Welcome to the Badlands. Millions of years ago this was an ocean. Now we drive and walk and explore the bottom of it, among fossils and sediment, among peaks and valleys, among stillness and thoughts. To be here is to feel small and humble, to be in awe of our world, to yearn for even more secrets kept underground. You know, the little things in life.
When we first heard of the Badlands, people told us it was like walking on the moon. It was. My daughter said it was like, “being inside the Earth.” It was. It’s simply unlike any other place we’ve been. We were drawn back to it each day, just to take it in all over again.
Once the spring sun starts coming out, we embark on one of my favorite traditions. We head to the beach, bundled up layers and all. The sky is as blue as the summer. The ocean and sand, seemingly untouched during the colder months, are ever constant. It doesn’t matter that the water is ice cold or that the air is still somewhat chilly. We go because the beach is as much an expansive playground as it is a brilliant space to be alone, with the first rays of spring warming the air and our faces.
We recently did just this, spending a day at Sandy Hook, our favorite beach in New Jersey. This place is off the beaten path in an area where it can feel like little else is. It’s a national park – albeit a narrow one – so you’re surrounded by sand and trees and bike paths, rather than development. And at the same time, you can see the NYC skyline as part of your beach view. Bustling life is close, but not too close. It’s easy to reach, but feels a far way off. Plus, you have the history of the island and its 250 year old lighthouse to boot.
But what made this visit so special wasn’t necessarily just the warm sun or the setting, although they were truly great. It was the simple moments my daughter and I spent together. Laughing. Exploring. Being.