Arriving at the seaside always reminds me of going to Clacton-on-sea in England when I was a little tyke. The excitement was infectious as we approached the town from a high elevation and spotted the ocean at the bottom of the road. “Are we there yet Dad?” was no longer heard as our eyes feasted on the brightly-colored buckets, spades, beach balls and towels hanging outside the shops. The scene of the ocean getting larger and larger as we descended the hill left an indelible impression. What would I give now to see the seaside one more time through the eyes of that little boy!
This time my wonderful wife, who looks after me like a baby, was at the wheel as we arrived at Cape May on Sunday and observed all the day trippers parking their cars along the seafront as they used to do in Clacton. However, perhaps I should refer to the cars as vehicles because the majority of them were gas-guzzling behemoths using up all the available fuel and partially responsible for the high prices. On Monday there were less people, but still more than usual for the end of September. The glorious weather enticing the crowds to the beach was in the low eighties and the high seventies all week.
The motel we selected was known to us, and the last time we stayed there was in the eighties, when we participated in a boardwalk art show and won the first prize for sculpture. It’s a perfect location at the center of activity along the seafront, but they had allowed it to run down. It is now very nice after renovations, although the fixtures are still the same. The level of the water in the toilet bowl was too high, providing a lukewarm dip this time of the year. Now my second experience, I wonder if all the inn keepers in Cape May offer this feature as an added attraction!
Our corner accommodation was aptly known as the breezeway. Although it didn’t have its own balcony, the view of the ocean from the rocking chairs outside the room was ideal. Everything was to our liking; except we were on the second floor and walking up and down the stairs was too exhausting for me. Fortunately, there were helpers who carried our luggage, including the oxygen equipment, and we minimized the problem of the stairs by leaving the room in the morning and returning in the evening -- one trip a day.
Apart from some congestion, which required my doctor to fax a prescription for anti’s to a local pharmacy, we spent the rest of our vacation doing the usual things, which would be boring to most people but relaxing and enjoyable to us. Molly wanted to go somewhere exciting, so I took her to see the sunset over the water, which didn’t cost me a dime. Although the sunsets varied each evening, they were usually spectacular. My wife and I really enjoyed this visual treat, and indeed who wouldn’t!
The following day, Molly suggested that we had a failure to communicate and asked me to take her to an expensive place – so I took her to a gas station! I was under the impression that I was winning this little mind game until we parked the car and I mentioned leaving the windows ajar to minimize the heat. Doing her thing at the controls, Molly asked if the windows were open far enough. The sun was in my eyes, so I reached up and put my finger in the crack above the window. Almost resorting to swearing, I yelled, “What the hell did you do that for!” as the electric operated window closed on my finger like a vice. “I’m sorry,” she responded, I thought they were open too much and I didn’t know your finger was in there. It was an accident,” she said, and I believe her!
The regrettable meals we endured during this vacation will go unmentioned, except to say that I will never recommend a restaurant again. It will be like the “Don’t Ask Don’t Tell” of the culinary service. Molly’s wrong, I’m not getting finicky in my old age – I still know the difference between a Bouillabaisse and a seafood Fra Diavola.
No, we didn’t stay at the hotel in the postcard, which happened to be one of the prettiest on the front. We were not comfortable with old Victorian furnishings, potted palms and clutters of knick-knacks, and preferred to stay at reasonably modern motels. The hotel we frequented every year at Thanksgiving was old fashioned, but we accepted, because it had an indoor pool for the grandkids. Molly and I popped in for dinner one evening during this trip and noticed that the lobby had been modernized. It now looks much more appealing and hopefully the rooms have also had a facelift. But not like Joan Collins, although I’ve never seen tightly stretched wallpaper!
Cape May was famous for its marshes and this year with thirty-nine other wild-life enthusiasts we explored some of them by boat. The two-hour Salt Marsh Safari aboard the Skimmer, a U. S. coast guard certified vessel, with a comfortable feel of a house boat, was exceptionally gratifying.
Although many of the birds had already migrated, we were fortunate to see quite a number of different species. The captain and his wife, the first mate was exceptionally knowledgeable and in addition to naming the birds, they explained many aspects of the marsh ecosystem. It was very interesting and included natural history, fish, crustaceans, shell fish, marine mammals, plant life, tidal flows, and bird life. There were many strange little creatures with even stranger names, which I can no longer remember.
As I understand it, the marsh land masses were living organisms and were the beginning if the food chain for the oceans. The captain stopped his boat at various locations along the banks, so that we could closely observe the activity in what appeared to be mud. He collected some of the dark brown material called peat, and to our amazement pulled it apart for us to examine on the boat. What we observed resembled dirty tightly interlocking soaking wet fiber material, which bred living organisms. Apparently there are now many government laws to protect the environment, and according to the captain, the water is getting cleaner all the time. This adventure was the highlight of our vacation and full details about these tours are available at www.skimmer.com.
Would you believe that’s me with the great legs looking at you through binoculars?