Friday, February 27, 2009

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Oh, Miss North Wildwood. They can fall so fast.

I can't help by think of Arrested Development when I see the word "Loverboy" (they were in AC).

Green Jersey talks up the best beach survey, too!

Caesars settles a discrimination lawsuit.

West Wildwood has one road on and off the island. And now it'll all be on camera.

Again with the rainforest wood? This story will not die.

So a guy walks into a casino and steals 91 lobsters. That's it -- I have no punch line.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Out of Office Message



I'm out and about until Friday, so the boss will keep tabs on things while I'm gone. She's tough, so be nice if you comment ;-)

And remember to vote for your favorite New Jersey beach!

And one more thing before I go:



This is not the South Jersey shore, but evidence of why some people might say mean things about NJ's coast. I wouldn't want to go there, either.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Best Beaches

It's that time of year again: the New Jersey best beaches poll opens tomorrow. Vote here!

Last year, Wildwood took the top spot. Will it reign king of the beaches again? We'll find out...and make sure you vote!

Also, Amazon's new Kindlecame out yesterday. My book's all high tech and one of the 240,000 books you can download and read on Kindle for $9.99. No reports yet on how it does on sand (though I do know you can just shake the sand out of the printed book.

I'm headed to the Pool at Harrah's tonight for the Atlantic City Restaurant Week kick off party. Yum -- plus, I get to see John & Lisa of John & Lisa are Eating in South Jersey. I was at the Pool on Saturday night, too, after the LL Cool J concert. When I tell folks about it, they say "a pool? Really?" But it's fun, plus a nice warm respite from this cold we're getting in Jersey these days.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

I was on a boat -- no, really!

Like woah.

The LL Cool J concert in Atlantic City on Friday night was amazing. I used to review concerts, and I haven't seen a room with that much energy in a long time. I think LL brought women to dance on stage with him three times (if I wasn't in the balcony for the show, I would have done everything in my being to have gotten on stage).

That being said, no cameras were allowed, so I did not get pictures with LL -- not even of his abs. Sigh. But that's okay. My evening, plus trips the next day to see Lucy the Elephant, lunch at Ozzie's in Longport, then sightseeing in more than made up for it (surprise of the day: the Ugly Mug was PACKED at about 3pm on Saturday -- good thing, but I was surprised about the wait!)

So even though I don't have pictures from Friday, I hope that this will make up for it:



This is my brother Jim. Today is his birthday -- his 30th. And for his 30th birthday, we made him a muppet. Yes, a muppet.

The picture was taken on the Staten Island Ferry. It's my brother's fiance birthday, too (and my sister's tomorrow), so me, Jim and Stephanie headed up to NYC to see my younger brother Mike:



If you can't tell, we had a lot of fun at FAO Schwarz. I had my picture taken with a wizard...



...and an Ugly Doll.



For those keeping score at home, that IS an Exit Zero hat in my picture.



After these pictures were taken, Mike turned to the Ugly Doll and said "I hope you feel better soon."

It was a long, strange, fun and great weekend, leading up to a busy week that will take me back to Atlantic City and up to Asbury Park. Who says there's a shore off season?

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Friday, February 20, 2009

I'M GONNA KNOCK YOU OUT!



I'm headed to the Showboat in Atlantic City tonight to see LL Cool J's House of Blues concert tonight (HOB is in the Showboat). My goal is to have a picture taken with his abs.

I'll be celebrating my brother's 30 birthday on Saturday, so I'll miss the Showboat Mardi Gras parade (Showboat does, after all, call itself "the Mardi Gras casino." If you're in town, the parade take place at 4pm, 6pm and 8pm on Saturday, staring at the Orleans Lobby (near the Starbucks), through the casino to the House of Blues courtyard and then back to the lobby. The parade's being lead by Chef Duff Goldman from the Food Network's Ace of Cakes.

For a complete list of Showboat's Mardi Gras events, click here.

