One of my favorite sights at the Jersey Shore this summer is the back of our 8-year-old son’s T-shirt and helmet as he rides his bike ahead of me in the “bike only” lane along many streets in Brigantine. This beach town is where our family spends most of the summer and where, on our bikes, we enjoy each other’s company without the distraction of television or iPods and iPhones.
When biking, my son and I have a repeat destination in mind. We don’t say much along the way, unless I am guiding him to use his hand signals to let drivers know which way we are going as we approach a stop sign. On every ride he has gotten better at paying attention to what’s in front of him and listening for occasional guidance. He needs me, yet at his age, he is starting to need to be more independent of me.
We set out for the top of the rock jetty on the Brigantine side of the Atlantic City Inlet, where one morning we met a couple hunting for shells, just as we were. My son and I found big clam shells, and oyster shells that looked like shoes. We thought them the best possible finds, until the couple below us on the sand showed us several big beautiful conch shells they found sitting right on top of the sand or wedged in the rocks after the tide recedes. The woman said she makes wind chimes out of them. We decided right then and there that we would keep coming back until we found a big conch to call our own.
Some people will say the journey is more important than the destination or that the effort put into something can be more of a reward than the outcome. I would have to agree. The time we spent digging into the sand and looking through the big rocks for intact shells that might have washed up in search of our magnificent conch was a time my son and I spent talking and sharing in our excitement.
We talked about him going into third grade and what teacher he might have next year. He is sure he will like her as much as he enjoyed his second grade teacher. He told me he loves playing soccer, baseball and basketball, but really wants to try football. So far, he has found two small conchs. But for me, the real treasures are the conversations and bike rides as he keeps looking for the big one.
But our summer hasn’t just been spent relaxing on the Shore—we’ve found time for a little competition, as well. Competition is something our family really enjoys, especially when it’s on a level playing field, and we found exactly that at the Springfield Golf Center’s driving range in Mount Holly. I say ‘level playing field’ because in the game of Softgolf, even a good golfer is challenged. At the golf center’s driving range, Ray Baldorossi Jr. continues the game his father created, one that we used to play as kids on their pitch and putt course in Delran.
In Softgolf, the balls are almost softball-size but made of a foamy plastic that makes them take wicked curves if you don’t hit it just right. Your shots are guaranteed to make you laugh as you play with a few clubs that remind me of something Fred Flintstone would have used. You play nine holes by moonlight, with balls that glow in the dark. The flags are lit up with LED lights.
My husband Tom swears he won, our son claims victory as well. My daughter didn’t care and neither did I. In fact, I consider it another journey. Better than the destination, and another one of my favorite sights—our family enjoying time together.
Robin Rieger is a former anchor and reporter with CBS 3. A lifelong South Jersey resident, she lives with her husband, Philadelphia 76ers Radio Play-by-Play Broadcaster Tom McGinnis, and their two children in Burlington County.
Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Magazine, Volume 11, Issue 5 August, 2014).
For more info on South Jersey Magazine, click here.
To subscribe to South Jersey Magazine, click here.
To advertise in South Jersey Magazine, click here.