One last day here with a great weather forecast – how to use it to best advantage? We’d thought of heading out to the Jersey Shore, but were a little wary. After all, we didn’t want to rubberneck on the aftermath of Sandy and we weren’t too sure which particular areas were out of action still. We chanced upon some local knowledge in the lift up to the top of City Hall, however, because our companions there knew exactly what’s what. Their recommendation was clear – head for Cape May and lunch at the Blue Pig.
We needed no further persuasion.
We packed our bags and checked out early, hoping to miss the worst of the traffic, though well aware that our flight wasn’t till 10pm and we had a whole day at our disposal. Over the bridge into New Jersey, then, with plans to combine two of the suggested routes in our book.
Heading east, we could explore a little of the Pine Barrens, summarised nicely as “Ghost Towns and Cranberry Bogs”, then turn south and head for “Victoriana by the Sea” towards lunchtime. Sounded like a very good plan.
The roads through the pines were empty and pretty featureless – except for the pines, of course. From time to time, we passed a shooting party and I think we passed a correctional facility (aka prison), but otherwise, there was just the odd home amongst the trees. We both felt that we’d find it creepy to live way out here, in the middle of nowhere, and the thought of a preponderance of guns around and about wouldn’t necessarily ease the mind, either. But as always, it’s interesting to see a different landscape and to imagine what life would be like here even if it wouldn’t seem to be our cup of tea.
Before long, we checked the “cranberry bog” off the agenda. A huge Ocean Spray processing plant was there amongst the fields and the smaller, pale coloured buildings were dotted across a large pinkish coloured open space.
We soon spotted the ghost town too, and pulled into the visitor centre car park feeling ready to stretch our legs. Batsto village had been the centre for processing “bog ore”, we read, but apart from that, we knew nothing.
But three members of delightfully friendly State Park staff awaited our arrival and sprang to get things started for us – including a short film about Batsto and its history. We had the whole place to ourselves and enjoyed learning a little about a place we’d never even heard of until about an hour ago.
We enjoyed a stroll around the site, making the most of the incredibly mild weather – 70F again today. We peered inside a couple of the buildings and walked past the front door of the Mansion.
It was open….but did we dare go in? What do you think?!
On then, along the river and past some beautiful homes with private boat docks and lavish grounds. Not my kind of place, though.
Past a road sign for one of my friends…I wonder what business she has here?
But I was concentrating. With a map and guidebook on my knee, my camera in my hand too, I noticed that my feet were in a puddle of water – drips were coming from somewhere way back under the dashboard, probably condensation or something from the air conditioning unit? Who knows? Nevertheless, just one more thing to keep an eye on.
Anyway, we were heading for Cape May, way down there on the tip of the peninsula, and the satnav estimated our arrival at 12.30. Perfect. I was getting hungry.
Sure enough, we arrived in perfect time for lunch. The Blue Pig was the tavern in the grand old Congress Hall hotel and we headed straight for it – thinking we’d look around later.
Haddock and Chips were delicious and hit the spot. We chatted to the staff and learned a little about the place as well as admiring the ambiance. Great recommendation – how sorry we were that we failed to get the names of the people who recommended it, so that we could thank them.
Certainly no attention needed to be directed since everything met our requirements perfectly!
A brisk walk along the seafront is the perfect way to recover from a fish and chip lunch, so off we went, enjoying the fresh air and admiring the fine Victorian villas along the road.
Very highly coloured, but seaside places suit such decor, don’t they? Though the town was empty this lunchtime, we imagine it to be a bustling place in the summer and were pleased to be able to see it just like this – sleepy in the sunshine.
Some of the houses were tastefully decorated for Christmas and as we drove along the seashore to make our way back through the other coastal towns we enjoyed gawping at the huge homes along the water side
Each small town had its own character – Cape May was Victoriana through and through.
Whereas Wildwoods had a distinct 50s vibe going on, with motels with names like “Coconut Cove” and “Paradise Ocean”.
Out of season, it was hard to imagine what a buzz there must be in the summer!
Driving along towards Stone Harbor and Avalon was the first time we noticed anything amiss, though. But suddenly, the road was closed and we could go no further. Whether this was as a result of ordinary, everyday road construction or whether all that sand had come from the ocean, who knows. The young man in the Blue Pig had told us how Cape May has escaped damage from Sandy, but that just ten miles up the road, there had been considerable damage.
Whatever. We decided to call it a day and to head inland, back towards the city and eventually, the airport.
One more bridge over onto the mainland again and we were on our way. Time for me to concentrate again, to keep my feet dry and to think about going home. We’ve had a great time here, have filled four days with such a huge range of activity and can add another corner of this vast country to our list.
Oh, just one more thing. On Saturday morning, whilst buying something in the drugstore opposite the hotel, we spotted this magazine. Hah, we said. Poor woman. How many times must she have to read such things? But we supposed, at some point or other, one of them will be correct…