I'm excited to see LL (because Ladies Love Cool James), but what am I really looking forward to? Dinner at the Foundation Room. -- if I can get down to AC in time. Speaking of food in Atlantic City, I'm writing about Atlantic City Restaurant Week over on Southern Exposure, my blog for New Jersey Monthly. It'll be a tasty week!

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Where do I even start? Let's deal with the casinos first:

So Donald Trump quit the board of the company that runs the casinos with his name -- and then they all go bankrupt. Cut and run? I think so. I'm not shocked about this. We knew it was coming, but it still hurts to see it.

It's official: Resorts is facing foreclosure.

The Tropicana's former owners -- who were so bad at running the casino that the state essentially kicked them out -- wants a second chance.

I don't see that happening -- especially since billionare Carl Icahn, who had owned the Sands, has shown interest.

And Trump's getting sued for a tax settlement, too.

And then the tragic news that Tracy Elizabeth Hottenstein of Conshohocken died in Sea Isle last weekend. She was in town for the Polar Plunge. Nothing yet whether she died while plunging, though early reports said she was in town to watch, not swim. Horrible news.

Ocean City's considering boardwalk cameras.

The owner of JP Prime in Wildwood is facing contempt charges for continue to operate the restaurant after it was ordered closed -- twice.

This gas station always gave me the heebie jeebies, even before the recent robbery.

This is cool: Rock Band Nights in Atlantic City!

Here's a nice piece about Cape May Stage.

It's duck stamp time!

More about snow owls in Stone Harbor.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Vote, and I'M ON A BOAT!

New Jersey Monthly's working on its 26th annual Reader's Choice Restaurant Poll. Want to vote for your favorites? Click here. (I can't vote since I work for them, so it's up to you to get South Jersey and Shore restaurants on that list!)

In other news, this was totally my idea for a "Down the Shore with Jen" 2009 video -- T-Pain included (video has curses though they are bleeped out)



I kid. I hadn't actually thought about doing a "Down the Shore with Jen" 2009 video series until I watched this video. I'm not sure what I'd cover this year -- here's the 2008 set.

If you could "direct" the series, what would you like to see? (Remember: This is a PG BLOG PEOPLE!)

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Better than the Chapel o' Love

Most news about the shore right now is bad -- even tragic -- and I'll write about it on Thursday on the weekly news round up. Until then, how about some awwwwwwwwww?




These are pictures from the group wedding held in Atlantic City's Boardwalk Hall on Saturday. Cuter than getting married by Elvis...

Also, over on Southern Exposure, my New Jersey Monthly blog: Off to the Aces.

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Your Shore Pictures: Hunt's Pier

Bill Richards is my "friend" on Dailymile.com -- we're both running the Ocean Drive 10 Miler, so we follow along with each other's training. I noticed on his facebook page that he'd also been at the farewell for the Golden Nugget, which promoted a conversation about Hunt's Pier, so Bill sent me some pictures of him as a kid in Wildwood. It's a cool example of how social media can connect people -- and make the five year old Bill famous:







Bill writes: "Every year my parents took my brother and I to Wildwood for one week in August. We would stay at the Port Royal and go to the boardwalk every night. My mom was a pro at the "grabber machine" and my dad took us on rides till we got dizzy. I remember being petrified of the Haunted House. Just hearing the organ music gave me goose bumps. Thanks to my childhood in Wildwood no beach in the world will ever be the shore. Childhood memories like this have help me stay sane while working in finance during these volatile times."

And here's Bill at the Golden Nugget ceremony (Boo! That dude's scary! The caveman, not Bill):



Got shore pictures to share? Send them to jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com.

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Home & Abroad: Atlantic City

I'm happy to make another announcement today (good news comes in bunches, I guess): my Home & Abroad Atlantic City guide is now live.

