -- Long Beach Island, New Jersey.


Although Bob loves the peaceful scenery of the Blue Ridge Mountains that surrounds our farm and the wildlife that lives on our farm, there is something familiar and comforting about being at a place where he spent countless hours frolicking as a child.

Long Beach Island, affectionately known as the Island, is a barrier island in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of New Jersey.  The only access point to the island by land is a causeway.

The Island is a fun and picturesque little island ...

with beautiful pristine beaches ...

and many beautiful homes and stunning gardens ...

Local Vegetation and Dune Preservation

There are many native plants that not only look pretty, but they also play a critical role in dune preservation. My favorite is the rugosa rose.  Yes, a rose that thrives right in the sand under constant wind and salt spray! It has a strong sweet and crisp fragrance.  The rose hips are as big as a cherry and are packed with vitamin C. I tried to plant a few in Virginia, but they were miserable in our climate.

Many varieties of berries also thrive here.   

For example, bayberry, twinberry,
cranberry, blueberry, and beach plum 

A wide variety of pine trees, such as 
Emerald Seashore Juniper, Atlantic White Cedar, and Loblolly Pine also love it here.

This part of New Jersey 
is known for its Pine Barrens.  The Pine Barrens
helps recharge the 17 trillion gallon 
Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer 
which contains some of the 
purest water in the U.S.  

For this reason, 1.1 million acres of the Pine Barrens were designated by the U.S. Congress as the Pinelands National Reserve to preserve its ecology.  The United Nations has designated it as an International Biosphere Reserve.

Dune preservation was critical in protecting many parts of the Island during the devastating hurricane Sandy. 

Being a category 3 hurricane (SSHS) with the highest winds at 115mph (185km/h), hurricane Sandy was the deadliest and most destructive hurricane of the 2012 Atlantic hurricane season and the second most costly hurricane in the US history.  However, because some parts of the Island, for example Surf City, had completed its beach replenishment before the arrival of Sandy, Surf City suffered very little damage. 

The Tips of the Island

The island is only about 18 miles long, but it has over 3 miles of nature reserve on the southern tip and a historic lighthouse and a fishing village on the northern tip.  

The Edwin B Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge, Holgate Unit

This Refuge has 3.5 miles of beautiful secluded beach and an amazing array of birds.  It's closed to the public during nesting season (April 1 through August 31).  We've visited the park several times during non-nesting season.  This part of the Island is very quiet and pristine.  (I can't locate my photos of the Refuge, so I am borrowing two from the New Jersey Audubon Society.)


                        American Oystercatcherby Jim Gilbert

Barnegat Lighthouse

The Lighthouse was first lit in 1859; it's now nonfunctional and is affectionately known as "Ol' Barney."  It's the second tallest lighthouse in the US.

Viking Village

Near Ol' Barney is a fishing village, called Viking Village. 

It's dotted with quaint buildings and commercial as well as private fishing boats and sailboats.

Family Fun

Bob grew up not far from the Island and has spent many summer (and school!) days there with family and friends.  One of his favorite activities is to play on the beach and swim in the ocean with our children. 

Bob also grew up surf fishing.  He has taught me and the kids how to cast a surf rod (which is very long).  I am still refining my skills.  I really enjoy surf fishing (although I rarely catch anything).  I like to wade into the surf, cast my line, run up the beach away from the incoming surf before it crashes against me (I like to keep my clothes somewhat dry), and patiently feeling for the tugs in my line (this is the part I like the most).  I find this to be almost like meditation.  I often find myself totally transfixed by the rhythm of the surf. 

Nick, our 13 year old, learned how to surf last summer and was ecstatic (but also a little intimidated) with the size of the waves this summer.  It's very unusual for the waves to be bigger than 2-3 feet in the summer months.  But that week, the waves were as big as 7-8 feet.

Having come to the Island with Bob and our children every summer for over 20 years, I feel very much at home here.  One of my favorite activities is to watch the sky.  

Sunrise Over the Atlantic Ocean

I would wake up early every day to watch the sun rise.  It was an invigorating and uplifting way to start my day.  No two days were ever the same.  

Day 1 -- a gorgeous sunrise

Day 2 -- Another gorgeous sunrise ...

Day 3 ...

Day 4 ...
Day 5 ..., Day 6 ..., Day 7 ..., every morning was a gorgeous morning.

Sunset Over the Bay

Full Moon Over the Ocean

The Angry Sky

The Stormy Sky

Sadly, this marks the end of my summer 2014, 
fabulous summer!


