After a bit of a hiatus, it’s great to be back at the blog! Over the past month-and-a-half, I have had plenty of non-road trip adventures to keep me busy – a new job, planning for a move to a new home, and visits to family have occupied much of my free time. However, during all of that, my wife and I managed to sneak in not one, and not two, but three trips to the New Jersey shore. Two visits to Cape May, with a visit in between to Asbury Park, kept our batteries recharged (and my car’s floor mats filled with sand).
So come along, then, on a three-for-one Jersey shore adventure!
Cape May, Asbury Park, and Cape May
Trip One: Cape May
Our first of two adventures to the historic seaside town of Cape May, New Jersey, happened during the first weekend of October.
On our way to the shore, my wife and I stopped by Haddon Township to take my Mom to lunch at The Pour House, an excellent bar and grill.
While I demolished a short rib grilled cheese sandwich and my wife dined on a Zippy Chicken sandwich (no bun), my Mom had the best meal of the day – an order of ahi tuna poke tacos. We had a wonderful time, and this was also my Mom’s first meal out at a restaurant since the pandemic began – we were thrilled she chose to dine out with us!
After lunch, we departed for the shore. Along the way, my Accord crossed yet another milestone!
We stopped by the South Cape May Meadows, and found that this protected marshland, usually brimming with wildlife, was nearly devoid of any animal activity. A short-billed dowitcher was one of only a handful of birds in the marshes.
The biggest excitement was watching this muskrat building its nest for the winter along the banks of a pond. It was a slow day at the meadows!
After returning from our hike, we grabbed dinner at Fish and Fancy, a local seafood takeout spot that my wife and I enjoy. My wife dined on flounder, while I devoured a order of grilled shrimp and scallops – so good!
After dinner, we walked down to the beach to catch the last moments of daylight. Autumn sunsets at the Jersey shore are simply fantastic!
The next morning, we headed to an old favorite – Uncle Bill’s Pancake House! For the past two years, our trips to Cape May included takeout breakfasts from Uncle Bill’s, but this was our first time eating in the restaurant since 2020. It felt great to be back.
While my wife enjoyed a fried egg with gluten free toast and home fries, I decided to shake it up and order a waffle instead (which was tasty and filling!). No burger at The Pour House, no crab cake dinner at Fish and Fancy, and no pancakes at Uncle Bill’s? Had I taken leave of my sense? Nah… sometimes, even a guy who loves his routines has to shake it up a bit.
After breakfast, it was time for an impromptu glamour shot of the Accord before heading home. It was a quick trip to the shore, but we greatly enjoyed our brief return to the beach! Trip Two: Asbury Park
The following weekend, we took a jaunt to another old favorite: Asbury Park.
Departing at 6:45 am, temperatures were only in the mid-40s, and for the first time this year, the seat heaters were turned on… a sign of winter’s impending arrival!
Why did we get on the road so early? Our favorite breakfast spot in Asbury is Toast City Diner, and we’ve found that if we arrive right as the restaurant opens, we have the place basically to ourselves.
The reward for waking up so early? Freshly-brewed coffee! Toast’s full-service coffee bar features cappuccinos, lattes, French press, and espresso… and their regular coffee is pretty good, too!
Toast offers excellent gluten-free pancake and waffle options. My wife enjoyed an order of gluten-free pancakes, while I dined on a gluten-free waffle. Toast’s gluten-free waffles are not just good for being gluten-free, they are good, period. This is the best Belgian waffle I have ever tasted.
After breakfast, we headed toward the beach for a walk along the boardwalk. First, however, I stopped for my mandatory souvenir photo in front of The Stone Pony, a music venue that has hosted acts such as Bruce Springsteen, Bon Jovi, The Ramones, and Billy Idol.
Having parked the car, we first took a stroll down to the remains of the Asbury Park casino to check out the newest artwork installations.
We then walked down the boardwalk, ending up at Asbury Park Convention Hall. Bonus point to whichever reader knows the correct quote from The Sopranos for this location! We enjoyed our morning in Asbury Park… but we still had one more Jersey shore trip to go! Trip Three: Cape May (Again).
The following weekend, my wife and I left work early on a Friday afternoon and headed down to Cape May once again. Instead of a rushed trip, however, we planned to spend the entire weekend at the beach! Although we fought through obnoxious traffic for most of the drive, as we neared Cape May, the roads emptied and we sailed through the last half hour without seeing hardly any other drivers.
We arrived in time for sunset. After several powerful storms ripped through our area, it was astounding to see the level of damage to the dunes – the dunes formerly extended several yards further toward the sea. They did their job, though, helping to prevent flooding of the adjacent neighborhood.
