CapeMay.com Blog

Movies on the Beach

Spending hours at the beach cooking in the sun is tiring work. As a result, I sometimes find myself having a lazy day and staying in so that I can regenerate for the next string of continuous beach days. I sit on my couch, watch movies, and eat far more than my fair share of candy with no remorse. As much as I love the comfort of my home, I’ve discovered that there’s a far better way to enjoy a movie, which is to watch it on the beach.

My whole childhood, and current teenage years, has been spent running around in the sand, so watching a movie there when the sun goes down seems like the next best thing. The movie is set up on Stockton beach, just to the side of the Convention Hall, every Thursday. I remember before the new one was built that there were swimming whales painted on the back of the building. I can’t believe just how much has changed.

As dusk starts to set in, the beach explodes with people, chairs, and blankets. If you think the beaches are packed during the day, you’re in for a shocker when nighttime rolls around. Everyone crams in for the best view possible, chairs are practically bumper-to-bumper and the smart ones lay a big blanket out in front of them for a little extra foot room. Kids are running around dancing, playing, and partaking in limbo while the parents get some down time to relax.

Beach Movie

In the mean time, I’ve discovered a way of cheating for better seats. The movie is projected on what seems to be a giant, blow up screen. But what no one realizes is that the movie isn’t only projected on to the screen, but through it. When you walk around the screen, you might be surprised to find a few smart families sitting there. Why might they be doing this? From behind the screen you can still watch the movie, with practically no crowd and plenty of food room. Because it’s behind the screen the image of the movie is flipped, but I would totally say it’s worth the change. A new perspective never hurt anything! This week ‘Jaws’ is being played, and the beach is so full you can’t even see where the people end, so behind the screen might not be such a bad idea.

When the beach chairs are set and the movie finally starts, you can still hear the lull of the waves and see the stars above your head. You have the comfort of your friends, the entertainment of a movie, and the beauty of the outdoors. A Thursday night can’t get much better.

Summer To Do List

I am a huge supporter of lists. To do lists, grocery shopping lists, random lists, really anything in list form. So it should come as no surprise that when I plan my time in Cape May, there are always lists in accompaniment to my vacation.

Relaxing on Trenton Avenue beach, age 4.

Relaxing on Trenton Avenue beach, age 4.

I thought my creating to do lists was something I acquired later in life in order to be efficient, but apparently not. Recently I was looking through one of my mom’s Cape May albums. I stumbled across a cute to do list that I had made in 1997, when I was four years old.

To do list, summer 1997.

To do list, summer 1997.

My first to do is “beach” which is definitely the same priority I still have when I go to the beach now. You can never sit on the beach enough! Each summer I try to beat last year’s visits to the beach too (and I successfully did that this year).

I have to laugh at a few things on that list, particularly “bicycle,” because that was the year my parents rented a surrey and drove me around in the basket seat. Note: it was not on the Mommie et al list either – probably not a popular choice, especially with me ringing the bell every few seconds.

The few things we have in common that have checks next to them are the “arcade,” “candy,” and “ice cream.” These are three popular family friendly activities to do in Cape May, especially with young kids.

My to do list for this summer consists of activities of a twenty one year old:

  • Beach
  • Reading
  • Baking
  • Scrapbooking
  • Watch the sunrise

Of course the beach is still number one and always will be, because truly I am four at heart. I love to read and try to read as many books while I am on vacation as possible. It is nice to get lost in fictional worlds that take me away.

Before I come in to intern at the office of CapeMay.com, I bake a new creation every Sunday night. Baking is one of my favorite hobbies, but only when I can share my creations!

I’m also a huge fan of scrapbooking – which I started doing because of the albums that my mom kept. For many years I had heard about the famous Cape May albums and it was the reason that we saved scraps of paper, receipts and restaurant menus. My mom kept an album from 1992-1998…so she is a little behind and needs to catch up.

The last item on my check list this summer was a source of contention between me and my internal clock. I’ve had “watch the sunrise” on my Cape May to do list for years, but it was never a serious plan. I knew this summer I was finally going to get up early enough to see the sunrise, despite that the sun rises much earlier than my body is used to getting up in the morning.

Sunrise not quite visible on Sunset Beach.

Sunrise not quite visible on Sunset Beach.

And on June 19, 2015 I really did get up at 5 am to see the sunrise at 5:30 am.  It was beautiful and such a fun experience. My mom was so surprised that I actually was able to get up and go!

