Thursday, June 27, 2013

Jenkinson's Boardwalk - Pt. Pleasant, NJ - Part 1

As I've said before, I usually don't keep up with The Holidaze through the Spring and Summer months, but this year I'm attempting to change that.  So far, I'm having a blast.  See, I think I've avoided these months for so long because there aren't many seasonal products released this time of year.  Compared to the Halloween and Christmas seasons, Summer products usually don't compare.  But that doesn't mean we can't focus on the Summer, we just need to change our direction.

To stay on course and along this new path, I am continuing with the theme of "adventure" and "mini-vacations."  Even if it's only for a day, there is so much to do in New Jersey and New York throughout the Summer that I've obviously been overlooking this aspect of The Holidaze.  Sure, maybe there aren't as many cookies and cakes on the shelves as there are in October, but we do have 90 degree heat, beaches, rides and countless opportunities to have fun.  That's what I've been doing so far and I'm having a great time sharing my experiences with all of you.

This passed Monday, the weather was gorgeous!  It was really the first nice day we've had for the beach.  There are lots of people who don't mind sitting on the beach on a 75 degree day, but I'm not one of them.  I like a scorcher.  I need the sun beaming down on me.  I need that hot, sweaty, heat that makes you want to dive right into the ocean.  Give me all of that, keep the humidity, and I'm good to go!

We were originally planning on going to Belmar which is a much more secluded beach without the hustle and bustle of the boardwalk.  It's much less congested than other beaches in NJ and, if you're looking for relaxation and a good tan, it's one of the best spots on the coast.  But we wanted more out of such a beautiful day so we decided to keep driving and head straight for Pt. Pleasant, NJ!

As expected, the beach was packed!  Even on a Monday, Pt. Pleasant beach gets crowded, especially  opposed to Belmar, but it's the small price you pay for having such an awesome boardwalk behind you.  Unlike Seaside, Pt. Pleasant is much more family-friendly and evokes a "nice" environment than the other boardwalks I've been to in recent years.  When I was 12-years-old, my family rented a shore house just blocks away from the Pt. Pleasant beach, so I'm a bit biased, but as soon as I walked up the wooden ramp and on to the boardwalk, it felt like I had never left.  The memories come flooding back and, you just know, it's going to be another great time!

Another reason we chose to spend our day in Pt. Pleasant was because of Martell's Tiki Bar.  I'm 26-years-old, my girlfriend is 24, and, believe it or not, we've never been to Tiki Bar.  If you're from NJ, or even the tri-state area for that matter, your jaw probably just hit the floor.  I know.  I get it.  Tiki Bar is a rite of passage for people on the east coast and, honestly, I couldn't tell you why I've ignored this place for so long.  When I was younger, I used to want to walk through that entrance SO bad!  I saw so many people laughing, dancing, and having a good time!  I wanted to see what it was all about!  But then, I turned 21, and never gave Tiki Bar another look.  What was I thinking?

As soon as we walked in, I knew we were in for a treat.  The bar was fully stocked, good people surrounded us, the bartenders were friendly, and you could drink on the beach.  How could it get any better?  Well, I'd like to be built like some of the meatheads showing off their guns, but that's besides the point!  Tiki Bar is a phenomenal time and, really, I can't believe I've overlooked this place for so many years. We walked all the way to the back, grabbed a table at the end of the pier, bought a few drinks, and basked in the sunlight as we looked over the Atlantic Ocean.  Beautiful.

Unlike Seaside, where the beers were only $1.50, Tiki Bar isn't cheap.  I had a vodka Red Bull, my girlfriend have a vodka cranberry, and the total was $25.  They didn't skimp on the alcohol, though.  They were strong drinks and, with the ice melting so fast, you had to drink them quick to keep that cool chill.  Despite the price, we enjoyed the drinks and felt like we were paying more for the experience and atmosphere than anything else.  That was more than worth it.

As we talked and laughed, we heard the lifeguard blow his whistle and run toward the beach.  He yelled and pulled everybody out of the water.  We really didn't know what was going on, but in a matter of seconds, everybody had swam back to the shore and stared out, in a perfect line, as they awaited further word.  What was going on?  We're still not sure, but what's up with the ocean in that picture?  Take a look at the horizon and notice how wavy it is.  I've never seen that before.  I've only ever seen the horizon lie straight so I thought this was odd.  Maybe it had something to do with the current, but I just read that NJ had a mini Tsunami on June 13th, so this was very interesting.

Because it was so crowded, and the ocean drama attracted a crowd, we happened to find a new friend.  This man, who I've named Don, decided to take a seat at our table.  He said he thought the commotion down below was being caused by a Great White Shark.  Now, you might laugh, especially when you consider the source being a beach biker, but he might have been right.  Just a few weeks ago, there was an 18-foot Great White Shark spotted off of the Atlantic City coast.  Another guy, who used to lifeguard on the beach, agreed with Don the Biker from NY.  He said that it was the only thing that made sense and, just a week ago, a whale was seen from that very beach.  That's incredible.

