Must one travel more than 1,000 miles for a trip to be considered a Personal Journey? Does it have to include a passport and an overseas flight to a foreign land where locals speak some exotic language? Is it a necessary requirement to strap on a backpack and a $400 Patagonia jacket and hike the foothills of a mountainous region that touches the clouds?

Sometimes a simple journey within one's own home state can have a lasting impact. During the winter school break, my wife, two younger children, and I were looking to get out of the stuffiness of our house. We needed to escape the holiday season's clutter and madness. Basically, we needed to decompress. Walking the Cherry Hill Mall in search of after-Christmas deals is not my idea of fun.

On a Saturday afternoon we headed to the beach. Anyone who visits the Jersey Shore in the off-season knows the quiet beauty and stillness of the area. One doesn't have to drive from one end of the island to the other in search of a parking space. In many seaside towns the traffic lights simply blink a dull yellow - a reminder that summer has long since passed.

We decided on the Wildwoods. During warmer months we like to walk the famous boardwalk, visit Gateway 26 and eat at Sam's Pizza. The weather was relatively mild for Dec. 27. The Garden State Parkway was free of traffic. The sun shined brightly.

After stopping for lunch at Owen's Pub in North Wildwood (where a few locals ate, talked and watched the Hyundai Sun Bowl football game on television), we made our way to the beach in Wildwood Crest. A few brave souls were out jogging or walking their dogs along the bike path. We parked on Forget-Me-Not Road near Centennial Park.

We bundled up, grabbed our kites and hit the beach. The Wildwood beaches are impressive enough during the summer, but in the wintertime they take on a whole different perspective with no other people around. The size and scope of the ocean, the beach and the sky seem limitless. Our kites danced in the sky as streaks of sunlight broke through the few scattered clouds.

Jason Love writes from Somerdale.
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