1. Adj.: Describing a person born between 1 Jan. 1946 and 31 Dec. 1964
2. Adj.: Description of a person, place or thing possessing Baby Boomer je ne sais quoi
3. See also, Boomer, Esq.: A Baby Boomer who is also a licensed attorney (See, e.g., About).

Solo (but Not So Low) at Brigantine Beach

by Suzanne Fluhr on August 21, 2012 · 34 comments

Life Saving Boat on Brigantine Beach

(updated September 2019)

Life Saving Boat on Brigantine Beach

Life Saving Boat on Brigantine Beach

When Philadelphians talk about going “down tha’ shore”, they mean any of the beach towns from the southern tip of New Jersey (Cape May) north through Long Beach Island.  Any further north than that and you run the risk of entering a Seven Eleven and running into people wearing New York Giants and Yankees caps — enough to ruin any self-respecting Philadelphian’s vacation.

As newbie empty nesters, my husband, Mr. Excitement, and I bought a beach house in Brigantine, New Jersey.  When we informed our Boomlet sons about our purchase, they were dismayed.  “Why’d you buy a house in Brigantine?  There’s nothing to do there.”  “EXACTLY”, replied Mr. Dr. and Mrs. Excitement.

Meanwhile, our beach house has turned out to be a wonderful place to get away from it all or, more precisely, to get away from it enough. Brigantine is only a 70 minute drive from our Center City Philadelphia apartment, but I can feel my husband relax as soon as we drive across the causeway onto the barrier island.  It’s close enough that coming down for long weekends during the summer is no big deal travel wise.  Our house has a “poor man’s” water view — not of the ocean and not really of the bay, but it’s on a body of water New Jersey calls a “Thorofare”.  Whatever they call it, we have a sunset view over the water —- not so easy to find on the east coast of the United States — what with the sun setting in the west at all.


Sunset Over St. George's Thorofare, Brigantine, New Jersey

Sunset Over St. George’s Thorofare, Brigantine, New Jersey

brigantine, New Jersey after the sunset

Another Brigantine “after the sunset” over Saint George’s Thorofare Bay.

We’re a two lap top family, so on most days, even down tha’ shore, you can find one or both of us working away at our dining room table. Somehow it seems less like work when you can see salt water and boats if you look up from whatever very important thing you’re working on — lung cancer research paper, NIH grant application (good luck with that these days), Social Security legal brief, blog post, whatever. There are breaks for bike rides, beach walks and dog walks. (You may have noticed no mention of swimming. I have Boomeresque body image issues so donning a bathing suit is not going to happen unless the thermostat hits  100 degrees at the ocean’s edge.  Otherwise, I am totally refreshed walking in the surf in my longish shorts and tee shirt.)

"Working" Down Tha' Shore

“Working” Down Tha’ Shore

I am now an almost fully recovered Boomer, Esq., so if there is nothing that requires my physical presence in Philadelphia, I get to stay down tha’ shore while Dr. Excitement  has to return to the fort from Monday morning until Thursday afternoon to personally provide eyes-on guidance to the researchers in his lab and to attend a seemingly endless number of meetings.

I miss Mr. E., but I’m not sad and lonely.  I kind of like doing whatever I want to, whenever I want to.  I can surrender to my phase delayed circadian rhythm disorder and turn into the ultimate night person. I can turn on my bed side lamp to read at 3:00 A.M. without feeling guilty. I can indulge my political junkie choice of TV shows without driving anyone other than myself insane. Meals are not balanced — and maybe don’t even qualify as meals (don’t tell my mother — or my kids).

Path to the Beach, Brigantine, New Jersey

Path to the Beach, Brigantine, New Jersey

Tonight was a perfect solo Brigantine evening.  Fed the dog at 6:00 P.M. and walked a mile and a half on the beach to Aunt B’s.

Aunt B’s is the quintessential beach town ice cream place — only open in the summer, only window service and only icy treats.  Tonight’s dinner was a Delaware Valley specialty, a “gelati” with chocolate water ice and vanilla soft serve ice cream.  A “small” was monstrous.  (BTW, I am well traveled.  I realize that in Italian, the singular for Italy’s signature ice cream is “gelato”.  But, in Philly and down tha’ shore, “gelati” is singular.  More than one is “gelatis”.)

Chocolate Water Ice and Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream Gelati

Dinner: Chocolate Water Ice and Vanilla Soft Serve Ice Cream Gelati

At 7:30 P.M. the lines at Miss B’s would be too long for my patience, but at 6:30 P.M., it’s just me.  As I admired my gelati at one of the outside cement tables, a grown up couple walked by and looked from me to my gelati to their watches.  I returned the stink eye.  “Whaat? I’m not ruining my dinner.  This is my dinner!”

