Just got back from a 10 day visit to New Jersey. We decided to take a different route than usual. Rather than using Interstate 95 all the way, we exited just inside the VA border and headed east to the coast. There we crossed the Chesapeake Bay using a 25 mile bridge and tunnel system. Staying along the coast, we ended up in Lewes Delaware where we caught the ferry to Cape May New Jersey and on up the Garden State Parkway to Lavelette. The ferry is an 80 minute ride across the Delaware River Bay on a boat that holds about 100 cars and is equipped with several bars, lounges, and decks for viewing the sights. Very relaxing, especially when compared to driving the interstate through DC, Baltimore, and Philadelphia. I think the trip may be a couple of hours shorter this way assuming normal traffic conditions on 95 and when we arrived, we were totally relaxed and not worn out from fighting it.
We spent 4 days with Nancy’s cousin on the beach. Fred and I went surf fishing every day about a block from the house. Unfortunately I can’t confirm that fish live in that particular part of the ocean. Nancy and Martha shopped. The weather was perfect, the food great – all in all a good vacation. The one thing I always hate is that the pizza and deli’s are so good there, that it takes me at least 6 months before I can eat here again and enjoy it. As much as I dislike the NE in general, I have to admit – there’s no place better for Italian food and there’s no food I like better than Italian food. If I lived there I’d weigh 300 pounds in a heartbeat.
We decided on a very relaxed trip back. I have always wanted to drive on the outer Banks in NC – see Kitty Hawk, Nag’s Head, Cape Hatteras, Ocrakoke Island. And Nancy had a grundle of quilt shops from Delaware on thru the Carolinas. We got underway about 8AM to make the 10:30 ferry from Cape May. As we found from the first ferry trip, you absolutely need to make reservations. The boats were full and those that try to wing it, end up having to wait 2-3 hours for the next ferry, assuming they can get on the that one. The Delaware end is Lewes, which markets itself as the â€œfirst city in the first stateâ€. It’s a historic little town with great restaurants and, I guess, a great quilt shop. Next trip we’ll plan to spend a full day there. From Lewes we drove to Kitty Hawk and spent the night. We got up the next morning and visited the Wright Brothers National monument where I really gained a greater appreciation for just what an accomplishment that first flight was. We stopped at the famous Hatteras lighthouse and then caught a free ferry from Hatteras to Ocracoke Island. No doubt Ocracoke needs a return visit. It’s a walk around town with so much to see that no way you could do it in a day. And it was raining so walking around would have been a bit uncomfortable. From there we took a ferry to Cedar Island. That’s a 2+ hour ferry ride across Pamlico Sound. We spent that night in Morehead City NC and found a great restaurant on the beach.
The next day was scheduled to be a big quilt shop day in Jacksonville and Wilmington NC with a plan to end in Charleston. The procedure is that we find the address in Nancy’s quilt shop book which normally includes a small map. Then she goes in for 30-60 minutes and finds stuff that she’s been looking for forever. The problems arise when we try to find some of these very obscure shops using the little maplets included in the book. The maps leave much to be desired and we often end up totally lost. After a few hours of frustration, I decided we needed to stop this hunting around and get ourselves a navigation system. I called Tom and he found a Best Buy with just the model we needed. As it turned out, there was a Costco in the same shopping center as Best Buy and we elected to pick up a different navigator there. What a difference. Although we had some cockpit troubles learning the equipment, still we were able to have it get us to whatever address we plugged in flawlessly. It absolutely made the rest of the trip a dream. If you spend most of the time on Interstates, no big deal. But if you get off and do the local towns or use back roads, the GPS system is a Godsend. We normally have maybe 100 navigation arguments per trip. We were on target to beat that until we got the Magellan. Not one after that. That alone was worth the $350.
We ended up not getting as far as Charleston but rather made it south of Myrtle Beach at a place called Pawley’s Island. Pawley’s Island is famous for having a shop that makes world class hammocks. We found that shop in a little village of shops. Didn’t buy a hammock but Nancy found a quilt shop which more than made up for it. We got to Charleston about noon and decided to spend the rest of the day doing the tourist thing. We ate a great lunch at the Noisy Oyster and then browsed through the old Slave Market. Finally we took a horse carriage ride to see the sights.
We got up Saturday morning and made it back to the lake just in time to catch the kickoff of the Gator game. What a great finish to a great week.
In summary, without a doubt this was the most relaxing drive we’ve had going from Fla to NJ. Keeping off the Interstates and using the ferries just removed so much stress. Traffic moves just a bit slower and there is generally no traffic to contend with. And no trucks. They are all on the Interstate. The ferries and bridge/tunnel system are expensive but I think it saves gas and prices off the Interstates are lower. Next trip up we’ll plan to spend a day in Lewes and maybe 2 or 3 on Ocracoke Island.