Shore to Please.

If readers of this blog know one thing, it is that I always enjoy a good trip to the beaches of New Jersey. From my home-away-from-home of Cape May, to fantastic vacations in Sea Isle City, to climbing a lighthouse in Atlantic City, to photographing wildlife in Sandy Hook, you can usually find my Honda Accord parked beside the ocean whenever the opportunity presents itself. Over the past week, my wife and I have squeezed in no fewer than three trips to the coastline, photographing birds in flight, enjoying great food, and watching spectacular sunsets. Throw in some automotive updates, a couple of cool stories, and a sneak preview of an upcoming road trip, and we might just have the makings of a fun bit of reading. Let’s begin!

Three Beaches in Seven Days

Raritan Bay Waterfront Park

Map of New Jersey, with highlighted locations of Raritan Bay Waterfront Park, Sandy Hook Beach, and Cape May.
Over the course of a week, we visited Raritan Bay Waterfront Park, Sandy Hook, and Cape May. Although we have been to all of these sites previously, it felt good to see them again – like visiting old friends.
Great Beds Light in Raritan Bay.
Readers of the blog may recognize Great Beds Light, a lighthouse in the middle of Raritan Bay, that we visited earlier this winter. Raritan Bay Waterfront Park, located in the town of South Amboy, offers a clear view of Great Beds.
American Oystercatcher along rocky coastline, with seagulls in water behind it.
Although the waterfront was filled with seagulls, we also spotted some American Oystercatchers pecking for food among the rocky coastline. With their distinctive orange beaks, they’re pretty easy to spot!
Two seagulls eating a fish in the surf, while another seagull watches.
We apparently came during these seagulls’ lunchtime. Anyone want to caption what the seagull in the back is thinking? Send your ideas my way!
Sandstorm covering roadway.
Over the past week, strong winds battered the northeast. During our drive back from the park, blowing sand turned the Garden State Parkway into a scene from Lawrence of Arabia.

Sandy Hook

Entrance to Sandy Hook park, with sign on right of road that says SANDY HOOK.
Readers of the blog will doubtlessly recognize the entrance to Sandy Hook at Gateway National Recreation Area!
Petrified tree laying on beach.
Arriving during the late afternoon hours of a weekday, we had the park mostly to ourselves. This dead tree seemed to encapsulate the solitude of the beach.
Wavy lines of sand, with water between them.
When we arrived at Sandy Hook, the tide was very low, exposing sections of beach that are usually underwater when we have visited in the past. These ripple lines in the sand, formed by the departing tides, looked like something from an alien planet.
Lean-to along beach.
One of the oddest things I’ve seen in recent memory – this driftwood lean-to that was built along the western shore of Sandy Hook. I’d love to uncover the mystery of who created this, and why!
Seagull in flight.
We originally came to Sandy Hook when we heard rumors that seals were congregating on the beaches. There were no seals to be found, so instead I spent some time photographing birds, including this seagull in flight.
Brant walking along surf.
This brant (a type of goose) was strutting his stuff in the surf.
American oystercatcher, in surf.
My favorite shots, though, were of this American oystercatcher, who posed for me for a solid five minutes.
American oystercatcher, in surf.
Seriously, it was like he was saying, “No, wait! Get my good side! Here, take another shot! No, hang on… okay, now another!” Fun fact: oystercatchers feed on shellfish found in tidal areas – they will spear their prey with their long, sharp beaks.
Glass bottle on wooden table.
As we were walking on the beach, my wife found this glass bottle in the sand. Picking it up, she noticed that it had a thicker feel than more modern glass bottles. The name on the bottle caught her eye: V. Loewer’s Gambrinus Brewery. We did some internet sleuthing and found out that the brewery was originally founded in 1868 and went out of business in 1948 (via oldbreweries.com). We also learned that Loewer’s Gambrinus printed the date of manufacture on the bottom of each of their bottles.
Bottom of glass bottle that reads 1925.
Turning the bottle over, we saw “1925” emblazoned on the back. How the nearly century-old bottle ended up along the shore of Sandy Hook in one piece is fascinating to ponder. Equally interesting is that this brewery was operating during the height of Prohibition in the United States. Cool stuff!

Cape May

A Cape May Sunset

View of tree-lined Route 347.
On a beautiful first day of Spring, we set off in the Accord for Cape May. Our drive was part an adventure that will be shared in my next post, as we explored a historical trail through New Jersey.
Sunset over beach in Cape May.
By the time we arrived, it was already late afternoon. We did manage to walk to the beach in time for sunset.
Silhouetted seagull in flight over ocean.
As we stood there, I thought to myself that it wasn’t the most spectacular sunset I’ve ever seen. Instead, I focused my attention on photographing the local wildlife.
Sunset over beach at low tide.
A moment before sunset, however, the colors dramatically changed. Add to it the textured sand of low tide, and I was thrilled with how this shot came out.

