The train ride into Long Beach is an adventure in itself. The homes seem to thin out, giving way to the clear blue of the channel and the salty sea air. The walk from the station to our destination is a bit longer than our usual walks, but the half mile in the hot sun is cooled by the sea breeze. Brightly colored beach cruisers seem to outnumber cars and are a welcome view for the boys as they whizz past us.
What awaits us at the end of Riverside Boulevard, just where the road meets the sea, is Shoregasboard, Long Beach’s own cavalry of food trucks, set up in glorious splendor to feed the masses of bikini-clad beachgoers. The atmosphere is laid back; picnic tables sit under primary colored umbrellas. It’s not often we get to sit outside listening to the sound of waves lapping the shore.
I cannot contain my excitement for our dinner; Daniel and John are much more interested in the trapeze, set up next door.
We walk around the food trucks, each one exuding its own intoxicating food aromas, and each more inviting than the next. Fish tacos from Sugo, meatball heroes from Villagio and lobster rolls from Swingbellys; the list goes on. I almost cannot choose, but go with my of-the-moment craving: a real pastrami sandwich from the Lido Kosher Deli. The boys are equally drawn to their hot dogs and french fries. We take our loot to a table and dive in. The pastrami, smothered in mustard, is divine and the boys devour their dogs. We sit among other diners, many without shoes and almost all still in their bathing suits. Another small pleasure of this outside experience is the thought of eating this amazing food shortly before or after a dip in the sea.
We finish and make our way up to the beautifully rebuilt boardwalk. Daniel and John run up and down, carelessly dodging a fleet of bikes. I round them up for one last pleasure: an ice cream from a vendor on the boardwalk. We sit on a bench under the sun and watch the clear stretch of the ocean across the sand. Just for a moment, we are happy, content and both boys are sitting still. Oh, Long Beach, how I love you.