Time Traveler

“for whatever we lose (like a you or a me) / it’s always ourselves we find in the sea” ~ e. e. cummings

Recently, my friend, Layla Palmer from The Lettered Cottage traveled to Tybee Island, Georgia to decorate a cottage by the sea. Her posts reminded me how blessed I am to have spent my life living on the shore. It was not until recently that I considered many of you may never have experienced the ocean or the bliss of spending a day at the beach.

People have a misconception of NJ. They conjure images of The Sopranos, Jersey Shore (for the record Snookie and The Situation are New Yorkers vacationing in NJ, what we locals call BENNIES), Jerseylicious, or The Real House Wives of NJ. People think of Newark, Paterson, Camden or Atlantic City and consider those places a fair representation of the entire state. They’re not. So for the next few posts I am taking  you on a virtual vacation to MY New Jersey.

Readers who participated in my Annual Postcard Exchange, know that Cape May, NJ is my best place on earth.  I have traveled far and wide and nothing compares to this historic seashore town, regardless of the season. So, it seems fitting to start here.

Cape May is located south of Exit 0  on New Jersey’s Garden State Parkway and is situated below the Mason-Dixon line. It is the southern tip of New Jersey where the Delaware Bay meets the Atlantic coastline. Discovered in 1620 by Dutch captain, Cornelius Mey, and later settled by English who altered the spelling. Cape May is recognized as  the first seaside resort town in the country. By 1761 was considered the finest resort in America. In 1876 a five-day-long catastrophic fire destroyed thirty acres of the town center. Homes constructed after the fire were the popular structures of the time; Gothic Revivals and Queen Annes, boasting gingerbread trim, gables, turrets, carved barge boards, ornate verandas and crowned dormers.  Cape May was faced with another form of destruction one hundred years after the fire–progress; tear down the old, make way for the new. Although some beautiful Victorians were lost in the building boom, the entire town was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1976. That designation requires the community to retain all structures in their original form and design. Visiting Cape May is a step back in time. The streets are still lined with gingerbread houses and magnificent Victorian hotels steps away from the ocean. It remains home to the largest collection of authentic Victorian structures in the nation.

There are no chain retail stores or restaurants, instead quaint shops line Washington Square. Many of the ‘Painted Ladies’ now serve as bed and breakfasts. Most get around the island strolling or cycling. Cars share the road with horse draw carriages and trolleys. Besides playing in the sand and surf you can go para sailing, whale and dolphin watching or play in the arcades. There’s also Victorian estate and ghost tours, golf, fishing  (surf/ sea) and crabbing. After that, there’s antiquing, art galleries, and history exhibits; a  spa, live theater and concerts, and a local vineyard.

I wonder what my friend Laura and I will do. Stay tuned!


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46 Responses to Time Traveler

  1. Ginny Roth July 19, 2010 at 10:22 pm #

    Deborah, you are so right.

    My general comments on Ewing, NJ are, ” it is easy to get out of here fast — two major airports close by and an Amtrak hub.”

    Today started out pretty miserable, but is ending on a positive note because of writers like you and others.

    Thank you.

  2. 'D' July 19, 2010 at 10:35 pm #

    When my husband and I started to look for a place to retire, Cape May was at the top of our list. However, on one of our trips, to find a new home, we found ourselves on the Cape May/Lewes Ferry, headed for Delaware. Since many of our family vacations took place in Long Beach Island, when we were young, we always thought that we would retire there; that was when new homes were selling for $29,000.00. The price of any home there today has many more zeros added to it, as did those we looked at in Cape May.

    We had never been to Delaware in the past and liked what we saw here, it remined us somewhat of LBI in the 60’s. So we started to turn our search to this area in 1998/99.

    I found our house of the internet, in the spring of 99. It’s thirteen room, English Tudor on almost six acres of land. I’d be embarassed to tell you what we paid for it, but I will say that we know we got a geat deal. :) I’ll also tell you that we have no sales tax here and our property taxes is about $630 for the year.

