- Cape May NJ Travel Guide and Vacation Planner Blog

Month: March 2012

The Art of the Wedding

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a wedding album is priceless. The wedding photographer plays an integral part in the visual record of a couple’s nuptuals and the festiities which follow. It is a matter of trust, trust that the photographer understands the couple’s vision of how they wish to be remembered and trust in the photographer’s special gift, the artistic eye. Some of Cape May’s wedding photographers generously shared their favorite wedding portraits with us and their thoughts as to why that particular photo is their favorite. 

Left: RHM Photography. Right: Tim D. Joyce Professional Imaging

“I captured this image as our bride Anne ran down the stairs on her way to a quaint ceremony in Cape May Point to marry Joshua Gluck. I saw the shot as I rounded the top of the stairs and CLICK! got it.”
Ryan Morey, RHM Photography

“This is an image I’ve been capturing for quite some time, a bride looking out to a bright future with her husband. Most brides see this in my portfolio and ask for it nearly every time.”
Tim Joyce, Tim D. Joyce Professional Imaging

Left: Aleksey Photography. Right: Spirit Catcher Photography

“Being a wedding photographer, people expect magic from you no matter what. Rain or shine, perfect summer day or winter storm.”
Aleksey Moryakov, Aleskey Photography

“This wedding was of my good friends, Chet Saign and Nancy Carusi on the front lawn of Congress Hall. This photo was planned by the bride and groom, they wanted to have all their family, friends, and guests together in one shot. This was shot out of a second story window, not as easy as it sounds!  But what could be better, just look at everyone smiling and having a great time.  That’s why it’s my favorite wedding shot.”
Don Merwin, Spirit Catcher Photography



“I love these photos because Jamie was willing to do anything for a fun photograph. The best portraits are the ones that express the true self, and I believe these shots fit her very well.”
Macy Zhelyazkova, Meacreations Photography

Doyle Dowdell Photography

“One of my favorite things about wedding photography is the opportunity to get a glimpse into many unique traditions and cultures. This photo was taken during my first Scottish wedding, which was a very memorable day for me. I feel this image expresses the overwhelming joy everyone shared on this amazing day.”
Doyle Dowdell, Doyle Dowdell Photography

Scott Whittle Photography

“I loved this bride’s reaction to the wind taking her veil…I think ‘bemused’ is the word!”
Scott Whittle, Scott Whittle Photography

Pirate treasure in Cape May County?

Illustration of William "Captain" Kidd overseeing a treasure burial by Howard Pyle

According to an old undated newspaper filed away at the Cape May County Museum, an author identified only as Z.H. recalls a story told to him about Captain Kidd’s treasure supposedly buried in Cape May County.


[This story was told to me] during the cold, winter evenings around a glowing wood fire. I was but a small lad and a silent listener. I have thought often of the sore disappointment of the actors in the drama of this story remembered by me as if only heard last evening.

On a certain cloudless night in the 1870s, when at near midnight, by the light of the moon, it was quiet as a grave and the stillness was broken only by the flapping of sail, the rush of the incoming tide and the roar of the surf on the sandy beach.

After making our boat secure and lowering the sail, we hurriedly secured our picks and shovels and crossed to a point on the beach marked by a stake in the soft beach sand. Only the day before had we determined upon this very spot, by the ranges that stood on Nummy’s Island, the Five Mile Beach, and by one dead cedar tree that stood alone on the beach to the north.

I was a little nervous. It seemed to me that my heart beats could be heard a 100 yards away. We said little, but after reaching the spot we lost no time in removing the loose sand. One of my companions had not been at work more than 20 minutes when we heard him say, ‘Here it is. I just struck it with my shovel!’ And striking it several times it gave forth a dead, metallic sound. Our anxiety was intensified and our hopes seemed near realization.

