Monday, March 31, 2008

The Boardwalk, a Race, and one Stuffed Blue Pig

As mentioned before, I ran the Ocean Drive 10 miler on Sunday. So of course I had to spend the weekend down the shore.

On Saturday, I started off in Ocean City at Sun Rose Words & Music, which is the first store that will be selling my book. Now that I have a physical copy, I could show the owners, which prompted us to finalize the details of when I would be signing (May 3 at 10am). I also stopped in a few more Ocean City shops and showed off the book, all to enthusiastic thumbs up (granted, it helped that those shops I stopped at were in the book, but still...it felt good).

I also saw what I knew was going to happen: A few places I wrote about had closed (moreso in Stone Harbor than Ocean City). I know I did my best to make the book as up to date as I could, but I couldn't help but mutter when I saw a place had closed or changed its name or even swapped shops with another store.

After making my way down Asbury Avenue, it was up to the boardwalk where I found a crowd for a cold March morning. Don't let that sun fool you -- it was quite chilly.



That didn't stop some people from going into the water.



They said they were doing it to celebrate "my niece's wedding," according the guy in the red and white shorts. He said they're not going to make it an annual tradition. I have no doubt that they will -- they looked like they were having a good time. But that's not exactly my idea of fun.

The drink of the day was of course coffee, or some sort of hot caffeinated drink, most from the Ocean City Coffee Co.



I also had a chance to see the boardwalk construction first hand:



Not much to look at, I'm afraid, but it looks better than the worn down boards, and at least it's not rain forest wood.

After having lunch at the Chatterbox, I made my way down Ocean Drive, stopping at few spots until I got to the Ocean Drive Marathon in Wildwood. Then it was onto Cape May to visit with a few people who helped me with the book, and for dinner at the Blue Pig Tavern were I had the "Marathoner Marinara" special and conversation with a gaggle of Cape May locals. They were very fun, and all marveled at my decision to run 10 miles the next day (and my ability to stop after one...okay, two glasses of wine).

I didn't sleep very well Saturday night. I don't think it has as much to do about staying in a strange place as running 10 miles the next morning. I've never run 10 miles. My longest run had been seven. I was to do eight miles last weekend, but got sick. Still, I figured if I could get to the seven mile marker, it was just a 5K after that.

The morning of the race was cold, but not freezing. I didn't feel like I needed to run in long pants, though many runners did. I stayed inside until about 15 minutes before the start, and then joined the crowd. I'm chatty at longer runs sometimes, and I met people from Pennsylvania and New Jersey, many running the race for the first time.

And then we were off. Even though it was cold, and incredibly windy (estimated 15 mph winds, all in your face), it's a beautiful race. I've driven from Cape May to Wildwood plenty of times, but you can't take in the beauty of the waterways in a car like you can on foot, even if you are blazing by at six miles per hour.

I did fine through Cape May and into Wildwood. I started out slow, but by mile five, started passing people. I had seen two guys in Yankees t-shirts zip to the lead at the start line, and I ribbed them a bit when I passed them by. They started to walk leading up onto the Wildwood boardwalk, which is when I picked up the pace.

I thought a lot about my book through the course. I passed places I'd written about, ran over streets and boardwalk I had researched under the hot August sun. By mile marker eight, I was almost at a spring. By mile marker nine, the wind blew my hat off, but there I was no way I was turning around. I started to feel sick when I saw the finish line, and my mom and sister screaming for me. That's when I kicked everything I had left into my legs and crossed the finish line.

Thought at this moment: "GET OUT OF THE WAY, LADY!"



Thought at this moment: "Mom, really? I think I might be sick, and you want to take my picture? And how do you work this blanket thing anyway?"



I soon got myself some water, two bananas and a bagel, thanked the women who brought my hat to me, stretched out, and got in the car to have breakfast at Dock Mike's in Cape May. That's when the shakes started. I ran for almost 1:40 and had no idea how cold it was because I was running, but once I stopped, it hit me. I was working on my calves while waiting for my food (pancakes with extra whipped cream because of the race -- thanks friendly waitress).

I hobbled around Cape May after that until my sister put me in the car and drove me to La Costa for the awards ceremony. No better way to carb up than with beer. And I wasn't the only one.



I also got to meet Benjamin Orlock of the Down the Shore with Jen series in person. I didn't have a picture when I posted our Q&A on the blog, so here's one:



I slipped in and out of a doze on the way home, and couldn't wait to take a nice warm shower once I got my dog and made it back to my house. Am I glad I ran the race? Absolutely. Am I still sore? You bet. I think it'll hurt worse tomorrow. Good thing I have no meetings scheduled!

The full race results, for the 10 miler, the marathon, and the 5k, are here. I would like to do a marathon someday, but I don't think it'll be this one. It's just too windy.

On a completely different note: Ever since I first toured Congress Hall while researching my book, I've wanted one of the silly stuffed pigs they sold in the gift shop. So after I finished the race, I bought one:



Apparently, someone else has taken a shine to it:



Emily stared at the pig for a half hour. When I woke up this morning, she woke up, too, and she made a lurch for the pig. I think I might have to switch it from my "book a week" shelf to something higher lest Emily get a hold of it and try to find bacon.

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1:36:19


I'm still tired and sore, so I'll do a full write up tomorrow of my trip through the Ocean Drive Marathon / 10Miler. But at least I got my picture and my time. 1:36:19 over ten miles is a 9:38 pace. Not bad for my first 10 miler -- and in 15 mile per hour winds (yes, winds in my face, not at my back)!

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Down the shore with...Devin Haggerty

I'm a t-shirt person. I'm on a mission to find one vintage t-shirt of every shore town in my book (more on that later), and given that I work from home I'm always looking for cool t-shirts to wear to 'work.'

The gentlemen at www.dirtyjerseys.com are happy to oblige with shirts about the great garden state. Some are specifically about the shore (though all are not PG, so check the website for all the Dirty Jersey designs), so I asked Devin Haggerty to be part of our series.

1. What do you consider 'your' shore town and why?
There are actually two shore towns that are dear to our hearts, Belmar and Long Beach Island. We love Belmar because it's where we vacationed with our families during the summer. We spent hours at the beach, put up terrible numbers playing mini golf on the boardwalk and of course lost most of our allowance money at the late "Belmar Playland." Belmar also became important to us as we got older and discovered the wonders of Bar Anticipation.

Now that we're mature adults, a point up for debate of course, we have come to love LBI. LBI is has great beaches, great waves, and most importantly great Jersey folks that constantly remind us why we love the shore.

2. Most people go to the Jersey shore just to eat. Any recommendations?
Tough question. Pete and Elda's in Neptune City has by far the best thin crust pizza in NJ and quite possibly the world. On the other hand, one can never go wrong at the Ming Dynasty Buffet in Manahawkin where they offer everything from crab legs, to sushi, to unlimited soft serve ice cream.