Home & Abroad, named a best travel website by Travel + Leisure, provides itinerary planning. So if you're going to Atlantic City for a bachelorette party but want to get in some museum time, you put that into the website, and it'll give you a list of places to go. Bringing the kids to AC for four days? Then select "family fun" activities, and it'll give you a list of places to go (that extends beyond the AC borders) with my insider tips. Here's an example -- the entry for Boardwalk Hall. Make sure to click on the "Tips & Reviews" tab because that's where I bring out the funny.

If you'd like to give it a while, click here and go to "Quick Planner," then start filling in what you're looking for.

You *MUST* click on criteria for it to work (e.g. those stars and boxes), otherwise it'll turn up an empty itinerary, and that's no fun after I put in all that work!

It was a fun project -- great refresher on the area to get me ready for all the shore articles I'm writing for summer 2009. Thanks to the editors of Home & Abroad for asking me to create the guide.

**UPDATE** I'm going to be on 1400 WOND (an AM station) sometime between 4:30 and 5pm today. You can listen live at www.wond1400am.com.

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

I Read it For the Articles

Playboy's Miss March is none other than Jennifer Pershing of Somers Point. Since this is a family blog, I'm not going to link to those photos. That's why God made Google, which is how I found this picture of Pershing modeling for Showboat in 2000.

If you're going to start looking for Ms. Pershing in the casinos, know two things. First, she's Mrs. Pershing (she's married) and second, she now lives in Los Angeles.

Hey, did you celebrate today (you know, St. Pitchers and Catchers Day) by jumping into the ocean in Sea Isle? If you took pictures and think it would be cool to see them on the blog, send them to jenmiller27 [at] gmail [dot] com. Remember, kids: FAMILY BLOG. So make sure your costume stayed in place in said pictures, okay?

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Trumped

I mentioned in my last news round up that Trump's casinos got a fourth extension on their debt payment. Now Trump and his daughter Ivanka have resigned from the board of Trump Entertainment Resorts.

Here's the official statement (via Business Week):

“Based on the fact that I am not involved in the management of Trump Entertainment Resorts and that I strongly disagree with the bondholders’ decisions and actions, past and present, with respect to the company, and despite the fact that it currently has the right to use the name Trump for limited purposes, I have decided to resign from the Board of Directors. Moreover, the company has represented for quite some time substantially less than 1% of my net worth, and my investment in it is worthless to me now. I want to leave what I believe will become a highly volatile situation and focus on the many other opportunities that are available to me in these very troubled but exciting times.”

“During the past number of years, in exercising their oversight authority, the bondholder’s representatives have made a series of bad decisions and encouraged wasteful spending, which has led to severe problems within the company. The company is no longer operated to a standard consistent with other of my holdings, in particular, my real estate portfolio, and after dealing with bondholders of the company for an extended period of time, I sense no indication that this will change. I no longer wish to remain a member of the Board of Directors of a company that is controlled by representatives of the bondholders. My daughter, Ivanka, has chosen to resign as well. I will have certain ongoing contractual relationships with the company for a time, which I intend to abide by, and will monitor the situation and protect my rights as required.

“While The Trump Organization grows and flourishes, Trump Entertainment Resorts, of which I am a stockholder, has languished. The Trump Organization’s portfolio of residential, commercial, hotel, and golf properties has expanded all over the world, while Trump Entertainment Resorts has yet to diversify outside of Atlantic City. I have watched the collapse in enterprise value of the Atlantic City Tropicana, where bondholders’ values have been reduced to almost nothing. I do not want to take part in a similar fiasco here.

“Some time ago, I made an offer to buy the company in the hopes that I might be able to reverse its fortunes, but the bondholders turned me down. Now I will study and watch as the horrible and outrageous fees being paid to lawyers and consultants will suck the blood from the company. This internal turmoil will be compounded by dramatically deteriorating revenues across the board for casino companies in Atlantic City as the market tanks and competition from local markets grows. Again, look what has happened at the Tropicana.