I stopped shoveling and was standing erect, when I could discern some object moving. I watched the object for a few seconds to satisfy myself I was still alive. The object appeared to be approaching us. As it grew nearer, we were to see that it was the outline of a man. On it came, nearer and nearer; this form of a man and at his heels a large dog. A hasty consultation determined our course of action. We made a hasty retreat to our boat and we fled that ghostly shadow of a man on the beach.

Boy that I was, my interest at high pitch, I asked, “And, did you go back the next day?”‘

“Yes, my boy,” he sadly said. “We did not discover the metal box, but something else instead. It was the imprint in the soft sand of a heavy box or chest weighing many pounds being pulled across the sand. Deep footprints indicated that it had been no light task even for a strong man to drag the metal box and its contents up among the sand hills of the beach where we lost all trace of the trail. And to this day none of us know the contents of the box and whether it was part of the buried bounty of Captain Kidd, the pirate, found by some lucky treasure hunter, or the form of the pirate himself stalking the beach with his dog that clear moonlight night at half past midnight.”

– Z.H.

Lake Lily: Pirates, Spies, and Swans

Lake Lily in Cape May Point

Peaceful, picturesque Lake Lily has had a swashbuckling past.

It was a prized watering hole for the Kechemeches, the Native Americans who summered and hunted on the Jersey Cape. When they were pushed out by whalers and farmers in the 1700s, the lake languished in the tangled wilderness known as Stite’s Beach. It was hidden by twisted trees and brambles and locals seldom ventured toward its shores. But word of its fresh water, so near the briny ocean and bay, spread across the Atlantic.

The lake covers 13 acres and is one of nature’s most unusual gifts – as headwaters of a small watershed, all within walking distance of the Atlantic Ocean and Delaware Bay.

Captain Kidd

Captain Kidd

There are legends of marauding British warriors and pirates of the high seas seeking unsalted drink from Lake Lily’s fresh waters. There is lore that pirates, the infamous Captain Kidd himself, anchored off the high dunes of Cape May Point and came ashore in small boats, hiking to the lake to fill their barrels. The lake then was about 10 feet deep.

England in the late 1600s was attempting to control the Atlantic. The king paid privateers to attack enemy ships, thus bolstering the British Navy. Many successful privateers became pirates, including the fearless Scottish-born William Kidd. He seized French ships in the West Indies and hightailed toward American shores with his booty. Legend holds he buried treasure on easily accessible lonely stretches of the Jersey Cape, including Cape May Point and what is now Del Haven.

Word of sighting Kidd’s sails off New Jersey shocked local officials. Colonel Robert Quarry wrote the British Lord of Trades in 1699:

There has arrived about 60 pirates in a ship directly from Malligasco. They are part of the Kidd’s gang. About 16 of them had quitted the ship and are landed in ye government of West Jersey in Cape May. I quickly rounded up two of these pirates and conveyed them safe to Burlington jail. The rest of them are still on board the ship which lies at anchor near ye Cape of this government.

New Jersey Governor Jeremiah Basse, learning Kidd was lurking in a large sloop off Cape May, sailed down to capture the notorious pirate, but Kidd out-maneuvered him, heading north to New York and New England. Kidd’s voyage ended in Boston, where he was captured and sent in chains to England. He was hanged for sea crimes on a Thames River dock in 1701. The mystery of where Kidd buried treasure still lingers as children today learn his legend during lessons at Lighthouse park where once there stood a large twisted cedar tree known as Kidd’s Tree.

During the war of 1812 British warships blocked the mouth of the vital Philadelphia shipping lanes on Delaware Bay. Raiding parties came ashore from both the bay and ocean to steal farm provisions and stop at Lake Lily to replenish their fresh water supplies. It was difficult gathering the local militia in time to catch the marauders.

When the British fleet appeared off the bay in 1813 the locals got serious, forming a coastal militia. They camped on the banks of Cape May Point to watch for the Royal Navy sails and take up arms against British coming ashore.

Robert Crozer Alexander writes in his 1956 Ho! For Cape Island!