3. Where did the idea of Dirty Jerseys come from?
The idea to start a T-shirt company actually originated on a long car ride back from Penn State after a night of desperately trying to recapture our youth. Tired and feeling less than perfect, we decided to pass the time by thinking of silly t-shirt slogans. After writing down about 20 or 30 ideas on the back of a Taco Bell napkin a business was born. I could be wrong, but I believe the story behind Microsoft is quite similar.

4. How do you come up with shirt concepts and designs?
We really just try to come up with things that New Jersey residents can relate to...especially if it is something that differentiates NJ from other states. A lot of times we are just sitting around joking and an idea accidentally gets blurted out. Some ideas are decent, but most are tossed aside. Other than that, we seek advice from friends and anyone on our email distribution list. If someone submits an idea that gets made into a t-shirt they are given a free shirt. What better incentive is that?!?

5. Where can people buy Dirty Jerseys?
Right now we sell them primarily on our website www.dirtyjerseys.com and at various street fairs and town events. We would really like to get our shirts into some boutiques or specialty stores, so if any store-owner is reading this and would like to make some money selling NJ shirts please contact us at information@dirtyjerseys.com. We'd love to create some great partnerships with local store owners right here in New Jersey. We also sell our shirts to our parents, because let's be honest, it's their job as parents to support their son's most misguided business ventures.

6. Any hints at new designs to come?
We've got a lot of ideas coming down the pike and we really wish we could make them as quick as we think of them. We're still taking some polls on shirts to gauge interest and hopefully the results of those polls will help dictate a few of the new ones coming out. Just as a sneak peak for your readers, we currently have one in the works about rock legend Bon Jovi and another focusing on the dangers that were Action Park.

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Sunday, March 30, 2008

Update from the Ocean Drive Marathon/10 Miler


I'm home. I'm not exactly sure how I did in today's Ocean Drive Marathon/10 Miler (I don't look at times as I'm trying to cross the finish line), but I ran my 10 miles faster than I expected, especially considering the wind, which knocked my hat off. As I said to my sister about a dozen times on the way home, my butt hurts, and I need a deep, long sleep if I'm going to rally in time for tomorrow's Phillies home opener, so that's all the blogging I've got for you tonight.

Stay tuned for more tomorrow!

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Saturday, March 29, 2008

Weekend Wash Up: And I was Running...

In honor of this weekend's Ocean Drive Marathon, check out this very funny video from Dawn Dais, author of The Nonrunner's Marathon Guide for Women: Get Off Your Butt and On with Your Training:



See you at LaCosta after the race!

Read more at www.nonrunnersmarathontraining.com and www.dreaminmotion.net.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

More on that North/South Jersey Dividing Line


Check out today's Star-Ledger for a Q&A with Steve Chernoski, who interviewed me for a documentary on the dividing line between North and South Jersey (now called New Jersey: The Movie). He was also part of the "Down the Shore with..." series.

Read more at nsjersey.blogspot.com.

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A Mini Book Party


You have to do something special the day you get your first book in the mail, so last night me, my mom and my sister noshed on pizza, an Entenmann's Danish Raspberry Twist (a regular dessert from our shore days) and champagne.

This is my sister's "look, my name's in the acknowledgements!" pose:



Me and my mom:



And Emily's overwhelming enthusiasm:



She was just pout-y because the party wasn't about her...and no one would give her a pizza crust.

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Thursday, March 27, 2008

IT'S HERE!!!!!!!


I have been waiting for this all day. I even got faked out once -- the UPS man brought a package, but it came via FedEx.

However it came, it's here! My book!

WEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I thought I was going to cry, but I was too busy jumping up and down. I can't even believe that it's finally here, sitting next to me on my desk. I think I'm going to sleep with it tucked under my pillow tonight.

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News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Again?! Atlantic City City Council put a hold on the smoking ban vote. Sigh. Just ban it already.

The Tropicana's tidying up their slots area in hopes of a sale.

Remember all that news about new construction in Atlantic City. The big bad R word (RECESSION) might put a stop on some of that.

Robert Strauss writes about the same thing from a different angle in the New York Times.

But if you happen to be in town this weekend, check out Atlantique City.

One of those "wish I'd been there" moments: wild turkeys in Sea Isle City.

You can check out pictures of Strathmere's beach replenishment here. They come from another blog I've just added to the Shore Blog Roll: Strathmere News and Happenings.

Be careful coming out of the OD this year: Sea Isle's installing 23 cameras around town. My tip: go to the bathroom BEFORE you leave.

Here's a nice round up of a few Jersey Shore Easter parades.

6ABC's Erica Grow took a trip down the shore Easter weekend, too. Does this mean no more shore reports with Adam Joseph? Oh no! Not that I have a problem with Erica. It's just that I'd prefer to look at Adam ;-)

I missed the Ocean City talent show. Rats. I could have perfected my Urusla impersonation.

Now that's a valuable chip: $25,000 on one piece of plastic.

Here's a blog post about a trip to the Borgata.

Buffett's coming to Atlantic City again (August 24). I was at least year's concert. Pretty wild.

Still more on that Ocean City rain forest wood debacle.

Sea Isle's Tri for our Veterans is looking for volunteers. Got two hours to spare? Sign up!

Leah Ingram of the Lean Green Family, a fab blog that you must check out, just wrote a wonderful post about "Saving on a Shore Vacation." Wow, the person she interviewed must be an expert...because it's me ;-)

I'm trying not to get too obsessed with checking my Amazon rankings, but I did click over this morning and saw that my book is now the #58 seller of all travel books about...New England. That's pretty cool! But I might have to see about getting that region changed (there is a Mid Atlantic listing).

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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Down the Shore with...Benjamin Orlock

I was going to hold off writing about this until Friday, but, well, I got Benjamin Orlock of the Ocean Drive Marathon to sit down and chat for this week's "Down the Shore with..." so now's as good a time as any to say that I'll be in Wildwood and Cape May this weekend running the 10 mile portion of the Ocean Drive Marathon. Aside from reading and writing, running is a passion of mine, and this is going to be my longest race -- ever. How fitting that it's down the shore.

So I asked Ben about the history of the race and what we runners can expect. And if you're a runner and like taking jogs by the beach, come on out! There's a 5k portion of the race, too (and if you buy my book, make sure to look out for the special feature about how to run at the Jersey Shore -- because it's not quite the same as running inland).

1. What do you consider 'your' shore town and why?
Unfortunately, I haven't been to the shore much in the summer months in many years. My recent experiences at the shore have been mostly the work I do for the Marathon--which is in the off-season for the area. So I'd have to say, these days I've been partial to Cape May as it seems to have the most life during the off-season. Although I have also come to appreciate the emptiness of Wildwood in the winter.

