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July 15, 2019 / bikesbytesbites

Cape May – Part 2

Wednesday, July 3 2019

This morning started with a run along Beach Ave. Yesterday at the Lighthouse Museum Store, I bought the booklet “Cape May Bike Tour”, published by the Mid-Atlantic Center for the Arts & Humanities. It highlighted many historical buildings. So the plan was to visit those, booklet in hand, the rest of the week.

IMG_0434Stopping at the houses featured in “Cape May Bike Tour” is not a very good training run, but an excellent chance to see the neighborhood and to realize how little I  know about 19th and early 20th century architecture — Cape May had its first tourist boom in the 1830s (!!) and the oldest buildings, those that weren’t destroyed in a later fire, date to then. It was popular until the end of the century, hence the Victorian architecture, when Atlantic City started to overtake it in popularity.

Today was the day for a “long” bicycle ride.  But that happened AFTER a visit to Swain’s Hardware Store (established 1896) and the clothing consignment store. The goal was to explore West and North Cape May and visit the Aviation Museum and Cold Spring Village. The goal was a bit unrealistic, given my late starting time and the fact that I wanted to get to the beach this afternoon.

West and North Cape May are a fascinating mix of nature preserves, farms, and suburbs that look like they date to the 1950’s –  1960’s (split levels and ranch houses that reminded me of a development near my house in central NJ dating from that time period.) This neighborhood provided a good alternative to continuing on a county route.  Another highlight – two men restoring an old church which was moved to a spot just north of the Cape May Canal .


The highlight was the Naval Air Station (Wildwood) Aviation Museum, built in Hangar 1 of what started life as Naval Air Station Wildwood, where aviators were trained from 1943 through 1945 for air combat and landing on air craft carriers. 


After the war, the building housed various other ventures, including South Jersey Airlines (!!), until it fell into disrepair, from which it was rescued starting in the 70s. This was the closest I had ever gotten to airplanes — the teensy (relatively speaking) ones from WWI through a MiG!  Worth a visit and the price of admission.

IMG_0451A return trip is needed to spend more time in the Aviation Museum and to visit the Forgotten Warriors Vietnam War Museum across the street.

On the way home I discovered the Cold Spring Bikepath, which parallels Route 9.

IMG_0459As per its name, it goes right by Cold Spring Village, a collection of  historic buildings moved to the spot fairly recently — kind of like Wiliamsburg. I looked around, and that was enough. However, I did miss the Brick Church, twin to the church I saw being restored/converted into a residence earlier today.

There are only 3 miles of bikepath and then you have to finagle your way through a traffic-ey intersection to get back to Cape May. However, the bikepath will (sometime soon?) be part of the Cape May County Bikeway, which will extend through the county.

Tonight was our celebration night, to eat dinner out. There are lots of places to choose from — we chose the early bird prix fixe dinner at the Merion Inn, which was excellent. 

Thursday, July 4 2019 – Cape May to Rio Grande

The ride I set out to do today was to Starbucks, in Rio Grande. That would allow me to get a little farther north in Cape May county and to return to the city via the ocean route through the Wildwoods. I consulted “The Cape May Shoreline Route”, which I picked up from the Village Bikes, the bike store/rental near the bus terminal/old railway station.

The route out of town duplicated routes I’d previously ridden — there are only three ways to get across the Cape May Canal and I was saving one of them for the return trip. I got to new roads once I passed Cold Spring Village and also found a new bike bike path — the Middle Borough Bike Path, which goes north from the Cold Spring Bike Path.  Some of the agriculture I passed included vineyards — the oldest vineyard in NJ is near here somewhere.


The bikeway ends a little before Rio Grande so, once again, I zigged through a 60s-70s neighborhood to get most of the way to Starbucks, where I drank an iced Americano and bought some decaff instant Italian roast to replenish my stock. 

The way east, to the ocean, was on state route 47, a major road but with a nice shoulder marked as a bike path.  This being the July 4th weekend, I was moving faster than the car traffic, until we got over the bridge over the Intracoastal and into Wildwood.  The part of Cape May just south of Wildwood is industrial and commercial.  Good to see that Bumble Bee Foods still has a manufacturing plant (and fishery?) here.


There’s a toll bridge to get back to the mainland, but bikes aren’t charged. I headed to the honey store, to buy some Pine Barrens honey, then to the cheese store, where I picked up a local newspaper that is very New Jersey.


Then to the beach, for the first time today.  We returned to the beach later that night to watch the fireworks — fired from a barge in the ocean just offshore from the Convention Center.  Happy Independence Day!

Friday, July 5 2019  – Ferry, then to Annapolis and Home

Not much to report.  We said goodbye to each other and to Holiday House.

There is free long-term parking for cars at the ferry terminals. Next trip, I might just leave the car in the lot at Lewes and bicycle from the terminal in Cape May to my destination — I didn’t drive the car once I got to Cape May anyhow.

July 4th weekend traffic slowed down progress, but I made it to Annapolis and then home safe. 




One Comment

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  1. Mark Plaut / Jul 17 2019 5:12 pm

    It sounds like you had a great trip. I have only a few memories of the trip we did there in 2004, but it sounds like the area is much more bike friendly and has a few more points of interest to visit now. Though I’ve driven through Cape May a couple of times since then (and maybe even spent an impromptu night), it might be a good place to revisit in the next year or two.

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