… the patriotic residents of Cape May, knowing that the British sometimes filled their ships’ casks with water from a spring-fed, fresh-water pond called Lily Pond on the point of the cape, dug a ditch through meadow, dune and woodland to let salt water into the pond thus rending the water unfit to drink. The ditch extended from the north end of the pond for a distance of over half a mile to Pond Creek, a tidal creek flowing through the salt marshes and emptying into Delaware Bay. This was no inconsiderable undertaking for the patriots who had only axes and shovels. After the war, the ditch was partially filled and the water in the pond became fresh once more. In 1910, at a place where trees had been chopped down to be cut in logs and cordwood, a part of this old ditch was disclosed passing through sand dunes,16 feet high. Traces of the historic ditch are said to be visible even today.

Lake Lily lay in oblivion again in the midst of the Stites Beach wilderness until the 1870s. Devout Presbyterians Alexander Whilldin and John Wanamaker, Philadelphia dry goods tycoons, decided to carve a religious retreat from the 260 acres of virgin woods at Cape May Point. They hired noted British designer-engineer-surveyor James C. Sidney to create a community called Sea Grove.

Lake Lily was a natural centerpiece for the development. Sidney decided there would be no streets, only Avenues, except for one service street and Lake Drive. The drive encircled Lake Lily, offering, as Cape May Point historian Joe J. Jordan writes, “a pleasant track where nouveau-riche drivers could display their fine livery.” There were stables nearby where residents kept their horses and carriages, and visitors rented livery service.

The man-made counterpart to the lake is Pavilion Circle, the large park designed by Sidney, which to this day is the centerpiece from which the avenues branch like spokes from the hub of a wheel. In 1875 when the Sea Grove development was completed, the fancy Victorian open air Pavilion seated 1,500 for religious and musical events.

Also in 1875, as Sea Grove was being completed, Lake Lily was dredged to make it deep enough for boating. Sidney designed a charming boat house at the foot of Central Avenue. From there, small sail and row boats slithered across the glossy lake. The occupants in their Victorian boating attire created romantic scenes pictured on postcards of the day. There were weekly regattas and weekend picnics spread on the banks.

A Sea Grove brochure bragged the lake was “stocked with perch, sunfish and black bass,” a complement to the carp and catfish that always beckoned boys with fishing poles. Nearby was “a handsome and commodious greenhouse, operated by an experienced florist, propagating a large number of flowers to decorate and add beauty to the grounds.” Town folk enjoyed excursions to Lake Lily, featured by the pious Presbyterians as wholesome fun compared to drinking, gambling and prostitution at neighboring watering holes.

In winter, there was ice skating on the lake and a small business of cutting chunks of ice to supply the lakeside Walker Icehouse.

The plain icehouse faced a fancy future. It was purchased by Dr. Randall Hazzard, a Pittsburgh physician. He enhanced his social position rehabilitating the icehouse into an elegant clubhouse called the Cape May Point Social Club. Joe Jordan writes in his Cape May Point Illustrated History: 1875 to Present: “The country club had many aliases. On any day the press might refer to it as the Lakeside Lodge, or Lily Lake Casino or Lakeside Villa.” The clubhouse opened August 11, 1899 with a reception and tea. Jordan says ladies gathered weekly for euchre and whist, there were monthly tea parties and members played golf, tennis, shuffleboard and ping-pong on the lawn.

It was Dr. Hazzard who designed the rustic bridge overlooking the lilies at the northern end of the lake. The bridge was a favored subject for photographs and paintings, and the premiere spot from which to watch the annual water festival with all the boats and structures lit up for spectators who traveled from miles around.

The Ferris family of Philadelphia purchased the lake and the Kechemeche Lodge on West Lake Drive in 1930. Sonia Forey, librarian at the Cape May County Historical and Genealogical Society, says that a member of the family, Jean Leon Gerome Ferris, was a rather famous artist. He painted and studied in Philadelphia and Paris, and in later years, worked at an easel in his lakeside studio. His widow, Annette, bequeathed the lake to the borough of Cape May Point in 1941.