2. A lot of people go to the shore just to eat eat eat. Any recommendations? Especially for those of us who are carb loading?
This weekend I'm going to try a new place I haven't been to yet but it's
come highy reccommended by a few whose judgement has proven reliable before -- Gecko's in Cape May promises to be a great little Mexican place, though I'm not sure it's the best choice for carb loading.

The official pasta dinner for the race will be at the restaurant at the Montego Bay Hotel in Wildwood. This is where many runners stay as well as the site of the Boardwalk finish line for the 10 miler.

New to this year's events are the race festivities that will be going on at LaCosta Lounge near the finish line in Sea Isle City. Festivities will include food, drink, music and good cheer from 10:30 AM until 3:30 PM. The LaCosta will also be the venue for the OD 5K & ODMarathon awards ceremony. For some other ideas, we've been refering our runners to
www.capemaytimes.com.

3. How did the OD Marathon get started?
The idea for the Marathon began 10 years ago when our Race Director, Ed Depalma, presented the idea for a marathon to the Cape May County Board of Chosen Freeholders. The idea was embraced by the Board as a great way to bring exposure to the shore communities as well as a great opportunity for all the local communities to get involved in a beneficial and exciting event.

4. When did you add the 10 mile and 5k portions?
The 10 mile and 5K began the same year as the marathon. The 5K was created primarily as a small event to keep our volunteers and spectators involved at the finish area in Sea Isle between during the time between the start and finish of the marathon.

5. What makes the Ocean Drive Marathon a fun race?
Its a great way to see a beautiful stretch of shoreline and shoretowns, especially since its during the offseason. You get a whole new perspective on the area--so many people only get to the shore during warmer times.

6. I'm worried about the wind and the cold being so close to the water. Any suggestions?
You should worry! It's March on the Atlantic ocean--what more can I say? Hope for the best, but be prepared for worse. The wind can definitely make its presence known--if we're lucky it's from behind! There's a good portion of the race that's run near the water but also some good escapes inland so there's usually relief ahead. I'm not a runner myself, but there will be apparel vendors on hand at the Expo on Saturday to advise runners on what apparel and gear would be best for Sunday's conditions.

For more information, go to www.odmarathon.com.

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No More Smoking in Casinos?

The partial smoking ban in Atlantic City casinos is coming up again today. According to an excellent editorial in the Philadelphia Inquirer, "Atlantic City Councilman G. Bruce Ward is introducing a bill today that would allow his peers do what they should have had the courage to do a year ago: ban smoking throughout the resort town's 11 casinos."

Right now, the casinos are under a partial smoking ban. Again, to quote the Inquirer op/ed, "A partial smoking ban simply makes no sense. It is dangerous public health policy. It exposes thousands of casino employees and millions of gamblers to the dangers of second-hand smoke."

You can read the rest of the opinion piece here.

I hope it passes. I don't care how much the casinos complain about loss of revenue. In 10 years, we'll look back on this and think what we do about when malls still allowed smoking: "What were we thinking?" And I still believe that what they lose in smoker's gambling money they make up with all the people who are going to restaurants and spending money in Atlantic City shops. The stench of smoke kept me away before, and it, in part, still does. Ban it and you'll be more likely to see me inside the casinos instead of just passing through on my way to another smokeless place.

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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Cover to Cover

Mail is one of the best parts of my day. When you work at home with a dog who, unlike cartoon characters, does not talk, it's a break. Plus, I get checks in the mail, and I do like checks.

I'm a little more anxious about mail this week because I'm supposed to be getting copies of my book soon. I did get a package from my publisher today, though it wasn't quite books:



More like the book cover. I'm not quite sure why they mailed this to me, but it's exciting -- like the appetizer you order to get you ready for the big meal. I've seen this before in PDF form, but it's something else to hold it on the same kind of paper that will be wrapping your book, and to see THE JERSEY SHORE nice and big on the spine.

If you notice, I'm posting a little more than usual today. That's because I'm having a hard time concentrating on work when my toilet exploded this morning, and I'm sitting around waiting for the plumber. I just gave an interview the other day where I talked about how I bought my house the same time I started writing this book, and how happy I am that I bought it. Not so sure right now, sitting in the house with towels all around and no running water. Sigh.

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De Jour Come de Nuit, Vive les Vacances aux Wildwoods

Aujourd'hui, j'ecrie en francais parce que Wildwood ouvert un website en francais ici.

That's my terrible high school French way of saying that the Wildwoods have just launched a French version of their website, which you can see here.

Why French? Because, according to a Philadelphia Inquirer article from last summer, 25 percent of visitors to Cape May county are from Canada, many of the French speaking variety.

It was like this when I was a kid, too. In August, you'd hear just about as much French as English at Avalon Campground. Two reasons why: many Canadian factories gave their workers three weeks of vacations in August, and the exhange rate between US and Canadian dollars was excellent. Cape May County even had a tourism person stationed in Montreal.

In the 1990s, the Canadan dollar's value dropped, as did the factory holidays. So did the flow of Canadian visitors. Recent leveling of the dollar, plus people my age who want to share that Jersey shore experience with their kids, is bringing Canadians back. It makes sense that Wildwood would be the one to start a French language website. They do have a motel called the Royal Canadian.

In an email about the website launch, Ben Rose, the always helpful and always friendly director of marketing and public relations for the Wildwoods, wrote, "With our increased marketing effort in Canada and strong interest from our Canadian neighbors, we felt the necessity to offer this service to our French Canadian visitors. We expect this new site to increase the response from the Canadian market." I've been marketing my book to Canadian writers, editors, publishers and bloggers as well (hey Zoey!), and given that I write for the inflight magazine for Air Canada...well, let's hope that the message about my book gets across the border!

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Monday, March 24, 2008

Best of New Jersey Down the Shore

As I mentioned on Wednesday, Dixie Picnic's Upcakes were honored by New Jersey Monthly in its annual Best of Jersey feature, along with a few other South Jersey Shore spots.

You can read the entire "best of" here, and in the April issue of the magazine. I'm happy to say that all of these fine establishments are in my book, even if I didn't write about them for this specific article.

Here's the South Jersey Shore honorees:

Best Topless Upcake: Dixie Picnic in Ocean City, of course
Best Indoors as Outdoors: Harrah's in Atlantic City
Best Boardwalk Vehicle: Wildwood tram cars
Best Fried Flounder: Smith's Marina and Clam Bar in Somers Point
Best Health and Beauty Spas: Cape May Day Spa and Holistic Center

These lists always spark controversy as to who was and was not picked. It's never an easy feature to compile -- I've been involved in six different "best ofs," organizing two (SJ Magazine's "Best of" 2004 and "Best of the Shore" 2007) and writing for all six, and it can border on nightmarish because of all the logistics involved, from what categories to include, to who makes the cut, to how to organize the list, to what gets photographed. But I think they're fun to write and read, and worth the effort.

