Friday, May 23, 2014

A Vacation At The Shore - Part 1 of 2


Be safe and have fun:>)

Part 1 of 2 - Part 2 comes next week

Amid all the fun with family and friends, let us remember the sacrifices of our military men and women - that includes their families who serve as surely and as patriotically as those who are actively on duty.  

This is the first big weekend of Spring, and many people head to the beach.  The three "S"'s are what they seek - sun, sand, and surf.  Parking and space to lay your blanket maybe be at a premium, but stay cool and just think how marvelous it is not to have snow:>)

We, on the other hand, will avoid being anywhere close to the shore - you can use our parking space and blanket acreage.  We will be here, under the trees, no traffic, and instead of waves, we'll hear birds.  Each to their own - ENJOY YOUR TIME AT THE OCEAN!

When we go to the beach it is usually Island Beach State Park in New Jersey.  Fishing is our main focus, but I manage to get in a few photos on the majority of trips.  Here are some of the sights that impressed me and almost all of them are from Island Beach State Park.  On the south end of this barrier island is Barnegat Inlet, and across the water stands "Old Barney" - Barnegat Lighthouse - which is on the Northern end of Long Beach Island, NJ.  The inlet is a busy waterway for all manner of vessels and a few are included here.

A shout out goes to the Coast Guard who keep us safe on the water.

Coast Guard Patrol Boat in Barnegat Inlet
Here are a couple more boats passing through the inlet.

Fishing can be done from the beach.  We set up close to the high tide line, get the sand spikes ready, and bait up the rods.  If there are fish like Bluefish or Stripers feeding close to shore, we use plugs (also called lures).  There is a whole culture built up around the old time, wooden lures used back in the 1940's, 50's, and even the 60's.  These are venerable warriors that caught many a game fish and were usually made of wood.

Collectors of the serious kind want old lures in mint condition; it's an expensive hobby.  I love the lures that show the effects of battles with fighting fish - let them show some age and some honor for the wars fought:>)  My husband has a nice, small collection, and he makes his own wooden lures for us to use.  This 2-part post will show you some of his work and YES, they do catch fish!

This is a lure called a "flaptail" because of the metal tail that spins as the lure is retrieved.  My husband creates his lures by loosely modeling them on the vintage ones but using his own touch.  He uses an air brush, glass eyes (sometimes decal eyes), and my mesh onion bags to create the scale design.

This is an "antique" (more correctly termed "vintage") wooden lure

My husband made this beauty; it is called a needlefish.

This is a swimmer of smallish size.

Some lures are made to plop along the surface of the water and create a disturbance that draws the game fish.  These are called "poppers", and you'll note the cupped front that makes the popping sound as the plug is retrieved.

This is a section of beach called "The Judge's Shack".  There are a couple terrific
holes in the water (right in front of the building) where fisher people vie for space
to try their luck.  Island Beach State Park sells annual beach buggy permits so fisher people can drive on the beach to fish.  Bathing beaches are exempt from drivers, but everywhere else is for fishing.  You need 4 x 4 vehicles and must have all the required equipment to be allowed to drive on the beach.  Believe it or not, it can look like a parking lot sometimes.  This is on the ocean side of the island and is, by far, the more popular side for all activities.

This is a picture taken from the bay side of the island where there is mud, mosquitoes, and biting flies.  Here you also find wild blueberries (DELICIOUS!!!), shorebirds, and quiet waters for wading to fish.  Weakfish like to hang out in the warmer waters of the bay.  There are kayaking tours here, too.

The dunes are home to a huge variety of plants and animals, including some that are rare.  It's a landscape (dunescape?) unfamiliar to many but beautiful and unique.  The Beach Heather shows pretty yellow flowers and creates nice, mounded plants.  The trees are scrub oak, pine, and holly, not to mention the shrubs like beach plums and wild blueberries.  I love the Virginia Creeper vines and Poison Ivy - yes, I do love the gorgeous vines of Poison Ivy:>) 

This is a fence on the dunes that run next to Barnegat Inlet.  The Virginia Creeper vines have taken it over and covered it. 

There is one, two-lane road that runs down the island.  Off to the sides there are numerous parking areas where folks can pull off, park, and take advantage of any number of activities.  One of these parking areas had this old, weathered fence festooned with Beach Plum shrubs.

People can walk to the beach on either side, take a nature tour, go bird-watching.  There is even an Osprey cam that shows viewers the nesting life of a pair of Ospreys in real time.  
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The dunes are beautiful.

Although there aren't a lot of exotic shells, I can always find lovely ones to take home, along with wave-washed stones and even the occasion piece of honest-to-goodness beach glass created by wave action in the ocean.  There is any manner of flotsam and jetsam to be seen - far too much trash, especially plastic.  I won't get on my soap box about this, but please try to be aware of what you do with your trash.  Read about the Gyres that spin around in our various oceans and seas and you may be surprised,  (  ).You'll enjoy making time to do some beach-combing - here are a few treasures to be found.  But first, if the day is particularly still and the sun is warm, you'll need some kind of bug protection to keep away the flies and mosquitoes, especially the flies - don't forgot your sun screen, too:>)

Horse fly

Shells are always available and the most common are the big surf clams.  You can also find conch, scallops, jungle shells, and any number of beautiful, wave-polished rocks.  There is seaweed, skate egg cases, driftwood, and crab shells, too.

This little crab is a Mole Crab, sometimes erroneously called a Sand Flea which is an entirely different and biting critter.  Mole crabs live right at the water's edge and as waves leave the beach you can see the holes their bubbles create in the sand.  Digging down about a foot will get you many of these guys - all sizes from tiny to the size of the top joint of a man's thumb.  They do not bite but they are digging demons!  They are also great bait, especially the soft-shelled ones that have just shed and haven't had a chance to have their shells become hard and protective.

Feathers are everywhere, of course, since birds are everywhere.  This is a seagull feather.

These are stranded jellyfish.  As you can see from the middle picture, hundreds, indeed thousands of these little guys, are washed up onto the beach at certain times of the year and at certain tides.

One of my favorite parts of any day at Island Beach State Park is a visit to the jetty.  This is where a lot of fishing happens; people brave the waves and slippery rocks to go out and cast to where the "big ones" are.  I go seeking photo ops along the rocks, in the dunes, whatever I can find.  Right now the jetty is under reconstruction and we con't get real close - maybe a football field away.  Hurricane Sandy did her best to make the jetty disappear and almost succeeded, but in a year the rocks will be back and the fishing will be in full swing.

When the birds are working (3rd picture below) they show that the big fish are in and hungry.  As the fish chop into the schools of bait fish like bunker, the birds wheel and dive and scream - look for birds "working" and you'll probably find fish.

Here's a shot of Barnegat Lighthouse, affectionately called "Old Barney"

Now for some seascapes - you know, sunrise, sunset, skies, waves . . .

To finish off this first part of the posting about the shore, I have some of the animals you can see when you visit.  I think this post is too long since the page won't let me write captions and it keeps moving the pictures around.  Sorry about that - these last few images will complete today's post.

First - Great Black-backed Gull
Second - Great American Egret
Third - Sanderlings
Fourth - Red Fox vixen
Fifth - Snail with a barnacle brooch - LOL

Until next week when the shore vacation is done - be safe.  Wishing you loads of happy moments, great food, and many smiles!

This is a Grey Seal and the photo was taken in chatham, Cape Cod, Massachusetts, USA