Ocean City, NJ — Day Five

Heavenly IIII stood on the beach in the early morning hours watching the waves break and rush toward the shore. The ocean continued it’s steady, rhythmic breathing — in. out, in, out. A mass of gray clouds covered the sky, but the sun was making a valiant attempt to break through. Rays were finding their way to the ocean, lighting the sky in pastels of purple, blue and pink.

It was me and the ocean that morning.

It was my last morning.

I started walking along the beach toward the pier, noticing the sudden appearance of seaweed and the abundance of broken shells. I paused, scanning the sand for a shell that might still be in one piece (or close to it), picking up pieces and putting most of them back. My feet carried me a little further down the beach before I decided to turn back. (I could’ve walked the whole beach that morning, every morning. There’s something so peaceful about the ocean and the smell of the salty sea air.)

Back on the other side of the pier, I stopped to watch the ocean dance. It curled into waves, folded back in on itself and spun toward the shore. I listened to it churn, breathing in its briny scent.

I didn’t want to leave, but the inevitable journey home was looming. (Even though the ocean has always felt like a second home to me.)

Halfway between going home and the ocean, I climbed into a lifeguard stand. I sat, watched, listened and stayed by the ocean awhile longer.

Reluctantly, after what seemed like hours, I climbed back down, my feet landing in the soft, grainy sand, and made my way back toward the boardwalk. I kept my head down, searching for shells. My eyes landed on a dark blue spiral buried in the sand. I’d never seen anything like it before and bent down to take a closer look. Figuring it was broken, I dug the piece out of the sand, but it wasn’t broken at all. There wasn’t even a chip in it or a scratch on it. In my hand I held a beautiful navy blue snail shell. Its spiral shape swirled with a light tan or white to give the impression of waves. I couldn’t believe what I had found. Putting in the pocket of my sweater, I looked back at the water once more. Something inside me said this was my parting gift from the ocean, until we meet again.

To see more photos please visit my website.

To see previous posts in this series follow the links below.

Ocean City, NJ – Day One

Ocean City, NJ – Day Two

Ocean City, NJ – Days Three and Four

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Ocean City, NJ – Days Three and Four

Steppingstones to The SeaEach morning started with an early morning walk on the beach (with my camera of course). It was strange this time. There was no seaweed (and there’s usually tons). There were no shells (and they’re usually scattered all along the sand). Any shells that did happen to make it to land were so smashed they practically blended into their surroundings. I thought after the storms and the way the sea had been there would’ve been more than normal, but that wasn’t the case.

Still, I strolled along the beach, taking pictures and listening to the ocean as it crashed and raced toward the shore. (And I’ve been to this part of the ocean so many times, there were some moments where I shot film instead of digital. I love film, but that’s a story for another time.) There’s always something beautiful and peaceful about the ocean, especially in the morning while I was the only one down there.

The sand was cool on my bare feet and the water felt like ice. Dark clouds, threatening rain, covered the sky. Although, it never rained. They burned off in the late morning hours, but the water stayed colder than usual.

One day I walked into town. It’s old and quaint with a touch of modern. The sidewalks made a path pass old stone churches with steeples reaching for the heaven, beach hotels and motels with retro signs, homes and apartments, murals, small parks and gardens, restaurants and bookshops until reaching the center of town. This is where the streets are lined with boutiques, more restaurants, art galleries and other shops.

The next day I stuck to the boardwalk. I walked from the hotel to the very end where an amusement park still stands and is in use today. It was built in 1929 and still has that old-time feel, which I love. On my way back I stopped into some stores, did a little shopping and ate boardwalk food. I had the best pizza, funnel cake and french fries on the boardwalk and bought some of the best chocolate covered pretzels and saltwater taffy I’ve ever tasted. The chocolate is rich and the taffy practically melts in your mouth. (The pretzels and taffy to were bring home.)

At times I’d sit in a pavilion (sometimes eating and trying to avoid the seagulls who, quite frankly, had no interest in being friends and only wanted my food) and watch the ocean. I could look at the waves roll onto the shore and recede for hours. It’s calming, mesmerizing, beautiful.

Each evening I walked on the beach, the sand still warm from the sun as clouds gathered with the promise of rain. Once there was a quick passing thunderstorm, but afterward the sun began to break through the clouds in spindles of light. A slow appearing rainbow formed across the sky. At first it was dull, but then it was bright. The colors seemed to shine in the sky, if only for a few moments, before fading into the gray backdrop of clouds.

