We walked to the Seaside Heights boardwalk. It was changed from our last visit, and changed almost unrecognizably from our first. FunTown Pier, destroyed by Sandy and by the fire a year later, still wasn't there. But something was being built around its location. Maybe all the talk from the owners about how sure, they were going to put up something eventually turned into positive action. Last I had heard (from bunny_hugger, who checks the news more rigorously than I do) they had applied for permission to build a Ludicrously Huge Something Or Other that nobody in their right mind thinks they would ever build, which I'd taken as an attempt to look busy rather that writing the place off. But now there were new boards being laid down, construction vehicles moving sand around, the suggestion that maybe something was, five years on, being built.
Casino Pier, our pier, was different. It was open, and running. It was shorter, no longer going out over the (normal-level) water. It was wider, taking up more of the beachfront, part of a trade with Seaside Heights to swap land for the historic carousel. The carousel is still where it was when we first saw it, that magical night. Seaside Heights hopes to put build a new housing for it, and there's moving of it to be done, and none of that's ready yet. For this visit the carousel was, anticlimactically, exactly where it had been when we took our Casino Pier Farewell Tour several years ago.
The pier was changed, besides being shorter. Many of the rides were gone: Stillwalk Manor, its great dark-house ride, was dropped into the Atlantic by Sandy. Star Jet was iconically dropped into the ocean. The Wild Mouse that was our first roller coaster has gone to what we'd like to think is a better place. (It's Sacramento.) The only roller coasters left from our first visit are the Hot Tamales kiddie coaster that I guess isn't a copyright violation and the Pirates Hideaway miniature ride.
They have new rides. A giant Ferris wheel. The new Hydrus roller coaster, which loomed over the pier --- while huddling up as far from the water as it could get --- and looked fantastic. A pendulum claw ride called Superstorm that had been running when we last visited. The rooftop minigolf had been renovated, and the statues looked new and fresh. There was also a new pirate-themed miniature golf opposite the Casino, toward the water park area of the pier. (Yeah, the water park area isn't on the beach, because ... just ... you know. Things and stuff.) Also we knew that the Berkeley Sweet Shop, closed after the fire destroyed its antique taffy-pulling machine, had somehow found the ability to reopen. It would be north of the old location, somewhere in Seaside Heights, but it was somewhere there.
We were changed too. The most important change was something we didn't consciously notice at the time. When we first visited, someone noticed us and asked if we'd want a picture taken. It's one of the best pictures of us. This time, we weren't approached by anyone. I suppose it's impossible to radiate new-relationship energy forever and to seem always open to strangers asking if we wanted photographs. I suppose also nine years ago selfies weren't a thing we just assumed people would take, though. Maybe folks of today were just respecting our privacy.
Trivia: Johns Hopkins died in 1873, with a trust of $3.5 million bequeathed to found a university and hospital. The university opened in 1876; the medical school in 1893. Source: The Great Influenza: The Story of the Deadliest Pandemic in History, John M Barry.
Currently Reading: Creditworthy: A History of Consumer Surveillance and Financial Identity in America, Josh Lauer.
PS: Halloween came to the pinball league ... uh ... right before Halloween last year. Let's watch.
Getting ready for Halloween! I paint the lily by putting on a raccoon mask.
Trophies that bunny_hugger bought for the Lansing Pinball League costume contest last year.