“These are very tough times in Atlantic City. Almost every company is in serious financial trouble. Despite this, I will be watching closely and at some point in the future, I hope to return. I have many friends in Atlantic City and have great respect for the Casino Control Commission and other representatives of the State of New Jersey. Even though I am relinquishing my position on the Board of Directors, I remain very concerned about Trump Entertainment Resorts. I will give strong consideration to saving what was once a great casino hotel operation that bore my name. But unfortunately it is clear that I will have to work from the outside — the existing bondholder control will not permit a brighter future.”

**

I'll write more about this next week -- it is, after all, almost 1am, and I'm just finding this out from a friend who urgently IMed me. So, as the Coffee Talk lady would say, discuss. I'll give you a topic. Oh, wait. I just did...

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Friday, February 13, 2009

South Jersey Bureau Chief

Announcement time!

I am now the South Jersey Bureau Chief for New Jersey Monthly magazine.

It's a new position at the magazine. I'll be helping them ramp up their coverage of the southern part of the state and also write a blog for their website that's called "Southern Exposure." The first blog went live yesterday, and I'll be posting there every Tuesday and Friday. The official announcement will come in the March issue of the magazine. Subscribers should get that next week.

Never fear -- I will not stop writing this blog or working from home for that matter because I'm still a freelancer. But as someone who has (surprisingly) made a tidy niche for herself writing about the Southern part of the state, this is an exciting day!

Onto a more important news item: POLAR PLUNGERS! Have fun 0n Saturday -- be safe, stay warm, and don't drink too much before hand that you're puking in the LaCoasta parking lot. I have an article in today's Philadelphia Inquirer -- a Delaware Valley version of "what to do if you love or hate Valentine's Day -- that includes a mention for you guys. And take pictures!

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Shore Houses This Summer?

Over on the ol' twitter, Amy Z. Quinn asked an excellent question: Are people doing shore houses this year?

President's Day Weekend is typically when folks would start visiting houses and choosing their summer getaways. I was also asked today by someone if I wanted to go in a house, even for a quarter share, which I'd never heard before (I've heard of half shares, sure, but quarters?)

It's one of those questions that keep popping into my head while I run -- are people going to have the money? And if they do, will they want to spend it?

I'm interested to hear your thoughts, whether your tradition is to rent a house for a week or go in with 12 of your closest friends to rent a house for the summer. Realtors, feel free to jump in, too.

I'm not sure what I'm doing -- probably what I did last year which was to bunk with friends who live down the shore full time plus a few weekends at Avalon Campground plus many many trips in between. I hope to take Emily back to Cape May in the fall, but between a friend's October wedding in Maine and my sister's wedding in November, I don't know if it'll happen. So we'll see.

But what about you?

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News from Around the South Jersey Shore

The ACES train received buckets of media coverage -- including NPR and, well, me. I won't link to them all, but this is an interesting piece from Chris Shott from the New York Observer -- and a fantastic headline: "Never mind, Philly: new train rockets right to Atlantic City from Penn; rail buffs, beer drunks welcome."

Ah, but casino revenues are still down.

And Trump's casinos gets ANOTHER extension on its debt payment. And another!

YIKES Borgata! This guy is NOT happy.

Anyone else seeing snow owls down the shore?

Cape May's Chalfonte has an Abraham Lincoln connection!

Things aren't looking good for the Beach Theatre.

The victim of a hate crime in Wildwood is victimized again.

NBC40, a shore TV station, is going ahead with its digital transition this month instead of waiting until June, which is the extension Congress gave for everyone to make the switch.

Matt's got a few updates about Tri for Our Veterans.

I'd really like to know where Carol of Strathmere's Dandelion Vintage gets HER vintage clothes!

Flea market at the Cape May Airport? I'll believe it when I see it.

And in unrelated shore news: a 10-year-old spaniel won the Westminster Dog show. Emily, like many older dogs, rejoiced.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Cue the Fabio

I have a story in today's Philadelphia Inquirer about what I call the "secret life of romance writers." The article starts with an interview with Beth Ciotta of Brigantine, author of All About Evie and other books in the Evie series. I also wrote about here briefly on January 14 when I interviewed her for the story.

