Going to a motel with Richard Ford (on different nights)

I may not have much in common with Richard Ford, but on one point we’re hermanos — we both like the Island Beach Motor Lodge. These and other points about Ford’s affection for the Jersey Shore are covered in this profile, pegged to the publication of The Lay of the Land, Ford’s third book about sportswriter turned real estate agent Frank Bascombe. The book is set in an imaginary Shore town based on Seaside Heights and Seaside Park. Sounds like I’ll just have to read it.

What’s so great about the Island Beach Motor Lodge? For one thing, it’s open year-round and its got these great penthouse-type units right on the beach. For another, it’s very far from the honky-tonk clamor of Seaside Heights, but not so far that you couldn’t go check it out if you were in the mood to do some damage.

But above all, it’s right at the entrance to Island Beach State Park, my second favorite Shore spot after Sandy Hook. Except for some Park Service shacks and bathrooms, it’s about as close to undeveloped as you’re going to find on our Atlantic coastline. You can walk all the way down to the Barnegat Inlet and gaze across the churning boat wakes at the looming Barnegat Lighthouse. There are foxes that flicker, startlingly, across the interior road as you drive through. Mainly, however, there’s just you, the sand and the ocean, and that’s usually the way I like it on the Shore.

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