Cape May NJ Travel Log (part 4) “A Tale of Two Beaches”

Cape May NJ Travel Log (part 4) “A Tale of Two Beaches”

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I think I might have had my fill of route 347 and 47, both roads unknown to me previously, and now, I think I have driven every paved inch of them, I knew, well, I looked online, that the weather was set to be the best for my endeavors today in terms of outdoor activity, so I woke up early, um, at least I tried, 10am on a vacation day might as well be first prize, so I was out and about by 10:20, grabbed a large latte at the local coffee joint, I was THAT guy making jokes about ‘beating the rush’ (there we no one within 10 miles of the place), so in retrospect, ugghh to me, but at least the coffee was good, that is the important thing, dialed in my destination, once again off into townships and towns I had only googled about, destination: Seabreeze Beach, I mean, with a name like that what could be off ?

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Most of the drive was an uneventful romp through alternating front yard scrap yards and vast tracts of farms, or something that resembles farms, and lots and lots of houses (some on wheels) with a pentacle symbol on them, the road to the beach was long and then became longer, oy does GPS boost the old confidence because there was a few times there I was convinced I was off the path, or lost, or both, but I stuck to my I-guns and followed along, seabreeze road just meanders for days though dotted by a house or two and turns that seem like streets but have menacing red emblazoned Private Property signs screaming along fences, some of them look electrified, maybe to keep in the livestock, livestock ? yeah, I think I left New Jersey at some point and was plowing through Nebraska or some other plains state, this is not my mother’s New Jersey, that is for sure, so, without a hitch, the GPS is dead on, 1 hour and some minutes, I find myself at a road closed sign (oh no, not again) but just to my right, seems like a path for cars, I take it, the road (as it were) abruptly ends and sand begins, granted I have four wheel drive, but there is no way I am testing it out here, wherever out here is, a sketchy road dotted with abandoned looking half houses or double shacks, I pop it into reverse and park up on what might be the side of the ‘road’, next to a pile of old tires stacked near an old tree, someone should film a horror movie here, but that is for another day, so onward to the beach, tale one…

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this area has an interesting history, I won’t go into it all now but if you like (read up here ), so this beach is rather unique in that there were houses here, there was a town (booming shore/summer town), now? eh, not so much, in fact if you look closely in can be a bit depressing, there are still a few residents hanging on but I didn’t not see any (the road to the collection of houses that people actually occupy is blocked off, I respected their boundaries, even if I was quite curious), as the beach unfurls in front of you, well, you can see how this looks like modern ruins, cinder blocks, metal rusting in the ocean wake, concrete jigsaw puzzle with no solution, nature growing grass between or barnacles on, the northern exposure is the resident’s land with a ‘No Trespassing’ sign as desolate and alone as the flag on the moon, this place looks more apocalyptic than what Heston was cursing in the original Planet of the Apes, except I had no one to yell at, so for an hour plus drive this seemed like a real bust, I gave it the full walk through, a whole eight minutes later the beach was over, except, that curiosity itch, had to push a little further right? so southward there were no warning signs, just this weird house up on blocks like a subaru brat your brother was working on, how do they even get in the door ? strange, creepy, I an definitely alone out here… aren’t I? so I walk along the sea wall which seems like a blanket of cinder blocks rolled up against the tides, there are some fresh tire marks on a semi-road, so… well, let’s just take a few steps I think…