To see more photos please visit my website.

Ocean City, NJ – Day Two

It was a complete turnaround from the previous day. The gray skies that had brought rain were now burning off, letting the sun shine. It’s warm rays were gracing the earth and the temperature was rising. There was still a wind blowing inland, but by now it was more of a breeze over calmer waters.

Today was the perfect day to do some exploring. Today, I was headed down the coast to Cape May. There were many things I wanted to see — the Cape May Lighthouse, the WWII bunker, the S.S. Atlantus, Sunset Beach, the WWII Lookout Tower — and the list goes on.

The first place I stopped was the nature preserve. I wanted to walk the paths with my camera and see what kind of wildlife would enjoy making an appearance for a photo opportunity. Unfortunately, most of the birds, reptiles and other animals seemed to be camera shy. I only saw one turtle (who happened to be making his way across the hot asphalt of the parking lot and decided to rest in the shade produced by a car’s back bumper), several swans (who appeared elegant) and many other birds (of names I’m unsure of). I did, however, still enjoy the beauty of nature and the Cape May Lighthouse could be seen from different angles while on the paths.

WWII BunkerNext up was the remains of a WWII bunker, know as Battery 223, built in the 1940s. There was a straight path from the nature preserve to the beach where it sits. Upon seeing it, I thought about how big and strong it looked, but knew that it had changed drastically over time. I’ve seen photos of this bunker throughout the years and the changes are astounding. People used to be able to walk under it, but due to land transformation that’s become impossible. It used to sit on top of giant, strong pillars (and still might, although it’s hard to say for certain) and the ocean would rush up and surround it. Now the pillars can’t be seen and the bunker appears as if it’s sitting on top of sand. I believe there was also a time when people were able to climb a set of wooden steps, which were built after the war sometime in the 70s, to an observation deck and even walk inside. I have no proof or photos of these steps or an observation deck, only word of mouth from those who say they remember it from years ago. As for the inside, I’ve seen only a few photos and as amazing as it looks it’s unfortunately covered with graffiti. There’s a large part of me that wishes I could’ve seen the inside for myself, walked the halls and entered the rooms that so many brave souls did long ago, but today the entire structure is sealed off. People can still walk around the perimeter of the bunker and touch the concrete walls, which I did, gladly. I had a feeling of awe as my hands rubbed along the concrete. When it comes to old, historical places part of me can’t believe I’m actually seeing it while the other part can’t believe it’s still standing. And the whole time I’m playing its history in my head, as if I can see it for what it was back in its prime as well as what it is today — a wonderful piece of history.

The Cape May Lighthouse was next on my list of places to go. It was built in 1859, the Cape May Lighthouse (Black and White)same year it was first lit. In 1946 it was automated and is still operational today. As is the case with many lighthouses today, people are able to climb the stairs, like lighthouse keepers. There were 199 steps to the top of the lighthouse and I climbed every single one. My journey started at the bottom and continued in intervals, as I stopped briefly at each landing to observe the view. At the top, surrounded by bright red metal bars, what I saw was breathtaking. From one side I could see the entire beach, another side the town and from another side I thought I could see the remains of a sunken ship sticking out of the water.

SS Atlantus (Black and White)The S.S. Atlantus was launched in 1918, a month after WWI ended, but was used to bring American troops home from Europe as well as transport coal in New England. In 1920 the ship was retired and six years later (1926) the S.S. Atlantus was purchased. The plan was to use it as a ferry dock in Cape May, NJ along with two other concrete ships. So it was towed to Cape May where it was kept waiting, but when a storm hit the ship broke free and ran aground 150 feet off the coast. Any attempt to free the ship was unsuccessful. By the late 50s the S.S. Atlantus begun to break apart in its midsection. I’ve seen photos of the ship through the years, as it’s slowly broken apart and it’s striking how large it used to be verses what remains of it today. From what I can tell there’s barely anything left. Still, there’s something about seeing it in person. Maybe it’s the sight itself. Maybe it’s the history behind the ship. Maybe it’s a little of both. Whatever the reason, the S.S. Atlantus is still an amazing sight to see with a great history. Colored Stones and The Ocean

Since the remains of the S.S. Atlantus sits off the coast of Sunset Beach it was easy to see both (practically simultaneously.) While the beach is sandy there are more and more colorful rocks and pebbles closer to the water. The way the sun bounces off their surfaces makes them sparkle and shine. It was a beautiful sight to behold.

