Down By the Sea.

If you are from New Jersey, chances are you have spent a significant portion of your life on or near our state’s magnificent beaches. With over 130 miles of coastline, New Jersey is home to numerous seaside resort towns, from the gaudy gambling mecca of Atlantic City, to the fun-filled boardwalks of Wildwood and Seaside Heights, to the more rustic beaches of Cape May. As one of the smallest states in the union, the shore is a reasonable drive from any point in the state. 

After having avoided the crowds of the Jersey Shore this year, my wife and I decided to take a quick getaway to Cape May for a short weekend jaunt. We ate good food, took in amazing sunsets, and stumbled upon a hidden history lesson, all less than two hours from our front door!

After sharing our most recent tour of the southern New Jersey seaside, this post also has a beach trip further north, some automotive updates, and a fun feature about best practices for high mileage ownership.

And now, let’s go down the shore:

The Cape May Peninsula

Map of the Cape May Peninsula
The Cape May Peninsula juts out from the southern end of New Jersey, separating the Delaware Bay from the Atlantic Ocean. It is home to numerous coastal resort towns, including two of our destinations for this trip: Wildwood Crest and the city of Cape May.
Sandwiches in plastic containers on picnic table.
Departing for the shore mid-morning, we planned a picnic lunch at a park on the way. We stopped for sandwiches at Elsie’s Pickles, a restaurant in Haddon Township that specializes in gluten-free and sugar-free pickles! Sandwiches are served on a choice of gluten-free pretzel bread or pickle slices… you read that right, they use pickles as a bun! My wife ordered the Homage to Katz (left) – a turkey and corned beef reuben sandwich with slaw and Russian dressing on a gluten-free pretzel bun. I ordered The Jersey Devil – turkey, American cheese, sriracha mayo, and Flamin’ Hot Cheetos on a pickle bun! It was excellent, although my “pickle bun” made it a bit tricky to eat, and I ended up wearing quite a bit of the sriracha mayo afterward. Oh well.. at least I enjoyed myself (even if I needed a shower afterward!).
View of pathway through dunes to beach.
This view never gets old! After a two hour drive, we arrived at the beach. This was our first time back to the shore since our trip to Sea Isle City in June. The massive crowds that flocked to the NJ beach towns concerned us, especially given the lack of social distancing and mask wearing that we saw during our previous trip. Now that the peak summer season is over… it felt good to see the sea.
Flagpole in park.
While browsing online during our drive, my wife came across an interesting tidbit of history – the first battle of the Revolutionary War in New Jersey happened at the shore! After dropping our bags at my family’s beach house, we headed to the town of Wildwood Crest to learn more. Our GPS took us to this small park beside Sunset Lake on the western side of the island.
Marker for Turtle Gut Inlet in small park.
This area of Wildwood Crest was once an inlet known as Turtle Gut. The waterway has since been filled and reclaimed, but during Revolutionary War times, it was a waterway leading inland from the Atlantic Ocean. At the beginning of the war, British naval forces were blockading the Delaware Bay, which allowed access to the city of Philadelphia. The brigantine Nancy was attempting to bring much needed supplies to American forces when several British warships gave chase.  
The British prevented the Nancy from entering Delaware Bay, and the ship ran aground in thick fog on June 29, 1776. The British began shelling the grounded warship, while the crew of the Nancy moved their cargo ashore. The crew used one of the masts to create a fuse to the remaining gunpowder in the ship’s hold, and then evacuated to nearby American warships. The British, thinking they had captured the vessel, boarded just as the lit fuse reached the gunpowder, causing an explosion that was felt for miles. Approximately 25-30 British sailors were killed in the explosion. This marked the first naval victory in American history (via Wikipedia).
Gazebo on beach by Sunset Lake.
Turtle Gut Inlet was filled in 1922, creating a continuous stretch of property through Wildwood Crest. The only memorials to the battle are a few small markers in the park.
Panorama of Sunset Lake.
Despite living in New Jersey, I had no idea that the first battle of the Revolution in our state took place not in Trenton or Princeton, but at the Jersey Shore!
Sun setting over beach.
After a tasty dinner from Fish and Fancy, a local takeout-only seafood market, we made our way to the beach for the sunset.
Sunset over ocean.
Sunsets at the Jersey Shore are one of my favorite reasons to visit, and this one did not disappoint!
Exterior of Uncle Bill's Pancake House.
Longtime readers of this blog will know that when I’m down the shore, only one restaurant fills my breakfast desires: Uncle Bill’s Pancake House! Uncle Bills is a chain of six breakfast eateries located throughout the southern shores of New Jersey. My personal favorite is the location in North Cape May.
Plate with pancakes and bacon, glass of orange juice, and mug of coffee.
Although indoor dining has returned to New Jersey, my wife and I were happy to get takeout and bring it back to the house. We did snag some Uncle Bill’s placemats, however, to try to recreate the ambience of eating in the restaurant! I ordered the pecan pancakes and a side of bacon, and my wife enjoyed an order of the gluten-free pecan pancakes. It was excellent, as always!
Ship passing stone breakwater in Delaware Bay.
Before beginning our two hour drive home, we went for a quick walk at a park on the Delaware Bay, near the Cape May-Lewes Ferry Terminal. I’ve never seen the tide this high on the jetty before – tide levels were significantly higher from a hurricane that was brewing in the Atlantic.
Jetty protruding out into Delaware Bay.
For a sense of perspective, I went back into my photo archives and found a shot of the same jetty a few years ago, at what should be “high tide.”
Jetty extending out into Delaware Bay.
You can clearly see the difference in the tide levels!
View of beach and ocean.
After a last amble on the beach, it was time to begin the return journey. While our stay was short, It felt good to get back to Cape May, my second home.

