Sunday, August 30, 2009

Down in DC

I had a great time catching some down time in DC since Thursday. I didn't want to come back. My brain and body are tired, but I have deadlines stacking up in September, so that vacation will have to wait for fall.

But the time I did have was a blast. I went to DC on strict orders of R&R. I visited with a lot of old friends -- some who I hadn't seen in three years -- and spent time with my brother and sister in law. On Friday, I just wandered. I brought my camera with me everywhere I went. I interned in DC in 2000, and I never took pictures of things that I thought were interesting, like the Metro and Union Station. They are marvels. So here's what I photographed:

This last picture has a funny story behind it. I went to DC on this particular weekend because my college roommate and sorority "big sister" was in town. So I hung out with her while she wasn't in conference sessions. On Saturday night, we had dinner at Bistro Bis (thank you, DC restaurant week!) We took a cab back to the hotel, but while stuck in traffic, an obnoxiously drunk woman decided she needed to get in the cab with us. Her rants were along the lines of Mel Gibson -- NO LIE. The cabbie didn't know what to do, but me and Crissy figured she wasn't a real threat aside from the cigarette she tried to light, and she was dead against getting out of the cab, so she rode with us to the hotel, then the poor cabbie had to drive her to Virginia. The bellmen at our hotel must have thought that WE were the obnoxious drunks because Crissy and I laughed so hard that we couldn't walk.

The wandering did me good. I had a chance to visit the renovated Nation Portrait Gallery, actually take a tour at the Folger Shakespeare Library rather than just wander around, and stuck my feet in the National Gallery of Art sculpture gallery fountain. I strolled down to Adam's Morgan, ran through Rock Creek Park and got caught in the rain on U Street. It was a random and completely relaxing trip.

It's a great city, and one I almost moved to before buying my Jersey house. It's great in the fall, too. With Much Ado About Nothing being put on by the Folger this fall? I think I'll be back soon.

Back to the grindstone -- I'll be in Cape May on Wednesday to work on a story. I'm curious what the crowds will be. Even though we haven't gotten to Labor Day yet, a lot of schools open on Wednesday. Plus, the weatherman says it's going to be a cooler week. Thank goodness. I might be the "shore" person, but I'm no fan of humidity. Welcome, fall. It's about time!

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

Out of Office

I'm off to DC for a few days. I tried to find some patriotic-themed picture in my files, but turned up zip. I have a dog and my hair is blonder from being out in the sun, so I'll go with Reese Witherspoon (and, yes, I'm being slightly sarcastic with the photo).

While I'm not going to DC to fight for animal rights in a watered down sequel, I am going to see some sights...if I feel like it. I have a few meetings, two meetings with Rock Creek Park and undetermined hours set aside for a roof top pool. Emily is holding down the fort as in being spoiled by my mom. It's a win win win.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Last week, we had a bunny. This week? A PONY!

Home prices in Cape May County are still down.

Congrats, Wildwood.

Fun story related to this. I went to college in Florida, and someone there asked me what my father did. I told him that he worked in construction. The guy, a big burly frat guy who we thought might or might not be on steroids, said, "You're from Jersey, right?" I nodded. "And your mother's Italian?" I nodded again, and his face went pale. "Remind me not to piss you off. " I called my dad to ask why, he said that construction companies in Atlantic City, especially those that built casinos, traditionally had close ties to the mob (his company is based in Pennsylvania). Then he told me to let the guy believe what he wanted to believe. This is also the dad who said he'd buy me five pairs of overalls for the summer I worked as a secretary in a jobsite trailer because he didn't want guys whistling at me. (Dad, I know you're reading -- it's still a good story).

Sad that a house like this is being torn down in Stone Harbor. I don't even want to think of what possibly gawdy "my second home is bigger than your first home will ever be" structure is going up in its place.

The Wildwood boardwalk wood controversy still isn't settled. I wrote about it for New Jersey Monthly this year...a lot of testy folks on both sides of the argument.

And finally this one's NSFW exactly, but funny.