I wrote a few entries for the feature, and while we're not really supposed to say which "best ofs" we penned, I will say this: Mullica Hill won "Best One-Stop Antiquing" and somehow the entry still mentioned the South Jersey Running and Triathlon Company. Hmm...wonder how that happened ;-)

If you're thinking that the Best of Jersey includes too few South Jersey shore winners, never fear: the New Jersey Monthly annual shore issue is coming in June. I did a lot of work on last year's shore issue, and you can bet I'm playing a big part this year.

So if you were to write for New Jersey Monthly's Best of Jersey or shore issue, what would you include?

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

You Have to See it to Believe It


Yup, Jen wore a pink dress. Don't get the joke? Click here.

I'm back from Arizona, and I'm very tired. Lovely wedding, lovely reception, lovely people. But sleep's looking even better right now. So happy Easter, and more shore blogging to come!

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Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Down the Shore with Jen: The Website

Can't get enough of Down the Shore with Jen? Eager for more information about the book that inspired the blog? Want to track her down so she can sign your copy?

Then you absolutely must go to www.downtheshorewithjen.com, the new website about my upcoming shore book.

Special thanks to my brother for not only drawing a cartoon character of me, but also for putting the site together. Thanks, Jim!

And with that I'm off to Arizona for my friend Nicole's wedding. Have a Happy Easter, and I'll be back at you Monday!

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Bag Day and other AC Delights

I'm pretty good at owning up to my mistakes, so here goes: I missed the height of Bag Day. I thought it was an all night thing, but apparently the peak is from mid-afternoon to early evening. By the time I got there, all that was left was a few sad bags on the wall. As Homer would say:


D'oh!

But that's OK. I had an order of very excellent fries and chatted with Steve Chernoksi and his girlfriend, Jen, about everything from the Steve's documentary to why I have no interest in dating another photographer (they were trying to set me up). It's the kind of winding conversations had over beer and fries at the Irish Pub. If you're ever in town, it is an absolute must-stop, bag day or not.

But my day in AC started much earlier than that basket of fries. I got into town late in the afternoon and parked at Caesar's, which is straight in from the Atlantic City Expressway and $5 for however long you're parked there.



Most of the casino is smoke free, but even as I walked through a non-smoking floor, I could still smell it. I don't know how you get decades of smoke out of the walls and carpets.

Then it was through the casino to the Pier at Caesars. My original destination was the brand new LeSportsac store. As I mentioned in my quick post from the Apple Store yesterday, I used a LeSportsac bag while doing research for my book. They're lightweight, water proof and come in a slew of colors. I usually buy mine at Macy's, or order them online. I'd never even been near a LeSportsac store, so I was jazzed to check it out. I wasn't disappointed either:



Cute, eh? (and I so feel like bunnyshop.org today by writing this post). I'm taking it to Arizona with me. It's a perfect match for the dress I'm wearing to my friends' rehearsal dinner. Here's a link to where you can buy it online.

They had the new Stella McCartney line, too. It was pretty, but pricey and not quite "me." The new guys line was there, as well -- the backpack is tempting.

But that wasn't my only shopping coup of the day. I might have gotten a dress for my book launch party:



It's from the Guess? store (here's a direct link). I wasn't going to stop in at first -- their clothes tend to run small and low cut. But another dress caught my eye. The one I bought ended up fitting better and, I think, is more flattering. Even if I don't wear it to the book party, I'm sure I'll be getting use out of it this summer. Cute!

I didn't have much luck at the Atlantic City Outlets, which is where I went after I was done at the Pier -- either I wasn't looking, or I'd already spent more than enough money at the Pier. I did, however, pick up a new pair of running sunglasses at the Totes outlet (which cost more than the dress, but that's another story). The Outlets are going to be open on Easter Sunday if you're in town.

It was a nice day for Boardwalk walking, too, even though it was cold. It was a good way to clear my mind. It was very empty compared to the summer, which is no surprise, especially for a weekday. In a few months, this area will be swarmed with people:



There's always something interesting to look at. I only saw one street performer, though, and he wasn't the best dancer. Still made me smile even if this made me sad:



I can't imagine my dog running away. I have a Jack Russell Terrier, too, which is why this really makes me sad. Here's a close up of the text on the lost post:



A lot of the shops along the Boardwalk were closed, but I managed to grab a slice of pizza before playing $5 of slots at Caesar's. I try to play $5 every time I go, though I still don't get the appeal of slots. I won $27 this time, which isn't bad. I almost cashed out when I was up to $7.25, so I guess it was worth two more plays (I'm such a risk taker, aren't I?). Then I meet up with a friend from college who works for Harrah's (quite a University of Tampa week on the blog). I'd never sat at the 'outside' bar at the Continental. It's not really outside, but separated from the main dining room, and its spot on the third floor of the Pier offers great views of the ocean.

Then it was to the Irish Pub for fries, conversation and bags along the wall. I didn't get home until after midnight, and I'm still tired. That could also be because I feel a cold coming on -- bad timing considering I have to get on a plane tomorrow and look pretty in pink for my friend's wedding. I'm going to do one more quick post this afternoon about a new fun shore website, then I'll be off until after Easter (well, "off" in that I'll be away from the computer, but not "off" in a sitting-by-the-pool sense. Weddings are hard work!)

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News from Around the South Jersey Shore

News a day early since I'm out of the office the rest of the week. More info about that, plus Bag Day, later today.

Here's a preview post about the Ocean Drive Marathon, which is on March 30, as written by one of the runners. I'm doing the 10 mile portion and will be reporting back from Wildwood and Cape May. Are you or someone you know running, too? Let me know!

An update on the re-decking of Ocean City's Boardwak (and not a rain forest tree in sight). They're right on time. A lot of people start spring by taking a stroll down the Ocean City boardwalk on Easter Weekend. In fact, Wonderland Pier opened last weekend and will be open this weekend, too.

Thar she blows: people are seeing whales from the Cape May-Lewes Ferry.

Here's a nice piece about Ocean City from the Atlantic City Car Service blog.

More updates about that direct train from NYC to AC.

Here's a video from North Wildwood's St. Patrick's Day parade.

Bids to buy the Tropicana were due Monday. Here's a wrap up.

The Village Voice does Atlantic City. (I didn't quite make it down the boardwalk to the Chelsea, which is pictured in this article, last night. It's way at the far end of the Boardwalk. But I'll be writing about it soon.)

Tweet tweet. The Stone Harbor bird sanctuary is getting a walkway.

Quick congrats to Dixie Picnic, makers of upcakes: They just won a "Best of New Jersey" award from New Jersey Monthly (even though I contributed to the 'best of' feature, I swear that I had nothing to do with this one -- proving my point that everyone loves upcakes). It's in the April issue, which should be on newsstands soon. I'll go through that issue with a fine tooth comb and give shout outs to all the South Jersey Shore winners once I'm back from my trip.

