[I could never understand why New Jersey was referred to as The Garden State, since most of my experience has always been at the airport in Newark. I eventually learned that the whole rest of the state is not only pretty, but very green, once you get out of the shipyards and the industrial effluence around the Meadowlands.]
One morning, around 6:30 AM, another guest and I decided to take a stroll on the beach, a mere block away. About fifty yards from the entrance to the beach we discovered an eight to ten foot pile of sand about the size of four cars piled up. You couldn't miss it. Protecting this huge pile was an orange snow fence with several buckets piled up nearby. What in the world was all this, we wondered? Over the next couple of days a remarkable sand sculpture began to take shape.
So he decided to invite family and friends to a farewell party of sorts. As a sand sculpture enthusiast, he was able to enlist the aid of other sculptors and create this remarkable homage to his life as an athlete, a video game enthusiast, a potter, a lover of Batman, and his career as a jet engine mechanic. We were told that there would be some sort of a presentation, but it never happened while we were hanging around.
Then, astonishingly, the day after the sculpture was finished, it completely disappeared. The buckets, the fence, and the huge mound of sand were all gone. The beach was level again. In fact, it looked like there had never been anything there at all.
No doubt a local ordinance required a building permit for a hefty fee in the first place, followed by the required removal of said "structure" within 24 or 48 hours. The beach patrol in vacation towns can be annoying like that. Perhaps it was one of the many tractors that comb through the sand for trash each morning that put an end to this remarkable epitaph for a young man whose life would be ending soon.
But these pictures, along with the dozens more that people were taking, will do a lot to help remember Mike for a long, long time.
Nearby there was a sign -- LIFE IS GOOD.