After inspecting the dunes, I turned my attention to a gorgeous sunset!
The next morning, it was time for breakfast, and when in Cape May, there is only one choice! My wife and I are typically early risers, and so my Accord was the first car in the Uncle Bill’s parking lot!
After breakfast, we headed a few miles north to the town of Stone Harbor, to visit the Wetlands Institute, one of our favorite spots for enjoying nature and wildlife at the shore.
As opposed to our visit to the South Cape May Meadows a few weeks before, the Wetlands Institute was teeming with creatures great and small.
Speaking of small creatures, a monarch butterfly landed only a few feet from where I was standing.
As we stood beside a channel that runs through the wetlands, I spotted the moon looming overhead.
The highlight of our hike, though, was spotting this tricolored heron looking for food.
It was fascinating to watch the heron as it moved to and fro, searching for its next meal. Fish, amphibians, worms, spiders, and reptiles are among the favored meals of these aquatic predators (via Wikipedia).
I stood as still as possible, patiently waiting for the heron to do something dramatic – like take flight!
I absolutely love this shot!
As we headed back to the car, we caught this northern mockingbird keeping an eye on us.
“Want to go check out a small park nearby?” my wife asked after glancing at the map. Carol Nicoletta Park, in nearby Cape May Courthouse, sits on the edge of the wetlands. Arriving mid-morning, the only other people there were a few guys trying their luck at fishing.
The park is a favorite local spot for fishing – an Eagle Scout even constructed this cleaning sink for people who want to debone and fillet their freshly caught fish!
Seagulls aplenty lined the railings of the pier, squawking at us in annoyance as we walked by.
While most of the seagulls flew away en masse at our approach, this guy stood tall and let us know that while we were only visiting, he ran the place.
A little later, we drove over to Hawk Haven Vineyard & Winery to relax and enjoy a beautiful October afternoon. That’ll be a glass of sparkling rose for my wife (left) and a glass of Chardonnay for me (right).
Our next stop was to downtown Cape May and a walk through the Washington Square Mall. Established in 1971, the city of Cape May repurposed rows of historic Victorian buildings to create Washington Square, a pedestrian-only shopping, dining, and entertainment district (via capemay.com). It’s a beautiful place for a walk!
We stopped for an early dinner at the Cape May Fish Market, one of our newest local favorite restaurants.
My wife started with a side salad appetizer, while I dove straight into a cup of New England clam chowder. I would put Cape May Fish Market’s clam chowder up against anything that I’ve tasted in New England, including my beloved Legal Sea Foods.
The main event! While Eventide Oyster Co in Maine set the bar for lobster roll excellence during our trip to New England this past March, Cape May Fish Market’s hot lobster roll, sautéed in butter and served on a roll coated with sea salt, is simply divine. Even more exciting is the gluten-free lobster roll that allows my wife to enjoy the seafood decadence along with me. So, so, so good!
After dinner, we headed back to the house and walked down to the beach in time for another gorgeous sunset!
Good night, Cape May!
The following morning, we packed up the Accord and began the drive home. Encountering little traffic, we were back in our driveway in a little over two hours.
Once again, the Accord was flawless on another long drive, transporting us comfortably for over three hundred miles of driving. 206,000 miles is just ahead on the horizon… only 94,000 miles to the big 300k!! Odds and Ends
Before closing, I wanted to offer some automotive updates from near and far, along with a sneak preview of an upcoming road trip!
After a long weekend of travels, the Accord was due for a good cleaning. A thorough wash and wax made it look showroom fresh once again.
The interior also got some attention, as I went through it with Meguiar’s Quik Interior Detailer and Meguiar’s Gold Class Leather Conditioner. Despite being ten years old, and with nearly 206,000 miles on the odometer, the old girl still shines up well.
Meanwhile, Grace, my wife’s 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee, also received some TLC. We’ll be taking Grace on a road trip to a familiar destination in northern New York next weekend. Hopefully, we’ll be in time to catch the last of the fall colors… stay tuned!
Finally, my friend Justin’s quest for a million miles in his 2003 Honda Accord continues… he has passed the 950,000 mile mark and has begun his final push toward a million. C’mon, Justin, you’ve got this! Wrapping Up
After not posting anything since
meeting up with a group of friends in early September, it felt good to write this post and share some of our recent journeys. It was great to get back to the shore, especially since the summer tourist season has ended and the beach towns begin to settle into the off-season. Fall at the beach is my favorite time of year, and I am glad to be able to share a little bit of it with you here!
Thanks, as always, for coming along on another journey down the open road ahead!
‘Til next time.