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A Clarke Family Adventure

Last Friday we surprised the kids with a trip to Ocean City. They both knew something special was going on, but neither had a clue until we picked up Aidan at school and pointed out that there was luggage in the back of the van. For some reason, Aidan thought that the special surprise would be a TV that would be mounted on the ceiling directly over his bed. Not sure where that came from, but he wasn’t disappointed with the truth.

We drove in the rain for three hours before reaching the island. Lisa had booked the hotel and was told by the manager that it was a block from the beach, so when she forgot to print directions, we figured it shouldn’t be terribly hard to find. Unfortunately, we were assuming that the manager was telling the truth. It didn’t bode well when we found the hotel three (actually about six in distance) blocks from the beach. This established the “South Jersey Block” as a new measure of distance for us.

Our “spacious room” at the Sun Beach Motel was not. In order to pull out the sofa bed for the kids, we had to move a table in front of the door to the room. Unfortunately the worst was yet to come. Your motel room should never further your child’s understanding of entomology. Legs up, right by the table, was one very large (and very dead) cockroach. A quick look around the room revealed that he had other fallen comrades. When I confronted the manager about this, he was apologetic and switched us to another room further away from the battlefield. They had recently had an exterminator in to deal with the problem and it was localized towards the end of the building we had been in… or so he claimed. Later that evening, we found another dead cockroach, and started packing up the van.

Quite fortunately for us, the Oceanfront Motel had vacancies. We were now in a motel right on the boardwalk. Two real beds, much larger room, and… a view of the ocean from our window. The only bug we found was a dead gnat. I can live with that. If you’re ever in Ocean City NJ, stay at the Oceanfront Motel. I can’t say enough nice things about them, and that’s not just by comparison.

Now our vacation was back on track. Even Saturday’s weather was perfect. We started the morning with a nice pancake breakfast at Bob’s and then played on the beach for a while. The boys chased some seagulls and collected shells as we walked. The water is too cold for swimming at this time of year, but that didn’t stop the boys from getting their feet wet. I ran back to the van and assembled Eamonn’s Sponge Bob kite, which flew with ease on the windy beach. He was thrilled and we all took turns flying it for a while. Lots of photos were taken.

Afterwards, we walked the boardwalk. Lisa did some shopping and the boys and I got sunglasses and hats. By then, it was too late for me. I currently have the head of a lobster. Ouch. We went on the carousel and played some games. Eventually Eamonn couldn’t walk anymore and I had to carry him back to the motel, where after a short rest, the boys and I went back to dig in the sand while Lisa relaxed. That night, we all slept very well.

We were all sad to see our mini vacation come to an end on Sunday. We’ll be back next year though. Same hotel and possibly for a longer stay.


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  1. I was in Ocean City many, many years ago with a friend for July 4 weekend. I can’t remember where we stayed. In fact, the only things I remember are playing the X-Men video game in an arcade on the boardwalk and the disappointment that came with only finding out Ocean City is (was?) a dry town when we got there.

    • I don’t drink and my wife rarely does, so I can’t say for sure if things have changed. Don’t remember seeing any bars, but there may have been something in town. They do actively promote themselves as a family vacation spot.

      • I was there in ’92 or ’93. I wouldn’t be surprised if it were still dry today.

        • Correct. It is a dry island. There is a liquor store right before you get on the bridge to enter OC though…so stock up next time!

  2. My fam is renting a beach house this summer there for the week of the 4th of July. I grew up in South Jersey and absolutely love OC the best. It’s a nice little island, very homely and whatnot. Your pics are getting me excited for my summer vacation! 🙂

  3. It looks and sounds positively idyllic — after the roach incidents.

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