We broke up the journey to our next destination - Long Beach Island, NJ - with an overnight stop in Middle River, MD, home to the Bengie All American Drive-In Theater. Nearly 70 years old, Bengie features The BIGGEST movie theatre screen in the U.S.
Sadly, even though the speed limit on the Baltimore Washington Parkway was 65 MPH, miles and miles of our drive were a freaking parking lot experience. Other than patience, like the old Alan Jackson song lyrics complained, "There ain't no cure for the summertime blues". No worries about getting a speeding ticket there. Rorie was sure she could walk faster than the traffic was moving.
The next morning, we headed out early for the last leg of the day's destination: Long Beach Island. LBI is an 18-mile-long barrier island in Ocean County, New Jersey. Fishing is a really big deal there.
Our amazing host and friend Megan lives in the small town of Loveladies (population 1,170) on LBI. Before settling in, Bart wanted to explore local options for his morning espresso addiction and he found a winner: Agnello Brothers (in the town of Harvey Cedars, next to Loveladies). Since he was going to be sharing time and space with two ladies who have a HUGE sweet tooth, he felt a couple of 1 pound donuts would be appropriate to bring back to the house. Needless to say, the donuts didn't last very long!
As always, Megan pulled out all the stops and displayed her dazzling cooking skills by grilling up some delicious salmon. Not to mislead our followers, dinner wasn't entirely "healthy". What goes better with grilled fish than crispy onion rings and fresh Jersey corn dripping with butter washed down with a nice glass of Pinot Grigio? Mmmm good! Off to bed we went so we could rest up for tomorrow's adventures.
We awoke to cloudy skies and cool breezes. Given the extreme heat we'd been having on the Gulf Coast of Florida where we live, this was a welcomed, comfortable change. Megan had a great idea for us rookie LBI visitors - taking a walk along the coastline jetty and checking out the historic, nearby lighthouse at Barnegat State Park on the northern tip of the island, just a stone's throw from her house.
Affectionally called "Old Barney", the lighthouse was originally constructed in 1835 and first lit in 1859. It recently went through a total refurbishment and is included as a maritime site on the New Jersey Coastal Heritage Trail. It's stunning against the backdrop of the inlet, and if you want to climb the 217 spiral steps to the top, the view is spectacular. Lucky for us, strategically placed cameras gave us a birds-eye view without the climb!
It's hard to imagine the horror of this massacre against the peaceful backdrop of the Barnegat Inlet. John Bacon personified the word "ruthless" as he and his bloodthirsty gang murdered more than 20 men in their sleep for some ill-gotten gain. Not long after, Bacon met his well-deserved fate: a single ball from a pistol killed him as he tried to escape from the militia posse sent to arrest him.
We headed back to Loveladies for some R & R, before ordering dinner to go from a standout local fish place. While waiting to grab dinner, Bart took this shot of a kayaker from Megan's deck. He looked VERY relaxed.
Time for vittles from nearby Harvey Cedars Shellfish Company. It's in a cool 1920’s beach cottage and has been in business for more than 50 years. We ordered baked shrimp stuffed with crab meat, calamari and Manhattan clam chowder - and of course a salad. Gotta have some veggies. FABULOUS! If you're ever on LBI, and you like fresh, beautifully prepared seafood, you've got to go to this joint!
We had a spectacular adventure discovering Long Beach Island with the help of our dear friend, tour guide and "hostess with mostest". We'll leave you with a stunning sunset picture Megan took from her deck.
Tomorrow's a new day, and we're headed to New England where we'll look for more quintessential small towns. See you soon...