It happens that I'd never been to Wildwood, and the amusement piers, at the southern tip of New Jersey. There's no good reason for it, past my general reluctance to do anything for the first time. I knew it was a place people went to, like, after their proms were done, but I went to my prom with my calculus teacher (I kid: I went alone, but she danced with and posed for pictures with me), and I just went home afterwards. I did know it was a popular spot, and, hey, roller coasters, and the piers were reportedly in good shape after Superstorm Sandy, so, why not go down there?
Traffic, for one. It was only Tuesday, but also an early summer, just before the Fourth of July, and we were foolishly driving through Lakewood and that whole town sprawl and we just kept hitting more traffic than we could deal with, and it let up just enough at intersections to make it seem like diverting to back roads was more trouble than it's worth. We drove past the boarded-up and decrepit spot where my prom was held, and down past other points that have psychologically marked the end of civilization to me, like the point where Route 9 turns into the Parkway (and where we joined the Parkway), or the spot a little down from that where Route 9 diverges again.
This was bunny_hugger's first extended tour of the Parkway, which may not sound like much but there's a lot of road there, and it does go past some pleasant, scenic spots, as well as an atomic power plant. I, as ever, blathered like I will about such historic points as I could pull up, like when we had travelled so far south as to actually fall into West Jersey, or pointing out where we finally crossed the Atlantic City Expressway (the third major toll road that nobody remembers because, like, it connects Camden and Atlantic City and who wants to think about those), or when we finally reached so far south that the Parkway gives up on being a toll road and just becomes, first, a highway, then, a highway with traffic lights. And then we went a little farther south, to exit 4 and the Wildwoods.
What I did not understand was how much Wildwood has worked to be a scenic, photogenic, road-trip-worthy destination, with classic 50s and 60s style motels and diners and shops with huge, brilliant neon signs that titillate the Mid-Century Modern fetishist in everyone. They even had a Wawa that was so beautifully styled that I knew we'd have to make an excuse to stop in. If we take the cliche that one eats first with the eyes, Wildwood was working to be impossibly delicious.
Trivia: Stalin's Soviet Union never gave full diplomatic recognition to the German Democratic Republic. East Germany had to wait until after the Geneva Conference of 1955 for recognition. Source: 1945: The War That Never Ended, Gregor Dallas.
Currently Reading: Anywhen, James Blish.