Cape May Journal: July 18

Tomorrow we head back north, after a near-perfect seven days (upper 80s, light breeze, water temperature around 70°). I’m looking at the Atlantic as I write this, over our balcony, those sticking it out still on the beach (including my wife).

We visited the boardwalk at Wildwood while we were here, bordering almost a half-mile of white sand beach. (That’s the distance from the boardwalk to the ocean!) The boardwalk is two miles long, so we parked at one end and walked four miles (it used to be eight, since our kids would insist that we go up and back twice).

There were a lot of families out, but mostly buying hot dogs and pizza. The stores were mostly empty and even the more expensive rides were not heavily patronized. There are vacancies at virtually every motel and bed and breakfast, which is unusual in the middle of the summer. Wildwood is a very popular family destination, now way overbuilt with condo units, but with some of the finest beaches (along with Cape May) on the northern east coast.

It’s incredible how enduring the seaside ritual is. The Congress Hall, a sister property a block away of massive size, supported by faux Greek columns, has a sign announcing its privilege of catering to vacationers since 1816. That is not a misprint. I guess the original visitors came by coach and horse at a time when it took days just to go from one end of Manhattan to the other. (John Adams would habitually spend an uncomfortable month getting from Boston to Washington, which tells me he was using I-95, always a mistake.)

We’ll probably make next year’s reservations before we leave tomorrow. Despite the vacancy signs, I want to keep things just the way they are.

© Alan Weiss 2008. All rights reserved.


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