Of course, I did go to Sunset Beach to see the sunrise and take a walk – I was not thinking that Sunset Beach was called Sunset Beach for a reason. It is better to see the sun set there, not necessarily the sun rise!

Having a summer to do list is really fun and is a great way to plan vacation. To do lists gives you something to look forward to on your visit to Cape May. It brings together all ages and can be fun for the entire family.

Connect with Rachel on Twitter @capemayrachel

The In-between Times

Just as there is a calm before the storm, there is a calm before the beach is flooded with sun seeking, ocean craving people. The waves continue to lap against the shore and the gulls still cry out to each other in search of hot dogs to be stolen, but those are the only noises. There are no hollering toddlers or life guard whistles, no chairs being set up or music being played. I am left alone with my thoughts and the sea.

Before the masses come, I have the beach all to myself. I practically own it. At eight, nine, and even ten in the morning, there’s only one or two other beach goers, so I take my towel and my chair and sprawl them out as widely as I can. It’s the perfect time to stake out my little spot on the beach while nobody is around, because soon enough there will be chairs, tents, and umbrellas surrounding me on all sides.

Empty Beach

Cape May Point in the early morning

The best days are when a large group of us arrives early, seeking out the best spot to set up camp. There are a couple ways to go about this. We can either set up the chairs in a straight line, which is no good for talking, or we can circle up, which gives us our space and creates a feeling that this is our part of the beach. So circling up usually win and we sprawl out on our chairs and towels, taking up as much room as possible..

We get there when no one is around, stay through the day, and remain even when the crowds start to thin once again. When we have the beach to ourselves, whether it’s in the winter or in the early hours of the morning, that’s when we realize how lucky we are. Instead of a crowded beach in Miami or a rocky beach in California, we have the perfect sand, warm water, and a wonderful place to call home. Every person I see on the beach is happy and smiling, unless they’re upset about having to leave.

This is all ours; the calm mornings, the hours upon hours of talking, and the refreshing dips in the ocean.

Hermit Crabs: A Live Souvenir

Picking out the absolute best souvenir to bring home from Cape May, was one of my favorite parts of vacation as a kid. Shopping is one of my favorite activities, so I always spent a fair amount of my vacation time perusing the stores.

Two weeks in Cape May was usually the right amount of time to find the perfect souvenir to bring home. And by far, my favorite childhood souvenir I brought home was a live one; a hermit crab. I was so excited that my parents trusted me with a live animal that was mine and that I could take care of by myself.

Very proudly showing off my first hermit crab, Hermay.

Very proudly showing off my first hermit crab, Hermay.

I picked out a crab in a purple shell and decided to name it Hermay – “her” because I decided it was a female crab and “May” for Cape May. I brought her back to our rental house and was so excited to share with our neighbors my new pet. Hermay’s cage was filled with rainbow colored gravel, she had a sponge that was to be misted every day and a little coconut hut to sleep in during the day (turns out hermit crabs are more active at night).

Everywhere we went the next few days, I proudly boasted that I had my own hermit crab to take care of and call my own. A nice lady at the Victorious Store (when it was still in Washignton Commons Mall) told my family and I how she had a hermit crab that lived for fifteen years. If Hermay lived fifteen years, I would have her through college!

One time when we were visiting my cousins in Ocean City, NJ, we saw a giant hermit crab (much larger than I’ve seen sold on the boardwalk there) just strolling down the sidewalk. We watched him for a while and I really wanted to take him, but my parents thought he was probably somebody’s pet. We regret not taking that giant crab!

Certificate of Adoption from the boardwalk in Ocean City.

Certificate of Adoption from the boardwalk in Ocean City.

I had Hermay for two years. She lived in a few different cages and switched her shells a few times (really cool). At home in Virginia, I would play with her in a bowl of water. In addition to feeding her hermit crab food, the guidebook I had gotten when I bought her said it was okay to feed her other things – so she also got cheerios and pieces of cut up fruit.

Hermit crabs in captivity have variable lifespans depending on their care. But I think our house was too cold with our air conditioning, which is probably why Hermay only lived for two years. After that, my brother and I had quite a few hermit crabs in the years following, always from Cape May. They never lived as long as Hermay did.

And eventually, after a cannibal situation where two crabs became one, we were done with the live souvenirs. My mom and dad were definitely over the crabs, because despite it being my responsibility, I was not always the one taking care of my hermit crabs.

No matter their size, hermit crabs are a responsibility like any other pet.