WWII Lookout Tower (Fire Control Tower No. 23)The WWII Lookout Tower (Fire Control Tower No. 23) was near Sunset Beach so it was my next, and last, stop of the day. Built in 1942 it was one of fifteen towers meant to aim batteries of coastal artillery from North Wildwood, NJ to Bethany Beach, DE. There used to be four of these towers in Cape May, but two were torn down while the other two still stand. However, the one I visited is said to be the last remaining restorable WWII tower in New Jersey. Behind the tower is a deck with an “All Veterans Memorial” and inside the tower, on the third floor, is a “Wall of Honor” which features photographs from over 100 area WWII veterans. Although, I didn’t see this wall for myself. Considering this was my last stop of the day and all the other walking and climbing I participated in, I asked my legs a very serious question — if they thought they could make it up the nearly 200 steps. Reluctantly they responded with a no. It was the day’s first disappointment for me, but definitely on my list of things to do on my next trip to Cape May.

I loved the history of Cape May along with its beauty. If you’re ever in the area and enjoy history I’d recommend checking these place out, or go for the simple beauty of the ocean.

To see more pictures please visit my website.

Ocean City, NJ – Day One

The sky was covered by a blanket of gray.

The wind howled.

The ocean seemed more restless than usual.

Eventually, the clouds let loose and it poured.

From my room I could see the ocean. The waves broke one after the other, practically on top of each other, far out at sea as well as close to shore. They were larger then usual and when they churned and folded back in on themselves the wind scattered the whitewash in every direction.

The door to the balcony was closed as big, thick raindrops tapped against the glass. It was one of those rainstorms where the wind whips constantly and drives the falling rain at an angle. Even with the door shut, if I listened closely, I could hear the ocean crashing.

Yet, there was something beautiful about watching the ocean churn and dance through the rain. The water appeared a deep, dark blue against the gray backdrop of the sky while the whitewash seemed to shine. There was something oddly peaceful about watching the ocean surge, still keeping its natural breathing rhythm — in, out, in, out.

I was mesmerized.

Maybe it’s my love for the ocean, but even in the storm I thought it possessed a quality that displayed its beauty.

A Day in Brattleboro

It was one of those last minute, spontaneous decisions. I’m not even sure how we landed on the topic, but all of a sudden everyone whipped out their phone or tablet and was asking me the name of the antique store, the name of the brewery, and before I knew it a trip was planned.

We drove to Vermont, through the mountains at one point which were covered in snow. Ice coated the sides of the mountain rocks while icicles hung from the edges. Water flowed easily in the streams, over snow capped rocks and boulders and under fallen trees. The evergreens and leafless branches of other trees were dusted with snow. The ground appeared to have a fresh coating, bringing back memories of February. It was beautiful. Once we were out of the higher points in elevation the snow lessened until the landscape gave way to grass and bare trees.

Tiger MuralThe town itself was small and quaint. (At least that’s the impression I got.) I also picked up somewhat of an artsy vibe, but that could’ve been due to the couple murals and many other art related things I saw while exploring.

Old buildings towered above the sidewalk. Some had painted images of flowers or the sun. Some places had writing and were tagged with graffiti. I found one building along a side street that had a heart drawn on the door. A little ways down, on what looked like a garage door, was a smaller heart drawn in the middle of the peeling blue paint.

The antique store was in one of these old buildings lining the street. I was blown away as Heartsoon as I walked in and knew I could easily spend hours searching for little treasures. I usually know what I’m searching for, but love spending time looking at all the other things. This place had clothes, shoes, books, tables and chairs and other furniture, dishes, typewriters, and many other things. It was three floors, with the main floor being the one you enter into, so there was also an upstairs and downstairs. The store had the same scent most antique places do. Some people might say it’s the smell of dust and old things. I say it’s the smell of age and history and little treasures. I’m not sure how long we were there, but I know I could’ve spent hours.

