QUARANTINING IN OUR CARS

Barb and I have held on to our sanity (to some extent) by driving around on the weekends.  The Governor’s Executive Order 107 states: All New Jersey residents shall remain home or at their place of residence unless they are ….. which is followed by a long list of exceptions which included “engaging in outdoor activities with partners” and Barb and I are certainly in that category.  I admit to not having read the order before the fact; we just decided that if they wanted to put a couple of old geezers away for a while it would at least be different scenery than our apartments.

Here’s an example of the kind of bright, uplifting scene we encountered on our weekend wanderings.  It’s Cape May harbor.

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Over a nine weekend period we covered from Cape May along the Delaware Bay and River as far north as Easton, PA, and from the cape along the Atlantic as far north as Deal, further north in central Jersey, and lots of territory and destinations in between and beyond including even Bombay Hook National Wildlife Refuge in Delaware.  Here’s an idea of our travels (not suitable for navigation!)  If you’re trying to see this on your phone click on the image to see a full-sized version.

 

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We just drove and looked around and enjoyed.  We didn’t leave the car except once to pick up some meds at a CVS or to inspect a porta-potty on a construction site..  We packed sandwiches and water and aimed for waterfront scenes where we could park and enjoy our lunches.  Case in point:  the PNC parking lot in New Hope overlooking the Delaware River.

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On another weekend I wanted to return to Greenwich, an18th century customs port of entry into the U.S.  It had been a while which explains (duhhhh) why we wound up driving aimlessly around “the other” Greenwich which is near Paulsboro … not the same.  So, on yet another trip we found it south west of Bridgeton on the Cohansey River.  This is the real deal; the main street is still called “Ye Greate Street” and is lined with buildings from the 18th century.  There is also the headquarters of the Cumberland County Historical Society.

Also on the street is the Old Stone Tavern, built in 1726 by Captain Jacob Ware.  Since my mother’s cousin married Fred Ware in nearby Deerfield I figure I’m probably related by marriage to Jacob’s family.  I always find these things out after the property has slipped away.  Here it is:

Another worthwhile and photogenic site is the Greenwich Boat Works and Marina which includes a graveyard of old, discarded boats.  Among them I spotted a wooden yacht made, I think, by the long-gone Trumpy Boat Works of Annapolis, probably in the ’30s.

Sic transit gloria mundi.

Nearby, our charming (it was, once) lunch spot on the Cohansey River.

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Loving Cape May as we do we managed two day trips there…a long drive but so enjoyable driving around the town.  Regrets that we couldn’t stop and enter some favorite shops.  Our lunch spot?  Predictable: Sunset Beach, but a blustery day.

 

Still at the southern extremes of the state we discovered and toured Town Bank on another day trip.  In looking up some things on Google Maps I had noticed a large community layout on the Delaware Bay side of the cape.  Shazam; something to investigate.  It begins from the road that leads to the Lewes Ferry.  The road from there passes north along the bay through North Cape May, Town Bank, the Villas, and then past a number of beaches until ending at Bidwell Creek above Reed’s Beach.  Yup, another lunch spot and we smiled as we ate.

We were entertained by the cormorants just off the entrance to Bidwell Creek.  No social distancing here. On the north shore there were dozens more waiting for an empty piling.

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As seen on the map we also had some trips up north, typically to known scenic destinations.  A favorite is Ken Lockwood Gorge, beautiful though tough to navigate on a single lane road with limited parking.

And the nearby Red Mill at Clinton, NJ, an iconic destination with its red-painted mill building at a waterfall.  Almost everyone shoots the mill and the waterfall from the nearby bridge or the parking lot across the river.  This, however, is what I saw that day while sitting there and enjoying our lunch.

