Hurricane Sandy has affected millions of people in myriad ways. Not having electricity, school, or reliable mass transit for a few days seems like a minor inconvenience compared to some of my neighbors who suffered much greater hardship.
With the aftermath of the storm all around me, was this an inappropriate time to be thinking about traveling?
I hope not, since I’ve been doing it a lot.
For starters, I’ve been thinking about what would happen to my flight to Tampa out of LaGuardia Airport, which as we speak still has runways underwater? Natural disasters usually wreak havoc on air travel, not to mention roads and rails, so this wasn’t anything new. I would just have to deal.
But what really got my attention were the images of the scarred coastline, which got me thinking of days spent on the Jersey Shore in my youth, with annual family vacations to Wildwood Crest top of mind. I’ve never forgotten winning Queen’s famous Night at the Opera album on the boardwalk (this was in 1978, mind you) after managing to land a dime on a dinner plate; or diving for change that the manager of the Commander Motel threw into the pool every afternoon at 3 o’clock sharp.
I couldn’t help but reminisce about the countless hours I spent at the skateboard park on Long Beach Island with my best friend and watching Grease for the first time at the local theater in Beach Haven. Now, with a family of my own, I still head down to the shore every chance I get. My boys have grown particularly fond of taking day trips to Spring Lake to go skim boarding and admire the Victorian mansions with their immaculately manicured landscaping. Lunch at the snack bar on the beachside pavilion and a visit to Hoffman’s Ice Cream shop are also prerequisites for any Jenss family Spring Lake outing.
So as we sit around our candlelit dining room table preparing for our fourth consecutive “family game night,” we talk about how sad it is for people who have lost their homes and wonder if those communities will ever be the same. With the thermostat starting to drop and a forecast calling for temperatures in the 30s, we’ve also discussed where we should take refuge for the weekend. We could drive to Cape Cod, spend the weekend in the Adirondacks, or visit friends in Pennsylvania. The possibilities got our collective wanderlust flowing.
But it’s playing Banagrams with the family that really puts a smile on my face. Last summer while touring around Alaska, the kids wanted to play that game whenever we had downtime. They recruited several passengers aboard our small cruise ship to join in and had a game going nightly in the camper van we rented on the Kenai Peninsula.
I take solace in the fact that even in the aftermath of this devastating storm, the experiences we shared while traveling as a family could inspire us and warm our souls. I suspect that for many who have been affected by Sandy, it’s those precious memories of vacations past that will, at least in part, drive efforts to “restore the shore.”
Follow Rainer on Twitter at @JenssTravel.