the road less traveled, unfortunately not the case, there is nothing more disheartening than being in a wildlife preserve and seeing tons of human left garbage, for whatever reason the garbage of choice seems to be modelo beer cans and corona bottles, with a sunkist orange soda two liter or three thrown down, there seems to be some sort of construction taking place (underground pipes of some sort), so I am not sure what to think, my hopes sink but something carries me on, I suppose I just go until I hit a natural obstacle I can not overcome, I’m a stubborn one like that, I press on this logging road, well, not literally a logging road, the tracks kind of remind me of that, of course the ocean is off on my right the entire time, then there is this shack hidden in the brush, intact enough to be occupied and the door is open, damn that is creepy, again, I am trusting in being alone out here, I’m not armed, with a gun at least, we’ll leave that at that, so I press on along the road next to the cinder block wall, I pass a couple of camp sites, more like ‘we had beers here’ sites, campfires that remind me not of camping as a kid but sloppy drunk people burning most anything in a ring of rocks, suddenly, the whole thing opens up, I might have well passed into another realm, another place, another dimension, behind me to the left opens up a beautiful tidal marsh, in front of me this little island between and then a pristine beach on the other side of the channel, as is my rule, laid out earlier, I press forward, the water looks deeper than I am willing to go (knee deep is the limit today), but in actuality I can see the shoreline under the water, where the tide marsh and ocean are colliding, I can see the bottom and follow along, such a strange revelation, this almost feels like I am walking on the water, if I step a few feet in either direction I will surely be up to my waist, there was this little bridge, in essence, for me to take, to the little atoll in the middle of… well, wherever I am, I can not call this Seabreeze beach, this is something else, something in complete contrast, maybe what this place was before the hand of man, test the water to try and reach the far beach, not today, way too deep, damn, I will have to settle for a look, and come back when the weather is warmer and certainly the water, so I may explore further, but my nature battery is recharged, from the depth of the depression of recent ruins to pristine beauty and amazing views, I wonder how many have not come this far and stopped only in that sad spot near where I parked.

post script… on the drive back I encountered a flock of about twenty wild turkeys, and they were skittish and did not even allow me a photo ! I get it though, this time of year I would be nervous if I were as tasty as they are…

For those interested… I have been uploading a bunch of videos to my YouTube Channel, this has been a strange week but a good one, the wind has kicked up, I can hear it behind me, tomorrow is not going to be a fun day, a storm is coming off the water…

Cape May, travel log part 3… (not today, not thwarted twice)

Cape May, travel log part 3… (not today, not thwarted twice)

(yeah I know, I skipped part two, I sort of wrote it but didn’t finish it, so, maybe I will get to it, maybe not, anyway, here is today…)

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as has been my mission the past couple of years (has it been that long?), I have endeavored to find the nooks and corners of my state, sure it took me decades to realize this mission, but better now than never, although I am harboring down in Cape May I looked around the map of this garden state to find places that are out of the way but within striking distance of this shore town base, today was my first day of trekking about (yesterday was just not conducive no doubt, hiking in the unknown spaces in the rain is just not my thing, especially on vacation), so I struck out to see a lighthouse, is it the sea? the buildings themselves? the history? I suspect all of these engender my fascination with lighthouses, so I chose one I had never been, East Point Lighthouse (picture above by me), this is a different part of the state, some of the landscapes are almost alien, salt marshes stretched out split up by rivers I never really heard of until today, dennis township ? houses that range from extended trailers to brick mansions back to condemned barns and everything in between, far away from the urban blueprint planning I see in the day to day up in the other end of the state, no main streets, I only once happened upon a shopping center with a cluster of typical stores, other than that all local business run from houses, and lots of old boats in yards, and soon even this smattering of civilization faded away to less and less, just a road with marshes seemingly all around, thankfully GPS leads me through, only a few minutes to go, a sign for the lighthouse, and I am almost there, and then, the unthinkable, after an hour drive in all territory new, ROAD CLOSED… and in my jersey accent “ya gotta be kiddin me!”, so I drive up the road a little anyway, because, well, maybe the road was closed for other people, but no, there was a full on construction crew humming, bulldozers and the like causing all sorts of commotion and approaching, so I back track, quite literally, and try the road down to the left, dead end bay, but I am here, I have to do SOMETHING right? I park, get out and at least manage to take a few photos from a distance, and it looks like they are rebuilding the beach around the lighthouse, so how can I complain? so I pack up my disappointment and look down at my little list of places, time to try the next one on the list, what else could go wrong ?