I languorously enjoyed every spoonful of my gelati and headed back down to the beach for my walk home. The beach is almost deserted. It’s mostly just me, except for the seabirds feasting on the low tide fare.

Path Home Through the Dunes, Brigantine Beach, New Jersey

Path Home Through the Dunes, Brigantine Beach, New Jersey

I arrive home to a white fluffy face staring out the storm door, in time to catch the end of the sunset over the water. I feel content. I want to write about it. I’m not lonely. I might even indulge the dog in a game of tug-of-war.

Dino Hopeful That Someone Will Play With Him

Dino Hopeful That I’ll Play Tug-of-War With Him

[Addendum: On October 29, 2012, Hurricane Sandy came ashore right over Brigantine. We drove down to check on our house and the island less than two weeks later. That’s when I became the storm’s latest victim.] 

Where’s your favorite escape?

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Madaline Fluhr August 22, 2012 at 6:40 am

Awwwww. That was a sweet tale of Brigantine. And what a cute dog! Looking forward to joining you for a “gelati” when I get back to Brigantine someday!


Just One Boomer August 22, 2012 at 4:00 pm

Your gelati awaits.


Beth August 22, 2012 at 10:20 am

Wow, Suzanne! I could feel myself relax as I read your post. There’s something about the shore that brings life to a breathable pace.

Peter and I loved to vacation in Maine, also known as Vacationland. There’s what once was a little known beach in Southern Maine near Kennebunkport- Goose Rocks- a nice stretch of beautiful sand along a normally rocky coast, where the river meets the ocean forming tide pools deep enough to swim in. We loved walking out to the little islands (when the tide was out) to discover what the ocean has dropped off for the day. Each sunrise brought a no hurry no rush schedule: up for a nice run on the beach or along the quiet roads, yoga on the deck overlooking the ocean, breakfast, moseying down with a book, chair, and umbrella to sit on the beach for a while, lunch, then a nice late afternoon bike ride followed by dinner, a walk on the beach, and a beautiful sunset.

For entertainment, on Wednesday nights, we would walk to the local community center to for Family Bingo Night (until someone decided that playing Bingo with your family was gambling and it was done away with) or would play endless rounds of whatever game our daughter loved that year.

Yes, whether down, up, over, or at the shore, life is good! Thanks for capturing that feeling! Looking forward, as always, to more of your writing.


Just One Boomer August 22, 2012 at 3:59 pm

Beth, thanks for describing summer life at the beach in Maine. It’s nice how long the days feel when your biggest decision is whether to do yoga or go to the beach first. That does sound like a special beach for Maine with tidal pools deep enough for swimming given that the ocean temps off Maine even in the summer are Polar Bear Club worthy. BTW, any Bush spottings?


Jim Rannazzisi August 22, 2012 at 4:25 pm

I got a big kick out of your comment about folks from Phila not going north of Long Beach island or they’ll run into NY people. I’m originally from central Jersey (exit 9). I like to vacation in Lavallette and we actually have some Phila. area people there too. Very few people from central or north Jersey and NY will venture to Long Beach Island to vacation. There must be some unwritten rule. I’m glad you like it there.


Just One Boomer August 22, 2012 at 5:47 pm

Jim, Brigantine is not on Long Beach Island. It’s the barrier island just south of there and just north of Atlantic City. Most Philadelphians have never heard of it or are not sure where it is which is just fine with most Brigantiners. It sounds like you grew up in what we call the “transition zone” between supporters of the Philly sports teams and the New York sports teams which have a turnpike rivalry. One New York team (I forget which) even adopted a policy limiting the number of tickets they will sell to non-New York residents because there were so many Philadelphia fans in the stands that the Yankees games didn’t feel like home games.


L Sorensen-Jolink August 23, 2012 at 12:18 am

Thank you for your lovely post about your vacation time. It sounds wonderful (except for the absence of swimming). My only question is, why didn’t Dino get to go on your dinner walk?
We live in Portland, Oregon and vacation all around the region. Our favorite place is a small rustic fishing resort on Wallowa Lake, at the foot of Oregon’s only alpine mountains. It’s a simple, stunning paradise in which we live in, and on, the beautiful water with our two dogs (Henry the Golden Retriever and Bob the long-haired dachshund). After a few days there, we are completely relaxed.


