Jim and Charlie at the entrance to the beach Charlie wanted a ride in the early afternoon, after lunch and a bike ride during which he pedaled superfast, Jim right behind him (pedaling equally fast). We got into the white car and talked about driving a few towns over through a park where Charlie went on some of his first biking adventures. (Walkers and the traces of Canadian geese were of especial concern in those days.) As we drove down our street, Jim said,

"Let's go to the ocean!"

"Ocean," said Charlie from the backseat.

So that's where we went on a beautiful, sunshine-y, albeit cold, day. 

As we'd decided to go to the beach rather out of the blue, we hadn't thrown Charlie's parka and gloves into the trunk. But I don't think shivering in the strong breeze at the beach was why Charlie went no farther than the wooden structure that houses (in the summer) a snack bar and information desk.

It was a couple of weeks ago that we last went to this beach, the day Charlie (despite even cooler temperatures) put on his swimsuit and made sure his boogie board was in the white car's trunk. That day, Charlie had run onto the beach, removed his shirt and shoes and socks, and made for the waves, only to have his envisioned dip in the surf thwarted by the cold water and numerous bystanders saying to Jim and me, "you're not really letting him go into the water today, are you?" This abrupt disruption in Charlie's plans led to some deep unhappiness, and the fact that there were several dogs running loose on the sand didn't help. I suspect that the memory, and the sting, of a proper day at the beach gone wrong, and the presence of all the (unleashed) canines, has stuck in Charlie's mind.

(Of course, it's also possible that he was simply cold, but Charlie generally does not let weather stand in the way of his will.) (As you can see from the photo, Jim didn't have a problem wearing summery garb despite the wind.)

We drove a little further "down the shore" and got burgers and fries, all refused by Charlie. (I know, who woulda thunk. There once was a time when French fries were pretty much a separate food group for Charlie.) Then we headed home as Jim was planning to attend a showing of On the Waterfront at a beautifully restored movie theater in Jersey City

The sun was still shining as we drove and I took advantage of this to snap these photos of the Broadway exit ramp of the Pulaski Skyway, just to give you an idea of what my morning drive to work is like. 

Nearing the Pulaski Skyway on Routes 1 & 9 North 

Taking the Broadway exit ramp off the Skyway
And down and down we go
A little light at the bottom
I find driving down this ramp, encased in steel gridwork with a huge recycling plant on one side, to have a bit of the roller-coaster in it. It's a bit more exciting than your usual off-ramp, as you're literally descending down a narrow chute, at the bottom of which there is, when it rains, a pond of a puddle. The small pleasures of everyday experience, right?

We drove around some
and got Charlie some Vietnamese food, a long-time favorite (since he was about 2 years old, actually). Then we dropped Jim off outside the theater and Charlie and I drove back home over the Skyway. The sun was just setting and we–he, I was driving and the Skyway is two lanes in each direction separated only by a rather meagre concrete barrier considering the speeds people clock in on it—got a most spectacular panoramic view of the Meadowlands and downtown Newark, a-sparkle with lights. 

Once home, Charlie used the computer and helped make a card for someone's birthday which is today. I added a few embellishments while putting the finishing touches on a Spring Break calendar for Charlie. Jim got to station himself and a suitcase of books at a table in the movie theater and kept me posted about the proceedings. Charlie betook himself, quite gladly, to his bedroom at 8.30, though he didn't fall asleep till quite late. Indeed, around 9.30pm, he put on his shoes, and his parka, asked for a walk. 

We had the street to ourselves under the stars and a nearly full moon.

Just because your boy prefers schedules and order, doesn't mean it's not a bad idea to shake things up some.

2 Responses to “Impromptu”
  1. Louise says:

    Ah! The Pulaski Skyway! One of the great architectural and construction miracles of the 20th century! Yet every time we drive on it, I am certain that a gaping hole large enough to admit a sedan will open up in front of us and drop us into the marshy Meadowlands.
    You and Jim would LOVE “The Last Three Miles”, by Steven Hart. It’s about the construction of this first “superhighway,” and about how Frank Hague and his cronies got it built to guarantee (through bloody beatings) that Jersey City would remain pre-eminent in port traffic.
    Sounds like a rousing and splendid day.

  2. Regina says:

    Summer will be here before you know it. Maybe you can try the beach again and see how that goes next time.
    That drive – reminds me of the Sopranos, and also of my white knuckle stint driving in NJ. My hat is off to you for doing it as part of business as usual.
    Do you and Jim also have Spring Break?
    Warm regards.

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