“They’re trying,” said the Colony Motel’s co-owner, Bernknopf. “We should be 100 percent by next year.” (According to Bernknopf, about 30 of the 40-odd lodgings have reopened.)
No doubt, the progress is fitful, especially along the two piers, which have grown into a tertiary tourist attraction. At Casino Pier, I watched workmen array the disassembled seats of the chairlift and dust off large panels with Southwestern desert landscapes. To the south, tourists congregated around the chain-link fence protecting Funtown Pier, which appears to have been chewed off by a sea monster. At the end of the boardwalk, I settled into a picnic table at Park Seafood that overlooked the decapitated head of a giant (fake) snake and a lone T. rex staring off to sea. I can’t read dinosaur emotions very well but imagine he was pretty choked up.
By next summer, one can only hope that the snake’s head will be reunited with its body and that T. rex will have playmates again. That should lift his spirits, and Seaside Heights’s, too.
The other Sandy
Observations from my drive up the Jersey Shore:
Ortley Beach: needs a lot more cleanup time.
Lavallette Beach: My, what impressive camel humps of sand you have.
Mantoloking: Shed a tear for the lost mansions.
Belmar and Point Pleasant: looking good.
Long Branch: a bit of a tight squeeze on the beach but overall a solid comeback.
Sea Bright: a little scruffy but definitely ready for the hordes.
Sandy Hook: a giant sigh of relief.
After hours of driving in and out of towns, I finally arrived at that other Sandy, the tranquil and non-menacing Sandy Hook Unit of the Gateway National RecreationArea. It was the last stop on my tour, so I could finally throw down a towel and surrender to summer.
I pulled into Lot C and crossed over to Sandy Hook Bay. Kitesurfers sailed across the small chop and families picnicked on the narrow strip of sand. I returned to the Atlantic side, where the beach is wider and a low wall of boulders embraces the shore.
To reach the ocean, I had to pass by a bathing facility and a concession stand covered in plywood. My feet soon hit the sand, and the blue water drew closer. With each step, the distance between Sandy and summer grew, until all reminders of the storm disappeared.