And someone posted on the Chow.com message boards about dining recommendations in Cape May. I put in my two cents. Got something to share? That thread is here.

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Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Quick hello!

Hello from AC! I'm typing this post on the Apple Store in the Pier at Caesars. I'm happy to say that I think I got a book launch party dress from, of all places, the Guess? store. I also checked out the new LeSport Sac store, which is a must stop, too -- I used a LeSport Sac bag while I researched the book -- perfect size to hold notebook, camera, wallet, phone, etc.

Anyway, off to hit the outlets, and then Bag Day at the Irish Pub. (Maybe) see you there!

**UPDATE** I just won $27 at the slots. Interesting when you consider that 27 is my favorite number (hence my email address) and I'm currently 27 years old. Maybe I've got good luck today!

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Bag Day

I did a lot of weird things while writing my Jersey Shore book: pet an alpaca, gawked at Miss American gowns, joined up with a "divorce party" at the Tropicana. I even sorta somewhat crashed a wedding.

But what I'm about to see today might top all of that: Bag Day.

Bag Day will be held all day today at the Atlantic City outpost of the Irish Pub. The idea is that you are so hung over from St. Paddy's day that you need to cover your face with a paper bag to show up at the bar -- and keep on drinking. I've been advised to bring a bag, wear green and wear shoes that can get dirty.

I won't get down there until later today because, um, I have real work to do. But rest assured, I am going armed with a camera and my notebook. The camera might even be taking some video. Should be an interesting time.

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Monday, March 17, 2008

Down the Shore with...Amy Hill Hearth

It's not every day that we get a Peabody Award winner on the blog. So I'm happy to introduce you to Amy Hill Hearth, author of Having Our Say: The Delany Sisters' First 100 Years, which is where that Peabody came from. The book was a bestseller that inspired what Hill Hearth calls "Delany Mania."

She's also author of "Strong Medicine" Speaks: A Native American Elder Has Her Say, which will be published tomorrow. It's an oral history of the mother of the chief of the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape of Cumberland County (you can see my review here). We also happen to share our alma matter -- The University of Tampa -- and were both editors of The Minaret, the UT college newspaper. Small world.

I met up with Hill Hearth to interview her for a newspaper article, and realized she'd be perfect for this series, even if her favorite towns are a little bit due north. So here we go:

1. What do you consider your favorite shore town and why?
I actually have two towns that I consider "mine." One is Ocean Grove, where I go when I need that Victorian-houses-by-the-sea experience. The other is Long Branch, specifically Pier Village. It's only three miles from our house, so I like to go there when I need a breather, and it's very, very dog-friendly.

2. How did you end up living near the coast?
My husband and I were living in Westchester County, New York and he received a job offer in Monmouth County, New Jersey. We were happy to have a chance to move back to the seashore because when we met, we were living in Daytona Beach, Florida and our early years together included long walks on the beach there. Interestingly, it may be fate that I've ended up at the Monmouth County shore because my father's family were the first white settlers here in the 1600s. One of our ancestors was a Lenni-Lenape Indian woman named Mary. So in an odd way I've come home again.

3. What's the best and worst thing about living near the shore?
The best thing is that I am where I want to be. I'm not somewhere else, longing for the seashore. The worst thing is that in the summer we have to take the crowds and traffic into consideration. I love summer but I'm always happy when life gets nice and quiet in the fall.

4. What's your favorite Cape May memory?
I have two favorite memories of Cape May. One was in 1982, on a visit with my parents. I had just graduated from the University of Tampa and the three of us drove "the old way" up the coast, avoiding the highways for Route 1. We took the ferry from Delaware to Cape May on a cold but beautiful day in late spring. My second favorite memory is taking my husband there for a romantic getaway in the late 1980s. He had never been there, so it was great fun to share it with him. He grew up in Florida, where so much was bulldozed, and appreciated that Cape May had not been ruined.

5. Are you surprised that it's become such a romantic getaway?
I didn't realize that Cape May is one of the most popular places today for getaways and weddings. Yet it makes sense because it is so lovely and, because of its location, it almost feels like you're on an island, thousands of miles away.

6. What do you think is the biggest misconception about the Lenni-Lenape tribe?
The biggest misconception about the Lenni-Lenape Indians is that people believe they are extinct. The largest (more than 3,000 individual members) and most vibrant Lenni-Lenape tribe still living on ancestral lands is the Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape of Cumberland County, not all that far from Cape May. They have a Powwow that is open to the public. This year, it's June 14 and 15th and will be held at the Salem County Fairgrounds.

7. What do you hope this book does for the tribe?
The best thing about the book is that it is giving the tribe a voice. For four-hundred years, outsiders wrote about them without their input. As a result, my book is giving them a chance to "have their say" at last.

Read more at www.amyhillhearth.com. You can also see a video of Hill Hearth on BN.com.

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Saturday, March 15, 2008

Weekend Wash Up: Happy St. Paddy's Day



The North Wildwood Irish festival is in September, but what better time to run an Irish drinking video? Happy St. Paddy's day, y'all!

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Friday, March 14, 2008

Hey, There She is Again


And the hits just keep on coming.

I wrote an article for the May issue of Oxygen magazine about why you should work out in pairs, and the best way to do it. As if it weren't cool enough to write a feature for a fitness magazine, they even published my headshot (which I call the "toothpaste ad" picture) and a short interview with me. I'm in the bottom left hand corner (the pasty one with her shirt on).

Most of you know this already, but in case you don't: writing about the shore isn't my full time job (though wouldn't that be nice?) I'm a freelance writer, meaning that I write articles for magazines and newspapers. A lot of that is fitness writing, as the above picture shows, but I also write about books, finance, sustainable living and, of course, the great state of New Jersey.

This career of mine is on my mind since I gave a talk this week at Rutgers University-Camden about my job, and I was interviewed yesterday by someone writing an article about me for when the book comes out. In both cases, I talked a lot about what it is I do.

If you'd like to learn more about this sort of job (and it ain't all sitting around watching The Price is Right while eating bon bons), check out www.therenegadewriter.com and www.allisonwinnscotch.blogspot.com.

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Thursday, March 13, 2008

Jen A. in Cool Cape May

Back in January, I wrote about what it was like to stand on the top of the Cape May Lighthouse in the middle of the winter (short answer: cold).

The reason I bared arms in 20 degree weather was because Jack Wright, the grand czar at Exit Zero publishing, wanted pictures to go along with an essay I wrote for the 2008 edition of Cool Cape May, a very cool, very beautiful and extraordinarily helpful guide book that is put into most of the hotel, B&B and inn rooms in Cape May (I used the 2006 and 2007 editions for research while writing my shore book).