Enjoy!

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Your Shore Weekend: Valentine's Day Edition

Before you start pelting me with rocks: this is a guide for things to do whether you are in a couple or not (hello? Jen's single, so why would I put myself through that torture?) With Valentine's Day on a Saturday, there's lots to do at the Jersey Shore, even if you would love to murder that bow and arrow toting baby. So here goes -- each category kicked off with a musical selection.

But before I begin: there's a LOT going on. I couldn't get to every single event (I have paying work to do, kids), so this is a selection of what's available. If you're aiming to stay at a specific place and want to see if they have a special, I bet they do -- call and ask. Or you can search specifically for Atlantic City Valentine's Day events here.

The Look of Love


If you want to drop big cash, head to Red Square at the Tropicana. They're offering a $500 Caviar Special showcasing an assortment of four 1 oz. servings of caviar, paired with a bottle of vodka. They'll also be dishing up a a one-of-a-kind $1,000 dessert for Valentine’s Day (makes that Lucy dinner look like a STEAL).

For something more in most people's price ranges, check out the Palm (also located in the Quarter). They're offering an all-inclusive, three-course Lobster & Champagne Dinner for Two for $125. P.F. Chang's got a special going, too -- $39.95 dinner for two menu that's being introduced on February 14.

If you're looking to stay overnight at the Trop, they're offering a Valentine's Day special. It includes a one night stay, $40 gift card good throughout the Trop and The Quarter, breakfast for two at the Fiesta Buffet or Seaside CafĂ©, two drinks at Tango’s Lounge or Rumba Lounge, and two revue show tickets. Price tag: $395.72.

Absecon Lighthouse is hosting what they call "An Evening of Romance and Renewal" from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Couples can swap spit in the lighthouse tower with catered aphrodisiacs on each level while dancing to romantic DJ spins. An on-site minister will conduct a vow renewal at 8:30 p.m. Tickets are $100 per couple.

This sounds fun: Resorts is offering a “Dinner and Disco” menu at Gallagher’s Steakhouse on Friday and Saturday. The three-course, prix fixe menu for two includes admission to Resorts’ hit 70s and 80s dance club, Boogie Nights. Price is $160 per couple.

The Pier Shops at Caesars is having a Valentine’s Weekend Reception on Friday and Saturday with live entertainment, champagne bars and specialty chocolates available to shoppers on its third floor. [UPDATE NOTE: Apparently, this event is not free, but the people at the Pier won't tell me how much it costs. Take that as you will].

Like wine? Check out Cape May's Wine weekend, which -- of course -- is this weekend. Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts has the details.

The Chelsea's offering a package called the "Penthouse Serenade" (bomp chicki wow wow!) If I had a sweetie and could pay in Monopoly money, this would be my choice: You'll stay in the penthouse suite, which has a fire place. You'll also get champagne, Sweet Tarts and Red Hots delivered at your arrival. Dinner is a five course, dinner for two served in the suite plus a late night snack that includes a pint of Haagen Dazs Dulce de Leche Ice Cream (with two spoons, of course), Courvoisier Cognac of 2 Riedel Brandy Snifters (which you can keep). But that's not all -- you'll also get a two-course breakfast in bed and a late checkout. The price of the Penthouse Serenade varies depending on what night you want to stay: Thursday is $999, Friday is $1,099 and Saturday is $1,299 (plus tax).

The Ocean City Theatre Company's holding a one night only cabaret of Broadway love songs on February 14. Check out www.oceancitytheatrecompany.com for details.

Or you could just get married. Atlantic City holds a group ceremony every year. I'm hearing there's already a waiting list for Saturday's event. No surprise. Brother and sister, shield your eyes (yes, both my brother and sister are getting married in 2009, but not to each other, duh): who can spend big buckets of money on a wedding, especially in this economy?

