168 hours in Cape May

6016065867_33b1818897_zWe spent the past week in Cape May, NJ — actually, in Cape May Point, right at the southern tip of the state. We rented a house that was only a dune away from the beach. From the upstairs balcony we could see the water. It was a great way to spend 168 hours. A few memories and observations:

New Jersey has fantastic wildlife! We saw dolphins leaping above the waves multiple times. One evening, I walked along the beach with my older two kids, and saw a fisherman reel in (and release) a 6-foot long sand shark. There were swans in a nearby nature preserve, horse shoe crabs on the beach, and jellyfish (cool to look at; not so cool to be mildly stung by one).

I got in some great runs. The nature preserve had a mile long loop through it, and it was about 2 miles away from our beach house. So the whole loop was about 5-miles — a nice way to start a vacation day, which I did multiple times.

Walking on sand — especially carrying a toddler — gives the ankles a stunning workout.

Digging a big hole on the beach is a surprisingly satisfying family activity. One day, we’d been working on a hole in the morning, and came back in the afternoon about an hour before high tide (4:45). We attempted to fortify our hole against the rising waves with walls and ditches and such. It held — but it was tense those last few minutes.

The secret to great guacamole is lots of tomatoes to give the guac some chunkiness.

Sometimes I get glimpses of what my life will be like in a few years. I brought my two boys to the beach one afternoon while the baby was napping. They made friends with some girls, and happily played with them for more than an hour. I got to read 50 pages in a novel. I was actually reading a novel on the beach!

Frozen grapes are a great snack.

Grilled food just tastes better than food cooked indoors. We grilled at the house, and went into Cape May one night, where I had grilled peaches with burrata. Yum.

I never seem to get tired of eating at the Lobster House on Fisherman’s Wharf. We went there three times this week, ordered at the take-out window, then consumed large quantities of fried and broiled seafood while sitting by the water. These meals are best combined with some sort of wheat beer. The kids are much better about the wait if you order and eat dessert first. I may try this tactic at other restaurants.

My 6-year-old re-purposed an entire package of napkins as paper for the Magic Treehouse fan fiction he was writing. When we ran out of napkins, he started using the paper towels. I have a compulsive little writer on my hands. He was way more productive than I was on the writing front this week.

That said, when you step away from your normal life for a while, you can get a lot of ideas. I didn’t get the ideas I needed to get for articles I have to write this week, but I came up with a plot for my next novel. So that’s something. I wrote and wrote notes while sitting on the screened back porch for an hour in the rain. Lovely.

Are you going on vacation this month?

Photo courtesy flickr user Jim, the Photographer

13 thoughts on “168 hours in Cape May

  1. Cape May actually has some of the best bird watching in the world and is the spot they pretty much use to teach the word migration as in bird migration .. which is something I sort of knew (my mom had a boyfriend who was a bird watcher when I was a teen) but was reminded of one day at the philli zoo… very very important place in the scheme of wildlife and nature

    1. @Cara – the bird watching was pretty cool — the Nature Conservancy has some preserved land there which is just covered with birds. Quite something to see!

  2. Our vacation was in June and July. So no, we’re not taking a real vacation this month. Just about everyone who works for me is, though, which is… interesting (we all have only somewhat overlapping areas of expertise, so none of us really likes covering for the others, but we do it, and we get better at it each time). However, my husband and I are taking a couple of nights away in a couple of weeks, courtesy of my parents, who will be in town and are happy to watch our kids. We originally planned to go explore another part of LA, but I’m too exhausted from a run of trouble at work, so we’re just going to go drink margaritas and kayak in Orange County, instead. I’m looking forward to it!

    1. @Cloud – it often feels very inefficient to work when everyone else is on vacation. I’m trying to report a few stories and it’s been one long string of out-of-office emails. I hope you’ll be drinking the margaritas after kayaking and not the other way around…

    1. @The Frugal Girl – I keep telling myself this. Also, some day I’ll be able to eat in an Olive Garden without someone throwing crayons on the floor. And then maybe I won’t have to eat in places like Olive Garden where they have crayons!

      1. this one guy I know taught me how to order wine off the olive garden list.. mondavi — so for $8 I can get a little happy and still eat at olive garden … one of the tiny things that made me happier.. knowing it was a high quality wine

  3. I love those glimpses of the future…give me hope. Cape May is on my to-visit list. I never seem to realize it soon enough to plan a house rental. We traveled in June & July so August is a stay-home month, fitting in some local summer fun.

    1. @Ana- I know – I’ve been booking in January and a lot of stuff is already taken by then. I think I got a break this year because Hurricane Sandy had people thinking there was a lot of damage, so fewer weeks were booked most places.

  4. backpacking in the Marble Mountains, in Northern CA, an area probably unknown to most of you East Coasters & indeed even in our state, made me feel especially close to myself, to all of life, and my boyfriend, AKA my husband of 35 years

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