I spent a month at Ocean City in just four days as a guest of my friends the Amalfitanos. They wanted to be sure we packed all the shore fun possible into our limited time.
I’ve been home for three days and I’m still tired. We left Traverse City at 9PM on Monday and drove 16 hours overnight with a stop at Mama’s Pizza in Philadelphia, where oddly enough, their pizza oven is broken. It doesn’t matter, like everyone else, were there for a legendary cheese-steak (get the Cheese-steak Hoagie). That’s me to the right without sleep for 29 hours.
We got to Ocean City late in the afternoon. There was napping on the part of my hosts, but being a slave to photography, I headed out for some afternoon landscape shooting.
To read more scroll past the photos, this is a long post.
Vacationing with the Amalfitanos is like being a marine, you have to sleep when you can. After a few hours of shooting I came back to find the family wide awake and ready to hit the boardwalk. They were in hot pursuit of Mack’s Pizza, which it seemed was essential to my appreciation of the shore. Mack’s Pizza was more important than sleep.
I’m holding a Mack’s Pizza. There is only one size, and you order by color. A “red” has cheese and sauce but no other toppings. The “white” is just a thick layer of cheese smeared with butter. It’s a soupy pie where the sauce gets swirled on after they cook it. The butter just drips off the white. It does have a great crispy crust, which I think is the draw. (pro tip: The secret cheese is Muenster.)
Despite the religious zeal for Mack’s Pizza, Christina ate it with a fork and knife. I’m a noob, but I know this is not cool.
The inexplicable continued. Just as Mama’s Pizza in Philly has no pizza oven, Mack’s Pizza comes from a place called Manco & Manco. Mack started it, and was involved until the Manco family bought him out. They are trying to pretend they thought of it.
After pizza we had to roam the Boardwalk. David (left with Ali) worked a full day on Monday, drove overnight without a break, napped for an hour, and at 10:00p.m. on Tuesday was still raring to go. Ali was starting to lose her sparkle. I was toast.
The Amalfitano Madness is contagious–I was on the beach Wednesday at sunrise. It was quiet at 6:00a.m., but I wasn’t alone. By the time I headed back to bed there were several people on the beach, and walking, running and bike riding on the boardwalk.
Back at the hotel our adjoining rooms were dead quiet. Every one was still asleep. I managed to get an hour of sleep before there was talk in the room of fresh donuts. But good fresh donuts could only be attained at the far end of the boardwalk. In another shore tradition, we couldn’t just walk to the donuts, we had to rent a surrey.
I hopped right on, but quickly learned that a surrey ride is no picnic. When you are in the front pedaling you have no way of knowing that the people behind you are taking in the view, and using the pedals more as a footrest than a propulsion source.
The donuts were the delicious sort you get at a cider mill, but it’s hard to really enjoy a donut while your legs are cramping up. (side note: If by now your are thinking “what’s the deal with the shore and all this eating?” I’m right there with you. Here’s the tally: Greasy cheese-steak, pizza dripping butter, and donuts still hot from the fryer.)
When we got back from our human-powered quest for donuts at 11:30, Chelsea and Christina were still in bed. There was talk of heading to the beach for the day at about noon, but not much momentum. In the interval Alison, Eric (a friend of Chelsea’s, and my roommate), and I got started on a 500-piece Ocean City jigsaw puzzle.
Going to the Ocean City beach requires a special cart with big fat wheels for dragging across the sand. We hauled chairs, coolers, a big umbrella, and various floating toys to the tide line. As is the Amalfitano way, we made it just in time to make the surfing lesson at 2:00.
I’m sure there was lot’s of beach fun, but I can confirm a lovely breeze coming off the Ocean that lulled me right to sleep.
We were tired from the beach and headed back too the room for a rest before dinner. Eric had started the puzzle by finding the edges, but lost interest. Between surrey riding, beach going, surf lessons, and general shore fun Alison and I finished the puzzle in one day, before dinner. It turns out 11 year-old Alison is a puzzle master. If you look closely at the puzzle you’ll see that once Mack & Manco was the label on the pizza place. It seems that there might be a little drama behind the Jersey Shore’s signature pie.
On Thursday morning, only my second full day at the shore, we went crabbing. I love to fish so it sounded fun. It turns out about the only thing fishing and crabbing have in common is a boat. You dangle a dead fish head on a string over the side of the boat. Crabs are bottom feeders and eat pretty much anything that’s meat. After a few minutes on the bottom you slowly pull up the string. Crabs, it turns out, aren’t very bright, so if you pull slowly and evenly you can get the crab to the surface and someone can net it before the crab realizes there’s trouble brewing.
There are also cage-like traps that you drop to the bottom for 10 minutes or so, then haul up with the crab still trying to grab a free his free lunch. It’s a team sport with everyone on the boat getting involved. I tried initiating the fishing tradition of kissing the first crab, but no one was buying it.
In about two hours we caught a bucket full of these fellas. We took them back to the hotel to cook and eat. (Once again, a shore tradition that involves dining.) But these are not the huge spider crabs we buy frozen. There’s really nothing to eat on a Jersey crab. A few dozen crayfish would yield more meat. They are cool looking, and fun to play with. You clown around with them, then, since everyone is still hungry, you go Mack’s Pizza.