Thursday, June 9th – Arrival in Cape May
For our 50th anniversary, we decided to head off for a romantic and relaxing weekend in
where we reserved a room at the Rhythm of the Sea
situated right across from the beach!
After checking in we crossed Beach Avenue for a walk along the ocean
where, among other sights, we spied a pod of dolphins feeding just off the beach,
A pair of Mallard Ducks
and a walking bouquet of flowers.
Back at our B&B, we sat on the front porch and indulged in the fruit and cheese plate and bottle of wine we found in our room. Having thus spoiled our appetite, we found local restaurant
for a light dinner of BLT’s and enjoyed some of the roses blooming alongside the building.
From there we headed for Sunset Beach, passing Cape May’s World War II Lookout Tower (Fire Control Tower No. 23),
the last remaining vestige of the immense Harbor Defense of the Delaware system known as Fort Miles. Built in 1942, it was one of 15 towers that helped aim batteries of coastal artillery.
Just after arriving at the beach, a loudspeaker system announced that the ceremony for “retiring the colors” (lowering the flag), held each evening between Memorial and Labor Days, was about to begin. Preceded by a recording of “God Bless America” sung by Kate Smith and the playing of the National Anthem, the solemn ceremony followed.
With some high, thin cirrus clouds this evening sunset was beautiful as it set behind the remaining skeleton of 250’, 3,000 ton concrete-hulled freighter.
Due to a critical shortage of steel during World War I, the federal government turned to experimental design concrete ships. Of the 38 planned, only 12 were ever put into service. After the end of War, more efficient steel ships were again available and the “Concrete Fleet” was decommissioned. In 1926, Atlantus was later towed from Norfolk to Cape May to serve as a ferry. However, on June 8th of that year, the ship broke free of its mooring during a storm and went aground.
Friday, June 10th – Our 50th Anniversary
On a Friday, fifty years ago today, Debbie Louis and I met at
and left as husband and wife!
18,263 days later, we woke early, dressed, grabbed scones and coffee from our B&B and headed across the street to sit … out of a cool morning breeze … in the lee of a rescue boat on the beach.
Later, walking the beach striated with tracks from the beach tractor which cleans and levels the sand every night,
Then back to our B&B for a great breakfast before heading out on our bikes to ride through many of the streets of Cape May where the architecture is captivating, from the traditional and historic …
Walking our bikes along the Washington Street Walking Mall, we passed a carved wooden memorial plaque to fishermen who were lost at sea,
In our rambling, we also discovered that Cape May celebrates one of my favorite foods!
Then off to see the Cape May Lighthouse
and World War II concrete bunkers just a few hundred yards away,
It was never meant to be permanent, but the massive concrete bunker built as a military structure during World War II is still sitting out on the beach in Cape May County, New Jersey, startling visitors to the area and dismissed as just a fact of life by the locals. The concrete building, complete with walls that measure seven feet thick, was constructed on top of thick wooden pilings that had yet to give out, even if the rest of the structure is in less-than-ideal shape.
and a nearby nature preserve and bird sanctuary where we saw a Red-winged Blackbird,
and more than three dozen Swans.
This evening we had a quiet dinner at the Marion Inn
Walking back along the beach we posed under a wedding arch used just hours earlier by a couple just starting out their married lives.
We climbed one of teh life guard chairs and watched the pink after glow of the sunset before finally returning to our Bed & Breakfast.
We only hope the next 50 years are as incredible, healthy, fun and full of love as the first! 50!
Saturday, June 11th – Our Third Day in Cape May
We again took advantage of getting to the beach before the tag checkers showed up as it gave us another chance to walk along the ocean and then hunker down in one of the rescue boats to enjoy our morning coffee.
After delicious breakfast with Paul, a frequent guest sometimes unofficial greeter at the Rhythm of the Sea, we struck out to explore more of the island … yes, Cape May is technically an island … on our bikes. And, as it is now Saturday, the traffic is noticeably heavier than the past two days.
We visited the Harbor area with its fleet of fishing boats
When looking at the dates and names engraved on the stone, you note that in 1983 there were nine people lost including two with the same last name and in 2009 six men perished including three with the same last name … suggesting a tragedy similar to the fate of the Andrea Gail (subject of the “Perfect Storm”)
Just 20 yards away is a beach where scores of horseshoe crabs were lying dead for no apparent reason we could discover.