Well, what did I find in my mail when I got back home from my seven mile run? A copy of Cool Cape May:



And my essay:




I'd already seen the pictures and layout before the book went to press, but it's still pretty cool to flip open to a page (42, to be exact) and see yourself smiling back, even if your nose is as red as Rudolph's. Though I can't complain -- I'm incredibly thankful to Jack for the opportunity to write about my Cape May memories and, of course, give my book a good plug or two. Jack's also helped inject much needed life into my writing, which I wrote about here. He's a marvelous editor and now a good friend.

So where can you get your copy? Cape May, of course. The 2008 version will be out at the end of April, either in your hotel room, at the Exit Zero shop at Congress Hall, or online at www.exitzeropublishing.net.

And just for fun (and because who doesn't like a picture of a cute dog on a Thursday afternoon) here's a picture Emily standing guard, protecting me from squirrels, the UPS guy and any kind of breeze that makes a noise:

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Wednesday, March 12, 2008

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Crazy lawsuit time: woman sues casino for her gambling debt.

If for whatever reason some judge finds merit to this lawsuit, at least the Atlantic City casinos could settle out of court. Why? Because Atlantic City casino revenue was up for the first time in 10 months.

Some good news: 2008 shore rentals are off to a great start.

Here's an update on the Tropicana situation.

Will that Atlantic City to New York City rail line ever open? This article says "later this year."

It's the 46th anniversary of the "Storm of 62."

Here's the saga of a scallop ship run aground in Wildwood.

Seems that Borgata addition, which was caught on fire this summer (and was already behind schedule anyway), will open in June.

I was just talking about the rich world of New Jersey wines today. Turns out there's a few wine events going on in Cape May.

Michelle Jeffers interviews Chris Noon of Slippery Band about their annual St. Patty's day show at the The Ocean Drive in Sea Isle City on Saturday starting at 9pm.

I am continually amazed by how many shore real estate people have blogs. Did y'all attend the same convention?

And finally, I have Google Alerts set up for all the South Jersey Shore towns covered in my book. It's extra special when I get anything from "Strathmere" because the town is so small and the news so little. But those hits are usually good ones, like this fun site: Dandelion Vintage. It's run by a Carol Baker, who sells vintage clothes and accessories out of her NJ home. And since she said on a blog that spring arrives "when the trailers start pulling into the park in Strathmere." Fun! And fun site! I think I'm liking this dress.

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On Taxes and Shore Research


I've spent the last few days working on my taxes (pictured above, along with coupons from Sunday's paper), and, believe me, it was work. Even though I have a CPA, I do the counting -- from every pay stub to every receipt, and for good reason: I write off everything I possibly can.

Yes, I’m one of those annoying people who holds up the line so she can get a receipt for her airport coffee. But if you had to pay another 15% slice of your pay to the government for the ‘privilege’ of being self employed, wouldn’t you want to count those $2 toward your deductions?

So I had a lot of counting to do, and most of those receipts were related to my shore book. Here’s what I found:

-I drove many many miles in the name of research.
-I spent the most money in Cape May, followed closely by Avalon.
-I really liked eating at the Ugly Mug, the Concord Cafe, Green Cuisine and Wawa.
-CVS was a great place to get office supplies while living down the shore.
-Renting a house with 9 other people in Avalon is much cheaper than paying for a hotel.
-I hate taxes.

So that last one wasn't exactly shore related, but I loathe doing this every year. Not only is it annoying and time consuming, but it forces me to look at my year through financial goggles. In non-shore information, health insurance cost me over $6,000, and I wasn't even sick (something I wrote about, as most of you know, for the Philadelphia Inquirer).

But I cut my magazine and book tab, and I slashed my electric bill in half by moving to a well-insulated home instead of renting the second floor of a poorly-insulated house. If you take out the 60+ mile trips to and from the shore, I drove a lot less, too, by moving to the center a pedestrian friendly town. And I've never felt better by going with a 30-year-fixed rate mortgage for that house, not just because I sidestepped the sub prime mortgage mess (I'm a contributing editor at Interest.com, so this kind of stuff is almost always on my mind), but because I get to write off all the interest on my big, heavy tax bill.

Anyway, this tax review also reminded me of all the work I put into writing my book. I should have copies in my office within two weeks (though it doesn't go on sale until May 3). I'm being interviewed tomorrow for an article about me and the book, and my publisher already sent me post cards that will be sent to those folks listed in the book. It's a bit scary to think that I'll be holding the book in my hands soon. So, authors, what was your reaction to holding your book for the first time? I imagine it'll be something like the first time I saw my byline in the New York Times, though this is obviously a much bigger project. Thoughts?

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Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Guest Blogger: Carl Gydosh

Carl Gydosh is webmaster of two Jersey shore vacation sites, www.njshore-rentals.com and www.beachsummerrentals.com. He emailed me last week and asked if he could share with you, dear readers, why he loves the Jersey shore. And since I'm sort of in the business of promoting this wonderful area of the country, I said "OF COURSE!"

So here's Gydosh's four great reasons to visit the Jersey shore:

1. Family Friendly: The Jersey Shore is very family friendly. Why? Because alcoholic beverages are prohibited on all of the New Jersey beaches; most of the beaches are patrolled by local police and beach patrols ensuring maximum safety; and all of the beaches in New Jersey are clean thanks to daily clean up efforts and strong littering laws.

2. Close proximity to major cities: I can't think of another tourist destination that's so close to so many large metropolitan areas. It's a short drive from Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City. All of these shore towns are also full of history and has lots of tourist activity.

3. Large Beaches: The Jersey shore has numerous spacious beaches. A classic example is Stone Harbor and Avalon where there are seven beautiful miles of pristine beach. There is enough space on the Jersey Shore beaches to ensure that families large and small will have plenty of "elbow room."

4. Great selection of vacation rentals: There is a wide variety of vacation rentals at the New Jersey Shore. Styles include condos, villas, townhomes, and single family homes, so large and small groups will find a shore house to fit their needs, and most of the rentals you will find are within walking distance to the beach. But reserve your summer rental early because open spots book quickly.

For more information, check out www.njshore-rentals.com and www.beachsummerrentals.com And to check out what Gydosh says about my book, click here.

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Sunday, March 9, 2008

Down the Shore with...Steve Chernoski


Back in October, I wrote about how Steve Chernoski interviewed me for a documentary he was filming about where is the middle of New Jersey. Good news, folks: the movie's done. Check out the website here. If you're from New Jersey and ever at a loss about something to talk to about with other New Jersey people, bring up this topic. I guarantee that it'll get people gabbing.

Chernoski also has interesting ties of the shore which, of course, makes him perfect for the "Down the Shore with..." series.

1. What do you consider 'your' shore town and why?
Well, I own a home in Somers Point, so even though it’s a “Bay” town, I’d say that one. It’s got some great restaurants and taverns and a “shore town feel” because of Ocean City vacationers wanting to have a great dinner with some drinks at night. Ocean City has too many kiddies running around and Margate isn’t what it used to be. Longport is my favorite beach.

