Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Cape May

I took the second of my summer adventures this week. I found myself in the unusual position of having my house empty. All of my children are gone (temporarily). Four are off to Scout Camp (2 as participants and 2 as leaders) and one to my sister's house in Tucson, AZ. Knowing this to be the case, I made plans a couple of months ago and convinced a dear, hardworking friend to take a little time off and come play with me.

Part of this adventure was to take the Cape May-Lewes Ferry across the Delaware Bay and this turned out to be one of my favorite parts. It made this fairly long trip such a pleasure. We drove for about 2 1/2 hours to the ferry terminal at Lewes, DE, rode the boat for about an hour and twenty minutes in a lovely breeze watching lighthouses on silent duty, dolphins seeming almost curious about us, and Coast Guard soldiers keeping us safe along the way. When the ferry docked, we were literally moments from our hotel. I highly recommend this as a way to get to the Jersey Shore from the Baltimore-Washington area. It is not cheap-our fare was 41.00 one-way, and it goes up with more passengers. Here are the advantages, though, at least for me:
  1. Once you're on the Eastern Shore of the Chesapeake Bay, the trip to Lewes is off the beaten path through pleasant towns on country roads-no traffic jams, no tolls except the Bay Bridge.
  2. There is less driving, even though the time from door to door is about the same or a bit longer.
  3. We went home the non-ferry way and paid about 20 dollars in tolls, plus we got caught in the Wilmington-Philly rush hour traffic-Eeeww.
  4. It was a simply lovely boat ride. Here is the view of Cape May as you come into the terminal:

We got to our lodgings, the lovely old Inn of Cape May around 4:30 on Monday evening. Our room was not terribly modern or luxurious, but it was quaint and quirky, which I liked. The only disadvantage was the air conditioning unit. It cooled the room, but was loud enough to wake me up in the night as it cycled on and off. There are tons of hotels/motels in Cape May plus all the wonderful Victorian homes-cum-B&B's all over town. There are also some amazing top-drawer rental homes. Nearby is the quieter community of Cape May Point comprised of cottages, rental homes and permanent residents, plus there is the party town of Wildwood just to the north.

After we settled in, we took a trolley tour around the town and it was okay. We learned a lot about the history of the town, but the narration was not really matched to the locations we were driving past. This is a great way to see all the beautiful Painted Lady Victorian homes though. After our trolley ride was some fun shopping and delicious frozen custard. It was really fun to be out on the square with everyone. It is a small town, so many, many people are on bicycles, which just enhances the beachy, slowed-down pace of this lovely coastal town.

On Tuesday, we woke up early, and while we missed the sun actually coming over the horizon, the cloud cover and morning mist yielded a spectacular extended sunrise show, plus the bonus of a huge rainbow in the sky as we walked across the street to the beach.
It was really a lovely morning. I like the beach best before 9 am and after 4 pm-no crowds, gentler sun and quiet. After our walk on the beach, we enjoyed a delicious full breakfast at, which was included with our room, at the hotel restaurant.

We got ready and got out the door at a leisurely pace appropriate for two off-duty moms with absolutely no obligations awaiting us at home. We had two goals for the day: touring the Emlen Physick Estate and exploring the Cape May Lighthouse. Both of these are maintained by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts, a community group that was formed to preserve the character and history of Cape May. They offered a discounted double ticket to the estate and the lighthouse for 16 dollars. It was a dollar savings. This organization has a wide variety of tours, including regular and themed, such as Haunted Tours and combo tours of the various attractions they manage. The house tour was on a schedule and lasted about 45 minutes. The lighthouse has no guided tours, just 199 steps that you can climb whenever you want. Both were worthwhile and offered a lot of history and information about the area. The estate would NOT be fun for kids of any age unless they are a history buff, plus there is a lot of self-control required to not touch anything, sit on anything or lean against the walls. It was an excellent, informative tour, and the house is spectacularly decorated and meticulously restored. It is a fine example of the Victorian Style.

The lighthouse could be enjoyed by anyone capable of self-locomotion up the steps. I wouldn't want to coax or carry a toddler up, but older kids would be rewarded with a wonderful view and a lot of fun facts about lighthouses.
After resting our legs a bit and enjoying the summer afternoon, we headed home. Actual driving time was probably about 3 hours, lengthened to around 4 1/2 by a stop at a farm stand, a stop for dinner and that blasted traffic jam. The highlights of the drive home were the crossing of the Delaware River on the spectacular twin spans of the Delaware Memorial Bridge, crossing the Susquehanna with the sun getting low, and watching a gorgeous sunset over the Baltimore skyline just before we dipped into the Ft. McHenry tunnel. For geography geeks, I thought it was cool to make the trip there across the actual Chesapeake and Delaware Bays, then to come home over the rivers which form those very bays.

So, there you have it. A summer adventure for grown-ups. Why should the kids have all the fun?


  1. wow that looks so relaxing and FUN! I'll have to put it on my list of places to go!

  2. mmm, what a lovely little get away. well deserved to be sure! I've wanted to take that ferry ride, too. beautiful pictures and good overview of the attractions. the last shot made me smile because I'm suspecting it's a timed photo...I could be wrong of course. ;)

  3. How fun! So glad you took the time to go. I'm sure you got plenty of exercise going up and down those stairs. Great pics!

  4. I love architectural photos! Wish there were some of those "painted ladies." The spiral stairs one is pretty great. What a fun, refreshing little trip.

  5. What a wonderful trip. It sounds like a blast. I am having ideas for my next anniversary. What fun.

  6. Oh my goodness! It sounds and looks really great. I'm glad you got some adult time with a fun friend!

  7. how fun! i REALLY like lewes, too. we didn't make it on the ferry to nj last time we were there, but now i know it's worth the effort. thanks for the adventure report!

  8. What a great adventure and you are right, why should kids have all the fun?! I have never heard of Cape Mays before but have now added it to our list of places to visit.

  9. So fun your pictures are really amazing. Glad you had a good time.

  10. What a lovely little adventure! The ferry ride sounds blissful, and I love the shot of the lighthouse through the leaves. Oh, and sunrise on the beach is one of my favorite experiences. Being somewhat of a geography nerd myself, I appreciate the rivers-bays connection. ;)


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