Kill Cupid


TAKE THE PLUNGE! The Sea Isle City Polar Plunge is on Valentine's Day this year. Perfect! Here's the details. I hemmed and hawed about participating, but had my answer handed to me: I have to work on Saturday (which would have sucked if I had a boyfriend, but it's not so bad all around). If you do go (and I know some of you are), PLEASE take pictures).

Howie Mandel is performing at Resorts, and nothing says "I don't" like the Deal or No Deal guy -- at least to me. I can't stand that show.

Like ghosts? Check out Cape May's Historic Haunts Combo tour, which includes a trolley tour of the town's most haunted houses and then a tour of the Physick Estate. It all takes place on Saturday. More info here.

Aaron Lewis of Staind is playing the Borgata Friday and Saturday night. I listen to Staind when I lift weights -- enough said, eh?

I don't know what I'll be doing for the rest of February 14, outside of that interview. I know I need to get in a four mile run, and I'm toying with the idea of going to Speed Hating at Drinker's in Philly, but I'd rather not create a scene. Whatever I do, it will be better than having to listen to the amorous evening of the couple downstairs (though I shouldn't complain -- after that incident, I started looking for another apartment and ended up buying a house).

I'll probably get a round of this song in, too...



...and hope that I never hear that "It's not you, it's me" speech again...ever because if I do, I might have to strangle someone.

In re-reading this post, I can see there's a little bite to it. I actually don't mind Valentine's day. I had a lovely date last year, and I think it can be a fun, but the timing stinks, at least for me. And my momma says I'm funnier when I'm ticked off, so I hope you enjoyed it :-)

You might also notice an addition to the side bar on your left: My dailymile.com updates. It's been a great tool to track workouts as I get ready for the OD 10 Miler, and to meet other folks who are doing the race as well. So if you're on the site, let me know! I'm into week four of my 10 week training schedule, and logged over 25 miles last week. I feel great, too -- like I'm improving and will hopefully post a faster time this year!

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

On the Beach with Jen

I've got sand in my bag, and my nose is a little bit redder than a doctor would recommend -- and I'm back from the beach.

I had a great time in Tampa/St. Pete Beach -- well, more so in St. Pete Beach because that's where I stayed. I spent all day Saturday with my butt parked on a beach chair (hence the red nose, though I did wear suntan lotion).

My only regret about the trip is that I didn't stay longer. I think I need a vacation.

Anyway, onto the pictures.

I stayed at the Sandpiper Tradewinds, a three star hotel that's right on the beach. Even though I knew Tampa well from college, I had no clue about St. Pete Beach other than the Don CeSar because my grandparents took me there for lunch when they visited in college, and as much as I'd have liked to stay there, it was way out of my price range. I found the Sandpiper through Curingcoldfeet.com (tip: book your car rental when you book the hotel. Big money saver).



It was nice -- but not as nice as its sister hotel, the Tradewinds Island Grand, but I can't complain. The Sandpiper was just fine.

I spent most of Thursday and Friday in Tampa, but Saturday -- oh, Saturday -- it was all beach all day, kicked off with a 7ish mile run from St. Pete Beach through Isle Del Sol (yes, that map says 8, but I got a little lost and ended up running 7.5). That span over the Pinellas Bayway was gorgeous -- right over a nice stretch of blue green water.

Then it was time for one of my favorite dining establishments:



"BLT on wheat toast with mayo, and could I get hash browns instead of fries?" PERFECTION. Florida doesn't have diners like NJ does, but they do have Village Inns. Many many of them, and I've never had a bad meal at Chez Village.

Then it was beach time.



St. Pete Beach is not the Jersey shore -- obviously. It's on the Gulf of Mexico, the beaches are wider, and it has a transient feel. Everyone really is from somewhere else, and not just an 1.5 drive away. I saw a lot of tour buses from Canada, and met a German couple who stayed a few rooms down from mine.

You can also see the sun set on St. Pete Beach (which, yes, you can do in Cape May but no where else along the shore):











Yeah, I'll be lavishing my face (and torso) with moisturizer for the next week. Little bit too much sun, but boy did it feel good.