The Food

Plate with two crab cakes, baked potato, and roll, a glass of water, and a glass of wine.
And of course, what trip to Cape May is complete without some food photos? Dinner was from Fish & Fancy, a local seafood takeout spot that I’ve written of previously. I had the broiled crab cakes (pictured) while my wife dined on the seafood combination – grouper, scallops, and shrimp. As always, it was absolutely delicious.
Oreo cookie cupcake.
We had picked up dessert a little earlier in the day – this cookies and cream cupcake is from Bleu Bear Bakery in Haddonfield. Every single item at Bleu Bear is gluten free, and every single ingredient at Bleu Bear is certified gluten free, so anyone who must avoid gluten in their diet can safely indulge in these baked goods. How was the cupcake? Mmmm! Mmmm! Mmmm!
Exterior of Uncle Bill's Pancake House.
And what trip to Cape May would be complete without a stop at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House?
Pecan pancakes and bacon on a plate, with a glass of orange juice and a cup of cut bananas on table.
If you’re keeping score at home, I had the pecan pancakes and my wife had the gluten-free pecan pancakes. So good!
Exterior of Hawk Haven Winery.
We also discovered a new winery! During previous trips, we had seen signs for Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery. Originally a family farm dating back to the 1940s, the winery was established in 2007 by Todd Wuerker, grandson of the farm’s founder. The name is appropriate as well – we spotted a hawk nesting in a nearby tree as we walked into the winery.
Interior of Hawk Haven Winery, showing tables and bar.
We purchased a few bottles to try at home, but once the pandemic has lessened, we will definitely come back for a fun wine tasting. Can’t wait!
Brigantine Lighthouse.
We meandered our way home, and stopped briefly in the town of Brigantine, Atlantic City’s northern neighbor. There, we spotted this small lighthouse sitting in the middle of a traffic circle. Brigantine Lighthouse was built as a tourist attraction to help sell real estate on the island in the 1920s. During its time, it has served as a museum, the city police station, and a jail. Having been neglected over the years, in 1995 it was restored to its original state by volunteers. Pretty cool!
Car odometer reading 168311 TRIP A 371.1
We arrived safely at home, and along the way the Accord passed yet another milestone, breaking the 168,000 mark. Less than 32,000 miles until the big 200k. Onward!

Updates and Cool Stories.

Over the past few weeks, I have come across a few interesting stories I wanted to pass along. I have also given both my wife’s Jeep Grand Cherokee and my Accord a thorough spring cleaning. I wanted to share these, before closing with a preview of next week’s exciting post!

The first item is an article from the technology website Ars Technica, that tells of the C.R. Patterson & Sons, the first (and only) Black-owned automaker in United States history. Originally a blacksmith, Charles Richard Patterson used his engineering expertise to enter the market of motorized buggies, before transitioning into building cars. When the automobile market became oversaturated, he shifted his company into constructing buses. Although the company closed in 1939, it is a fascinating story. Patterson seemed like a force to be reckoned with – in the late 19th century, he filed suit against the local school district in order to allow his son to attend an all-white high school. I’d highly recommend giving the story a read.

As you may have seen in previous posts, I began learning how to use a drone to add to my photographic repertoire. For true mastery of drone flight, check out this amazing video from jaybyrdfilms, where in a single take, a drone flies through Bryant Lake Bowl & Theater in Minneapolis. It is well worth the minute and twenty-seven seconds to watch:

Some Automotive Updates:

White Jeep Grand Cherokee parked in lot in public park.
After a long, cold winter, I was finally able to give my wife’s Jeep Grand Cherokee a much needed wash and wax.
Interior of Jeep Grand Cherokee.
You’d be amazed how much dirt accumulates inside of a car during the winter. I spent hours bringing the Jeep back to “showroom fresh” status.
Two-frame photo: top is car headlight, surrounded by masking tape, looking cloudy. Bottom is same headlight, tape removed, and the lens is clear.
Next up was my 2012 Honda Accord. I began by using Meguiar’s Headlight Restoration Kit. Car headlights exposed to the elements can become cloudy and yellowed. A few hours of work, and the headlights look brand new once again!
2012 Honda Accord coupe, parked in publci park.
Detailing the Accord was a multi-day process. Before I could wax the car, I spent time touching up the paint, addressing nicks and chips that had developed during the winter.
Interior of 2012 Honda Accord coupe.
All that elbow grease paid off – I was pleased with how the results!

Some Cool News:

2012 Honda Accord, parked in front of Rite-Aid pharmacy.
My wife and I recently received the first doses of our COVID-19 vaccine. I’ve never been so happy to see a needle – hopefully, this marks the beginning of the end of the awfulness that has been the pandemic. I’m excited for the possibility of life returning to something approaching normal in the coming months.

Wrapping Up, and Looking Ahead

It was a fun week of beach trips, but there is more yet to share! As I alluded to earlier in the post, the trip to Cape May was actually part of a longer trip that my wife and I took this weekend, exploring a historical route through New Jersey. Next week’s post will detail this fun adventure, as we traversed the Women’s Heritage Trail. I’m excited to share that post, and the new sites we discovered in my home state.

Thanks for coming along on this journey to the coastline of New Jersey – I shore hope you enjoyed it!

‘Til next time.

4 thoughts on “Shore to Please.

  1. I’m loving all the bird pictures! Birds in flight, birds posing, birds giving side eye to their friends fighting over a fish-haha! I’m sure someone can come up with a great caption for that photo. And that bottle was such a neat find-and even cooler once you found out the history behind it. It looked like it was in great shape too. Also, I’m definitely putting that Bleu Bear Bakery on my list. That cupcake looked so good!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Glad you enjoyed it – this blog seems to be transforming from “road trips in my car” to “hey, look at that cool bird.” The bottle history was fun, and Bleu Bear is definitely a must stop destination. Thanks for reading!!

      Liked by 1 person

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