    Although I will ALWAYS consider myself a JERSEYGIRL, we are content and please with Delaware. But….. all the things that Deborah wrote/showed about Cape May, I have to admit are true and I have often wished that we could have retired there. There may be we some women like those shown on some of the tv shows, but most of us are nothing like that and are ashamed to be portrayed that way.

    Hope you get to visit Deborah’s Cape May, it will be worth the trip.


    • Terri July 20, 2010 at 9:06 am #

      How funny…. I just told my sister yesterday afternoon “Those Housewives” are soooooo not reality!!!! She watches that program alll the time!!! How beautiful is Cape May. I would love to visit that area someday…. and ummmm… those figures on your home are un believeable!!! I pay more property taxes on my 3/4 acre and home than you do!!!

      Thnk you for sharing, Terri in Florida

      • Deborah July 27, 2010 at 1:05 pm #


        Thank you for commenting. The home price and taxes you are referring to belong to “D”, a commenter who resides in Delaware. Unfortunately, NJ taxes and home prices are among the highest in the nation.


  3. Sue @Rue Mouffetard July 19, 2010 at 10:50 pm #

    Thank you for setting the record straight about the Motherland…..
    Thank goodness Snookie isn’t from Jersey…the Real Housewives are bad enough…aren’t they just horrible…There is so much about Jersey that people don’t know about…the beach is where I grew up and I love it to this day and can’t wiat to move back…I have never been to Cape May but I will make a point of visiting when I get back…Thanks again!

  4. Alaina July 20, 2010 at 5:45 am #

    Deborah, you make it sound like a beautiful place to stay. Those houses and hotels/bed and breakfast are absolutely amazing. The gardens are beautiful too. All the detail. What a wonderful place for a vacation. Thank you for sharing.

    You are right we are mislead by what we see on the news and television. There are many that think Buffalo should be the North Pole for the snow they THINK we receive. Buffalo actually has more sunny days than some towns in Florida.

  5. Anonymous July 20, 2010 at 6:46 am #

    Hi Deborah ~ Yup, better today. Your slide show is perfect. My family and I have stayed at The Inn of Cape May (purple awning hotel photo) several times. You have to visit Cape May to believe it really exists ~ its that pretty. Then once you go, you are hooked ~ and need to come back again and again. In all different seasons. Fall will be here soon and if I can’t make it by summer, you can bet I am coming down for the Annual Ghost Walks, Home tours, lectures and parties. I hope we can meet for tea somewhere.

  6. Parsley July 20, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    Okay…now I want to come visit.

  7. purple flowers July 20, 2010 at 8:13 am #

    Hi Deborah: I have lived in NJ all my life, and I love it. I do not watch those tv shows you mentioned on your post. I don’t believe they are representative of the true New Jersey.
    Your photos of Cape May are lovely. I have visited that quaint town several times, and each time is as enjoyable as the visit before. I don’t visit the beach/shore as much as I use to in years past; it’s too crowded. HOWEVER, there is one town I would love to retire to someday, and that is Spring Lake. I love it from the bottom of my heart.
    Great post!

  8. Oklahoma Granny July 20, 2010 at 9:00 am #

    What a magnificently, beautiful place. I would so love to visit Cape May. Maybe someday. Until then, thank you so much for taking me on a grand tour. Your photos are lovely.

  9. Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality July 20, 2010 at 9:54 am #

    Hi, Deborah, Cape May looks like a beautiful beach town. It seems that all beach towns have a different vibe and look to them, but there is nothing like the sea. I adore the beach and grew up going to the Gulf in FL many, many times. Wonderful memories! Thanks for sharing these photos.

  10. Kathy Eykamp July 20, 2010 at 9:54 am #

    Okay, I’ll confess… I read this while watching The Real Housewives of NJ – I have a love/hate thing going on with that show!