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Beach Day

Yesterday, I took the day off and spent all day with my butt in a beach chair in North Wildwood. It was glorious -- a perfect beach day. I swam, I tanned, I frolicked -- yes, FROLICKED in the waves. Then I lounged around a beach-front pool. It's the kind of days that I enjoyed while a kid down the shore. I didn't want to leave. I considered chucking today's work out the window and doing it again, but a gal's gotta work to keep that dog in fancy kibble.

After the beach day, I headed to Atlantic City to volunteer for the Tropicana's Taste of the Quarter, which benefits the United Way. And, yes, I wore a funny hat.

I didn't cook anything, just handed out samples of The Palm's Gigi salad: tomatoes, onions, green beans, bacon and shrimp.

Great day. Really great day. I'll be back down the shore next week for work. Maybe I'll take a few beach hours after work's done. Yesterday proved that salt water really is healing.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Tour de Shore

If you're in Avalon on Sunday, watch out for a bunch of drunk people in costume riding bikes. It's the annual Tour de Shore bar crawl. They're generally friendly folk, but expect swells of crowds at the bars along the crawl.

Check out this Flickr photo set for an idea of what you might find.

I'm off on Monday, hitting a beach in an undisclosed location. If you're in Atlantic City on Monday night, though, make sure to check out the Taste of the Tropicana, a foodie event that benefits the United Way. I'll be handing out samples from the Palm from 7 to 7:30pm.

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Love/hate this video

Summer Song from Justin Gaynor on Vimeo.

Why love it? Because it's awesome. Why hate it? Because I miss when I'd spend a full week down the shore doing nothing.

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

September Shore

Since I wrote about getting away down the shore in September, it seems that every other shore-related email I get says "Hey! It's great down here in September!"

Well, duh. Because it is. The crowds are still there but smaller. With kids on school, even those families with shore homes don't come down as often. The weather is usually warm, sometimes with lower humidity (though my Cape May trip last year involved a heat wave -- BOO).

Best part? The prices. They drop. They're not as low as during the proper off season, but if you're looking to get away for less when it still feels like summer, September is it.

A lot of rentals open up for just weekends, too -- in season, most are strictly Saturday to Saturday (and can you blame them since demand is high?) Example: this bay-front rental in Beach Haven West, right outside of LBI, drops its prices in September by 25% and books long weekends, which they won't do in season. They'll drop prices even lower in October.

So if you're looking for a fall getaway, now's the time to take a peek.

Speaking of LBI, I wrote about the Red Lion diner, where I stopped on Sunday on my drive home, for I can't tell you how happy I was to find a good meal in a good diner on Sunday. Really lifted my mood.

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High, High, Up in the Sky

Enjoy this Donald Duck short on the practice day for the Atlantic City air show, which is a big deal. Here's the details from another article I wrote.

Today is a good day to go, even though the official air show isn't until tomorrow. You'll face far fewer crowds, and it hopefully won't take hours to get out of Atlantic City after the event. If you go tomorrow, plan on sticking around after the show. It's much more fun to play in AC than sit in traffic.

(And why Donald Duck? Dude, why not?)

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Sunday, August 16, 2009


What a summer! This hasn't exactly been the Summer 'o Jen. I've had surgery that took longer to recover from than expected, learned that my boyfriend is moving because of a job transfer, and last night had a massive allergy attack due to a friend's cat.

But I woke up early this morning and drove to Beach Haven to do an interview for a new-to-me magazine, my eyes still puffy and red from the allergy attack the night before. I'd been invited to stay and hang out on the beach, but my face was such in bad shape and I'd slept so poorly, that I knew I'd be no good beach company.

So I turned right around and headed home. I don't use the Atlantic City Expressway to get to LBI. I drive Route 70 to Route 72 right into town. It's one of the reasons why I think people split LBI from Atlantic City south. If you live in the Philadelphia area, you get there a different way (a way that reminds of me going to Girl Scout Camp because my camp is out that way). It's one loooong skinny island.

