Unexpected Cape May

I heard the rain tapping on the window all night long. I wished with all my dream power, that the skies would be clear come dawn. Yet at 7am, when I drew the curtain wide enough for my eye to see out, the sky remained dark and the rain continued to splash down on the streets. 

We had planned to go Upstate to North South Campground, but the weather channel reported thunderstorms and 30mph winds. After a small deliberation, we decided to bail and head somewhere south. With no plan whatsoever, Anthony and I hit the road and launched the Googles. We searched through various weather apps, and South Jersey looked like our best bet for clear skies and sunshine. Cape May seemed inviting, and neither of us had ever been there, so 156 miles down the Garden State Hwy we drove. 

In the passenger seat, Anthony did some research on the town's happenings, and discovered a Fall festival at Beach Plum Farm. The farm is nestled in a West Cape May neighborhood of spruce trees and pine trees resides the farm. 

On Stevens Street, we found a wooden sign pointing to a pebbled driveway that led us to the farm. We parked the car and followed the small crowd of families and couples heading down the driveway. After rounding the curve, we came upon the main barn. Inside was a market where they sold veggies and meat that came straight from the farm. We must have looped the store four times or so in awe of all the fresh eats! The back doors of the market led to a garden of herbs. 

We walked down each row smelling and tasting everything from Rosemary to Mint to Basil. About 30 yards across the garden we heard music coming from a white tent that resembled something of a yurt. We slowly made our way over and peaked inside. There was a small local folk band playing. People were drinking and stuffing their faces with BBQ. We knew our plan of action...grab some beers, and all the BBQ we could fit on our plates. So we cheers'd our Cape May IPAs and chewed down some turkey chili, cornbread, and baked beans. The tent was so cozy, I could have sat there listening and eating for hours, only there were a few other sights to see at the farm. 

Hay rides made every half hour, but we decided to walk the trail instead. So with a map of the farm in hand, we checked out muddy pigs eating watermelon, walked through some lavender fields, and waved to some turkeys. 

Eager to experience more of Cape May, we buckled up in the car again and cruised about 7 minutes to Washington Street. We dabbled in and out of the tourist shops and eventually plopped ourselves down in an Irish Pub (no surprise there). A couple pints of beer and too many jalapeño poppers later, we figured that we best find a place to crash that night. 

We called around, but shockingly all the Victorian Bed and Breakfasts were all booked up. We were there in the off season, so we thought for sure we'd find a spot. We called around some more and stumbled across The Beach Shack. It was right on the water, and they had a room available. It turned out to be a little gem. We were on the third floor and our balcony had a perfect view of the ocean. It looked so picturesque that we wanted to see it up close! We walked down to the end of Beach Ave. The sun was setting and the birds were flying at the horizon line. It was calming to see other spectators there - locals most likely. We all sat together under a gazebo in awe of the colors spewing out at us. And for a few minutes there, as the sun dissipated, it was silent. We, all strangers to one another, sat and soaked up the serenity. 

Come nightfall, we decided to grab dinner and decided to walk over to The Boiler Room. They had live music, brick oven pizza, and an entire bridal party going nuts on the dance floor. Apparently this was the weekend to get married in Cape May. We later learned that there were 4 wedding ceremonies being conducted just in the square. We did some shameless dancing while we listened to some epic Dad Rock until our feet could take no more. We said good bye to the bridal party and the Rock Dads and retired to our hotel in hopes of getting some rest.

The next morning we packed up and went to The General Store for breakfast. It was in fact a general store. They sold everything from bug spray to strawberry jam. With tables in the front and back of the place. It was a quaint place you could really get a since of community, with locals engaging in each others company, while sipping down endless cups of coffee.  We ordered the some poached eggs and lox concoction which was delectable. We paid the bill and had some time to kill before our last venture on this trip, the Cape May Brewery. 

My friend Danielle recommended that we go check out the lighthouse at Sunset Beach. We parked the car and found a couple trails that squiggled through the marsh and brush. We chose a short path and passed by a handful of birdwatchers. (We learned that Cape May is very popular for bird watching.) The trail eventually let out to the beach, I preferred this view of the light house. We were at such a distance, that it popped out over the foliage and sandy beach. And if you turned 180° the waves would be crashing down on the shoreline. It was almost noon, so we trekked through the sand and back to the parking lot. It was perfect timing to head over to the brewery. 

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We arrived at the Cape May Brewery eager to try something new on there huge list of delicious beers. We had only been lucky to consume the Cape May IPA. So we walked in the doors and were greeted by a woman who resembled a ticket collector before you jump on to a ferris wheel. She asked us both for ID’s and stated “Due to New Jersey Law you must take a tour of the brewery before you can consume alcohol in it.” She pointed at a wall behind us with pictures of news clippings about the bar, and shouted “There, your tour is over! Follow the arrows on the floor to the bar.” 

Upon arriving we each got beer flights as listed; Mop Water, Devils Reach, Mooncusser Pilsner, and Turtle Gut. These clever names definitely earned them some points. The atmosphere was as inviting as the beer. As we sipped on palate pleasing beers, the bar played Bob Ross videos on a projector. It truly was a pleasurable experience.After a few waters and some time we jumped in the car and headed back to the city. We passed the time by trying to nail down our next adventure!

Photos: True O'Neill, Anthony Garito

Words: True O'Neill (edited by Megan Corletto)

 Video: Anthony Garito

Music: Kirby Sybert

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