2. Most people go down the shore to eat eat eat. What's your favorite shore spot?
Too many! I love Buschs for seafood in Sea Isle. Nothing beats wing night at the Windrift in Avalon. My favorite pizza is All Natural Pizza in Ocean City. In Somers Point, the Anchorage and Charlie’s are staples of locals. The best kept secret at the south shore and possibly ranking as some of the best Italian food that I’ve ever had is on Route 9 in Seaville at Mama Mia’s, not far from Ocean City or Sea Isle.

3. Where did the idea of this documentary come from?
Well, I grew up near Trenton in Mercer County and people in Mercer talk about this “identity complex” all the time. We’re right in the middle of the NYC and Philly media markets. After college, I lived in Margate/Somers Point for a total of six years and now I’m in Hoboken. It is like three different states!

4. What's the most surprising thing you found?
That in North Jersey, when you buy a house, you traditionally hold the closing settlement meeting in a lawyer’s office. In South Jersey, you have closing
done in the offices of a title company...and from what we’ve heard, this may or may not be the result of New Jersey being split into East & West Jersey in Colonial Times.

5. So where do you think the middle of NJ is?
You’ll have to see the film...but there is a town that claims to be “The State’s Center.” I have a feeling people who think they live in Central NJ may need to redefine their opinion after seeing where it is.

6. What's the next step for the film?
Well, we are showing a shortened version at Stockton College this April and from there we are entering in many regional film festivals.

7. When can our readers hope to see it?
Well, we’ll post the festival dates on our blog nsjersey.blogspot.com and if a company or investor likes it and buys it, then hopefully it will go to DVD. Right now, my co-producer is predicting late summer – early fall of 2008 for the festivals.

8. What's your next project?
I am writing a script for a documentary, which involves me working with some out-of-shape, aging former HS and college soccer stars to fly them out to Italy to compete in a calchetto (mini-soccer) tournament in the mountains of Emilia-Romanga where my maternal grandparents are from. If it moves forward, it will be a story of “getting your groove back,” soccer (of course) and rich cultural interactions, not to mention the spectacular scenery we’d be filming. Working on a grant to finance it is the next step.

Read more at nsjersey.blogspot.com

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Saturday, March 8, 2008

Weekend Wash Up: Doo Dah Parade



On April 26, Ocean City will hold its annual Doo Dah Parade, a wacky event that celebrates the end of tax season with everything from a basset hound parade to, well, Care Bares.

Why post this now? Because I'm working on my taxes today. All. Day. Long. I have an accountant, but she doesn't count all those receipts, and I think there's twice as many to count this year because of my shore research. Good thing I have a big dining room table and NPR.

For South Jersey Video Mag's report on the Doo Dah Parade, click here.

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Friday, March 7, 2008

In the News: Star-Ledger

It's a strange feeling to be sitting on a train, open a newspaper and see your face staring back at you. That's what happened to me today when I first saw Kelly Heyboer's wonderful article about my Book a Week blog in today's Star-Ledger.

You can read that here.

Granted, I knew the article would be published today...but it's still a "wow" feeling!

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Thursday, March 6, 2008

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

A lot of my friends have cats. One even has a website of cat videos. But I'm extremely allergic, so allergic, in fact, that when I had my latest round of allergy testing, I frightened the nurse by my reaction to cats. So you can guess how I feel about this.

As much as I like going to Atlantic City, I'm one of those people who enjoys everything BUT the gambling. Here's a Boston Globe article that sums up why I stay away from the gaming floors.

Smart move, Curtis: The Chelsea in Atlantic City is bringing two guys from NYC hot spot Beatrice Inn to oversee the nightlife at his new boutique hotel.

And here's, um, two interesting responses to that article. My answer: no, I don't see hipsters infiltrating Atlantic City and if they do, they'd do better to check out the Irish Pub.

Ocean City's offering a memoir writing workshop. My tip: make sure you actually experienced what you write about.

Good news for Strathmere: they are getting sand for beach development.

How many people live down the shore year round? Click here to find out.

And special thanks to Michelle Jeffers for her wonderful post about my book. Thanks Michelle!

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Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Blast from the Shore Past

My mom is having electrical work done at her house, so she had to bring everything down from the attic and deposit it in piles and boxes all over the house. She's taking this opportunity to have us kids go through all our old stuff and decided what to chuck and what to keep.

I think she saved everything -- all my tests, school reports, papers, artwork and awards were stored in shirt boxes. And in those two boxes I found shore items note:


Oh, to be a champion. I don't know if I actually placed in the Avalon Campground talent competition, but I sure did embarrass the heck out of myself. Like every other girl alive in 1990, I was obsessed with the Little Mermaid. I dreamed of sitting on a jetty and watching in amazement as my short blond hair grew long and red, and I'd be whisked away into the ocean, grow fins and play with Flounder and Sebastian. In my version of the story, my father Triton would use his king powers make Prince Eric a merman, too, because who would ever give up the opportunity to live under da sea? (I would soon proclaim that I was going to be a marine biologist -- a goal I held onto until my freshman year of college when I joined the student newspaper.) That summer, we made my mom play the Little Mermaid soundtrack tape on drives trip to and from our summer place at the campground, and I knew every note, every pause and every inflection in every song.

When my parents heard about the talent show, they encouraged us to enter. I wanted to do one of the songs from The Little Mermaid, but I was too shy to sing. Even then, at age nine, I'd realized that there was a divide between the cool and not cool kids, even among the campground's summer regulars, and I was on the cusp. I thought singing would be too embarrassing because I tended to get lost in the moment and belt the words. I'd even started pulling back my voice in church because it showed that I cared, which was definitely not cool. So instead of singing, I decided to lip synch a song. For some reason, I went with Urusula's "Poor Unfortunate Souls" instead of "Part Of Your World" or even "Kiss The Girl." One of my parents probably thought that someone else would pick an obvious song, even though they didn't.

I'd forgotten all about this until I went through the family photo albums looking for pictures of me in Cape May. My mom took a few shots of my 'talent' at trying to imitate an imitate an evil old woman's smoker-gravel voice. Let's just say it's not a picture I submitted for publication (and, no, it did not tip me into the cluster of cool kids, though one of them did try to kiss me two summers later). You'll also notice that the 'certificate' is made out to Jennifer Miller. Egads. It looks like the name of a completely different person, like the person my checks are made out to and that young woman my mom yells at when she's annoyed (e.g. "Jennifer Miller! Get over here and sort through your boxes from the attic!")



This is a ribbon from what must have been a Weird Week competition in Ocean City. My parents entered me and my siblings in Superman and Lois Lane look alike contests. They didn't exactly plan out our costumes -- my brothers sported capes that looked suspiciously like beach towels, and my Lois Lane prop was my mom's purse. I had no shot at winning anyway because someone entered the Lois Lane competition in full Supergirl costume and danced an interpretation of Supergirl's life. I'm not sure what year it was, but it might have been around the time I flopped as Ursula. I'm sure it made me feel better. And, yes, I am going to hell for that thought.

