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Month: July 2015

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, 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.

Connect with Rachel on Twitter @capemayrachel.

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.


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!


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.