It’s almost Spring. I love the beach. Do you love the beach? If your answer is yes, then listen up.
Unless you’re a cast member of a reality show or a shipwreck survivor, the average New Yorker just can’t get up and say, “Hey, what a nice day. I think I’ll go to the beach.”
That was until you met me.
Usually a trip to the beach involves a torturous car trip, homicide-inducing traffic and, most of all, coordinating a group of partners in crime to justify the whole expedition. However, if you have your weekdays free, like I do, and all your friends are working, like they do, there’s no reason to pine away your beautiful summer day like you’re the living lyric of a John Sebastian song.
That’s why I invented Extreme Beaching.
Get up, have your coffee, check your email and make whatever phone calls you need the make. Then check the weather. If it’s going to be a beach day, the game is afoot.
Step One: What To Wear
Extreme Beaching requires no physical or psychological baggage- no back packs, no shoulder bags and no purses. If you can’t leave the house without your Ipod or makeup kit, this ain’t your kind of adventure. Be happy how you look, because this is how you’re going to look:
Shirt (preferably cut off)
Trunks, surf jams, cargo shorts or cut off jeans. Anything that will dry quickly while walking around. No underwear, so make sure you have proper foundation in your trunks, for the sake of public decency.
Amphibious shoes. Many companies make these now. They're made to be submerged. All terrain sandals work as well. Push comes to shove, a junk pair of sneakers (no socks) can be drafted into service.
Waterproof wallet. These can be found in any sporting goods store. They’re the size of a pack of cards and click shut to keep your minimal stuff dry. They also have a lanyard attached for securing to your person. More about that in a minute.
If your of the female persuasion, I’d also suggest a bathing suit top under the shirt, to avoid giving people the wrong idea, dig?
An extra large bandana, the kind your see in the Viet Nam movies or any one of Hulk Hogan’s works.
Step Two: What To Bring
Not much, that’s the whole idea.
Subway pass, some money, house keys- and not your whole giant key ring with your bike lock, safety deposit box, car and mailbox keys. An extra set of house keys, just enough to get you out and back into your humble abode, tied together with a twist tie, is what I mean.
Tube of sun screen and lip balm.
Optional swim goggles and silicon ear plugs, if you’re a swimming maniac like me.
I would be derelict to tell you to go out on an adventure without ID, but you might be hesitant to go swimming with your drivers license. I bring an expired license.
Step Three: Where It All Goes
As you might have figured out, your subway pass, keys, money and ID go into the waterproof wallet. If you want extra peace of mind, secure the hatch of the waterproof wallet with a heavy duty rubber band and then attach to you via the lanyard. If your wearing cut off jeans, you might be happy with a belt loop. You might be happier with a real belt that you don’t mind getting wet.
Some cargo shorts come with a built in ‘web’ material belt, with a quick release plastic buckle, which is great.
If you're doing the surf jams, you have two options. Loop the waist band cord through your lanyard cord before you tighten and tie the knot.
Or, what I do when I’m doing the surf jams or trunks, is strap on an army surplus pistol belt. Don’t get nervous by the word ‘pistol’. It’s just one of those military belts you see everybody wearing as a fashion accessory. The pistol belt also provides a neat space (near the buckles) to jam your tube of sun screen and lip balm (if no pockets).
The now-anchored wallet either goes into your pocket, if you have pockets, or (as I do) right down into your trunks. I used to have the keys on a key ring, attached to the wallet lanyard. The keys down inside your trunks maneuver proved to be somewhat uncomfortable.
The bandana can either be tied around the belt or your wrist.
Step Four: Normandy!
Douse yourself all over with a generous coat of sun screen before leaving. Clear your head. Don’t be self conscious about how you’re dressed. This is New York City, for crying out loud. Get on the subway to Penn Station. Once there, get yourself a round trip ticket to a beach stop. I go to Long Beach, but poke around the links alongside this article to see what’s out there. Extra bonus- your round trip LIRR ticket is off peak both ways. The return ticket goes right into your waterproof wallet.
This is how I do it, but you gotta make your own kind of music. I emerge from Long Beach Station and head for the ocean. Along the boardwalk, you’ll see that it cost a nominal entry fee to get down onto the beach. Get your beach pass, put it in your waterproof wallet.
Without breaking stride, I take off my shirt and tuck it in my belt. Then just walk down to the ocean and never stop. Such a glorious feeling, to walk right off a train and into the Atlantic. I swim to my heart’s desire, usually about 90 minutes. After a while, the bandana becomes a good idea for covering your head and some face under the powerful UV rays.
When I’ve had enough, I get back on land and go for a drying walk. This is a good time to reapply some sun screen. I walk and people watch and breath in the air and seagull watch. The world is my oyster. I might even see an oyster.
All along the boardwalk, right up against the rail, are vendor carts. This is when I get a bottle of water. They’re usually more than happy to reach down and hand you a bottle as you reach up and give them the buck or two. If you’re hypoglycemic, or just not used to going for such a stretch without eating, there’s probably a hot dog, pretzel or ice cream sandwich with your name on it.
Finally, it’s time to be wise. Extreme beaching also requires extreme safety, and you have now dried off and have been out in the blazing sun for a good chunk of time.
But you’ve done it. You gone to the beach, had a great workout and never had to worry about a towel, a blanket or anybody to watch your stuff.
Next assignment is to rid yourself of as much sand as possible as you truck back to the train station. Back to Penn Station and back onto the subway home for a nice shower. Later that evening, you’ll astound your friends with your post-marine vigor and your after beach glow.
“You look great,” they’ll say, “Where have you been?”
“Well, let me tell you.”