Day 6, October 16, 2003: Rehoboth Beach, DE to Lakewood, NJ
No real need to get moving early this morning so I left the motel at 8:00 and had a leisurely breakfast at Bob Evans—the heart attack inducing cholesterol bomb special. Then off to wait for the ferry with sufficient ballast in my belly. This time it is not a free one. In fact, since they seemed to think that this was still high season, they kept the fare high too at $25.00. The boat ride put me in New Jersey by 10:30.
Took a break in the sunshine at the Cape May Lighthouse although I didn't spend the money or time required to climb to the top. I might have but there were an amazing number of tourists, including screaming children, waiting for that privelege. A walk around, a few snapshots, and a look at the beach was enough. An accomodating ranger at the information office was nice enough to give me a state map from her private stash on the condition that I pocket it and don't announce the fact that I had gotten one. Seems that the maps are in short supply and that she had a hard time getting even a few to keep "under the counter". I make it a practice to obtain a state map at the border whenever possible to save the bother of digging the computer out of the trunk to use my mapping program.
I wandered around Cape May looking for fine old Victorian homes. Watching television had somehow given me the impression there were, if not thousands, at least hundreds of grand gingerbread palaces lining every street. As it turns out they are pretty thin on the ground once you start looking for them. I hiked quite a distance among the mazelike streets following a badly copied tourist handout and located a few attractive examples. At least the weather was warm and the wind had died down so the walk was enjoyable. Finished my browsing at around 1:15 and took off north to seek a stopping place for the night. Given the sunny skies and balmy temperature I put the top down for a couple of hours.
One place I needed to drive through was Atlantic City, NJ and I thought that it might be interesting to see all the wonderful changes that were supposed to have taken place there. I was last in the city during the 1965-66 period when it was a dirty depressing dangerous dump with bad streets. Well, I can say that today Atlantic City seems to be a dirty depressing dangerous dump with casinos. And the streets don't seem to have improved much either. Oh, I'm sure that for the lucky ones who are making a living from the casinos life is probably better but down at the level of the streets I drove through it looked to be the same. I did stop in at a casino and drop $20 into a slot just for the experience. I used to live in Las Vegas and then later I visited the city fairly regularly. The comparison between the two gambling centers is pretty stark. The Atlantic City casino I visited almost makes those in Las Vegas look like centers of high culture and refinement. One great touch in the casino I visited is that the noisemakers on the slot banks put out a sound like the wail of an industrial vacuum cleaner and seem to do so constantly from all I can tell. A real headache inducer. OK, enough whinging on that subject...
As I went north the weather started to degrade so the top went back up. To make matters worse the lodging was almost non-existant so I was forced to keep hunting until I finally stumbled across an Econolodge way up in Lakewood. Not that it was the least bit "econo" in price but by 6:30 almost anything would have done.