I did make a partially recreational visit when back east, to Seaside Heights. I'd have wanted to to see what was open in Casino Pier, but then I also had further disaster tourism to see. A couple weeks before the visit was the catastrophic fire that destroyed the remains of FunTown Pier and quite a few blocks around that spot. Besides destroying the remains of that pier, and the Berkeley Sweet Shop where I introduced bunny_hugger's family to salt water taffy, also destroyed was the first carousel that we'd ridden together that perfect day back in 2009, and the survivors of the attached arcade. It was an incredible swath of destruction, and I needed to see it.
Many other people did too, understandably. The boardwalk came to an end where the firebreak was made, dozens of feet smashed up, then a few dozen feet of intact boardwalk, with ruins beyond that. People were gathered around --- it was conveniently near an elevated platform where speakers or performers could play or people could just get better views of the boardwalk --- and talking about the fire and how stunning it was and how bad it all looked, and how one of the last boardwalk attractions that the fire reached (heading north) was a pop-a-balloon attraction with a huge ``You Win!'' billboard still intact. Someone had hung an American flag on the side of the ruined buildings.
All was not ruin, though. Outside Casino Pier and spilling over several blocks of the street was a festival of some kind. I'm not sure what but they did have a rotation of bands playing loudly, and many stalls selling non-vegetarian foods and a few selling candy. One stall also hawked pictures, many of the sea, many of them of the boardwalk and the piers. I bought a print of the Casino Pier, painted in watercolors and showing it more or less as we best knew it, which would turn out to be just a few inches too big to fit into my suitcase and would give me a challenge to return it home.
The Floyd Moreland Carousel was in good order (as it should have been, although reports from the fire were, understandably, confused about whether it or the other carousel had ben destroyed) and the band organ was playing at apparently normal speed. While I watched a guy asked me to take his photo, and I was glad to, although since we were facing west I tried to figure a way to have him not washed out in the backlit sun. This made him think that I didn't know how to take a picture and he instructed me in ``you have to press the button'' which was all ridiculous but the sort of thing which just happens around me.
Casino Pier itself hadn't regenerated its full length, but what was there was growing back into operations again. The Pirate's Hideaway, a tiny roller coaster with a ride camera, was back in service although its roof wasn't there, which really changes its appearance. The Moby Dick marked about the end of the rides pier, with construction carrying on in back, and many of the statues were there and looking pretty good, including that of the Public Domain Cartoon DVD Mighty Mouse which had stood outside the wild mouse. The pier felt under-filled, but they're recovering from an awful twelve months.
Trivia: Voyager I made its closest approach to Saturn on 12 November 1980, with an encounter of the moon Dione happening while the probe was behind Saturn. Source: Voyager: Seeking Newer Worlds In The Third Great Age of Discovery, Stephen J Pyne.
Currently Reading: The Taste Of War: World War II and the Battle for Food, Lizzie Collingham.