  1. So many stunning photos, so hard to choose a fave!

  2. Wow - what stunning shots of this fabulous place!

  3. A beautiful series of photos. And great that your son learned how to surf!

  4. Thanks for sharing your photos from this beautiful area

  5. Stunning photos, Christa. Really beautiful. It looks like an island paradise. And congratulations to Nick on his surfing. He looked like he'd totally nailed it - and on such large waves too. Very well done to him. Thanks for sharing your holidays. All the best, Bonny

  6. Beautiful photos - your summer holiday looked idyllic.
    I noticed Little Egg Harbour on the map - does that mean you're in great Gatsby country?
    (I'm in Australia & my knowledge of US geography is based on books and TV shows!)

    1. PS I particularly loved the sunrises :-)

  7. how beautiful an area to grow up in! nice that you could share it with your son. glad the area did not suffer too much from sandy. thanks for sharing the charm and beauty of this place!

  8. Marvelous series of beautiful photography ~ Hubby's childhood 'island' is my favorite ~ Happy Weekend to you!

    artmusedog and carol (A Creative Harbor)

  9. What a wonderful holiday, a great family place.
    Thanks for sharing.


  10. Lovely series...enjoy your week-end♪

  11. Beautiful post! I love the sandy beaches and the gorgeous skies.

  12. Wonderful photos of a great place to grow up. I really enjoyed this post!


  13. What an absolutely beautiful post! And what a blessing to be able to spend time with your family in such a lovely spot. I enjoyed reading this very much. Thank you for taking us along for the view.

    Happy Pink Saturday!


    Sheila :-)

  14. What a beautiful location for a vacation! It's good to go home again for you and for your husband to surf too!

  15. What a really beautiful place! Lovely photos! I can see why your hubby loves his home place so much!

  16. I just love the way you report your trip, you surely had a lot of fun there... Beautiful pics too ! That is a nice sharing indeed !

  17. You have alot of fantastic images of the beautiful scenery. Thanks so much for sharing Christa.

  18. Your series of photos is amazing! All these skies and the landscape .... gorgeous! So beautiful!

  19. I stand spellbound with these pictures, that delicacy in this wonderful beach, beautiful!

  20. Hi, beautiful pictures! I love the last one.

  21. What a great place to spend some time. The ocean always holds great photo ops.

  22. I can see why your husband wanted to return to his roots and share the beauty with his family.
    Thank you for linking to Mosaic Monday.

  23. What a lovely vacation and amazing views!!

  24. What a lovely place to call a hometown. Stunning photos of a most beautiful area.

  25. The island looks like a beautiful, peaceful place. I love your sunset shots!

  26. What a beautiful place - no wonder you and your family love to revisit your husband's childhood haunts. I am a little familiar with those shores from our years in Pennsylvania - it was such a treat to visit that shore. Your blog is lovely - I enjoyed the photos of your time in Vietnam and I look forward to visiting your blog often when I get settled!

  27. Hi Christa,

    I am now thoroughly enchanted with The Island, (having lived on my Mediterranean island for more than 25 years!), thanks to your stunningly beautiful photos of this magical place! From the charming, storybook houses and their gardens, to the lighthouses, wildlife and of course, the sea, your husband's hometown is a little haven of nature's miraculous gifts! Thanks for sharing these gorgeous photos and interesting details; it is evident that your summer was, indeed, fabulous!

    Wishing you a wonderful week!


  28. Yes it was a fabulous summer Christa. Your words and photos are very evocative and I really enjoyed your post today. Your photography is very accomplished.

  29. That was one fabulous summer...I enjoyed the post and all of the pictures but especially your young surfer! :)

  30. Glad you had a good summer....and it's always going back to where you spent your fun childhood.

  31. Absolutely beautiful place to spend vacation time!

  32. You have captured many beautiful images of the NJ summer at the shore.

  33. A wonderful selection of shots. They made me want to visit!
    Thank you for taking part in Floral Friday Fotos.

  34. Wonderful post, you have shared some of my favorite places like Barnegat and Edwin Forsythe! Love the sky shots and the birds! Thank you for linking up , enjoy the rest of your week!

  35. I have never been to this area. Your wonderful photos tell me I have been missing out :)

  36. Beautiful place to vacation! Love the sky shots and that lighthouse!

  37. Ah yes! when I was a child my aunt and uncle built a beach house at Beach Haven. We would visit for a week at a time. I remember the lighthouse.

  38. What an amazing trip! Wonderful photos, I'm glad to share it vicariously!
    (ツ) from Cottage Country Ontario , ON, Canada!

  39. You are so privileged for being able to have affinity with people who lived there. It is a very famous island, and i've been reading about it. Unfortunately, your post is so heavy that many photos cannot open here at my end, and the photos are good. It even closed on me the first time i am commenting, so i had to open at the beginning, LOL. And thanks for visiting my post so i can come here more often.