No matter their size, hermit crabs are a responsibility like any other pet.

After the last year of hermit crabs, I always joked with my dad about getting another one. He and my mom really did not want me to get anymore and they tried to dissuade me by telling me I had to use my own money to buy any new hermit crabs. So that was the end of that!

Before I left Cape May this summer, I noticed lots of kids on the Washington Street Mall with cages containing hermit crabs. It reminded me of so many memories and my first real pet responsibilities. It made me smile, and think of a simpler time in my life.

Sand or Cement?

The beach will always hold a special place in my heart. The sandy shores and forever crashing waves are so unique to every location and just about impossible to perfectly recreate, but we’ve made something that comes in for a close second. Maybe not a close second, because the beach is so hard to beat, but a pool might just be the next best thing.

On the days when loading up the beach chairs, towels, and snacks seems to be such a strenuous task, having a pool to lounge around is the perfect way to unwind. There are no swooping seagulls, no sand being flung, and no endless scavenger hunt in search of a parking spot. A pool is so easy to just plop down on a chair and start relaxing right away without the hassle of setting up camp.

Bubbles

The major difference between the beach and the pool for me is how much I move around. At the beach I’m constantly running about, going to and from the water, playing around with a Frisbee, or walking the promenade. By the pool, I’m much more willing to sit down and stay there for a while. The water is so still without any tides or currents to move it, and in turn I feel equally calm.

The sun beats down, quickly heating me up without the breeze that the beach provides, and I sit there for as long as I can take it. My hair lightens and my skin darkens the longer that I’m in the glistening beams, so learning to take a little extra heat is something that I’ve grown up with. I relax in my chair until the heat becomes too much, at which point I take to the pool for a refreshing dip.

While a pool doesn’t move with the ebb and flow of the ocean, that leaves the perfect opportunity for pool floaties and little bit of goofing off. Because there are no waves to knock me over, there’s always a round of chicken bound to happen. Chicken is when two people each have one person on their shoulders, and the top person tries to knock the other opponent off. Of course we had to attempt to try and top that, so my friends and I got on each other’s shoulders and were three people high. After one or two practice runs, we finally got it!

Shoulders

When it comes to a lazy day with some goofing off thrown in, a pool is definitely the place you’ll find me. A little break from the salt water always makes me appreciate it more.

Beach Habits

I have always loved going to the beach when I visit Cape May – who doesn’t? My family has always been peculiar when it comes to our beach habits. My dad does not like the ocean or the sand, hence a few years of us all wearing the most blister-inducing sand shoes ever (they let in more sand than they promised to keep out).

And despite the sand, my family enjoys coming to Cape May and has been for over twenty one years. The way we do our beach visits is unusual from most other families. In fact, the first two days of vacation, we did not get down to the beach.

Usually the first two days of our Cape May vacation were spent buying groceries and getting settled in to our rental. I was always so anxious to get down to the beach right away, but I wasn’t old enough to go down alone and my parents were never in as big of a rush as I was.

My mom and dad usually wanted to wait out the large crowds on the beach, and opted to go down after the temperature had cooled off. This waiting meant heading down to the beach any time after 4 p.m.

On Jefferson Street beach, 2003.

On Jefferson Street beach, 2003.

Walking down to the beach lugging chairs, towels, books, shovels and buckets in the late afternoon never failed to have people give us glances. They had been on the beach since the morning, having spent their morning and afternoon in the ocean. They must have wondered why we were heading down to the beach when it was time to clean up and get ready for dinner. Little did they know, early evening is the nicest part of the day to be on the beach.

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Poverty beach.

Picking which beach to go to was always dependent on our location. I grew up going to Trenton Avenue beach while staying at the Morning Star Villa. We rented condos there for three years from 1997-1999. Then once we started renting on Sewell Avenue around 2000, we exclusively went to Jefferson Street beach and we have been going there the last fifteen years.

My preference now is to mostly walk the four blocks from my house to Jefferson, but I often beach hop and go to Poverty beach. I like to drive to others for a different experience and change of scenery. We always walk to the beach, never drive – so I like the freedom I have now of keeping a beach chair in my car.  I never know when I will take a spur of the moment trip down to the water.

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Access ramp on Trenton Ave beach.

Just the other day, I happened to drive down to Trenton Avenue beach, just to see what was new there (not remembering it is where I got my start to visiting the Cape May beaches). Trenton Avenue has a handicap access ramp up to the entrance and boards going down most of the way towards the ocean. Right at the entrance, there is a showering area to rinse off sand and a bathroom. There are also picnic tables near the entrance. And of course, the sand and water is pretty much the same as everywhere else.

