Funnest Beaches In The Us

INTERIOR ART: A bunker is often seen as a mere also-swam forage fish. In reality, it might be one of the most complex fish going, proven by its astounding skeletal structure. (Photo by Jay Mann)

CLAUS FOR CONCERN: This entire hubbub over hellish gaps in the holiday supply chain of holiday goods has me, along with a boatload of others, detecting an all too convenient act of reaching early Santafication. Sound suspicions have big market merchants parlaying mere transport and delivery slowness into empty shelf horrors for buyers.

This unceremonious fear mongering is successfully goosing even the most highly experienced shoppers, many still recalling the night before Christmas terrors back when it was impossible to acquire last-minute Cabbage Patch Kids. We’re beginning holiday buying earlier than anytime in holiday history – though there was once a store in Bay Village that sold Christmas stuff in midsummer.

Please note that I’m not summarily mocking the more dire economic angles on the inabilities to get certain import items to America for the celebratory times. I’m an instant economic expert on such things, occasionally watching the Bloomberg business channel to check on how my bags of dirty copper are doing on the spot market. I’ve been personally bugged by serious transport/arrival issues regarding computer cards to go into my eventual brand spanking new 2022 Chevy Silverado – despite not being able to currently afford even one of its computer chips even if it swam the blue Pacific just for me. Do you know that 4WD full-sized brand name pickups can now readily top $65,000?!

Returning to how the current rush-to-buy-early scare will play into shore shops, it aligns ideally with fine visit-the-shore times. We’re still autumnally attractive to folks who tend to fade off as the dark season deepens. There’s still highly doable Island time to comfortably shop to heart’s sandy content – for spot-on, LBI-related items and gifts. Such gifts are made even more Island apropos when later presented within the specially adorned bag or special sack from the Island locale where it was purchased. Sure, you still wrap it, but it shows the the shore-shot connection in the end.

While I’m not overly huge on gift cards, they are always stellar as so-called stocking stuffers, which speak of shore times to come — when visiting card-related restaurants, gift shops, and bait and tackle stores.

Per my columnistic methodology, this is where I turn the worm a bit, delving into the subject of local holiday shopping as a mechanism of Island survivability and resiliency. Yep, it’s all of that … in one tightly wrapped package. It’s also where I unbudgingly admit to annually and unapologetically marketing LBI toward future times. As long as fun and profit reigns supreme here, life will go on, hell and high water – or when we gain the upper hand on the crumby climate we’ve evoked. Sophomorically put, buy to see LBI stay alive.

OK, so that was a bit of cold water, more like sleet, thrown on what should be one of the finest holiday seasons in many a pandemic moon, even if it has begun opportunistically early. I’m efforting to show that coming down here to simply stock up on Christmas goodies helps LBI in a slew, aka sleighload, of ways.

Note: Certain things really should be grabbed early hereabouts, especially locally crafted items (see holiday market events in Calendar section), some high demand exotic shop items, and a personal favorite, Christmas beach badges, which have been known to run out long before demand is met.

TREASURE OF A TALE: Now to one of the funnest LBI Christmas gifts things I’ve ever seen pulled off – and I proudly came up with a germ of an idea that a Princeton husband, a woodworker, turned into a gem of a gift for his wife, a “professor of medicine.”

The saga began unassumingly enough with my filling a very deep-dish Pyrex glass pie pan with pristine Holgate “sugar” sand. It took quite the sand load, weight-wise.

To place in the fully filled dish, I bought a set of small wooden so-called Zen Garden meditation tools, made up of a shovel, rake, spade, and a something-or-other pokey stick. The tools nicely pushed and pulled the South End sand, which I tested out … to a mighty calming degree. But there was a far greater purpose than that of a mere Zenish calming pie pan. The husband and I were into pulling off a small Christmas gift miracle.

Firstly, he built a remarkable miniature lifeguard stand, based on the exact design of LBI summer stands. It sat perfectly and proportionally in the sand. A bit less summerish, he bought a small stuffed Santa at the local old and new shop, perching it on the stand. He graced it with a full-sized beach badge from the previous summer.

To the beach scene setting, I added a tacky purple cocktail umbrella, common to Mai Tais. Ironically, and unknown to me, umbrellaed Mai Tais were his wife’s favorite when at the shore.

One of us placed a small blanket-like thing by the umbrella.

Going the extra hobby shop mile, the hubby tracked down some tiny wooden herring gulls for added in-pie-pan impact. The topside coupe de grace was a small piece of blue resin the husband poured and inserted into the edge of the Zen garden. It looked oceany, sorta.

As we readied and steadied the creation for the long ride from LBI to his home, he was quite nervous in a gift-giving way. And for good reason. This was still the germ of the idea, not the gem. And when he presented it on Christmas eve, it was to the sheer delight of the wife who saw it as only a wonderful and groomable tribute to the sands of LBI.

It’s here that I have to back up a bit to prep for the deeper roots of this Christmas tale – and likely expose the secret underpinning of the surprise.

I first met the couple during a down time for the woman. It was early fall and she had lost an obsessively treasured gold bracelet in the surf. We all know how women can be about such things. I was desperately called upon for my metal detecting skills. I knew there was no hope of recovery. It was a thin bracelet. The husband even referred to it as “a cheapie gift” from him, albeit 14k gold. When strung out in the sand, it would offer no signal for even my finest detectors.

I guess that thoroughly hints at what was secreted away in the sand of the garden. No, it wasn’t the hopelessly lost bracelet. Instead, the hubby had purchased a truly gorgeous handmade 14K bracelet from a metalsmith working, I believe, in Pier 18, Beach Haven.