Oddly enough, I'm going to be a judge at a Weird Week event in August -- I'll be judging not a look alike competition, but who is the prettiest hermit crab of all in the Miss Crustacean contest. Now THAT would be the time to break out in "Under da Sea."


And this is Emily's reaction to me taking pictures of something other than her. She almost broke my hand earlier today, so I wasn't exactly jazzed about playing ball again. But after a few rounds of frozen peas on my hand and a lot of Advil, I better get back to my gal.

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Monday, March 3, 2008

Down the Shore with...Michelle Jeffers

Michelle Jeffers is one of those great connections I've made because of this blog. I took a mild swipe at the Sea Isle City Polar Bear Plunge, and Jeffers, a real estate agent in Sea Isle City, commented that I should check it out. Turns out she's a blogger, too, and runs the show at Sea Isle City Real Estate News. She's a life-long shore gal, too, and has lots of advice to offer about real estate, whether you're looking to rent a shore home, rent out a shore home, or even buy one.

1. What do you consider 'your' shore town and why?
Sea Isle, without a doubt. There's something magical about the town from the moment you reach the top of the bridge on JFK Boulevard and see the sunlight sparkling on the ocean. Beauty aside, the people who live, work, and visit Sea Isle make it special.

2. How did you end up in Sea Isle City?
My fiancé and I moved to south jersey to attend college. We're from Ocean County originally, and decided that we'd still like to live at the shore. We found a great place in Ocean City, and I started working at Sofroney Real Estate in Sea Isle. Now we live right offshore, and I get to experience that beautiful view on the bridge every day whether it's to go to the office or enjoy Sea Isle events.

3. What's it like living down the shore all year round?
That's a great question! Often times I'll hear from people that they'd love to live at the shore all year. My response is always, "Why not? You can!" Many people assume shore residents spend all fall and winter locked in our houses with nothing to do, nowhere to go. That's not true! There are a lot of activities all year, and while many shops and restaurants are closed or have limited hours, there's still plenty of things to enjoy.

The beach is beautiful whether it's covered in a sea of beach blankets in July or a blanket of snow in January. And really, that's the biggest draw for so many shore residents. I can't think of a more peaceful setting than next to the ocean. It's really an ideal situation.

4. What's your favorite Sea Isle City event?
The Polar Bear Plunge. This February over 1500 people paid money to jump in the freezing cold ocean while about 10,000 people watched. There's a costume contest and a throne made of ice for the Plunge Queen. The majority of the money raised goes to fund the free summer events like dance parties, movie nights, and concerts. The promenade is packed with more people than you'd ever see during the summer, it's awesome and a ton of fun.

5. How long have you been in real estate?
I joined Sofroney Real Estate in 2003, but prior to that I worked as a legal assistant to an attorney who handled Real Estate transactions and related cases.

6. What are some of the joys -- and headaches -- about dealing with so many rental properties?
Our rental inventory is huge! The hardest part is keeping property availability up to date. Property owners in Sea Isle have the option to list with as many real estate offices as they want, which allows us to have such a large rental selection, but it can sometimes lead to problems.

When a realtor books a rental, we contact the property owner and the other offices that list that property, but it does sometimes happen that a realtor won't be notified of a rental. It's always very disappointing to have to tell a family the home they fell in love with isn't available. We all try to avoid that, but it does sometimes happen, and it's difficult.

My work is helping people to make lasting memories, and there's no greater reward than that. It sounds a little cheesy, but it's an awesome feeling when a family finds a vacation home they love. The family is so excited when they finally find the perfect home it's infectious! That's the greatest joy, knowing that ten, twenty, fifty years from now one of my renters will look back and remember all the fun they had vacationing in Sea Isle.

7. Any tips on staying sane on Saturday changeover days? ;-)
Breath deep, enjoy the salt air, and just relax. The traffic won't last forever. Take the motto "Smile, You're in Sea Isle" to heart.

If you're renting with our office, use our express service! Knowing how hard it is to find parking near our office at 42nd Street and Landis Avenue we offer an express check-in and check-out service. We'll meet renters at their car and hand-deliver the keys so they don't have to find parking.

8. What would you say to someone who wants to buy a shore house but isn't sure what will happen to the prices?
People who are thinking of buying have a great opportunity. The home prices are drastically reduced, the mortgage rates are low, and inventory is high. It's impossible to say that prices are as low as they're going to go, that we've reached the bottom of the market, because you can't tell the bottom until after the fact, when the market's already on it's way back up. What I do know is that the prices will go up again, and we're starting to see more activity now. The outlook for 2008 is very strong because of those three factors: low prices, low mortgage rates, high inventory.

This isn't the market for "flippers" you're just not going to buy a property, do nothing but hold onto it for a few months, sell it quickly and make more money than what you paid for the home. Someone who buys now should be buying for the long term, looking to buy a place that they'll use or rent out for years to come. If you can do that, and you want to buy a shore home, then it's really a great time to get into the market.

9. What's one piece of advice you would give to someone about being a good renter?
Communication is key, as it is with any relationship. If a renter checks in and the home isn't properly cleaned, let us know right away. If an amenity or appliance is missing or not working, let us know right away. If you happen to accidentally break something, let us know right away.

I want to make sure you're happy; in a home that's in great condition with lots of amenities you can use and enjoy. I want to make sure that you receive all of your damage deposit back at the end of your stay. If I don't know of any problems or issues, I can't help you. Don't feel like it's a burden, that's my job, and I want to correct anything that you're unhappy about the moment you think that it might be an issue.

10. And what's your favorite time of year in Sea Isle City?
September is the best-kept secret in Sea Isle! The weather is nice, the water is warm and the town is less crowded. The shops and restaurants are still open, and every one is happy to be soaking up the last few weeks before the weather changes.

On September 13-14 there's Fall Family Festival. There's a large food court with local restaurants set up on JFK Boulevard between Landis Avenue and the promenade. On Saturday vendors set up on the promenade and sell all kinds of items, from handmade jewelry and artwork to purses and clothing to household and decorative items. There's also a dance contest! On Sunday the promenade is full of antique cars, with owners who are more than willing to tell you the history of the car. There's also a sand sculpting contest, along with a demonstration from an amazing sand sculptor, and free trolley rides pointing out some of the historical places of Sea Isle.

On the 19th and 20th the Irish Festival is held at La Costa, and on the 27th there's The Baby Boomer's Rock and Roll Revival with Jerry Blavat.

As if that wasn't enough, the rental prices are drastically reduced. A renter could find the same home for a week in September for less than half the price or even a third of the price of a week in July or August! Some properties even rent weekends beginning in September, if you can only find a few days to get away rather than a full week.

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