The nasty Ash Wednesday Nor’easter of 1962 pummeled Cape May Point for three days. Twenty-foot waves smashed into the dunes and flooded Lake Lily, polluting it with salt water. The namesake lilies were killed off, not to return for years.

The lake itself was dying in the 1990s. Shaped like a big oval bowl, the lake is at the lowest point of a 120-acre watershed that extends east into a pond at the Cape May Point State Park and further east into the sprawling marshes of the Meadows bird sanctuary. The unusual geography is one of the reasons this area is one of the best bird watching spots in the world. Lake Lily always has been a rest and food stop for millions of migrating birds in the Atlantic Flyway. And that became part of the problem. Over the years, bird waste and silt diminished the lake, destroying its ecological balance.

Citizens of the Point took action to create new life for the lake. Led by then-Mayor Malcolm Fraser, the borough, population 230, contributed $250,000 to more than $750,000 in state money. A contractor was hired in 2003 to dredge the lake in a complex system that pumped dirty water several blocks away to a basin at the old magnesite plant. A series of constructed sediment basins and dikes cleansed the water which was then pumped back into the lake, restoring its health.

In 2005, the Friends of Lake Lily, a non-profit group of concerned citizens, planted 1,000 water lilies from money collected at fundraisers. President Francine Nietubicz says the project is successful. “Lilies have spread all across the southern end by the island, and are now growing along the edges.”

There were some bad days this past summer when record high heat waves and no rain resulted in a fish kill. The Friends work diligently to restore the fish population, reduce algae bloom and assure that drains, filters and pumps are working to keep the water fresh.

Lake Lily and the bird watching it produces are reasons that Francine and her husband Joe chose Cape May Point as their retirement home 11 years ago. They live on East Lake Drive and often are awe-struck by nature’s surprises.

“Last winter there was a frantic knock on the door,” says Francine. “A friend stopped by with a bird alert. ‘Look, look, there’s a bald eagle sitting on the ice in the lake.’ Just now,” she says, “a brown creeper flew from lakeside into my tree. The lake attracts Great Blue Herons and Great Egrets and in summer, when the lake is low, the little shore birds – sandpipers – run along the fringes” There are ducks, swallows, osprey and terns hunting the lake’s smorgasbord. Turtles bask on logs along the shore and frogs serenade into the night.

The largest and most beautiful of all the lake wildlife are the elegant, graceful, glistening white Mute Swans that glide the glassy waters. A pair lives at the lake year round. As the sun grows stronger and spring arrives, they will be nesting. “Last season there were three chicks, or cygnets, as baby swans are called,” says Francine. “They stay the season, until they are strong enough to fly away and make a life of their own.”

Swan couples are committed and romantic, necking on the water, often spending a lifetime together. The male helps with the nest (clutch) and is very protective. “The lake male is very aggressive,” says Francine. “Last season he chased all the Canada geese.” They dared not set foot or wing on the lake. With his long beak and 10-foot wing span, you can’t blame the geese for beating it.

Lake Lily, a miracle of nature, source of legends and traditions, lives on. Beautiful through the seasons, loved by wild fowl; friends and neighbors have joined together to keep this special place fresh and healthy the way it was created. 

W.T.F. = Why is this food?

Some foods we eat are a mystery to me. I am not talking about the strangely textured mystery-meat loaf in the average school lunchroom or my Dad’s ill-fated spam stir-fry. I am not even alarmed about the different animal parts or innards that are consumed in different parts of the world. I am not going to go on a Persnickety rant about molecular gastronomy and truffle infused air or wasabi melon infused foams ruining modern cuisine. I am just wondering how our ancestors determined that some things were going to be good to eat. People were skeptical of tomatoes until the early 19th century yet they ate blood sausage and tripe, like kids today eat chicken nuggets and potato chips. There are some foods that I just shake my head about and ask myself, who was the first daring soul who thought, “Hey I know this looks strange, but I bet it tastes really good.” How desperately hungry or inquisitive were the first people to put the following items on their bill of fare?

