The Comeback Kid: Asbury Park, NJ

Yep, summer has wound down to its unofficial close. (Feeling sad.) It’s been a really nice one, weather-wise for sure, and in other ways). BTW, it’s not just the back-to-school part that impacts me—it’s the readjusting to the schedule, bringing work home again and shorter days. (And I hate Eastern Standard Time. Just sayin’.)

Since it’s Labor Day, I figured a post about the beach would be appropriate. (And Tess’ posts about her recent visit to China might have inspired me a bit too. Hi Tess!)

Finally made it to recently refurbished Asbury Park last week. The revitalization process of this one-time East Coast resort is still in progress. Revitalization on many levels got underway in 2002.

Quick fact: At the onset of the previous century, Asbury Park’s only competitor in the beach resort department was Atlantic City.

From Wikipedia:

Quick fact: ~600,000 folks vacationed there during the annual “summer session.”

Quick fact: Musicians Bruce Springsteen and actor Danny DeVito hail from Asbury Park.

Quick fact: The very cool Stone Pony venue is opposite the boards on Ocean Avenue. Bruce Springsteen—with his E-Street band, featuring the awesome (but late) saxophonist Clarence Clemons—rocked that watering hole on many an occasion.

Find more detailed history on the origins and development of Asbury Park here. (It’s pretty cool.) The opening of the Garden State Parkway led to fewer folks needing to take a train to the beach. Legalization of gambling in Atlantic City took a lot of the traffic too—at least, that’s what Hubby says—and the addition of Sixx Flags Great Adventure Theme Park didn’t help the Asbury Park cause either.

My history with Asbury Park:

I’ve supposedly been there as a kid. I’d be lying if I said I remembered.

When my stepsons were little boys, Hubby and I did a day trip there. Honestly and sadly, it was already a ‘welfare’ and ‘ghost’ town. The Casino walkway  linked Asbury Park to Ocean Grove (“God’s square mile at the Jersey shore” and still-dry town). The cleanliness of Ocean Grove and the nice maintenance of its many Victorian mansion/beds-and-breakfast structures contrasted starkly with the littered beach and abandoned boardwalk on the other side. In the Casino, however, at least one shop remained open, but one had to wonder how long that lingering business could last. (I’m sure it didn’t.)

Asbury Park Casino
The Casino–or its skeleton–with some kind of construction work evident inside. The walkway links Asbury Park with Ocean Grove, which borders AP on its south side. The man in the center was playing a guitar and singing. The acoustics were okay.  (Photo by Hubby.)

The other day Hubby and I were looking for a day trip. I wanted to go to the  shore, but wasn’t looking to spend a day on the beach. Due to riptides and a death at nearby Sandy Hook, bathing was highly restricted anyway. (Not that the ocean has seen me in it during the past 20 years or so, but Hubby likes to dive in here and there.)

Inside the Casino walkway
Inside the Casino walkway –photo by Hubby. 

Hubby suggested Asbury Park. Since I hadn’t been near it since my fifth wedding anniversary (that would have been April 29, 2000), I jumped at the idea. I love a place that offers something new I can learn. Yes, I’m nerdy like that.

Asbury Park Casino Mural
How awesome is this mural lining the Casino walkway? The lady might have been painted 5-6 years ago. A I found it quite impressive.

The entire scene—including the ride—changes flavor frequently. One goes from the parkway to the state highway to the main drag, which isn’t necessarily the prettiest of places.

Ocean Avenue, however, has been cleaned up. (So has the beach, beautifully so, compared to how it looked the last time I went.) Several of the original buildings and hotels have been restored, or restoration is in progress.

Asbury Park beachfront
I took this photo from the north side of the restaurant overlooking the beach. Nothing relaxes me more than sitting on or near the beach when the PM breezes come in off the ocean.

There’s a retro-feel to the place, with a few typical beach-style shops and places to eat on the boards, as well as a mini-mall of sorts at the restored convention center.  (It reminded me of the North Wildwood boardwalk, which is much calmer and far less attraction-oriented than the Wildwood boards.)

Restaurants that are open to the water—with sheltered dining available should the weather dictate—are on opposite outside walls of the mall. I thoroughly enjoyed sitting on the north end, at a wooden table made from an industrial electrical wire spool, sipping from Hubby’s drink while overlooking the Atlantic.

View the convention center and theater and its outdoor seating area.

View the inside the convention center, aka, the arcade.

View Tillie, the (creepy) face (IMHO) of the Jersey Shore. Not sure if Tillie is a he or a she, but that face was painted on opposite sides of the demolished Palace Amusements building. (Tillie has been repainted onto the Wonder Bar, as a tribute to Palace Amusements. )

Asbury Park wasn’t terribly crowded. Granted, it was a Thursday. Hubby made some good points about why the area isn’t the best for the comeback the city hopes to make.

Asbury Park boardwalk
The boardwalk, taken from the Casino, which faces the north side. Think the guy on the bike–with the six-pack–posed?

(1) There are no amusements (i.e., rides or stands)—on the boards or in the immediate area—at present. (BTW, the original carousel was sold and currently resides somewhere in Myrtle Beach.) A sprinkler park, mini-golf and a store that offers crafts-for-a-cost (i.e., sand art, pottery, etc) seem to be the most entertainment for parents with younger children.

(2) Asbury Park is right on the coast. It is not a peninsula. No bay. (No striking sunset over the water, either.) No inlet. No boat traffic. No marina. That also limits chartered boating and fishing activities, I’m sure. (Point Pleasant, Seaside Heights, Long Beach Island, the Wildwoods, Cape May and other more frequented shore areas are peninsulas.)

