It’s a high summer Saturday with a cloudless sky and a cool breeze blowing off the ocean. All told a perfect beach day but instead of waiting with anticipation for the high noon Pines Fire Department siren to signal the OKAY to fire up the blender for frozen Margaritas I find myself already with one in hand as I sit beside a pool filled with hot men in Speedos at the Empress Hotel in Asbury Park, NJ.
Yes, the friends and I have made our annual pilgrimage to New Jersey for Road Trip 8 – those trips to the IKEA in Paramus don’t really count.  Asbury Park, the once faded star of the Jersey Shore, which has been on the verge of “becoming the next Fire Island” for several years now finally shows signs that it has hit its stride and now finds itself with some incredibly good restaurants (check out the Deep Fried Green Beans at The Saltwater Cafe) along a renovated Boardwalk with shops featuring original pottery, crafts and art galleries. Don’t despair though there are still plenty of shops where you can buy an “I Love NJ” T-shirt and Saltwater Taffy. The Gay Friendly town has also become a solid destination for Gays & Lesbians and offers plenty of diversions should your idea of a romantic getaway for two become mired in reality.
This weekends featured diversion is SandBlast which is a beach party at the Fifth Avenue Beach beside and on the veranda of  the beautiful renovated Beaux Arts style Convention Center. After our allotted Margaritas at the Empress and cheese burgers for substance the friends and I don our new Board Shorts and Ray Ban Aviators and make our way along the boardwalk through the throngs of family beach goers lugging beach chairs and over-sized coolers.
DJ’s  David Marc and Corey Craig – both of Pavilion and Tea fame were already playing to a dance floor on the sand that was packed with shirtless, buffed guys and toned bikini clad girls as we made our way to the back bar overlooking the ocean where special drinks by 42 Below Vodka served in these adorable little buckets were offered. As we stood against the railing drinking from our “buckets” and fortifying ourselves to join the dance floor my eyes locked on a hot, Brazilian guy in low hanging cargo shorts with Calvin Klein underwear peaking above the waistband and dancing to Black Eyed Peas “Boom Boom Pow”.
And, as the afternoon sun changed to sunset, newly minted couples held hands as they walked the beach and Corey’s music mellowed to “It’s such a Perfect Day” and I lay snuggled on a lounge chair as a warm Brazilian softly slept with his head on my chest. Sometimes good things do happen when you leave Fire Island