I like the drive through, which is mostly through the woods. I stopped at the Red Lion Diner on the way back and had a damn good sandwich (But no pickle. Is that normal?) Over that BLT, I looked back on the summer. I feel like I've missed most of it. Maybe it's because I was down there so much working this spring, or because surgery kept me home. I've had a lot of work to do around this area, too (like this piece I did for the New York Times about the Michael Vick signing). My brother got married in June, and my sister is getting married in November, so there's lots to do around home base. As each day of August slips by, I wonder where the summer's gone and if I'll get any good time on the beach (ON the beach, not near it or around it or running on it).

I've realized something else, too: I always hit this funk in deep August. Maybe it's the heat and humidity. Maybe it's every other editor being out of office while I'm slaving away (or trying to -- they can't assign if they're on vacation). That's probably why I look forward to September when the weather dips and everyone seems to be back in working form to meet back up with me.

I hope to spend some time in Cape May in September. I don't think I'll do a vacation this year since I'm saving my pennies to visit Bill in his new home. I love the shore in the fall -- it's my favorite season -- but I want one day, just one day, to sit in a beach chair in the sun and splash around in the water. It seems like such a simple thing...I guess I'll have to make that happen!

P.S. I start training for the Philadelphia Half Marathon next Monday. If you're training, too, let me know!

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Brendan's Fund

Big event of the weekend: I've written about the Brendan Borek High Tides Memorial Fund before. It benefits families with children undergoing cancer treatments. The surf invitational is this weekend -- lots of surfing, lots of music, lots of celebrating one great guy who left us too soon. So if you're in Avalon (or the general area), check it out! My buddies in The Silence will be playing at 10am on Saturday -- rock out for them, too!

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

More bad news when it comes to casino revenue.

More celebrities in Cape May, blah blah blah. Anyone know where those weekly potato sack races are?

Speaking of celebrities -- "not really" category -- I'm going to be a "celebrity" chef at the Tropicana's "Taste of the Quarter" on August 24, which benefits the United Way. I'm not cooking (that might be illegal), but serving samples from the Palm from 7 to 7:30pm. Please come out and support the United Way. Please don't spill on me.

Again in the "not really" celebrity category: Playboy is looking for bunnies in Atlantic City.

Murder-Oke hits the stage!

I really wonder how long Ocean City can keep it's "dry dry dry" stance. I live in a dry town, but with a thriving BYOB scene. I think it would help Ocean City's bland dining scene.

Here's someone else's report on the Sea Isle City 10 mile island run -- without all the crying and vomiting. And I'm not the only one who was challenged by this run. Here's what our "Joy Runner" had to say.

Take a look inside Revel, the under-construction casino.

Bet you didn't know this about Stone Harbor.

More smiling out of towners!

And -- hey hey! -- I got to write about peaches for the Philadelphia Inquirer. Yummy.

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I was invited to this yesterday. While I appreciate them thinking of me, my answer was a big fat NO. Even though some have encouraged me to go out of curiosity sake, pass. Just thinking about it makes me throw up in my mouth a little.

Would you go? The idea of going to Atlantic City on a holiday weekend is enough to keep me on the southern calmer shores. But this? Not our Jersey.

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Resident Discount

I debated whether or not to post about this, but since it could save you money, here goes: if you're looking to stay in Atlantic City or Cape May, check out It offers price cuts at the Chelsea in Atlantic City and the Beach Shack in Cape May.

Why the hesitation to post? Because it's a promotion for two Cape Resorts Group properties that is meant to look like a state-wide discount program (the information was also sent to me by their press person). Just look at the layout and language on the page. Sorta sneaky. But if you want to chop 20-30 percent off your room rate at either hotel, and you live in New Jersey (you MUST show valid NJ Driver's License, NJ University ID or utility bill with an NJ address dated within 60 days of arrival), go for it.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Island Runner

I said I was not going to run the 39th annual Captain Bill Gallagher 10 Mile Island Run in Sea Isle. It's an annual August race that combines conditions I hate: heat, humidity and sand. My plan was to head down to Sea Isle in time to see the start or at least the finish. But instead, there I was in Sea Isle on Saturday morning, turning over a $25 check for a race tag and t-shirt.

I did this for a few reasons. I've felt weak since my shoulder was cut open three weeks ago, but I've started to rebound. I'm out of running shape but knew completing this challenge would help me get back on track and be a boost when I start training for a November half marathon. Just watching the race would have make me antsy. And the biggest reason: Bill, my boyfriend, is moving to Minneapolis in September. I hope this isn't our last race together, but if it is, I wanted to run in it instead of waiting for him to cross the finish line.