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I program in the destination, Thomas Beach/Observation Deck… the world has whimsy today, I follow my GPS to a tee and wind up doing basically a big square back to the same road the lighthouse is on, seriously? yes… but at least there is a turn off before I went back down that lighthouse dead end, this is more typical of south Jersey wildlife areas, a barely two lane road, not good signage, one way in, one way out, so I find Thomas Beach Rd, and down I go, past a house, with all sorts of cool nautical trinkets adorning all the windows and doors, the type of thing you see down here but never get tired of, well, at least I don’t, I imagine it takes a certain type of person to live this next to the grid but not quite off, perhaps this will be my fate of homestead one day I think, so down the beach road, sounds promising, the land is a barren marsh this time of year, although the reeds glow in the midday sun, zipping along is quite calming, what is that in the road over there? some type of large bird, a wild turkey is my first thought but too skinny, I pull up slowly, a pheasant, much bigger than I reckoned, I had never seen one up close, and the peasant was not too happy with my spying, quickly disappearing into the brush, and yes, the camouflage is impressive, maybe today won’t totally flame out? a short while the later, the observation deck comes into view, perhaps not the largest or highest I have encountered but at least I know I am in the right place, I park, there is a boat launch on both sides of the lot, the water from the marsh is also close to my spot, but I shake off the possibility of flooding, not as if I have some local knowledge, maybe I just did not want to re-park, there is not much to observe up on the deck, a couple of ospreys off in the distance, the sun rippling on the water in between the reeds, it’s calming, but I itch to see a bit more, this is a beach road after all, so where’s the beach? unbeknownst to me, the road to the beach is closed to car traffic, no matter, I don’t mind a hike and this being flat land, not a big deal, so I pack up, bottle of water in the old pack, my cameras and such, leaving my car behind seems odd but that is just the urban bug in me, I highly doubt car break ins are an issue here, I could probably leave the thing unlocked (but will not), I meander down the path, gravel and puddles, the later which I avoid as I am not wearing water proof gear, little fish are startled by my bumbling, racing out of the protected shallows as I walk along, I guess I come upon the midway point, there are a couple of cement benches, I do not need them now, I certainly will on the return trip, however, the observation deck is shrinking smaller in my rear view, and then I see them, looming, a few large puddles, or perhaps more, let me get closer and inspect, grrr, no way around without getting totally wet, these are not the shoes for this, I have proper gear back in the car, the sun has gone to playing hide and seek, mostly hide so a manageable 50-ish is beginning to dive, damn it, I will not be denied twice today, this will not beat me, I will get to this beach!

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I start back, startling all the little fish again, cement benches, check, there is the reflective gate blocking the road, check, back to the car to grab my crocs, I don’t want to lug my marsh boots all the while, I again contemplate calling it a day right now, no way, I have to do this, back I go, gate passed, cement benches, and back to the water hazard that stopped me dead earlier, I slip off my merrils and socks, plop on my crocs, here I go, not bad so far, and then ankle deep arctic cold, “just move on” I think, kind of like walking on hot coals, just go man go, is this really worth it for some beach? I’m here now might as well just move those feet, and the deed is done, the gauntlet met and slain, back to dry gravel ground again, there is a ridge not that far ahead, I think I hear the roar of the ocean, but it also may be a distant helicopter or plane, but I must admit the sound does put a little pep in my step, forgetting how damn cold my feet were a moment ago, a blue heron flies off, they are quite skittish you know, even for such a large bird, that roar, that roar approaching, that is definitely the ocean, up over that crest, a dune, the reeds reveal a sandy path, to yes, the beach, finally, a destination met, bucket list this puppy off my list, not a soul in any direction, a private beach for my own discretion, a couple more of those cement benches but again I pass them by for now I am set out onto a barren secluded beach of my own, no feet aside from mine on this day at least, the gentle crashing of the waves, the reeds in the wake bending back and forth, was this worth it ? this was, for me, in spades…

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post script… the path back to the car was no longer flooded, in fact the water receded greatly, so my trial by cold water was more a matter of tide, I stand by my story, however…