The brewery wasn’t really my thing. I would’ve been happy to spend another hour in the antique store and fully explore the town, but I went for the others. (After all, they went antiquing with me.) Inside the brewery smelled of hops and grains and yeast. It was small, but had a nice atmosphere. The music was good, the bartender was nice and the establishment was dog friendly. Plus there was a pinball machine in the corner. (Unfortunately I didn’t have any quarters.) They seemed to specialize in sour beers, which most of the people I was with enjoyed.

Love in The ParkNear the brewery there was a small park with benches. Over one of the benches someone had painted a red heart with a halo and wings. I’m not sure what it was about that simple piece of art, but I liked it.

Towering over the concrete wall backing the park was a church steeple. I left our group and wondered around to the other side. It seemed so close and I wanted to explore more of the town before we left. Luckily the church was directly around the corner, standing tall as it’s steeples reached toward the sky. It was built of brick with red doors and stained glass windows. I thought it was beautiful. That’s when I Old White Churchsaw another old church down the street.

I’m not sure what drew me to it, but I thought it’s white structure was bright and beautiful against the blue backdrop of the sky. This church was also complete with stained glass windows. It’s steeple stretched toward the wispy clouds and was topped with a golden weathervane.

By now the other people in our group were calling me back. I wanted to keep going, to keep exploring, but they were my ride home. All in all it was a beautiful day in a pretty cool town, but I felt like there was still so much to see. As I walked back to them, I made a mental note to return another day.

A Year in Photos

This year has been full of ups and downs, as life usually is, but when I have my camera in my hands I’m on a constant natural high. Over the last twelve months I’ve had the opportunity to photograph some amazing bands. I’ve traveled to places I’ve never been before, explored other places I know well and have simply done what I love. So, to end the year, here are some of my favorite photos from 2017.

To see more photos please visit my website.

Skillet

Skillet at Upstate Concert Hall

Switchfoot

Switchfoot at Roberts Wesleyan College

Between Seasons

Oneonta, NY

Charlotte Cardin

Charlotte Cardin at Upstate Concert Hall

Parkway Drive

Parkway Drive at Upstate Concert Hall

Stolen Rhodes

Stolen Rhodes at Sticky Lips Juke Joint

Door

George Eastman’s House – Rochester, NY

Heavenly

Ocean City, NJ

Switchfoot

Switchfoot at Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom

Driftwood

Hampton Beach, NH

Switchfoot

Switchfoot at House of Blues Boston

Mountain View

Catskills, NY

A Painter's Table

Thomas Cole’s House/Studio – Catskills, NY

Birdbath in the Garden

Emily Dickinson’s House – Amherst, MA

MuteMath

MuteMath at House of Blues Boston

A Fall View

Saratoga Springs, NY

Jillian Cardarelli

Jillian Cardarelli at Upstate Concert Hall

Carousel III

Saratoga Springs, NY

Fall Ladybug

Saratoga Springs, NY

Doors

Saratoga Springs, NY

Maggie in Winter

Maggie in Winter

A Summer of Photos

Over the summer I traveled, photographed a ton of concerts and documented the places I visited. Some places I had never been before while others I knew well. Some bands I had never heard of before or seen live while others were close to my heart.

It’s almost hard to believe that summer is over. Especially since the calendar says fall, but the temperatures are screaming summer (or at least spring). Now that we’re officially a week into fall (and heading for October, pumpkins, apple pie, bonfires, hot cocoa, warm sweaters, ect.) I’ve decided to post some of my favorite photos from the summer. (And this was not the easiest of tasks. Not every band I photographed or every place I went is represented in the photos below, so feel free to check out my website. The link is posted at the bottom.)

I hope you all had a great summer!

Enjoy the photos!

MuteMath

MuteMath at House of Blues Boston

Birdbath in the Garden

Emily Dickinson’s House – Amherst, MA

A Painter's Tools

Thomas Cole’s House/Studio – Catskills, NY

Mountain View

Catskills, NY

Switchfoot

Switchfoot at House of Blues Boston

Driftwood

Hampton Beach, NH

Switchfoot

Switchfoot at Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom

Fuel

Fuel at Upstate Concert Hall

Door

George Eastman’s House – Rochester, NY

Stolen Rhodes

Stolen Rhodes at Sticky Lips Juke Joint

Parkway Drive

Parkway Drive at Upstate Concert Hall

Heavenly

Ocean City, NJ

To see more photos please check out my site by clicking here.