I headed down to the shore after breakfast on Sunday, April 22nd and checked in, for the second year, at the comfortable Laingdon Hotel on Ocean and Bath Avenues near the North End. This year my room was on the third floor, a carbon copy of the single second floor room I had last April.
I next checked in with my parents at Francis Asbury Manor, the United Methodist Homes’ assisted living facility along Fletcher Lake at the South End - their home since last August. That night we had planned to dine together at Schneider’s Restaurant in nearby Avon, known for its German-Austrian-Hungarian cuisine – but upon arriving at the eatery’s parking lot we discovered it was closed on Sunday and Monday! So we ended up at our old standby – the IHOP on Route 66 near the Route 35 circle.
My father was due for a haircut (what few hairs he has left) and beard trim, so we scheduled the occasion for Monday after lunch – but when we got there the barber shop was closed. We were more successful the next morning, which we followed with lunch at Schneider’s, where my father had their delicious German Potato Pancakes.
Monday night every restaurant I attempted to go to was closed, so I decided to try a new place that I had passed many times in the past year – Jimmy’s Italian Restaurant on Asbury Avenue, not far from the Route 35 circle. I was surprised to find it had valet parking (because of the neighborhood, I was later told). It was a good choice – and as it turned out I was glad every other place was closed. My hosts at the Laingdon Hotel told me on my return that it was frequently being written up in newspapers and magazines as a hidden gem of the shore.
My visit would not be complete without checking on the progress of Asbury Park’s renovation. The Casino building, the gateway from Ocean Grove to Asbury Park, was in the process of being torn down – the portion that overhung the beach, which, I believe, once housed a skating rink, was already gone. An architect’s drawing near the site indicated that it would be rebuilt to look as it did in its prime. Work was also finally being done on the old dilapidated Howard Johnson’s restaurant on the Boardwalk across from Convention Hall.
Tuesday night I decided to try Carmine’s Asbury Park, on Main Street (Route 71) and Cookman Avenue, another Italian Restaurant, which had been closed on Monday night. Despite its misleading sign, it is not connected to the family-style Carmine’s of New York City and Atlantic City. Another good stop.
While having breakfast at The Starvin’ Artist on Monday I noticed an interesting sign: “Everyone brings joy to this place –- some when they enter and some when they leave!” That would have been an appropriate sign to display when we had the storefront office.
As the purpose of the trip was “recovery” I spent the bulk of my time reading my latest mystery, or just sitting and relaxing, on the Boardwalk or in the small park next to the famous Auditorium. The weather was truly summer-like during my stay, with cool ocean breezes making it almost perfect.
I returned to Jersey City relaxed and refreshed. Now if only I can stop doing tax returns in my sleep!