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It was a fun nine weekends during which we saw things we hadn’t seen before as well as old friend sites.  In addition to lunching by lakes, bays or oceans we also enjoyed just meandering through rural areas and farmland.  Route 9 in Delaware north from Bombay Hook is just such a gem…rural villages with periodic glimpses of the Delaware River heading north.  We exposed no one including ourselves but it was sure a good treatment for our heads.  A parting scene….magnificent cherry trees in the Washington Crossing Park.

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BE WELL!!!!

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CAPE MAY …… A WINTER GETAWAY??? YES!

 

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The past weekend featured the Winter Antique Show at Wheaton Village.  This has been an important destination of mine for years, offering among other things a chance to browse some high class Japanese Cloisonne from a favorite dealer, Arlene Rabin.  Well, she had some fine pieces but none came home with me.  We enjoyed the show, however, and also enjoyed browsing the nearby Gorham Paper Weight Shop which presents a broad array of glass art and not just paper weights.

The idea of driving an hour to Millville, however, prompted a thought: What else could we do having already driven that far?  The answer: Drive a little further and spend some time in Cape May.  In February, with temperatures in the 30’s?  Yes, and we had a great time.

First of all one thinks of Sunset Beach so after we checked in we had time to make sunset and we headed there.

It    was     coldddd!!!!!!

35 degrees and gusts to 35 mph.

My fingers ached, even with gloves, but we sacrifice for art.

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Yes, I’ve seen more thrilling sunsets but I like this one because of the chop and the sunset colors on the water.  For my camera colleagues, this was a tripod, live view setup.  I shot three images with different EV’s while focused on the rocks, and three more while focused on the middle ground waves.  I combined each set with Nik’s HDR and then blended the resulting two images in Photoshop.  (Interested in my photography?  See my eBook, “Shooting For Better Images” at http://www.BetterPix.net

tAnd all of this while trying to keep the brain and fingers working in the cold with Barbara keeping the car warm for recovery.  I also eagerly await having a print of this at a craft show and hearing someone say, “Oh, yeah, I’ve shot that scene a lot with my phone.”

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We enjoyed the evening in the Blue Pig restaurant in the two hundred year old Congress Hall.  So did a lot of others whether staying at the hotel or nearby.  Their Victorian richly toned Brown Room (the bar) was SRO both before and after dinner.  We were nursing the last of our wine in a corner of the restaurant waiting area when our wait-person discovered us sitting there lonely and shivering and conducted us to seats by the (real wood)  fire in the lobby where dinner and drinks could mellow.  You won’t find this at a Holiday Inn Express.

I enjoyed reading up on the history of the Hall, particularly to find that the present Managing Partner apprenticed years ago as a bellman, desk clerk, and whatever, and is now the successor in ownership to his grandfather.  In another version of six degrees his grandfather had been advised on structural integrity issues by Wilbur Widell, an industrial contractor whom I had known years ago when he was a neighbor of our late friends, the Byerlys, in Haddonfield.

The hotel has been preserved (and re-preserved for mega-bucks) and maintains its traditional 55 white columns around the building.  Herewith some of the columns and their distinctive capitals.  The gaslights are a fine feature of downtown Cape May.

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The next morning we opted to just drive lazily through Cape May.  The Victorian mansions along Beach Avenue are architecturally magnificent.  As a reflection of the times most are now bed and breakfasts.  Many along with most downtown motels and stores and eating places were closed for the season.  The scene befitting an overcast February day was a bit bleak.  Had we not enjoyed the previous evening’s crowd at the Hall I could have wondered about a Twilight Zone setting.  No beach badge checkers were on duty.