Middle building is the Morning Star Villa, where I got my Cape May start.

Middle building is the Morning Star Villa, where I got my Cape May start.

Jefferson Street beach almost seems like a whole other beach from Trenton Avenue. When I leave my house, I strap on my backpack chair and round the corner. Four blocks down to Jefferson Street beach and up onto the boardwalk is already a difference from the entrance to Trenton. Jefferson Street beach has the Steger beach boxes, where people store their beach chairs and toys.

Lately it is around 5:30 p.m. when I make the trek down the sand to the water, and sit to the left of the lifeguard chair. I open my backpack chair, pull out my book and sit down.

Jefferson Street beach.

Jefferson Street beach.

I never get tired of the view from my favorite beach, Jefferson Street beach.

A Stunning Start

Tuesday morning, June 30, dawned clear and windy in Cape May as Eliza Braunstein and Erin Short from Tallships America made their out way down the docks of the Corinthian Yacht Club of Cape May.
Yacht Club members Commodore Barry Sullivan, Past Commodore Jim Forrester and their team volunteered time to set the race starting line – 15 miles off shore – also serving as the Race Committee for the Tallships  America Picton Castle, Sagres, Hermione and Lettie G. Howard after the Tallships were docked in Philadelphia the weekend before.

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Photo credit: Jay Kopp

Says Erin, “An hour later, after a very bumpy ride, we made it to the start line, well out of the way of the traffic separation scheme going into and out of the Delaware Bay and away from the shoal waters that extend out from the shore. As we went about prepping for the race start, it was incredible to see the ships sailing out to meet us.”

She continues, “When we see the ships in port, they seem so passive -just bobbing gently at docks, sails all tucked away, and everything neatly stowed. It’s when you see them under way that you truly get to understand their awesomeness. The ship and the crew are part of something much bigger than themselves. With the sails full of wind, the crew straining at the lines, and the ship cutting through the water, you are transported. They are a direct link to our shared global maritime history and to see them under sail is to see history come to life.”

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Photo credit: Jay Kopp

Soon, the line was set and there was a wait to start the race. Picton Castle, Sagres and Lettie G. Howard slowly began to turn toward the line. Five minutes from the start the ships were bearing down on the line.

“As the cannon went off, we had a perfect view of the ships as they sailed toward us. Eight minutes after the gun, Picton Castle was first across the line and close enough to the Race Committee boat that we could call across congratulations to the captain and crew,” Erin says.

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Photo credit: Jay Kopp

She was followed two minutes later by Sagres and then Lettie G. Howard. Hermione, coming up from behind on the opposite tack, caught the breeze and quickly caught up to the others.  On the way back to shore, there was a sighting of another Tallship Lynx sailing along on her way north, full sails set and cutting through the water.

“It was a glorious day for a sail all around. Eliza and I would like to give a huge thank you to the Corinthian Yacht Club of Cape May!”

Beach Light By Night

When the sun is out, the beaches are always jam-packed. The smell of sunscreen fills the air and Laughing Gulls are hovering at every chair to snag some food the moment that someone turns their back. While the beaches are always filled during the daytime, I look forward to the one time of year where everyone is on the beach at night. The beach at night seems like a strange idea, but when it comes to fireworks on the Fourth of July, there’s no better place to watch them.

As a kid, my family and I would walk down to the beach at Broadway. All of the neighborhood kids would run around with sparklers, glow sticks, shovels, buckets and anything else we could get our hands on, while the parents circled up in their beach chairs. Half of the time we would forget that there were even fireworks because we were so preoccupied with the fact that there were at least ten of us running around causing a ruckus and a handful of new kids we hadn’t met before. Soon enough there would be a ridiculous crowd of us weaving in and out of chairs and towels and our parents would just continue sipping their drinks, pretending they weren’t with us.

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Just before the fireworks began we would sit in anticipation, while I tired to conquer my fear of the loud noise that came with the stunning fizzles of color. I would stick my fingers in my ears and gaze in awe as they went off, occasionally flinching if one was too loud. I’m not exactly sure how I overcame my fear, but now I would say that the Fourth of July is easily one of my favorite holidays. It combines the beach with fireworks, barbeques, and friends, which are basically everything I need to be content with life.

