When it comes to travel, I like to have an idea of the sites and events to check out, the dining options in the area. But I also like the unexpected, spontaneous trip as well. My latest visit to Cape May, N.J. falls into that category. It wasn’t a day of relaxing on the beach among many other Labor Day out-of-towners getting in one last taste of summer. This time in southern Jersey was for the purpose of honoring U.S. veterans, an important part of my family.
For that reason, it was another family excursion, a patriotic one during which the first stop was the Cape May County Airport. Many displays were set up, featuring a wealth of military history as part of the Forgotten Warriors Museum. Among the items were ship and airplane models, uniforms and medals of soldiers, gear for everyday use and battles, photo albums, patriotic art, etc. Army Jeeps and other vehicles were on display outside around the building, which also had soldier murals painted on some walls. A few memorials could also be found outside, honoring the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard.
Just next door, the NAS Wildwood Aviation Museum was well worth a visit for anyone. For $12 per adult and after walking through the gift shop to enter the exhibit area, it wasn’t filled with only aviation history. Among the planes displayed, artists showcased crafts to purchase at some tables and area info could be found at others. The faces of classic entertainers could be seen on vintage magazine covers mounted on walls of cubicle height.
I’m interested in aviation history, particularly the Wright Brothers and Amelia Earhart to name a few people who were a part of it. Where some of the magazine covers were displayed, there were also old newspaper front pages. One of them had a story about Earhart and her disappearance. It’s not just the aviation of years ago that grab my attention; there are also the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds. A display in the center of the hangar was a mock-up Blue Angel jet, which made for my favorite photo that I took while visiting the museum.
I didn’t see displays on the Wright Brothers or the Thunderbirds as I walked around, looking at the exhibits. Those were just mentioned as some of my own personal favorites of the aviation world.
On one side of the hangar, there were more planes to impress the crowd of history and aviation buffs. A large one, painted brown and named “Cookie” had a long line of people growing behind it; they each awaited their turn to step up inside for a tour. I decided to join them.
Walking under the plane from tail to center, its underbelly slanted closer and closer to the ground. As each person entered, they had to duck down and peek back up into the opening. Step up a small ladder and from there, walk around to the right and follow a narrow path that takes you to a doorway. Take a big step down and you can go through to the next section, which is a straight walkway from which the ground can be seen. At various points, two “walls” would stood on either side.
I brought my smart phone on the trip, but not inside the plane with me and that was a good idea. Going along on the tour, I felt that I needed both hands free and no pocketbook hanging from me either. Not even the small one I use. Although, I wish I could have kept my phone on me for photos. Well, at least if you go to the museum and take a walk through the plane, you’ll have the element of surprise.
Not long after the tour, I was heading back into the hangar and a storm was brewing; a few drops of rain were starting to fall. Suddenly, the sound of an engine could be heard from behind. The whole crowd outside turned and began walking closer to a small plane, named “Betty Jane,” for a better look as it began to move. Its pilot steered it to go past the nose of “Cookie,” make a couple of lefts and slowly head toward the hangar, parking it just outside the doors.
Before leaving the museum, I grabbed a bunch of brochures from various tables. Two in particular had info about the Hereford Inlet Lighthouse and the annual New Jersey Lighthouse Challenge. I’m hoping to do that this year; we’ll see. Last time in Cape May, I wanted to stop by Hereford Inlet, but it was getting late and it was a long way home. Based on every photo I see, it’s a beautiful lighthouse!
Read about my day of exploring Cape May, back in Oct. 2012.
It was soon time to get a bite to eat and before reaching the car, Foursquare came in handy for quickly finding a few nearby options.
Once in downtown Cape May, finding a place to have lunch was somewhat limited due to the holiday hours. The first restaurant was closed and another was serving only certain menu items, such as appetizers. The Jackson Mountain Cafe was open with full dining service and patrons filled tables in both inside and outside areas. Lunch started with an order of bruschetta, which looked amazing as the waiter brought the dish to the table. I’d have to say that it was the best bruschetta I’ve ever had!
Admiring the architecture of Victorian inns while walking through town that day, I thought, if I could own such a place, it would definitely be in historic Cape May! I’ll be adding photos soon from my Labor Day trip to this Flickr set. I can’t wait to go back and already have a few places in mind I’d like to check out:
- Ugly Mug
- The Pilot House
- The Lobster House
- Cocomoe’s Ice Cream
- All Irish Imports
- Cape Atlantic Book Co.
- Great White Shark
- Celebrate Cape May
I’ll have to spend a week in the beach resort that takes visitors back in time with its beautiful architecture! This is one of my favorite spots because of that classic, cozy small town feel.