Hi there, it’s me…Dasi. Hard working mom and wife, loving every moment of our crazy hectic life… for the most part.
So I really needed to rest up and get back to myself – if I had thought Pesach was exhausting, somehow I had forgotten all about those all-night Shavuos meals. In our family, the minhag is to stay at home instead of going to Shul. The men and boys all learn throughout the night and, you guessed it, all of us women (or whoever can stay up) prepare copious amounts of fresh delicious food to keep our boys awake for the duration. Oh, and we do it on both nights, not just the first. You can well imagine how completely wiped out I was by the time Havdala was made after this latest three-day Yom Tov.
I told my husband I needed a break – but not one that would entail flying anywhere OR needing any food preparation on my part. I must admit I am fortunate in that I have the most amazing partner in life. He gets me, he really does! And so, when he heard that, he told me, “Dasi? Not another word needs to be uttered. We are taking a break, just you and I. All the planning will be done by yours truly. All you have to do is pack a bag and plan on leaving tomorrow morning for a forty-eight-hour getaway.”
Our oldest daughters being fully capable of watching the little ones, the next morning was filled with “love you mommy!” and “have fun, don’t worry about a thing!!!” as my husband and I drove off to…where, I did not know. I had told him that I wanted to be surprised and he graciously acquiesced to my request.
About an hour and ten minutes later, I was rather surprised to find ourselves leaving the Garden State Parkway at exit 91. “Lakewood?” I asked him. “Are you seriously taking your wife to Lakewood for her surprise getaway?” “Just wait and see” was his response. And so, as he was the driver which left me with no choice but to comply, I did just that.
We drove through the streets until we reached the Lake and pulled up in front of a beautiful property that was actually bordering the water. I got out and the first thing I noticed was the sound of the birds chirping all around me. I decided, then and there, that this was exactly what I needed.
Tranquility – with the sound of birdsong playing as the backdrop to the view of the calm placid waters of Lake Carasaljo soothing my tired eyes.
Our home was perfect. My husband had taken great care when choosing the company from whom he rented the place. Spotlessly clean, outfitted perfectly as a vacation property, it was clear he had done his research well. As I love natural light, with the open exposure from all four sides, I felt enveloped in a sense of serenity and sunshine no matter which room I was in. The beds were super comfortable, it had all the amenities that we needed and, best of all, was the quiet. I sat out on our deck the rest of that day, only to come inside in time to get dressed to go for dinner.
My past experience with Lakewood was limited to traveling in for weddings or to visit relatives who had moved here. I had never quite experienced this booming city as a “tourist” and it was an eye-opener for me!
The amount of restaurants to choose from was dizzying and, after much contemplation, we settled on Estreia, an upscale steak restaurant, in which to enjoy dinner. The food was sublime and plentiful and the ambiance was peaceful and welcoming. It was the perfect start of my “r and r” vacation.
The morning of our first day began with a scrumptious breakfast my husband brought home after Shul, prepared by “The Four Corners.” The scent of fresh hot bagels, cheese spreads, salads, and muffins with coffee got me out of my bed, eager to enjoy a full day of activities. We had enough for a picnic lunch so we left around ten am for another “mystery” ride.
Not fifteen minutes later, I found myself walking on the beach of Belmar. The ocean was calm and I gathered loads of seashells to bring home to the kids. It was pretty quiet there, as it was a regular school-day and I realized how much I missed being near the water. I was not aware that the beach was so close and wondered how many Lakewoodians actually take advantage of this amazing “free” yet, oh-so-beautiful, attraction.
I could have stayed and sat on my blanket until dusk but my hubby had other plans for us.
We got back into the car and drove just about twenty-five minutes to Point Pleasant Beach, which actually is not on the water! Practically in Lakewood’s back yard, but perhaps unknown to many, we played two fun rounds of miniature golf, and strolled through Jenkinson’s Aquarium, laughing our way through the live exhibits of penguins, sharks, alligators and seals.
As I hail from a family of antique lovers, we also managed to find some time to check out Point Pavilion Antique Center where I picked up a “special something” to bring back to my mother who had promised to “pop in” to our home each night for some allegedly missing item from her pantry that she sorely needed in order to prepare dinner for my father.
Our drive back to Lakewood was a quick one and we decided to eat “at home” so we stopped off at The Pizano Restaurant and picked up some of the most tasty salads and wraps I had ever eaten. Who knew Lakewood had such an array of scrumptious dining options? Surely not this Brooklyn gal!
Our last day in Lakewood dawned early with bright sunlight pouring through our bedroom window. We decided to play “local” and spent our morning strolling along Clifton Avenue, window shopping at the many clothing and houseware stores that filled the block. It was eye-opening as I fully understood that living in Lakewood no longer meant having to travel to Brooklyn to outfit the family and beautify the home.
For our final repast, we enjoyed a late lunch/early dinner at Entrée, an establishment that is totally on par with the finest dining options we have back in Brooklyn or even Manhattan. As we sat across from each other, I looked at my husband in wonder and, aside from thanking him tremendously for this sorely-needed vacation, uttered just four words to sum it up:
Well, now that you DO know, next time you are in need of a “rejuve-cation,” the perfect one is waiting for you. What are you waiting for? Find YOURS today