Every time I travel, I become more and more enamored by this fascinating country. There’s the diverse geography, unique cultures, warm people, and cherished histories. And then there’s the food! And the architecture! Plus the art, linguistics, local customs, and all-around ways of life. My list goes on and on!
My husband and I just returned from vacationing out east. Our first stop was Philadelphia for our son’s graduation (so very proud of him!). Visiting a large city always means lots of walking, but that’s the best way to immerse in its essence. It also helps work off the volumes of delectable food we consume!
Are you a Bloody Mary fan? National Mechanics Bar & Restaurant is located in the Old City district and has this outrageous make-your-own Bloody Mary bar. Very fun! That’s the grad there, setting the pace. He educated us on a few cultural differences between Wisconsin and Philly—like how Wisconsinites tend to add a whole salad to their Bloody Marys (pickles, eggs, beef stick, whatever fits in the glass) and Philadelphians go with a simple celery stalk and this mega selection of spices. This restaurant didn’t serve a beer chaser either, which obviously is very Wisconsin. No problem, the Bloody Mary was a perfect toast to a delicious brunch.
Originally, we had planned to see the New Jersey shore last fall but Hurricane Sandy put a halt to that. Visiting this spring instead turned out to be perfect timing. The weather was a bit blustery, which I much prefer over hot and humid, and the crowd was minimal. Here’s one of the glitzy casinos along the Atlantic City Boardwalk. We’re not much into the gambling scene, but we strolled the whole boardwalk and it was fun just to see it all.
We then headed down to the southern tip of the peninsula to Cape May and a much quieter style of vacationing. A walk through this quaint town is like a time warp back to Victorian gentility. It’s filled with historic hotels and homes, all colorful and inviting like those you see in the top photo. Most of them are now B&Bs, restaurants or shops (stay tuned for when I write of our hotel later this week). I’d love to tour them all!
And being on the ocean? Well, for us Midwesterners, it was awesome!
You can’t visit a lighthouse without climbing the tower. So, of course, we hiked the 199 cast iron steps to the top of the Cape May Lighthouse and looked down on the town below. We also checked out the Cape May Winery & Vineyard, one of several wineries in the area, and toured the Cape May Brewing Company. Both were super friendly, fun and tasty!
Our last leg of the trip was a ferry ride across the Delaware Bay and road trip down to the Chincoteague and Assateague Islands in Virginia. Does anyone remember reading Misty of Chincoteague when you were young? I loved this book and the rest of Marguerite Henry’s series. Chincoteague. Assateague. The names themselves evoked intrigue in the heart of a horse-loving, adventure-dreaming girl!
As for pronouncing Chincoteague, have fun with that. We asked every local we came upon and each said it differently. Certainly none of their pronunciations were like the word appears or as this source suggests. If I recall, some said “SHIN-o-tay,” others said “Shin-co-TEE,” and locals referred to themselves as “tiggers.”
No matter how you say it, the Chincoteague National Wildlife Reserve is truly a treasure. Located on Assateague Island, its 14,000 acres of beach, dunes, and marshland are a natural habitat for waterfowl and an adapted haven for these special ponies. We walked for miles and miles.
So there you have it: An abbreviated rundown of our 2-week vacation. As I think of our travels and the thrill of seeing worlds different than our own, I’m once again reminded how enamored I am by the United States. And this Memorial Day, I’m thankful to those who’ve made living here possible.
God bless America!