There was a small home in the shape of a house boat where the owners were affixing patriotic bunting in anticipation of Flag Day (Tuesday),
The ubiquitous body art
Near the city’s convention center, we discovered a plaque commemorating the Dutch explorer, Captain Cornelius Jacobson Mey who founded Cap May (spelled with an “a” rather than an ”e”) in 1621.
The earliest inhabitants of the peninsula we call Cape May were the Kechemeche Indians of the Lenni-Lenape tribe who mainly hunted these grounds. Following sighting by Sir Henry Hudson in 1609, and exploration by Cornelius Jacobsen Mey in 1621, the first residents purchased land from the Indians in the 1630s and developed a prosperous fishing and whaling industry. English colonists from Connecticut and Massachusetts, by the late 17th century, had further developed whaling and introduced farming to this area now known as Cape Island.
In 1766, that Cape Island’s development as a place where many resort for their health and pleasure began. The visitors came first from Philadelphia, by horse-drawn wagons, stagecoaches, sloops and schooners. They were housed in very rustic public houses, taverns, and resident homes. At the turn of the century, advertisement in the Philadelphia papers described the beautiful situation of Cape May, the sea-bathing, and the fish, oysters and crabs to eat and enjoy!
By 1834, there were six boarding houses and Cape Island began to attract the elite of New York, Baltimore, Washington and Philadelphia. Hotel size increased in ensuing years – the New Atlantic, built in 1842, could accommodate 300 guests. Music pavilions and ballrooms blossomed. A two week stay by Henry Clay, in 1847, reinforced Cape Island’s position as the major seaside retreat in the country, and so began its reign as the Queen of the Seaside Resorts.
The 1850s included grand renovations of Congress Hall, visits from Presidents Franklin Pierce and Benjamin Harrison, another hotel fire, the Mansion House in 1857, and the construction of a new lighthouse in 1859, that still exists today. The Civil War and Cape Island’s pledge of support for the Union in December 1860, caused the southern patrons to disappear overnight. It was the completion of the railroad from Philadelphia to Cape Island, in 1863, that signaled the next development of the resort island – the Cottage Era – the parceling of land into lots for Philadelphia families to build their own summer homes.
The most devastating fire of all, in 1878, destroyed 35 acres of the city from Congress Hall over to Ocean Street. Cape May decided to rebuild itself as a smaller scaled-down version of its pre-fire era – homes and businesses were built in Queen Anne, Gothic and American bracketed styles. The decision not to compete with modern popular resorts preserved the town’s character so many find attractive today.
After walking through a craft fair, we grabbed a quick lunch at
We walked a local craft fair, with the predictable juwelry, baby clothing and pther types of booths. However, what was extremely interesting was a method we'd never seen of decorating silk. Paints are floated on a tank of still water. The cilk is laid on the top of the inks and then removed and wrung out. Absolutely fascinating!
Before returning to the Rhythm by the Sea … but not before picking up a cold bottle of wine!
Just before getting back, we saw one of the horse-drawn carriages with newlyweds.
Around 5:00 PM, we enjoyed the wine along with some cheese … and really didn’t feel like a big dinner. We stopped at the second story bar at
But, by then, even another drink was not on the top of our agenda. So off for the mile long walk to the Washington Street Walking Mall
Enroute back to our B&B, we were treated to yet another of nature’s shows … a gorgeous sunset afterglow!
Sunday, June 12, 2016 – Last Day
I woke just after 5:00 AM and took my daily tablet of Synthroid. Not being tired, I dressed and quietly and after leaving a note for Debbie, I snuck out of our room, crossed the street, walked across the beach and climbed up a life guard chair. From there I had a ringside seat to a beautiful sunrise.
Meanwhile, it was impossible not to become mesmerized by the endless motion and sounds of the waves relentlessly coming ashore.
However, even before Debbie finally woke and joined me, I was not alone.
After she joined me,
we walked north until we reached he boundaries of the U.S. Coast Guards enlisted basic training facility … where it is clear visitors are not welcomed!
Heading back to our B&B, we passed a pair of lonesome chairs which had survived the night and winds still gusting over 20 MPH,
And a man launching and flying colorful kite.
After another wonderful breakfast … today, Belgian waffles, Canadian bacon and fresh fruit, we packed up and headed home after what was truly a wonderful and memorable weekend!