Cape May, New Jersey part 2

As I stated in my previous post, my wife and I were anxious to leave town for a couple of days. I have a week off in July but didn’t want to wait that long, especially since I had three days off two weeks in a row in June. So after work on Wednesday, we took off to Atlantic City where our hotel was. We stayed in an old historic hotel called the Claridge. It has seen the likes of Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, and several famous gangsters of the early 20th century. I believe the Claridge was the only hotel open until July 2nd when all the other casinos open. We had stayed there one additional time and enjoyed it. I have to say I really wanted to stay in Cape May, but we just DIDN’T want to afford it. We stayed in Atlantic City for two nights for half the price of one night in Cape May at Congress Hall. I asked my wife if there was another hotel/motel in Cape May, and she said none that she wanted to stay at. It’s summer here, so all of the places are charging much higher rates than they do the rest of the year.

Harry’s Oyster Bar

We got to Atlantic City just before dinner time, and with everything else closed and nothing to do and Cape May around 45 minutes away, we decided to walk the boardwalk in search of food. There were all sorts of local pizza joints, greek, and Mexican food available. We wanted a sit-down place when we came upon Rainforest Cafe my wife wanted to go in. The front entrance was very chaotic, and people were standing around, and I wasn’t sure what the heck was going on. Do you walk in the front entrance, or was that just for the gift shop? There was an outdoor seating area, but the employee who was there kept disappearing. So we decided to leave. On the walk down to Rainforest Cafe, we saw Harry’s Oyster Bar. We had eaten there before, and I remembered eating there with some close friends when they came out to Jersey several years ago. It was delicious but could get a little pricey, mainly because it was seafood. Even on the Jersey Shore, seafood can be expensive. The only place on the East coast I’ve been to where seafood wasn’t expensive was a seasonal place right on the water Long Island, New York.

I had a local take me there, and it was the opposite of fancy, but the owner caught all the seafood that day. When we got to the hostess at Harry’s, she asked us if we had reservations. We didn’t and weren’t able to get seated for an hour, which put us at 7:15 pm. However, she convinced us to sit in the Adirondack chairs by the stage where a two-man band played 70’s and 80’s hits. They were quite good, and we decided to wait. I got us all drinks: the kids had Shirley Temple’s, my wife a water, and I had a Bahama Mama. At Harry’s, the servers are all wearing masks and gloves while the seating is outdoors; you don’t have to wear a mask, obviously while you’re eating. Currently, in New Jersey, eating at indoor restaurants is prohibited due to COVID-19. All the tables were 6- foot distance, and the menus were disposable. I ordered another Bahama Mama with dinner, and I was feeling relaxed. In case you never knew the ingredients in it, a Bahama Mama has 151 proof rum in it, along with several other rums (and there are several different recipes). It’s a good time for sure. It wasn’t a strong as the homemade one I had on a local beach in Nassau, but it did the trick.

Uncle Bill’s Pancake House

After sleeping in a little we headed out to Cape May. We decided to eat breakfast at Uncle Bill’s Pancake House which we had eaten there before, but my wife decided to try it again. We got there at about 9:30 or 10 am. and only waited 5 minutes or less. They had fashioned part of their already cramped parking lot out of an outdoor eating area under a huge pop-up tent. It is a typical waffle house, nothing special, but very good for what it is and at a great price. We parked on the street, right in front of Uncle Bill’s. It was an ideal location right on Beach Boulevard but it was metered, so I had to keep an eye on it every couple of hours. After breakfast, we decided we would try and rent bicycles to pedal around town. We decided to walk Washington Street Mall but happened upon a bike shop that was closer than the one we had called sitting at breakfast. It was Congress Hall’s bike shop. Funny enough, it didn’t have any single bikes available to rent, and my wife wanted to rent a 4-person bike/surrey anyway. So that is what we got. After an hour we were pooped which turned out to be great because that’s all they would allow you to rent them for. We had a map, and it guided you on which streets were safe and which roads you should avoid. We pedaled all-around town, even stopping to buy some kettle corn.

Afterward, we walked up and down the Washington Street Mall. It’s a pedestrian street lined with local shops of all kinds. It was getting on to be lunch, and we decided on a place called the Mad Batter, which is attached to the Carroll Villa Hotel. It also had outdoor dining but on a screened-in porch. I had a delicious blackened fish sandwich, and my wife had a turkey sandwich with raspberry jelly, brie, sprouts, and seasoned cream cheese. According to my wife, it was incredible. We walked back to the truck and headed out of town to see the Cape May lighthouse. It was getting ready to rain, and we didn’t want to get caught walking in it. My son and I got out and took a few pictures, but the girls didn’t want to go to the top, plus it was $10 bucks a person. We retired early after walking on the boardwalk in Atlantic City to find food, nothing exciting we just ate a couple of slices of pizza. The next day my wife asked me to go back to Uncle Bill’s in Cape May, so I thought, “why not.” I had the entire day off, and we didn’t have any plans. We drove 45 minutes south to Cape May and ate breakfast at Uncle Bill’s then headed back north to go home. Besides, there weren’t any breakfast places to eat in Atlantic City. We mainly went to Cape May/Atlantic City to get away and not have to cook and clean for two days. It may sound silly to some, but it’s the reality for us right now.
Overall it was a success, I got to catch up on some sleep and everyone got some together time.