These are the types of stories that keep me out of the ocean.  A few years ago, we went into the ocean countless times and, every time, I thought about being eaten by Jaws.  Every time a piece of seaweed grazed my leg, I flipped the hell out!  I thought my leg was being chewed off or attacked by an electric eel with the face of a dragon.  The ocean is a spooky place, one that I tend to avoid.  Thanks to even more stories like these, I think it's safe to say that I won't be entering the ocean this year.  The Great White Shark can't attack me if my ass is safe and sound on the beach!

Eventually, they allowed swimmers to return to the water and it was business as usual.  Then, out of nowhere, the clouds began to roll in.  Thunder began to boom and lightning started to strike.  Luckily, there were plenty of spots at Tiki Bar that provided cover and we were able to stick around and drink some more.

We realized, just before the rain began to fall, that we had enough to drink and should probably get some food before we sober up and head home.  So we took one more picture, one of our red tongue's, and headed for the boardwalk.

Like I said in the Seaside review, you can't be on a diet when visiting the Jersey Shore.  Just look at the awning! "Zeppoles, Funnel Cakes, Fried Oreos!"  Come on, now!  You know you can't resist that type of indulgence.  I know we couldn't!  Cheese Fries, Zeppoles, and a coke, to begin!

When you're a bit tipsy, food tastes so much better and, at this point, we were starving!  Those cheese fries were amazing, but those zeppoles were even better!  In recent years, we've been unable to find any traditional zeppoles at the Jersey Shore.  It's like they've lost the recipe or started to use a different batter.  They've been more like cake than a zeppole, but that seems to have all changed for the better!  These were some of the best we've had in a very long time and, because they're a childhood favorite, I couldn't be happier over fried dough and powdered sugar!

Up next, we headed for the Fun House!  What happened to the classic fun houses that were so prevalent back when I was a kid?  This one at Jenkinson's is the only one that lives up to tradition, these days.  Now, all I ever see are those traveling fun houses that feature a few moving stairs, a hamster wheel, and a slide.  You can get through them in a good 3 minutes and, the worst part, they're too small for man children like me to walk through!  What's the deal, brotha?

Thankfully, the Fun House in Pt. Pleasant is pretty awesome and includes all the traditional attractions you'd expect to find in a classic fun house.  For only $5 a person, it's a must-see because, if you embrace your inner child, you're going to have a hilarious time exploring the interior.  I know we did!

The Hall of Mirrors isn't really all that hard to get through, especially when another family is leading the way in front of you, but that doesn't mean it can't be fun.  Take pictures in the mirrors and try to stray from your adopted family leaders in an attempt to get lost.  We actually did, a little bit.  We had a great time and it led to a lot of laughs.  Until a little 6-year-old looks at you like you're two grown fools.  Once that happens, you can only look at him, nod, and agree.

My favorite part throughout the entire Fun House is this part right here.  I'm sure there's a more official name for it, but I just call it the "Blacklight Tunnel."  If you've never walked through one, you stand on a tiny bridge while the walls around you spin.  It's basically just a giant garbage bag with black lit stickers, but the feeling is surreal.  You're not moving at all, but you feel like you're flipping upside down.  As you stand there, a grimacing clown stares back at you.  It's a scene right out of "Are You Afraid of the Dark" and I love the thrill.

 What is it about me and these funny, silly, warping mirrors?  I have no clue, but they're fun.  Look at me.  In the first, I have tiny legs.  In the second, I have a tiny body.  Hilarious, right?  Eh.. yeah.. maybe you had to be there.

I'll accept the argument that warping mirrors aren't all that funny, but what about stepping on butts?  Okay, what about stepping on butts that make fart noises when you push on them?  If that's not hilarious, then somebody should tell Adam Sandler because he's been making millions off of jokes like these for years.  Trust me, it's fun!  Go in there, jump around, push kids out of the way, and make music to the sounds of farts.  Just be happy they don't emit an aroma when you do!

Another aspect of the Fun House that I enjoy is the artistic direction.  These two photos stand out, specifically.  First, take a look at the alien trapped inside that test tube. That's something you only find inside Haunted Houses!  If I didn't know any better, I would have expected him to jump out from the top and reach out for me.  But he'd have to be about 3-foot-tall and weight 67 pounds so that wasn't happening.

How about the guy on the right?  What happened to him?  This is supposed to be a Fun House, but kids are witnessing an explorer being burned in a witch's cauldron.  He's also being mocked by placing those expensive jewels so close to him without being able to grab them.  Obviously, he's tied up.  Talk about torture!  This guy isn't going anywhere.  But the oddest part is that he looks like he's fine with it.  He doesn't mind the fact that he's being cooked for that Alien's dinner.  Such a unique place!

Now, at this point in the entry, I realize this trip report has been very long and I may have lost a few readers along the way.  So I'm going to end Part 1 here and return with Part 2, tomorrow!  Stay tuned for ice cream, the arcade, cranes, stands, and coca-cola! 

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