Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

I want to go everywhere I haven't been, and back to everywhere I have been.

Monday, October 22, 2018

24 HOURS IN ASBURY PARK, NJ - - AND A GIVEAWAY!





Asbury Park regularly finds itself on many of NJ's "Best" lists. Now I know why! | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes



Quick - tell me, what's the first thing that comes to your mind when you think of Asbury Park?

Would you say.............


1). The beach and boardwalk
2). Salt water taffy
3). Bruce Springsteen
4). I never think of / heard of Asbury Park.


Without a doubt, the first thing that comes to my mind is Bruce Springsteen. The boardwalk, beach, and taffy quickly follow, but The Boss is Boss.......know what I mean?

As a born and bred Jersey girl, perhaps I take it for granted that people equate the seaside town of Asbury with Bruce Springsteen. To many folks, the two go together like Bogey and Bacall.......paper and pencil........wine and cheese.  After all, his first album was called "Greetings From Asbury Park." 


Asbury Park regularly finds itself on many of NJ's "Best" lists. Now I know why! | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


I can't remember the last time I was in Asbury. I'm guessing that it was sometime in high school or college......yikes, maybe even earlier than that, when I was still in braces and pigtails! I did see Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes in concert -- was it at Asbury's Convention Hall? Possibly. Regardless, it's been so long that it felt like I was going for the first time. 

For many years, Asbury Park was not considered a go-to destination along New Jersey's 130 miles of shore line because........well.......to be blunt........it was seedy. In recent years, however, the town where Springsteen cut his musical teeth has seen a tremendous revival, and now regularly finds itself on many of NJ's "Best" lists. Don't be surprised if your uber-hipster friend from Brooklyn brags about the weekend she just spent in Asbury Park.

Asbury Park regularly finds itself on many of NJ's "Best" lists. Now I know why! | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


Our reason for traveling down to Asbury in late September was to attend a Melanie
concert. Remember her from the 60s and 70s

 "I've got a brand new pair of roller skates.....
You've got a brand new key......." 

Or how about........

"Look what they've done to my song, Ma.......
Look what they've done to my song......."

If you recall those songs, I can guarantee that you'll be humming them for the next three days. You're welcome. Or I'm sorry.........whichever is more appropriate.

This little road trip came about in a funny way. Earlier in September, we walked by a restaurant close to home, surprised to see that Melanie was performing there on that very night. We stood outside, hemming and hawing about whether to get last-minute tickets. I'm not sure if the hems or the haws won, but we didn't go in.  Almost immediately, Mr. GS wished we had.  He fretted; I googled. Lo and behold, Melanie was appearing a few weeks later in Asbury Park. We bought tickets, booked a hotel room, and lined up the dog sitter.  

A week before the concert, I started tracking the weather. It put me in a cranky mood, as it looked like we were going to be in for a complete washout. Let's be honest, here. For Mr. GS, the priority was to see Melanie. Me? I was more interested in seeing Asbury (not that I wasn't looking forward to seeing Melanie -- I was!). But raining on my Asbury Park parade would put a real damper on our excursion.

Convention Hall, Asbury Park  | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #ConventionHall


We set off on a cloudy Thursday morning, and halfway down the Garden State Parkway, the skies brightened. By the time we arrived, the sun was shining, as was my mood. 😎

Our reservations were at The Asbury, a super-trendy new-ish hotel. Clearly, we're not the target demographic, but simply staying there would up our "cool" factor, no?

The friendly millennial who checked us in asked what brought us to Asbury Park. "The Melanie concert."  A weak smile and his unconvincing "Oh, cool!" response made me want to say, "Yeah, I'm old enough be your mother. Wanna see my AARP card? Huh? HUH?" There were some other baby-boomers milling about the lobby. They'd know who Melanie is, that's for sure. More than likely, that's why they were there.
The Asbury, an uber-hip hotel, Asbury Park  | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes # Convention Hall


This was not your grandma's hotel lobby.......

The Asbury, an uber-hip hotel, Asbury Park  | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes # Convention Hall

The Asbury, an uber-hip hotel, Asbury Park  | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes # Convention Hall


The hotel bartender probably cards you to make sure you're over 21 but under 40 to sit at the bar.

The Asbury, an uber-hip hotel, Asbury Park  | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes # Convention Hall


Kidding aside.......we felt totally welcomed and comfortable at The Asbury.

One might say the room was spare - others would call it contemporary.  Bottom line is, the bed was comfy and the bathroom was spotless. The rum body wash, peppermint shampoo and cilantro hair conditioner whet my shower appetite. Yum yum. Time for lunch.

The Asbury, an uber-hip hotel, Asbury Park  | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes # Convention Hall


You know me, guys........I was itching to get out and explore. The beach and boardwalk were only a block away, right at the entry to the renowned Asbury Park Convention Hall.