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As much as I tried to wriggle away from my parents on the holiday when I was young teenager of thirteen or fourteen, they finally set me free to watch the fireworks independently with my friends when I was sixteen years old. Every year has been at a different place, but this year’s watching spot has by far been my favorite. I was extremely lucky and got to go up in the crow’s nest of the Headquarters’ building. From the very top, I had a birds’ eye view of the whole beach all the way down to the convention center. When the first firework rocketed up in to the sky, it lit up the whole beach like I had never seen it before. All of the people sat below me like little groups of ants, changing from shades of red to blue to gold.

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I couldn’t believe just how many people had swarmed to the beaches to see the fireworks. To me, it’s a foreign idea that fireworks are watched anywhere but over the water. Would the Fourth of July really be the Fourth of July if there were no beach to compliment the fireworks? I’ve been extremely lucky to call this small beach town home, and will never take for granted the lulling waves as they crash upon the sand or the fireworks that illuminate their white foam. While America is the land of the free, there is no place I would rather be to watch the rocket’s red glare.

Independence Day Weekend

This past weekend was the annual fireworks show and Kiwanis pancake breakfast on Saturday July 4 and the Independence Day Parade on Sunday July 5, on Beach Avenue.

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The 4th of July parade features the Coast Guard,floats, marching bands, Boy Scouts, Miss Cape May County Outstanding Teen, bicycle riders and the Cape May Fire Department.

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The Kiwanis Club of Cape May hosted their annual pancake breakfast.

Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast E 7-4-15

The firework display started after dusk and it was a marvelous show. The fireworks shoot off a barge in the ocean. The show lasted for 10 minutes. People watched from on the beach, boardwalk and high balconies.

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Pizza Pause

As a typical teenager, I’m capable of eating far more than the average human being. Maybe I can blame it on growing, or maybe I just enjoy the wonderful, always welcoming taste and warming sensation it provides for my stomach and soul. As much as I love to indulge in the world of food, there is only one food that I can eat for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This versatile meal is a favorite to more than just teenagers. It’s popular among parents on those days when cooking is too much of a hassle, and the kids need something to occupy them for a few moments to get that glorious sound of stillness. That’s right, the one and only, pizza, is adored by many and is the one meal I’m glad to eat at every hour of the day.

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Because pizza is so popular, Cape May is sprinkled with numerous parlors so that you’re never more than a five-minute walk away from one. With countless places to choose from, it can become a difficult choice, but through the haze and smell of cheese, Louie’s Pizza stands clear in my mind. Not only are their slices freshly made and steaming right out of the oven, they’re also approximately the size of Texas, give or take a little. My stomach might not even have room for the perfectly fluffy crust that waits for me at the end of the cheese, but there’s no way I’m leaving out the best part. Every bite makes a fresh crunch as your teeth break through the crust and the delectable cheese attacks the roof of your mouth. Between the size and the taste, Louie’s is at the top of my list.

While I’m openly crazy about food and slightly biased towards Louie’s as a local, I will admit that Louie’s has my heart for reasons more than just the pizza. Over the years I have spent more than enough time not just eating there, but also simply hanging out. Whether it’s walking off the beach for some shade or being in the mood for a late-night slice, Louie’s provides the perfect atmosphere to sit, talk, and goof around. Come ten people or come two, there’s always room to pull up a chair. In the heat of the afternoon I take shelter under an umbrella, armed with a slice and a cold Coca-Cola. It’s a nice pause from the busy traffic buzzing by and the endless rushing of people in search of a final destination.

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Nighttime at Louie’s is an entirely different story. The place is alive and kicking, pumping slice after slice out of the oven. Even if the streets are quiet, Louie’s is not. The majority of the chairs sitting outside usually get sucked into our circle of friends, sometimes managing to pull twenty chairs. We gather up around a table or two, grab some pizza, and are perfectly content in that moment. Good food and good friends with the beach twenty feet away, I don’t see how it gets much better.

Once the night starts to wear on, some people even wander down from Carney’s or Cabana’s to get a slice. You can hear these people all the way down Beach Drive after having a few drinks in them, but it just goes to show that even the sub-conscious drunk mind can’t help but crave a slice from Louie’s. More than just good pizza, Louie’s provides a sense of community to teenagers, kids, and adults alike. Through the years I’ve eaten enough pizza to keep the place running, and I’m sure there are countless more slices to come. More than just pizza, Louie’s is a place to come together with family and friends, and it certainly isn’t one to forget.