No cars were moving more than a few inches at a time when we pulled onto the Garden State Parkway on Saturday at noon so Jim drew on his local knowledge of New Jersey roadways and we went from this 2-digit state road to a 1-digit state road (where we sighted a McDonalds whose PlayPlace we used to frequent) to a 3-digit county road, and thence onto another 3-digit road and then, finally, another state road where there was a long line of cars but the beach was ahead and Saturday's temperature was purr-fect, and we were there.
Always better for Charlie, and for us with Charlie, to be in motion, and all those 3- and 2- digit routes were traffic-free. Plus, all those routes are well-endowed with McDonalds; the rest-stops on the GSP only have Burger Kings and Charlie has brand loyalty.
It was perfect down at the ocean, quite in contrast to last week's scorcher of a Saturday, not to mention the days and days of hot hot (90s+) temperatures we've had through much of July. There was a lovely breeze, the sun was warming but not burning, the light was soft and the water was a bit cool and gentle.
Charlie, however, like big waves and rough surf so he was not as thrilled as he would have liked to be by the water, and there was a period of mad splashes and yowls, augmented by the fact that the current was going south instead of north. We had directed Charlie to start swimming at the more southern of the two orange flags without realizing which way the current was going, and Charlie was at least a bit irked by having his parents telling him he had to go and swim 'thataway' before too long. Fortunately, the ocean can certainly handle the frustrations of one boy looking for a real wave.
And as Jim observed, going to the ocean—which we've certainly done our share of—has perhaps become a 'bit of a job' for Charlie. On the ride home, he was ecstatic (as conveyed by intense rocking) to hear Phil Schaap come on for 'Traditions in Swing' in 6pm. Charlie called for a bike ride at home and watched me closely as I took out the bikes, but wasn't moving as fast as usual after he and Jim rode off. Charlie settled down to using the computer and watching videos as he likes to but, after initially seeming content, he couldn't settle on any one video to watch. Out of the blue, he requested some things he used to have, photos and a stuffed Barney and a toy computer.
We went out walking and it was good to be in the cooler night air with the crickets chirping. Charlie was mournful for much of the walk and asked to go to bed when we came back and went up to his room, and then there was a neurological storm such as he hasn't had at home in awhile.
When Charlie was asleep much later, we talked about too much sun (even with sunscreen) and Jim again brought up how going to the beach seems in danger of going from fun and pleasure to 'a job.' I more than agreed; certainly we've been often noting that more than a few of Charlie's storms can be traced to him getting what he asks for. Jim had noted that, when he and Charlie walked past the beach house we've rented for the past 5 years and won't this year, Charlie had gone to look at the outdoor shower in the back; last week, he walked to the front door (no one was there) and tapped it with both hands. I noted Charlie talking about his old toys and asking for the photos and his agitation while watching the videos. I wouldn't be surprised if he is bored with these, even though he still likes them; I've been showing him snippets of other things but he's not interested: It's not easy for Charlie to transition himself to new things and, in particular, new things that might catch his interests, now that he's older.
I'm making a mental note to play more music, jazz especially, at home, and to put 'strumming the bass guitar' on the daily agenda when Charlie's ESY ends in a week and a half. The one big new interest that Charlie has developed, thanks to Jim, is for jazz—Charlie Parker in particular—and for Phil Schapp talking about jazz and jazz history. On the ride back from the beach, Phil had been talking about territory bands; he noted that these were 'bands that were as popular as Duke Ellington' in the (local) places they were in back in the 1920s to 1960s, before the advent of airplane travel, TV, and (but of course) the Internet. Then Phil played a selection from the San Antonio band, Boots and His Buddies.
It got me to thinking, the three of us are something of a territory band. I guess our territory is a certain swath of north-central and central Jersey, with a good chunk of the ocean. I wouldn't say we're anything near as well-known as Duke Ellington was in the places we visit and revisit, but we do like to stick to tried and true locales where we know the lay of the land (i.e., where there be certain eating establishments with golden arches). Charlie's end of the day storming was a reminder that we need to shake it up. We are going to have a lot of chances to do so as Charlie will be out of school for a month come August 11th and you can only do many bike rides and walks.
Good thing, indeed, that our little band (Charlie and His Buddies, right?) have local knowledge.