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Before leaving the city we did a little shopping along Washington Mall where a few favorite stores were open.  I restocked my Fralinger’s taffy and Bayard’s chocolates from a store that used to be the very fine Barry’s Men’s Shop where I bought an occasional summer sport coat in the 70’s.  The Whale’s Tail is another favorite and I also did some damage at the eclectic Across the Way.  One of my must-visit favorites is Swede Things which carries mostly Scandinavian gift ware.  They were still heavily stocked with Christmas kinds of things, ornaments, Swedish tchotchkes, and all kinds of glass.  These caught my camera’s eye:

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Congress Hall is owned by Cape Resorts and they have also developed other properties in Cape May.  We stopped in on the way home and found them to be on a par with the flair of the Hall.  One was the West End Auto Garage which has been converted to a multi-dealer craft and antiques shop, a fun stop.  The other is the 62 acre Beach Plum Farm which supplies produce and meats to Cape Resorts’ dining rooms downtown.  Breakfast and lunch are also served and there is a farm market store.

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At the Swede Things shop mentioned above I was taken by some glass craft art.  I photographed a couple of pieces which you can see on my Facebook Page and the more I looked at them the closer one came to going home.  Here it is:

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The artist, a west coaster named Zelda, paints the tree trunks on a pane of slightly hammered art glass.  Then she fuses the foliage pieces to the panel.  I’m sure this scene is a stand of birch on the edge of a Swedish forest, and I’m now enjoying it against a window in my garden room.

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Did we have a great winter getaway weekend?  You bet!

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A FALL NON-FOLIAGE WEEKEND

I wanted to get away to foliage country but I couldn’t get it together.  I dithered over a destination.  My photography colleague, Ken C., had kindly given me some itineraries for the Lake Placid area.  I was tempted but felt it was too far to go alone.  Next I thought about the gorges at Ithaca, NY but also ruled that out for the driving.  I even thought about Ricketts Glen;  I wouldn’t have climbed up very far because of my prior experience there.  As a last resort I decided to work the Catskills beginning with a Saturday major train collectors show in Kingston.  The welcome signs were out … for any other weekend.

So, bent and determined to get away for a couple days I returned to the shore.  I found that, as advertised, summer has definitely left, but there was lots to enjoy.  Friday night the skies were clear so I headed to the southern end of Long Beach Island to try and photograph the Milky Way.  The quarter moon made that difficult so I made some lemonade.  The moon’s sheen on Beach Haven inlet was beautiful.

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The Milky Way was there albeit dimmed by the moon and Casino City’s lights.  It’s still a sobering sight when developed.  It always makes me think of Dave Bowman’s exclamation as he flew his pod into the monolith (2001; in the book not the movie).  “My God!  It’s full of stars.”

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I was so pleased with my evening’s work that I set the alarm for sunrise.  Back at Holgate again, I was rewarded with great color although not much cloud structure nearby.  Another of life’s many, simple pleasures, shared with the gulls and four other early risers.  Two of them were from Easton, PA.  Wait, they’re supposed to be up there enjoying foliage.

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After breakfast I headed off to Cape May.  There I found fall foliage — if you’ll let me include Goldenrod.  Cape May enthusiasts will recognize this as Sunset Point with its concrete ship, the S. S. Atlantus.  Intended to be a part of a Lewes-Cape May ferry dock, it broke loose and grounded here in a 1926 storm.

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After lunching here in the wind I headed off to the light house area and the adjacent Wetlands State Natural Area.  There were more bird-watchers here than birds.  Lots of oooohs and aahhhs — “Look, there’s a Tennessee Warbler in the goldenrod.”  (What does a southern accent warble sound like?)  Thousands of dollars worth of telescopes and cameras with their stove-pipe long lenses.  I was delighted to find just a couple of Monarch Butterflys enjoying the goldenrod.

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I finished the day with a walk along one of the trails which brought me to the beach and some more beach fall foliage.

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The next morning I made a coffee and headed back to the beach for sunrise, this time at the Pearl Street pavilion in Beach Haven.  The sea was calm with small wavelets breaking within a few feet of the shore line.  It was chilly — about 40°, but absolutely awesome.  Looking left and right and seeing as far as the Revel casino (about 17 miles away as the gulls fly) I counted only six souls in view.

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After the sublime God beams, to Fred’s Diner for a perfect breakfast.  Then home, delighted with my non-foliage weekend.

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