Convention Hall, Asbury Park  | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #ConventionHall

Convention Hall, Asbury Park  | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #ConventionHall

Convention Hall, Asbury Park  | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #ConventionHall


The interior of the Convention Hall houses a theater (Springsteen's band has practiced there), as well as a bunch of cute restaurants and shops.  My first order of business was to buy a box of the Jersey shore's world-famous salt-water taffy. I'm going to give it away to one of you (details below)!

Convention Hall, Asbury Park  | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #ConventionHall


Carla Gizzi At The Beach is a fabulous store inside Convention Hall, stuffed to the gills with interesting items. I knew I wasn't going to leave without buying one of the plaques with Bruce's song lyrics. Trouble was, I couldn't make up my mind, because every one of them has been a part of my being for decades.  Ultimately, I decided on 'Cause Tramps Like Us, Baby We Were Born To Run, a line from my favorite Springsteen album. Ten seconds after leaving the store, I was sure I made a mistake. Should I have gotten When They Said Sit Down, I Stood Up? Or, Talk About A Dream, Try to Make It Real? Maybe I'll order another one. Or two. I still can't decide.


Carla Gizzi At The Beach - a fabulous shop in Asbury Park, NJ | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes



It was an unexpected treat to have lunch outside at Langosta Lounge on the boardwalk, considering that just yesterday, I thought I'd be sloshing around in my Hunter rain boots.  

Asbury Park regularly finds itself on many of NJ's "Best" lists. Now I know why! | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


The day was so unexpectedly lovely and mild, that we regretted not packing our beach chairs. The boardwalk's benches would do very nicely, though.

Ah, the ocean! Just to look at it does us a world of good!

"It ain't no sin to be glad you're alive."

Asbury Park regularly finds itself on many of NJ's "Best" lists. Now I know why! | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


As we strolled the boardwalk, I could feel Bruce Springsteen's presence everywhere.

"Did you hear the cops finally busted Madam Marie
for tellin' fortunes better than they do...."

Madam Marie's  in Asbury Park, NJ | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


Even with its revitalization, echos of the past were loud and clear. The dilapidated Asbury Casino marks a ghostly end to the main section of the boardwalk.
 
Asbury Park regularly finds itself on many of NJ's "Best" lists. Now I know why! | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


"The boys from the casino dance with their shirts open
like Latin lovers on the shore."

Asbury Park regularly finds itself on many of NJ's "Best" lists. Now I know why! | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes

  
The painted ponies have long been gone from the carousel house.

Asbury Park regularly finds itself on many of NJ's "Best" lists. Now I know why! | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


Asbury Park regularly finds itself on many of NJ's "Best" lists. Now I know why! | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


Just a block off the boardwalk is an area called The Circuit. Back in the day, it was known for hot rodders and motorcycles, but when we were there, it was pretty quiet.  

"The Circuit's lined and jammed with chrome invaders."

Some of Asbury Park's most iconic landmarks can be found along the circuit.......

The Wonder Bar, a popular nightclub and restaurant, has hosted musical legends like Bon Jovi, Clarence Clemmons, and of course, Bruce Springsteen. Had we brought Sadie, we could have taken her to Yappy Hour, where she could hang out with other pups in the large, outdoor fenced-in area. I wonder if she'd like a strawberry "dogquiri?"

The Wonder Bar, Asbury Park, NJ  | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #TheWonderBar


Just around the corner is Asbury Lanes. It ain't just bowling balls......it's also a concert venue, and has a pretty cool diner, too. I regret not going inside to take a peek. Hungry? Order a pork roll waffle sandwich, and then engage in New Jersey's ultimate debate  -- do you call it pork roll or taylor ham (this NJ native goes with the latter).

Asbury Lanes,  Asbury Park, NJ  | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #AsburyLanes


The most famous landmark of all is The Stone Pony, where Bruce Springsteen got his start. It's been said that he still shows up there every now and then. Can you IMAGINE? I'd faint on the spot. Bon Jovi, the other Jersey boy, has played there, too.

The Stone Pony,  Asbury Park, NJ  | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes #StonePony


With my mind filled with Springsteen lyrics, I almost forgot the reason we came! It was time for Melanie, and my brain switched gears as I got dressed to go.

Tim McCloone's Supper Club is an intimate venue, holding just a few hundred people. Melanie walked right by us, as she made her way to the stage.

The best part of the concert was when she talked about her experience playing at Woodstock. She later wrote a song about the famed music festival, which became one of her biggest hits.

Lay down, lay down, lay it all down,
Let your white birds birds smile up at the ones who stand and frown.

Forgive the terrible photo quality, but this picture is, in fact, the reason we were in Asbury to begin with.




In the morning, the weather was gloomy. We headed into the business district about a mile down the road, and had a cozy breakfast at Toast, before heading home. 