    How I would love to vacation in Cape May!!!! I can’t wait for your next post, have fun.


  11. Maggie July 20, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    I am still drooling over all the gingerbreading on the houses! There is nothing better than a house oozing with gingerbreading! I was stationed in NJ when I was in the army. Unfortunately, it was basic training and I never got a chance to see NJ. I love the east coast. Me and my sister lived on a little island off the coast of Rhode Island. I loved it. It is so sad that TV gives you a bad representation of a place so cute as your NJ! Can’t wait to see the rest!

  12. Cindy @ The Flipping Couple July 20, 2010 at 10:58 am #

    Wow, it sounds so beautiful! I’d love to go visit. I can’t wait to hear more!!

  13. melissa July 20, 2010 at 10:59 am #


    Being from the west coast of Canada, we have very little in the way of historic homes. Ours are old but we are a young country yet and just don’t have the history here out west.

    We have nothing to compare to even the east coast of Canada. The homes are idyllic. I thank you for taking me on a tour as, I cannot afford a trip out east.LOL.


  14. melissa July 20, 2010 at 11:01 am #

    Well I should correct myself, I am sure parts of Quebec and Ontario have very old homes and history…just saying incase any eastern Canadians hunt me down with a barrage of history…

  15. Zuzu July 20, 2010 at 11:06 am #

    Oh my! The closest I’ve ever come to seeing anything this remarkable was when I studied classical music in San Francisco! Thank you so much for this gorgeous tour, Deborah – I’ll be sure to “stay tuned” for more! :) ~Z

  16. Melissa July 20, 2010 at 12:12 pm #

    Hey Deborah! I’m glad you’re enjoying my vacation pictures, I’ll be posting the historic downtown Charleston ones soon! I’m trying to get them all edited and only pick out the good ones. (cause I took about a thousand! lol)
    Your Cape May sounds absolutely delightful! My hearts desire is to live in an old victorian home, but alas I’m thinking that may not happen. I am blessed to have the home I have and I’m certainly not complaining! I guess in a perfect world, if I got my heart’s wish, it would be a victorian home that I would live in.
    I am just a smidge jealous that you and Laura get to hang out! lol I love you both to pieces and would love to hang out too!! :-) I hope you have a great time together and enjoy every moment! Post pics!
    Have a great week and enjoy each moment!
    Love ya

  17. Eva July 20, 2010 at 3:35 pm #

    Thank you from another (proud) Jersey girl! Jersey offers so much more than Newark airport, spray tans and the turnpike. There aren’t many other states in the nation that offer up what NJ has. Miles of coast line, mountains, farms, world class universities… Plus it is packed to the brim with our nation’s history!

    And really, we’re home of Lucy the Elephant and she’s way cooler than any other sort of roadside attraction.

  18. Victoria July 20, 2010 at 4:03 pm #

    You paint such a beautiful picture- It makes me want to go and visit you!

    I hope you and T are doing well.


  19. Elizabeth@BlueClearSky July 20, 2010 at 5:39 pm #

    {I’m commenting again because I forgot to add my name/blog to the comment area.}

    Thanks for stopping by and for your sweet comments. The photos are lovely. I especially like the vintage bikes and the great architecture on the old homes. It was interesting to read about places I have heard of but have not yet had the opportunity to visit (New Jersey, Cape May, Mason/Dixon line etc.)

    To answer your questions: Yes, I did paint the oar/paddle. It was a new plain varnished one. I added layers of paint, and then distressed with sanpaper to show the layers and some of the original plain wood. Dry brushed on some black to weather it a bit more. Very simple. The numbers represent our anniversary month and day. How I attached it to wall: I wrapped jute rope around the handle at both ends, hot glued the ends to the back side. Slipped a bit of thin wire through the back of the rope and twisted to make a loop. The loops hang on two screws in the wall. Thanks for asking!

