My dad is quite fond of saying “Whenever I cross the Causeway to LBI, my knuckles turn from white to red.” His track record for saying this within 5 minutes of arriving on Long Beach Island has been so consistent over the last 60 years, the entire family, in a chorus of perfect unison, can finish the sentence for him, oftentimes before he even begins it.
But we all know what he means. That experience of realizing you’ve made it to heaven, so your shoulders drop, you loosen your grip, your blood begins to flow, and you get hit by a wave of memories, suddenly remembering what life is supposed to feel like. There are scores of triggers for this experience along our favorite routes to the Beach. For some it is the giant white number on the stark green sign of their favorite Parkway exit. For others, the first whiff of the salty marsh, or the damp, warm cloak of coastal humidity. For my dad it is flying high over the Bay on the bridge, with an Osprey eye’s view, Island paradise laid out in front of him. For me it is the first glance from the Boulevard down a street that ends abruptly at the edge of the world; a grass covered dune with a narrow wooden boardwalk: the gateway to Paradise.
But in addition to that amazing experience of realizing you’ve made it home and officially, hopefully successfully, left a world of worry behind, you also loosen that grip on the steering wheel because you probably just defied death a dozen times in a mad race to get to the Beach as quickly as possible. Time here is precious, and every minute savored is one more of just a handful you’ll remember as the best times of your life. So no point in being bothered by things like speed limits, hunger, or the desperate need of child passengers to urinate. There is a reason the Garden State Parkway has some of the fastest traffic you’ll find on any highway in the U.S., and that Troopers in Speed Traps don’t even lookup from their newspapers for speeds under 100 MPH; everyone is Bookin’ It To The Beach. Given the choice between a terrifying, midnight drive that would be impossible without grotesque amounts of caffeine and leaving safely first thing the next morning, I’ll always choose the horrific all nighter. Because waking up at the beach just one extra morning is just that valuable.
It appears we’re not the only ones who feel this way.
Let’s not bury the big lead here: T2 is home for the Summer. Everyone’s favorite American Oystercatcher, and LBI’s most famous bird, has returned and once again claimed Barnegat Light State Park as his very own love nest. That’s the happy news. But here is the interesting part, relevant to our story.
T2 was officially spotted on his wintering grounds at Cedar Key, Florida on the morning of Thursday, March 19th. Not much is currently know about AMOY migration methods, speeds, and preferences. But here’s what we do know: T2 was happily sitting on his favorite Jetty on the Inlet at Barnegat Light by Sunday, March 22nd. That’s a maximum of 3 days it took him to make that epic journey from Florida to LBI. Unbelievable.
T2, a bird well known to waste lots of time, apparently wastes none of it when it is time to return to LBI. Does T2 value you every moment spent along the Jersey Shore, just like us? I’d say “dolphinately!”
T2 is currently looking as crappy & happy as any of us when we make a heroic, epic journey to the beach, pushing our engines and bladders to their limits in an effort to squeeze in just a few bonus moments of awesome. But he is home and, just like many of us, will apparently trade a day feeling like a million bucks in the real world for just a few minutes feeling exhausted on LBI any time.
So welcome home T2. We’re all rooting for you. Could 2015 be your season?