Cat McCadden | Surf City, Long Beach Island, New Jersey
GG / Where is your favorite river, lake, ocean or poolside escape, near or far? Why?
I grew up in South Jersey, about 30 mins from Long Beach Island, a sandy barrier island on the east coast. My Dad would take me and my brother there for day trips, and once a year we would rent a place for a week. It was always the best time; we’d be out in the ocean *the whole day*, on our Ron Jon boogie boards, getting tossed by the waves. I distinctly remember warm Atlantic water crashing over me, getting slammed into the sand, and definitely not knowing which way was up. Scary, and I loved it.
When I needed to escape the annoyance of being my teenage self, my friends and I would drive there late at night, sometimes skinny dip (!!) and drive back home, exhilarated. I always felt better when I got back. The summer before my senior year of high school, myself and five girlfriends rented a place *of our own*.(I still can’t believe they let us do that. It was a fun summer. Thanks, parents!)
Now, I love it even more. I bring my daughter back every year so that her West Coast roots have a little dune grass in ‘em. Now my extended family from North Jersey and NY congregate, and sometimes we’ll have three houses rented on the same block in Surf City with my aunt, uncle and cousins. We get too much sun, eat pizza and Rita’s every day, and go for beach walks at sunrise and sunset.
A lot of the original places we visited like Barnegat lighthouse, Faria’s surf shop and the 5 & 10 are still there, even after Hurricane Sandy demolished so much. And there’s a newer vibrant arts scene by the beach - I love the big wave photography at Ann Coen’s gallery, Matt Burton’s pottery studio (where I’ve sold my jewelry) and gorgeous ocean-inspired paintings at Solace.
GG / What does going to the water’s edge do for you? How does it help you?
The water is just so distracting, in the calmest way for me. I don’t know if it’s because we humans are made of so much water. As a woman, I recognize my body is run on the cycle of the moon, a tidal push and pull so much bigger than any single thought or worry. There’s the mystery of what’s out there… and, of course, the pure excitement of walking along and finding the perfect chunk of shell, or eroded rock.
GG / When is your favorite season to be by the water? Winter? Spring? Summer? Fall?
Summer. Absolute favorite because it’s a time to feel that NJ heat and humidity and store it up for the long winter ahead.
GG / What are you must-have elements of your watery destination?
Tommy Bahama beach chair. Badger broad spectrum sunscreen - reef and marine life safe. Burt’s bees lip tint. Locals flip flops. An XXL men’s white collared dress shirt as beach coverup from Goodwill - I get a new one every year. Summersalt, Ondademar and Vivienne Westwood swimsuits.
GG / What’s your fave pool-river-lake-ocean side beverage?
The Catatonic - ha. Invented 12 years ago on a houseboat trip in Eastern Washington. Capt Morgan’s Spiced rum, good ginger ale and many many lemons. So refreshing!