OystersOysters: Jonathan Swift the 18th century humorist and satirist is often credited with saying, “What a brave man who first ventured to eat an oyster.” How hungry did a person have to be to dig in the muck and mud and pry open the hard shell to reveal the small slimy treat that awaited them inside? They probably didn’t even have lemon or cocktail sauce. However they were discovered, I am glad they are part of the culinary landscape. They are tasty and versatile. Oysters lend themselves to a variety of presentations. Raw or simply roasted until the shell pops slightly open are two of my favorite ways to enjoy the briny bivalve, simply adorned with fresh lemon and horseradish. The tastiest oyster preparations are to deep-fry them. As a dinner, on a po’boy sandwich or in South Jersey style with a side of chicken salad, fried oysters taste great. I doubt the first person to dig up and consume an oyster imagined all the ways they have been prepared by creative chefs over the centuries.

Photo from

Artichoke: If the person who first ate an oyster was adventurous the discoverer of the artichoke had to be near starvation. The modern gourmand may look at this odd-shaped vegetable and drool at the thought of the sweet tender treasure beneath its armored leaves, but who was initially hungry enough to penetrate its outer walls and thorny thistly choke to reach the tender heart at its center. To many cooks artichokes are more trouble than they are worth. Many resort to using the tinny tasting canned variety. If this is the only way you have enjoyed artichokes, you have been denied true pleasure. The palate-pleasing flavor of the sweet choke is worth the sweat and effort it takes to prepare and eat an artichoke. Simply steamed, accompanied only by butter and lemon, is the purest way to enjoy an artichoke. If you must dress them up a little a garlicky bread crumb stuffing works well as does crabmeat or sausage.

Photo by Henrik Pelsen

Rhubarb: The first person to eat rhubarb had to have serious issues. The leaves are poisonous. The stalk is fibrous. It takes forever to cook and its natural flavor is more bitter than my soul. Yet in the hands of a patient cook, this vegetable yields a flavorful result. Long used as an herbal remedy in Chinese medicine, rhubarb was declared a fruit by New York courts for reasons of import duties. Whether rhubarb is called a fruit or a vegetable, it is worth the effort in the kitchen. When cooked with copious amounts of sugar for a long time the stringy bitter stalks yield a flavorful final product. It pairs well with strawberries in pies or with red wine over ice cream or cheesecake.

Our culinary adventurous ancestors have cleared the way for us to enjoy foods we may otherwise pass over. Not all food is what it appears from the outside. Join in exploring strange looking foods with this month’s recipes for Fried Oysters with Roasted Garlic Horseradish Aioli, Stuffed Artichokes Italian style and Red Wine Rhubarb topping for cheesecake or ice cream. Until next month, Bon Appétit!

Fried Oysters

  • 2 dozen large shucked oysters, drained
  • 4 eggs beaten with 3 tbsp heavy cream
  • 3 cups self-rising flour mixed with 2 tbsp Old Bay® Seasoning, 1 tbsp granulated garlic and 1 tbsp pepper
  • 3 cups panko bread crumbs mixed with 3 tbsp chopped parsley and kosher salt
  • Corn oil to fry in
  1. Pat oysters dry
  2. Dredge in seasoned flour, carefully shaking off excess
  3. Dip in egg wash, then in bread crumbs
  4. Fry in 350° oil for approximately 5 minutes
  5. Drain on paper towels, lightly salt

Horseradish Roasted Garlic Aioli

  • 2 heads garlic, roasted and cooled
  • 4 tbsp horseradish
  • 3 egg yolks
  • Juice and zest of three lemons
  • 3 tbsp chopped parsley
  • 3 cups corn oil
  • Salt and Tabasco® to taste
  1. In bowl of food processor combine all ingredients except oil, mix until smooth
  2. Slowly drizzle in oil until all oil is absorbed
  3. Season and chill.
  4. Serve with oysters or other fried food