Another Beach Getaway

Map of Sandy Hook Park at Gateway National Recreation Area, and surround areas of NJ and NY.
Several days later, we went back to the seaside to visit Sandy Hook – Gateway National Recreation Area in Highlands, NJ. Less than 45 minutes from our front door, Sandy Hook is an amazing spot to hike, smell the ocean air, and see all kinds of wildlife!
View of Atlantic Ocean from highway on Route 36.
My favorite part of the drive: at the end of Route 36, an overpass gives you a clear view of the Atlantic Ocean. This photo doesn’t do it justice!
2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee parked by dunes.
We decided to leave the Accord at home and give my wife’s Jeep Grand Cherokee some exercise. During the summer months there is a fee to park at Sandy Hook, but there is no entrance fee during the off-season. Although there were a large number of people in the park, for the most part, everyone kept a safe distance from one another.
Great blue heron in flight.
There were crowds of people in the areas of the beaches near the parking lots, but my wife and I hiked to more remote locations, where our only companions were the wildlife… such as this great blue heron. Have I mentioned how much I am enjoying the Canon 100-400mm zoom lens that I purchased this past spring?
Hawk perched on top of power pole.
Despite this power line being almost a quarter of a mile away, I was able to zoom in to see this falcon enjoying a midday snack of a small rodent (I’ll spare you the shots of it actually eating… yuck!).
Snowy egret on tree.
I’ve never seen an egret perched in a tree before.
Two crabs fighting over a shell.
My wife spotted this battle royale under the water… two crabs fighting over a shell. Property Wars, Crab Edition?
Blooming cactus.
This beach cactus, whose flowers were just blooming, made for an interesting subject.
Deer beneath tree branch.
This deer was so preoccupied with its afternoon snack of tree leaves and berries, that it allowed me to approach it and stand close to take these photos. I was less than ten feet away, and even the click-click-click of my camera’s shutter didn’t seem to bother it. After allowing me to photograph it for a solid five minutes, it finally sauntered off into the woods.
Bird perched on tree limb.
As my wife and I walked back to our car, we spotted this little guy perched atop a barren branch. Like the deer, he also allowed me to approach to within only a few feet so I could take photos. Eventually, he got bored with his portrait session and flew away. Now I’ll turn this question to the bird enthusiasts among my readers: what species of bird is this?
Car odometer reading 56480
Back home again! The Jeep is slowly approaching 57,000 miles, although my wife and I have a trip planned in the coming weeks that should put the Grand Cherokee well beyond that milestone. Stay tuned!

Automotive Updates A-Plenty

Over the past several weeks, there have been some significant automotive developments I wanted to share, including welcoming a new Honda owner to the fold, a couple of milestone achievements, and a fun feature that I finally was able to bring to fruition.

Welcome to the Family

2020 Honda CR-V Touring in Black.
I’d like to offer my hearty congratulations to my friends Jessie and Ryan. In addition to recently welcoming a two-legged addition to their family (congratulations!), they also added a new, four-wheeled member of the household… this gorgeous 2020 Honda CR-V Touring. It sure is pretty!


Steering Wheel and Dashboard of 2020 Honda CR-V
If you look closely, you can see the mileage… 000006. Even the “H” on the steering wheel is shiny and new! Congrats, Jessie and Ryan. Here’s to many miles of adventures in the years to come. And welcome to the Honda family!

Mileage Updates

Car odometer reading 160000 TRIP A 250.0
Back in February, I passed the 150,000 mile barrier. This past week I eclipsed another milestone with my 2012 Accord: 160,000. Only 40,000 miles to go to 200,000!
Car odometer reading 700000 TRIP A 290.0
While I’m proud of my 160k odometer, I’m nowhere near the distance driven by my friend Justin in his 2003 Honda Accord coupe. He recently broke the 700,000 mile mark… that is the same distance as a trip to the Moon, and a return to Earth, and almost back to the Moon again. Put it another way, that’s over 29 times around the Equator! In the words of Darth Vader: “Impressive. Most impressive.”


