Cape May, New Jersey

So my wife and I are feeling a little anxious, and we finally booked a getaway trip to Cape May the other day. Since several plans fell through this year and we’ve resigned ourselves to staying local and just hanging out in the backyard. Those of you that have ever been to Cape May will understand the absolute charm the town has. My wife and I took the kids to Cape May winter before last. We stayed at Congress Hall. It’s the oldest seaside resort hotel in the United States. Built originally in 1816 then burnt down in 1878 when a massive fire destroyed 38 acres of seafront property in Cape May. Within a year, the hotel had been rebuilt with stone instead of wood. It became a popular destination with Presidents, including Benjamin Harrison, who conducted his state of affairs from the hotel. 

The town is quite charming and an excellent walking town. The Victorian houses along the center in the city have been beautifully restored and gleaming with character. One of my favorite things to do is so basic and yet very simple; to walk around cities and towns to absorb their personality and their people. Some of my favorite walking cities come to mind: Key West, Paris, Copenhagen, and Philadelphia. In case you didn’t notice by the list of cities I like diversity. Each town has it’s own charms and annoyances, but mostly I love people watching, and each of the cities offers its own character. While Paris is my favorite city it is so large that the last tour we took in August made my head spin. There are so many districts or arrondissements, each having its distinct eateries, shops, and art. Key West is one colossal walking outdoor party. Walking from bar to bar. The only place you can see trams, trolleys, trains, mopeds, cars, trucks, bicycles, pedestrians and list goes on all on extremely narrow streets. Copenhagen is quintessential Europe, with it’s colorful decorated narrow buildings and cobblestone streets with tourists. Philadelphia has a gritty East Coast feel but is very walkable and not a cavernous goliath like New York. I love Philadelphia because there’s history around every corner, and the sidewalks introduce themselves like old friends I haven’t met yet.  

Cape May is different, though, quiet (depending on what time of year), very friendly, windy, and very compact. To me, the centerpiece of the town is Congress Hall hotel. It’s massive, AND it’s yellow. When you walk its halls, you can feel the history. The front desk gives you an actual brass key. The hallway creaks as you walk periodically, and the immense detail that went into each room. I felt very drawn to this place for some reason and can’t wait to go back. What are your favorite cities? Let me know in the comments.

I need a break!

Gimme a break! I used to love that show. Don’t know what I’m talking about, don’t worry, I won’t go explaining here. Let me repeat that – Gimme a break! I realize in the context of what’s happening all around this country, this is the last thing I need to be complaining about, but I seriously need a destination vacation. I have no reason to travel this summer, and I have become sour on the future. But for now, I have to be content with where we are in life. I am eternally grateful every day that I’m in my current situation that I’m in. I have a beautiful family, a roof over my head and friends, and an extended family, food on my table, and a job- what more could this midwestern guy ask for? Which right now I can say is more than a lot of people in my country have. Amid this unprecedented situation, we currently find ourselves in a lot of people are out of work, probably close to being out of money and certainly running out of patience.

We in New Jersey have lost patience with staying indoors a while ago. As of this writing, the stay-at-home order has been lifted. But before that, most people were hitting the hiking trails or have just continued shopping in grocery stores. My day job is working at a wholesale club on the Jersey Shore, and I can confirm that people got a late start but are buying outdoor patio and seasonal items like CRAZY!

I can’t be too glum, my family has a Disney vacation planned during Halloween this year, but it seems like a long way away. Our April vacation to Tennessee was canceled. My son and I’s trip to Colorado with the Boy Scouts in July was also canceled. This has been the craziest year that anyone can remember with a desperate hope for the future. Unfortunately, things continue to get worse in our country, with a nit-wit dictatorial type President in the oval office. Our country’s flaws are laid bare by this virus for all the world to see. It’s painful to watch as other countries have come up with real solutions while our country has totally fumbled the coronavirus response.

In my opinion, we are regressing as a society instead of moving forward. I’ve read that Anthropologists say that it’s not one linear line to progress. Nations and societies regress and fall backward before moving forward again. We are definitely moving backward. For the last two weeks, I, along with the rest of the world, have watched the country rise up against brutal tactics of the police in minority communities. It’s both heartbreaking and encouraging to see so many people come together of all races and use their constitutional right to protest amid the coronavirus pandemic. Heartbreaking because we are still having major race issues in this country. Encouraging because people are willing to risk their health and lives to protest in large groups.

As for travel, I think that’s going to be out for most of us in the northeast. My brother and sister-in-law are going away for the night to Wildwood, New Jersey, and they have to bring their own sheets to sleep on. I don’t know how much we’re going to be able to do when we go to Disney for Halloween, but at least we’ll get out of town for a while. Travel is my favorite thing to do, and it’s all but squashed at every turn. Again this is where gratitude comes in to play. I am very thankful for the position we’re in, but this has got to change. I have a friend in Texas, and they opened their state up early, and now I’m reading they’re having a spike in cases of coronavirus. I know this is not going away until there’s a vaccine. Especially next winter things are going to be ugly. I’m not looking forward to this summer because of racial tensions in this country, and I’m sure as hell not looking forward to this winter because of the coronavirus.

I’m in no way a Debbie downer, but this current situation has me beat. I want to end on a positive note that there are sunnier days ahead and many trips for the future. I think we all need a little hope and inspiration right now. Think back to your last vacation while you were sipping a drink poolside or smoking a cigar with some friends in some sunny destination as the wind blew through the palm trees. Take care, my friends.