Stuffed Artichokes

  • 4 artichokes
  • 3 cups Italian bread cubed
  • ½ cup loccatelli cheese
  • 5 anchovy filets minced
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 7 cloves garlic minced
  • 4 tbsp olive oil
  1. With kitchen shears, trim all pointed outer leaves of artichoke trim stem.
  2. Open artichokes up by pressing firmly point side down on cutting board.
  3. Soak for 15 minutes in salted cold water
  4. Use spoon to remove furry choke.
  5. In bowl, combine all remaining ingredients. Stuff in leaves and center of each artichoke.
  6. Place on rack in Dutch oven with enough water to cover bottom of pan but not touch artichokes. Cover. Bring to boil. Reduce to low heat. Steam for 55 minutes or until leaves pull away easily.
  7. Drizzle chokes lightly with oil every fifteen minutes while steaming.

Stewed Rhubarb

  • 2 lbs diced rhubarb (The French peel their rhubarb and asparagus. If you are expecting red rhubarb, don’t peel it.)
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3 cups cabernet sauvignon

Cook covered on low heat 1½ hours.

A dog friendly stay in Cape May that’s also people friendly

Bags are packed. We're ready to go!

When heading to Cape May for a great and dog-friendly vacation there are plenty of places to stay – as long as you plan in advance, as you should when traveling with your dog(s) anyway! Here’s a little help and direction on doggie stay etiquette and where you can reserve a doggie stay.

It’s important to PLAN AHEAD, first of all to insure that you have a place to stay which is dog friendly, and second to insure that they have availability. When traveling with your dog(s) you don’t want to take a chance on not being able to have a place to stay by not planning in advance. And, you NEVER want to leave your dog in the car, even at night without the sun! Temperatures can still rise to the point of discomfort and danger, and you don’t want your furry one(s) to be bitten by mosquitoes or other insects. Plus, the point of having your dog(s) with you is to have them WITH you, right?

Be sure to PACK for your dog(s), too! You’ll need to bring any medications; your dog’s special crate, bed, or blanket; bowls; food; treats; and water, in the event your dog may have stomach upset by a change in water. Cape May has great water, but better safe than sorry.

Bring some SHEETS OR BLANKETS TO COVER the bed and/or furniture so your dog(s) can jump up, and you can both be relaxed about your dog(s) furniture habits while in someone else’s home, not worrying about dog hair, dirt, etc.

While visiting Cape May, or any other area, KEEP YOUR DOG LEASHED and under control – it’s the law. Some people are frightened by dogs and some just don’t want to be intruded upon by a dog out of control or even a friendly one. Keeping your dog leashed and under control respects the space and privacy of others, and makes your dog(s) and you welcome back as great visitors.

And, of course, PICK UP after your dog(s) always!!!! You don’t want to leave those “packages” for someone else.

When looking into one of the several dog friendly places to stay in Cape May, be sure to CHECK ANY RULES/REGULATIONS that each facility may have, such as pet fees, pound/size limits, breed limits, number of dogs allowed, minimum stays, security deposits, etc. Again, better to be prepared than disappointed or surprised.


Billmae Cottage – 609-898-8558 –

Also have a whole house rental, all dog friendly!


Bluefish Inn – 609-884-4838

Madison Beach Club – 609-884-8266

Marquis de Lafayette – 609-884-3500

Palace Suites Hotel – 609-898-8100

Bed and Breakfast Inns

Highland House – 609-898-1198

Mason Cottage – 609-884-3358

Victorian Lace Inn – 609-884-1772

White Dove Cottage – 609-884-0613


Holly Shores – 609-886-1234

Whole House Rentals



Good Read Recommendation of the Month

Rin Tin Tin – The Life and the Legend by Susan Orlean.

The title speaks for itself and says it all. This is a powerful, poignant true story filled; after ten years of research; with humor, heart, and moments that will move you to tears. Lee Duncan, Rin Tin Tin’s master and friend believed the dog would live forever – there would always be a Rin Tin Tin!