The race was more miserable than I expected. It's 80 percent on sand. Every time you step into sand, you push harder to spring out of it. Add to that the humidity and heat, the sand and salt water, and throw on top of that I hadn't been training, and it wasn't the best race I've run. I think it was the worst.

I was huffing by the second mile. By the fourth mile, I almost quit. Same at the fifth and sixth. I told myself at the start that I would stop if my surgery site started bleeding, but my lungs were in agony.

Once I got past the sixth mile, though, it's all downhill since I knew I'd run more than half of the race. I did everything I could to get across the finish line. I stopped and took a break. I walked. I even cried a little. But I had to finish that race, even if I walked across the finish line. I needed this. I kept telling myself as I plodded along that if I could overcome a major physical and emotional loss to gut out 10 miles in August on the beach, then I could do anything.

I ran the race in 1:33:36. That's 14 minutes slower than my Broad Street Run time, 947th overall. But I don't care. I finished. When things get tough this fall, I can look back to crossing that line and know I've been in worse spots and made it out OK.

A few thank yous to folks who helped me get through the race:

1. Spectators. You guys were great, lining the beach, handing out water between the water stations, and trying to cover up holes in the sand so we didn't fall.
2. Bill's parents. Seeing you guys at mile 4 gave me an extra boost to make it through.
3. Orange people. Whoever handed out orange slices, THANK YOU. I knew I needed something more than water to get me through, and those oranges were it. THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.
4. Everyone who ran. It was a crappy race day, so running it with 1400 other people made me feel less insane.
5. Bill. Thanks for coming back and running the last half mile with me. It meant more to me than I could ever say.

I felt sick after the race (and threw up most the post-race food). My body didn't know what hit it, and I'm still sore today. I don't have to race again until September, though Saturday wasn't really a race for me. It was a finish. Despite the aches I feel today, I am so glad I went to Sea Isle early on Saturday and signed up for that race. I can also say that I ran it...and never have to run it again.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

A Wild Ride

My favorite Scotsman Jack Wright has just published a book called A Wild Ride: The Story of Morey's Piers, Plant Earth's Greatest Seaside Amusement Park. It's about the 40 years the Morey family has ruled rides on the Wildwood boardwalk.

It's a fantastic book -- I reviewed it for I also wrote about it in today's Metro, but I can't find it online. Sigh.

I'm finally back to the beach this weekend, heading down to Sea Isle Saturday afternoon through Monday morning. I can't even tell you how excited I am. All I want to do is sit on that beach chair. Unfortunately, there won't be much summer yet. Sigh again. Get the sun while you can!

**UPDATE** You can see a scan of the Metro article here.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Before we get to the news: I'm looking for lovers of Wildwood. Drop me a line ASAP to jenmiller27 [at]

Moving on...

ESPN checks out fishing in Cape May.

The big Atlantic City air show is coming up soon. Here's a piece I wrote for National Geographic's travel blog about it.

This is a sad story.

But this is a fun Stone Harbor story.

Hey hey! The boaters for autism made it to Sea Isle!

The Hilton's been hit with a huge fine for underage gambling violations.

Do you agree with this article about best boardwalk foods?

This is one happy Cape May visitor. I do love that bread from the Lobster House...

Again with the D listers making news for visiting Atlantic City. Why why why?

Here's more on Boardwalk Empire, a new HBO series based in Atlantic City.

Who has the oldest baby parade? It's a cat fight.

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Captain Bill Gallagher 10 Mile Island Run

Hey runners! Big race this weekend. The Captain Bill Gallagher 10 Mile Island Run takes place this Saturday with a start time of 5:30 p.m.

This is not my kind of race -- mid-summer, start time early evening, and partly on sand. I thought about throwing my hat in the ring and just dealing with the Jen-unfriendly conditions, but I'm slow in coming back from surgery (3 miles yesterday -- whee!) I will probably be at the race, though, and cheering runners across the finish line.

So who else is going?

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