Taking a year off from work, we are truck camping around the USA! One of our first stops to test our self-designed truck camper was the famous New Jersey Boardwalk! All we had previously seen in New Jersey was the turnpike traveling through. So, on the way back to Florida from visiting relatives in Massachusetts, we ventured off the turnpike and headed east on route 33 to go experience what those songs on the boardwalk are singing about! We took an exit about dusk and headed east on route 33. After dark we arrived in Neptune, NJ which is about halfway down a beach that runs 141 miles from New Brunswick in the north to Cape May Point, in the south. Advice from some former Jersey natives via cell phone said this area might be to our liking, and safer for truck camping than more populated and rowdier neighborhoods of Atlantic City to the south.
Even at night, off season, the boardwalk is impressive. Each picturesque house is adorned with lights and accoutrements that beckon you to rent them for the season! We took a stroll along the boardwalk at about 9:30 pm, saying hello to a few others braving the cooling night air to walk their dogs or exercise. Then, for an hour we drove up and down the coast from Asbury Park to Belmar and back gawking at three story summer rentals with architecture ranging from Romanesque to Storybook and peering into the flickering windows of permanent residents still up watching an evening show.
Parking is unlimited in off season, but we were careful to read the signs. By 11pm we were tired and chose a house with vacant windows and a big rental sign to park in front of, just across the street from the official boardwalk. The boardwalk side demands front-in-diagonal-parking, and since our truck tailgate is our front door, we chose to parallel park on the opposite side of the street rather than have our door out into traffic. The temperature was a mild 59 degrees, just perfect for sleeping. Our set-up takes less than two minutes. We stand on the tailgate, raise the hinged roof of our cap, pop in a triangle-shaped foam panel on each side, and presto-chango, our inconspicuous looking truck cap becomes an attic-shaped bedroom, complete with a bed already made, a camping toilet and a tiny kitchen. We even have solar lamps. All this in one parking space!
By 11:05 pm we were snuggled into our comfy bed, being lulled to sleep by the peaceful sound of the waves lapping onto the sand. Around 2:00 AM, the gentle sounds started to change. The breeze slightly rustling our curtain window, turned into a steady wind and the temperature began to drop. The foam side panels rattled slightly in their grooves. We huddled together in our warm blankets and drifted back to sleep.
By 5:00 AM we really came to understand why March is considered off season at the Jersey shore and why our camper is best for fair weather camping. The temperature had dropped to 34 degrees, our curtain window danced like a tattered rag from it’s attachment to the raised cap, and the foam panels had developed a peculiar whistling sound as they expanded and contracted with each 15 mph frigid gust.
Suddenly, one foam panel was ripped from it’s grooves and all the frigid Atlantic air came pouring into our cozy space! Fortunately my husband caught the panel before it went flying down the boardwalk like a kite. We were out of the bed like a flash. Shoeless, jacket-less, laughing, and shivering, we closed up our little room and ran for the heated shelter of the truck cab. We left the seashore to visit the local Dunkin Donuts, then returned with our hot coffee in time to watch a beautiful sunrise!