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July 6, 2019 / bikesbytesbites

Cape May – Part 1

Background/Overview

Edith, a friend of my friend Anne, has volunteered for the Girls Friendly Society for years.  The GFS branch of Philadelphia owns Holiday House, a historic house in Cape May NJ that is open for the summer for GFS retreats. On weeks when no GFS activity is scheduled,  the  house is available to GFS volunteers and their friends, So Edith, Anne, Jean and I signed up for their special July 4th midweek stay.  

Sunday, June 30, 2019 – To Rehoboth Beach

My logistics are never simple. I discovered that an Oxon Hill Trail and Bike Club ride was scheduled to leave from Wayson’s Corner in southern Maryland early Sunday morning.  Driving to Wayson’s Corner (to do the bike ride) would only add 10 miles to my drive to Rehoboth Beach, where I was going to spend the night. It just meant getting up and out of the house at 7:30 rather than a few hours later.

Debbie had planned a lovely ride to the Chesapeake Bay, visiting Deale and North Beach. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t have time to do the whole ride and get to Rehoboth in time to explore the town a little in daylight. So I cut the ride short after seeing the waterfront in Deale. So, a nice 26-mile ride rather than the planned 44.

I made a slight detour into Milton DE for lunch. Milton is a little town, with most businesses closed on Sunday.

IMG_0411However, a restaurant was open, where I had an excellent lunch, read the Beach Paper, and discovered an o-l-d Hero bicycle made into furniture.  (The brand is part of the chain ring. How the bicycle got to Milton I’ll never know.)

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The Milton Theatre was also open, so I got to explore their reconstruction efforts; after the 1914 flood the place had been shuttered and fallen into disrepair. The reconstruction, and its use as an entertainment venue, has been going on for 20 years.

From Milton it was an easy drive to Rehoboth Beach. The only bike riding I did the rest of the day was back to the Summer Place Hotel from the parking spot 1/2 mile away (residential parking permit provided by the hotel).  I had time for a brief walk around Rehoboth  — very much a resort town, steeling itself for the July 4 weekend.

Monday, July 1 2019 – Rehoboth to Lewes to Cape May

This was my second trip from DC to a GFS weekend in Cape May. (The first was four or five years ago). So, it was also my second voyage on the Cape May-Lewes Ferry. I had forgotten that the ferry crossing has only been in existence since 1964. Both ferry boats (the Delaware and the New Jersey) dwarf the Staten Island ferry. The trip across Delaware Bay was uneventful, as was the drive from the Cape May ferry terminal (actually in North Cape May, north of the Cape May Canal) into Cape May.

Holiday House was as I remembered — a very spacious Victorian, dating to 1858.

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It is ideally located, an easy walk from both the beach and the historical center of Cape May.  The Cape May government has a parking policy that makes sense — street parking in this neighborhood is open to the public UNLESS a house doesn’t have its own driveway or parking area (not a prime selling point for houses built in the 19th century). In that case, the spot in front of the house is reserved for residents only.  

I got the bike out of the car and went for a short ride in town — to smell the ocean, feel the breezes, and get re(familiar) with the place.  

Tuesday, July 2 2019 – Cape May

Jean and I did a bike ride that was an exploration of Cape May Point, the Cape May Lighthouse, and West Cape May.

Our first stop was South Cape May Meadows.  There is no “South Cape May” — there used to be a town here that was washed away years ago. The area was reclaimed as a park run by the Nature Conservancy.  (Loved the green roof on this building.)

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South Cape May Meadows was where I learned about purple martins purple martins and the special nests made for them.  (Jean, my riding companion, was very knowledgeable about them.) There were more martins and many more nests at Cape May Point State Park.  The martins are very sociable and love to eat mosquitoes. The nests can be mechanically raised and lowered, both for monitoring during the season and cleaning during the off-season.  We saw a volunteer who built the nests at the park and was repairing one.  Some volunteers spent part of the morning banding more than 100 birds.

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On the shore near the lighthouse is the remains of a World Word II bunker, one of many reminders this weekend of how close WWII fighting got to the continental US.  

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We continued as far west as we could, to Sunset Beach and Cape May Point, then turned around, to return to West Cape May for lunch and some shopping.  Lunch at the Seaside Cheese Factory was an excellent gruyere and fig panini.  Jean didn’t find a T-shirt at the Flying Fish, but I did get a lovely pair and top.  Oops, I think this stop was on our way TO Cape May Point, but never mind. Also on the way out, we had intensively investigated the honey store, the Cape May Honey Farm — by “intensively” I mean sampling many of the flavors of honey available. Jean has recently become a beekeeper, and has three hives in her backyard. She was a wonderful source of information about apiaries and apiarists. A return trip is needed to buy some honey. The really local ones most intrigued my taste buds — Pine Barrens honey and cranberry honey.

I got back in time for a short trip to the beach, followed by dinner, followed by a short walk to the Washington Street pedestrian mall. Most people get around by bicycle and the city provides bike racks. Not high security, but they do the job.

IMG_0430A great way to spend a July day. 

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