For many, Labor Day Weekend marks the unofficial end of Summer, signifying the beginning of school for children and teenagers all across the country, while adults begrudgingly face another week at work while reminiscing on whatever vacation time they may have had. When you grow up going to the Shore, laughing at Shoobies and going to the beach in every season, there really is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ time to be there. In fact, I have been known to hit the sand in the middle of Winter when there is several inches of snow on the ground, or during a hurricane when the winds are whipping the ocean into a frenzy and you feel like you are getting a free facial. For me, the day after Labor Day was one of those ideal times to make our way down to the sea.
With so much success in choosing our destinations from the map, I knew my husband was keen on going to the Ocean City area and searched for points of interest in its vicinity. There were a few sites I checked out before suggesting the one I thought would be ideal for lunch, which we obtained from Wawa before fueling up. Part of the route we took was the same as when we went to Ocean City earlier this year, marked with heavily wooded areas that belong to Estell Manor Park and the Tuckahoe Wildlife Preserve. Houses appear in clusters, each one having a distinct identity from the other and set next to abandoned buildings that are overgrown and slowly fading away. Familiarity is refreshing, but so is seeing parts of your home state that you haven’t seen before, and probably didn’t even know existed until finding it on the map.
Corson’s Inlet is one of those places, an undeveloped piece of oceanfront meant to preserve the area’s natural habitats and diverse species of migratory and residential wildlife. The sand dunes also act as a protected nesting site for assorted shorebirds and waterfowl, offering visitors the ability to observe their living and mating habits. Or in my case, the social behavior of other people and attempt to be invisible but still confident, especially since I was wearing another newly purchased high-low skirt. At first the trend was weird, but I now have three skirts and three dresses with this style of hem and I am really digging them. There is no actual address for the park, so we had to use the GPS coordinates and felt dumb for not realizing we even had that option on our unit. Corson’s Inlet is also a part of the NJ Coastal Heritage trail and an extension of Belleplain State Forest, though according to the site it suffered significant damage during Hurricane Sandy which prompted us to ensure we would be there during low tide.
We brought our lunch down to the very rocky beach, sitting under the Ocean Drive overpass for a bit of shade and privacy from the handful of other people who were enjoying the gorgeous afternoon. It’s not even worth trying to remember the last time I sat on a blanket and pulled food out of a wicker basket, as I would surely get lost in thought and risk being stuck on past events. Building new memories, ones that I share with my husband who had never even had a picnic on the beach before, become the focus of my energy and it is difficult to be disappointed by that. We get to experience places for the first time together, and in this instance, found ourselves gazing at the same sea and sky as we eat sandwiches and watch people cruising the sparkling water in a variety of boats or on jet skis.
After lunch we set out on a trail that took us through the sand dunes, which mostly acted as access to the beach. Here we could see the damage that Sandy left behind, as much of the underbrush had been swept up into huge piles and pushed through their surroundings. We even encountered a half foot gap between where the trail had originally been and its current state, which I have to say was a bit of challenge for someone with short legs wearing a skirt and tights. Eventually we came to the ocean and walked down to the waterline so I could take some video. A woman was there with her dog, who was happily barking at a ball and chasing it into the brine. Though I would have liked to been able to wade in a little bit myself, we had more hiking to do and so returned to where the trail split off into another direction. The plants here were as tall or even taller than us, so I thought it would be fun to shoot some video as we walked, occasionally panning over towards the ocean or into the layers of vegetation that seemed to go on forever.
The trail was not very well marked, but it was pretty easy to figure out which way it went, until we reached a huge pile of sticks that seemed to obscure a sensible path. My husband explored on that went into the woods, but it was not one that looked well traveled; I noticed it was possible to walk over said sticks where the pile was not that thick. Well, there wasn’t much on the other side and we started thinking that perhaps part of the trail had been washed away. The beach was still close, so we found an area that had few plants and just made our way towards the ocean again. Here there were a few dozen people basking in the late afternoon sun, but we had been hiking for over an hour and were running out of water. For some reason we were also being swarmed – and bitten – by greenheads, and just wanted to find our way back to the Jeep.
Coming off the beach, we finally got rid of the flies and wandered through a quiet neighborhood, heads turning as we scoped out the various types of architecture. Plenty of balconies and bay windows that are either pointed at the ocean or face West for the best view of sunset, where landscaped gardens and green manicured lawns are set next to plots of bricks filled with rocks. There were also numerous signs advertising rooms for rent, which I imagine are quite affordable this time of year, and other indications that tourist season was coming to an end. It took another half hour or so to walk up to the street we had turned down earlier to get to the parking lot, and while it was a hot stretch of asphalt, we did get to see quite a few herons that were fishing in the bays.
Before departing, we went up on the Ocean Drive overpass and got a great view of everything from one of the little fishing piers provided. Though quite tired, we had an excellent time and may return to explore the other side of the inlet.