Sunrise. Deserted boardwalks still beckon as the sun seeps over the horizon. Beach and jetty are cool on a mid-October morning, but holding hands with a loved one warms me. The sound of the surf is soothing. The casual flapping of the gulls is relaxing, effortless wingbeats exercising indifference to us.
Ocean City, New Jersey is a “dry” island, devoid of alcohol sales, but it profits from the tourist trade all the same. The off-season leaves few but the locals strolling and cycling along the waterfront. There is still attention to detail, though, decorative cornstalks heralding autumn.
There is a stark contrast between the wild Atlantic Ocean and the amusement park mentality of local enterprises. They merge on the boardwalk where grackles and gulls will steal your fast food. Few shops are open now, the ferris wheel sits idle, and Music Pier is taking an intermission.
Beyond the façade of glitz and the aroma wafting from the pizza joint that stubbornly persists in cooking pies, the neighborhoods are modest, quaint, and peaceful. Houses have modest gardens, but the residents groom them well. It is not a terribly romantic place, yet one feels comfortable here. You will be back, you know it, but no rush. No hurry here, the gulls, grackles and tides will be patiently waiting.