Just One Boomer August 23, 2012 at 1:51 am

I’m afraid that Brigantine has a policy barring dogs from the beach from the end of May until the end of September. But, that’s ok because Dino is not a good beach dog. He eats things that are not edible. So far his “dietary indiscretion” has only cost us $2,500 when he had to be admitted to a vet hospital. (That was the discharge diagnosis: “dietary indiscretion”). He also has very short legs which means he can’t walk in the surf very well. Then there’s his fur which is really hair and becomes completely sand laden. Finally, he’s kind of a lazy dog (but very sweet). I “force” him to walk a mile with me after dinner.

BTW, we have visited your state—beautiful. Can Bob keep up on your walks. Does he swim? I know Goldens love the water, so I’m sure Henry is happy.


L Sorensen-Jolink August 23, 2012 at 3:20 am

Dino sounds like a wonderful character. (Dietary indiscretion, indeed! I’m glad he recovered.) How old is he? How do you “force” him to walk? (My neighbor, whose two Scotties who are prone to simply sitting down and refusing to move when on walks, would like to know.) Please post more Dino photographs!

Re where we each live: I love your city! I used to have wonderful layovers there before flying (as crew) to Europe. (Part of the reason I relish your blog so much is that I spent 8 years traveling the world as a flight attendant, then purser, for Pan Am.)

Bob (age 6) is determined to do whatever Henry (a young 9) does, including 3 long walks each day in a nearby forest, leaping off our small boat into the water the minute the anchor is set, swimming and retrieving. Although we repeatedly have been warned that dachshunds do not like to swim, Bob has become a joyful long-distance swimmer and water retriever. And he has taught Henry to bark, dig and sit on my lap. They are quite a pair, both full-of-baloney, rescued pooches.

BTW, we do somewhat similar work. I am a lawyer whose practice is limited to being an arbitrator of (mostly complex) labor and employment disputes, so most of my work time is spent writing long decisions. I enjoy the challenges of trying to be a legal and creative writer at the same time. And you?


Just One Boomer August 23, 2012 at 6:18 am

Uh oh. Don’t encourage me to post more about my dog. I don’t need much convincing. Actually, I already have an essay about Dino’s early time with us which I will post in the near future now that I know that at least one person would want to read it. He is a seven year old cock-a-poo we adopted from the SPCA when he was 6 months old. He’s not very well trained on the leash (I swear I tried). Either he walks at a snail’s pace, insisting on smelling every molecule of whatever interests him or he pulls. On hot days, he has been known to plop himself down under a tree and refuse to budge until he’s ready, but I feel like doing the same thing. He likes to eat ice after warm walks.

I’d be happy to chat about legal writing vs. real writing, but perhaps that would best be done by email, lest we bore our non-lawyer readers to tears.

I’m also planning to start posting more about Philly, maybe a Philadelphia Phridays series. I think it would be fun to “visit” and write about my native/home city through tourist/travel writer eyes.

Thanks for reading Boomeresque and for your comments.


Linda ~ Journey Jottings May 5, 2013 at 1:57 am

There’s a huge difference between loneliness and solitude –
I’m like you – I love my solitude so am never lonely enjoying time to myself…
Your holiday house down tha’ shore is in a superb location, and it appears you have great company 😉


Cathy Sweeney May 5, 2013 at 2:05 am

What a nice getaway. A Brigantine evening sounds pretty good to me. I get it about how you can miss your husband, yet not be lonely. I enjoy having some time alone and often actually need that time. Oh, that gelati (thanks for the Philly lesson) looks very good.


budget jan May 5, 2013 at 11:28 pm

You were lucky your beach house was unscathed, but not so yourself. I followed the link to the post about your tumble. I think the worst part is when you realize you are falling and you start thinking about the outcome. I bet you were sore and sorry 🙁


Suzanne Fluhr May 5, 2013 at 11:33 pm

Jan, you are right. When you’re falling, the event unfolds in slow motion, but you are powerless to affect the outcome. I try to be more careful, starting with looking where I’m going!!


santafetraveler May 6, 2013 at 2:19 pm

You are so lucky to have a house at the shore. Great place to unwind.


Suzanne Fluhr May 6, 2013 at 6:00 pm

We like it. My husband especially seems to unwind there—even though he spends at least a few hours each day working. We bought it at the height of the market. Fortunately, we’re not looking to sell it anytime soon. What with global warming and all, buying a house on a barrier island could prove to be a “What were we thinking” head slap moment;-) Time will tell.