And in the most random picture of the voyage:



Last night, I went exploring with a few people who were staying at the same hotel for a dental conference. Our goal was to get a drink at a bar that was not part of the hotel "campus," and we found a Russian bar -- St. Pete Beach does, after all, at least share part of its name with St. Petersburg.

Fun trip. I wish it had been a longer trip, but duty calls.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

So Where Y'all From?

Quick hello from the Tampa area! Hope the Jersey Shore's treating you well.

Since yesterday, this blog has been getting about 15 times more hits than usual, and I can't figure out why (Google analytics hasn't shed any light on the situation, either).

So where'd you guys hear about "Down the Shore with Jen" ? Heck, even if you're a regular reader, feel free to drop a note in the comments and tell me how you found the blog. This whole thing's got me curious!

It's nice here in Florida, but it was incredibly cold for a while -- even getting down into the 20s last night. I know I dealt with colder temperatures in NJ, but Floridians aren't used to this brutal cold -- and neither are many of the tourists who didn't check the forecast. I'm glad I brought my winter coat and a fleece hoodie. Should be in the 70s tomorrow (and, yes mom, I do have my sunscreen!)

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Guide2Ride

The ACES train opens to the public today. So while I'm luxuriating in Florida (actually, this is a working trip and the only beach I'll be seeing is from my hotel window...until tomorrow!), take a look at the mock safety manual I'd referenced in my last post about ACES -- the Guide2Ride as created by One Trick Pony (these go together to form a brochure...if it seems out of order, that's why):



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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

News from Around the South Jersey Shore

Funniest. Shore. Video. Ever: The Wildwood Pretzel. Who needs a groundhog?

Ann Delaney's got her own version of the groundhog in Avalon.

Want a shore house for cheap? Here's information about foreclosures. Their site also shows "price reduced" homes -- probably an easier way to look than to drive around looking for signs.

Atlantic City's casinos have shed 2,700 jobs in the last year.

After being shut down for underage drinking, Keenan's is open again.

Rob Wilson's put up some new LBI photos.

A downtown in WEST Cape May?

Want more Golden Nugget? Here's a very cool three-part series via Funchase.com that mixes video shot in November with vintage reels. They also give you an idea of how difficult it would have been to revive the ride (in case it hasn't been made clear -- the Moreys didn't do this to the ride. When they bought Hunt's pier, the ride was already on it, closed):







I'm headed to Florida tomorrow -- I'm now on the board of directors for the University of Tampa Alumni Association, and we have a big meeting on Friday (it also helps that it'll be in the 70s and I scored a room on the beach for the next few days -- but it's a work trip, I swear!) So enjoy the leftover snow, people!

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

For the Love of Lucy


I was going to post about this next week when I give y'all a guide of what to do down the shore whether you love cupid or want to stab him with his own arrow -- but since the deadline for reservations is this Friday, I have to share now.

Want to impress your sweetheart in pachyderm proportions this Valentine's Day? You can have dinner inside Lucy the Elephant.

That's right -- Margate's big wooden elephant, which literally has a window in her butt (they call it a "pane in her butt," which I think is hysterical), is host to a mega luxe, mega romantic Valentine's Day dinner deal. They offer two seatings with spots for 20 couples at each seating. Dinner includes appetizer, salad, soup, choice of entree, starch and vegetable, plus dessert and coffee. Ladies are given a long stem rose, and the gents get a bag of peanuts and, if the weather's good, each couple can do a champagne toast from Lucy's howdah (that thing on her back where you can look over the island).

The catch? It ain't cheap. The per couple cost is $245 plus $40 gratuity plus $17.15 for taxes -- but part of the cost is tax deductible since this is a Lucy fundraiser.

For all the details, plus a menu and spot to make your reservation, go to www.lucytheelephant.org.

I will have a more detailed "Your Shore Weekend" in regards to Valentine's day next week, so stay tuned...

