CacheCrazy.Com: Day Trippin' to Sandy Hook

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Day Trippin' to Sandy Hook

You know what Billy Joel says – folks from this part of Pennsylvania spend their weekends on the Jersey Shore.  Well, the Poconos and Allentown aren’t quite geographically the same, but that doesn’t mean we’re opposed to goofing off on the Atlantic beaches every once in a while.  So DLC loaded up some gear and headed due east for some hot summer fun in the sun at Sandy Hook, NJ.

Sandy Hook has a lot to offer for those of us that aren’t exactly the biggest beach bums in the world.  First off, it’s a fairly easy day trip from this part of Pennsylvania.  Secondly, it’s less beach/commercial/boardwalk and more on the side of ocean/history/nature since it’s a U.S. National Park.  Thirdly, you’d never know how close to New York City you really are if you couldn’t see Staten Island off of the tip of Sandy Hook itself.  It’s really neat. 
We got our beach day going bright and early, leaving the house here just before 7 AM.  With a stop on the way and not driving terribly fast, we had ourselves planted firmly on the ocean side of the Hook not much after 10 AM.  There are several beaches along Sandy Hook, and we stopped at the first one we came to.  I guess it must have been South Beach.  (Sandy Hook’s Gunnison Beach, for those that don’t know, is a ‘clothing optional’ beach – no, we didn’t go there…)  No doubt, you don’t want to go to the beach in February, but we surely picked the hottest day of the season.  This made for excellent swimming, and the gentle waves allowed us to take the kids in the water without getting thrashed all over the place.  It was pleasant.

After a few hours of that, we decided to explore some of the history of the area.  Sandy Hook is home to the former coastal artillery base of Fort Hancock.  From what I could tell, most of it is open to the public.  In addition, the Sandy Hook Lighthouse is located here.  It is the fifth lighthouse ever built in the United States, and, because all of the others were destroyed during the Revolutionary War, the oldest lighthouse still standing and operational.  How old you ask?  It’s older than the country itself, having been constructed in 1764.  That’s almost 250 years of guiding ships and barges into New York Harbor and aiding in navigating the tricky shoals along the coastline.  The U.S. Coast Guard maintains the beacon, and the National Park Service maintains the structure and grounds around the lighthouse.  They give free tours, so I of course had to check it out.  The lens isn’t one of the biggest, but it’s still capable of projecting 18 miles out to sea.  Each lighthouse has its own unique signal to distinguish itself from other lighthouses.  I thought it was interesting to learn that the Sandy Hook Lighthouse signal is a solid light.  No pulsating, no strobe, nothing.  The reason is because it is the oldest.  They just turned it on and that’s the way it is to this day.  All the other lighthouses had to adapt around this one.  From the top, I could easily pick out the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge connecting the New York boroughs of Staten Island and Brooklyn.  Again, really cool.
After our little history lesson, we decided to take to the water again.  This time we headed to the western Sandy Hook Bay side of the barrier and explored the waters and beaches there.  The water was even warmer and gentler here, and the kids had great fun picking up endless buckets of sea shells.  Many soft shell and horseshoe crabs were along the beach, too. 



Eventually it was time to head back home, but that would have to wait until we grabbed at least one geocache (to anchor the trip).  There are a couple of earthcaches on Sandy Hook, but, unless I missed something, none that are actual physical containers.  There is one traditional cache located just off Sandy Hook called –get this – Just Off the Hook.  That served us well, and we made the find in short order.

Before fully loading up for the drive, I wanted us all to have something to eat and drink and relax in the shade.  After driving around a bit, we came across another little gem called Huber Park Woods.  This green space is part of the Monmouth County, NJ park system and is absolutely beautiful.  We found some picnic tables and shade and chilled for a little bit.  Amazingly, the place was pretty much deserted.  We let the kids run around in the grass and play for a while before loading up the truck and heading back home.  Ah, but not so fast!  I happened to take a look at the GPS unit before doing that and discovered a cache not far at all from our little picnic setup - The Paint Bucket.  All right!  We hiked a little nature trail to GZ and made our second find of the day.  Nice!




Finally we packed up and headed back north and west and called it a long, fun-filled, jam-packed day.  We had a good time at Sandy Hook – give it a try!

3 comments:

BLOODHOUNDED said...

Work stinks, Dawn, the kids and I could have been there too! Next time for sure and thanks for the invite. That place looks great for family fun, I could run all around that place with the kids and no one would think I'm nuts. I'm surprised that there are so few people? Maybe the fact that it was nearly 100 degrees contributed.You guys look like your having a great time making summer time memories.

BigAl said...

Dodger, it sounds like you all had a great time. Love building memories with the family. keep doing it because they grow up way too fast. Very descriptive article and it makes me want to go there sometime. Thanks!!

Kim@Snug Harbor said...

First of all, your kids are adorable! Second - that sounds like a perfect day. Family, the beach, seashells, and geocaching.
Thats a four-fecta! I'd love to visit that area someday.

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