Summer vacation-begun and done. The day after the last day of school we took off on a big family vacation to Cape May. In case you’re not familiar with New Jersey, Cape May is at the very bottom tip of the state.
It’s a beautiful town filled with Victorian houses and touted as the nation’s first seaside resort. It is easy to imagine Victorian ladies and gentlemen spending their summers there. This was the first time there for all of us and it did not disappoint. We rented a big house that would hold all of us-our family, my mother, and both of my brothers and their families.
The house was a lovely Victorian with claw footed bathtubs, pastel walls, white wicker everywhere, and a big porch to sit on and read and play games and snack.
We were just one easy walking block from the beach, which was wonderful. It was a great beach and not exactly in the thick of the hustle bustle of shops and arcades, but still close to it. Perfect for us. We could not have chosen a better place for us, and we’d never even been there. Hooray for vacation good luck and serendipity! Every day we went to the beach and had a grand time swimming. The last two days the water was like I’d never seen before-very rough and rapid waves, but shallow. Extraordinary fun to play in! And the water was unexpectedly not cold-you could just charge right in and swim and frolic. Tabby doesn’t go very far in, but this week Clark finally allowed himself to brave the waves and experience how great it is to jump and float with them and get washed in.
We did manage to get in some sightseeing, too. We visited the lighthouse, a WWII lookout tower, and the zoo. Paul also went with the boys to the WWII aviation museum, which they loved. Everything was so close and it was nice to have outings that didn’t take all day.
We also visited the arcade a number of times, which the children were obsessed with. One evening we all trooped out to Wildwood. Now, this is a place I’ve never had any desire to go to. Known for a great big boardwalk with lots of rides and things. Frankly, I always assumed it was kind of trashy and “Jersey Shore”-esque. Well, it was fascinating. First of all, all the hotels and motels have a 1950s/60s seashore vibe/architecture. As if Disneyworld was making them. Then, the boardwalk. OMG. Thousands of t-shirts with the most obnoxious, offensive, etc. type sayings on them. And people wearing them unironically! This is the Jersey shore that I think people not from here think of as the typical Jersey shore. Super tanned guys wearing “Suns out Guns out” shirts strutting along the boardwalk. With baseball caps on sideways. Honestly, we had fun marveling at it all, but I think that one evening was enough for me.
The lights sure were pretty, though.
And one of the most fun things we saw there was a marching band wearing sequined bakery themed costumes. (Assembling in front of the “Boardwalk Chapel”-an intriguing looking evangelical church.) One fun thing about the boardwalk-stopping and staring is totally ok. A big Mennonite family on the boardwalk, douchey guys, bakery musicians, people singing about Jesus, fried oreos & cigarettes advertised together—it was amazing.
More vacation details, by the numbers:
# of times I saw dolphins: 5. We saw dolphins swimming along the beach ever day we were there (well, I didn’t see them one day, but everyone else did.) This was a real highlight of the trip for us. I’ve never seen dolphins in the ocean before and it was incredible and thrilling. There was a group of them and I couldn’t get over how close they were. We even saw one dive down with its tail up! I was delighted that I happened to have my camera out with the zoom lens on one of the days when we saw them and got pictures. I have a big shark phobia and was very pleased to see that 1. I didn’t have a heart attack upon seeing a fin, and 2. you could definitely tell they were dolphins.
# of injuries/wounds sustained in my family: 6 -Clark stubbed his toe on the sidewalk and sheared off the skin, Paul sliced his finger open with a serrated knife on the last day, I burned my thumb on the toaster (enough to get a blister), burned my fingers touching a hot plate (which I had just taken out of the oven, so duh of me), and I also sunburned my lips.I’ve been sunburned many times in my life, but never on my lips. It’s insanely painful and not getting better quickly. Clark tossed a wakeboard to Tabby and it smacked her in the forehead, resulting in a huge instantaneous goose egg/bruise. (7 if you count Tabby’s pre-existing facial poison ivy. Thank goodness we went to the doctor the day before we left because 3 days of steroids got it under control immediately.)
# of times I lost my glasses: too many to count
# of pints of blueberries eaten: ? blueberries are in season, New Jersey is known for them, and they are grown in the southern part of the state and were crazy cheap. We ate them all week and on our way home we drove through Hammonton, which is where all the blueberries come from, and bought 7 pints at a roadside stand. I would have bought one of the bushes with ripe berries on it for a mere $10, except we literally had no room in the car.
# of vodka tonics drunk: 1, significantly less than I’d planned on. However, there were also pina coladas and margaritas.
# of games played: We brought many games with us, but sadly did not play them all. Still, we enjoyed Bananagrams, Taboo, Farkle, and several games of the old family favorite-Hearts.
# of times ice cream eaten: 3, one of those times we simply had ice cream for lunch, including Clark and Tabby’s first banana splits
# of souvenirs bought: a lot. playing cards, Christmas tree ornament, a t-shirt for each, a nail file for me (these crack me up and I love to get them as souvenirs), postcards, a magnet, Fralinger’s salt water taffy, fudge, and something for each of the kids. Clark got a helmet at the WWII aviation museum and wore it the rest of the trip, which I loved. He was like a kid in the 1950s wearing his helmet everywhere.
# of books read: 3. This was the most I’ve read on vacation in a long time-because my kids had other people to play with! They had a wonderful time playing with their cousins. It was very nice to have so much indulging reading time.
# of outdoor showers taken: 6. One of my favorite things about beach houses.
# of audiobooks listened to: 2. Cape May is only about 2 1/2 hours away from our house so we didn’t hours and hours of listening time. We finished listening to 101 Dalmations (delightful! more fun than the movie!) and Goony Bird Stories by Lois Lowry.
# of photos taken: 750-that sounds completely insane, but bear in mind I was trying to get ocean play pictures and dolphin pictures and you snap a lot for that. Pared down to 15 for a Facebook album, 200 for a family album, and 60 for a Flickr set.