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.

To travel or not to travel- Coronavirus

I started writing this blog post 2 days ago and meant to finish it before all hell broke loose. Apparently, I’m a little too late. I just came back from work where I was awestruck at the destruction of the Club I work. My 9 to 5 job is a forklift driver and bakery clerk at BJ’s Wholesale Club in South Central New Jersey. My co-worker sent me a text yesterday, alluding to how busy we were, and she shot me a picture. It was a picture looking out from the bakery to a line of customers that wrapped around our tables. This picture included our completely bare bread racks. People started panic buying Thursday at my store and have continued through today, Friday the 13th. It was absolute mayhem. With that in mind, I wrote the following a couple of days ago.

I’m just an individual with no specialized degrees or special qualifications to espouse advice on this subject. However, I think people need to hear how other people are handling the crisis and to state some facts. Make no bones about it, it is a crisis, or soon will be. The only reason we haven’t seen more cases of COVID-19 in the US is that there hasn’t been the level of testing that there has been in South Korea or the United Kingdom. South Korea was testing upwards of 10,000 a day, and the UK is testing around four thousand a day.

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) in the beginning insisted on developing their own kits, instead of adopting those provided by the World Health Organization. So they lost out on precious time and to get ahead of this virus. The President’s response is best described as malevolence tempered with incompetence. Instead of letting the experts, i.e., Doctors and Scientists, take the lead, our President has pushed himself and his V.P., both politicians, to take the lead on the response. This tactic is dangerous at best and irresponsible at worst.
At this point, our country is not prepared for this crisis. As of Tuesday, around 4300 people have been tested according to the Atlantic magazine and their independent team that’s studied each state’s reported numbers.

According to Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the federal government may have finally ironed out the difficulties: He announced on March 8 that “around 4million tests” would be sent out by “the end of next week.” Irwin Redlener, a physician who studies public health and disaster preparedness at Columbia University, condemned the federal government’s response as “the most egregious level of incompetence in an administration that I think we’ve witnessed at least in my memory‚ĶIt’s actually stunning.”

This country is in no situation to weather the storm of a full-blown pandemic. The shocking number of bankruptcies each year, 530,000, due to healthcare bills also exacerbates the misery of society at large. The lack of paid sick leave for regular ordinary persons. There’s already talk about bailing out the cruise lines and providing a stimulus package, so Wall Street doesn’t freak out any further. The ordinary person is supposed to obey the rules and not get for any help, but when it comes to our corporations, they get all the help they need from the federal government.

On a personal note, I took a $3000 pay cut the year that my health insurer started implementing co-insurance deductibles in addition to co-pays. That was about five years ago, and it has progressively gotten worse. So any “pay increases” have been woefully too little to offset the enormous pay cut I endured five years ago.

I currently and still work in a retail environment at a 9 to 5 job four days a week. I have witnessed our store blow through at least 30 pallets of water last weekend alone. Sales are up across the board from cleaning supplies to perishables, to storage bags and all “end of the world” type items. The people around me, including myself, have convinced ourselves that this is not as bad as the 14 to 46 thousand people who die from the influenza virus each year. But because the full scope is not yet visible, we don’t know the mortality rate of this virus. From what I am reading, in Italy, it is hovering around 5%. That’s a little different than the flu.

I hope this article doesn’t scare you from taking any vacations this year. Quite the opposite, I hope it empowers and informs you to make the correct decision for yourselves. I flew, with my wife, a week after 9/11 to Colorado from New Jersey. Yes, the plane was empty. I have a strong foundational belief when it’s your time to go; it’s your time to go. So I’ve lived my life with this ethos and have taken risks that I know other people would call foolish. After the coronavirus had already taken hold in February, I traveled to Australia for several workshops concerning my Digital Marketing business. I never once thought about canceling the trip. I was not alone. Everyone showed up that had booked their journeys, and both classes were full. Granted, it was early on during the coronavirus outbreak.

I believe this virus should subside and hopefully disappear during the summer months, but it’s summer down in the Southern Hemisphere, and the virus is spreading down there as well. I have the opportunity to go to Disney World in late October, early November of this year, and we took the plunge. Last night I booked our plane tickets, and my wife previously booked our rooms at Animal Kingdom lodge. I also have a trip planned to Colorado this summer with my son through Boy Scouts that I hope doesn’t get canceled. I tell you this because I want you to realize that even though I’m extremely concerned about what could happen in the coming year, but I still will continue to live my life to the fullest. Now, after I’ve stated this, I do have a line in the sand for my family and me. I will not under any circumstance, go on a cruise until this virus goes away. I just learned my mother and father-in-law are currently booked to go on a cruise this summer. I have full intention of talking them out of it. I desperately want to cruise out of New Orleans, which my wife and I have never been to, on Disney Cruise Lines, but until a vaccine is created or by some miracle the virus subsides entirely, I will not book a cruise. I believe the US State Department stated we should avoid going on cruises.

My advice to myself and others is that everyone lay low for a couple of weeks and practice excellent hygiene, and we should come out on the other side of this, okay. I’m preparing for the worst but hoping for the best and praying for everyone else. Please let me know what you think in the comments below.