  20. Jayme aka The Coop Keeper July 20, 2010 at 11:26 pm #

    oh dear, now you have me hankerin’ to go to NJ. I would have never thunk it. Sounds so wonderful! Exactly my cup of tea. I grew up two blocks from Lake Michigan in Chicago – I so miss the water now that I’m out here in the cornfields. Lovely tour – xo :

  21. ain't for city gals July 21, 2010 at 6:58 am #

    Hi Deborah,
    Checking in from colorful Colorado….Wouldn’t it be nice to live in a different place for say like six months out of the year? I have been to Hawaii and San Diego and that is the extent of my beach days…I must fix that soon…One day I hope to get your coast and certainly hoping you will visit the beautiful state of Arizona soon…

  22. Pondside July 21, 2010 at 8:59 am #

    I remember Cape May very well – it was a favorite day trip from just outside Philadelphia, where we lived for a number of years. The gingerbread, the grand cottages, the lovely little shops and wonderful beach – it was a magnet to us.

  23. Twice Remembered July 21, 2010 at 9:24 am #

    Oh, Deborah – your Cape May sounds delightful! It even has a charming name! I’d love to visit a city filled with painted ladies, and how wonderful that many of them are bed and breakfasts now. I also love the fact that there are no chain stores…truly a step back in time! I’m going to keep Cape May in mind if and when hubs and I can get away sometime! Thank you for sharing, Deborah! I enjoyed those beautiful photos especially!

  24. Claudia@DipityRoad July 21, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    Hi cutie!
    Again I could linger at your blog for ever. The rhythm of your words are spell binding.

    I am just taking my first vacation in 3 years and am kicking myself for not thinking of Cape for a great get away.

    Cant wait for the next installments.


  25. Bonnie July 21, 2010 at 12:20 pm #

    What a wonderful idea! It’s amazing how many times I hear people say “New JOISEY…I’d have left, too” when I tell people where I’m from (for the record, I always tell them only people NOT from New Jersey call it “JOISEY”). There are so many things I miss about “home” and while I’ve been in WA State for 20 years now, NJ is still “home.” You’re going to make me want to visit. :) I can’t wait to see what’s next. The rolling hills near Princeton? The beautiful farms out and around Mullica Hill (my uncle & aunt run one of those) – including peach orchards? The Boardwalk? Small, beautiful and historic towns like Pitman or Haddonfield? Ok…some of that might have changed, it has been a decade since my last visit but…I’m walking down memory lane right now. I should shut up before I write a book!! Really…can’t wait to read what you share next.

  26. Anne July 22, 2010 at 8:39 pm #

    Ahhhh yes, Cape May! :-)
    A beloved ex-boyfriend and I spent many a Summer there, it truly is beautiful.

    Have a wonderful Friday!

  27. Rhonda July 23, 2010 at 12:23 pm #

    Oh my goodness, Deborah. The video of those old painted Victorians lined up just makes me want to be there. No, it makes me want to live in one of them.

    I grew up within 4 hours of the Gulf beaches, but our parents always vacationed in the North Carolina mountains. I didn’t see the beach until I was a young teenager.

    G-Man and I lived in Richmond when we were newlyweds. We were able to visit several beach towns on the East coast. They truly are breathtaking! I would love to go back and spend some time there in the fall as I don’t do the suntan thing anymore.

    I am looking forward to the upcoming posts about ‘your New Jersey’.


  28. Linda@Coastal Charm July 23, 2010 at 7:03 pm #

    Cape May looks like a place that I would love to visit…thanks so much for all the beautiful pics and info! Hope you have a wonderful weekend.


