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Month: July 2015

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.

Connect with Rachel on Twitter @capemayrachel.


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.

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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.