It was the morning after July 4th and I awoke at 5 am. No need for an alarm clock, I was just determined to see the New Jersey sunrise, and my mind was the only alarm clock I needed.
My mind has a unique inner clock. If I need to be awake at 8, I wake at 7:45. I know this process is in part why I don’t sleep well if I have a morning obligation. It’s like elevator music running in the background; always there. Sometimes I can ignore it and sometimes it rings through my head filling every grey wrinkle.
This wasn’t an obligation, just something I wanted to do before we returned to California–to be one of the first people in the whole United States to watch the sunrise on that day.
I snuck out through our back balcony and down the stairs. I made my way past the few houses separating us from the beach. The sky was dark and cloudy and there was a mild glow in what seemed like the north.
I had believed, up until this point, that the beach lined itself fully north and south.
And then the sky began to turn.
The light was not directly to the east as I had expected, or slightly to the north (the way it is watching the sun rise or set at home California). No, the sky began to turn, in my perspective, it was lighting the sky far to the north of the spit of sand. I began to realize that the island actually moves from NE to SW.
I have chosen the perfect morning.
Some mornings were bright and clear and the sun rose dramatically, appearing past the horizon. Other mornings were dark and rainy, with no sunrise to speak of. This morning had the glory of the clouds and an incoming storm.
Red sky at night, sailor delight. Red sky at morning, sailor take warning.
As quickly as the red filled the sky, a sailor’s warning at sea, it dissipated and I could see the sun attempting to peek through. The sky beyond the clouds began to light but the sun was hidden.
I began to walk the beach, the tide far lower than any I had seen thus far. Bits of shell formed a line far from the water.
In the distance, I heard the sound of an engine as what looked like a truck made its way down the sand. The seagulls dived around it, celebrating what the surf rake turned up. I had never seen a surf rake and was intrigued by the smooth road of sand it created.
The beaches of this part of New Jersey are stunning. The sand is heavy and coarse and can be hard to walk through as it sucks at your feet. The water shifts between warm and cold depending on the current. It is a wild coastline beloved and ever-changing.
Following an early morning sunrise, a perfect treat is one of the neatest little restaurants with fresh juice and more acai bowls than you can imagine. Not only do they offer acai, they have 4 other bases you can try; young coconut, pitaya, banana, and strawberry.
If I lived in Beach Haven, this would become a staple. You can tell is a local favorite by the lines extending beyond the doors.
Totally worth the wait.
I spoke in my last blog about how you can walk from one side of the island for sunrise to the other for sunset. It’s a fantastic bit of land with a small community that becomes much larger during the summer. The traffic lights only turn on in late spring and turn off in the fall–the rest of the year they are a perpetual blinking yellow light. Almost everything you need is within these few miles.