Took a ride on the bike down Route 35 from Bay Head to Seaside today and was reminded just how far we are from being done with our work to restore the Shore. You get a whole different perspective of the damage from a motorcycle. In a car, you’re in your own little pre-fabricated environment, even with the windows down. On the bike, there is nothing but space between you and the destruction – no window to distort the view or filter out the smell.
The extent of the damage, even five months after the storm cleared out is staggering. Some lots have been cleared, while some houses stand defiantly as half-destroyed shells. Even knowing the area as well as I do, I was still left to wonder which houses were carried away by the storm or by the clean-up crews.
In Mantoloking, an older woman raked the sand in her backyard just feet from the hulking shell of half a home with its interior clearly visible from the road. Continuing evidence that some of us were spared while just feet away our neighbors had their lives turned upside down.
In Seaside, the sidewalk on Ocean Avenue has replaced the boardwalk, and the Easter weekend crowds were out in force walking the strip as vendors and game booths filled every available space between the sidewalk and street. The boardwalk may not be ready yet, but the spirit of Seaside hasn’t been lost: The irony of a vendor hawking knock-off “Restore the Shore” sweatshirts in front of the damaged home where the cretins from The Jersey Shore used to live was actually reassuring.Seeing the destruction without being shielded from it by a four-wheeled cage was a sobering reminder of how the area I call my home has been forever changed, but I was also reminded that there is no quit in the real Jersey Shore.