  29. beth July 24, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    Hi Deborah!
    Thank you so much for the virtual tour of your beautiful home town. I wish I could come visit for real. It’s gorgeous!
    Hope are you having a great week!
    Beth. :)

  30. Janean July 25, 2010 at 8:06 am #

    some names DO conjure up certain stereotypes. everyone thinks we have cows everywhere and are surprised to find a *normal, bustling city!* lol.

    two of our dear friends were from upstate NY and Long Island who helped dispel myths. your photos are amazing because the town is amazing. wow. thank you for educating us who’ve not been *up east.*

  31. Julia @ Hooked on Houses July 25, 2010 at 11:45 am #

    These beautiful houses made my eyes pop out of my head. Loved the slideshow–they’re all so gorgeous. Thanks for the eye candy! :)

  32. Stephenie from Decorating Addiction July 27, 2010 at 8:48 am #


    Jersey is so often mis-portrayed! I’ve never been to Cape May but it sounds wonderful and perhaps Jason and I will have to take Imani there some day. Those homes are breathtaking! I am looking forward to reading more about Jersey’s Gems.


  33. Layla July 27, 2010 at 5:16 pm #

    Packing my bags RIGHT NOW!!!! :-)


  34. Cindy~My Romantic Home July 28, 2010 at 1:23 pm #

    Wow, those are gorgeous! They are huge!!! Some of them remind me so much of my trip to Martha’s Vineyard!

  35. Porch Days July 28, 2010 at 11:47 pm #

    Those house are beautiful and the town looks perfect. We used to live in Cooperstown, NY and it had some lovely Victorian houses. Thanks for the tour!

  36. cindy July 29, 2010 at 4:05 am #

    Oh how lovely! My folks have vacationed several time in Cape May, and I have loved going thru the pictures from each trip…reminds me of Mackinac Island, MI a bit. My mom spent her summers as a teen working in Atlantic City, so she loves NJ. I’ve only been once, when we vacationed there in 1982….right before my junior year of high school. Would love to go back sometime….especially to see Cape May :)

  37. ALVN of WhisperWood Cottage & Junkologie July 29, 2010 at 12:55 pm #

    Such great photos! I love the colors on those homes!!

  38. Mikey @ Shabby French Cottage August 3, 2010 at 4:40 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by! I’m glad you did–the photos were beautiful! Thanks for sharing. It reminds me of several neighborhoods near me! Maybe I’ll do a post here soon on them. I live in a very historic town, as well!

  39. melissa @ the inspired room August 12, 2010 at 2:04 pm #

    What a gorgeous place, WOW!!! I LOVE drive bys so this was a real treat!! Thank you!

  40. A Garden of Threads August 13, 2010 at 10:00 am #

    What a wonderful island to visit. We have one similar off Toronto, Ontario. No cars/trucks allowed only bicycles. Lovely pictures.

  41. Jennifer aka Gigi August 15, 2010 at 6:29 am #

    Hi Deborah! What beautiful pics from Cape May. We were there last night for dinner @ the Lobster House on their dock! Lobster and steamed crabs! We are so blessed! It’s been a long hot summer but so good for all the businesses! I hope your summer has been well.
    We must try to have a blogger get together.
    I also love the slideshow of directions to your house…so creative…sunsets…heaven on earth~
    We may go the Chalfonte in Cape May tonight for their Southern Dinner Buffet! & Miss Lucy’s rolls!
    Hugs x0x0x0 Jennifer aka Gigi

  42. Cottage Beach House August 15, 2010 at 10:51 pm #

    Yeah! Yeah ! Yeah ! I am so glad your speaking up and representing NJ
    Those dopey shows do give us a bad name. My Cottage beach House is in North Wildwood NJ. In the lighthouse district. I am just a hop and a skip away from you and I love to visit Cape May and wander around the streets. You never know what fabulous yummy Victorian Cottage you will see as you round the next corner.

  43. Laura Ingalls Gunn July 14, 2011 at 9:35 am #

    Yes, yes, and yes! I am so very happy that I know the real N.J.! :)

    Thank you so very much for linking up to this week’s Wayfaring Wednesday.

  44. bonnie July 16, 2011 at 5:33 pm #

    Beautiful homes! Thank you for the history of the area. I would love to visit there.

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