Madaline Fluhr June 17, 2013 at 2:14 pm

Hi, Suzanne –

I actually responded to this Beach Tale blog about a year ago, but you posted it again recently (as summer is upon us!) and I loved it, once again. But even more than “loving it” I realized it triggers some fundamental yearning-nostalgia-memory-dream-state, about going “down the shore”. Not that we went that often as kids! Had fun when we did, though…..remember, our sister Jenny (probably 5 years old or so at the time) getting lost and the family engaging the help of the Boardwalk police to help find her and my distress at losing her and resultant epiphany – “I didn’t know I loved the little creep so much!!!) There’s something about “down the shore” that conjures simpler times, simpler needs (is a caramel apple with nuts on a Boardwalk – a need??) I think the most important idea to latch onto as an adult living in California (since 1980!) is that there is plenty of “down the shore” out here, too!! I don’t need to indulge in my ‘never should of left Philadelphia perennial whine, which would include proximity to the Jersey shore.’ We live less than an hour from Santa Cruz, I’ve been to Big Sur with sister Jenny – there is plenty of “shore” available to me…..right where I am. The important thing is to carve out the time to get one’s sorry self there! My husband, daughter and I always have a good time once we can get ourselves into the car, away from the house and on the road! Why it seems so difficult to make that happen a little more often is something to ponder! Is it New Year’s yet? May I make a resolution……I’ll drop you a postcard from “down the Pacific shore.”


Suzanne Fluhr June 17, 2013 at 2:40 pm

I anxiously await my postcard from somewhere “down the shore” in California.


Elizabeth Rose August 2, 2013 at 11:44 am

Beautiful sunset and beach…. beaches are ever-changing and ever-beautiful.


santafetraveler August 2, 2013 at 1:13 pm

One of the few things I miss living in Santa Fe is the ocean. We have great memories of time spent on the Jersey shore. One of our favorites is a road trip up the shore from Long Beach Island to Sandy Hook. I’m sure much of what we saw is no more after Sandy. But we hold it in our minds.


Suzanne Fluhr August 2, 2013 at 2:46 pm

Many people are still suffering from the effects of Sandy. Our Brigantine neighbors are renting their house to a family from the other end of the island which was devastated by the high tide storm surge both from the back Bay and the ocean. As they were trying to repair and rebuild, the house burned down. Sandy was a stark reminder that it takes a certain amount of hubris to buy a house on a barrier island


noel August 2, 2013 at 6:55 pm

good for you having a nice beach get away, I would probhably go every weekend while the weather is great, ah so nice to have a simple life


Just One Boomer (Suzanne) August 2, 2013 at 9:00 pm

I’ve been able to do better than come down every weekend. I just sort move my work, dog and life to Brigantine for the summer and my husband comes for long weekends. We can both telecommute—me, pretty much for all my work and for him, all his writing. Of course, since you live in “Paradise”, you’re one step closer to getting away from it all—who are we kidding? In this day and age, it’s nigh on impossible to get away from it all and maybe getting away from it ALL is not all it’s cracked up to be. 😉


Irene S. Levine August 2, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Looks like a perfect summer location!
May you and the family enjoy for many more years..


Jan Ross August 3, 2013 at 11:33 am

Any visit to any beach is a great vacation for me. Looks like you had a lovely time!


Marcia August 5, 2013 at 6:58 pm

Ahhh, this sound like the perfect getaway, Suzanne!

That Sandy was a bad girl. I’m glad you had no damage.

Living in NYC, I’ve had a mental block on the Jersey Shore. But a few years ago, I got dragged down to Cape May and became hooked. Went back several times, even celebrated a birthday there. I prefer the fall when it’s not so crowded.

On another note, I had to read your title a couple times to make sure I had read it correctly. My mother used to tell the story of favorite aunt, who was a bit mischievous when they were growing up and was still so as an adult. She was to sing at a concert at church. She got up to the altar and announced that the name of the song was a “Solo So Low.” She began singing with all the appropriate facial and hand gestures but no sound came out of her mouth.


Mike August 8, 2013 at 3:31 pm

That would be a perfect evening for Phoenix and I! We are pretty much to ourselves though surrounded by many, many wonderful friends. But, I do like the quiet of my own world most of the time. Well, other than now I’ve delved into the wonderful world of blogging that has me meeting so many new wonderful people! I was totally relaxing reading your post (trying to forget that I still have to work today)! I’m glad you guys were ok through the hurricane (your link) despite your mishap, Suzanne!


Suzanne Fluhr August 9, 2013 at 1:58 am

Thanks for your comments everybody. Dino and I are back enjoying another summer in Brigantine with long weekend visits from Steve.


Nicole M DeLucca November 10, 2017 at 10:27 am

I own two homes in Brigantine and love it! A friend of mine is considering moving from Ocean City and likes two condos, one in the Mooorings and one in Kings Cove. She is concerned about the number of units for sale in each and alsoif the moorings pool gets crowded. I am wondering if you are in either of those complexes? ANy info would be great…


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