A Trip to a Very, Very Sandy Beach

If you were a pigeon and you lived at Grand Central Station in New York City, you’d only have to fly 20 miles south to get to a great New Jersey beach. Most of your flight would be over Brooklyn, but the last 5 miles would be over water. When you got to the beach, you’d be at the Sandy Hook Unit of the Gateway National Recreation Area. Pretty cool, right?

pigeon

Sandy Hook has been through some changes over the years. It was “discovered” by Henry Hudson in 1609. A lighthouse was constructed in 1764, which the British tried but failed to destroy in 1776. It’s the oldest working lighthouse in the United States. The army used the Sandy Hook Proving Ground to test weapons and munitions between 1876 and 1919. Now, the fort that sits at the tip of the peninsula belongs to the National Park Service and is mostly abandoned. But there are several nice beaches open to the public, including one that’s clothing-optional (obviously, the Republicans in Congress haven’t heard about it).

Anyway, the only reason I’m writing about this is that a friend and I visited Sandy Hook last week, before the summer crowds showed up. When we parked the car and made our way to the beach, I was amazed. It was the widest beach I’ve ever seen. We could hardly see the water. The few people who had crossed the burning sands before us were almost invisible. So I was moved to take this picture:

IMG_20150429_134012237If you look closely, you can see New York City off in the distance, on the other side of the bay, and a few tiny little people at the water’s edge. Considering that we were standing in the vicinity of 20 million other people who live in the New York-Newark-Jersey City Metropolitan Statistical Area, it was pretty darn lonely. And, quite appropriately, very, very sandy.

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