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Monday, February 2, 2009

Riding the Rails on ACES

On Friday, I took a test ride on ACES, the new Atlantic City to New York City luxury train that starts operating this Friday. It was a media ride, meaning the only folks on the train were those writing about it and promoting it. I'd like to test it when it's in full swing to see what passengers think -- but after hours on the train, I give it a thumbs up.

The train, which is being subsidized by Harrah's, Caesar's and the Borgata, is nice. VERY nice. They took an NJ Transit car and tricked it out with plush leather seats (even in coach), bar cars, and even lounges that you can reserve if you're coming on the train with more than four people.

I took a few pictures but can't find the little do hickey that lets me upload the photos, so here's the press pictures (which are better than mine anyway). Here's first class:



And coach:



I tested the first class and coach seats -- even the coach seats are better than coach on Amtrak, and about the kinds of seats you'd find on an Acela train.

Here's that lounge:



It's meant to be a mini party area -- you can hook up your ipod to play tunes for your group.

The concept makes sense. If you live in New York, the only way to get to Atlantic City is by car, bus or limo -- for someone who relies on public transit to get around, making that trip in the dead of summer traffic is a nightmare (it's not much better from Philadelphia, but we're more likely to have cars, and NJ Transit already runs a train to Atlantic City). ACES is supposed to help people jump over that hurdle. The train times give a clear indication of the demographic they're going after: trains leave from Atlantic City at 2:32 a.m. so you could go out and come home without having to stay over (if I could pick one train ride to test while the train's in operation, that would be it...)

The question is: are people going to pay for it? Coach tickets are $50 one way; first class $75. The casino officials who mixed and mingled with the reporters said that they're not necessarily looking to turn a profit on the train -- they want to get more people to the casino so that they spend money there. It's a way of getting more bodies (and cash) into town. And if you're paying $100 to get to and from Atlantic City, you're most likely a cash customer -- someone who doesn't expect to be comped everything in exchange for playing the nickel slots. It's also a weekend only service.

You can read more at acestrain.com, or buy tickets at amtrak.com. If you do go, I offer you two pieces of advice:

1. Read the "safety" manual. It's not really a safety manual but a very fun and creative spoof of one.
2. GET THE BROWNIE. Oh, dear Lord, that's one good brownie they serve on board.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Pictures of the Day

Three shore trips in three days? Yes, that's what my schedule has been.

I had more work to do down the shore, and since I'm leaving on a short trip to Florida at the end of the week, I had to work today. I'm not at liberty to say what I was working on (contracts, blah blah blah), but I can say that it was a stunning day in Wildwood and Cape May, much warmer than yesterday. I could actually feel the sun. Yesterday, it was like the sun hadn't turned its heater switch on.

But what I saw wasn't always as encouraging as that warm sun:



I took the picture in Wildwood but saw similar signs in Cape May County. I stopped counting how many "price reduced" signs I passed as well. Yes, this is a problem all over the country, but a lot of people prospected in Wildwood, whether buying or building, and those prospects are taking now. This is the first time I've seen such a sign -- hopefully it'll be the last. But on the bright side, if you always wanted a shore house, there's deals to be had.

I kept driving South and finally -- FINALLY -- found an item that people have been calling and texting me about since the summer. My face is on a purse:



The purse is sold at the Bamboo Shack, a lovely store that sells purses made of all kinds of newspapers -- hence my face on a bag. Very bizarre. Thanks, Deborah, for Vanna Whiting the bag for the picture.

At the end of my trip, I ended up in Townbank, which is part of North Cape May. This is an interesting sign:



I plan to investigate.

I stopped in Townbank to check out the beaches. It's along the Delaware, and the beaches are dog friendly. I didn't have Emily with me today, but I'm always scouting, and the beach offers lovely views:





And then I went back home again.

I'll admit it: I'm exhausted. Thank goodness my father drove yesterday or I might have road raged on some of those Pa. drivers clogging up the Atlantic City expressway.

That post on the ACES train is still coming -- hope to have it up tomorrow.

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