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Down the Shore

For me, the ability to take my out of town guests somewhere, or to do something they have always dreamed of seeing or doing is the best possible reward.  If I can do that very thing for them, and do it with an unexpected twist, all the better.

It is something human in us, I think, to travel coast to coast and want to put our feet in that “other” ocean.  This country really does run “sea to shining sea” and maybe we feel like it makes us a part of that continuity – I don’t know.  But for a child of the American west to be able to dabble feet in the Atlantic in two states in one day is a phenomenon that is tough to picture in Washington State.

So the plan was to catch the Lewes, DE to Cape May, NJ ferry. (www.capemaylewesferry.com) We headed to catch the 11:15, but arrived in Lewes about an hour early – just enough time to run out to Cape Henlopen State Park for a first glimpse of the Atlantic.  The weather was odd, in a pre-storm kind of way, with huge threatening clouds rolling across the sky, sinking closer and closer to the water.

The air temperature was pleasant, though, and the water temperature turned out to be perfect – maybe not for a distance swimmer, but certainly for playing tag with the surf. Joy is hard to find sometimes, and sometimes it comes in the simplest things.

From the beach to the ferry – the 90 minute ride across the mouth of the Delaware Bay could not have been more serene and beautiful.  The clouds stayed a respectful distance away, giving us a beautiful blue passage.


I have to admit, I am glad of that.  Tossing about for and hour and a half is not the introduction to these waters that I would have wished for me or anyone.  There was a haze in the air, of course, but it only served to make the Cape May lighthouse slightly mysterious at noon, which is a hard thing to do.  



Disembarking in Cape May, we went immediately for something to eat.  Sure, we could have grabbed something on the ferry, but the weather was too good to sacrifice, and face it, I’m not such a thoughtful guide as to have packed a picnic (though I think I will remember it for next time.) As it is after the season in a big way at the Jersey Shore, we sort of scratched for a place to eat, but the up side of that is that the wide beautiful beach was nearly deserted.  This gave us a chance to take another go at the ocean which was surprisingly much colder, making my friends think that they were experiencing yet another sea.

From Cape May, the plan was to drive up to Smithville, in Galloway Township to visit The Motts Creek Inn.(www.mottscreekinn.com)

Getting from Cape May to Motts Creek requires a run up the Garden State Parkway – usually an easy drive through green acres with scenic view of the salt water marshes.  This time, I guess as an added adventure for my Washington guests who can be easily bored by rain, the squall that had threatened started throwing giant fistfuls of water at the windshield at almost the same moment we committed to the Parkway.  By the time we were fully aware of the severity of the storm, there was nothing to do but keep driving.  35 miles an hour maybe, but there really is no safe way to just pull off the road and wait out the rain.  Ten minutes became and eternity and as the storm lengthened, I kept calm for the sake of my guests in spite of the obvious dangers of driving in those conditions.  It was twenty five or thirty minutes before we drove through a curtain of water and found ourselves back in sunlight, in a fresh scrubbed world with rainbows – and such rainbows!  I have never driven mile after mile through the actual end of a rainbow – I don’t even want to fully understand rainbows to the point of taking away the magic, so I drove – seemingly rainbows end to rainbows end, gratefully onward to Motts Creek.

   Located just off of Rt. 9 in the midst of the Edwin B. Forsythe National Wildlife Refuge   (www.forsythe.fws.gov), the Motts Creek Inn has been operating variously as a bar, restaurant and marina in that location since the 1930’s. There is a lot to be said for an old bar that stands on pilings in the water with boats clustered around where you can find actual New Jersey residents who in no way resemble any member of the cast of ‘Jersey Shore’.  The location makes the bar a place to take your boat – driving there is a little dicier as the township doesn’t seem to think it is important to actually spend money on the road, but on the other hand, the potholes and tank traps force folks to drive more cautiously and slowly, which is probably good for the turtle population and other critters that live in the Refuge who also use the road.  The introduction to Motts Creek, 

after the storm we had just come through was pretty spectacular I have to say, and made it a nice place to watch fish jump and birds for a little while before heading back to Maryland to conclude the day’s sightseeing. 






6 thoughts on “Down the Shore

  1. Oh what an amazing adventure that day was! A perfect day trip encompassing more than a couple of tourists from Washington State could have ever hoped for, the joy on Little Mums face say it all…and that was before the the horrific squall of rain that blessed us with the corridor of intensly saturated rainbows! Above and beyond my friend!

    Posted by Joyce Cole | October 7, 2011, 10:38 am
  2. Another great adventure!

    Posted by Betta | October 9, 2011, 11:20 am
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