I know I say this about pretty much everywhere I go, but I felt such a strong connection with Asbury Park. I can't say that it would affect everyone in this way, but I felt Asbury. Maybe it's the Jersey girl in me; maybe it's some latent childhood memories that struggled to find their way to the surface of my brain; maybe it's Springsteen's lyrical references to Asbury that I know so well. I dunno. All I can tell you is that something about Asbury Park tugged at my soul. It felt like home. Is that weird?


Asbury Park regularly finds itself on many of NJ's "Best" lists. Now I know why! | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


Asbury Park regularly finds itself on many of NJ's "Best" lists. Now I know why! | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


Although one can feel the ghosts of its former days, I'm pretty sure Asbury Park's glory days lie ahead.

Asbury Park regularly finds itself on many of NJ's "Best" lists. Now I know why! | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes


If you'd like to be entered in my saltwater taffy giveaway, simply leave me a comment below!  I'll pull names out of a hat to determine the winner. No comments, no giveaway, and I'll have to eat it all myself. I hope it doesn't come to that.  




RESOURCES
The Asbury (Hotel)

Langosta Lounge (restaurant)
Carla Gizzi At The Beach (shop)
Tim McCloone's Supper Club (restaurant and concert venue)
Toast (restaurant)






Asbury Park regularly finds itself on many of NJ's "Best" lists. Now I know why! | Ms. Toody Goo Shoes



LINKING WITH:
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18 comments:

  1. I love all the ways you find to slip in your photo watermark.

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  2. Oh how fun. I have never been to Jersey and it looks amazing! The beach and the boardwalk, how pretty! The Asbury looks super nice. Saltwater taffy? Count me in! I love that stuff!

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  3. That is so cool. I would love to visit there. Thanks for sharing and taking us along.

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  4. So now I want to visit Asbury Park! I know what you mean about feeling connected to a place that you haven't been in a long time. It's cool. Not sure when I will get there but maybe I can at least try some of the taffy?!

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  5. From one Jersey girl to another, this was fantastic. I can totally relate to this post. How right you are, Asbury wasn't always on everyone's radar in Jersey.

    I remember my brothers went to The Stone Pony. Funny, Born to Run is my favorite song to. As I am typing this the lyrics are going in my head.

    I would have taken forever to pick which one to buy.

    It's looking great down there. Happy to see the improvements.

    Loved to have some saltwater taffy. Not as good from anywhere but Jersey.

    I could go on but it could go on for an hour

    Cindy

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  6. What a wonderful weekend you had! So thankful the weather was nice that you could get outside and explore and see all the historic landmarks! Really enjoyed your pictorial tour of Asbury Park!

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  7. O knew the people who put on the largest boat show and ceramic shows in the country at the Convention Hall. 1970's and I loved making the trip from t
    Chicago twice a year. The Basque Family knew how to put on a show!!! And we always went home with that taffy!!! Haven't been their since 1980.
    Oneponychick66@hotmail.com

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  8. Not heard of Asbury Park but I remember Melanie. I used to play an album of hers over and over again. I had it on a cassete. What memories you have conjured up in my head.

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  9. I've never heard of Ashbury park but it looks like you did end up with the perfect day to explore the area.

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  10. For many who grew up in the northeast, I think Ashbury Park represents a fun, carefree time and certainly brings back memories of Bruce and his cute booty. Don’t you think it should be illegal for a man his age to still be hot? ;).

    xxx

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  11. Oh How fun , I have heard of that place, when I was on Long Island last year we were going to go, however I was so tired of all the other touristy things I wanted to just rest and lay around my last day,
    Give me some taffy LOL

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  12. It sounds like you had a great time at the concert and visiting Asbury Park. I hope to visit there one day.
    Thanks Amy for sharing this at Cooking and Crafting with J & J!

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  13. Everyone always thinks of New Jersey as dirty and without merit. Thanks for showing people that parts of Jersey are actually quite cool!

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  14. I'm afraid my hip days were tuned to Elvis, not Bruce but of course I remember Melanie! la la la la la la

    I love this post just because I love America and all her stories but especially I love it for the way visiting Asbury affected you, Amy. Your pleasure in the time there is what is so authentic about you, your body, mind and spirit putting out receptors that tingle with happiness as you experience a place that speaks to you.

    I knew nothing about Asbury Park before reading this but now I too have a real feel over what it was like in the past. I'm very glad that it's making a comeback!

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  15. This is such a wonderful post! Being a lifetime Jersey girl, I totally understand the allure of this town! So glad to see it transform over the years. I remember visiting when it was run down and lifeless. I think I actually saw 38 Special perform at the convention center back in the day. And of course, I have memories of stopping in the Stone Pony in hopes that Springsteen would show up. By the way - Rosalita is my favorite song! Thanks so much for linking up to Take Me Away again this month!
    Shelley

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