“I’m on my way… I’m on my way… home sweet home.”
With the lyrics of “Home Sweet Home” by 80’s rock supergroup Motley Crue running through my head, on Friday afternoon I left work a little early and headed south, back to New Jersey. Using some vacation time, I had planned a long weekend trip to visit with family and friends in the Garden State. In between spending time with loved ones, running errands, and making fun stops at old favorite places, were two critically important events: a belated Mother’s Day dinner and an early Father’s Day meal as well.
My weekend was jam-packed. Maintenance at my (now not so local) Honda dealer. A return to Cape May, New Jersey. An early Father’s Day dinner. A beautiful sunset. Running on the beach. A failed attempt at a Voyage of DH adventure (more on that below). Visits to some old favorite spots in Cape May. A (Belated) Mother’s Day Dinner. A visit to my old job to catch-up with former co-workers. And a return drive to Boston that felt like the Indianapolis 500. Rather than a detailed narrative, I thought for this post I would let the photographs tell the story (although please forgive the poor quality photos, as I only had my phone with me, having absentmindedly left my camera at home in Massachusetts).
This weekend’s adventure: from Boston to Cape May… about 400 miles each way.
The good ol’ New Jersey Turnpike. Despite how late in the afternoon I left the Boston area on Friday, I encountered remarkably little traffic the entire drive down to New Jersey. Even more impressive would be my return trip on Monday, when in a region known for congestion and traffic, I barely touched the brake pedal and flew up I-95 back to Boston in record time.
Saturday morning was a trip to Burns Honda in Marlton, New Jersey for a four-wheel alignment. My service advisor was surprised to see me, as he knew I had moved to Boston. He joked with me that they would need to create a “Most Dedicated Customer” award for me.
While waiting for my car’s service, I checked out this mint 1977 Honda Civic hatchback on the showroom floor. I hope in 40 years that DH is in as good of shape.
It is summer tourist season, which means it is time to eat at one of my family’s favorite restaurants: Menz, in Rio Grande, New Jersey.
Crab meat in lemon and butter.
Chopped sirloin with fried onions.
Barbecue salmon… my favorite.
I raced to my family’s shore house after dinner, and got home just in time for a beautiful sunset.
All that yummy food meant that Sunday morning was time for a run on the beach. A LONG run.
Dad had recommended that I visit Historic Cold Spring Village on Sunday morning. Cold Spring Village is a historical recreation of an 18th/19th century South Jersey town. Created by a husband and wife in 1973, Cold Spring Village is a recreation of life in South Jersey as it existed in the early 1800s. All of the buildings on site were built in the 1700s and 1800s- they were moved to this location 43 years ago.
I was thrilled to find that I was the first to arrive! I would have the entire village to myself!
There was a reason the parking lot was so empty: double-checking the village’s website on my phone, I realized that Cold Spring Village doesn’t officially open until June 17th… The Welcome Center was locked up tight.
Although the buildings were all closed, you are free to walk around the park at your leisure. This is the printer’s shop.
The wood worker’s shop.
An ice cream cone sounds terrific! Unless the ice cream shop doesn’t open for another two weeks… sigh.
Near the town jail were these prisoner stocks.
An actual one-room school house.
South Jersey is very rural. These roosters, not an uncommon sight in the area, were hanging out on the village green. When the white one in the foreground puffed up his feathers and moved toward me menacingly, I figured my visit to Historic Cold Spring Village was at an end.
Having struck out at Cold Spring Village, I decided instead to visit a few of my old haunts in Cape May. This is Fire Control Tower 23, which I climbed several months ago. Today, however, I had a very specific reason for my visit.
New Jersey residents who are US military veterans are eligible to have a bronze plaque with their name, branch, and dates of service installed along the staircase of the tower. For my parents’ Christmas gifts this year, I had purchased a plaque for each of their fathers. Both of my grandfathers had served in the Second World War, and I thought this a suitable way to honor them. The plaques were installed in April, and I wanted to see how they looked.
After finding the plaques (they came out wonderfully), the docent said, “Hey, since you bought the plaques, you can climb the tower for free. It’s absolutely beautiful up there.” Umm… have I mentioned my fear of heights before?
The docent was right… it WAS a beautiful day, and was well worth the terror-inducing climb. This photo is taken facing Sunset Beach, and the remains of the concrete ship are visible in the water off the beach.
Looking past the woods at the Cape May Lighthouse in the distance.
After descending the tower, I took a walk to Sunset Beach to check out the remains of the SS Atlantus, which I detailed in a previous post. The hulk of the ship continues to deteriorate.
And I even stopped by the Cape May Lighthouse as well. I was tempted to climb it, but after a 3 mile run on the beach that morning, and climbing the WWII Lookout Tower, my legs felt like they were ready to fall off. I settled for a quick photo instead.
Driving home on Sunday afternoon, I passed a sign for “ Natali Vineyards” on Route 47. Aside from a large wooden sign and a flag that reads “OPEN,” I knew nothing about this vineyard. Figuring there is always something new to see, I decided to head down this very narrow gravel road to check it out.
And it was as if I was transported to the Napa Valley. This section of South Jersey has seen a dramatic increase in vineyards in recent years, and the locally-produced wine is starting to attract national attention. Natali Vineyards has won over 80 medals in domestic and international competitions for their wines!
Award winning wine, produced right in South Jersey! According to the worker I spoke with, while much of the mid-Atlantic region of the US is terrible for wine production (too cold, humid, and rainy), the unique climate near Cape May, which is warmed by air currents from the Delaware Bay and the Atlantic Ocean, is ideal for growing grapes. I purchased a bottle of Chardonnay for an important event later that night…
…a belated Mother’s Day Dinner at Villa Barone, a wonderful Italian restaurant in Collingwood, NJ. After a delicious meal (crab meat, spinach and linguine for mom, lobster ravioli for me), we split a cannoli for dessert. As an FYI… the Chardonnay was terrific, too.
My friend Tyson is always on the lookout for odd road signs during his travels. Here you go, man… during my return trip today, on I-95 I passed a sign for Wyoming, Rhode Island.
Usually, for my last photo, I would have a picture of my odometer (83,519 when I arrived back in Boston). Instead, I’d like to call your attention to something. No, not the fuel gauge, although I will admit having over half a tank still remaining despite having driven for 315.5 miles is impressive. No, I’d like you to look at the exterior temperature gauge. It’s 54 degrees. In JUNE. On Sunday I was at the beach in shorts and t-shirt. One thing is for sure… I didn’t choose to live in Boston for the weather.
It was certainly an adventure-packed weekend. In case you are interested in exploring
Historic Cold Spring Village before I get a chance to return there, it is open during the summer weekends from June 17th until September 27th from 10:00 am – 4:30 pm. The cost of admission is $12 for adults, children 3-12 are $10, and children under 3 are free. I hope you enjoyed this whirlwind tour of South Jersey, and thanks for coming along on another Voyage of DH!
‘Til next time.