Finding our Footing at the Jersey Shore

Life’s a beach. While I can’t say I ever really understood this expression, lately it has felt relevant in my life. I’m not sure, though, if the meaning I’m attaching to it is quite what anyone originally intended.

Change is a normal part of life for everyone. Some resist it while others crave it. It will surprise no one when I say that we tend to fall into the latter category. But for the last year and a half, the changes have rolled in, one right after another, like waves on the beach. Some are small and fun, while others are bigger and knock you off balance. Sometimes you laugh and splash in the surf, and sometimes the wave wipes out the sand castle you were working hard to build. Whatever the size of the wave, it shifts the sand beneath your feet, which can be dizzying and disorienting. Eventually, even we change-cravers can start to long for a bit of stability. When we landed back in the US after our summer in Sweden, we were eager to get back to our home on wheels and the routines we were just establishing before we left.

One last move

Our home had been used by another family while we were away, so most of our things had been moved out of it. Like with any move, it takes a while to figure out where you put everything and then decide where it all goes. We had done this packing and unpacking routine repeatedly for months and we were ready to unpack one last time and stay for a while. That was why, despite exhaustion and jet lag, we were back in our camper just three days after we landed in New York. On the fourth day, the Lindstroms were on the road again.

It was Labor Day weekend, and after a chilly and damp summer, we headed for sun and surf at the Jersey shore. There are two Thousand Trails campgrounds in Cape May County, and we booked four nights at one of them: Sea Pines RV Resort. The first day turned into movies and popcorn as the rain poured down and much of the campground was under several inches of water. But Sunday dawned clear and warm, so after church we hit the beach.

Jersey shore

Our campsite at Sea Pines

 

Wildwood Days

There are plenty of shore points that are an easy drive from Sea Pines. We chose Wildwood – the one that’s free. It was a beautiful afternoon, spent swimming and building sand castles and visiting with family friends who happened to be in the area. A remarkably unremarkable day at the beach. It was a chance to rest, recharge, and relax. We could sit still for a few hours and let the ocean take over the constant motion for a while.

Jersey shore

 

Cape May Zoo

Another warm and sunny day greeted us on Monday. This time we headed for Cape May County Zoo, just a few minutes down the road and with free admission. The zoo is small, but perfect for spending a few hours walking and enjoying the animals and the nice weather. With no admission fee, there is no pressure to “get our money’s worth” so when hot and tired kids started to turn cranky, we didn’t push them to stay. We enjoyed the playgrounds by entrance for a while and then headed home.

 

Jersey shore

This is what it looks like when it’s time to go home.

 

Heading North

Leaving Cape May in southern New Jersey, we followed the coast straight north to the town of Rumson, a suburb of New York City. We spent two nights parked in the driveway of dear friends without trying to squeeze in a bunch of touristy activities. They made time for us, despite it being a hectic week of back to school, starting a new job, and the fall kick-off in the church they lead. I don’t know how they did it, but I’m so glad they did!

Visits like these always feel too short, though it might be best so when we get so wrapped up in conversation that we’re always losing track of time, forgetting to prepare meals before hungry kids start complaining, and staying up later than we should. Friendships where it’s truly safe to be real and honest are rare and precious. I would have been content to spend the whole time around the kitchen table sipping chai lattes, and that was almost the case. We did make one attempt to get outside and take all 6 kids to the playground but by the time we got everyone dressed and out the door it was pouring down rain. We went anyway, but skipped the playground and opted for ice cream instead. Otherwise, the kids entertained themselves, playing really well together, and we talked ourselves hoarse.

Jersey shore

 

Life’s a Beach

It might seem paradoxical that the beach was both a metaphor for our lack of stability but also where we went to find it. I can’t explain this any better than to say that it worked.

What we needed was the chance to be ourselves, spending time together in beautiful places without too much of a schedule or agenda. We needed to remember why we are doing all of this and making the choices that we are when it sometimes seems like it would be a lot easier not to. There is some kind of alchemy in combining trees and dirt and sand and salt water and baking it under a hot sun. I don’t need to be able to explain it to let it work its magic.

To top it all off with two days of nearly uninterrupted conversation with a trusted friend was the icing on the cake. Since I’m such a verbal processor, this was a critical part of landing and feeling like myself again.

Home

It might not make sense on the surface when we talk about being tired of moving and longing for home but seeking it in a lifestyle of travel. The missing piece, which is hard to explain, is that this home on wheels – it’s our home. Whether we’re parked in a forest beside a beautiful lake or boondocking for a night in a Walmart parking lot, when we come inside we are home. It is familiar and comfortable. We have all of our things, we sleep in our own beds, and we eat off of our own dishes. We can relax in our own space.

So our first week back in our camper was spent along the Jersey shore. We got over jet lag and settled back into our home with the help of sea breezes and good friends. And then we turned our backs to the Atlantic and set our sights on the Pacific, looking very much forward to the journey in between.

 

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