High Mileage Advice

My recent milestone inspired me to write a section on high mileage vehicle ownership that has long been on my mind. While some people might be tempted to trade in a car well before it reaches such mileage, others of us enjoy seeing how far our vehicles can go (and equally enjoy not having a car payment!). To that end, I’ve assembled a panel of high mileage experts to share some advice on how to keep your car on the road for many years and miles to come.

Q: What advice do you have for someone who wants to drive and maintain a car with high mileage?

Tyson, Drive to Five, owner of a collection of 1990’s-era Acuras, including his pride and joy, a 574,000-mile 1994 Acura Legend Coupe

  • Use factory replacement parts whenever available.
  • Be mindful of service intervals for oil changes and other maintenance items.
  • Follow conservative driving habits
  • Pay keen attention on catching leaks or trouble early – especially radiators and cooling systems
  • Along those lines: KNOW YOUR CAR.  If it smells, sounds, or drives weird = check it out.
1994 Acura Legend coupe in desert mist metallic.
Tyson’s 1994 Acura Legend, currently sitting at 574,000 miles.

Tim, The Open Road Ahead, 2012 Honda Accord V6 coupe with 160,000 miles

  • Keep your car looking nice. My philosophy is that if you let your car go – filled with trash, dirty, unwashed, unwaxed, and unloved – it’s a lot easier to start itching for something new.
  • Be gentle on your engine. Accelerate smoothly and try to avoid jackrabbit starts. Your car will thank you in the long run.
  • Don’t skimp on replacement parts. OEM/factory parts can be more expensive at first, but tend hold up much longer.
  • As Tyson said, know your car! Leaks, vibrations, and odd behavior should be investigated and repaired. Fix small issues before they become large problems!
2012 HondA Accord coupe beside Delaware Bay.
How do you keep an 8-year old car with 160,000 miles looking good? With a closet full of car care products from 3M and Meguiars!

Justin, 2003 Honda Accord V6 coupe with over 705,000 miles.

  • Check your fluids frequently.   I average 400+ miles per day most of the time.  I try to check my oil and coolant levels daily.  Don’t neglect and forget to change fluids like transmission, transfer case, and differential fluid as applicable.  There is no “lifetime” fluid no matter what the manufacturer tries to claim.
  • If something doesn’t look, sound, or feel right – investigate and fix it.  Neglected issues will get worse and can cause other problems. 
  • When you have a problem, look online at forums and YouTube to find out more info.  Even if you don’t plan on turning wrenches youself, knowledge will keep you from getting ripped off by a shop.
2003 Honda Accord coupe
If this drove past you on the highway, would you think it had over 700,000 miles on the odometer? To learn more about Justin’s Accord, you can read the writeup in a previous post.

Wrapping Up

There is something immensely calming and peaceful about spending time near the sea. The sound of the waves crashing along the beach, the sheer vastness of the ocean, and the smell of the seaside are nature’s great antidote for the stresses of life. Our trip to Cape May, and even the few hours spent in Sandy Hook, was a great break from the hustle and bustle of our everyday lives. Hopefully, if you should have an opportunity to visit the Jersey beaches, some of the places I mention in this blog will give you a great starting point for planning your trip.

Thanks, as always, for coming along on this journey down the open road ahead, and a special thank you to Justin and Tyson for lending their high mileage experience!

‘Til next time.

13 thoughts on “Down By the Sea.

  1. Interesting to see the comparo between low & high tides! Clever idea to take the menu from Uncle Bill’s home so you could get that “in-restaurant” feel during your meal. And, nice summary of high-mileage advice from all!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice pics as always. I learned something and now I’m hungry. Happens nearly every time I read your posts.

    The deer you were able to get close to reminded me of squirrels at my college campus. The squirrels weren’t hunted so they didn’t know to be scared of people. You could walk right by them and they wouldn’t change what they were doing.

    Odd that our country’s first Naval victory was from an abandoned ship ran aground. I didn’t know that. Our Navy was only about 9 months old at that time.

    Thanks for including Tyson and me in your updates. Congrats to your friends on their new additions and congrats on 160k for you.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. If I can make my readers hungry for good NJ dining experiences, that’s a job well done, I think! 😀

      I had no idea about the naval victory at Turtle Gut Inlet. Such a hidden, but important bit of history.

      Thanks for reading, and also, thanks for participating in the “high mileage advice panel.” Have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post! My mouth was watering with that gluten free pretzel bun and the gluten free pecan pancakes.

    You had some really beautiful shots. That sunset was incredible! I also love seeing the wildlife up close, especially that shot of the blue heron. And I definitely appreciate the car maintenance tips. Glad you had a great trip down to the shore!

    Liked by 1 person

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