Asbury Park carousel housing
Carousel’s housing. Although empty, it has been refurbished and occasionally used by theater group(s). Note: When Hubby and I brought my stepsons here, this structure had been turned into an indoor skateboarding park. Planks everywhere and a kid charging $8/person to use it. Innovative, but  creepy to hear a thunder-like sound coming from inside there in a relative ghost town.

On the plus side, Asbury Park is RIFE with history and nostalgia invoked  because of the preservation of its many original structures and images. One can easily imagine what it was. With a little effort and some amusements, I believe it can prosper, especially with local traffic. (I heard its downtown district is getting a shot in the arm too. That can only help.) It’s a place where I enjoyed a few hours. I definitely might not mind spending a day, or even a weekend at one of the restored hotels. Chances are, I’d wind up writing about it some more.

Asbury Park heating plant
The heating plant, designed to provide heat for winter activities at the resort’s Casino and Carousel, assuming I read the articles correctly. These were designed by the same team who designed NYC’s Grand Central Station.

Sorry I got a little long-winded, but thank you for indulging me. As someone who has some trouble letting go, I love the preservation of times past.

Have a great week,















Jersey Author Irene Peterson: Going for it Her Way!

Hi all! Getting into spring paperwork rush but I have a goal this year: get to work a little on the early side and keep as many reports as possible within the confines of the school environment (a phrase I use often when I write those kiddie updates). The other goal is to keep up with a minimum of two posts/week. Know what? With a little clarity and a little effort, this goal-setting thing really can push me in the direction I say I want to go, lol.  

Today we have a guest. Straight-from-the-hip shooter and fellow Jersey-girl/Liberty States Fiction Writer Irene Peterson. She’s gone the Amazon route with the sequel to her debut romance, Glory Days (a book I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed). Today Irene shares about her journey while writing and later editing that story, as well as the sequel it spawned—a had-to-be-written-Irene’s way recounting of Carly’s story. Today’s e-publishing opportunities provided Irene the ticket to do just that.

Here’s a little more background on Irene: Irene has lived in central New Jersey all her life, except for the time spent at Ft.McClellan inAlabama as a WAC.  She is not terribly athletic, wears glasses and yet was once Miss Industrial Arts at her college. She swears this is the truth! The Jersey shore is her favorite place to hang out with her family.  Her friends have an uncanny way of appearing in her books…after all, one must write what one knows.

Welcome, Irene! 

I just read a blog post about a woman who almost lost her baby because she was RH-.  It was against a political candidate. Then I read a blog post about a woman who fell and busted her shoulder and can’t write using her hand any more and how awful that was.

Made me think.

Would anybody want to know how cruddy my life has been?

It sure qualifies, but I don’t want that.

I don’t know if I can be uplifting, either.

But I can tell what made me want to write Glory Days and immediately afterwards, the sequel.  I was sick and tired of being told to write what I knew and be creative and follow the guidelines and play by the book.  I did all those things and got nowhere. So I sat down to write a story my way and I knew it was good from the first page.  I wrote from my heart and head.

The first words spoken by the hero were…”Ef (in full) it.”  Then he went on to talk about how hung over he was but he still had to get up to answer the door to his office/apartment.  Couldn’t have a drinker, they told me. That got changed.  The original book title was Bourbon John…had to change that; one particular outlet wouldn’t sell a story with bourbon in the title.

I had him go downstairs to get coffee with a towel wrapped around him…that got moved when the editor had me put the beginning of Ch. 21 where Ch. 1 should have been.  Had to put in more sexy scenes, so I did. On my own, I took out the word s**t 35 times, but left in some 30 more because that was how the hero talked and I felt he should talk. My editors liked the raw, edgy language, but I had too much in about the girl Carly—the hero’s daughter—that had to be taken out to make my women’s fiction a romance.

I had to make it, I had to get published; it was my goal in life at the time, so I did it. I prostituted myself for the honor and pleasure of holding my paperback book in my hand and going to signings all over the east coast.

You do amazing things to reach a goal.

Yes, Glory Days was pretty raw at first.  It had tons more heart, but not romance.  I changed it and it sold rather well. The book won the Golden Leaf award for best contemporary novel.

But I had so much more to say about the hero’s long lost daughter that he never knew existed.  So, immediately after getting my book in my hand, I started writing the sequel, Carly’s story.  She had to get all her lust for life and her daring and her new-found family out to the public, because she was just that kind of girl…just like her father.

And there was the mystery about her mother.  Who was she?  Why didn’t her father ever tell her what he had learned about the woman?  How could Carly’s very existence be the cause of so much trouble and death? Those questions needed to be answered and I did.

I don’t know what happened to the manuscript then.  I sent it to the publisher. My then agent handled that, she said.  It was rejected because they were concentrating on historicals.  I have sincere doubts.

So, Carly languished in the computer for six years, which, coincidentally, was the amount of time I had given her to grow up when I started her story.

I wrote Glory Days from my heart and soul, rewrote it while still maintaining the character of the characters, just getting rid of so much about Carly. Carly deserved to be heard, so she went Dancin’ in the Dark.

Both Glory Days and Dancin’ in the Dark are available at (So is Kisses to Go.) Want to know Irene a little more? Check out her website, and LiveJournal and look for her on Facebook.

So glad you stopped in Irene! Best of luck to you as you continue on this crazy journey we writer-author folks so willingly embark on!

 Until next time, friends,




I’m Joining the WP Weekly Photo Challenge!

Hi Friends!

If you don’t have a WordPress blog, you might want to consider one–the staff and happiness engineers work really hard at keeping us bloggers motivated, happy and up to date on all the latest at WordPress!

Among the challenges are Post-A-Day, Post-A-Week and the Weekly Photo Challenge. (I’m already doing the Post-A-Week so I’m going to work on getting a photo up once a week!)

Here’s mine: A Jersey shore classic and one of my favorites!