Though I wasn’t there for the grand gift finale, I got a glowing rundown by the man’s mother, who gave every detail of a treasuresque ending.

The husband had buried the bracelet – loose, no box mind you. He raked over the surface to cover up things. Given on Christmas Eve, he allowing the gift to first pass as a simple and highly thoughtful reminder of the shore. It wasn’t until more formal gift giving with relatives on Christmas Day that the husband called his wife over for a relook at the garden. Something has been added. There was now an “X” tile from a Scrabble game he and his wife frequently played. A very bright lady knew, she guessed its x-marks-the-spot significance. “Her hands were shaking as she slowly began raking … but very slowly,” said mom. In a short while, she hooked part of the bracelet with a rake. “When she saw the gold, she broke down.” She then pulled it out a little at time until the beauty was in full bloom – and a cheer went up.

The extra gift presentation effort was genius. “If I had just given it in a box, I don’t think it would have meant as much,” he later told me, though I knew that from the get-go.

As we had both hoped for, the bracelet assumed a place of nonstop honor on her wrist. Unexpectedly, the pie-pan Zen garden, Santa and all, took desk-front honors – and at her university office, where visitors groomed the sand while getting the bracelet treasure tale.

Oh, the following summer I found a brand-new deep-dish Pyrex pie pan on my steps. No note needed.

VET FRETS: If you own a pet of any ilk, and there are more ilks than one can possibly pet in one sitting, a veterinarian is as an essential life service. The weird part is how hard it can be to come by one in the most crowded state this side of India. That would be NJ, per square mile.

America is no stranger to pets. We love ’em. Per the data gurus at, 70% of households in the United States owned one or more pets in 2020. “Household penetration rates for pet-ownership have increased by 14 percent since the beginning of the survey period in 1988.” That penetration thing factors in the taking in of what might be called extra pets, often at no small expense.

As expected, my fellow Fido lovers, there are 63 million dog-owning households in the United States, assuring these best of friends remain in the pet driver’s seat – or, more safely, the passenger seat.

Neck in neck for the next most popular pet positions are cats and fishes – in no particular order. I wonder if caught-and-released fish qualify as passing pets. Horses vie for close-pet status in 1.6 million households.

Obviously, our nation’s near obsessive petness adds emphasis to the need for veterinarians galore. Again, something sorely lacking in the Garden State

Syllabic Sidebar: The word is vet-er-i-nar-i-an, comprised of six separate syllables – not five, as in the commonly mispronounced vetanarians. Obviously just “vet” works but only after initial usage, as to not take a bite out of the veterans’ piece of the verbal pie.

NJ is near the top of the worst heap, the second least veterinarianized state, when it comes to docs per pets. We have a low-end 14.6 vets per 100,000 people. That could play out badly during desperate vet-seeking times for those in need of immediate pet care. The emergency angle looms locally large, as duck season begins … and shooting s–t happens.

We’re gifted with fine vets in Ocean County. They are generally able to adequately cover the pressing pet needs of at least our winter population.

I’m doing this data pass-on at the behest of, a group focused on keeping the public updated and attuned to vet availability, while emphasizing the need to plan ahead when traveling or when vet demands surge into the realm of sudden surgical needs, which all too often come with the pet-owning territory. is now adding emphasis – without overly touting – cyber vets. That could be a growingly practical option in vet-low NJ.

Online vets and telemedicine for animals “may prove to be a viable option for millions of pet owners across the nation who currently don’t have reasonable access to in-person vet services,” reads the group’s web site. It also offers elaborate search engines for focalizing on exactly where to find a vet, anywhere and anytime. Of course, calling ahead once a vet is located is a must. Our state’s low vet count rears up when scheduling a visit.

RUNDOWN: The big-ass

bass being taken by boat fishermen are mind bogglingly gorgeous. These cows are plumped out in a way every male striper loves to see, along with anglers admiring the plumpness during unhooking and release. I’ll gain very little fishing cred by describing these cows as Rubenesque, right? It’s fairly obvious the bass are enlarging, more like engorging, upon the ever-growing bunker acreage within eyesight of the Island.

I stand firm that we will very quickly be overrun, in an ecologically deleterious manner, by highly babied striped bass stocks, as happened with the moratorium some 40 years ago. However, I stand just as dogmatically when highly hyping that bunker out the wazoo is incredibly good news for the big-picture marine ecosystem, especially when they cascade into the bay, wherein both peanut and mid-sized bunker present as the finest fatty forage any marine environment can hope for.

Bunker praise released, I no longer feel a need to be vindicated for claiming, years back, that the acres of nearshore bunker are drawing tons of bass from the beachline. Oh, there have been a few hefty cows arriving at line’s end covered in surf suds, but the number of specialized 28- to 38-inch weigh-ins for the bass sector of the 2021 LBI Surf Fishing Classic has hardly been a tribute to soaring bass availability. That honor goes to boat anglers who are still annihilating schoolie bass in the bay and murdering, figuratively, those cows just off the beach, often and ignobly referred to as “slobs,” “pigs” and wrongly “hogs.”

Kingfish just holding on by the skin of their lips.


crabbing off Bridge to Nowhere.

Source :

Shopping the Shore for Good of LBI; Why We Have to Ferret Out Veterinarians


Shopping the Shore for Good of LBI; Why We Have to Ferret Out Veterinarians

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Colorado Springs man and curious car set for cross-country trip of a lifetime

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