Generation Z. Cruising in an RV.: Finding Gems on the Way to Jersey Shore! OLA

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Finding Gems on the Way to Jersey Shore! OLA


Carol reappears with Kozak the Magician after he picked on her all night...@  Atlantic City!
the Hagley Museum, duPont legacy, in Wilmington, Delaware
Dubbed a cultural phenomenon, Jersey Shore is an American reality television series that will return to its sixth season. This very successful show has now been exported to dozens of countries worldwide. I wanted to know what is so special not about the show but about this part of the East Coast. Well, we had the chance but we had to pass through Delaware before reaching the shore.  We stopped in Wilmington, Delaware, parked our home at their Wal-Mart parking lot, unhooked the car, and tried to find, in a day, the town’s gems.
Old Swedes Church in Wilmington, Delaware
the Viking ship at Kalmar Nyckel in Wilmington, Delaware
The Hagley Museum, the original site of the DuPont gunpowder factory, the bedrock of the family wealth built in 1802, is now a non-profit research center on the American enterprise. But we didn’t have the time for the 2-hour tour. We were more intrigued by the traces of the first Swedish settlement in North America in 1638. There is an Old Swedes Church with cobblestones, burial grounds, and a labyrinth. Another is Kalmar Nyckel, an old Swedish shipyard where, docked along the Delaware River, an old Viking ship is being restored. But the biggest gem we found is the over 32-ft Shrine of Our Lady of Peace created by a Wilmington sculptor in 1982. Made of stainless steel, she seems to glow against the blue sky.
Our Lady, Queen of Peace in Wilmington, Delaware
Ning, Ging, Jimmy, Ann, and me and Bill
at Chestnut Lake Campground, Port Republic, New Jersey
Then we continued our trek to the shores of New Jersey where my friend Ann had already arrived at her sister’s house in Somers’ Point.  The Chestnut Lake campground at Port Republic, 30 minutes away from her, had just opened on the day we arrived so there were few RVs and no activities but we had a stunning new picture window of the lake. Ann, her sisters Ning and Ging, and brother-in-law Jimmy came to join us for Bill’s special grilled New York steaks, Ann’s tomato salad, my boiled sweet corn, and Ning’s no-egg yolk leche flan. Good eats and good company!
Cape May Lighthouse at Cape May Point State Park
downtown Cape May
We then executed our plan of covering the Jersey shores. First we went to the southernmost point at Cape May. It turned out that the very day we went was also the birthday of my dear friend May, VP of the Philippines SSS. So we thought of her frequently while we were touring the Cape May Lighthouse and State Park, the neat little Cape May downtown with quaint touristy stores, and the Cape May winery and vineyard. That was the start, Mile 0 of the Garden State (New Jersey) Parkway.
Barnegat Lighthouse, Barnegat, New Jersey
Moffa's Farms' Christmas trees, ready for the bale!
Next we tackled the northern shores with the stunning Barnegat Lighthouse. We also found many Christmas tree farms near the Pinelands National Reserve. The Christmas tree industry is a significant part of the state agriculture, ranked seventh in the nation in the number of Christmas tree growers. There are 1,167 Christmas tree farms, covering 7,628 acres and providing more than 132,000 families with Christmas trees annually!  The first Christmas tree farm was begun in 1908 with the planting of 25,000 Norway spruce near Trenton.  But the the use of artificial trees has been gaining more ground. And a sizable % of homes are not able to put up any Christmas tree at all (that’s a payback project idea!).
Absecon Lighthouse in Atlantic City, New Jersey
Ballys rising out of the haze
at the colorful Atlantic City boardwalk, New Jersey
Finally, we went to the Vegas rival, Atlantic City, the playground of the East. The tallest NJ lighthouse, the Absecon Lighthouse, at 172 ft. and 228 steps, stands right at the north side of the city center. It has already been decommissioned as the bright city lights dimmed its effectiveness. On the south side of downtown stands Lucy the Elephant, a six-story elephant-shaped example of novelty architecture, constructed of wood and tin sheeting in 1882. She stands 65 feet high, 60 feet long, and 18 feet wide, weighs about 90 tons, and is made of nearly one million pieces of wood.  It is the only surviving example of the architecture of animal-shaped buildings.
Caesar inviting one and all to his palace in Atlantic City, New Jersey
the Tropicana lobby full of slot machines
in Atlantic City, New Jersey
Finally, we reached the main reason we stopped for 2 weeks in Jersey. The Atlantic City Boardwalk is all the write-ups said it would be…wide and spacious with glitzy buildings on one side and the charming shore on the other, with happy people walking to and fro in the middle! The grouping of Caesar’s, Bally’s, and the Trump Plaza at the center may have been less glittery than their Vegas counterparts but the big fun nevertheless continues unabated. And, of course, we had to go to an Atlantic City show! 
the Miss America Celebrity Walk in Atlantic City, New Jersey
Heather Whitestone's at the foreground
Lucy the Elephant, 6 stories high...south of Atlantic City!
We chose the Kozak the Magician Act (on his 3rd year there after 5 years in Vegas) and had an hour and a half of jaw-dropping tricks and rib-tickling monologue. This was at the Tropicana Hotel whose casino lobbies were humongous! Outside, the Outlet Mall was squeezed into the city’s center streets, quite unlike any other Outlet Mall. And the sidewalks had another kind of celebrity walk, the Walk of Miss America winners through the years. I was delighted to see one for Heather Whitestone, the deaf Miss America of 1985, who graciously did a benefit show for our Philippine Institute for the Deaf.
Historic Smithville shoppes and ducks in New Jersey
the Village Greene at Historic Smithville, New Jersey
Such are the gems we find in our travels, the treasures we gather, photograph, and write about so that later we can have the second journey. Before leaving we even found another gem of a different shopping mecca, Historic Smithville and Village Green. Back to back around a lake, the shops offered a lot of unusual items, including fancy cinnamon raisin bread that we decided to buy as pasalubong for our friends in New York, our next stop.  So now I understand why the shores of New Jersey are a great place to be. But I still don’t understand why Jersey Shore is the success it is.
our picture window at the Chestnut Lake Campground, Port Republic, New Jersey